4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs yet received information regarding the Imperial Copyright Bill which enables him to. say to what extent it will give effect to the views in relation to’ uniformity expressed on behalf of the Commonwealth ?
– According to the summary officially cabled to the Government, the Bill makes full provision for local autonomy, and, subject thereto, foi uniformity. Its provisions are to apply to all Crown Colonies, but the self-governing dominions may adopt them or not, as they choose. If - they adopt them, or pass identical legislation, they will enjoy the benefits of Imperial copyright. If they do neither, they will be excluded from those benefits.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Parkes asked me if a statement in the Age, that as soon as the Trust Fund money was available it would be paid to the States on a population basis, was correct. I replied that 1 had no concern with what appeared in the Age, but that I had already said, and again repeated, that the States, until the expiration of the Braddon provision, at the end of the present calendar year, would have to be paid the full amount due to their.” under it on the bookkeeping basis. What I should have said is that, until the Surplus Revenue Bill has become law, all payments to the States will be made in accordance with the bookkeeping provisions embodied in the Surplus Revenue Act of 1908.
– Is the Prime Minister able to inform the House, approximately, when he will be able to take the final step regarding the Federal Capital?
– The Government has had the matter under consideration, but the delay which has occurred in no way affects, its policy. We hope to pass some legislation which will give effect to Commonwealth ideas before the territory comes finally into the Commonwealth’s possession. That will take some time.
– Is the Bill which the honorable member says must precede the final step required to remove some legal difficulty which the Government finds in its path?
– I did not say that the legislation to which I referred must precede the taking of the final step ; I think it advisable that Commonwealth legislation should precede our taking possession of the territory.
– Instructions for that purpose were given by me five months ago.
– Yes. There are legal and Commonwealth reasons for it.
– Will the Ministerof External Affairs place on the table, or make otherwise available, the papers relating to the recent contracts with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, for the conveyance of mails to the South Sea Islands?
– With pleasure. I shall have them placed on the table of the library.
– When does the Treasurer propose to deliver his Budget speech ?
– I replied yesterday to the honorable member for Hume that it would be delivered in about a fortnight, or as soon after that interval as possible. But the Treasury officials think that I am optimistic.
– In view of the statement that the Government wishes to give preference to Australian industries, will the Minister of Home Affairs see that Australian timbers are used in all Departmental construction?
– The Department is doing all that it can to encourage Australian industries, and will continue to take that course.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence aware that about two years ago the English naval authorities decided to bestow long-service medals on members of the Australian naval brigades, as well as on members of the British Navy, but that nothing has been done pending a decision regarding design? Will the honorable gentleman ask the Minister to cause further representations to be made, with a view to bringing the matter to a conclusion?
– I shall have much pleasure in bringing the subject under the notice of the Minister, in order to obtain a reply as soon as possible.
-Has it been brought officially under the notice of the Attorney-General that restrictions are imposed in some of the Australian portson the interchange of produce between State and State?
– No information to that effect has reached me. If the honorable member will supply me with particulars, I shall cause inquiries to be made.
Stores : La Grange Bay and Wallal - Advisory Boards - Accommodation, General Post Office, Sydney - Sydney Wireless Telegraphy Station - Accountants’ Investigation: Report, Sittings and Fees - “ Ship “ Room, Sydney Post Office
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether the conditions and specifications for the contract to erect a wireless telegraphy station at or near Sydney were not approved by a committee of experts, who advised the Department before tenders were called ; and did not certain naval officers suggest that the site should be on or near the South Head?
– The conditions and specifications on which tenders for the wireless telegraph station at Sydney and Fremantle were invited were submitted to the Admiralty for the favour of suggestions which, when made, were embodied in the specifications. So far as the site was concerned, the conditions in the specifications were concurred in by the Department of Defence.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
On Thursday last the honorable member for Lang asked the following questions : -
The Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, has now furnished the following information : -
Sydney, is inadequate for the sorting of InterState and oversea mails, but it was not originally intended as a ship room, but to afford additional accommodation in the Mail Branch, and it was found that the removal of the ship mails there was the most convenient temporary arrangement that could be made. It has been recognised for some time that the accommodation in the Mail Branch in Sydney is inadequate for requirements, and although the additions now being carried out will afford some relief, it is understood that there will still be a lack of proper accommodation, and with the view of getting over this difficulty, it has been determined to appoint a Committee to go fully into the requirements of the Postal Department in Sydney, so that ample accommodation may be provided for future requirements at as early a date as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are -
Debate resumed from 21st July (vide page 630), on motion by Mr. Jensen -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the State of Tasmania be granted a sum of Twenty-five thousand pounds yearly by the Commonwealth for a period of nine years, to recoup the said State for the loss sustained in Customs leakage since the advent of Federation.
.- A fortnight ago I addressed myself to this motion at some length, and was unable to finish my speech. I do not propose to detain honorable members very long now, but I desire to draw their attention to some figures which have been used recently by the Prime Minister, and have been circulated with a view to creating an impression that in the future Tasmania will benefit more than any other State under the -per capita system of distribution. The Prime Minister holds that, that being so, Tasmania ought not to ask for a concession in respect of losses incurred under the .method of distribution which has prevailed during the past nine and a-half years. I shall show that Tasmania will not benefit more than any other State under the proposed per capita distribution. According to the Prime Minister, Tasmania’s contribution to the Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth is lower per head than that of any other State, and, therefore, he says that State will benefit most by the proposed per capita distribution of the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister based the whole of his calculations on the very ground of complaint that we are making - the low Customs and Excise revenue which Tasmania is now deriving, and has been deriving during the past nine and a half years. He said that Tasmania contributes only £1 18s. 1 id. per head to the Customs and Excise revenue, whereas ‘Western Australia contributes £3 6s. 2d., South Australia £2 3s. 8d., Queensland £2 13s., Victoria £2 5s. $d., and New South Wales £2 iis. 8d. It is those very returns that we complain about. We argue that in the past we have not derived from Customs and Excise the benefit to which we were entitled, on account of our being such large purchasers from New South Wales and Victoria. That very fact naturally puts us at the bottom of the list, and the citation of those figures by the Prime Minister makes my argument all the stronger. If in the past the Tasmanian figures for Customs and Excise under the Commonwealth collection had corresponded with those of the other States we should have had no room for complaint. The very fact that we have been so much below the other States in that regard entitles us to come to this House- for justice, seeing that Tasmania receives half its goods from two of the sister States. It is entirely wrong for the Prime Minister to contend that on that account Tasmania has no right to look for a special grant. He also stated that the amount which the Commonwealth will receive from New South Wales by substituting the 25s. per capita basis for the old bookkeeping basis will be £1 6s. 8d. per head, from Victoria £1 os. sd., Queensland £1 8s., South Australia 18s. 8d., Western Australia £1 4s. 2d., and Tasmania only 13s. nd. That entirely supports our contention. Our people are just as large consumers as are the people in any other State. We have to live and pay the same amount of duty on the goods we use, and it is not right for the Prime Minister to try to argue that Tasmania, during the past nine and a half years, has not been so large a consuming State as the others, and that it is therefore not entitled to special consideration. Prior to Federation the amount of revenue collected by Tasmania from Customs and Excise was .£450,000 per annum. Under the Commonwealth the collections for that State fell to £250,000. It has been proved even by the Commonwealth Statistician that nearly 50 per cent, of the goods consumed in Tasmania are purchased from New South Wales and Victoria. In fact, we are the most loyal little State in the Commonwealth, because we consume Australian productions. We purchase from the States that can manufacture the goods we want; but because of that are we to be treated in the manner suggested? I hope honorable members will give consideration to our protest. It was realized prior to Federation by a great many members of the Convention that Tasmania would, in all probability, suffer very greatly by entering into the union. They considered that Western Australia would suffer the most, and Tasmania next. Mr. Walker, a delegate from New South Wales, is reported to have said in the 1898 Convention, at page 1043 -
I hope the Committee will adhere to the period of five years. It seems to me that the first year of the uniform Tariff will not give at all reliable data to go upon. In the course of five years the present abnormal state of Western Australia will, to some extent, be mitigated. Again, Tasmania, in five years, owing to the manner in which her mineral resources are being developed, will have a much better average; and we know that Tasmania, at present, is the colony which is apparently being treated less favorably under the proposed scheme. I think there is no doubt of that, and when the time comes, I will give Tasmania my support in asking for some subsidy during the five years.
That shows that delegates who did not come from Tasmania realized that Tasmania would suffer under Federation simply because of its geographical position. The members of the Convention held out glowing promises to the people of Tasmania as to what would be done if they entered the Federation, and the Right Honorable Sir George Reid distinctly stated that he would be agreeable to give Tasmania ,£30.000 or ,£40,000 a year. Therefore, when we can show that Tasmania has suffered through Federation during the last nine and a half years we are quite entitled to ask this Parliament for relief. We admit that we are part and parcel of the Commonwealth, we are nationalists, and we do not ask for charity ; but provision is distinctly made in the Constitution for relief being given to a State which is suffering through no fault of its own, and all we ask is that this Parliament shall come to the rescue of our State. No doubt, the Minister of Trade and Customs will try to rebut what I have said. On account of Tasmania’s small population her cities are small, and the business people there are not in such a large way as those of Sydney and Melbourne. It is, therefore, only natural that when Tasmanians come to the great centres of the Commonwealth for a holiday, they become great purchasers of goods. I do not want to take the part of those persons, because they do not inform the Government officials of the purchases they make, so that Tasmania may get its just dues ; but it can be proved that this has been going on for years, whereas the people from the other States, who visit Tasmania, do not purchase there to anything like the same extent. That is inevitable, because the bigger States can outclass us in every way, with their up-to-date business establishments and the superior quality of their goods. Tasmanians can get goods much cheaper in Melbourne and Sydney, because the shops in those cities are larger, and have a larger turnover, and so can be conducted on better lines. Honorable members must take into consideration the fact that since the advent of Federation Tasmania has had to increase its direct taxation by over100 per cent.
– The honorable member’s party are going to impose another land tax on top of that.
– Yes, because we believe in it.
– That does not show that they are very hard up.
– The people who have land of an unimproved value of more than £5,000 are not hard up, and we shall go for those fellows. The fact that Tasmania has had to increase its direct taxation so largely must show every honorable member that there is -something radically wrong. The Minister of Trade and Customs will probably say that the leakage is not as large as I have tried to make out, and will, no doubt, quote certain letters. In the past, our Premiers have been constantly coming over to the mainland to interview the Commonwealth Treasurer and Prime Minister in order to bring about a solution of this problem. But the Minister of Trade and Customs can only quote figures, which, I contend, are bad, because we have never had a fair return under the Customs and Excise revenue. I rely on the figures as to our revenue from that source prior to Federation, and the fact that we have had to increase our direct taxation by over 100 per cent. during the past nine and a half years must appeal to honorable members.
– Nearly 200 per cent.
– I am trying to keep within bounds, so that I may be able to meet any argument. No other State has had to do what Tasmania has done. New South Wales and Victoria have benefited, and we say, “ Good luck to them.” If the people of Victoria are so energetic that they can outclass us in manufactures, that is their good luck and our bad luck, but, at the same time, the House ought to take into consideration the geographical position of our State. It is practically a suburb of Melbourne.
– And of Sydney.
– Yes, there is a vast trade being done now with Sydney. Direct lines of steamers run to Hobart and Launceston and the North-west coast, and from these points there is direct communication with the most important towns in Tasmania, with the result that our retail shops are purchasing from the merchants of Sydney and Melbourne, and not importing from European countries. That is why we are losing such a lot under the Inter- State adjustments.
– What does the honorable member consider Tasmania’s loss to be?
- Mr. R. M. Johnston, the Tasmanian Government Statistician, considers that it is£40,000 per annum at the very least.
– A very good man, too.
– I think that he is. Why should a State Statistician manufacture figures to mislead the House? I do not think that such an officer would seek to do anything of the kind.
– He would ruin his reputation if he did.
– Certainly he would. This is not a party question, and I appeal to honorable members supporting the Government, if they believe that Tasmania is suffering an injustice through no fault of its own, to come to its assistance and endeavour to make up for the bad treatment that it has received. I admit that under the per capita system of distribution we shall have no room for complaint, but I object to the Prime Minister saying that the Commonwealth will receive only 13s. 11d. per head from Tasmania, whereas it will get £1 per head or more from other States. The statement that Tasmania is contributing to the Commonwealth revenue only 13s.11d. per head of the population absolutely proves my case. Our complaint is that the amount of Customs revenue with which we have been credited in the past is not what is due tous; and the Prime Minister has based his calculation on bad figures: I wish to see justice done to Tasmania. Under the Constitution we have power to make special provision for a State which is not being treated as the framers of the Constitution intended. The section to which I refer was inserted in the Constitution specially to provide for such a case as this, and I confidently leave the whole matter in the hands of honorable members. The representatives of Tasmania are not asking for charity. We are simply asking for our own, and I leave our case in the hands of the House in the confident hope that justice will be done to our State.
.- The honorable member for Bass has made out a good case for the earnest consideration of the Government. I congratulate him upon his temperate speech, and still more upon the loyal co-operation of his fellowrepresentatives of Tasmania on both sides of the House. In answer to an inquiry made across the table by the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Trade and Customs has just said that he is in no hurry to speak. Apparently he does not care what happens to poor little Tasmania. It may be in the throes of financial starvation, but what cares he? His attitude is almost inhuman, having regard to the appeal that has’ been made to the House by the honorable member for Bass. It seems to me that we ought not to vote upon a question of this character until we have had from a representative of the Government a statement of the actual position. It is not fair that we should be called upon to vote in a way that may commit the Government of the Commonwealth to a large expenditure merely on the case submitted by the mover of the resolution. I have heard a great deal about this question- in the House itself from the honorable member for Bass, and I have heard still more in every lobby from the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Wilmot. I have never been so worried over any question as I have been in regard to the earnest desire of these honorable members that Tasmania should receive justice at the hands of this Parliament. I admit that the case submitted by them, in common justice, requires earnest consideration.
– The honorable member is amenable to reason.
– I am not thinking of what pounds, shillings, and pence my own State can make out of any transaction. If, as it is said, Tasmania has suffered from a leakage of Customs revenue, it is due to this Parliament, as representing the Commonwealth, to deal generously with it. It can do with a little generosity at the hands of the Commonwealth, and I should like to have an assurance that the Government mean to debate this question so that we shall not be called upon to vote upon it in the dark. I had no intention of interposing at this stage, but I did not wish a question of this kind to pass into oblivion without discussion. I take a very friendly view of the motion, but am not in a position now to say definitely how I shall vote upon it. The Government should place before us the facts at their disposal.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Swan knew all about this matter when he was in office, but he did nothing.
– What is the matter with the Minister of Trade and Customs?
– The right honorable member for Swan must have been up all night. .
– If the Minister was up all night it was his own fault. I have put in sixteen hours’ work during the last twenty-four hours, and am not capable of discussing this question at the moment.
– The Government are a lot of sweaters.
– That is typical of Labour administrations ; they are most tyrannical. This Labour Government is so tyrannical that it refuses to vouchsafe us a modicum of information as to the actual facts of this question. Do Ministers mean to let this motion be carried without division, and to shelve the whole matter? I am sure that the honorable member for Bass does not wish that to be done. He desires that Tasmania shall receive justice.
– The Prime Minister has already told the House that he can do nothing.
– When he made thai statement, he had not heard the speech made by the honorable member for Bass. The question was raised by the honorable member for Wilmot in another connexion, and the Prime Minister did not then profess to be very friendly towards the proposition.
– That was in relation to future payments.
– But the honorable member for Wilmot was also referring to what had occurred in the past.
– And the Prime Minister promised to give the matter consideration.
– He is still considering, but, apparently, is not going to tell us of the decision at which he has arrived. The honorable member for Bass is entitled to a Ministerial statement, and I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs ought to face this question as a Minister with responsibility should. The finding of a fewthousands of pounds ought not to be a serious matter to him, since the Government are going to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds by direct taxation within the next few months, to say nothing of millions of pounds which are to be raised by way of loan, without interest, in connexion with an Australian note issue. The momentI receive an assurance that the Minister means to honestly face this question, I shall resume my seat. It is not fair to the Commonwealth or to Tasmania that he should endeavour to shuffle the matter out of public notice. The honorable gentleman emits, however, no sound, and will not assist us to arrive at a decision. Although he may regard this question as trifling, it is of the greatest importance to the most necessitous State in the Union. I have the greatest sympathy with Tasmania in the injustice she has suffered during the last ten years under our financial arrangement.
– If the honorable member were living in Tasmania, he would have to pay an income tax of1s. in the pound.
– Such a tax would not press so heavily upon me as it would upon some honorable members of the Labour party. The more income tax I Have to pay the better I shall be pleased, because when one has to pay income tax there is always something left. I am not worrying over people in Tasmania who have to pay income tax, but I am concerned because the development of that State is to a certain extent starved owing to the action of a neighbouring State in shipping its produce there.
Mr.Tudor. - The shipments from New South Wales to Tasmania are almost as large as those from Victoria to Tasmania.
– I am not speaking as a provincial representative of New South Wales in this connexion, and I do not think that my electors would wish me. to be so mean as to try to save them one-tenth of a farthing per head rather than right a serious injustice to a small State that needs consideration. I am not cast in that mould, and I do not think that my electors desire that I should be. The Minister should tell us where and how this leakage of Customs revenue has occurred, so that we may arrive at a sound judgment. The honorable member for Hume, an ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, could throw some light upon the question, and I am sure he would be most sympathetic, because he is one of the proudest monuments we have to the energy and integrity of the inhabitants of Tasmania. He was born and bred there.
– The honorable member does not often throw bouquets at him.
– I am not doing so now. The example he has been to us of what a Minister should or should not be, is of such value that we owe some consideration to the State that sent him here. It is not fair, however, to ask him at a moment’s notice to step into the breach which the responsible Minister refuses to fill. Although we have had many Ministers of Trade and Customs, I can see no other ex-Minister present-
– What about the right honorable member for Swan?
– He has occupied the more important and dignified office of Treasurer.
– The Treasury knows as much about the matter as my Department does.
– Then why is the Treasurer absent? We now have the assurance of the Minister of Trade and Customs that the Treasurer is fully conversant with the case. This question may have been settled outside by the Government, though I hope not. Whenever the Government so settle a question they usually go straight ahead, not considering us for a moment. In this case they are obviously not prepared to go ahead, but prefer to see the matter shuffled out of public notice. I urge on the Minister of Trade and Customs to lend a hand in solving the problem in a sympathetic spirit, so as to show Tasmania that she is not in the hands of usurers, but in the hands of people who have flowing in their veins the same blood with which the people of that State are endowed. I hope the Minister will drop his murky, mysterious silence, and, coming out into the open, show himself to be a humanitarian. I cannot, of course, force the Minister to speak, though I had relied somewhat on the sympathy of the honorable member for Hume with his native State. I cannot ask the right honorable member for Swan to interpose in a matter that is obviously so dangerous to the powers that be. But I should prefer to hear that ex-Minister, who, I think, has always devoted himself more studiously to the affairs of the Department than either of the other two gentlemen. The ex-Minister is a man who goes to the root of matters ; he is not content with the mere statements of his subordinates, but ascertains for himself how the administration affects the people as a whole. I am sure that if he tackles the question he will do so in a truly Commonwealth spirit. If the leakage occurred during the term of office of the honorable member for Hume, ], personally, should be extremely disappointed, because I never knew a man who kept such a tight rein on the finances ; and I deeply regret that the present Administration has not seen fit to take advantage of his wisdom. However, I appeal to the gentlemen who are conversant with the facts to assist us to a sensible solution of the problem.
. -It is a pity that the honorable member for Wentworth does not approach questions more seriously, but rather seeks to make a burlesque -of them. This is a very important matter for Tasmania, and I cannot understand the stubbornness of the Government in refusing to make some provision. As Minister of Trade and Customs, I realized, as I do now, that there is a leakage, though it is impossible for the officials to show that it exists. However, the figures quoted afford the strongest reason why some consideration should be shown to Tasmania. Under the old conditions, the return from Customs in Tasmania was ,£480,000, but that figure has now fallen off by £200,000 a year. In the case of New South Wales, the Customs revenue has increased from ,£1,500,000 under the old system to over ,£3, 000, 000 under the present Tariff ; so that the disadvantageous position of Tasmania is seen at a glance. I tried, through the Treasury officials, to get at the facts, but one official especially held the opinion that there is no leakage at all. That, of course, is an absolute absurdity. It has also been stated that New South Wales is responsible for as much of the leakage as Victoria; but, as a matter of fact, the former is not responsible for half the amount that the latter is. Victoria is the great distributing centre, especially to the closely adjacent State of Tasmania; and there is no doubt that leakage occurs owing to the rapid means of transit. People from Tasmania buy on die mainland nearly all the better class goods, including jewellery and other small valuables that can be carried on the person, and, of course, the State is not credited with the duty under the circumstances. T do not mean to suggest that Federation has done any harm to the people of Tasmania ; on the contrary, I think that the people there are all the better off for the union. But the Tasmanian Treasury is no better off ; and it is that which should be replenished to some extent from the Commonwealth coffers.
– It is a question of giving a fair deal.
– It is a question of keeping a promise that was made to Tasmania, to induce that State to join the Federation, just as a promise was made to Western Australia. A transcontinental railway was distinctly a condition, amongst others, of Western Australia joining the Federation; and my own opinion is that there will be no proper union until that communication is an accomplished fact. Not only has special attention been given to Western Australia, but there is on the notice-paper a Sugar Bounty Bill, the object of which is to advantage another State. There is no doubt that Tasmania loses in greater proportion than do any of the other States. I think £40,000 rather an overstatement. £25,000 was the sum I had arrived at as fair compensation when I was in office. I should be very sorry if the new Ministry were heralded in by an act of repudiation towards Tasmania.
– I had not proposed to speak on this question, but, as I had something to do with the matter., I may inform the House of my experience. When I was Treasurer, I found that the people of Tasmania felt very strongly that they were suffering from what they called a leakage. Three years ago, when in office, I visited the State in order to investigate the facts; and I was shown the statistics referred to by the honorable member for Hume. I was convinced at the time that there was some ground for the statements made ; and, on the face of the facts, there must be leakage to some extent. Every State suffers somewhat from the same cause, but Tasmania more than others, owing to her proximity to the great distributing centre of Melbourne. I found that goods came to Victoria, and were re-shipped to Tasmania, often at such intervals as to render them almost secondhand, ‘and that no credit was given to the small State. I came back convinced that something ought to be done, and took steps to obtain evidence on which I could present the matter to my colleagues. There was considerable correspondence; and Mr. Knibbs, the Government Statist, wrote elaborate reports. I cannot recollect exactly the terms of those reports, but I believe that the general conclusion Mr. Knibbs came to was that there was a leakage, though he could not accurately ascertain the extent, and could get no basis on which to make a recommendation. Shortly afterwards I resigned from the Government, and the matter dropped, so far as I was concerned. I am willing to believe that the Government and people of Tasmania have good ground for making a request for some consideration, the more so because I know that under Federation the Tasmanian Treasury has suffered a good deal. The people of the State may have benefited, because they are large producers, and have been able to send their produce to the markets of the other States much more freely than they could do prior to Federation. But the State revenue has fallen off, and the State Government have had to impose extra taxation.
Mr.mc Williams. - The direct taxation of Tasmania has been increased by 150 per cent.
– It is difficult to determine what would be a fair amount to allow Tasmania, but, no doubt, £25,000 a year would be quite enough. I am desirous of assisting the State, because it has had a hard struggle, and has been selfreliant. The sum which I have mentioned would be of considerable assistance, and the individual contributions by the other States would not be large. I am, however, surprised that the representatives of Tasmania have placed this motion in the hands of a member of the Labour party. The honorable member for Bass made a good speech, and I take no exception to the manner in which he placed the case for his State before the House, but I feel that he has not acted consistently in asking for this grant, seeing that he is a supporter of a Government that is responsible for two measures which will considerably reduce the revenues of the State. I refer to the Australian Notes Bill, which will reduce the revenue of the State by £5,000 a year, and to the Land Tax. Bill, which will debar the Parliament of Tasmania from levying taxation amounting to perhaps £50,000. Tasmania would be far better off without a grant of £25,000 a year if she were allowed to retain undiminished her powers of taxation than she will be if she gets £25,000 a year from the Commonwealth and has her powers of taxation reduced. Of course, we cannot deprive Tasmania of her sovereign right to tax her own land, but if the Commonwealth imposes a tax on that land, it will be practically impossible for the State to do so also. In view of the position which he holds in this House, the honorable member for Bass should not have moved the motion. It is’ inconsistent for him to make a request on behalf of the State, when he knows that the Government which he supports intend to, directly or indirectly, largely diminish the revenue of the State. While I shall support the motion, and, if a division is called, vote for it, I have no sympathy with such inconsistency.
– It is rather a pity that the honorable member for Swan tried to bring discord into the discussion of a motion which has no party significance. After hearing the speech of the honorable member for Bass, I feel that the Ministry must make out a better case if the House is to be convinced that there is not a great deal in the position put on behalf of Tasmania. The honorable member for Bass threw new light on the subject. I am not willing to vote for a concession to Tasmania on grounds of mere sentiment ; but if the State has lost revenue because of the acts of this Parliament, that loss should be made good to it. The Prime Minister has told us that the difference between Tasmania’s revenue prior to Federation and her receipts since Federation from the Customs and Excise receipts of the Commonwealth, is not so great as it has been represented to be, but the honorable member for Bass has shown that leakages have occurred during the last five years of which the Customs officials have no information. I await earnestly the reply of the Minister of Trade and Customs, or the Treasurer, to the statements made on behalf of Tasmania.
. -The honorable member for Swan has found fault with the honorable member for Bass for moving this motion ; but he is almost the only Tasmanian representative who could move it. The representatives of that State who have sat in former Parliaments have taken no action.
– That is not so.
– Why did not the honorable member take action during last Parliament ?
– He has already taken action this session.
– Why did he not take action last session, when his vote would have given Tasmania what is asked for?
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– Had the honorable members for Franklin and Wilmot last session asserted that Tasmania should receive a concession similar to that proposed for Western Australia, the State might have got it.
– Nonsense ! We should have taken any action likely to secure our ends.
– The Minister knows the tactics of his own Government ; the last Administration would not have been influenced in the manner suggested by him.
– The honorable member for Bass has supplied the House with a great deal of information ; but I shall be able toshow that the leakage he has spoken of is not so great as he thinks. The honorable member for Swan could not find that the amount of leakage was as great as it was alleged to be. According to the honorable member for Hume, the promise was made in the Federal Convention that something would be done for Tasmania. If so, why has not that promise been kept during the past nine and a half years ?
– For years past, the Premiers of Tasmania have been asking that something should be done.
– No motion such as is now being discussed has been on our business-paper in former sessions.
– Then this is the first Government that has had a chance to do what is wanted?
– If Tasmania has been suffering injustice, former Governments should have taken action. The honorable member for Swan, when in office, had this subject under consideration for over two years.
– I do not think so.
– He considered it for more than a year, yet nothing was done by him. or any other Treasurer. He told us this afternoon that it sometimes happens that goods, brought into Victoria from abroad, remain here for a number of months, and are then sent to Tasmania, the duty on them not being credited to that State. That is not correct.
– A number of cases have been given.
– I do not know of one.
– The business men from one end of Tasmania to the other will supply cases.
– If the honorable member will tell me of a distinct case in which duty has been paid on goods, imported into Victoria and then sent to Tasmania, and has not been credited to Tasmania, I shall have it inquired into by the officers of my Department, and see that justice is done to that State.
– The honorable member does not understand the situation at all.
– I cannot help that. I have endeavoured to understand it, and I trust that the House will understand it a little better than some of the Tasmanian representatives apparently do. The Premier of Tasmania, when he came over said that if a motor car was landed in Victoria, and duty was paid on it, and the car afterwards went to Tasmania, afterit has run about in Victoria for a month, Tasmania would lose that duty. That is absolutely wrong, Tasmania would be credited with the duty.
– On the car being sent to Tasmania.
– An Inter-State certificate has to be taken out.
– That is not necessary. Again, it is stated that goods go through the parcels post for which Tasmania is not credited. It is said that there are a number of tailors on the mainland who send travellers throughout Tasmania, and that Tasmania does not get credit for the goods they send. Those who make that statement are wrong again. I have here an order issued by the Customs Department, and checked through the Postal Department, that Tasmania shall be credited with the correct amount of duty for every parcel that goes through.
– Does the honorable member think that suits of clothes are sent by parcels post?
– They often are. If the honorable member will give me the name of any one who has not complied with the law in this regard, I shall endeavour to have the law set in motion, if it can be done.
– Many hundreds of suits of clothes are taken back by the travellers.
– We have heard of these cases.
– And there is also a lot of jewellery.
– The Tasmanian members state that Victoria reaps the whole advantage in the case of jewellery. What are the figures ? “ The amount in Customs duty received last year in Victoria for jewellery was 10¼d. per head; in Tasmania it was 10¾d. Yet Tasmania is alleged to have lost 7s. per head in jewellery.
– The Tasmanian Statistician says the loss is 4s. or 5s. per head on the whole of the goods.
– Let me take the Customs and Excise figures for last year. The two lowest States are Tasmania and Victoria, the latter being alleged to receive the most advantage from the Tasmanian trade. The figures were, Victoria, £2 6s. 9d. per head; Tasmania, £2 is. 10d. ; or a difference of 4s. nd. in favour of Victoria. Even if Victoria obtained the whole of that difference from Tasmania, it would not reach the amount alleged ; but there are some items which can be accurately checked, such as stimulants. They are checked, not only in the collection of the import duty, but. also in the collection of Excise. The amount per head collected in Victoria on stimulants was 12s. 8d. ; and in Tasmania, it was 9s. 8d. There is 3s. out of the 4s. nd. gone already; and there remains only a matter of is. 1 id. per head in doubt. The amount collected on narcotics was practically the same in both States.
– If there is no leakage, how does the honorable member account for the fact that Tasmania gets about £[90,000 per year less from the bookkeeping system than she would on the per capita basis?
– I am not going to deal with that question at ‘this moment. I shall show, shortly, that the figures which honorable members for Tasmania have quoted are not exactly reliable, and that there has not been the shrinkage in the Tasmanian Customs revenue that they allege. I was dealing with another point; but they flew off directly I showed that there was not the amount of leakage going on that they say there is. They state that clothing is an item on which there is a great amount of difference.
– So there is. A large amount of clothing comes in on which duty is obtained by Victoria, and not credited to Tasmania.
– But it is quite possible that much of the clothing that goes to Tasmania is not dutiable. A great deal of it may be made from Australian tweed, and a lot of the linings and other parts are absolutely duty free under our Tariff.
– Duty has been paid in Victoria on most of the clothing that goes to Tasmania.
– If the honorable member can find me a single case, I shall inquire into it. The honorable member for Bass said Tasmania was losing a lot of revenue compared with what she obtained prior to Federation. The average imports into Tasmania, taking the four years 1896 to 1900, were £$$0, 000 worth from oversea countries, and over £1,000,000 from the Australian States; but, of course, Tasmania was receiving duty on the latter which she does not receive direct under Federation with Inter- State Free Trade; but she is receiving it indirectly to-day on the Inter-State transfers. The honorable member for Bass cannot find a single case where she is not.
– Forty-seven per cent, of the Inter- State transfers go to Tasmania. That shows the way that trade is going on between the two States ; and it is almost impossible to get a proper transfer.
– In 1901-2, the first complete year under the Commonwealth Tariff - or rather nine months under the Commonwealth Tariff, and three months under the old Tariff - the Tasmanian net Customs and Excise revenue was £^373,000. In the year 1908-9, it was £374,000 net, so that that does not show any great leakage. I have not taken the year 1907-8, because in that year the figures were exceptionally large. I believe that while Tasmania has not suffered much by leakage through the Customs she has suffered in other ways. Her industries were not so far advanced as those in other States. Although, when the Victorian Factories Act was extended and the Wages Boards conditions were applied to certain indus. tries in this State, some Victorian manufacturers in order to avoid the Wages Boards shifted their factories bodily to Tasmania, yet, on the whole, the Tasmanian factories have been worse off than those in Victoria. Tasmania is paying the lowest rate of wage of any of the Australian States in the whole of her factories. The honorable member for Bass knows that as well as or better than I do, because, I believe, he was a member of a Commission that inquired into the condition of Tasmanian industries. The Tasmanian factories were not so far advanced as those of other States, and that fact has given us an advantage, because Australian-made goods have gone over. Several honorable members have said that when the InterState certificates go over it is impossible for Tasmania to obtain credit for what was Australian made, and what was imported in the made up article. One day I was in a large boot factory in this city and the manufacturer was complaining of the difficulty in making up the Inter- State certificates. He showed me how he had worked it out. The toe-caps of the boots which he was sending over to Tasmania were of imported leather, and the eyelets were imported. He had to show on his Inter-State certificates how much was imported and how much was of Australian origin, so that Tasmania should obtain the advantage due to her, and which her representatives allege that she loses. The Customs Department issue instructions from time to time in connexion with the transfer of goods. As Victoria is alleged to be the State in which the greatest amount of leakage occurs, let me quote the following notice sent out by Mr. Smart, the exCollector of Customs, to the Inspectors : -
Please ascertain precisely -
If a declaration in the form provided in Order 955 (copy herein) is required by the postal officers for every transferer of a parcel by post.
Are all such declarations sent to this office for despatch to the collectors of the States to which the parcels are transferred.
The answer to those questions was “ Yes, both of the above conditions are carried out.” I have here the order showing that a declaration had to accompany every article transferred to a State, whether it contained dutiable goods or not, so that the State to which it was going should receive the benefit to be obtained if the contents were dutiable. Honorable members may inspect the order, which shows that the Department has done its utmost to provide against leakage. If there is one man that should know whether any leakage has taken place or not it is the Collector in Tasmania, because, after all, he is a Tasmanian. I think even the Tasmanian members will admit that Mr. Barnard is not likely to do any injury to his own. State.
– He is a Commonwealth officer.
– He was asked simple questions as to whether leakage had taken place or not. He was not asked to say that it had not taken place if it had.
– He could only give his opinion.
– I leave it to honorable members who are not Tasmanians to say whether he was not right in giving his opinion.
– It might be a reflection on his administration.
– It would not be any such thing.
– The honorable member does not know the civil servant.
– The honorable member has been one and I have not. He might know whether they would frame their answers to such questions to suit the particular occasion. This officer was not asked to prove the case one way or the other. He was asked to state the case fairly, as I shall show by reading the exact questions submitted to him.
– It is hardly good form to discuss the officer.
– Quite so. I did not discuss him, but other honorable members have attempted to discredit him before they know what is in his report.
– No. I said it is only his opinion, and I would prefer the opinion of the Tasmanian Government Statist to his.
– While the right honorable member for Swan was in office in May, 1907, the Collector for Tasmania was asked for a careful report as to the possibility of leakage under the system that obtains, and the steps which might be desirable to effect a remedy. It was apparently assumed that leakage did take place.
– The honorable member would be certain of it if he took the trouble to go to Tasmania to inquire into the business of his Department. He would find out that what the right honorable member for Swan says is correct. Every other Treasurer or Minister who has inquired into the matter is satisfied that there is a leakage.
– Why did they not remedy it?
– The fact that it has not been remedied is no reason why Tasmania should suffer now.
– This officer reported on the 21st May, 1907, as follows: -
The alleged leakage might be considered under the following heads : -
Loss on dutiable goods imported into other States prior to the 8th October, 1901, and subsequently transferred to Tasmania.
With regard to this, it was true that Tasmania had to consume large quantities of dutiable goods imported into other States prior to Federation, upon which no duty was collected - which amounted to some£11,000 - but whilst no doubt Tasmania was morally entitled to the duty on the goods in question, it was decided that Tasmania had no case legally, and so this duty was lost to the State.
Loss on dutiable goods - under 5s. duty - transferred to Tasmania, upon which no duty was collected in terms of departmental order, but subsequently collected on the assessed value. - Under the terms of order of 29th February, 1904, Tasmania is fully recouped for duties under this head.
Loss on dutiable goods introduced by passengers from other States in their luggage, on which no duty is collected. - There was, undoubtedly, some loss of revenue through passengers bringing from other States dutiable articles to Tasmania, for which no credit of duty was taken, but since the C.G.’s instructions of 9th December, 1903, “ warning passengers,” and of 22nd October, 1905 (certificates relating to passengers’ baggage to be retained and forwarded direct to the collectors of the various States) there is evidence that the loss under this head has been considerably reduced.
– That is after the lapse of nearly five years.
– An order was issued in 1903, and another in 1905, since when the amount has been considerably reduced. The statement continues -
This is the principal ground on which they rely -
The collector had no hesitation in saying that the practice adopted throughout the State on the initiation of the bookkeeping system or requiring Inter-State certificates to be carefully compared with the consignees’ invoice in all cases, and examined by competent officers, had saved Tasmania some thousands of pounds.
To sum up, the collector stated he knew of no leakage owing to the failure to obtain the proper credit on the dutiable goods transferred to Tasmania beyond the admitted leakage under the third head (dutiable goods introduced by passengers), and the present Customs supervision, as far as thatState was concerned, was all that was possible.
The collector added that, if the bookkeeping system were dispensed with, and a lump sum arrived at, provision should be made for periodical adjustment, as Tariff changes (especially in the nature of further protection to established industries) must at once disadvantageously affect Inter-State revenue as far as Tasmania was concerned, to say nothing of the probable ultimate direct loss of revenue from the reduction of oversea importations of the dutiable articles affected.
The then Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, directed that the memorandum should be forwarded for the information of the Acting Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Swan, but no action was taken by the then Government. The authorities were satisfied that the leakage of revenue had been largely exaggerated, and I also share that view. It is quite possible that a leakage does take place, but it certainly does not amount to £40,000, or even £25,000, per annum. Perhaps it does not amount to £5,000 a year. £2,000 or £3,000 would probably cover the total loss.
– It is more than that.
– But it is not nearly so large as the Tasmanian members have urged.
– The honorable member is only guessing.
– I am not. The representatives of Tasmania have been engaging in guesswork.
– The whole thing is a guess.
– I admit that it is; but the figures showing the actual amounts returned form a basis upon which we can work. If we were unable to thoroughly check the Customs and Excise revenue collected in respect of spirits, would not the representatives of Tasmania be inclined to say, in view of the marked difference between the returns for Tasmania and Victoria, that Tasmania consumed as much spirits as did the people of any other State, and that it was entitled to more revenue in respect of stimulants? The revenue obtained from stimulants - and these figures are most carefully checked - shows that Tasmania consumes less spirits per head than any other State.
– That being so, is it not fair to assume that she consumes a larger proportion of other dutiable goods?
– No. The most abstemious countries spend less on other commodities.
– What is the difference per head between the consumption of spirits in Tasmania and Victoria?
– I do not know the consumption per head, but there is a difference of 3s. per head in favour of Victoria in respect of the duty collected on stimulants in the two States. There is a total difference of 4s. 11d. per head in the Customs and Excise collections of the two States, and of that difference 3s. per head is in respect of spirits.
– Perhaps there are some secret stills over there.
– I should not say that; but it was once suggested that spirits were being smuggled into Tasmania.
– So that thereis a net difference of1s.11d. per head, excluding the returns in respect of spirits ?
– Yes. But even a difference of 2s. per head would not acco unt for a leakage of £25,000 per annum as suggested by honorable members repressing Tasmania.
– It would mean considerably more than the £5,000 per annum, to which the honorable member referred.
– I have not worked out the figures, but I do not think it would.
– It would make a difference of £20,000 per annum.
– If there is such a difference in respect of the revenue collected on stimulants in the two States, is it not reasonable to assume that there is a difference also in respect of the consumption of other dutiable commodities? No representative of Tasmania dare say that the figures in reference to spirits are wrong. Whilst it is probable that Tasmania has suffered a loss of revenue, I do not think that the leakage has been anything like as large as the representatives of that State have suggested. This matter affects the Treasury just as closely as it does the Department over which I preside, and I shall be pleased to ask the Treasurer to make a thorough inquiry into the whole matter, with a view of determining, if possible, the exact loss that Tasmania has sustained.
– That can never be done.
– Surely an effort should be made to ascertain the exact amount. The honorable member places reliance on the figures prepared by Mr. Johnston, the Government Statistician of Tasmania
– And he is satisfied that the loss amounts to£40,000 per annum.
– I am sure that he is wrong.
– Let us assume that it is half that amount.
– One-eighth of that amount would be nearer the mark. I endeavoured to obtain a copy of Mr. Johnston’s memorandum, in order to compare it with the return prepared by Mr. Knibbs, but could not secure one. I shall be glad to be supplied with a copy, so that I may point out in what respect the two authorities differ, I have carefully considered the matter, and shall ask the Treasurer to go into it. This claim was first brought forward at a Conference of State Premiers, at which no representative of the Commonwealth was present. It has been said time after time that on that occasion the Premier of Victoria agreed to support the claim. That, however, is not correct.
– The honorable member for Hume says that it is.
– It is not. I have not a copy of the letter written by the late Sir Thomas Bent, as Premier of Victoria, but. I have shown the honorable member for Bass a minute dealing with it.
– I have seen some letters written by him, in which he supported our claim.
– I cannot find in the Department a letter in which he did so. The Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales were asked to express their views with regard to it. The Premier of this State asked for further particulars, whilst the Premier of New South Wales, in a letter dated 27th August, 1907, replied that his Government did not see their way to agree to the proposal. They could not see any reason why the sum of £150,000 should be assumed as a proper equivalent for the abolition of Inter-State certificates. In view of this refusal, action could not be. taken as desired by the Premier of Tasmania. There is, apparently, a great discrepancy between the Treasury figures and those of the Government Statistician of Tasmania, and I shall ask the Treasurer to try to obtain, if possible, more accurate information. I am in sympathy with the island State, and shall be pleased to do all that I can to see that fair treatment is meted out to it.
.- The statement just made by the Minister is familiar tome, inasmuch as during the times that I have been more or less responsible for the ‘policy of a Commonwealth Government the subject has been brought forward again and again. The honorable gentleman was, therefore, both unwise and ungenerous whenhe said tha t no motion in regard to the question had been formerly tabled. It has been brought under notice session after session since the first Parliament met.
– That is so. The question has been brought up before.
– The honorable member for Wilmot, the honorable member for Franklin, together with their old colleagues, who all rallied to the side of Tasmania, brought this matter forward again and again. Unfortunately, whenwith every sympathy for Tasmania we asked the Department of Trade and Customs for some warrant in fact enabling us to fix a sum that would be fair compensation for any loss sustained, we never received any other replies than those to which the Minister has alluded. Under every Minister of Trade and Customs, and every
Treasurer - and notwithstanding sundry changes in the Departments themselves - the authorities have never varied in the statement that there is a relatively small and practically incalculable loss suffered by Tasmania. They have said again and again that it has never amounted to anything like £25,000 per annum. When I spoke last, I said that I was in sympathy with the remarks made by the honorable member for Bass, and my only difficulty now in regard to his motion relates to the unnecessary and, perhaps, unwarranted addendum, in which he explains that this payment is proposed - to recoup the said State for the loss sustained in Customs leakage since the advent of Federation.
– I do not mind amending that part of the motion.
– In my view, that pie* is not the best. It is not to the past, but to the present and future we ought to look. Any one who takes into account the circumstances of Tasmania when we federated*he system of taxation which then obtained and its entire transformation since - will realize that without any special injustice being done through the Customs, Tasmania has suffered exceptionally and more severely than any other State. There is in the Constitution a special section, “which authorizes us to deal with Tasmania, or any State, on the general merits of her case. It appears to me that the people of Tasmania will very probably take this matter into their own consideration before long. Their taxation is possibly the only taxation in Australia that can be described relatively as burdensome. Theirs is the only Government which, as a Government, has been seriously weakened in the discharge of its obligations by Federation. It is easy to suggest that Tasmania should try some other system of taxation, but such a step, always difficult before, will be more difficult now when the Federal Government itself intends to enter the field of direct taxation.
– -One form of taxation has wrecked three Governments in Tasmania since Federation.
– No doubt the want of pence, is more pressing in Tasmania than in any other State,, and it is going to be still more pressing. That, of course, is my opinion, but I am not taking a pessimistic view. Tasmania, as a productive country, is flourishing, and a great many of her people have benefited very largely from Federation, which has encouraged cultivation and production in various directions.
As a State, however, Tasmania is hampered, and is the only State so hampered, excepting Western Australia, whose claim, arises from an entirely different cause, and has been recognised. The Tasmanian claim has not been recognised, and it ought to be. An advantage of my argument is that the claim as modified would no longer depend on an endeavour to prove something, which, so far as friendly Ministers can find, would not be established by any reference to official figures or records ; it is a case to be considered on its broad merits to-day, having regard to the small area of the State and the exceptional nature of the taxation parted with. It appears to me that in this light Tasmania has a good case, and on that ground I am with the honorable member for Bass. I shall not labour the question further, because, if it is possible to arrive at a decision to-day, I desire to place no obstacle in the way.
– Something ought to be done, notwithstanding the figures that the Minister has placed before us. The fact has always been notorious in the commercial world, and amongst the travelling public, that Tasmania has suffered a Customs leakage under Federation. That leakage can occur in many ways not dealt with in the Minister’s minute. The leakages are certainly small, but in the aggregate they must amount to a considerable sum. Visitors from the island go to Sydney or Melbourne, where there is a larger, more varied, and cheaper market, and supply, not only themselves, but, in many instances, their friends with goods which are subject to no entry certificate, or transfer adjustment. There is another possible source which the Minister’s minute either does not deal with, or does not deal fully with, namely, the possibility of goods being exported to Tasmania from Victoria and New South Wales with a certificate that they are of Australian origin, though they may be partly of foreign origin, and, to that extent, subject to duty in those other States. The Minister may reply that that cannot be so, because traders will see on buying such goods that they have certificates in order that there may be an adjustment beween State and State. It must be remembered, however, that most of the trade in Tasmania is done on such small lines, and that the invoices are sometimes for such small amounts, that it does not pay traders to draw fine distinctions.
We know that every trader regards the certificates as a restraint on trade, and is only too glad that they should be done away with. The leakage is known to anybody who is so closely related to Tasmania as I have been, who sees numbers of friends from there in Sydney and Melbourne all the year round, as it were. Tasmania is entitled, I think, to some special consideration, seeing that her finances have been in a very straitened condition for some time past, and that she has had to resort to measures of taxation of which other States have not. as yet even thought. This House ought, in my opinion, to act generously towards the Island State. I cannot make up my mind that the estimate of my good friend, Mr. R. M. Johnston, of £40,000 is anything like correct. I rather fancy that that gentleman must have based the estimate on a number of other facts including the fact that Tasmania does lose by the free importation from the mainland
Df manufactured goods which do not contain any material from oversea. Lower class boots, for instance are imported of Australian leather and workmanship, and on these the Tasmanian Treasurer originally obtained revenue.
– I believe that is the case.
– The amount of the loss from leakage is entirely a matter of guesswork, and, under the circumstances, we should, as I say, deal generously with Tasmania. In my opinion, the motion of the honorable member for Bass places the figure too high, going beyond all the estimates that have been formed by those who have endeavoured to get at the facts from official records. I propose to adopt the valuable suggestion of the honorable member for Ballarat as to the omission of the last few words of the motion, and I move as an amendment -
That the words “twenty-five” be left out, with a- view to insert in heu thereof the word “ fifteen,” and that all the words after “ years “ be left out.
This will get rid ‘of the question whether the loss is caused by leakage or not. The Government may take the matter into consideration andi see whether they cannot afford a sum of money, so as to remove a genuine grievance. I was surprised to hear the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable .member for Hume supporting this motion, seeing that they have both held office, and have had opportunities to remove the injustice. It is ever the case with Treasurers - when in office they sit on the chest, and when out of office they make all sorts of attempts to make the reigning Treasurer sanction expenditure. However that may be, I am glad that those honorable members are willing to do what I consider a somewhat tardy act of justice to the Island State.
Amendment not seconded.
– It is my intention to move an amendment to the effect that the words “in Customs leakage” be omitted.
– It would be a pity not to leave out all the words as already proposed.
– I feel that I* cannot vote for a motion which attributes all the suffering of Tasmania to Customs leakage. We accept the fact that Tasmania has been placed at a disadvantage by entering the Union, and it is the “duty of the Commonwealth to assist the State in troubles arising from such a cause. While I believe in unification on many questions, I maintain that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to preserve the integrity of each of the States, especially in their financial relations. It would be a pity if at the very first outcry such as this we were not to do what is only fair and just. I am somewhat surprised that no steps were taken in this connexion when we had large amounts of surplus revenue, because that was the time to deal with such a matter.
– The case for Tasmania was always based on the Customs leakage, and every examination failed to give us any exact amount.
– But surely the late Government might have done something if they were desirous to assist Tasmania ? This is a question I hope we shall not see often raised, but we should be loyal to small States and do what we can to assist them. I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That, as the adoption of decimal systems of money, weight, and measures would be a great national reform, shortening the labour of computation in the operations of science, industry, commerce, and government, and giving a more effective education of children at a lower cost, the Government should seek the approval of the next Imperial Conference to such a reform of the British systems as would give a common decimal money, weight, and measure to the Empire ; and, failing this, that the Commonwealth should proceed to the consideration of such a reform in Australia and invite the cooperation of the Dominion of New Zealand therein.
By some honorable members, and some persons outside the House, I have been looked upon as a crank, or as having a bee in my bonnet, for my advocacy of the decimal system; but I have the satisfaction of knowing that, in my efforts to secure the reform which I advocate, I am supported by a very large number of citizens. In the first Federal Parliament I secured the appointment of a Select Committee to make an investigation regarding the coinage of silver, and the adoption by the Commonwealth of a decimal currency. The Committee recommended both the coinage of silver by the Commonwealth and the adoption of a decimal currency, and its report was adopted by the Parliament which, appointed the Committee, while the- recommendations were indorsed by the second Commonwealth Parliament. About the time I moved the adoption of the Committee’s report, I dealt also with a proposal for the application of the metric system to weights and measures, in a motion similar to that which I am’ now discussing. But Sir Edmund Barton, then Prime Minister, pointed out to me that the representatives of the oversea Dominions of the Empire had resolved, at an Imperial Conference, that it was desirable that their Parliaments should be urged to give consideration to the advisability of the early adoption of the metric system for use within the Empire, and asked me to amend my motion so that it would read in the following manner -
That motion was agreed to by both Houses, and forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Parliament of the Dominion of New Zealand took similar taction, passing a measure empowering the
Executive to bring in the metric system within twelve months after the issue of a proclamation. That was a step further than we went, but the issue of the proclamation was conditional upon Great Britain having taken action for the adoption of the metric system. The next Imperial Conference was held in 1907. Unfortunately, just before it met, a Bill for the adoption of the metric system was rejected at the second-reading stage in the House of Commons by 150 to 118 votes. The division was small, and, in my opinion, a chance one, resulting in the accidental negativing of the proposition. Two facts not generally recognised should be made known in this connexion. The House which rejected the Bill was newly elected. The previous House had been canvassed very carefully by the Decimal Association, whose members were fully assured of obtaining a genuine majority for the adoption of the metric system should a measure having that object in view be brought before it. The pressure of public business made that impossible. Subsequently the opponents of the metric system stirred up against the reform the hostility of the cotton spinners and manufacturers of textile fabrics, by stating that its introduction would mean the placing on the scrap heap of much valuable machinery. It is difficult to get a Legislature which has to deal with the political affairs of Ireland, Africa, Canada, Australia, and other parts of the British Empire, as well as with purely local matters of government, to give the study necessary to understand a proposal such as a change of currency and weights and measures. The Bill rejected by the House of Commons would not have necessitated the discarding of any machinery. All it did was to make the use of the metric system compulsory for the buying and selling of goods. Fabrics could still have been made of any width and length that might suit the manufacturers. All that would have been necessary would have been to describe them in terms enabling them to be sold in accordance with the metric system. No doubt, had the system been adopted, the manufacturers, when putting in new machinery, would have altered their measures to the metric system. The Bill provided for a transition stage, which allowed goods to be made and measured under the present system, but required them to be sold under the metric system. The misapprehension which existed was so great that even the operatives in the cotton mills were up in arms against the proposed reform, and strongly urged their representatives to vote against it. Later I shall show how the matter was brought before the last Imperial Conference. It evidences the fact that we are not properly represented on questions like this, because the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Prime Minister of Great Britain have not been made fully aware of what has been done in regard to them, the Parliaments of Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand having expressed a desire for the adoption of the metric system. My motion proposes not only the decimalization of the currency, but also the decimalization of weights and measures. The Decimal Association of Great Britain has always held that our system of weights and measures should be decimalized before the currency is reformed; but I, and others in Australia, have thought that it would be easier for us to decimalize our currency before making the re-adjustments necessary for the adoption of the metric system of weights and measures. A favorable opportunity for the decimalization of our currency occurred when we decided to secure the profit derivable from the coinage of silver and bronze, by having our silver and bronze currency minted for us. It had then to be determined what coins we should employ, and what inscriptions they should bear to differentiate them from the British coinage, so that it would be possible to redeem them when they had become worn. When ordering our first supply of silver and bronze coins we should have adopted the decimal system. Sir George Turner, the honorable member for Hume, and the right honorable member for Swan, all declared that my estimate of £35,000 as the profit to be derived from coining silver and bronze was excessive; but I have lived to hear two of them variously estimate the profit for the current year at £60,000, £70,000, £80,000, and , £90,000. When the proper time comes, I shall show that the profit cannot amount to £80,000 or £90,000 ; that the figures take into account the capital instead of the net profit, and allow of no provision for the reestablishment of the value of the currency by the replacement of worn coins. However, it was shown by the Committee that a profit could be made, and that profit has been made. In advocating this reform I always said that the £35,000 that we should get by buying silver at1s.10d. per ounce and selling it in the shape of silver coinage at 5s. 6d. per ounce was the very smallest part of the profit that could be derived from adopting the decimal system of money, weights, and measures all through. My purpose to-day, seeing that many honorable members of this House are not acquainted with what took place in the first Parliament, is to go over those figures again, and show what I believe would be the outcome of adopting the whole of these decimal reforms as a mere matter of money, apart from everything else. Before considering that phase of it, which, I think, is the important one, I should like to describe briefly and to outline the present position of the metric system and what it consists of. I do not want to give a textbook definition of it, but I should like some honorable members who probably have not taken a great interest in the subject to understand how it stands to-day, what it is, and what its adoption offers us. Mr. Arnold Forster, who once occupied an important position as Minister of the Crown in Great Britain, wrote a little handbook called The Coming of the Kilogram, dealing with the metric system, and its probable adoption in Great Britain as a reform. He gives the following reasons why it should be adopted : -
Since that was written, nearly 50,000,000 more people have adopted the metric system.
A Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed in February, 1895 : - “ To inquire whether any and what changes in the present system of weights and measures should be adopted.” This Committee making a most searching examination recommended the following measures :
I should like briefly to put on record, in the interests of those who are now studying the question outside as well as inside the House, what the metric system really is. In the early days of the French Republic, when changes were being made in all directions, it was thought necessary to deal with the very antiquated system of weights and measures then in force in France - a system quite as antiquated as that which we use to-day, but not one whit worse. This inquiry was not peculiar to the French revolutionists, because prior to that, James Watt, our own engineer, had begun to consider whether it would not be possible for the English-speaking world to adopt the foot, and decimalize it upwards and downwards, as the measure of length throughout English communities, in the hope that it would become the common measure of the whole world. But these French savants met and decided that the best plan to get some fixed scale upon which to Base all their measures was to take the measurement of the earth itself, and divide that. Accordingly, observations were taken to decide the exact length of a quadrant of the earth’s surface from the pole to the equator. The one ten-millionth part of this distance was adopted as the metre - a measure which is somewhat equivalent in length to our own yard. The metre was adopted as their measure of length, and from it they deduced the other measures of capacity and weight. By taking three Greek words and three Latin words as prefixes of the word “metre,” the word “litre” - the measure of capacity; and the word “gramme” - the measure of weight ; they arrived at seven different classes of weights and measures in each of those three forms. These gradations were all decimal. The kilometre, the hektometre, and dekametre were respectively one thousand times, one hundred times, and ten times the metre, while the decimetre, centimetre, and millimetre were respectively the one-tenth, one-hundredth, and one-thousandth part of the metre. To arrive at a measure of capacity, they took the one-tenth part of the metre, or decimetre, and cubed it, making a vessel holding about1¾ pints of water, and they called that the litre. Using the same prefixes, they got a scale by which they could describe the various multiplications and divisions of a litre. Then the weight of this quantity of water at a given temperature is the kilogramme, a little over 2 lbs. of our weight. They thus obtained a system by which their weights and measures were beautifully inter-related. From the dimensions of any vessel containing liquid, they could give at once the weight of the contents. That standard was in regard to water, but if it were required to obtain the weight of a similar quantity of oil, spirits, or other liquid, all that was necessary was to multiply by the specific gravity of the liquid in question. The wonderful feature of the metric system of weights and measures is undoubtedly its perfect inter-relation, but when the system is examined there is no longer cause for wonder, because that is the secret of the whole system. Under our system we sometimes find inter-relation, as, for instance, we can reckon that something at1s. a cwt. is £1 a ton, because there are twenty cwt. in a ton, and twenty shillings in a pound. That occurs in our system only occasionally, but in the metric system it exists throughout, and you thus get rid of all sorts of complications. You have less liability to error, a much more rapid system of calculation, and you save in all the operations of the market, of science, and of human work generally, including the great work of education itself. We should understand it better, perhaps, if we were in a position to say that ten farthingsmade a penny, ten pennies a shilling, ten shillings a pound, and ten pounds a “ George” or an “ eagle.” If we could then also say that ten grains made an ounce, ten ounces one pound, ten pounds one stone, and ten stones one ton ; or ten inches one foot, ten feet one yard, ten yards one furlong, and ten furlongs one mile; or that ten drachms made one pint, ten pints one gallon, ten gallons one hogshead, and ten hogsheads one run. We should then have a perfect decimal system for money, weights, and measures, but it would not be half as good as the metric system, because there would not be the same relation of dimensions and cubic contents to weight that are obtained under the metric system. We could, of course, alter the foot to make it thirteen inches or eleven inches, or whatever was necessary to secure this relation. That was just what the French scientists did when they adopted the metre as the standard. They made these things fit in so well with one another that all the calculations that have to be made in daily life were not only reduced so tar as regards the quantity of labour or time required, but their accuracy was increased and made more perfect, while the time requisite for learning them was considerably shortened. The first point I wish to deal with is the reduction of the cost of education by adopting a decimal system of money and a metric system of weights and measures. The committee on decimal coinage, of which I had the honour to be chairman, took evidence from experts, school teachers, and men interested in education, that it would make a difference of from one to two years in the education of every child if we could abolish our present wretched system, or want of system, in weights, measures, and money, and introduce a simple decimal relation throughout. Similar evidence has been tendered, at inquiries made by commissions in Great Britain, by experts with still larger experience and greater qualifications than the witnesses whom we examined. When honorable members have before them a reform that will make a difference of at least one year’s education to every child in the land, and when they can assist towards its adoption by the whole of their nation, and possibly by the whole of the English speaking race, does it not appeal’ to them as a matter into which we can afford to throw :i little energy and enthusiasm in order to help it forward? That it will come I do not hesitate for a moment to believe; but it will probably take a long time before it does come. Iri the meantime we are going on in our old lumbering style, doing twice the work we ought to be doing, and laying up all that heavy work for the children who are to come after us. We should only be doing some part of that duty which many of our ancestors did for us, if we sought, even if we cannot realize this reform in our own day, to improve the conditions for the generations that are to come after us. I wish now to draw attention to the education bill for the Commonwealth. The figures for 1908, the latest available, show that the total population of the Common: wealth was then 4,275,306, and that there were enrolled in the State schools of Australia 618,836 children. The average attendance was rather low, being only 446,146, and the cost of educating these children was ,£2,304,053. That gives a total net cost of £5 19s. 7d. for each child on the average attendance. But we have to add to those figures the cost of education in private schools. The actual cost is not obtainable from our statistics, but the enrolment is set down at 152,399, and the average attendance at 125,530. Since our State system of education costs £5 19s. 7d. per head, we may fairly assume that the average cost in the private schools is at least ,£10 per head for the number enrolled. I think that it is considerably higher, but we shall be quite justified in estimating it at not less than £10 per head. At that rate, we have a cost of .£1,523,990, or a total of £4,212,866 spent in the Commonwealth upon the education of the young. If it be correct, as experts contend, that onesixth of” that education could be saved by means of this system, then, taking the average period of a child’s education under the national system as being not more than six years, we should be able to save the community ,£700,000 per annum. Surely that is worth attempting to realize. If it were shown that a saving of ,£700,000 per annum: could be effected in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, or in connexion with our railway system, or any other public service, the Government which refused to make it would be soon turned out of office.
– But it means more than that.
– I am coming to that point. Surely, if such a saving could be effected, we ought to be able to bring it about. As the Prime Minister has said, we could save even more, and the best use to which we could put such a saving would be to devote it to higher technical instruction - to an effort to make our children more competent citizens and better qualified to compete with the people of other countries. There is a “keen industrial fight going on in all directions, and it seems to me that unless we alter our methods we shall be no longer able to compete with other lands. Much is said nowadays of what the British nation has to fear from the constant building of Dreadnoughts byGermany and other foreign Powers, but probably we have more to fear from Germany by reason of our deficiencies in technical education than we have in the matter of Dreadnoughts. The British nation cannot afford to continue much longer its obsolete system of moneys, weights and measures. Germany, France,- the United States, Belgium, and other countries are stepping fast towards the important position that Great Britain has occupied in the markets of the world. They are coming nearer and nearer to us, and we must have the best available system of moneys, weights and measures, instead of the antiquated system which we follow, and which is absolutely the worst. A smart American engaged in selling machinery once told me that when he put before an Englishman some facts relating to improved machinery that he had for sale, he usually met with the answer, “ Splendid ; I wish I could afford to buy it.” When he went to an American, however, the reply he received was, ‘ ‘ Splendid ; I cannot afford to be without it!” There is a great deal of insular prejudice associated with Britons; and we are the last to adopt great reforms. This prejudice is stronger in the Old Land than it is in these new lands of the Empire. - We do occasionally show that we have intelligence enough to adopt an improvement upon old and obsolete methods to which we have been accustomed. We showed England the way with the secret ballot, the Torrens Act, and a great deal of social legislation, such as the payment of old-age pensions. I appeal to the supporters of the Government, who constitute the majority in this House, to unite with me in sending, through the Ministry this request to the Imperial Conference, with such an expression of opinion that statesmen at Home will be under no misapprehension as to what we in Australia want. If England does not see her way clear, or is too fully occupied with other political questions, to give the necessary consideration to this great reform, let Australia, in the terms of the motion, take up the reform for herself. I hold still that, in view of the stoppage in the supply of the new coinage, consequent upon the lamented death of King Edward, the Government ought to consider whether we should not carry out the expressed opinion of past Parliaments, and what, I hope, is going to be the opinion expressed by this Parliament, by adopting the decimal system. I referred, in the early portion of my remarks, to the way in which a reference of this kind to the Imperial Conference is taken up at Home. At page 192 of vol. 111. of the Parliamentary Papers for 190;, honorable members will find a report of the Imperial Conference, dealing with the metric system. That report covers one and three-quarter pages in the largest imaginable type. At that Conference the very cream of the statesmanship of the Empire was represented. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and several of the great Ministers of the Imperial Government were present, as well as Prime Ministers or other leading representatives of various parts of the Empire. And yet, what happened in regard to this matter? I invite honorable members to read the report in order that they may see for themselves the way in which the Conference dealt with a suggestion for a valuable and practical reform. It was as if we had brought before a lot of dilettanti art connoisseurs a question foreign to all to which they had been accustomed and had asked them to consider it. They looked at it, turned it over, and said, “ Yes, we have heard something about this matter,” but they knew nothing at all about it. It seems to me that even Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, had not a clear conception of the fact that a few weeks previously a measure relating to the question’ had been introduced in the House of Commons by a private member. He said he “ thought “ that there had been a discussion on the subject in the House and that the measure was rejected ; but he did not recollect the numbers. He added that the textile manufacturers were in arms against such a proposal, and that it would be impossible to induce them to agree to it. Probably he had never seen the Bill. I do not wish to say anything derogatory of that great gentleman, but we know that great men, even in this Parliament, sometimes allow proposals to be carried without knowing much about them. I know of two gentlemen who, when holding Ministerial office, expressed a wish that the decimal system should be adopted iri Australia. One of them said to me, “ I should like to see the decimal system adopted, but you must keep to the sovereign and you must not get rid of the penny.” He wished the decimal system to be adopted and the penny to be retained, although under a decimal system it would be utterly impossible to retain both coins. Another gentleman of good position in one of our Administrations told me that he believed I was moving in the right direction, but that we must not get rid of the half-crown; that, he said, was the best coin we had. We could not have a decimal system and retain in it some wretched coin, such as the half-crown, for which some one expressed a preference. Whether the Government have or have not made up their mind on the general question of the adoption of a decimal system, they at all events are entitled to credit for having, so to speak, put their foot down and determined to abolish the half-crown.
– Would the system which the honorable member proposes affect the sovereign ?
– The proposal of the Select Committee does not. Under it the sovereign is retained as the gold basis of the system, and the florin and the cent, the hundredth part of a florin, are proposed. There would be florins and cents ; and the sovereign of the value of ten florins would remain a perfectly integral part of the decimal system. The half-crown, however, would be out of place in such a system. I wish now to refer to what took place at the Imperial Conference. One representative said that there was a great deal to be said against this proposition, and added that Herbert Spencer was disposed to it. Mr. Runciman interjected, “ He was a duo-decimalist.” If I thought th°«a man of the colossal intellect of Herbert Spencer, a man of his clear knowledge and capacity to grasp every body of facts that can be searched out from amongst the records of the world, were opposed to the decimal system of moneys, weights, and measures, I should begin to doubt the correctness of my own conclusions. I should begin to think that the decimal system was not worth adopting, and my own faith in that reform would be shaken. When I first heard of this statement I turned up the works of Herbert Spencer and ultimately discovered that he had published a little pamphlet against the adoption of the metric system. But what was the position? He was against the adoption of the metric system, not because he wished to retain our antiquated system with all its anomalies, but because he wanted something still better. The metric system is a decimal system based on the tenth. Herbert Spencer desired a system based on thetwelfth, so that we should alter our system of counting as well as our money. Instead of counting in tens, hundreds, and thousands, we should count in dozens grosses, and grand grosses. Taking up my pen I found out that by transferring the present cypher - making it stand for twelve instead of ten as we do now by putting the figure “ i ;’ before it - by introducing the “ onze “ and the” douze “ for the eleventh and twelfth, we could carry on all our calculations in addition, multiplication, and division, in dozens and grosses instead of in tens and hundreds. We can easily see what Herbert Spencer had in view ; he desired to substitute 1 2 for 10. in an ideal system of weights, measures, and moneys for the whole world. His suggestion had the further advantage of binary divisions, which are impossible to the same extent in the decimal system. We may divide 10 into 5, 2, and 1, giving three possible divisions, whereas 12 may be divided into 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1. But it was too great a reform to hope accomplishing. Spencer desired that 500,000,000 people, who at present use the metric system, and are thoroughly satisfied with it,, should make a complete change to a system that was little better than their own. I have here reports from British Consuls all over the world ; and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the testimony is this : where the metric system has once been adopted, and the initial difficulties of the transition have been surmounted, there has been no retrogression. It could not be expected, therefore, that those nations would give up a system, which works with every satisfaction, in favour of one that offered little further advantage. The last country to accept the metric system is Denmark, where it has been made compulsory. Russia has adopted the system for army purposes, and a great many Government purposes, and entirely in some of her provinces like Finland; and it is proposed in a few years to establish it throughout Russia proper. I shall not read all the Consuls’ reports, but ask honorable members to take my word as to their testimony in favour of the system. The diplomatic representatives of the British Government in various parts of the world were called upon by the Board of Trade to ascertain the system in use in the various countries, and, where it was the metric system, to report when it had been adopted, what measures were taken in its adoption to accustom the people to it, whether the people had grown accustomed. to it rapidly, and whether there was any disposition to return to the obsolete weights and measures. As I have already said, nineteen-twentieths of the reports speak of the metric system as eminently satisfactory, and show that no nation, having once adopted it, has ever thought of abolishing it. There are other consular reports which I have seen, but which I have not with me, showing that Great Britain, for a number of years past, has been losing large orders from various parts of the world because her machinery, fabrics, and manufactures are made up under the old measurements. Most of the markets of the world use the new system, and orders, instead of going to Great Britain, as they once did, are going, as we know in Australia, to Belgium, Germany, and other places. As an instance of how easy it is for an enterprising people - such as, I hope,’ we are in Australia - to adopt the metric system, I should like to read a report of what was done in the works of the celebrated Baldwin Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia. I have been in those works, and I have no hesitation in saying that they represent probably the most up-to-date engineering shop in the world. This company got from France an order for a large amount of railway material, and, of course, the condition was that it should be made up under the metric system. The report on this matter states -
The drawings and specifications with the order came from the Paris-Orleans Railway, France, and were metric throughout. Instead of changing them into English units, the director, Mr. Samuel Vauclain, merely made shopdrawings in metric units, and prepared metric gauges and templets which, with some purchased rules, graduated to millimetres, were sufficient. All measures were expressed in millimetres, and nowhere was an English unit allowed to appear. Not a mistake was made. The common argument that an American workman cannot use the metric system, and that it is suitable only for scientific people, was refuted on the first day ; in fact, millimetres were found to be simpler than feet and inches, which are liable to be misread on account of the accent marks. The director was converted to the metric system. He had some years previously advised the Franklin Institute that Congress should encourage that system by using it in government contracts, for which higher rates should be paid, but now he thinks that no such aid is needed. His workmen preferred the new system, and took it up “ without any trouble at all. With them, to use it once was to understand it.” As regards the cost of new -gauges, templets, and the like, the director said there would be no loss, for these things are constantly wearing out, whereupon they are repaired by inserting new bushings which can lie made to metric measure. The execution of this contract for locomotives went on while the rest of his works were using English measures, so, he thinks, the change could be made anywhere with little inconvenience. The important point of all this is that the metric system was forced into the Baldwin Engineering Works at short notice by an order which required execution within six months, yet no serious trouble or expense was incurred. Is it reasonable then that certain engineers, and manufacturers elsewhere should oppose a law which would not force anything at all upon them, but upon commerce only, where the buying and selling of goods would have to be done by metric weights and measures? Moreover, the public would have longer notice than the Baldwin Company, for the law would allow at least two or three years to prepare for the change.
– Even five or ten years would not be out of place.
– I think the Prime Minister is taking a most extravagant view. The Coinage Committee had the evidence of men who lived in Germany and Austria when the change was there made, and they told us that they saw no difficulty in a complete transition in two years. As chairman of the Committee, I asked some of those gentlemen whether they thought the average intelligence in Australia would enable us to make the change in a shorter time, and, generally speaking, they admitted that it could be made here more rapidly than in the Old Country, on account of the adaptability of our people to changes of all kinds.
– My point is that the change would be of great benefit even if it did take ten years.
– Quite so; but it is not necessary to take so long a time. The only other report I should like to read .from is in reference to America, because so much depends on . the attitude of the United States towards this question.
– Do not English manufacturers do what the Baldwin Company did?
– No: one of the most extraordinary things about English manufacturers is. as I said before, their insular prejudice. I do not say that all English manufacturers are the same, but many of them, if, for instance, they were asked to supply so many thousands of knives of a certain kind, would say. “ We don’t make them, but we will give you something better.” There is a peculiar indisposition on the part of British manufacturers to adapt themselves to the altered requirements of trade. On the other hand it has been said that the German manufacturer never desires to sell you what he has, but only what you want. I know, of course, that there are quite a number of
English manufacturers who have voluntarily adopted the metric system ; and, because of this, it has been said that the change should be left to voluntary action. But we cannot hope to bring the change into successful operation without legislation, because voluntary effort would take aeons to accomplish the purpose. In regard to the United States, the British Consular report contained the following : -
British weights and measures are used generally throughout the United States, and include the Winchester bushel and the wine gallon. In 1866 the metric system was made lawful, but not compulsory. In 1875 the United States, with sixteen other governments, joined the International Metric Convention, at Paris, where the nations by joint contributions maintain a. bureau for the preservation and reproduction of metric standards, copies of which were received in1890 by the President in the presence of a distinguished assembly.
I ask honorable members to realize what that means. The system is so far recognised as that which must eventually be adopted by the whole world, that every civilized Government has stored away in its Treasury, or some other safe place, duplicates of the metric weights and measures, so that they may be preserved in case of any great catastrophe. We do not find anybody preserving the 14 lbs. weight of Great Britain, so that posterity may have the satisfaction of knowing the antiquated system we use -
The use of the system in the United States has generally been confined to the geodetic surveys, educational institutions, and laboratories. It is the basis of all electrical measurements. Its use in the public and other schools has made a large portion of the population familiar with it, and their demands have resulted in several Bills laid before Congress, none of which, however, have passed, but the recent acquisition of territory in which it is used must soon force the question upon manufacturers. They raise objections, but would no doubt prefer the metric system were it not for the cost of changing their tools and machines.
The United States maintain the metric system in their new possessions, the Philippine Islands, Porto Rico, and Guam. In 1894 that system was also made obligatory in the Medical Service of the Army and Navy of the United States, and afterwards in that of Public Health. Many other acts of the Government show that its object is to accustom, first its officers, then the public, to the new weights and measures before enforcing them in commerce. This plan has been successful, and there are now cities where, by public choice, the metric system is used in medical prescriptions almost to the exclusion of the old measures.
I can assure honorable members that as in America, medical men in Australia are using the metric system in their prescriptions, many of which I have seen, and there is no qualified chemist here who is not able to make them up. Under all the circumstances, I ask honorable members to help me to send this motion Home in such form as to show that in Australia, at any rate, we desire to assist in bringing about the adoption of this system by the Englishspeaking world. I am free to confess that, though as chairman of the Coinage Committee, I reported in favour of adopting the sovereign, and decimalizing it down to the 1,000th part as the best system we could adopt in view of our connexion with the Empire, I say at once, that if Great Britain is not going to adopt a decimal system of coinage, a better base than the sovereign can be found. If we had no hope of seeing Great Britain adopt the decimal system, the report of the Coinage Committee would have to be reconsidered, because the idea of decimalizing the sovereign was to keep in accord with the system Great Britain was likely to adopt. But if Great Britain is not going to adopt the decimal system we should reconsider our position. If we cannot obtain a system which will be adopted by Great Britain, we had better adopt one common to the United States and Canada, whose populations within a short time will number from 150,000,000 to 200,000,000. This will bring us in accord with an immense body of enterprising people who are in the van of civilization and speaking our language. It would be better to be in accord with them in a matter of this kind than to continue with our obsolete system,or to adopt the decimalization of the sovereign with no hope of its adoption by Great Britain. Mr. Watson, when leading a Government here, said that the currency and weights and measures reforms must stand or fall together ; in that I think he was wrong. There is nothing to prevent the adoption of one before the adoption of the other. The adoption of one would facilitate the adoption of the other. Seeing that the alteration of our currency would not affect our trade relations with Great Britain to anything like the same extent that an alteration of our weights and measures would do, I suggest the decimalization of our currency first. If we take that course, it will be followed by New Zealand, and the other self-governing dominions of the Empire. But should we fail to obtain the decimalization of the sovereign, and the adoption of a system in accord with that of Great Britain, we should adopt the dollar and cent basis of the United States and Canada.
[5-331 - I second the motion. The honorable member for North Sydney has done- a service to the Commonwealth by bringing forward this matter as a private member, and as Chairman of the Committee which presented a very elaborate report which was discussed and adopted by the House. My position now is what it was when the matter was first considered. I entirely favour the principle of the proposed reform. The only consideration with me is how long it will take the people to become sufficiently educated on the subject to be in ‘deadly earnest about it. All that the Government can do will be done to secure the adoption of the views which the honorable member has put forward. I agree with him that the decimalization of om currency, and the adoption of the metric system of weights and measures do not. stand or fall together ; but I think that he will admit that it would be well if the two systems could be adopted by one act of legislation, and brought into operation as nearly as possible simultaneously. One advantage of this would’ be that the youth of Australia would be taught both systems at the same time. Like all enthusiasts, the honorable member is anxious to see his proposed reform come about.
– I wish to live to see it.
– The honorable member naturally desires to accelerate its pace. I do not care to promise more than I intend to perform, but I have always thought that honorable members may live to see this reform. What are three, five, or even ten years for the preparation for a revolutionary change such as is proposed ? Had the matter been taken in hand when the honorable member first brought it forward, and had some legislative advance been made then, most of the difficulties in the way of the adoption of the proposed reform would by now have disappeared. The apprehension of manufacturers regarding the loss which the change would cause to them in requiring the discarding of machinery, with which the honorable member has dealt so effectively, would have been allayed, and all the re-adjustments and arrangements necessary to the new conditions would have been made. No doubt, time will soften any blow which the reform may strike, and make it easier to bring about a change which, although revolutionary, is in harmony with the best thought in the world. I shall not discuss the subject as the honorable member has done, but shall content myself with accepting the motion by saying that the terms convey nothing more than a Government which holds the view which I have expressed should endeavour to give effect to.
– I do not know whether the Prime Minister has read the motion. In seconding it he undoubtedly commits his Government to more than his words seem to imply. After recognising the value of the decimal system of measures, the motion affirms that -
The Commonwealth should proceed to the consideration of such a reform in Australia and invite the co-operation of the Dominion of New Zealand therein. ‘
– Does the honorable member object to the proposal to invite the cooperation of New Zealand?
– No; but did the Prime Minister, when saying that he accepted the motion, mean that he proposes to “ consider “ it in the ordinary Ministerial sense of the word, or that he proposes to try to effect the reform which it advocates.
– The latter. Tie says that he is quite in favour of it.
– Yes ; but he thinks there is no hurry. He says that five, ten, or fifteen years hence will be soon enough.
– I said three, five, or ten years.
– The honorable member asked, “ What are three, five, or ten years in the life of a people, that we should bring about the too sudden alteration of conditions?” Although he has accepted the motion, I think it is with the mental reservation that the consideration to be given to it is to be that academic consideration which will not worry either the Ministry or any one else.
– I think that the honorable member will live to see the reform come about.
– I shall live to see those who are now Ministers sitting again on the Opposition side of the chamber, and, as they were when out of power before, extremely urgent in requiring all sorts of things to be done.
– We have already done something towards the decimalization of the currency by abolishing the half-crown.
– I am personally in favour of the adoption of the decimal system of currency and weights and measures.,, greatly because it will lessen the cost of computation, which is a well-known factor in commercial calculation. It will also lessen the task of our school children in learning tables of values and weights and measures. I venture to say that honorable members themselves do not know all the tables of British weights and measures. But while the bulk of our trade is done with Great Britain, the adoption of the metric system would not do away with die use of the other, or make it unnecessary for our children to learn it. The adoption of this reform by Australia alone would not decrease, but would increase, the cost of computation.
– Only a small proportion of our people have to do with the checking of foreign invoices.
– That may be so; but every child at school must be given the chance to become a clerk in a merchant’s office. All our school children do not eventually become clerks, but they have to be educated so that they may qualify for clerical employment ; and were we to adopt the decimal system before Great Britain made a change, they would have to learn both the British tables of weights and measures and the metric tables.
– They learn both now.
– Then nothing will be gained by adopting this reform before the Mother Country does so. I hope that the Ministry will urge on the next Imperial Conference the desirability of the reform.
– We should have done so even if this motion had not been moved ; but the honorable member for North Sydney is entitled to credit for having brought the matter forward so early in the life of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The Prime Minister is not the only person who recognises the value of the honorable member’s work. But missionaries can be too zealous, and it may be that the honorable member for North Sydney is going beyond what is practical in proposing the adoption of a change before Great Britain, with which country the bulk of our trade is done, has consented to it. However beneficial this reform may be, it is revolutionary.
– All progress is revolutionary.
– My honorable friend’s inclusion in the Ministry - where I am delighted to see him - was almost revolutionary. A phase of the matter of which we must not lose sight is that the more difficulties cast in the way of the transaction of trade between two countries, the greater its diversion from its natural channels. Were we to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney, and bring our coinage into line with that of the United States of America, it would, while Great Britain retained her present system, tend to divert our trade to America.
– Has that happened in the case of Canada?
– I ask whether it is worth while to divert trade to the United States. The trade connexion of none of our other customers is so valuable to us as is that of the Mother Country.
– Trade has nothing to do with currency.
– It has a great deal to do with currency under the modern methods of distribution. Had the Minister been in America of recent years, he would be aware that the middleman is largely disappearing, and that a great deal of what is known as country business is done by correspondence by all the large manufacturers. .What, for want of recollection of the exact term, I may call trade catalogues, are’ sent to the home of the farmer, and if the prices, sizes, weights, and measures are stated in figures with which he is intimately acquainted, the merchants are more likely to secure his business than if what to him would be a foreign system were adopted. This method of distribution makes it necessary that you should adopt the system of computation used by the country with which you wish to trade. If it is desired that we should trade with the United States in preference to the Mother Country, well and good. That is not the desire of the honorable member for North Sydney, but it would be one of the effects of the adoption of his proposal, and would injure the Mother Country. When we consider that no other country in the world can occupy commercially to Australia the same position as does the Mother Country, we should be acting in a revolutionary way, and in direct opposition to our own interests if we threw any bars in the way of our trade intercourse with her. She takes absolutely all our surplus products. She is the only country in the world that wants our surplus products, except our wool. England is the great market for the food products of the world. Are we to make it more difficult for our farmers to understand the ruling prices across the seas, and perhaps throw them more and more into the hands of the middleman, enabling him to make more profit out of them than he ought to make?
If we wish to keep pace with the new methods of trade distribution we must do all we can to protect the least knowledgable members of the community by seeing that they understand the measures dealt with in the ordinary market quotations of the country to which they send their supplies. Supposing that wheat or butter is selling at such and such a figure in London, and the farmers here are shipping through some co-operative company, if they do not realize the value in pounds, shillings, and pence of their produce per ton, but are working on some other basis, they will be undoubtedly more in the hands of the middlemen, who will make the calculations for them. We ought to be very careful in altering our system before the Mother Country alters hers. There are difficulties iri the way, not the least of which is that of altering the machinery. But I do not know that that difficulty is so great in the majority of cases as my honorable friend suggests, because, after all, the ordinary dimensions given in English measures, are now transvertible into corresponding foreign types. Take a matter over which the Ministry have recently made themselves masters. Although a short time ago it was a matter of opprobrium for an honorable member of this house to own a motor car, the Ministry have recently bought one, and ride about in it a good deal. In that particular industry you will find that the engine measurements of the same car are given in an English paper in inches, and in a French or German paper in their metrical equivalents. This question is not at all a small one. The co-operation of the Dominion of New Zealand cannot be too hastily dismissed. When we consider the difficulty we have had in arriving at a complete understanding with New Zealand on the defence question, we can realize that in this matter, where the community of interest is not so clearly established, we shall probably have considerable difficulty in arriving at a final conclusion with that Dominion. We treat the matter as though, if the Prime Minister cannot, by his inimitable manner and courtly disposition, charm into agreement with him the delegates to the next Imperial Conference, he is, hey presto, to send across to New Zealand a despatch couched in such emphatic language that the people of the Dominion, who have refused to cooperate with us on the defence question, will immediately fall in with our views on this matter. If they do not bow down and come into conformity with us it will mean that the grower of mutton in New Zealand will be in a better position to compete in. the English market than the grower of mutton in Australia. Do honorable members, merely to give effect to a very laudable missionary zeal in a most praiseworthy direction, mean to impose on our producers such difficulties and handicaps? Take the apple industry of Tasmania as an example. Do honorable members wish to put Tasmania in a difficulty in competing with a similar industry which will undoubtedly grow up in New Zealand if we throw bars in the way of easy intercourse between ourselves and the Mother Country? I do not think that Tasmanian representatives would care to see that done. I am sure the butter producers throughout Australia do not want it done, and that every producer in the land would wish his own weights and measures to be on the same basis as those of at least half of the people with whom he deals. I think over 40 per cent, of the butter produced in Australia is shipped to England, so that forty men in every hundred in that industry find a market there for the produce of their toil. If they are shut off from that market they will find it more difficult to earn their livelihood. Surely we are not going to throw a bar in the way of their earning their livelihood. In the same way 86 men in every 100 in the principal mining industries of Australia have the market for their produce 16,000 miles away, and 98 per cent, of the men engaged in the pastoral industry find markets for the products of their labour across the seas. And so on through the whole gamut of Australian industry. I do not think, therefore, that this is a subject to be dealt with by the Prime Minister in the easy, nonchalant manner in which he dismissed it a few moments ago. He said it was not the time for him to traverse the subject, and that he had not given the same time and attention to it as had the honorable member for North SydneyWithout going into the question, he could say that he was entirely in favour of, and seconded, the motion, regarding it, I suppose, purely as an academic one. That is no way for him to go into an important matter of this kind. I think I have said enough to show that it is of considerable importance to the people of Australia, and especially to the producing community.
– What more could the Prime Minister have said?
– If he had taken the trouble to go into the question, he could have said so, and undertaken to give it his most earnest consideration. He could haveadded that, having gone into it, he believed the Imperial Conference ought t». accept the principle laid down in the first portion of the motion. The House would then have had some guarantee that it had a Prime Minister who treated his responsibilities seriously, and was determined t to see that the welfare of Australia was not neglected in the consideration of a matter of such immense importance. But he did not do so. A Minister who can drive the whole of Australia into contributions to his party funds in one night, finds considerable difficulty—
– The honorable member must not refer to that question.
– I was not going to refer to it further.
– The honorable member is continually taking that course. He knows that he is out of order, and he must not do it.
– To bring my views under the notice of the House, I move -
That the word “ and,” line i r, be left out. 1 move the amendment in order to test the question whether we ought to proceed to make this change before the Mother Country agrees to adopt the same method. If that amendment is unsuccessful, I would suggest that we do the next least harmful thing, and proceed to consider the possibility of co-operating with New Zealand. Our trade with New Zealand is of considerable importance, although insignificant in comparison with that which we do with the Mother Country. We ought not, at any rate, to make it more difficult to communicate with New Zealand in the future by having a different system of measuring our wealth, our products, and all our commercial undertakings.
– We are going to have wireless telegraphy between Australia and New Zealand.
– I am afraid we shall wait a long time for that, if it is left to my honorable friend. The question of wireless telegraphy shows how slow this portion of the world is to realize its opportunities. When we consider how we might have fostered our relations with New Zealand and the whole of the South Pacific by adopting, with reasonable despatch, cheap and up-to-date methods of immediate communication, we realize that it is quite possible for a Parliament like this to overlook the danger of making more difficult the communications of trade exchange between this country and New Zealand. I do not know how the Prime Minister will proceed to put his promise into execution. He undoubtedly promised the House and the country just now to make this suggestion at the next Imperial Conference, and to let that body thoroughly understand that, if it does not surrender at once to his diplomatic charms, he will use the bludgeon of Australian independent action by setting up a local system out of harmony with the system of the Empire.
– The honorable member is only wasting time.
– That is not a fair remark to make to a man who tries to utter a warning note in dealing with so important a question. The more it is discussed, the more solid and more valuable is the work which this Parliament turns out likely to be. Whatever admiration we may have for the qualities and zeal of the mover of the motion, we should not immediately accept it without criticism or prudent thought as to its consequences. I accept his main contention that the metric system is the best ; but I say, without fear of contradiction, that it will be a very bad thing for the Australian producer and the Australian people generally, if we adopt it before it is adopted by the people with whom we do the vast bulk of our trade. I feel that the Prime Minister took a leap in the dark in thinking that this was purely an academic question, which was never likely to again trouble the serene Ministerial atmosphere. He made a rash promise, and, apparently, it was easy for him to say he accepted the motion. I think he misread it by taking “ consideration “ to mean Ministerial consideration. I understand the mover of the motion to mean that, failing its adoption at the Conference in England, the Government should go straight ahead, and start to put it into effect.
– Is that what the Prime Minister meant when he accepted, and seconded, the motion? Is it at all usual for a member of the House to second a motion when he does not quite understand what it means? Did the Prime Minister understand it in the same way as the honorable member for North Sydney understood it? I cannot draw the honorable gentleman, but I am inclined to think that he did not understand the motion - that he thought it was an unloaded instrument for the ventilation of a harmless and visionary proposal. The Prime Minister apparently does not understand the motion in the sense that the mover of it does. The honorable gentleman accepted, on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth, a number of responsibilities without really knowing what they were. We have got so far, and Heaven knows how far we shall get when we hear a little more from the honorable gentleman. If he did not understand the motion, why did he second it? Why did he not wait until he had found out something about it before doing so? Or was he aware of the intricacies of the subject, and was he eager not to be led to commit himself to it without he could say something illuminating upon its many complexities ? It is possible that he “ funked” the situation. Whatever his grounds, if I have done no more in rising at the present juncture, I have, at all events, exposed the fact that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth has seconded a motion as to the terms of which he disagrees with the mover. He does not think that it commits him to immediate action. The mover on the other hand thinks that it does, and the Prime Minister ought to have known that it was loaded. The honorable gentleman, however, has accepted full responsibility.
– This is all badinage.
– I realize that perhaps the words which I have addressed to the Prime Minister will induce him to reconsider the very hasty promise he made to-day, and to give us an instance of the diplomatic and statesmanlike prudence with which he occasionally invests his office, in the face of the immediate risk of some far-reaching danger.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Tudor) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Hughes) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd August, vide page 1055) :
Clause 2 (Definitions).
.- The definition clause of a Bill sometimes looks very simple; but it often covers very large extensions ofpolicy; and, of course, affects the whole direction and scope of the measure. It seems to me that this definition clause does very considerably widen the jurisdiction of the Court, assuming that it can be widened to the extent the clause purports; and I shall endeavour, shortly, without trespassing on ground to which, evidently, other honorable members would like to devote their attention, to explain the reasons for my surmise. In the first place, there is a definition of “employé.” In the Act, “employé” is defined to mean “ any employé in any industry,” while, under the Bill, it includes “ any person whose usual occupation is that of employé in any industry.” Then there is an extension of the definition of “industrial dispute,” and that is accomplished, whether intentionally or not, though I think intentionally, by shifting from the leading predicate or first line of the definition in the Act the words “ industrial matters,” and confining them as a qualification to paragraph a, and not to paragraphs b and c, which are the subdivisions of this particular definition. In other words, under the Act we have the definition - “ Industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters -
Then the section goes on to refer to disputes in relation to employment on State railways, which reference was excised by the decision in the railway case in 1904; and also to employes in industries “ carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.” These words remain in the Act; but all the particular parts of definitions a and b are governed by “industrial matters,” whereas only paragraph a in the Bill is qualified by “ industrial matters.” The Sill says - “Industrial dispute” means an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State, and includes -
I do not desire to repeat words which are patent in the Bill ; but honorable members will notice that “ industrial matters, “ as part of the definition of “industrial dispute,” instead of governing all the particular classes of disputes, as it does in the Act of 1904, only qualifies paragraph a and not paragraph b, which relates to disputes in relation to employment in any industry carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State; nor does it enter into paragraph c of the definition, which deals with “ any threatened or impending, or probable industrial dispute.” First there is a widening effect, because of the fact that words are omitted in the Act and not put in the Bill. If this were legislation for the first time, the effect of the absence of these words might be less significant; but, as it is, the amendment of the Act which contains them is a general qualification of everything in the definition; and their import is all the greater. I, therefore, say that when we come to deal with disputes between the State and its employes, or threatened or impending disputes, there is a widening which we cannot at present define. There is no doubt, however, an intentional widening of the jurisdiction of the Court by the omission of those qualifying words; and I cannot, for the life of me, think that it is a purely formal omission. There is also an extension of the jurisdiction in relation to the subject-matter in paragraph c. In paragraph c, the definition of “ industrial matters,” there is a widening, as I say, of the subject-matter, and also of the power. It is proposed now to include - all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole.
That means that there is an extension into a very indefinite sphere, of the meaning of “disputes” under the Bill. Then we have a widening of the jurisdiction in paragraph d, by a specific enumeration of the employments which are by this Bill brought within the jurisdiction of the Court, but which are specially excluded in the Act. I merely wish to draw attention to the fact that the definition clause, though it may at first glance seem formal, does contain a considerable extension of the scope of the Act of which the whole Bill purports to be an amendment. In regard to the extension of the definition of “ employe^’ ‘ undoubtedly that is aimed at bringing in persons who are not employe’s as the Act now stands, by reason of the fact that they are not engaged in the industry at the time. But for the purposes of the Bill, if this addition is made, men who are not in the employment of persons engaged in this industry, will be regarded as employes. For instance, section 55 of the Act provides rhat an association is to consist of not less than a certain number of employes, and there is a provision for ‘the cancellation of the registration where the number has gone down, while section 9 has relation to the dismissal of employes by reason of their belonging to a union, and so on.
– That has been extended.
– Yes, by the Act of last year. There is an extension of the word “employe,” and it will cover a person who is not, as a matter of fact, and as we now understand the term, an employe in the employment of one of the employers who is a party to the dispute.
– He is not de jure, but he may be de facto.
– I say that, as a matter of fact, he is not in the employment at the time.
– At what particular time?
– At the time of the dispute.
– Does the honorable member mean the technical dispute - the actual fruition of the technical dispute?
– Yes, the actual point to be settled by the Court. I admit that indirectly such an employe may be concerned in the dispute to a greater extent than merely as a member of the public.
– Take the case of the casual wharf labourer who is engaged by the hour.
– I dare say that it is the desire of the Attorney-General to include such cases. As I said when I was speaking hurriedly on the second reading, I have my doubts as to whether this proposed amendment is justified or not; but very often the drafting for one purpose accomplishes five or six - in trying to go a certain distance we go too far. We are now not only widening the definition beyond such a case as has been pointed out - the case of a man who may be employed five or six days and then unemployed for three or four - but we are actually bringing in men who, though members of an organization, may not have been employed for five, six, or seven weeks under one of the employers who is a party to the dispute.
– Take the case of the shearer whose work is periodical and seasonal - could a dispute not arise before the shearing actually takes place and before the contract is actually made?
– Not before the employment takes place.
– But in relation to a contract to be entered into, could a dispute not arise between the secretary of the organization and the employer?
– So long as a man is a member of the organization he, of course, will, indirectly, be a party to the dispute; and I deliberately use the word “ indirectly.” But I submit that it is against the principle of the Act to so define the word “ employ 6 “ as to include men, if the case be pushed to extremes, who may not be in employment, though they may be members of the particular organization. There might be a case in which not 1 per cent, of the persons are employed, but the rest would come in because technically, though not actually at work, they are the employes cif one of the parties to the dispute. I acknowledge that there is justification for extension - that there is a doubt under the present Act as to whether it does extend to labourers who work intermittently. It is a bad principle to draw a definition in such terms that it may bring in those whom it was never intended should come in. Of course, the effect of the whole thing will be to extend the membership of the unions considerably, and, as a consquence, give a wide extension to their powers.
– It is dangerous to frame a definition in such terms that it goes far beyond the real intent of the Legislature. I do not think that it is intended that men who are not, as a matter of fact, parties to disputes between employers and employes, should be made so by law. 1 could understand a definition providing that mere intermittency of employment should not put employes beyond the scope of the Bill ; but this definition goes too far if it means that a man is to be held to be an employe” in an industry only because he is usually occupied in it. While I do not wish to press these points too much, it is due to the Committee that we should all make clear our impressions, so that the probable scope of the legislation may be clearly apprehended. The more I consider it, the more I think that the alteration of the position of the term “ industrial matters “ in the interpretation section is deliberate. In the Act it qualifies employment under the State or the Commonwealth. The dispute must be a dispute in relation to industrial matters. But under a Bill it is apparently not necessary that there should be a dispute in relation to an industry. The draftsman may have thought it dangerous to have any limitation regarding State disputes, because it might raise the question whether the dispute were in relation to an industry within the meaning of the Constitution, or to a mere instrumentality. So much for the technical wording of the clause. Now as regards the policy of keeping the States within the letter of the Arbitration law, so. far as the decision of the High Court appears to allow that to be done. We are not called upon to exercise all the powers, allotted to us, though it sometimes seems to be thought that, because certain powers have specifically been given to this Parliament, we should use them irrespective of circumstances and the occasion. Were the States to act in that way, their statute-book would be so large that no man would know his legal position, because their powers are unlimited subject to the deduction of those of the Commonwealth. I do not object to the exercise of the power to legislate for the settlement of disputes by conciliation and arbitration; but it does not follow that we should push the exercise of that power to its furthest limits. In my opinion, the application of our laws to State affairs cannot be justified by expediency. I think it impolitic to retain the words of the Act of 1904, under which all State employment except employment on State railways, is within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. State instrumentalities are not within our scope of legislation, and though industries within the meaning of the Constitution may be so, it is not expedient to legislate respecting them. What good can be done by it? Have the States entered upon industries in which they compete with private individuals ?
– Victoria has a State coal mine.
– Cannot the voice of the people of Victoria be expressed in regard to the management of that coal mine by means of the State ballot-box as effectively as by means of the Commonwealth ballotbox? If the people are not satisfied with the way in which the industry is managed, they can show their dissatisfaction by changing their representatives in the local Legislature, whose suffrage is the same as ours, and which is quite as capable as we are of seeing that the State employe’s are justly treated? There is no ground of expediency for exercising a doubtful constitutional power. While I do not say that we may not have the power to legislate in respect to State industries, I holdthat it is not necessary, merely because the Constitution seems to give us a power, to do what we can to exhaust its exercise. What is proposed is clearly an attack upon the sovereignty of the States. Suppose it were possible for a State to pass a law requiring that the conditions of employment in the post-offices within its borders should be the same as those generally applied there, would that be reasonable legislation for a State to pass?
– Does the honorable member say that a State has the power to pass such a law?
– I have not expressed any opinion on the subject. Does the AttorneyGeneral think that the States have such power ?
– The honorablemember is impugning our right to pass laws dealing with State industries.
– I do not share the conviction that the States have the power to regulate the conditions of Commonwealth employment.
– I did not say that they have.
– I have put only a supposititious case. Were a State to legislate to regulate Commonwealth employment within its borders, would not its legislation be deemed inexpedient? I ask that we shall consider this legislation from the State point of view. Should we not, as a matter of expediency, respect the sovereignty of the States in this matter? State legislation is subject to the same democratic control as is ours. Next comes the legal question whether we have the power to deal with industries which are to some extent instrumentalities of government. The High Court has decided that a railway is an instrumentality of government. Reference was made to the case of South Carolina v. The United States. In that case it was held that Congress had power to tax the liquor traffic, which had been made a State monopoly, because otherwise the States, by nationalizing industries, could deprive Congress of practically all its direct, and of a good deal of its indirect, revenue. Therefore, it was held that if a State prohibits the conduct of the liquor traffic, except by its own agents, a Federal tax on the business of those agents is valid. The same reasoning cannot hold with regard to the regulation of employment, which would not deprive Congress of its power to tax. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the Federated Railways case, the Chief Justice expressed a doubt whether the principle of the case we have just cited would be accepted. It does not follow that the Court would accept the principle therein enunciated, because the circumstances might be altogether different. It was clearly pointed out in the South Carolina case that there are many instances in which industries have to be respected, and should not be taxed by Congress because they are instrumentalities. In an article on The Federal Corporation Tax Law, in the April number of the North American Review, a somewhat wide view is taken of the meaning of instrumentality under modern conditions. It is a wider view than that of the American Courts in the South Carolina case, in which, however, only one point was decided. The passage to which I direct the attention of honorable members is to be found on page 545, and is as follows : -
It cannot be denied that a corporation brought into existence by a State is an instrumentality of that State. It has been suggested, however, that the Federal Government may tax all the instrumentalities of the State, excepting those that are strictly governmental in their nature. Obviously this proposition, if sound, introduces a question of the utmost difficulty. What instrumentalities are “ strictly governmental “ ? At the present day it could hardly be asserted that this term included only political organizations. With our changing social, and particularly our changing economic and industrial, conditions, the idea of what is properly included within the scope of Government has been constantly enlarging, and the end is not yet. Matters that half a century ago were considered strictly private in their nature are now quite universally regarded as being properly, in many cases necessarily, within the sphere of Government. Even the last decade has seen great changes in this direction ,- no man can foresee what the next will bring about. To introduce this principle means to establish a distinction based on nothing more tangible than opinion, and a constantly changing opinion at that.
The point the writer comes to is this : In view of the tendency towards nationalization, and one and another of the modern tendencies of which we have to take notice, the definition of instrumentalities may be widened so as to render this power, that we are now continuing in our Bill, to a large extent innocuous.
– Not so far as our Constitution is concerned.
– My argument is based on the Constitution.
– Whatever it meant then, it cannot be enlarged.
– But as has been pointed out time after time you must read its then meaning, because it speaks for the future, in the light of changing conditions. That was laid down clearly in the South Carolina case. You cannot stereotype the meaning of it.
– Does the honorable mem-, ber say that State instrumentalities can be multiplied indefinitely?
– I do not. I know it is the policy of the honorable member’s Government to multiply them indefinitely. They have that power as a matter of policy.
– They are not State instrumentalities ; they are powers.
– They may or may not be. The case of South Carolina v. The United States, which is referred to as an authority on the point in the railway case, dealt only with one particular thing, and wider views of what may be instrumentalities under modern conditions are taken by writers like the one I have just quoted. The number of instrumentalities that may legitimately be outside the power of Congress to touch by taxation or otherwise may be, as is pointed out, beyond our present consciousness to estimate. If so, we ought not to keep in the Constitution a power which is inexpedient as a matter of present exercise, and which may lead in the future to a let of disputes before the Courts and much expense and heartburning, not only between States and Commonwealth, but also between individuals and employers. One industry comes up and it is decided that it is or is not an instrumentality, but that does not determine anything in regard to some other industry, and so along the whole line we have case after case, beginning with the railway case in 1904, as to what is the meaning of this legislation. I submit that we ought not to retain the power, not merely because it is doubtful, but because at present we are not called upon to exercise it and it may lead to a great deal of unnecessary and expensive litigation. I say very little about the inclusion of the phrase “ threatened or impending or probable industrial dispute.” That is not in the Act of 1904. It may be desirable to take jurisdiction there, but what the result will be I cannot say. I do not think the High Court has yet laid down the jurisdiction of the Court in regard to prevention, but this extension of the definition will at all events arm the President with powers and duties in relation to disputes that, as a fact, have not extended beyond one State, and bring his jurisdiction into operation to a far greater extent than at present. Are we not congesting the Arbitration Court? Are we called upon to ask the President to interfere with the elements of a dispute, or with a dispute that is capable of being settled by a State, simply because it may extend beyond the State? That means more doubtful litigation. According to the number of registrations within the last six or twelve months the President of the Court will have plenty of work to do in the near future. Up to about six or eight months ago fourty-four or fifty-five associations of employes, and only one or two of employers had been registered, but since then the number of applications by associations for registration has proportionately increased very much. There must have been something like 1.00. In other words, the steps preparatory to disputes can be taken in a great many cases, and now we are unnecessarily throwing upon the President duties that, in most cases, could quite as well be compassed within the jurisdiction of the. States in relation to “ threatened or pending or probable disputes.” Then we have the paragraph dealing with questions of what is right and fair in relation to any. industrial matter. Looking through the Bill, it seems to me that the draftsman went through all the decision*, and particularly the Broken Hill decision, to see what objections had been taken to awards and then immediately legislated to get over them. One objection taken to the award in the Broken Hill case was that the President exercised powers which might be comprised within the terms of this amendment. He acted upon his sense of what was fair and right in relation to the industrial matter, and the award was opposed on the ground amongst others that the question had not been raised in the dispute. This proposition then intends to give him jurisdiction in questions of what is equitable. I assume that the matter must be raised in the plaint, and does it not strike honorable members that the claim under the terms of this new definition will be particularly indefinite? How is a man going to state a claim in terms of “ What is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole”?
– What does it mean ?
– I dc not know. I can understand a claim foi shorter hours, better pay, the proportion of apprentices to regular workmen, or the employment of unionists or non-unionists. These are all matters capable of judicial cognisance. I do not know what words were used in die federated sawmillers case, but the Court defined “dispute” as meaning something capable of being grasped in the sense that a legal dispute between litigants is capable of being comprehended - that its terms ought to be clear and specific, so far as the claim is concerned. I defy even the ingenious draftsman of this Bill to state within this definition a case that would raise a clean-cut issue for the Court. I shall say no more about that, but the more we keep clear of indefinite definitions the better. I say nothing about the inclusion of agricultural employment, and so forth, because there are many honorable members far more competent to deal with that than I am, but a big matter of policy is involved in the extension of the definition of “ industry to include a group of industries. In America there is a big contest between the Labour parties, one led by Mr. Samuel Gompers, and the other by Mr. Mitchell, as to whether organizations for the purpose of unionism ought to be based upon industries or industrial organi zations, or what are known as trade organizations. Industrial organizations are really groups of industries, and bid fair to be co-extensive in national matters with the whole of the United States. In the Annals of the American Academy, vol. 24, for July-December, 1904, there is a series of articles on unionism in America. Most of them praise unionism for its organization, welcome arbitration in industrial disputes, and describe compulsory arbitration as an impossibility, and characterized more or less by paternalism. Probably the writers did not know what we have done here in that direction. It is pointed out in one of the articles 011 “new unionism” that there is a very strong contest between the old unionists and the new as to what ought to be the true basis of the organization of labour. As pertinent to this definition of industry as including a group of industries, may I quote from page 309 of the volume the following part of the article on “ new unionism ‘ ‘ ? -
The new unions fall into two widely different classes which seem on the verge of disrupting the whole labour movement, the “ industrial “ union and the new “ trade “ union. The “ industrial “ union claims to embrace every employee of its industry in al] its trades. The miners, for instance, embrace both teamsters and engineers employed at the mines. The new “ trade “ union claims to have a right to embrace all the workers at the trade in every industry. The old unions were called “ trade “ unions, but they were fundamentally different from the new “ trade “ unions of to-day. They were largely recruited from a single trade within a single industry. The- compositors, for instance, are undoubtedly a trade union, but they are employed only in printing establishments. The machinists are a trade union of a new type. They are employed in machine shops, engine shops, boiler shops, ship-building yards, carbuilding shops, agricultural implement shops, and in nearly every important industry. Teamsters, to take a newer and even more striking example, are employed by nearly every industrial establishment in the country, as also are engineers and firemen.
The two forms of organization seem to be opposed at every point. It is pointed out that the industrial unions, which are the national unions - the ones that we shall have if this Bill is passed - are exceedingly wide in their scope, and far more political. That is, they deal directly more with political matters, representation, for instance, than do the old trade unions. By widening this definition the Government are leading to political interference, or ihe power of political interference, through unionism to a far greater extent than would be possible by keeping the definition somewhat narrower, and in conformity with the old idea of trade unions. I do not say that it should be kept altogether as narrow a» it was before, because we have to recognise the combinations that are in existence under our modern conditions. But if we widen the definition to include a group covering, perhaps, fifty or sixty different kinds of trade, then when there is a dispute in one branch we may draw the whole of that national organization into industrial strife. We shall precipitate a dispute extending, perhaps, through the whole length and breadth of the Commonwealth - a dispute that, as a matter of substance, not of sympathy, affects only a small area and very few employes. I believe that will occur under this widening of the definition. Is that expedient?
– Why will it? It ma;/; there is no “will” about it.
– It can, because the Court gets jurisdiction.
– There is nothing to prevent an honorable member standing on his head here, but he will not do it.
– - Supposing an industry under this definition comprises a group cf trades distinct in character. No man knows better than the Attorney-General that a lot of trouble has arisen at present, because sometimes a distinct trade is regulated by an industry in which a number of its members happen to be engaged. For instance, carters have been regulated under butchers’ or saw-millers’ awards. Some States decide that the wages to Le paid to carters and drivers may be prescribed by a furniture Board, and others decide the very contrary. We shall have under this definition a collection of, perhaps, fifty distinct trades in one industry, and a dispute in perhaps one of them will precipitate industrial strife in relation to the whole industry. That is one of the reasons why in America some are fighting against the new conception of industry that would make an industry perhaps co-extensive with all the “trades in the States. The article continues -
In its place has risen the fight between the industrial and the trade union, a fight that, far from disrupting the labour movement, can have but one result - to solidify all the unions into one complex and differentiated but unified whole.
I do not wish to labour this question, but these are considerations that one is bound to put before the Committee in relation to a definition clause which is far wider in its effect than the simplicity of its terms would appear to indicate.
– The matters raised by the honorable and learned member for Angas are very interesting, and deserve consideration. I- submit, however, that he has merely been pointing out to us that we are making a change, and must beware of the consequences. A man who has for years slept in the one bed, lived in the one room, gone out at a given time in the morning to a given place, and returned at night at a given hour to finish his day in a prescribed way, would feel, to a certain extent, perturbed in his mind and shaken in his soul if he were asked suddenly to give up the room in which he had slept, to rise at a different hour, and to return at an altered hour, and if he were of a sufficiently imaginative turn of mind, might conjure up a number of consequences likely to flow from that change, some of which might be sufficiently formidable. The honorable and learned member says that in some cases we have exceeded our constitutional power, and that in others we have made changes, in almost every instance without good and sufficient reason. I do not admit this for one moment. We have not made one change without a good and sufficient reason. I think that the honorable and learned member will admit that we have the right to make a change, subject to our constitutional limitations, whenever we think it necessary for the purposes for which that power was conferred upon us. Change, in itself, is neither desirable nor undesirable ; it means merely a difference, which may be good or bad according to circumstances. Let me refer honorable members, first of all, to paragraph a of clause 2, which provides that “ employe” “ includes - any person whose usual occupation is that of employee in any industry.
The honorable and learned member was a little doubtful of the wisdom and constitutionality, as well as of the intention, of this provision. All three are perfectly clear, or can be made so. The constitutionality of the provision .is to be inferred from the facts of the case. We have power to make laws for arbitration and conciliation in industrial disputes, and industrial disputes, in their very nature, take place frequently between persons between whom the contractual relations of employer and employe are temporarily suspended. Very frequently a dispute arises at, or because of, the termination of those relations. Quite apart from that, however; it is notorious that the normal condition of some callings involves the periodic and intermittent interruption of the contractual relations. Let us take the position of shearers and casual wharf labourers. The shearer’s employment is periodical. For four or five months in the year he is a shearer ; for the rest he is, or may be, something else. His usual avocation, so far as a dispute in the shearing industry is concerned, is that of a shearer. He may have another occupation, but surely we are not going to exclude from the benefits of this legislation all persons who have two occupations. We are dealing with disputes, and the object of the constitutional provision and the Act framed under it is to prevent and settle them. Therefore, we have to face the facts that it is in this country, usual for men to follow more than one occupation and to be casually or intermittently employed. A wharf labourer starts work, say, at 6 a.m. and continues until n o’clock or noon, when he finishes his hatch or his ship, as the case may be, and is paid off. At that point there is a complete termination of the legal contractual relationship between employer and employed j yet it cannot be denied that the man remains an employ^ in the industry. The industry depends upon a sufficient supply of just that class of man, and because of the casual nature of his employment the Courts have always recognised that he is entitled to a larger sum per hour, thus showing that, although the contractual relationship is frequently broken, yet it does exist in fact, although not in law, outside this class of legislation. It was necessary, after Brown’s case, to make it perfectly clear that, in our opinion, the powers of the Parliament in respect of industrial disputes cover persons who were not, at the particular moment when a dispute arose, employes, but who usually stood in that relation. This Bill deals with organizations. It does not recognise any one but organizations. A man is a member of an organization, although he may not be employed at the particular moment when a dispute occurs ; and, as a member of an organization, he is perfectly entitled to all the benefits of an award and to create a dispute, providing he is a bond fide employ^, either in esse or in posse. He is there ready to work if the employer will give him work. As to the definition of “ industrial dispute,” it is urged that the alteration will extend very considerably the scope of the principal Act. So far as it will do so, the extension has been deliberately made. It is the intention of the Government to widen the scope of the Act as far as possible under die very limited powers conferred upon us by die Constitution. The Government do not contend that in the law, as amended by this Bill, there will be found a sufficiently flexible and powerful Court, clothed with sufficient authority to deal with the very complex matters and disputes that arise in the Commonwealth. I agree with what the Leader of the Opposition said last night with regard to the complexity and ever increasing complexity of our industries. That is one of the most marked phenomena of modern industry. But no matter how complex they are, or may become, the position has to be faced, and dealt with. It is, indeed, mainly because of this complexity that disputes are more and more likely to occur, and it is futile to say that, because their causes are complex, we must leave them alone. We have to deal with them. I regret that our constitutional powers “do not enable us to bring in a measure that we conceive to be sufficiently elastic and powerful enough to insure, as far as its interference can insure, industrial peace throughout the Commonwealth. Industrial peace is so precious, so valuable, a fruit that there is no price too high for the State to pay for it. I have had myself an experience - recent enough to enable me to remember it very distinctly - of the urgent necessity for a powerful Court having sufficient jurisdiction to deal with a dispute, and sufficient authority and majesty to insure its dicta and judgments being respected by all parties. This Bill is an attempt to create such a Court so far as the Constitution will permit. I do not hesitate to say that such an extension of the scope of the principal Act as is given in the definition of ‘ ‘ industrial dispute ‘ ‘ is absolutely warranted by the circumstances of the existing industrial situation in Australia. We have been told that we have no right to include State servants. I hold that we have every right to do so. We have every right to extend the scope of tin’s measure to the utmost limits permitted by the Constitution in plain terms and the plain prohibition of the Court. The plain prohibition qf the Court in the Railway Employes case went no further than to say that servants of a State employed on State railways were outside the scope of the principal Act, because, when Federation was consummated, the railway service was a function of the States, and was, so to speak, covered by and included in their sovereign powers. It was held that the railways were State instrumentalities in the same sense as the ordinary legislative, executive, and judicial functions of a State are. ‘ But the Court did not say - it was not asked to say, and there is not the remotest indication that it intended to say - that a State could go on extending its functions industrially, and that in regard to these extended functions it should continue to be outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. A good deal has been said in regard to the case of South Carolina v. The United States. If there is anything clearly shown by that case, it is that a State has certain rights, but that these cannot be indefinitely multiplied in number or increased in scope. It is entitled to the full and unimpaired exercise of its sovereign rights legislative, judicial, and executive, and outside that, not at all. When it descends from its sovereign power, and invades the sphere of industry, when it becomes, say, a manufacturer or a publican, it is subject to the same legal limitations and regulations as an ordinary employer. Some reference has been made to the justice of these proposals, but it would be monstrous if a private employer were to be subject to our law, compelled to pay the rates which an award provides, while the State was allowed to pay a lower rate. Is that the sort of justice of which the friends of the employers are speaking? Let me give an illustration of what might occur under such circumstances. In Victoria the State Government employ coal miners; and if there arose a dispute which came within Federal jurisdiction, a rate might be fixed, let us say, for hewing, which would, according to some honorable members, apply to every private employer, but not to the State. Under such circumstances the State coal miners could be asked, and practically forced, to work at a lower rate than was the private employ!. Such an interpretation of our powers would vitiate completely the object of the law, which is to promote and preserve industrial peace. We cannot promote industrial peace when large bodies of men are able to evade the Act. In the course of the judgment in the case of South Carolina v. The United States, quoted by the honorable member for Angas, Mr. Justice Brewer said -
It would seem to follow, as a reasonable, if not a necessary, consequence, that the means and instrumentalities employed for carrying on the operations of their governments for preserving their existence, and fulfilling the high and responsible duties assigned to them in the Constitution should be left free and unimpaired - should not be liable to be crippled, much less defeated by the taxing power of another government, which power acknowledges no limits but the will of the legislative body imposing the tax. And, more especially, those means and instrumentalities which are the creation of their sovereign and reserved rights, one of which la the establishment of the judicial department, and the appointment of officers to administer their laws. Without this power and the exercise of it, we risk nothing in saying that no one of the States, under the form of government guaranteed by the Constitution, could long preserve its existence.
But when applying that dictum to the case before him, the Judge, speaking of the power of town corporations to engage in municipal trading, or a State to step out of its public and proper sphere, went on to say -
The Corporation would therein depart from its municipal character, and assume the position of a private trustee. It would occupy a place which an individual could occupy with equal propriety. It would not, in that action, be an auxiliary or servant of the State, but of the individual creating the trust. There is nothing of a Governmental character in such a position.
It was held in that case, which was one of the sale of liquor, that the State had departed from its proper sovereign State capacity, and had become an ordinary trader liable to be taxed. It therefore appears to be settled law that when a State becomes an employer of labour, and engages in an industry, it is subject to the laws of the Commonwealth in exactly the same way as a private employer. We have, therefore, included in the definition of “ employé” all those State and Commonwealth servants not expressly excluded by the order made in the High Court in the case of the Amalgamated Railway Servants. As to the objection to the inclusion of a threatened, impending, or probable dispute, I have no more to say than that we make these amendments under the power which provides for the prevention as well as the settlement of industrial disputes. Clearly, the definition implies, not an existing, but a probable or impending dispute ; we do not prevent that which has happened, but that which’ is .about to happen, and it cannot be urged that prevention only attaches to the word “ conciliation.” I submit that “ prevention “ attaches to both conciliation and arbitration, and the power given is to make laws for conciliation and arbitration for the prevention of disputes, and for conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of disputes. We are, therefore, entitled to include such probable or impending disputes amongst those of which the Court may take cognisance under certain circumstances; . and it is a sensible and rational thing to do. If we were to say that a fire brigade should not attend, under any circumstances, at the first alarm, but give a fire a decent chance to get going, it would create a very unfortunate state ot things, although 1 admit that, from a spectacular point of view, life would be much more brilliant than it is now. Every man who knows anything at all about the conduct of industrial matters and unions, knows that there is a moment at which conciliation, the exercise of wise discretion, and suggestion may prevent trouble or effect a settlement, and that there also, is ji moment at which it is almost humanly impossible to do anything except allow the fire to burn itself out. There is nothing in the Bill to which I attach so much value ja the power to deal with impending or probable disputes.
– If it were a veritable burning mountain we have no right to interfere unless it extends to another State.
– That depends; but whether a dispute is actually in two States, or in one and likely to extend to another, is a matter which the High Court alone can decide. A dispute must originate in some o;i2 place - it cannot originate in two places or in ten. A dispute may materialize itself in half-a-dozen places; but it may originate in one place and spread to another; and if we can stop it so spreading we shall have exercised our jurisdiction in an Inter-State dispute, provided that -prima facie it is likely to spread, has- spread, or will spread, if we do not interfere. A great deal has been said about the inclusion of domestic servants and rural workers ; and for some hours yesterday, and at a previous sitting, we were regaled with delightful coruscations of inextinguishable oratory on the point. One might imagine that the diabolical purpose in the Bill is to compel every’ rural worker to at once join a union and work eight hours a day, and no more, or be for ever damned in this world and the next - that, in -short, we proposed to overturn everything. We propose to do what ? Nothing. All we propose to do is to strike out an in- vidious exclusion which was made for party purposes in 1904. lt was made with the deliberate object of trying to persuade the farmer that those then in power were his, bosom friends. The then Government told the farmers, “ We are the people who stand between you and this juggernaut of a Labour party, and we shall prevent your handmaidens and your men servants being debauched and ill-treated, by excluding them from the operation of the Act.” The Government had the majority, and these workers were excluded. This is very much like taking a stone from the bottom of the sea and hiding it in the clouds, on the ground that some day some gentleman may go down to the ocean depths and steal it. It is safe, but no safer than it was before. The rural workers under the amending Bill are in no greater danger than they were before. The arguments of honorable members opposite in this connexion divide themselves conveniently into two. One argument is that, under no circumstances, can rural workers come under the Act, because there cannot be an industrial dispute in their case ; the other argument is that it would be an outrage to bring such workers under the. Act, because the Arbitration Court cannot deal fairly with rural industries. One of these arguments may be right, but I submit that they cannot both be right. Now all this is much ado about nothing. All that is proposed is to relieve rural workers and other persons from an invidious exclusion which, as I say, was made in 1904 for party purposes. Speaking for myself, I can hardly conceive of any set of circumstances under which rural workers can come under the Act as it stands ; but if the day ever should come when a dispute with their employers could properly come under the Act, it is absolutely essential that there should be a Court clothed with power to deal with it. What should we say if now that we have the opportunity, in a time of industrial peace, we hesitated to do that which is right, because there are some industries which are, as it were, sacrosanct, which must not be touched under any circumstances, because they happen to be industries in which there cannot possibly be any dispute. Disputes are possible in all industries. Honorable members opposite evidently had not had the advantage of comparing notes with each other before they ventured on an expression of opinion, and, consequently, we have conflicting statements of this kind. I submit that there is power under the Act as it stands, set forth in the clearest possible way, giving the Court that elasticity of jurisdiction which, as the honorable member for
Ballarat pointed out, no other Court has. The Court may vary the nature and terms of an award, it may apply in Queensland, in the boot trade, one rate of wages, another rate in Victoria and New South Wales, it may extend here and clip off there, and in short, do everything necessary to settle disputes and preserve industrial peace. This power is given under section 38, paragraph g, which is as follows -
The Court shall, as regards every industrial dispute of which it has cognisance, have power
to direct with due regard to local circum stances within what limits or area, if any, and subject to what conditions and exceptions, the common rule so declared shall be binding upon the persons engaged in the industry whether as employers or employees, and whether members of an organization or not.
The Court has power to vary, modify, exempt, and regulate. It does not follow that because somebody in Carpentaria has to begin work at 8 o’clock in the morning, every person in the same industry throughout Australia must also begin at that hour. If he wished, the President could say that some persons should commence work at one hour, and some at another. He must have regard to local circumstances and surrounding conditions, and under this Bill will be still clothed with the powers necessary for dealing with cases of a complex nature. Rural workers are included in the Bill. But so are housepainters, hairdressers, and the members of one hundred other avocations even less likely than rural workers to be able to create an Inter-State dispute. Hairdressers are exposed to the full fury of this frightful measure, and no hand is reached out to save them, though it passes the imagination of man to conceive an Inter-State dispute in which they might be involved. But honorable members opposite, with one eye on the farmers’ vote, set up a powerful cry against the application of the law (.0 rural workers. What brought to their feet the ghosts which last night disturbed our peaceful slumbers? For hour after hour we were compelled to listen to gentlemen whom it has not been my fortune to hear twicein ten years. They were on the alert to protect the interests of the farmers, so that they may say later, “ Had it not been for us, you would now be grovelling under the hob-nailed boots of this infernal Labour party.” Yet all we say is that rural workers should come under the operation of our arbitration law if an Inter-State dispute in which they are concerned arises. And they will be affected by our legislation only in the event of a dispute arising which the States themselves cannot settle. Is that monstrous, illogical, or nonsensical ? The honorable member for Lang made one of the brilliant observations which characterize him at irregular intervals, to the effect that he believes in Wages Boards for controlling rural employment. My honorable friends opposite are perfectly willing that Wages Boards shall make the farmer pay, say, eight shillings a day to milking hands, and ten. shillings a day to harvesting hands, and require that farm hands generally shall not commence work until 8 a.m., have an hour for dinner at noon, and knock off at 5 p.m., whether the harvest may be spoiling or not. The appointment of rural Wages Boards is their ideal conception of exquisite legislative genius; but to bring rural industries into the Arbitration Court means to them chaos and Gehenna. I ask what does it matter to the farmer whether he is sentenced to death by a Wages Board or some other tribunal ? What would it matter to me, if I were stabbed to the heart, whether the knife was wielded by a man named Jones or by a man named Smith ? A section of the party opposite held office for the greater part of the last nine years, and is responsible for the introduction of this legislation providing preference to unionists. Last night I heard with amazement the honorable member for Ballarat speak, as if on a strange subject, of a Bill which he framed and then emasculated. I heard him denouncing a measure which he introduced and then went back on.
– The honorable member is absolutely incorrect. I made no reference to any part of the existing measure which was not in support of it.
– I do not say that the honorable member was not eulogistic concerning compulsory arbitration, but he spoke of the Act as if it were not his.
– I spoke of the Bill, which is certainly not mine. I did not speak of the Act as if it were not mine. I am only too glad to accept responsibility for it.
– But whereas the honorable and learned gentleman spoke in a cool and dispassionately friendly way of the Bill, his lieutenants and coadjutors damned it with all the enthusiasm of which they are capable. The party is led by a gentleman who is coolly friendly to the
Bill, but ‘whose followers, without exception, fall upon it tooth and nail. What is the matter with the measure? The Act was introduced for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the borders of any one State, to insure industrial peace, which is the greatest blessing which a civilized community can enjoy. A few months ago, the country was ravaged by a dispute which, had this measure been in force, would, in my judgment, have been nipped in the bud. I say that deliberately, and no man is in a better position to know. I come now to the last point dealt with by the honorable member for Angas, the application of the measure to a branch or group of industries. We must regard him as a friendly critic. He allowed himself to indulge in philosophic reflections on matters which vitally concern the practical every day affairs of life. What Mr. Debbs said to Mr. Gompers, or Mr. Gompers to Mr. Debbs, I neither know nor care, but I am aware that in this country, as in America and elsewhere, two tendencies are obvious, centripetal and centrifugal., the increasing complexity of industrial operations tending to diffusion and complexity, and the formation of separate industries into groups. The honorable member objected that by applying the measure to groups of industries we might involve an industry in a dispute which, although allied to one of the parties, was not a party to the dispute itself. The measure does not prevent any single industry from coming under the operation of the law, and it enables all to come under it, if that be convenient and proper. The Transport Workers’ Federation, for example, consists of railway men, seamen, wharf labourers, and carters, all persons engaged in the transport of goods, and belonging, therefore, to allied industries. In this country, the wharf labourers now work under one award, the seamen under another, and the carters under a third ; but the three organizations are bound in one federation, in which I hope the railway men will soon be included. Those who look with suspicion upon the grouping of industries as imperilling commercial peace are unfamiliar with facts known to those who have to do with organizations. The bigger an organization the more it makes for industrial peace. What prevented a still greater disturbance than we had last year was the fact that it is now impossible for any branch to act for itself, and to get 100,000 or 20,000 or 10,000 men scattered throughout Australia to agree to any course of action needs a very substantial cause of disputeThe federation of organizations tends toprevent what, are known as sympatheticstrikes, which are the most fatal cause of the extension of disputes here and elsewhere. Therefore, I make no apology for having, included groups of industries under the Bill. The clause as it stands allows us to exercise only powers which we are entitled toexercise, and .we exercise only so much of them as experience shows to be needed for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes by methods of conciliation and arbitration. The Bill will be a notable and valuable amendment of the Act. and’ although the Constitution will not allow us to go so far as we should like to go, weare taking a step in the right direction, of which I hope the Committee will approve.
. - I congratulate the Attorney-General upon the adroitness with which he reserved his second-reading speech for the Committeestage. He showed us only a small part of his argument at the stage when the House reasonably expected to be presented with thewhole of it, but now, in reply to the genial and kindly criticism of the honorable member for Angas, he suddenly unmasks upon< us the whole of his artillery. I do not intend to follow his example by delivering a second-reading speech on the policy of theBill. Clause 2 in particular is a seedbed” of constitutional difficulties, which willhave to be dealt with in the High Court, and I do not know that I am called upon to do anything to spoil the promising harvest which will spring from it, inuring for the benefit of a very deserving class of thecommunity.
– If there be such a harvest, it will be for only a short season, and then: everything will be set right again.
– No doubt whenthe harvest has been reaped, another amending Bill will be introduced which will provide another fruitful harvest. It is the duty of all honorable members to bring tothe criticism of such an extremely important measure as this any knowledge of which they may be possessed. I wish to begin by making a suggestion to you, Mr. Chairman, regarding our procedure uponthis clause. I think that if the Government will agree to it being done, it will save discursive debate if the various paragraphs are put before the Committee one by one. Although they are really only sub-clauses of one general clause, and, according to the ordinary forms, will be put as one clause,; they involve, as the Attorney-General himself pointed out, the consideration of at least three, if not four, very important changes in the law which are not necessarily correlated. If we are called upon to discuss and vote upon them in globo we shall have a long and discursive debate, and no serious discussion of each.
– I am quite willing to agree to their being put separately.
– Leaving you, Mr. Chairman, to consider that suggestion, I shall make the few remarks I have to make on these points now.
– Why not confine yourself to the one?
-The AttorneyGeneral has already gone over them all, and I intend to make a very short examination of them. With regard to the extension of the definition of employ! to include ‘ ‘ any person whose usual occupation is that of employe in ‘any industry,” I see no difficulty. It seems to me that it practically says that a man is an employe although he may be foi the time being out of employment, or a casual employe, and is not to be deprived of the benefit of co-operation and association under this Act because he floes not happen to be actually employed at the time.. 1 had not the advantage of hearing the arguments of the honorable member for Angas on that question, and may, perhaps, have missed some of the points he made. Passing from that to subparagraph b of paragraph b, dealing with employment in an industry “ carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State. . . ,” I shall merely reiterate what 1 put at a very early stage in the second-reading debate. It is true that this is merely repeating or re-enacting some of the words that appear in the principal Act. The only thing that seems to me to be likely’ to lead to trouble in that is that there has been in the interim a decision of the High Court, which decision itself decided only that railway servants were not included. But the ground and basis of it was that this Parliament has no power, under the present system of Federation, to make laws interfering with the instrumentalities of a State Government. Although the Court did not go further- and no Court ever will go beyond the particular matter before it - still, if you examine the reasons for that decision, it is hard to conceive of any State employment that will not come under the principle of being an instrumentality of the State.
Therefore, in re-enacting this, the Government are asking Parliament to again tell the people - because, after all, an Act of Parliament is a declaration to the people by the representatives of the people of what the law is - that those who are interested in these State employments may come under and derive the benefit of this law. I do not believe that they can, but if you invite them to do so you are likely to lead to a great deal of trouble, and put them to a good deal of expense if they attempt it. I shall put it on no higher ground than that. With regard to subparagraph c of paragraph b, extending the definition of “industrial dispute” to include “ any threatened or impending or probable industrial dispute,” I listened with great attention to the AttorneyGeneral’s argument, which seemed to come down to this : that it is highly desirable that there should be power to interfere in a trouble of an industrial character which is arising, before it has come to a head.- Every one on both sides of the House will admit that, if
Ave are to interfere in industrial disputes at all, it would be wise to interfere before they come to an absolute and distinct conflict, if we can do so properly. But the question is, “ What is the power given to us by the Constitution?” That power is couched in singularly unfortunate language. It was the result of a compromise, and, although compromises are often most excellent in the framing of ordinary legislation, compromises that result in fixing the limits of constitutional authority often lead to very serious evils. This, to my mind, has been one of those. The language of the Constitution is “conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” That leaves a number of loop-holes which it is almost impossible to close. For such a short sentence, it contains a large number of vague and indefinite expressions. It would be absurd to say anything in condemnation of the gentlemen who drafted it, because they found forced upon them by a majority of the Convention a strong mandate to frame some sort of clause that would include a general authority over industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of a State. But, in adopting this form, they adopted a series of words almost every one of which is open to the very gravest doubt and uncertainty. Of such a character is the term “ industrial dispute.” It has already been the subject of lengthy argument and consideration whether those words do, or do not, include that condition of unrest which preludes a strike or preludes the actual dislocation- of industry. Some of the cases have been referred to, and most of us are familiar with the general outlines of what has been decided. The matter has been gone into over and over again, and is not yet settled. Whether the term “industrial dispute” in the Constitution does include that sense of uneasiness, of dissatisfaction with the existing state of things, which is often evidenced by indefinite sporadic complaints, but not yet concentrated into an organized demand, is doubtful. That would be what the Attorney-General calls a “ threatened or impending, or probable industrial dispute. “ lt is still a matter of grave difficulty as to whether that can be said to be an “ industrial dispute “ within the meaning of the Constitution. Now, either it is or it is not. If it is, you have already got it in the existing Arbitration Act without this Bill, because in that Act the very words of the Constitution have been adopted. You have included in it, so far as the meaning of the term “ industrial dispute ‘ ‘ is concerned, everything that the Constitution gives you. Whether it be much or little may be doubtful. H’ow large it is is still doubtful, but everything that the Constitution gives you you have included by adopting the very same language. The Act says “industrial dispute means a dispute in relation to industrial matters.”
– “Means” - that is, to the exclusion of everything else. It does not say “ includes.”
– But if you look at what “ industrial matters “ are, the only limitation in the Act is that “ industrial matters :1 includes all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employer and employe, and so on, in the widest and most general terms. You may, and in fact do, attempt to amend and enlarge those terms in a subsequent clause, but the question is whether the meaning of the words “ industrial dispute” may or may not be enlarged. What constitutes an industrial dispute cannot be enlarged by this Parliament. In the principal Act you have used the words of the Constitution, and given no other definition. You have said, “ The Court shall have power to deal with all industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of a State.” Whatever that means, you have got it.
– No, we have not. If we had said in the Act “ industrial dispute “ includes “ a dispute . . . ,” it would include what is covered by sub-paragraphs a and b, and everything else in this paragraph.
– Perhaps the Attorney-General has not entirely heard what I said. He is referring, I know, to the distinction in an interpretation clause between the words “means” and “includes.” If it means a certain thing, it must include it. If in the Constitution the term “ industrial dispute “ includes a threatened or impending or probable industrial dispute, then the term “ industrial ‘dispute “ in the Act includes a threatened or pending or probable industrial dispute. But if it does not include that, then this Bill, saying that it shall include it, is simply so much waste paper.
– Clearly it means whatever it meant at the time the Act was passed iu England.
– Whatever it means, much or little, in the Constitution, it means in the Act now in existence. If it means little in the Constitution, we cannot enlarge it by saying it means more in the Bill. If it means much in the Constitution, it means much in the Act. If it includes a threatened dispute in the Constitution, it includes a threatened dispute in the Act. It may be that it does not include a threatened dispute. In fact, the general tendency of the decisions so far, although I will not say that they at all decide that point yet, is that you must have something in the nature of claims definitely put forward, and that you must have persons who are practically engaged in disputing on both sides, in which case it is a real dispute, and not a threatened or impending or probable dispute. I do not attempt to say that it is impossible for that decision to be enlarged by the Court, hut if it can be enlarged, it is by enlarging the meaning of the term, not only in the Act as it exists, but in the Constitution. You do nothing whatever by enlarging the law as it at present exists, because if the Constitution enables you to do that you have already done it. What you do by this paragraph is like what you do by attempting to include State servants. You hold out a placard inviting all sorts of people, who have not yet come to any dispute at all, and before the essentials, whatever they may be, of a dispute have actually arisen, to come into the Court, and incur all the expense and trouble and dislocation which may be brought about in order to be told afterwards, ::As yet you have no dispute.” I shall give the Attorney-General an actual example of that. In the case of the Federated Sawmillers., ordinarily called the Timber-workers case, there were a large number of people in the various States, different classes of timber- workers, from those engaged in cutting the light woods away up in Queensland to those employed in the timber yards in Melbourne, and the hewers of jarrah sleepers in Western Australia, all working under different conditions, but all uniting together, or attempting to unite together, to make a dispute, and bring it before the Court.
– A manufactured dispute.
– That is what it was called ; but there is no doubt whatever that there was an impending dispute. That case came before the President of the Arbitration Court. There were long and expensive legal arguments, and an expensive hearing of evidence extending over weeks. Then there was a question reserved bv the President for the opinion of the High Court on which further lengthy arguments took place. The matter was next sent back to die President who proceeded to hear further evidence. Witnesses- were called on behalf of the employes from all parts of the Commonwealth and the conclusion was the statement to the employes, “ You have not a dispute as yet within the meaning of the Constitution, and’ therefore you must go back.” The President of the Court, with a desire to do what he could to settle the uneasiness and unrest prevailing in the industry, was compelled, not by the law any more than by the terms of the Constitution itself, to say to these people, “ There may be a threatened or impending dispute, there may be a state of unrest which will probably lead to a dispute, but under the Constitution I cannot deal with that matter.” That was the result of over a year spent by the employes in organising, conducting correspondence, and sending representatives from one part of the Commonwealth to another. Great expense was incurred, apart altogether from law costs, in bringing witnesses from different parts of Australia, and all this was done in order that these people should be told in the end, “ You have only an im pending or threatened dispute, and the Constitution does not allow me to deal with such a thing.”
– Do the definitions of “industrial dispute” and “industrial matters “ in the principal Act exhaust our powers under the Constitution?
– They may not in some respects. In that very wide expression “industrial matters” there may be room for further scope.
– Has the expression no meaning ?
– It has a very full meaning. The term “ industrial dispute “ has the full meaning which the Constitution gives it ; no more and no less. The Government are now holding out a placard to these people and saying in effect to them, “ You have been told by the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and practically by the High Court over and over again, that you cannot under the Constitution, or under a law passed by this Parliament, nsk for the determination of a threatened dispute. In other words, you cannot, in circumstances such as existed in the timber workers’ case, ask the Court to make a determination in the case of a probable dispute.” The Government are now inviting all these various associations to appear before the Court. They are saying to them, “ Now we give you wider powers. It is to meet such circumstances as those of the timber workers’ case that this amendment of the principal Act is being made.” The Attorney-General says to all these people, “ We had not the power before; we have it now; form your organizations and come along.” That is what is really being done by this clause. Like the provision as to the public servants of the States it will be entirely inoperative. If it has any effect at all it will be that .of inviting a large number of people to claim from the Court something which they cannet obtain, and in doing so they will probably incur enormous expenditure. I come now to that most extraordinary provision in regard to the definition of “industrial matters. ‘ ‘ - and includes all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole.
– It is not so vague as the usual legal phraseology and that is why the lawyers do not like it.
– I frankly confess that I have not the remotest idea of its meaning, and therefore do not intend to say anything about it. I have read and reread it, and I cannot attach any meaning to it. Until I hear an explanation that conveys to my mind some meaning, I propose to say nothing about this provision. I shall leave it to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in the full and confident expectation that he will be able to afford me a satisfactory explanation. I come now to the provision with regard to domestic servants. I do not know whether the Attorney-General has fully realized the somewhat onerous obligation he is placing on the Court in this regard. If domestic service is to be an industry under this measure then I would draw attention to section 41 of the principal Act, which provides that the President and certain other persons - may at any time during working hours enter any building, mine, mine working, ship, vessel, place, or premises of any kind wherein or in respect of which any industry is carried on or any work is being or has been done or commenced, or any matter or thing is taking or has taken place in relation to which any industrial dispute is pending, or any award has been made, or any offence against this Act is suspected, and may, lo the extent and for the purposes named in the authority, inspect and view any work, materia!, machinery, appliances, or article therein.
I have the greatest respect for the President of the Arbitration Court, and I am afraid that if he is called on to exercise, his duties under the principal Act, and domestic service is to be defined as an industry, he will be placed in a most embarrassing position. The Attorney-General waxed extremely warm and satirical upon the attitude of the Opposition in regard to the inclusion of agricultural and dairy farm labourers under this Bill. We have first of all to consider what it is the Government are proposing. It has been put by honorable members opposite that those who are opposed to this provision are opposed to giving a large class of the industrial workers of this community the benefits of any form of legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes by arbitration. Is that a fair criticism of the attitude of the Opposition? So far as I know, nothing has been said by us to warrant such a conclusion. Those who have addressed themselves to the subject have in almost every case stated that they are not opposed to giving rural workers, farm labourers, and dairy employes, a means nf- having their quarrels adjusted before an industrial tribunal, provided that we can create an industrial tribunal that will have any working efficacy with respect to such people. The question is whether it is desirable or useful in the interests of any of these people to say that they may come before the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but that, before they can obtain any benefit whatever from industrial arbitration, domestic servants and farm labourers must organize throughout the Commonwealth, or, at all events, in more than one State. The argument is that the Government are proposing to use machinery which is entirely unsuitable and inapplicable to those classes of employment. I think this machinery will be found inapplicable to a great’ many of the matters to which it now applies. But there are many classes of industrial employment to which it may be applicable. We have, for instance, such industries as shipping, shearing, as well as a good many others, whose operations do in fact extend over more than one State, and in which we have somewhat similar conditions of employment in more than one State. In such cases we might ask the Court, or a tribunal consisting of a Judge hearing evidence, to lay down certain general rules which might be morally applicable, with certain legal modifications, to all persons in those industries. But there are many industries to which it is highly undesirable that the provision, or even the law a* il exists to-day, should apply. In dealing with persons employed in dairying, we might, possibly lay down certain rules as to remuneration, but where the degree of skill involved and the kind of work are utterly dissimilar and subject to unlimited degrees of variation, it is practically impossible to arrive at any settlement of these relations by the machinery of a Federal Arbitration Court, which can deal only with disputes extending beyond the limits of one” State. I understand that we are going to have brought before the House, later on, a proposal for the amendment of the Constitution, so as to extend our power to legislate with respect to industrial matters. It may well be that when the House is called’ upon to consider those broader questions, we shall have an opportunity to determine whether it is wise that we should have some powers not limited by the words “ disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” But until we have those wider powers why should we wrench those that we possess, and try to extend them beyond the point allowed by the Constitution ? Why should we try to apply a kind of machinery which is only suitable for dealing with broad Inter-State disputes in particular industries, where the conditions are capable of some mutual adjustment, to industries in respect of which it must in effect be unworkable ? This legislation is, and will remain for years, in an experimental condition ; but the Government might possibly apply this experiment to agricultural industries of all kinds by means of some tribunals partaking of the character of local, and. if possible, elective bodies.
– But this will have an educational influence on the people.
– It is the most expensive system of education that one could suggest. It is a class of education under which disputes will be created where they do not exist. It will encourage the InterState organization of employes, having nothing in common to-organize for, except to manufacture a dispute and to have it heard in Melbourne or Sydney according to legal methods. Whether we should do this or leave the matter to the States is a question that we cannot now discuss. If we are to attempt to give these people any effective and real regulation of their conditions, the only way is by some kind of tribunal that will partake largely of a representative and local character. To attempt to apply the huge and unwieldy machinery that is proposed to this purpose will not only be found inefficacious, but will lead, not towards industrial peace, but towards industrial war, and probably to a very considerable diminution of the particular kind of employment, particularly in the case of the more casual kind of labourers.
– There is industrial wai amongst the rural workers now.
– There is very little. As soon as ever there is warfare amongst them, we shall find that there may be means of dealing with it in this Parliament. This may not be the best place ; but that is a question we cannot discuss now. I appeal to honorable members to view the question before us from a practical point of view. The oratorical and eloquent speech of the Attorney-General was such as, of course, to give rise to a good deal of enthusiasm and admiration amongst those who are inclined that way. The honorable gentleman performed his task extremely well, but I think he was not on right lines. He was losing sight entirely of the facts, in assuming that honorable members on this side are opposed to the application of any methods of conciliation and arbitration to a settlement of disputes of this class. In presenting that view, he was really going beyond and clouding the issue, which is whether the kind of machinery proposed - most cumbersome and huge, though it may be powerful for certain objects - will prove efficacious in the case of people of this class. I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the discussion will be facilitated if we are allowed hereafter to deal with the proposals in the clauses seriatim, and dispose of them in due order.
– - The speech of the honorable member for Flinders has, I venture to say, completely dissipated the fairy like frostwork conceived so finely by the AttorneyGeneral. There is no gentleman in the House the Attorney-General’s equal at this kind of wizardry, which sweeps people off their feet, and, leading them away altogether from the issue, takes them into a kind of fairy land where they laugh and enjoy themselves, until, by a touch of sober reason, they are suddenly brought to earth again. When I heard the honorable member for Flinders showing how insubstantial and absolutely worthless rhetoric of this kind is when treating of constitutional matters, I could not help thinking of those words of Rogers -
When but a beam of sober reason is displayed,
Lo ! fancy’s fairy frost work melts away.
The Attorney-General has evidently been it great pains during the day to get up his little speech. We could not get a word out of him last night, but he has apparently conned the speeches delivered during the early hours of !this morning, which he said he could not by any possibility do this morning, and he now picks out an argument here and one there, misrepresents this and that, and builds up an imaginative web-like structure to suit the needs of his rhetoric, and add to the enjoyment of his hearers. This may be very clever and very beautiful, but it has nothing to do with the businesslike propositions that have been submitted to the Chamber. The honorable gentleman never does get near to the real business before us, but invites his followers to enter his gala coach, saying, in effect, “ Come on ! Hang the Constitution ! There is the blessed land of industrial peace ahead of us.”
– Beulah land !
– I am afraid it is not Beulah land for those people outside who are keenly anxious for measures like this to pass. The Attorney-General, in that florid style which characterizes him, presented to us the metaphor of the fire. He said that an industrial dispute was like a fire which began at some spot, and that the real philosophy of the Bill was to go where the fire was beginning to smoulder and extinguish it. That is admirable, but, as the honorable member for Flinders pointed out, we cannot constitutionally touch the fire until it has begun to burn across the borders of the States. There may be a veritable mountain of flame within a State, but the Federal fire brigade may not touch it - that is the business of the fire brigade of the State.- It is only when it threatens to cross the Constitution barriers, which have been strictly prescribed, in other words the borders of the State, that the Attorney-General may take out his fire brigade. Let us sweep away all this floridity, and come back to the cold, icy terms of the Constitution, which circumscribe and control ‘all that we can possibly do in this Parliament. The more we study this Bill, and the more we see the limitations of the Constitu-‘ tion, the more we begin to understand how little real meat there is on the constitutional bones which the AttorneyGeneral is offering to the people who follow him so devotedly. He has told us quite frankly that he can hardly conceive a case in which rural workers would take advantage of the Bill j and that is a fine admission for him to make. What is it the AttorneyGeneral is seeking to do? On another aspect of the Bill I last night asked the honorable member for Newcastle what was contemplated in the passing of certain provisions, and all he could point me to was an infinitesimal bit of the industrial situation which he thought could be compassed by the measure. The AttorneyGeneral now admits that the reason the whole of the industrial workers, including rural workers, are brought within the purview of the Bill is not that they are going to get any benefit. Then what are we legislating for? Is this all pure makebelieve? Whenever we ask such questions, honorable members- opposite either keep the purpose of the measure out of sight, or their admissions simply amount to a total condemnation of any effort to pass this kind of legislation. The AttorneyGeneral evidently cannot have heard the Leader of the Opposition last night.
– Oh, yes, I did.
– Then the honorable member cannot have understood what: he did hear. He says that the Leader of the Opposition last night did not appear to. know anything about a Bill he had himself passed ; but I venture to s.ay that no other honorable member in the chamber had that, impression. I heard the Leader of the Opposition address himself to the question with, his wonted ability, and if one thing stood, out more than another it was his sympathy towards legislation of this kind, so long asit is within our constitutional powers. That, I venture to say, was the impression left on the mind of every other honorable member in the House. But a very slight amount of fact acts as a great solvent to the AttorneyGeneral’s fanciful vapourings, whichhave nothing to do with the hard businesslike considerations which affect the industrial life of this community. The AttorneyGeneral asked why the hairdressers should beincluded, and not the rural workers. I, too. should like to know why hairdressers should not have the same consideration as the rural workers, or the rural workers thesame consideration as the hairdressers. Everybody agrees with the sentiment of what the Attorney-General says, and we only differ as to the means to be adopted to give that all-round justice to which thesepeople are equally entitled.
– Would the honorable member be prepared to accept this Bill if the Constitution permitted?
– The Liberal party always seeks justice for the whole people. We believe that both the hairdresser and the rural worker should have - I believe the expression is - “ social justice meted out to them so far as we can give it. But in saying that I am only stating one of the most stupendous social problems of this or any age. It is a problem which has baffled mankind throughout the ages, and to which even we, with all the enlightenment of the twentieth century, have to address ourselves. After die Attorney-General has made the Houselaugh consumedly, we have yet to ask ourselves what is the best way to achieve thoseuseful results, and bring about those abiding advantages for our civilized community.. My opinion, in brief, is that as the rural, problems arise out of local circumstancesand conditions, they can be better treated by a local body on the spot to deal with them as they arise, and not by one great tribunal which has within the sweep of its authority the diversi- fied industrial conditions of the whole continent of Australia. I say as to this, as I said last night, that the nearer you can take these means of justice to those engaged in industrial enterprises the better. But by some inversion of reason which obtains just now, people are going away from the means ready to their hands to a far-off Court of doubtful legality and practicability. That is the position as I view it, and therefore I shall vote against these provisions. I shall do so, not because I believe that the rural workers should not get justice, but because the instrumentality sought to be created by the Government will not give them what they can get by other and more efficient means.
.- The Committee is indebted to the honorable members for Angas and Flinders for the information which they put before it, and the kindly and temperate manner in which they conveyed it. Their speeches will be the more appreciated when contrasted with that of the honorable member for Parramatta, who shifted the debate from the plane of judicial consideration to that of wildly excited party controversy. I left the House last night with his voice ringing in my ears, and was horrified to hear it again this evening. Honorable members must not forget that it is the legal position of the Bill with which we are chiefly concerned. Lay members are prone to overlook the fact that this is not an absolute Parliament. Prior to Federation we knew only absolute Parliaments, possessing practically unlimited powers of legislation, and we shall occasionally find ourselves up against a wall in making proposals to a Parliament whose powers of legislation are limited. It will be some time before we are thoroughly accustomed to our position. We must try to ascertain what we can do under the Constitution. With regard to the State servants, I take it that the Bill merely reenacts so much of the original Act as was not destroyed by the decision of the High Court in the railways case. Were it not thathe was re-modelling the clause, the draftsman would probably have left the words as they stand in the Act. The reference to State railways has been omitted because the Court held that it is beyond (he power of this Parliament to legislate for their control. The honorable member for Angas suggested that the draftsman, having read the decisions of the High Court, had endeavoured to remedy the provisions with which fault had been found; if he has succeeded in doing so he is to be congratulated. ‘When an Act is found to be defective it is the duty of Parliament to remedy the defects at the earliest possible moment. In my view, this should be merely an amending Bill. I did not speak during the second-reading discussion, because, with the honorable member for Flinders, I realized that whatever is to be said can be said in Committee, and I anticipate the repetition of much that has been said during the last two days. In dealing with rural workers and preference to unionists the Government have gone further than is necessary, which I think is to be regretted, particularly in view of the fact that it rightly contemplates asking the people to give this Parliament greater power of legislation in industrial matters. Further powers are needed. We are not likely to ask the people to take from us any of the powers which we have. The Government which suggested that suffered severely at the elections, and its example will not be followed. We must go forward, and the people will be asked to extend our powers of legislation regarding industrial matters. The application of our Arbitration law to other trades might fairly be left until we have gained those larger powers. I should like to see the complete control of industrial matters given to this Parliament. If we get that, we can, if we like, provide for Wages Boards to deal with particular grievances, and bring other matters under the Arbitration Court. Now we can legislate only in respect of disputes extending beyond the borders of a State. I intend to vote for the deferring of all legislation except necessary amendments in the original Act until further powers have been obtained. I shall vote for the retention of the provision regarding employes of a State or the Commonwealth, because it is merely the re-enactment of a provision in the principal Act untouched by the High Court’s decisions, though, as the honorable member for Flinders has pointed out, the principle of the railway case may be extended to apply to all State employes. Were we dealing with the subject for the first time, I should hold different views regarding the matter from those I hold now. As to bringing rural workers under the arbitration law, I agree with the AttorneyGeneral’s interjection that they could seldom come under the operation of the measure, and with his statement to-night that a dispute in which rural workers were concerned extending beyond the borders of any one State could not be imagined. To my mind that furnishes the strongest argument for leavingrural workers out of the Bill. All the speeches of the last two days have been in opposition to a proposal which the Attorney-General himself admits will practically never be brought into use, though he says that provision should be made to meet an occasion which may arise. Before there can be a rural dispute extending beyond any one State rural unions must be formed throughout the States, and disputes must arise and extend beyond the borders of a State. We know that rural unions are in their infancy, and the matter can very well be left until the Government obtains for the Parliament the powers which wedesire to exercise. I agree with the honorable memberfor Flinders that it would not be fair to all honorable members opposite to regard them as altogether opposed to legislation for the settlement of disputes in rural industries, but a large number of them would not dare to suggest even the establishment of Wages Boards for that purpose.
– The honorable member is mistaken.
– I think not. During the recent election campaign the scale of wages framed by the Rural Workers Union was circulated throughout the country districts by every Fusion candidate, with the object of injuring his opponent.
– That is not true.
– I know that it happened in Victoria.
– I never heard of it before.
– The honorable member for Parramatta must withdraw the statement that what was said by the honorable member for Gippsland is untrue.
– I withdraw it, and say that the statement was absolutely incorrect.
– Many honorable members seem to forget that it was the policy of their party to apply new Protection to every industry. This is what their leader said in the policy speech he delivered at Ballarat-
New Protection, as you know, means securing fair conditions to all those engaged in industries which receive the care of the State ; and I use the word “ care “ in a wider sense than “ Protection “ in the ordinary sense, because we propose that what is called the New Protection shall not be limited to protected industries. They have perhaps the first claim, but we propose to establish Protection in all industries in Australia, whether subject to fiscal Protection or not.
The securing of fair hours, fair wages, and fair conditions of employment-
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable member cheers, but I should like to ask some honorable members on that side if they are prepared to suggest that in rural districts? It was all very well at Ballarat -
The securing of fair hours, fair wages, and fair conditions of employment is now seen to be, as it has long been felt to be, a matter’ of grave national concern. Australia is named a continent, but the Australia we know consists of the masses of Australian people and those who shall spring from them.
– What date was that?
– It was the first policy speech of the honorable member for Ballarat, at Ballarat, at the last election. He goes on to say -
Australian industries awake our enthusiasm, not because of the machinery by which they are carried on, not because of the money invested, but because they are the means of livelihood and advance the interests of thousands of our own people. We look to commerce, we look to industries and machinery, but we look through them to the people, and the New Protection aims at bringing home to the masses of the people a sense that those who are responsible for the nation’s destinies realize that they lie in the people of Australia and nowhere else.
– A truly democratic utterance.
– Exactly, and worthy of the leader of the old Liberal party, but not expected from him as the leader of the Fusion.
– Is the honorable member going to connect this with the clause?
– Yes, I am dealing with the reference made by the honorable member for Flinders to an insinuation that honorable members on this side had said that there was no sympathy on that side with the rural workers. The honorable member for Ballarat went on to say -
My hope is to see every industry in Australia with its Wages Board.
A great many honorable members on the other side are not prepared to indorse that. 1 can only hope that they are prepared to go that length, and that neither they nor their journals will use it as an argument against us at election time that we want to secure fair wages, fair hours, and fair conditions of employment to the rural workers as well as to anybody else. But, although I have those feelings, I still think, and I intend to vote accordingly, that this proposal is a huge mistake. It is going to do practically nothing. All it seems to have done is to give a handle to the members on the other side of the House to make a great mountain out of nothing, with a “view to twitting the members of the Government party with it at election time. I intend to propose that these words be omitted. The honorable member for Angas referred to the inclusion of “ groups of industries.” Everything we can do within our power to secure industrial peace should be done. I quite agree with the honorable member for Flinders that if the words. ‘ ‘ industrial dispute ‘ ‘ in the Constitution do not include a threatened or impending or probable dispute, our saying it :in the Act will not give them that meaning. Still, I cannot help thinking that no harm can be done by putting those words in. Those employes, before they come to Court, -obtain legal advice as to their chance of success, and I do not think the mere inclusion of those words will induce anybody to advise them that they can get the Court to interfere at that stage of a dispute, if he does not think that the words “ industrial dispute “ already include them. The position is now getting so acute that we ought to do our utmost to make this legislation as perfect as possible. The burden of litigation is becoming intoler able. Thousands of pounds of the employes’ moneys- and they can less afford to lose it than the employers can - are being spent in these matters, and we are making very little progress. 1 know of no litigation that lias cost so much money, with so little result, as that under the Conciliation’ arid Arbitration Act. I think, therefore, that we should not bring any other callings into the possibilities of trouble under this legislation, until we secure, as we hope, in a very short time, full and ample powers to deal with industrial matters throughout Australia.
.- One of the difficulties of an honorable member who finds himself just departing from the top of the political fence is to be able to explain to the gentlemen on one side of it the extreme sorrow that he feels at having to get clown on the other side in defence of their interests ! The honorable member for Gippsland has abused us at considerable length, and sought to misrepresent our position, in order to explain to the gentlemen on that side of the chamber the extreme sorrow that he feels at being compelled to associate with us in order to prevent them from doing an injury to their own interests ! That is perfectly fair and legitimate, and 1 am delighted that my honorable friend realized the delicacy of his position
– Will the honorable member connect those remarks with the clause ?
– I was referring to the arguments of the honorable member for Gippsland with reference to paragraph d, which deals with the inclusion of a number of agricultural industries in the scope of this legislation. My position in regard to the Act is not altogether that of the honorable member for Gippsland. He told us that he was burning with, anxiety to do something for those engaged in agricultural industries, and explained that his only reason for not wishing to include them in the Act at the present juncture was that he desired the Government to first get their extended powers, in order that, in the meantime, I suppose, he might find out how far such a thing was popular in the agricultural industries, and decide to follow the course of greatest safety to himself ! The position I take up is that, having accepted the principle of industrial arbitration, I do not mind how you extend it so long as you safeguard the political consciences and liberties of the persons you compel to join unions in the horticultural, agricultural, and dairying districts.
– There is nothing in the clause dealing with the political consciences of members of unions.
– If we vote to include all the industries named in paragraph d within the scope of the Act, and afterwards, in a later clause, as we know we must, give power to other people to control the liberties and political consciences of the people that we drive into the unions by this clause, we are doing far more than appears on the face of the clause now before us. If it were not for what I know comes afterwards in the Bill, I should have no objection to voting for this provision, because it would merely mean that we are asking men to enrol themselves in industrial, and not political, organizations - not in organizations whose aim is to pay funds for the benefit of honorable members opposite, but associations formed purely to facilitate the hearing of bond fide grievances in those industries. If that were all we were doing, I should be very happy to extend the provisions of the Act to embrace those industries. But we are doing far more. There is not a man in this House who thinks we are stopping at that. We all know how far the Bill goes. While I should be anxious to formulate a suitable tribunal to hear the bona fide, not the manufactured, grievances of merv engaged in those industries, I refuse to pretend that I am safeguarding their industrial rights by extending these provisions, while I know that all I am doing is to invade their political consciences and interfere with then political liberties.
Clause 2, sub-clause a -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended -
bv inserting in the definition of “ Employee”, after the word “industry”, the words “ and includes any person whose usual occupation is that of employee in any industry;”
– The paragraphs will be taken seriatim.
.- I am glad that the paragraphs of the clause will be put to the Committee seriatim, because to some of them no exception can be taken, whereas others simply bristle with points for litigation. Sub-paragraph b of paragraph b will simply give more work to the High Court, similar to that which it had to do when it declared that the State railways could not come within the purview of this Parliament, because they were State instrumentalities. The Court did not. in exact terms, define what it meant by a State instrumentality, but I take it that if the railways, belonging to the States come within that term, it will probably be found that a State coal mine, like the one at Powlett,- and other services belonging to and solely controlled by the States, are State instrumentalities also. We are simply inviting the people whom this Bill is intended to benefit to once more face the music before the High Court, and incur large expense. In sub-paragraph c of paragraph b, the Attorney-General’s idea appears to be good. He wishes to prevent disputes becoming a danger or causing trouble. The idea is all right, but it will be very difficult for any Court to know when to interfere. Who is going to decide at what particular moment intervention shall take place, or when the dispute threatens to spread from one State to another ? In the late Newcastle coal strike it was held that the Federal Court could not interfere because the dispute did not extend beyond the limits of New South Wales. A similar dispute might arise which threatens to extend beyond the State limits, but with which the State industrial machinery has been dealing. In such a case, if it seems likely that the dispute will go over the border, does the Bill contem plate that the Federal authorities shall stepin. and that both State and Federal authorities shall be dealing with the dispute at one and the same time? There is a great possibility of that under this provision. I cannot imagine any instance that is likely to arise that will fit the particular terms of paragraph c regarding “industrial matters.” Indeed, I do not pretend to understand what is the range and meaning of thaiprovision. If a case should arise under it the Court will experience great difficulty in defining its exact limitations. I am also opposed to paragraph d, and think that the honorable member for Gippsland will be right in moving as he proposes to do, for its omission. Even if it werecarried it would not beneficially affect thepersons engaged in the industries to whichit applies to anything like the extent that they would be benefited by local tribunals. The dairying and agricultural industriesextend from one end of Australia to another, and are carried on under widelydiffering conditions. If the Court made an award relating to the industry in Queensland it would have power to vary it in respect of the industry in another part of the Commonwealth. But it is not likely that in dealing with an application from Queensland it would vary its award to such an extent as to meet the widelydiffering circumstances of the industry in, say, Western Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania. I quite admit that rural workers are entitled to whatever help industrial legislation can give them ; but all that the Federal Court could do for them might ‘be accomplished more speedily and with much better effect under a Wages Board system.
– The President will have power under this Bill to appoint a Board of Reference.
– He is not likely to exercise that power, and even if a Board of Reference were appointed in respect of any industry it would not be found so effective as a State Wages Board. If the desire is to blot out the Wages Board system-
– Not one Wages Board has been appointed in respect of a country industry.
– The people engaged in those industries could have their disputes settled by a State Wages Board without incurring the expense of organizing. It seems to me that this is an attempt to substitute a Federal Court for the Wages Board system of the States. Why should that be done?
– It is a fair thing that we should proceed now to a vote.
– I do not wish to delay the business of the Committee, but I repeat that the honorable member for Gippsland will be right in proposing, as he has intimated, the omission of the provision to bring within the scope of this Bill persons engaged in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, and dairying pursuits. It is futile for this Parliament to try to legislate in the way proposed with respect to those industries when a much better method of dealing with disputes arising in connexion with them is provided by the States.
– For the convenience of honorable members I intend to put the sub-clauses of this clause separately.
– For the sake of convenience, I wish to alter the designations of the paragraphs of sub-clause b by substituting the figures “ 1,” “2,” and “ 3 “ for the letters “ a,” “ b,” and “ c.”
Sub-clause a agreed to.
Clause 2, sub-clause b -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting therefrom the definition of “ Industrial dispute “ and inserting in its stead the following definition : - “’ Industrial dispute ‘ means an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State and includes -
any dispute as to industrial matters arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employees on the other part, and
any dispute in relation to employment in an industry carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State, and
any threatened or impending or probable industrial dispute;”
Paragraphs amended by substituting figures for initial letters.
.- Under paragraph b of sub-clause b we take power to control matters having to do with the State Governments.
– That is only a re-enactment of the present law.
– I wish to receive an assurance that we shall be within our constitutional rights in placing upon the statute-book an enactment wherein we control matters having to do with the States. I am not disposed to allow this provision to pass until the Attorney-General has given the Committee some information as to our Constitutional position in this regard.
– The honorable member will let it pass as soon as those honorable members return who told him to “ hold the fort.”
– The honorable member is not entitled to make such an assertion. We should be within our constitutional rights in relinquishing, if we chose to do so, any power which the Federal Parliament may exercise. But it is altogether different to propose to take from the States a power which they enjoy under their own Constitutions. This point is of the utmost importance, and I think that such a provision as this will pave the way to serious litigation between the States and the Commonwealth.
– I should like to ask the Attorney- General whether he attaches any value to the use of the words “or probable” in paragraph c of sub-clause b? It seems to me that the words “ threatened or impending “ dispute cover the necessary ground.
– Ihave already explained that the words “threatened,” “impending,” and “ probable “ have relation to the words of the Constitution prescribing our power to pass legislation for the “ prevention “ as well as for the settlement” of industrial disputes. I have said that “ prevention “ implies dealing with a matter before a certain position has been reached, and I think that the use of the word “ probable “ is proper.
.-What is aimed at apparently is to give the President jurisdiction under section 19 of the Act over cases of simmering discontent that has not been expressed in some definite demand. I thinkthe honorable member for Flinders really gave this explanation in effect. If there is general dissatisfaction right through any industry, the President, under this provision, will have jurisdiction as if there were an actual dispute. This does not touch the question of prevention in the ordinary sense, but gives jurisdiction over an indefinite expression of discontent that does not amount to a formal dispute.
Sub-clause b agreed to.
Clause 2, sub-clause c -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting in the definition of “ Industrial matters” at the end thereof the following words “ and includes all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard tothe interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole;” and
– I desire to know whether the AttorneyGeneral thinks that the words “ and of society as a whole “ add to the strength or efficiency of the provision. I suggest that it is scarcely worth while inserting them.
– I think that the words ought to be retained as indicating that in every dispute the public interest is to be considered. The words are, so to speak, a direction or indication to the President that he is to have regard, not only to the parties before him, but to the general welfare of the public. Although the words may do violence to the strict and rather pedantic phraseology of the law there is nothing in them that can be taken objection to. I am willing to admit that the Judge will do what is fair and right - it would be monstrous to suppose otherwise.
– It is not to the words “ fair and right “ that I object.
Mr.HUGHES. - It is the continual practice of the Judge of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales to insist on the fact that he is there to safeguard the interests of the public, whether or not these are represented by counsel.
Sub-clause c agreed to.
Clause 2, sub-clause d -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from the definition of “ In dustry “ the words “ excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits” and inserting in their stead the words “ and includes a branch of an industry and a group of industries.”
.- I move -
That all the words after the word “by,” line 1, down to and including the word “and,” line 6, be left out.
I submit this amendment for reasons I have already given.
.- We have had from the Attorney-General himself this evening the strongest possible confirmation of the position taken up by the Opposition in regard to the industries mentioned in sub-clause d. First of all, he said that only in the wildest stretch of imagination could these rural industries ever be conceived as coming within the scope of the Bill.
– I did not say that.
– I am not giving the Attorney-General’s actual words, but simply the sense of them, and the honorable gentleman went on to point out that, even supposing the remote probability or possibility of those industries coming within the scope of the measure, it is possible for the Judge to differentiate in making an award in these industries from the Gulf of Carpentaria tothe south of Australia. The whole of the argument on this side has been that it will be utterly impossible for any Judge to come to a decision, in view of the widely different conditions of the industry throughout the Commonwealththat it is utterly impossible for a Judge to make an award, whether he differentiates or not, possible of application throughout the Commonwealth.
– The Judge has just come to a decision in a matter ten times more complicated.
– I doubt whether the Attorney-General is right. There is the widest possible difference between a settled concentrated industry like the boot trade and the widely scattered industries of our country districts. In my opinion, no industrial legislation we have at present is-‘ suitable to those industries, which require special machinery.
– Does the honorable member believe in Wages Boards?
– I contend that we require special machinery for these special industries, and I point to the experience of New Zealand, where Acts of this kind have proved a dead letter for many years.
– I trust that the Committee will not agree to the amendment. This tribunal is supposed to dispense social justice, and I desire to see its jurisdiction extended to all classes of industrial workers. I am quite sure that there are menand women employed in agricultural, viticultural, and horticultural industries, whoare not receiving the full reward of their labour, and they should have an opportunity when they are organized of stating their case to the Court and having; an award made. I trust that the Government will be supported in their proposal to include both rural workers and domestic servants.
.- I desire to point out that there were several strikes during last year in the farming in dustry in the State of Victoria, and honorablemembers who vote for the proposed amendment will be voting for the continuation of those strikes. The rural workers are already organized in Victoria and New South Wales in the one body, and the employers are also organized ; and I entirely disagree with those who speak of the unlikelihood of these industries ever availing themselves of this provision. At Mildura, and in South Australia, there have been strikes in connexion with the fruit industry, and the desire is to put a stop to these. This legislation shows quite clearly that the Government are opposed to strikes, and an important step towards their abolition is now proposed.As to excessive litigation, we find from experience that the younger unions come to the older for advice, which is always in the direction of not wasting money on legal chances.
. -The speeches we have heard to-night from the Government side are practically a repetition of the speech we heard when the original Act was introduced.I remember that the first words that I spoke in the House were in the form of an interjection when the late lamented Mr. Kingston was pointing out that the measure he was then introducing would make strikes impossible. In my interjection I asked what the honorable gentleman would do with an employer who refused to carry out an award, and the reply was, “ I would put him in gaol.” Then I asked what he would do with the men at Broken Hill or Newcastle if they were similarly guilty, and the reply again was “ I would put them all in gaol.” I pointed out on that occasion that there were not enough gaols in Australia to prevent men going on strike if they believed they had a legitimate case. We are now told that agricultural labourers are being included in order to prevent strikes in the rural industries; but we must remember that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been in existence for some years and has not had that effect. It is time that the hypocritical cant about stopping strikes by Acts of Parliament came to an end, since we know that they have failed to do so. The honorable member for Darling says that we should pass the clause as it stands in order to prevent strikes, but the history of compulsory arbitration legislation shows that we cannot stop them.
– Have arbitration laws minimized strikes?
– I doubt it.
– They have made strikes.
– The New South Wales laws, which have allowed men to go before the Court with every little grievance, have increased the friction between employers and employes, if they have not increased strikes.
– Name a union that has gone on strike?
– Did not the Newcastle miners go on strike? Were not the Broken Hill miners on strike?
– They were locked out.
– The object of the provision is not to give relief to agricultural workers, but to extend the political power of the unions. Paid lecturers have been sent through the country to induce men to join unions, and in some of the States without result. Fair and legitimate means having failed, the Government says, “ We shall compel you to join unions under the penalty of starvation.” This is the great humanitarian proposal of the Labour party ! Their cruelty and brutality is as unrefined as that of the Middle Ages. It was not worse to send a man to the stake or to the dungeon for his opinions or belief than it is to tell him that if he does not join a union, and act in accordance with the dictates of a political party, he shall not be allowed to work, and his children must starve. We are being asked to apply the arbitration law to rural industries, and to grant preference to unionists to compel men to join unions under pain of having to surrender their work and their homes.
.- The ingenious statement of the honorable member for Darling is in conflict with that of, the Attorney-General. He intimated that the inclusion of the agricultural labourer is necessary to prevent strikes, but the Attorney-General stated that the clause will be largely inoperative. I wish to define my position in regard to the measure. I indicated, when speaking on the second reading, that I was opposed to the inclusion of rural workers in the Bill, because I considered that the Constitution does not allow us to legislate effectively for that class of labour. The agricultural labourer is as much entitled to the benefits of arbitration as is any other workman, but the nature of his employment is such that his case must be specially dealt with. Agricultural labour is largely nomadic and intermittent. Opportunities for employment vary as the seasons are wet or dry, and conditions of work differ with differences of climate.Our Constitution not being sufficiently elastic to enable us to provide for all the contingencies which must be considered, the position of the agricultural labourer can be dealt with effectively only by State legislation. The Parliaments of theStates have ample power to establish tribunals which will properly consider all local and other special circumstances, and we must leave this work to them. If they fail to discharge their obvious responsibilities, we must ask the people to extend our powers of legislation in industrial matters. At the present time, however, it is useless to discuss a provision of this kind. Therefore I shall vote for the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sub-clause d agreed to.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (President may convene compulsory Conference).
– The powers of the President under this clause are absolutely arbitrary, because, whenever in his opinion it is desirable, he may summon any person to attend a conference, and a penalty of £500 is provided for disobedience. If a man who is completely outside the dispute is summoned by the President, and does not appear, although it is foundthat he has absolutely no relation to the dispute, he will be liable to a heavy fine. We ought to leave out the words “ in his opinion,” so that the power would only be given to summon a man when that is desirable.
– How, then, would the President be able to say that it was desirable ?
– He need not say it. It must be a fact. Under the clause as it stands, the President may summon any one from anywhere in Australia; and there does not seem to be any provision even for paying expenses. If the man does not turn up he may be fined £500.
– The honorable member is reading the clause without its context. In sections 16 and 17 of the principal Act-
– I know the President is charged with the duty of conciliation and so on ; but this clause arms him with the arbitrary power of summoning, subject to a fine of £500. I do not want it to be said afterwards that we let this clause go without protest. One has to respect the liberty of the subject a little, and not allow too great powers to appear in our legislation.
– I fail to see in what other way the President is to act if we do not include the words “ in his opinion.” He must satisfy his mind in some way or other. What inducement can there be for him to act, except that in his opinion the facts, so far as he knows them, and the circumstances as he sees them, make a conference desirable? Therefore, at the worst, these words are only surplusage.
– I am not altogether satisfied with the clause, because it will be possible for the President in connexion with some probable dispute to summon an individual who is not in a position to attend, and no provision is made for payment of expenses. If the AttorneyGeneral can show me any power resting with the Judge to make payment to that individual, if he is not in circumstances which enable him to attend without payment, I shall be satisfied. The man may have no means to get to the Court. We cannot be too careful in guarding the liberty of the subject.
– As in ordinary cases, the person summoned must show cause why he did not attend ; and if he can show a good cause, that will be sufficient. 1 take it that want of means to attend would be a good cause.
– What about the payment of expenses?
– In a proper case, I take it that the person summoned might apply for a refund.
– The point raised by the honorable member for Hunter deserves consideration. In a case heard in Melbourne, some people were brought over from Tasmania, and had to bring a lawyer with them. After remaining in Melbourne for a week or fortnight, they were told that they could go home if they liked as there was no case against them, and no provision was made for their expenses. It is not fair to put a man in the position of being summoned from the extreme end of Australia to be afterwards told that there is no case againsthim, and that he can go home if he likes, with absolutely no redress.
– That can be done already under the arbitration sections of the Act. The Judge can compel parties to attend ; and what is proper there is proper here. The Judge will exercise due discretion and not summon to an unsuitable place.
. -Can the Attorney-General indicate what section in the principal Act enables the person summoned to demand his expenses before he attends the Court? There is a great deal in what the honorable member for Hunter says. In all the Acts relating to witnesses in Courts, it is provided that they must be tendered their conduct money before they can be punished for nonattendance.
– Would this man be a witness?
– I do not know. But if he does not attend, he may be charged with an offence under this clause, and have to come to the Court somehow or other, whether he has the means to do it or not, to answer the charge. The Attorney-General might undertake to consider the matter, and recommit the clause, in order to secure a man his expenses before he is compelled to attend.
– I will see if it can be provided for.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Certificate of registration as to membership of organization).
– This clause gives great power to the President and Registrar as regards proof. I would point out that the schedule is only formally repealed, because there is in existence another set of statutory rules which are to take its place. I have a copy of those new rules with me. It is provided in them that a return of membership has to be filed every year, showing the membership up to the 31st December. That has to be filed before the end of March. The clause provides that the certificate of the Registrar, which would really be based on that return, is, subject to review by the President, to be conclusive evidence of membership. That is going very far, because the whole question of whether there is a genuine dispute or not may depend upon bond fide membership of the association. 1 think the Browns’ case, which the Attorney-General referred to, broke down because of the fact that there were no members at the time at work in the industry. In the sawmillers’ case, several firms were dismissed because there were no employés who were members at the time ; although the secretary honestly swore that there were employes in those firms. We ought to provide that the Registrar’s certificate of membership should be primâ facie evidence, and hot conclusive evidence, for it is going to great lengths to make it absolutely conclusive in the case of an organization with 30,000 or 40,000 members.
– The new rules lay down the conditions under which members can alone become unionists and become registered. The book must contain certain rules which enable the. Registrar to satisfy himself that the conditions of membership are sufficiently safeguarded.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Power of amendment).
.- We are now dealing with substantial matters. There is no question that this clause raises a very big issue. Proposed new section 38b provides that the Court may at any timebefore the determination of an industrial dispute alter the plaint.Proposed new section 38b also gives the Court power to include in its award any matter or thing which the Court thinks necessary or expedient. That means, that no matter whether an issue has been raised in the plaint or not, and no matter how important the matter in question may be, the Court may put new particulars in. In view of the importance of the point, ought we not to consider this clause more fully to-morrow ?
– No, I want to have this clause dealt with.
– In the Broken Hill case the Chief Justice said that an amendment might be made, but that it must be something substantially connected with the dispute before it could be embodied in the award.
– It must spring from the dispute.
– And from the plaint. The Attorney-General will find that in the judgment. The Court in the Broken Hill case refused to exercise its discretionary power to refuse a prohibition, because it thought that it was unfair that some new matters should be sprung upon one of the parties to the dispute in the middle of the hearing. I only desire to point out what the effect of the proposed new section is.
Clause agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Last evening, when addressing the House on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I made some remarks which conveyed an imputation against the honorable member for Parkes. I wish to take the earliest opportunity of intimating to the House that I did not intend the words which I used to convey a personal reflection upon the honorable member. I wish to remove any such impression, and to state that I had no desire that my remarks should be taken in a personal sense. When I saw the words in the Hansard report, I should have liked to erase them if I had had an opportunity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.16p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 August 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100804_reps_4_55/>.