4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr, THOMAS BROWN presented a petition from officers of the Postal Departments of the Commonwealth, praying Parliament not to amend the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902 by placing the Service under the Arbitration Court for the settlement of disputes.
Petition received and read.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs say when he will take the steps necessary to determine the representation of the various States in accordance with the census returns?
– Almost immediately. We have already begun with Western Australia.
– Has the Commonwealth Chief Electoral Officer yet reported to the Minister underthe terms of the Act that a new distribution of seats should be made?
– Not officially, but it is thoroughly understood that it must be made immediately.
– On Tuesday last I drew the attention of the Minister of External Affairs to certain statements in the Age, and ask him now if he can give the House any information as to why the subsidy for a steamer service to Port Darwin has been withdrawn?
– I am informed that-
There was a contract between the Government of South Australia and the Eastern and Australian Steam-ship Company for two years from the 1st October,1909, under which the company undertook to carry Government cargo in accordance with terms agreed upon, and to carry passengers at fixed fares between the southern and eastern ports and Darwin. The subsidy for the service was at the rate of£2,000a year.
Thr question of renewing the existing contract or inviting applications for a fresh service was submitted to my predecessor, who, in view of the fact that the Navigation Bill now before this House might, when passed, materially affect the situation, resolved to take no action till the decision of Parliament in regard to that measure was known.
I see by a statement.in to-day’s paper that the three shipping companies whose vessels trade to Darwin have agreed to adopt an increased and uniform scale of rates. It is stated in connexion with this announcement that the expenses of shipping at Darwin have increased. I am having inquiries made into this assertion.
– Has the Government taken into consideration the importance of the pearl-shelling industry as a factor in the settlement of the Northern Territory, recently acquired by the Commonwealth? Is the Minister aware that experiments in the growth of pearl-shell have been made for some years by Mr. T. H. Haynes. at the Montebello Islands, off the coast of Western Australia, and that the success of such experiments would enable the pearling fleets to be manned with white labour exclusively? In view of the fact that Australian taxpayers pay over£1, 000,000 per annum for the promotion of the sugar industry in Queensland, does he not think it possible to find money to employ a capable biologist to continue the experiments at Montebello Islands, abandoned by Mr. Haynes through exhaustion of funds, especially as Mr. Haynes is willing to give the Government the results of his researches?
– The Government is aware of the importance of the pearlshelling industry, and had Mr. Haynes’ proposal beforeit. I cannot say now what the taxpayers contribute for the maintenance of the sugar industry of Australia. As to the employment of a biologist to continue experiments the Government have not come to a determination.
Pennant Hills and Fremantle Contract
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
June 22, 1909.
Sir, - Would you be so kind as to forward any letters that may be held over for me to the above address, and hold over any other letters that may come for me until I write again, and you will oblige,
Yours respectfully, Alexander Black “ ?
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. Proposals in regard to a loan for Papua were submittedby the LieutenantGovernor, and correspondence between him and the Department on the subject is now proceeding. When further particulars are received the matter will receive special consideration.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The expression “ union lawyers “ is not precise enough to enable an answer to be given.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are-
.- I move -
I make no apology for submitting this motion. It is one to which, I think, no honorable member will take exception, and it is in the interests of the Commonwealth that it should be carried. No question of party is associated with it, and I propose very briefly to put forward several reasons that should recommend it to the favorable consideration of the House. We must all admit that it is essential that we should endeavour to create and maintain an efficient military force; and a great factor towards the creation and maintenance of such a force is efficiency in the highest degree on the part of our comparatively small Permanent Forces. The Permanent Forces, which are held up as an example to our Militia and Volunteer Forces, and will be held up as an example also to the great body of. soldiers to be created under the compulsory service scheme, are comparatively small in number. At the end of September, 1910, in the whole of this great Commonwealth,we had only 1,522 permanentlypaid men and officers in our Military Forces, or, omitting officers, a little over 1,400 men.
– Do those figures include the Administrative Staff ?
– Yes, they include the Head-quarters Staff. On the date mentioned, we had a force of 83,333 men, exclusive of cadets, the total being made up as follows: - Militia, 16,930; Volunteers, 5,057 ; Rifle Clubs, 57,826, and others, including officers, &c, about 1,000. Of this total, it will be seen, my motion relates to only about 1,400 men. I mention that fact in order to remove from the minds of honorable members any fear that if, as a result of this action on my part, an increase in pay were granted, great expense might be incurred. I purposely omitted from my motion any reference to commissioned officers, fearing that unless I did so, there might be, perhaps, in the minds of some a suspicionthat I had some ulterior motive,. and desired to advance the interests of personal friends or relatives of my own who happen to hold commissions in the Permanent Forces. All parts of the House will realize that the non-commissioned officers and men of our Permanent Forces are not receiving payment corresponding in any sense with the remuneration received by those who follow civil vocations. Wages of all descriptions have recently gone up, but there has been no corresponding increase in the pay of our Permanent Military Forces, although they are just as deserving of a rise as are those employed in other directions. In these circumstances, therefore, I make no apology for this motion, and whilst I should like honorable members opposite to give expression to their views upon it, I sincerely hope that no attempt will be made to talk it out. A soldier in our Permanent Forces at the commencement of his career receives about one-half the wages of an unskilled labourer to-day. In order to emphasize that point, let me state the scale of pay of non-commissioned officers and men. A gunner - and a gunner has no easy task in performing his daily routine of duties - receives 4s. a day ; a bombardier 4s. 3d. per day; a. corporal 4s. 6d. per da)’, and a sergeant 5s. 6d. per day. Before a man can attain the rank of sergeant in the Permanent Forces, he has to go through a good many years of hard work. It is a great mistake to believe that soldiering is something in the nature of an amusement - that a soldier has nothing to do but to walk about and disport himself in fine uniform. There is a great deal of hard work and drudgery entailed in soldiering, and a man, after some years of this hard work may, if he behaves himself, and is particularly attentive to his duties, reach the rank of sergeant and receive 5s. 6d. a day. In the present prosperous times, and in comparison with the present rates of wages ruling outside the service, that is not enough. A Company Sergeant-Major gets 6s. 3d., a Staff Sergeant-Major 10s., a Quarter- Master Sergeant 11s., a. Regimental Quarter-Master Sergeant, ns., and a Master Gunner 10s. 9c!. per day. The pay of a Master Gunner is really only equal to the pay of an unskilled labourer, but I do not think that a Master Gunner who has to go through years of hard work and study can be fairly classed in that category. He is really an expert at his business, having had to pass very difficult examinations, and to go through many hard and strict schools of gunnery, and other subjects. A soldier starts his career at about 4s. 4d. per day, or perhaps less than half the pay of the unskilled labourer outside. If he applies himself carefully and diligently to his business he may be receiving 7s. or 7s. 6d. a day in about five years, and after a further period he may receive 8s. 6d. Subsequently he may by small rises of perhaps 3d. per day reach something like 13s., but often those small rises may entail his having to move, with perhaps his wife and family, -from one State to another.
– It might make more of them go to work.
– The honorable member is perhaps under the misapprehension that the members of the Permanent Forces - I am not speaking of the Volunteer Militia - have no work to do.
– No good comes of their work.
Mi. RYRIE. - I can assure the honorable member that he is under a misapprehension. If he believes that we should have no defence force, I can understand his position j but if we are to have a defence force, and I think the honorable member’s party are determined that we shall have one in Australia, we must have an efficient one. We cannot have an efficient force unless we give encouragement to this comparatively small body of permanent men. To show how essential this is, practically the whole of the Australian Army to be created under our compulsory, service scheme will be dependent upon the permanent men for instructors. We must encourage the best men to join our Permanent Force, and encourage them to remain in it when they have joined. They will not be encouraged to remain if they are paid a lower rate of wages than is obtainable outside. That fact is accountable for the wastage that is always going on in the Permanent Force. In the Royal Australian Artillery fully 40 per cent, of those who sign on resign after the first period is up and leave the force. That is not desirable. Many of them are good men, who should be encouraged to stay in the service.
– Most’ of them save enough money in one term to buy a public-house.
– The honorable member’s remarks are just about on a par with the first speech that I heard him make in this House on the Address-in-Reply. On that occasion he wound up with a magnificent peroration about “ this rotten, silly business of defence.” The Lord help this country if a majority of men of his class were governing it ! It is deplorable that men who are supposed to be moulding the destiny of this great Commonwealth should give expression to such puerile sentiments. I think I have said sufficient to show that there is some warrant for my action in moving the motion. A Committee ought to be appointed, and I am sure that no one on either side of the House will oppose its appointment.
– - I regret that the Government are unable to accept the motion. I quite agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that the desire of the great majority of the members of this House, and I think of the people of Australia, is to establish an efficient Defence Force; but the honorable member has not pointed to any information that is not available, or that cannot be secured without the assistance of a Select C01v1mitr.ee. In those circumstances the Government would not be justified in incurring the expense of appointing such a body. Within the next week or two the Budget will be debated in this House. The pay of all the officers and men of the Defence Forces mentioned in the motion can then be discussed at any length and in any aspect. If there is shown in the House a sufficiently strong feeling to justify an alteration of the existing state of things, the Government will be prepared to give consideration to the views then expressed. The information for which the honorable member asks can certainly be obtained without the aid of a Select Committee. If the honorable member desires any particular information regarding the noncommissioned officers or men, I will undertake that, if he will frame a motion and move it in the House, the information will be secured from the records. We know the number of men employed in those branches of the service. Every one who has a knowledge of military affairs knows that they are engaged in particular work. The Department knows the number of hours they work. We know the obligations of the Department towards them so far as allowances are concerned. In those circumstances, what additional information does the honorable member expect to get by adopting the cumbersome expedient of appointing a Select Committee?
– A Select Committee does more than gather information. It makes recommendations which are often acted upon hv the House.
– The honorable member can make his own recommendations when debating the Budget.
– I am afraid my recommendations would not carry as much weight as those of a Select Committee.
-I am afraid the honorable member’s recommendations might not in all cases carry much weight.
– That is nasty. There is no need for it.
– I do not know that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is entitled to exercise any censorship over my speeches in this Chamber.
– It would be the recommendation, not of an individual, but of a. Select Committee.
– I am quite aware of it.
– Surely the Minister will not say regarding the recommendations of a Select Committee what he said about the recommendations of the honorable member for North Sydney?
– I am not saying so, and I am not allowing the honorable member to say it for me. The honorable member for North Sydney has not stated a case which would justify the Government in authorizing the expenditure that would be incurred in obtaining information, which, as I say, is available to every member of the House. In justice to the present Government, J must say that since we came into office the pay of these men has been increased from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. per day, or by 40 per cent.
– When did that apply to the warrant officers?
– The pay of the sergeantmajor of the Instructional Staff was increased from£137 to £156, if my memory serves me rightly, shortly before the Minister of Defence went to England at the beginning of the year. The pay of the lower rank non-commissioned officers has been increased in the same proportion. The honorable member for North Sydney desires such an investigation into the conditions under which the men work as would justify him in submitting a proposal to the House to increase the pay, although, of course, the honorable member has not definitely said so. There is no information that is not available in the Department as to the duties, rations, wages, travelling expenses, and everything else - showing what the men have to do from starting on Monday morning to finishing on Saturday night.
Under the circumstances, the Government cannot see their way to accept the responsibility of incurring additional expense.
– I repeat that there was no occasion for the Postmaster-General to treat the honorable member for North Sydney in such a testy way. The opinion of the honorable member for North Sydney may not be of very much value, or it may be ; but I should imagine that a man of his experience in military affairs is quite as well able to express an opinion on the matter as is the Postmaster-General, who knows nothing whatever about the Forces except what is pumped into him by the Minister who presides over the Department.
– “ People who live in glass houses should not throw stones “ ; the honorable member for Parramatta, as Minister of Defence, had information pumped into him !
– I quite agree with the honorable member. No information has come to this House except in driblets, since the Minister has been in another place. We get to know very little about the Forces, and we can get to know very little. It is impossible, for instance, to have a question of any kind answered until it has been on the paper long enough to grow stale.
– I cannot speak for the Defence Department ; I do not administer it.
– I am not complaining of the Postmaster-General ; but it ill becomes him to twit others with having no information, seeing that he himself has none. However, I do not wish to get into “ holts” with the honorable member; but I take it that he misapprehends entirely the purpose of the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney. That honorable member feels that these men have grievances which he desires shall be rectified, and he believes that, rather than leaving the matter to the Minister or the Acting Minister individually, it should be the subject of full inquiry by a Select Committee. It is of no use beating about the bush ; at the bottom of this proposal is the question of pay, allowances, and pensions. The whole must be investigated before there can be a satisfactory settlement ; and I cannot understand why the question of pensions is delayed so long. Before I left the Department, after a tenure which was all too brief, only just sufficient to allow me to see what required doing,I altered very much for the better the- pay and conditions of some of these men. For instance, I abolished the third-class, or bottom rung, for the non-commissioned officers, and thus gave them a substantial “ leg up “ at once. Altogether, I did a great deal in that respect, but more needs to be done. The one impression I left the Department with was that there should be an exhaustive inquiry into the whole question of the circumstances and privileges of these men. If we compare the pensions and pay for similar services in the Old Country, we see that our men are still very much underpaid. The question of pensions must be faced sooner or later if we are to have a proper Defence Force ; and the sooner the Government take action the better. It was my intention to deal exhaustively with this matter, and to launch a pensions scheme as an integral part of the new defence scheme; because we shall never have a satisfactory service until there is a system of either deferred pay or pensions. As it is, the Government are finding positions to-day for men who should have been able to retire honorably, with the guarantee that they would not be subject to serious disability in their home life. The Government are acting very properly in finding those positions, so that these men may not be turned on to a cold and cruel world after having served the Commonwealth faithfully for so many years. When the proper time arrives, I shall have something to say as to the manner in which the positions have been found ; for, while 1 commend the object of the Government, I think they might have attained it in an infinitely better way. The object of the honorable member for North Sydney is to have a full inquiry from every point of view, as the best way of informing the mind of the House. In what better position will the House be if the honorable member for North Sydney continues to address a series of detached and unrelated questions from day to day, or year to year, or if, as doubtless it will be, the matter is discussed on the Estimates? The fact is that the House is in the dark concerning these details.
– The House need not be in the dark. If the honorable member for North Sydney cares to submit a motion,I shall undertake that the Minister will supply all the information desired.
– In what better position will the honorable member for North Sydney then be, so far as his objective is concerned ? The PostmasterGeneral has asked whether the honorable member is seeking for better pay and privi leges, and the honorable member frankly says that he is. Would the supplying of the information induce the Government to assist the honorable member to get what he desires ?
– Certainly, it would.
– Does the Government propose to deal with the matter, or do they not?
– The Government have increased the pay of the men by 40 per cent, since taking office.
– The reply to that is that the men still desire their position looked into, in relation to the military forces of other portions of the Empire.
– What is the reply to the . statement that the honorable gentleman did not do anything in that direction whilst he was in office?
– The reply is that the statement is grossly inaccurate. The honorable member is so ignorant of these matters that he does not know what I did.
– Does the honorable member say that he increased the pay of these men ?
– Of some classes of non-commissioned officers. I did not pretend to deal with the case in an adequate manner. What I did, or what any one else has done, matters little now. The impression I formed during my brief tenure of office was that a serious and adequate investigation was necessary, and my last action was to instruct the Secretary to get every detail he could respecting the pensions payable by the Imperial Government, with a view to the inauguration of a pension system at the earliest moment in connexion with the new defence scheme then being inaugurated. Eighteen months have passed since then, and nothing has been done. Ministers tell the public, that this Government was the first to bring about a new scheme of defence, and repeat the statement until they have come to believe it, although there is no justification for it.
– The honorable member is going beyond the question.
– If honorable members look into the matter, they will see that the confident assertions of Ministers are not borne out. The Government might very well agree to an inquiry into the position of these men. who are the backbone of the service. If investigation shows that, taking everything into account, their position is not at least equal to that of men holding similar positions in other parts ot ate Empire, the matter should be rectified.
The Government. I take it, will not allow them to remain worse off than others of their rank in the Imperial service. Such conduct would be a strange commentary on the boast of Ministers that they are the friends of all who toil for their, daily bread. If the men are being as well treated as is just, nothing can be lost by making, the fact known. But I think that investigation will show that they are not as well treated as others in similar positions elsewhere. I should like a more comprehensive inquiry than is proposed. I wish to know if the Government intends to stand up to the financial obligations of the Kitchener scheme with respect to all sections. Ministers claim to be doing everything imposed by that scheme, but I should like to know what they are doing regarding the officers..
– The honorable member is now going beyond the motion.
– The sooner the conditions of employment in the Department of Defence are subject to a close and’ adequate inquiry the better it will be for all concerned. Such an investigation would’ assist die House in dealing with many problems now pressing for solution. The Kitchener scheme, having been inaugurated, should be carried out in its integrity assoon as possible. It will necessitate a marked advance in the pay and privileges of these men who, as the honorable member for North. Sydney has shown, areunderpaid in comparison with others of their rank in the Imperial service.
– I shall support the motion. I intervened when the mover was speaking, topoint out to the Minister that if a SelectCommittee were appointed its report would not be that of a single individual. I did’ so because the Minister seemed to have lost sight of that fact in making his somewhat tart interjection. I understand that inJanuary last the men received an advance of is. a day. I am in frequent contact with them, and know that there is grave dissatisfaction among them, for which, T believe, there is good ground. It is remarkable how conservative one becomes when in a position of responsibility. TheMinister has followed the beaten track inobjecting to an inquiry into departmental methods by a Select Committee.
– If the honorable member for North Sydney will indicate how a Select Committee could obtain information” which is not now available to honorable members, the Government will consider hia proposal.
– That reply could be made to every mover for a Select Committee. It is the old answer. The House should not be satisfied with it, but should assert its right to obtain in its own way information regarding the working of Departments. Those who know anything of the case must feel shocked at the way in which these men are being treated. They are picked men, who have risen from the ranks. The most violent Socialist could not point his linger at those supporting their claims, and accuse us of supporting the claims of over-paid and overdressed officers. Industry, application, and ability have raised these men to the positions which they occupy. They have undergone constant and severe training, and have qualified by passing competitive examinations. Their treatment is, therefore, scandalous. In many cases they receive only half what is paid to the unskilled labourer, either inside or outside the service, and they are doing special and highly technical work. Another injustice is that many of them who have seen active service, in some cases while holding commissions, are being paid only as much after seven or ten years’ work on the Instructional Staff as is given to those entering the service to-day, their experience and work counting for nothing. Surely the Government does not propose to keep every one on the same dead level, adopting the doctrine of the Socialists! Men who have served the State well should be treated differently from the newest recruits to the service. To give the Defence system a fair trial, these men should be properly treated by the authorities. To get the best results our Forces must have the best training, and to secure that we must have a contented and ‘ adequately paid teaching staff. No one can be expected to do his ‘best as a teacher unless he is in a contented frame of mind. No man can be contented when he is underpaid to the extent that these men are, and when he feels that his capacity and merit are not being recognised. We cannot have a contented service when men who have been doing certain work for many years receive no more than is paid to others who have been engaged in the same work for only a fewmonths. I would suggest to the honorable member for North Sydney that he should makean alteration in the proposed personnel of the Select Committee. It was indicated a few minutes ago by the honorable member for Parramatta that a certain amendment was contemplated, and I think
– Hardly. There is nothing to prevent a Minister acting ona Select Committee.
– The name of the honorable member for Maranoa might very well be substituted for that of the new Honorary Minister, the honorable member for Adelaide. The honorable member for Maranoa has had practical experienceas a soldier. He knows the work from A toZ, and I believe that his experience would be found of great advantage to the Committee in the prosecution of its inquiries. I “trust that the Government are not going to resort to the old method of shirking inquiry by sheltering themselves behind the excuse that there already exists in the Department all the information that is necessary. If we did not think it existed there we should not be asking for access to it. I appeal to the Ministerto say whether his experience leads him to believe that any individual member of this House would have the slightest chance of obtaining all the information he desired relative to a question of this kind, and whether, if he did gain it, he would be able to influence the House in regard to it.
– It is open to the honorable member to submit a motion asking for a return.
– A motion for a return is perhaps the most cumbersome and sluggish method of obtaining information of which one could conceive. I am surprised that so energetic an honorable member as the Minister should suggest that we should be content to fall back upon the old-fashioned parliamentary method of seeking this information by way of a return, when we can take a short cut and, by means of a personal interview on the part of a Select Committee with those who are in authority, obtain all the information we desire. The honorable gentleman has said that he objects to this proposal, on the ground, amongst others, of the expense that it would involve. I would remind him that Select Committees cost very little. From what he has said, people outside might imagine that members of a Select Committee are paid for their services. As a matter of fact, they receive no payment. The only expense involved in this case would be in respect of the services of a shorthand writer and a supply of stationery.
– Probably if we asked for a return the Minister would object.
– What would be said if honorable members were, from day to day, to bombard the Minister with motions for returns? We should be accused of trying to hold up the whole Department in order that certain information might be furnished to the House. The Minister knows very well that one return often leads to a motion for another, to elicit additional information. By the ordinary easy method of an inquiry we can obtain all that we desire far more effectively and cheaply than we could hope to do by means of the obsolete method of obtaining returns. I do not want to talk out this motion; I hope that we shall proceed to a vote upon it, because I am satisfied that those who know anything of the conditions of these men must not only feel sympathy for them, but desire to get at the very root of the reasons why they have been treated in the way of which complaint is made. We can get at the root of the matter only by the appointment of a Select Committee. I amsure that the honorable member who has submitted this motion will be prepared to agree to a time limit being fixed so as to insure the Committee reporting to the House within a few weeks’ time of its appointment. The additional information which such a Committee would elicit would place both the Minister of Defence and the Minister who represents him in this House in a very much better position to deal with the question than they are at present.
– I sympathize with the object which the honorable member for North Sydney has in view in submitting this motion. Not long ago the Defence Department found it impossible to secure recruits for the Permanent Artillery at the rate of pay they were then offering, and they were compelled to increase it. I cannot help expressing the hope that they will continue to find it impossible to obtain men at the remuneration now being offered. Those who enter the Permanent Forces have to be physically and mentally strong. They are the pick of those who present themselves for enrolment, and are certainly entitled to fair remuneration. In reply to the complaints as to the small pay offered, it may be said that a man need not enter the service unless he chooses to do so. That is true of all employment, but if we compare the pay of the men in the Permanent Forces with that received by men following civil vocations we will see at once that it is exceedingly small. Promotion is also so slow that but few of these men are likely to reach in the service a position which will entitle them to remain in the Department until they have attained a ripe age. Many have to retire at a comparatively early age, and are thrown upon the world after years spent in a service which makes them utterly unfit to earn a living in many of the ordinary walks of life. Again and again during the last few years the pay of these men has been discussed, and although an increase was recently made,I think that something more should be done in the direction asked for by the mover of this motion. This may not be the best method of achieving the object which we have in view ; but it is the best that has been put forward, and, for the reasons I have stated and more especially as there is no provision for the payment of pensions to those who reach the retiring age, I have pleasure in supporting the motion.
Motion (by Mr. Roberts) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided.
Majority … … 14.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.-I move -
That a Select Committee of seven Members of this House be appointed to inquire into and report upon the whole of the circumstances connected with the visit of the Australian Cadets to England ; such Committee to have power to send for persons and papers.
I take it that the Government will raise no opposition to the motion. I have been led to believe that they welcome an inquiry into the circumstances connected with the visit of this contingent of Australian cadets to England.
-The matter is much better as it is.
– Without an inquiry?
– I think it is.
– I do not fear any inquiry so far as my side of the question is concerned. If what the right honorable the Prime Minister says is to be taken as a threat with regard to the officer who had charge of the contingent, all I can say is that I welcome an inquiry, however it may turn out. An inquiry is absolutely essential, because there is, undoubtedly, a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction in the Commonwealth with regard to the treatment which it is alleged was meted out to the contingent. I think the Prime Minister and the Government will admit that there is a great deal of controversy going on at present on the subject, and 1 take it that it is for the benefit of the Government themselves that the matter should be cleared up. If they can bring forward evidence which will justify the action of the Minister of Defence, so much the better for them. I take it, therefore, that they will not burke an inquiry, and will offer no opposition to the motion. There is a widespread feeling of discontent amongst the whole of the community, more especially amongst the parents, relatives, and friends of the lads themselves, over what occurred during their visit to the Coronation festivities. So far as I can make out, the facts of the case are something like these : First of all the Commonwealth Government refused to contribute anything towards sending Home any contingent of soldiers or cadets; secondly, through the aid of private citizens, and by means of contributions from the parents of the lads selected, we were able to send them to London without any aid from the Commonwealth Government. They were sent really by private subscription.
– And you deserted them when they reached England.
– The Government did so. The Minister of Defence deserted them absolutely, and snubbed Major Wynne, who had command of them. Some of the mothers of the lads who went Home came to me, and really thought that their sons were left stranded in the streets of London, and would be unable to get back. It is to the advantage of the Government that the whole question should be cleared up, and that the minds of the people should be disillusioned of that impression if it is not justified.
-When did the Minister of Defence administer a snub ?
– Major Wynne took it upon himself, whether rightly or wrongly, to despatch a wireless message of congratulation to the King. I do not uphold his action in regard to that matter, but he might not, perhaps, have been altogether au fait with what I may call the etiquette of such questions. I understand that when that message was received at the Home Office, the Minister of Defence was asked whether this was the Commonwealth contingent, and, if not, how the message came to be sent from the “ Commonwealth Contingent of Cadets” ; and that Senator Pearce replied that it was not a Commonwealth contingent. I believe that, through his lieutenant, Major Buckley, he reprimanded Major Wynne for having sent the telegram.
– The Minister of Defence, when asked by the War Office whether the Government had altered their original intention about sending a contingent, simply said, “No.” The honorable member can see all the particulars in the official papers.
– I have seen them; but I take it that the Minister of Defence might very easily have made the path smooth for the cadets had he wished to do so. As a result of his practically disclaiming or repudiating the contingent, they very nearly had to camp out on the Thames Embankment. Major Wynne had to threaten to camp them out there because no provision was made to accommodate them at the White City, where provision was made for camping and maintaining every other contingent from other parts of the world. That is a disgraceful state of affairs, and does not reflect any credit upon this great Commonwealth, or upon the Commonwealth Government. The contingent was as fine a lot of lads as ever left the shores of any country. They were a magnificent advertisement for Australia. Their conduct, so far as I can make out, was exemplary. They showed their prowess satisfactorily in shooting and athletics. They won the King’s Cup in competition against cadets from all parts of the world, and in many other ways showed that they were worthy representatives of Australia. The Government might well have contributed something towasds their expenses in the circumstances. It is intended to spend some thousands of pounds in advertising Australia, and I do not know whether the Government propose to spend £3,000 upon the picture of the wattle blossom and the maiden rather scantily clad standing in the midst of it, as now shown in the Queen’s Hall; but it would have been a very much better advertisement for Australia to have this splendid contingent of cadets to represent the Commonwealth, and to show what sort of men we can breedhere. What better advertisement could we have for Australia and its climate than those splendid, stalwart lads? The Minister was very much to blame in notmakingthe path easyfor them. Even if he had to say that they could not be officially recognised as a Commonwealth contingent, he could have told the Home authorities that he would take it as a favour to his Government if they could show them any favour in their power, and make provision for their camping and maintenance. If he had said one word of that description, I am sure everything would have been made much more pleasant for them, but he refused to do so.
– Did the Government draw such a hard and fast line about other visitors who went Home from here?
– I take it that they did not.
– Major Wynne made it more difficult than ever.
– If Major Wynne has clone anything subversive of discipline, he can be dealt with. I, as a military man, say that if a man offends against discipline, he must be punished. Surely it can easily be shown whether that officer did so offend. If he did, then punish him ; but it was not right to visit his faults upon the cadets. They should have been treated properly, no matter what their commanding officer did. It is not to the credit of the Commonwealth that they should have been left practically stranded at Home; and every credit ought to be given to Mr. McGowen, the Premier of New South Wales, for sending £500 to assist to bring them back, when the Commonwealth Government refused absolutely to give a shilling towards it. I take it that there was a good deal of jealousy with regard to this contingent. The Government refused to have anything to do with sending them Home. I suppose they thought there would be no contingents of any sort sent from here, and that private citizens and parents would not be able to do it.
– If the Government refused to send them Home, how can the Government be saddled with the responsibility of looking after them, or bringing them back?
– We did not want the Government to be altogether saddled with that responsibility ; but the Minister of Defence might have shown them a little courtesy, and helped them by asking the Home Office to give them some consideration. Had he done so, I am sure that every consideration would have been shown to them, instead of which he absolutely repudiated them as a Commonwealth contingent. His action in that regard was most unseemly, because he and the Prime Minister should have borne in mind that they and all their suite were being royally entertained by the Imperial authorities. In this connexion, I might refer to the enormous amount of money that was spent on the visit of the Prime Minister and other Ministers and their suite to London. I understand that . £7,300 was spent in sending Home that suite, the largest that ever left the shores of Australia for any function or festivity in Great Britain. Seeing that so much money was being expended, something might have been contributed for making the path easy for the contingent; and I hope that honorable members on both sides will see that the importance of the matter demands some inquiry. If the Government can show that the fault lies with the officer commanding the contingent, they can have no objection to the appointment of a Committee. If the Government are blameless. I am prepared to give them every credit; but, if they are deserving of blame, the general public should know the facts. There is grave dissatisfaction throughout the country with regard to the alleged treatment of the cadets ; and, if the allegations be correct, the House and the people are entitled to all information. I hope the Government will not oppose the motion, as they did my previous proposal. If the Government think they stand on a “good wicket,” and can show that I, and those who think with me, are wrong - if they can show that there is no action of Senator Pearce that calls for rebuke - they ought not to be afraid of inquiry, and I leave the matter in the hands of the House.
– I second the motion, and indorse generally the opinions expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney. I was not at all satisfied with the way in which the cadets were treated by the Government. Certain statements were made to me by the officer commanding the contingent, and certain documents were shown to me by him, which I regard as anything but satisfactory as to the treatment of the cadets after their arrival in England. It appears that there was every desire on the part of the British authorities to show all kindness, courtesy, and consideration to the contingent ; but they were unable to carry those desires fully into effect - so I was informed in certain quarters - owing to the action of the Minister of Defence in blocking proposals for their entertainment and recognition.At any rate, we know that these boys were not in evidence in the procession, nor when the Coronation medalswere presented to the visiting contingents by the King, and further, so far as I am aware, that they were not allowed to take their place with the other oversea contingents in the Coronation procession. After those ceremonies were over, and the Australian Ministers left London, thus severing the official connexion, the Home authorities had a freer hand, and some effort at recognition was made. Through the intervention, I believe, of Lord Roberts it was ultimately decided that the cadets should have medals ; but these medals will be presented to them in Australia. It would have been much more satisfactory if the cadets had been in the pageant and allowed to take part in the parades and general assemblies of the oversea contingents at Buckingham Palace, and to receive their medals from the hands of the Sovereign himself. The medals would then have had attached to them a distinctive personal value, which will certainly not be the same when they are presented through a deputy, however exalted that deputy may be. In any case, the granting of the medals was apparently an afterthought, the intention in the beginning being that, when the medals were presented, the Australian contingent should be deliberately left out.
– Does the honorable member say that the Minister of Defence tried to get the cadets left out?
– It was so asserted in London by those who should have been in a position to know. I do not make the assertion, but say they were left out, and that, according to the newspapers, it was through the intercession of Lord Roberts and other military officials that the medals were ultimately conceded. Whatever may be the facts, we have to depend on ex parte statements, and the fact that those statements are many and conflicting is a conclusive argument in favour of the motion. What the honorable member for North Sydney desires, and what I should think the House naturally desires, is to get at the facts of the case. The matter is clouded with all kinds of suspicion, and, generally speaking, the position is most unsatisfactory ; and I can see no better way of ascertaining the facts than bv means of a Select Committee. The Minister tells us that we have access to a return, but that return is an ex parte document.
– Honorable members can have the right to peruse the whole of the papers. As a matter of fact, those papers have been on the Library table for a month, and I do not suppose the honorable member has ever looked at them.
-I saw several of the papers in London. Tt is true that there are the papers, but we require persons as well as papers. So far as they go, the papers are, no doubt, valuable, but something more is needed to ascertain all the facts. There has been so much public dissatisfaction that I think the honorable member for North Sydney is perfectly justified in asking for a Select Committee. If there is nothing to hide, the Government ought to be oniy too anxious for an inquiry of the kind, so that all may be cleared up, and the Ministrv rehabilitated.
– The Government cannot see their way to accept the motion. This is a case that, undoubtedly has caused a great deal of - what shall I say? - public criticism.
– Not scandal, but public criticism. In July, 1910, the gentleman in charge of the contingent asked the
Government if it was intended to send a contingent to the Coronation, and a reply in the negative was given.’ The question was repeated at a later stage, and a similar reply made. It was then intimated that there were a number of people in New South Wales apparently prepared to provide sufficient money to send the contingent ; and the Government gave their sanction on the distinct and definite understanding that they had no financial responsibility. In the communication sent to Major Wynne, on the 20th February, 191 1, the language was very clear, to the effect that the Government would give recognition to the proposal only on the distinct understanding that no liability, financial or otherwise, in connexion with the raising, sending, or returning of the contingent would be recognised by the Government.
– That was before they left Australia ?
– Of course. But in connexion with the preparations the Government granted leave of absence to noncommissioned officers and cadets, the issue of arms and equipment, and camp equipment during the camp before embarking, and the services of two non-commissioned officers of the Instructional Staff to assist in the preliminary arrangements. It was definitely stated, however, that the Government would take no financial responsibility. The contingent went to London, and then we had the statements made by the gentleman to whom I referred the other day as the much-advertised Major. I believe that the chief factor in the whole of this little misunderstanding is that gentleman’s association with a particular journal in New South Wales.
– I do not think so.
– I think so; and I think that that connexion is responsible for the enthusiasm of some of those honorable members who are advocating his claims in this House.
– That is a very unfair and unjust statement to make.
– The honorable member may take any view he likes, but I think that if Major Wynne did not happen to be associated with one of the big powerful dailies of New South Wales there would not only not have been the publicity which was given to the statements made in London, but we should not have heard anything about the matter in the great dailies at the present time. When the contingent went to London the conditions were distinctly outlined. We find, however, that, when in London, Senator Pearce asked Major Buckley, the High Commissioner’s military adviser, to see that accommodation was provided for the cadets; and that dees not seem to be a very strict adherence to the condition that no assistance would be given by the Government.
– That was after complaints had been made.
– It was an action by the Minister of Defence to assist the cadets, although it had been definitely stated that the Government had no responsibility, and the assistance was given when it was found that some difficulty had arisen. As to the cadets not being in the procession, Senator Pearce wrote to Lord Haldane, Secretary of State for War, asking that the cadets should be give a place on the line of procession, and a reply was received premising that that would be done. The Minister saw that they were looked after.
– They were placed along the line of procession ; they were not allowed to take part in it like other contingents.
– The honorable member’s original complaint was that they were not given an opportunity to see the procession. When I reply to that, he shifts his ground. I do not know that they particularly desired to march in the procession. The Minister did all that he was asked to do. He met the cadets on their arrival, welcomed them, and assured them that he would do everything to make their stay pleasant. As to the need for an inquiry, all the papers have been on the Library table for a month, and no additional facts are to be got.
– What about the visit to Paris ? A great deal of scandal has been spoken about that; and the matter ought to be cleared up.
– That is another reason for an inquiry. Let Major Wynne and some of the boys be examined.
– An inquiry would onlyproduce the conflicting opinions of one and another. The honorable member for Lang will have an opportunity to deal with this matter at the greatest length when the .Estimates are before us. It would be a serious thing for the House to intervene between the Minister and a military officer. Honorable members opposite may make the most of Major Wynne’s statement, but they cannot show that the Government failed to carry out its undertaking in regard to the contingent. We believe that there is no need for an inquiry.
.- I regret that a party complexion has been given to this matter. An investigation on party lines would certainly be unwise. As I left Australia last December, I was not aware, when in London, of the terms on which the cadets went away ;butI saw them on several occasions. Most of them were from New South Wales, and a credit to that State and to Australia. It is true, as has been stated, that the Minister of Defence met them on arrival, and welcomed them ; but there seems to have been some unpleasantness afterwards. I say. unhesitatingly that, as they were in England, although not sent by the Government, it is a pity that they were not officially recognised, especially as Australia had no other troops there at the time. They should have been in the procession.I gather, from the papers which I saw in London, that the Minister declined to send a contingent, or to be liable for any expense, but agreed to provide for the reception of the cadets in England. The question has been raised, “ Was proper provision made?” I do not think that it was. From what I have been told, mainly by Major Wynne, there was a celebration on board ship on Empire Day, when the cadets were going to England, and he did what I consider a mistaken and wrong thing. He sent a marconigram direct to the King, telling him of the demonstration. He has admitted to me that he made a mistake. He should have sent the message through the proper channel.
– Through whom should it have been sent?
– I am not well up in military etiquette ; butI think that the message should have been sent through the High Commissioner, or through the Minister. When the boys got to England, there was, according to Major Wynne, an alteration of tone so far as the Minister was concerned, and official recognition was refused. I do not know whether the Minister should have allowed the cadets to be recognised as the contingent representing Australia; but it might have been recognised as representing New South Wales. I have been informed by Major Wynne that ground was prepared and tents erected for the accommodation of the cadets, but they could not use it because they could not get recognition, and had to camp at the Crystal Palace, paying for their accommodation there. There is. however, no case for an inquiry. Everyone is sorry that mistakes occurred ; but the honorable member for Lang is making a mountain out of a mole-hill. When medals were distributed at Buckingham Palace to oversea troops, I asked why the Australian cadets were not there, and was told that it was because the Minister did not allow them to be recognised. I thereupon saw our Prime Minister, the day before he left London, and told him what I had heard. He had Mr. Pethebridge and Major Buckley with him, and said that the case had not been put to him in the way in whichI put it. In my presence, he instructed Mr. Pethebridge to obtain medals for the boys, the Minister of Defence having by that time left England. After my departure, Major Wynne saw Field Marshal Earl Roberts, and got him to interest himself in the matter ; and Mr. Pethebridge told me that he understood that the War Office had promised to give the boys the medals. I visited the cadets five times altogether, and no body of young men from other parts of the Dominions, or in Great Britain itself, drilled as well as they did. The perfection of their movements was marvellous, considering how short a time they had had for drilling. At the instance of some one from Australia who said that the food was not good, I made inquiries, paying two visits to the encampment. By instruction of our Prime Minister, Mr. Pethebridge and Major Buckley went with me. and we ascertained that the food was good, and that the boys were well cared for. Those who saw the cadets were very proud of them. We thought that they should be recognised; but, apparently, some power behind the throne was causing trouble. If the Minister proposed to take action regarding Major Wynne, an inquiry might be justified; but, as he does not, it would be best to let the matter drop. The public know exactly what has occurred. I was sorry to hear the honorable member for Melbourne Ports interject that the boys were Jingoes.
– No. He said that some of the New South Wales Jingoes helped to send them Home.
– I saw attributed to him in the press a statement that was derogatory to the boys.
– I do not think he intended to speak of them in a derogatory sense.
– At all events, it appeared to be derogatory to them. I know a large number of the boys who formed the contingent. I am acquainted with all who went from my own electorate, and I am able to say that, with one exception, they are all children of poor men. The exception to whom I refer is a son of Dr. Woods, of Albury, who, although not a poor man, is certainly not wealthy.
– Three boys also went from my electorate; and their parents are certainly not wealthy.
– Quite so. I feel that it would be unfair to the boys, and to their parents, to allow to pass uncontradicted the statement that the contingent comprised only the sons of wealthy men. It comprised far more sons of poor parents than sons of wealthy people.
– And in many cases, the towns from which they came subscribed the cost of sending them.
– I have heard that that is so; but I have no personal knowledge of the matter. I wish now very briefly to refer to Major Wynne, the officer in charge of the contingent. Major Wynne’s father is connected with the Daily Telegraph. He himself is a journalist, and may have imported some of his journalistic methods into the work of advertising the boys ; but, in any event, notone in a thousand could have undertaken the control of the contingent, and have carried out the work as successfully as he did. Too much cannot be said in praise of the way in which he looked after the boys and brought them back to Australia.
– He did a good job.
– He did.
– There are other sides to the story.
– I know all the facts relating to the matter, for I have taken a very great interest in the contingent, and I do not like to hear Major Wynne condemned. I am convinced that he did his best, although he may have imported into his work methods that were unknown to the Defence Department. In that respect, no doubt, he erred, and Major Wynne himself is the first to acknowledge that he made a mistake.
Debate (on motion by Mr. John Thomson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide’ page 1 144) 0111 motion by Mr. Frank. Foster -
That, in the opinion of this House, in order
To effectively and economically organizedistribution of products in Australian, markets, and Australian products in. foreign markets,
To abolish the waste of the unnecessarymiddlemen,
To secure fair and reasonable prices toAustralian producers,
To secure imported and Australian products to Australian consumers at reasonable prices.
To extend the consumption of Australianproducts in Australian and in foreign* markets,
To abolish adulteration,
To safeguard foods and clothing, &c.,. against infection or contamination,
To improve the quality of Australianproducts,
To abolish trusts, combines, and monopolies in Australia, and their influenceon Australian commerce,
To decentralize Australia through commercial channels, with a view to itsmore effective occupation and defence.
To be prepared with organized food and’ other supplies in time of war,
To lay by sufficient stores to carry theAustralian people through times of” drought and scarcity,
To establish an honest currency, based ongoods and services,
To effectively secure the new protection, it is desirable to nationalize distribution.
That necessary power to carry out the provisions of the foregoing resolution be sought through a referendum of the people at the next general election of the Federal Parliament.
– I hope to be able to conclude, within an hour, my speech in submitting this motion to the House. When it waslast before honorable members, I traversed’ a good deal of the ground to be covered ,-. but I wish to-day to point to some of the efforts that have been made to cope with the waste of distribution, and to the injustice that is done to the people under the methods that have grown up with our civilization. The most striking example of co-operative effort that the civilized worldfurnishes to-day is that of the cooperativesocieties of Great Britain. As far back as the time of Robert Owen, attempts weremade to form co-operative distributingsocieties, and also co-operative societies for production, but it was not until 1844 that the great effort was commenced which has. led to the magnificent successes of to-day. The history of the movement in Great Britain is of much interest to students, audi particularly to those who desire that distribution shall be dealt with in an effective way. Whilst many co-operative efforts have been successful in Australia, more particularly in centres where a large number of men are employed in one industry, there have yet been many failures. The main reason for these failures has been, I think, the small amount of capital with which operations have been commenced, and also the neglect to obtain men capable of conducting them from a purely business stand-point. The men who enter upon the struggle to establish a co-operative society are more or less sentimentalists and idealists. They are not altogether men of practical business knowledge, and hence many of their efforts result in failure. The great co-operative system of the Old Land, however, has reached a stage at which success is absolutely assured. On the formation of a co-operative society in Great Britain, the promoters may at once apply to the Co-operative Wholesales, and to their Co-operative Union, for a manager, who will undertake the whole work of organization. The society, once started, is able to obtain its goods on the best wholesale basis, and success is at once .assured. Although we have many successful cooperative enterprises in Australia, we have not a Co-operative Wholesale, and, until we have such an institution, we cannot expect to make very rapid strides in the way of co-operative distribution. One must not ignore the educational value of co-operative effort. I do not wish to discourage those in Australia who favour the building up of co-operative societies for production or distribution ; but I do not hesitate to say that the nationalization of distribution would prove the master co-operative effort. It is, after all. the simplest of all methods of co-operation. Although it looms large in the eyes of those who are not familiar with the idea, yet it is the simplest method of obtaining what we desire in regard to distribution. For the information of those who, like myself, recognise the necessity of fighting for the control of distribution by the people, I propose to quote some figures showing the growth of the cooperative movement in England. These figures, which appear in The History of the Cooperative Wholesales, were taken from the Co-operative Neros, and show what was the position on 23rd June, 1904. The Wholesale Society was founded in Manchester, in 1864, with but a small sum at its command, and it now has assumed gigantic proportions. In 1904, the move ment in England comprised a federation of 1,133 retail societies, with a. membership of i. 500,000, exclusive of outside customers. In 1904, the annual sales of these societies totalled £20,000,000 ; they had a banking turnover of £87,000,000 ; they owned eight steam-ships, eleven foreign and four shipping and forwarding depots, thirty-eight creameries, and fifty auxiliaries, two fruit farms, tea estates in Ceylon, and fifty productive departments ; whilst they employed 15,000 persons. There are also branches at Newcastle and London. That, in brief, is the position of this great co-operative movement in England up to June, 1904. I have seen later statistics, but I have not the exact figures, and do not propose to quote from memory. I know, however, that the business of the society has increased by leaps and bounds. As an enthusiastic cooperator I altered this movement nearly twenty years ago. Apart from experience gained as a private storekeeper, I acted twice as a manager of co-operative societies, and I had before me the ideal that we should eventually bring about an amalgamation of all the co-operative societies into one great co-operative concern, and so accomplish, in effect, the nationalization of distribution.
Despite the successes of the cooperative movement in Great Britain and elsewhere, I have had to give up that idea, however, believing that the nationalization of distribution through’ the Federal Parliament offers a shorter road to the object I have in view. In Australia, there have been some other excellent efforts to cope with distribution. First and foremost amongst these is the action of the Government of South Australia in establishing a State Produce Department. That Department handles produce of all kinds, wheat, honey, cheese, bacon, butter, and rabbits; and it is doing excellent work. The Government said, in effect, to the farmers of South Australia, “ You are being badly treated by the middlemen, while the consumers also are paying too much for their goods. We are, therefore, going to help you.” I should like to ask for what purpose a Government exists if it is not to help the people on the land ? A Government that refuses to take cognisance of the persecution of our producers by rings - which neglects to fight, not only for the producer, but also for the consumer - is guilty of almost criminal neglect. The South Australian Produce Department has been an unqualified success.
Even a man who has only a dozen fowls to dispose of may take them to the Department, and have them put into the freezer. Justice is done to the very small producer. In the public markets to-day, the producers, and especially those who are in only a small way, are defrauded right and left.
– Why, in Victoria, books showing the depredations of the buttermongers were burnt.
– I am glad of that interjection. We shall do well if, within the next few years, we are able to wipe out the whole of the present ridiculous and wasteful system of distribution.
– Will the honorable member point to some actual benefits which the producers of South Australia have obtained from the State Produce Department ?
– One of the results of the establishment of the Department is that agents in South Australia are now giving the producers far better treatment than they received before.
– Give us a concrete example in the way of better prices.
– I regret that 1 have not the information for which the honorable member asks. I have not a detailed comparative list of prices, but, no doubt, they can be obtained.
– The fact is that the institution is working successfully.
– That is proof of the magnificent success of the system. The honorable member for Wimmera can easily be supplied with the items he requires if he applies to the manager of the institution. It is common knowledge that that department has been most successful. Even its success need not be emphasized so much as the common honesty which it has brought about amongst the other agents handling the produce of the farmers.
The Commonwealth Parliament has passed a Commerce Act, which has made for a more honorable system of trading. We passed a Trade Union Label Act, which was aimed at protecting the Australian worker, who fights for his own rights, from the curse of buying sweated goods made under conditions at which he would blush. We have on record many attempts at dealing with adulteration. Adulteration cannot be taken in hand with anything like efficiency except in this wholesale way While ever private trading exists, adulteration has a chance to thrive. We have gone a little further in the inspection of dairies and in watching the meat supply. All these things have helped, and are working up to the ultimate aim of those who want a complete reform in distribution, but there, also, I maintain, there has been a failure. With full national control of the productions from dairies, and of the butchering trade, we should get a purer food supply. VVe have had Pure Food Acts passed. Many of them have gone a fair distance, but they, too, have failed, for the simple reason that, while ever there is a profit in tricking the public, by distributing adulterated goods, some person will find it worth his while to sell them.
We have also had some anti-trust legislation. America might be quoted as a country where it has been attempted on a very large scale, and it may also be said i hat there it has absolutely failed- to cope with the evils of the trusts. In France, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Roumania, the distribution of tobacco has been made a Government monopoly. Unbiased accounts state that whenever you wish to purchase tobacco in those countries you know you will get exactly what you ask for, and he same grade is at the same price in every district of the State. There is no chance of adulteration, or of the article being made too dear. What has been done in regard to tobacco might easily be done with regard to all necessaries of life.
Here I should like to quote from The Greatest Trust in the World, at page 185, figures showing how the Beef Trust in America, by taking hold of distribution and production, were able with one hand to reduce the price paid for cattle by several hundreds of millions of dollars, and at the same time to raise the retail price of meat to the consuming public. The following figures show, in regard to Chicago, how the prices were gradually raised: -
These figures show how gradually the Trust does its work. It does not rush things, but takes them nicely and easily. As the people get used to one increase another is put on. The above prices may be compared with Australian prices by reckoning that a cent is equal to about a half-penny. I wish to warn the people of Australia that if they do not take hold of their distribution themselves, the trusts will take hold of it for them. If we go on regardless of the high cost of living, and of the robbery of the people of their just earnings by increased prices and high rents, we shall land the people of Australia into the very conditions, that have taken hold in America. My main object in bringing forward a motion of this kind is to avoid that result. Those who say that I am looking too far ahead forget the results of trustification in America, and are too self-satisfied that legislation is sufficient to cope with trusts after they are formed. The only remedy the people of America have is to take over the trusts and nationalize them after they are formed. I admit that the trusts have shown the way to organize; but the difference between a trust and a Government controlling distribution is that in the latter case the prices would not increase, but could be decreased to what was reasonable. There are many articles the price of which even our nationalized system would have to regulate according to the markets of the world, but thousands of other articles could be regulated on a fair basis, so as to give the producer a reasonable return.
T have no objection whatever to production being carried on. as it is to-day. So long as adulteration is eliminated from it. so long as the articles produced are not sold under false pretences, and the sweating conditions of labour are eliminated, and .sanitation is properly attended to, especially in factories, and fair values are given for the products, and monopoly is wiped out, so long, also, as the producer is assisted by reasonable credit, and given free access to the land, I have no desire to see established the nationalization of production. With distribution, however, it is totally another matter, and the demand for its nationalization is imperative.
One industry which has suffered severely through private handling of the products is that of mining. I have had a good deal of direct experience for several years in connexion with the mining industry, especially gold, tin, copper, bismuth, and wolfram. While we are always satisfied that so much an ounce will be given for gold, the unfortunate miner who produces tin and certain other metals is at the mercy nf a set of middlemen who do not hesitate “to .swindle him out of a fair price. T have never yet seen a fairly good price given for tin. There has always been a tremendous margin, and the. miner has suffered under great disabilities. The follow; ing is contained in a letter sent to me under date 2nd October, 191 r : -
Now, nearly all this year tin has” been from £186 to £195 Per ton, that >s> at the three months’ price of course; the spot price was mostly over £200 up to ^231 for a few weeks, and it is only this last four weeks there has been a slump, which seems to be steady now. Well, you know that most of the tin sold .here is 72 10 73i Per cent., and that is never what they call top tin. Now, the highest price got here this year was one parcel of over a ton at ^119 ros. per ton, and then it was because Smith and Collins were in opposition; the highest I have got has been £115- Then, again, there is wolfram and bismuth and schcelite. How is it we can never see the market (European) quoted in the D.T. ? - because there is a ring.
That exemplifies what has been going on for years and years. Millions of pounds’ worth of tin, bismuth, wolfram, and other minerals have been raised in New South Wales, and the middleman is fattening on them the whole time. The Government have never extended the hand of assistance to the miners ; and I chai challenge the Federal Government to see that these workers are not exposed to this sort of manipulation in the Northern Territory. I challenge the Government, in the administration of the Territory, and in assisting the miners and prospectors, to establish a system of storekeeping under Government control. The Government ought to establish depots, and so govern that part of Australia that every man shall get the fullest possible price in the best market of the world for the minerals he produces. I do not desire the Government to go in for wholesale buying, but rather to act as agents, advancing supplies to the workers, and seeing that the product is placed on the market to the best possible advantage. It would be risky for the Government to buy materials outright, seeing that this product fluctuates so much in the market ; but I see nothing to stop the State from advancing supplies from the Government stores, and rendering assistance financially from a National Bank, if necessary. I do not suggest that the Government should advance more than half the value. When I was interested in mining operations, if I could have lodged, say, a ton of tin with a local store, with the knowledge that I could have advanced on it 50 per cent, of its likely value, I ecu Id have carried on until that tin was sold in the best market. I am sorry that the Minister of External Affairs, who is the Czar of the Northern Territory, is not present. That gentleman has been truly a sort of Czar up to the present; but the time is coming, I suppose, when some arrangement will have to be made for a kind of Constitution.
The sort of assistance I have suggested for the miners may also be extended to those who go on the land. The Northern Territory, up to the present, with ^3,000,000 spent upon it, has been practically a. failure, and the explanation lies in the fact that the pioneers and explorers have little or no assistance. The Territory is too far away from the base of supplies, and the difficulty is increased of getting a decent price for products. I trust, however, that our Government will take hold of the proposition as a business one. If they do not, they will not be able to make anything like a decent success of the Territory. Until we have railways and the other facilities of civilization, there is no chance for the pioneer, the explorer, and the developer. The position is all very well for gentlemen like Mr. Kidman, Mr. White, or Mr. Christian, who can take up .1,000,000 acres and drive their cattle overland to South Australia or Queensland; but the difficulties presented are too much for the pioneer miners and settlers without Government assistance.
This robbery of the producer by the distributor of metals has been a scandal in New South Wales. Miners may be told locally on the field that they will get £90 for their tin, and they see quotations in the newspapers that the price is nearly £200 in the Old Land. That, of course, is for pure tin, and some allowance must be made; but, with tin touching, say, £160, the miner ought to get at least .£125. But what about the balance of .£35 of which they are defrauded? It would not be so bad if correct information were supplied about the market ; but the middlemen in the tin trade send fictitious wires to the effect that, for various reasons, tin has fallen. When they know that a lot of tin has accumulated, they spread abroad a rumour of falling prices ; but, when the miners rush in with their tin, and it again becomes scarce on the fields, up goes the price. As to the general effect of the nationalization of distribution, I may point out that our international trade with other countries would reach a splendid balance. Trading as the Commonwealth of Australia in the markets of the world, we would gain a. standing which the traders of other nations could not attain unless they took a similar step. At present trade is left to individuals, whose integrity in many cases is much doubted ; but there could be no doubt as to the integrity of the whole nation. We would find that our international relations, as we built up Australia, would become very solid and sound throughout the world. There would be harmony, between the producers of Australia and the producers of every civilized country. There would be pure reciprocity. If Germany took ^20,000,000 worth of products from Australia, we might be able to take .£20,000,000 worth from Germany on the best possible basis. There could be no danger of trickery or scheming when the Commonwealth bought as one body. Now just one word on the general conclusions I have laid down.
If honorable members look at the motion, they will find that, towards the finish, I express a desire to see the nationalization of distribution, in order to establish an honest currency, based on goods and services. We have never yet had an honest £1. note. There is a’ supposition that the notes issued by a Government or by the private banks will be met by sovereigns ; but those who have gone into the question deeply have come to the conclusion that if suddenly, throughout the civilized nations, the people were all to demand sovereigns for the notes, about is. in the £1 would be paid. The gold system is something like a pyramid standing on its apex instead of on its base. We in Australia have issued a Commonwealth note which is not absolutely an honest one. It is far more honest than the private note, but it is not totally honest, because, if there were a sudden rush, we could not pay a sovereign for each note, and we might have to provide by legislation for deferred payments. But if the £1 note were based on goods and services - if the Government had full control of the distribution., and every note they issued were to the man who performed a service or presented goods to the Government for sale - it could be met at any time in goods or in services. At present a man is guaranteed his £1 in gold, though we know that he cannot get it; but if it were exchangeable for goods and services, he could take it in tea, sugar, boots, machinery or any other commodity. I hope we shall soon reach the time when the Government will absolutely control distribution, in order that we may issue an honest note based on goods and services. Of course, this is a subject which touches currency ; but I desire to draw the attention of students of currency to the fact. The idea is not a new one, by any means. It has been advocated by many people, and it has been practised, but never by a State or nation. It has been practised in a small way, in exchanges and marts, where tradesmen’ have agreed to accept a note based on goods and services. That, however, is only playing with a great principle. The moment the nation takes over the distribution, that moment we may have an honest £i-note superseding the absurd idea of the gold basis. I do not suggest that we should abolish the sovereign, which could still be utilised for international commerce. In the motion I set forth that the nationalization of distribution would effectively and economically organize the distribution of products in Australian markets, and Australian products in foreign markets; and I need not add to the argument I have already adduced under that head. I further say that the reform would abolish the waste of the unnecessary middleman. It is self-evident that if we have one store where now there are several hundreds in a big city, the unnecessary middleman will have to go.
Then I urge that we should secure fair and reasonable prices to Australian producers, because die produce would go directly from the farm, factory, or workshop to the consumer. We should extend the consumption of Australian products in A’us’tralian and’ in foreign markets. To-day we have an excellent production in Australia, yet we find there is very little patriotism in the importer. He would sooner sell an imported article, even if made in a prison, than an Australian article, if he can make more profit. I do not accuse him heavily on that score, because he has a struggle to maintain his business, and we cannot expect him to be too much of a patriot. With a Government store, however, Australian productions would get the preference every time; and, if these were as good as the foreign, the latter would be wiped out. The quality of Australian products would also be improved, because, when the producer is encouraged by good prices to give of his best, he does so. it is astonishing, however, how producers, especially on the land, struggle year after year to give the best despite the disability of bad prices. Then I maintain that the nationalization of distribution would abolish trusts, combines, and monopolies in
Australia, and their influence on Australian commerce. The Government would be in such a position that they need not purchase articles manipulated or produced by a trust, if they could be obtained at decent prices elsewhere. What I fear to-day is, not the establishment of a trust in Australia, but its operations in Australia, although it may be established in Germany or America.
We should, if my motion were carried into effect, decentralize Australia through commercial channels, with a view to its more effective occupation and defence. That point I have already dealt with; and I maintain that the solution I present is the only one which will settle this country and hold it. The national commercial channels presented in our railways, ports, and roads ought to be utilized so as to give the people every possible chance of getting their products to market on the best possible terms. I come now to a proposal which may look a little far fetched, but I am pleased to know that it has received countenance by the action of a member of the House of Commons in moving in the same direction. I propose the organization of food and other supplies in preparation for times of war. Honorable members know what scandals have been caused by the commissariat department of Great Britain in war time. They know what tricks have been played by contractors, and how Governments have been embarrassed for the want- of supplies. If Australia were thrown into a war now, she would suffer serious disabilities for want of the organization of food supplies, but with the nationalization of distribution everything would be ready to hand. One might make a long speech on this subject alone, its importance is so great. The danger of Great Britain from the cutting off of supplies is more serious than ours, because we are, or soon will be, self contained. The people of Great Britain, however, would starve in a week if cut off from the rest of the world. If my proposal were adopted, the public would not be defrauded ; rich contractors would not become richer by ill-gotten gains, soldiers would not be fed on rubbish, and adulteration would receive its death blow. The Japanese gave us many lessons in the art of warfare which we might well take to heart. They sent men ahead to examine water supplies, to prevent sickness, and we have as good cause for preventing illness by the use of bad food.
I propose, too, that supplies should be stored to provide against droughts. There have been times when we have suffered very heavily from droughts, and prices have then become very high. When supplies are plentiful they are recklessly exported ; but with” the control of distribution in the hands of the Government, countless millions of bushels of wheat and other foodstuffs could be put aside in times of abundance, and kept in great storehouses against times of scarcity, following the example of Joseph in Egypt.
We have undertaken a” Dig contract in the development of Central and Northern Australia, and must adopt methods less slipshod than those of the past. We cannot afford to leave any longer to private enterprise the distribution of supplies, making no provision against drought and scarcity. I hope that I have not unnecessarily wearied honorable members. I read in the newspapers that the blood of some of them turned to water. That will really happen if they do not do something effective to provide against the increase in the cost of living. I warn the great labour movement of Australia that new Protection is not possible until the consumer is protected, and distribution controlled by the Government. Anti-trust legislation and the nationalization of monopolies, or other tinkering legislation, will not do what is needed. Under the present system of distribution the producers are robbed. I hope that the proposals covered by the questions put at the last referenda will ultimately be adopted. That will do a great deal for the solving of our difficulties ; but I challenge the Labour party and the producers to take up this question of the nationalization of distribution. I recommend the Labour party to make the nationalization of distribution a plank of its platform. Then we can deal with it in this Chamber. In doing so. we shall be facing one of the greatest problems that we have had to meet since Federation.
.- I compliment my honorable friend upon his clear and thorough statement of the case. Though no party could do everything that he asks, his speech shows great research. I can verify what he says regarding the tobacco monopoly. Three years ago, wishing to study the kanaka question, I visited the South Sea Islands, and at Vila, to my great satisfaction, found a French store where I could buy the brand of tobacco which I was accustomed to use in France between 1880 and 1886, and, so far as I could recollect, at the same price. The French Government monopoly gives the people of France a wholesome tobacco, which, although it may not be pleasant to the palate of those who have not learned to appreciate it, is unadulterated, and obtainable wherever the French flag flies, at the one price. The profits of the monopoly are larger than the annual production of gold in Australia, being in one year £17,500,000, and in another £18,250,000. The existence of the monopoly does away with the terrible competition to which we are accustomed, and enables the French Government to assist the widows of soldiers by placing them in charge of small country stores, and allowing them to sell tobacco, instead of paying them pensions. To show that a taste for French tobacco is easily acquired, I would point out that there are in London no fewer than ten shops which sell French tobacco. The first shop to do so was established fifteen years ago, the trade being established by the demand of artists and others who had acquired a taste for the tobacco while studying in France. To those unacquainted with the book, I recommend a study of Albert Shaw’s Municipal Government in Europe. It shows the advantages of having a Government analytical department to control the sale of pure foods. Until t88o, wine and bread were both adulterated in France, but it is dangerous to adulterate them now. A friend of mine once told me that, seeing a group in a side street, he asked .an interpreter what was the matter, and found that the assemblage was gazing at a baker’s shop, in the window of which was a. notice stating that the baker had been fined for adulteration, the date and amount of the fine being given. . That notice had to remain in the window for three months. Imprisonment is the penalty for a second offence. I do not think that any shopkeeper would run the risk of adulterating food on a second occasion. The German municipalities are also taking stringent action to prevent adulteration. But within the confines of this great continent, which is washed at all points by the waves of the ocean, manufacturers who are base and wicked enough may make and sell foodstuffs whose use jeopardizes the lives of tender infants. All honorable members must be of opinion that the food of the nation should be pure and unadulterated, and that adulteration should be punished by imprisonment. I remember the glorious words of Mr. Gladstone, when regretting that the English law permitted the sale of coffee adulterated to the extent of 60 per cent. It was in the speech that he made on that occasion that he declared that Great Britain was the home of adulterated foods. Much can be done to prevent the adulteration of our food supplies, and I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will do his best in the matter.
The Produce Department established by the Government of South Australia is doing excellent work. It is so conducted that, through its agency, a farmer in that State can dispose of his sheep, can sell the skins and the flesh, and even have the offal converted into manures, and be sure that he will have returned to him every penny received on account of his sales. I know of no greater effort under the British flag to do justice to those who go on the land, and who, undoubtedly.. lead the hardest of lives. [ can speak from experience in this regard, since I took up land in Victoria thirty-nine years ago, and carried out the three years’ residence condition. I laugh sometimes when I think of my experiences in those days. As the result of swinging the axe on my selection, I have a big chest measurement, but it was an infamy for the Lands Department of Victoria to send a poor little bank clerk into that heavilytimbered country.
– Had the honorable member to clear the land?
– For three years we were working away at big logs. There was on the average twenty trees of an average diameter of 7 feet to every acre, so that the honorable member may imagine what were the difficulties experienced in clearing the land. If I had had a few acres into which I could have put the plough, perhaps I should have remained on the land, and have never sat in this Parliament.
I am sure there is not an honorable member who would not support a movement to prevent the adulteration of foods. Sir Jonathan Hutchinson,, who was one of the greatest figures in the medical and surgical world of the latter part of the last century, strongly advocated the nationalization of bread, and I could wish that the British Government would adopt that proposal. I should be glad if the English had the organizing capacity of the Germans. If the controlling power of London were for twenty years in the hands of such men as now control Berlin, the result would be beneficial to the British race. With fair conditions of living the Britisher can always hold his own. But the homes of the workers in London are far different from those of the workers of Germany. A Democratic Socialist showed me over Berlin, and when I asked where the workers lived he pointed to some splendid terraces, six and seven stories high, situated in a wide and well-kept street. I was astounded with what I saw. found that a mechanic could, for £,2 a month, rent a flat of three rooms in one of these buildings, with light, water, and often heating, free. I know of no terrace in South Yarra or Toorak to equal those pointed out to me iti Berlin as the homes of working men. I certainly never saw their equal in London. I can compare them only to the building known as “ The Mansions “ erected in Collins-street by the late David Syme. These terraces extend for hundreds and hundreds of yards, and the roadway in front of them is much better than is that part of Collins-street on which The Mansions “ abut. First comes the footpath, next the roadway, and then a tramline, running over mown grass plots, which have the appearance of a gentleman’s lawn. Then there is a track in the middle of the road specially prepared for horses. Next comes another tram track, a roadway, and a footpath. The street in which I saw these terraces was half as wide again as is Collins-street, and I must certainly pay my meed of praise to the organizing capacity of the Germans. I saw no slums in Berlin, and I hope that we in Australia will keep our future cities free of slums, just as we hope to wipe out all poverty in our midst. On the occasion nf my recent visit to London I contrasted what 1. saw with that which 1 saw there twenty-five years before, and I felt that the stigma of infamy rested on those responsible for the failure to provide proper living conditions for the workers. The poor of London have not the opportunities to insure good health, and they are not even considered fit to have a vote. In no other country have I seen the infamy, degradation, and poverty that exists there. If the living conditions of the English poor were improved I believe that England would become greater and more glorious than she is. We, of the Southern Seas, hope she will always maintain her prestige among the nations of the earth ; but I, the son of an English woman, anxious that the greatness of the British race shall never die, am yet forced to confess that unless a Tariff that will protect the manufacturers, and open tip the lands of England, is brought into force England will sink to terrible depths. The honorable member for Denison, who was one of the delegation to England, visited what was once known as Petticoat- lane, and also took a photograph of a right-of-way only some 6-ft. wide, on which two-story houses abutted. How, in Heaven’s name, can people, living in such a place, be strong and healthy? The ooo members of the House of Commons, however, continue to talk and to waste time instead of allowing England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to have their own local Parliaments, which would quickly enable the people to get rid of many of these undesirable conditions.
In the fighting of trusts and combines the Empire of Japan furnishes us with an example. Indeed, I am inclined to think that Japan will be the first co-operative Commonwealth the world has ever seen. A fool is born in every line of Kings, and the present King of Bavaria is said to run about picking up in his mouth sticks with which to build a nest, imagining that he is a stork. I admire the Japanese for their love of their country, and their great fighting power, and one cannot but admire the way in which they fought the great American Tobacco Combine. The Japanese Government endeavoured at first to arrive at an honorable compromise, but the Combine, secure in its millions, only laughed at them. The Japanese Government made a second offer, and that, too, having been rejected, they set to work to establish a State tobacco monopoly. In the first place, when they set up a. 50 per cent. Tariff, the Combine simply laughed at them. The Tariff was again raised, until, about1904, it stood at 100 per cent. Then, under an article in the Japanese Constitution, it was ruled that everything required for a Government monopoly could come in free nf duty, and when, in addition, the Tariff was raised to 1.50 per cent., the Combine began to display some anxiety. In the following year, it was raised to 250 per cent., so that it cost the Combine £35, plus landing charges and freightage, to bring into Japan cigars worth £10 per thousand, whereas the Government monopoly could secure them at a cast of only £10 per thousand, plus landing charges and freightage. The Combine then approached the Government, and expressed its willingness to accept their offer. The Japanese Government, however, refused to re-open the negotiations, and, in the end, obtained the machinery of the Combine at what was, perhaps, only a nominal sum. The American Tobacco
Combine thought that they had finished with that little part of the earth, but Japan to-day is fighting them over a far greater area. If we do not obtain power to crush the trusts, then, sooner or later, they will come in and injure us I have much pleasure in seconding the motion, and am sure that those who read the speech delivered by the honorable member for New England, in submitting it, will find in it information of much value and interest.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Frazer) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide page 1 1 50), on motion by Mr. Kelly -
.- Some honorable members have made a fetish of the question of the defence of Australia, and, having apparently worked themselves into an extraordinary state of alarm and panic, are casting about for various ways and means of emphasizing their views. The honorable member for Wentworth is now joining with other foolish people in making an attack upon a nation which, I believe, although there is a war party amongst its people, is in the main desirous of preserving peace. This motion is directed against the Germans.
– And the French.
– I do not think so. The French vessels which trade in Australian waters are not, so far as I know, ready to be turned into war-ships, but the German vessels are. If there is any truth in the maxim that the best way to preserve peace is to prepare for war, surely it must apply equally to every nation. I think I am entitled to a fuller House to listen to my observations.[Quorumformed.] When an honorable member submits a question of this kind to the House for public discussion, he ought to be here to listen to the arguments on the other side. I regret that the honorable member for Wentworth is not present. The main body of the German people do not want war. There is in Germany, just as there is in Great Britain, and possibly in France, a war party; but the most aggressive war parties in the world at present are those in Great Britain and Germany. The
German people, in the main, are not desirous of having war, and we should not carry any resolution which is a reflection upon the German people, and which may have a disastrous effect upon Australian trade.
– Why is this motion particularly a reflection on Germany?
– Because the German vessels are the only vessels trading in Australian waters that are ready to be converted into men-of-war.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– If the honorable member can contradict me, I shall be glad to hear the names of any other vessels to which the same thing applies. I have here a picture in the Graphic, entitled, “Shall There Be War? A Hundred “Thousand Germans Answer ‘ No.’ “ The letterpress below it is as follows : -
On Sunday morning, at the height of the Morocco crisis, while France was assembling a -vast fleet of war-ships to make an imposing display at Toulon, and Germany was doing the same at Kiel, a hundred thousand Socialists gathered very quietly in Treptow Park, Berlin, fo protest against the war agitation. In calling upon the people to turn out in their thousands to attend the demonstrations the Vorwarts, thu chief organ of the Social Democratic party in Germany, printed in large type on its front page, “ People of Berlin, proclaim your unshakable determination for peace ! Morocco is not worth the bones of a single German workman ! Down with the war fever ! Long live solidarity with our English and French brothers !”
That is the spirit which actuates the majority of the people of the civilized nations ; but it is men like the honorable member for Wentworth that are the disturbing element, and succeed in persuading the Legislatures of the nations to go in for huge war expenditure. It is misguided men like the honorable member - although, no doubt, the honorable member believes thoroughly “that Great Britain and Australia are in danger - that are the instruments of the army and navy contractors of the world, who have simply got the civilized nations deluded into the idea that they should be afraid of one another. The army and navy contractors mainly in Great Britain are availing themselves of the panic which has been created by people Tike the honorable member for Wentworth to bleed the people of the world of millions of money in order that they ma)’ pay from 10 to 25 per cent, dividends. The curious fact is that all the large establishments in Great Britain will make guns and munitions of war for any nation, for Spain, for Japan, for Italy, for anywhere. Those guns may at any time be turned upon Great Britain, but what do their makers care? While they are talking about patriotism, and the necessity for keeping up an army and navy to defend Great Britain, they are manufacturing arms and munitions of war to enable other nations to attack Great Britain. The people of the world who want to live in peace with everybody else are being deluded by them. We have been led astray by motions such as the honorable member for Wentworth proposes. The honorable member belongs to the Free Trade party, and yet he proposes that we shall attack the Germans because the Germans have adopted a very sensible provision, which, if we had any sense, we would adopt tomorrow, by subsidizing our Inter-State vessels so that, if a war did occur, they could be turned into war-ships.
– I do not think there was anything in the honorable member’s proposal about attacking the Germans.
– Can anybody tell me what other nation is aimed at by the motion? K book entitled Our German Cousins, and published by the Daily Mail, in the Old Country, contains the following paragraph) ‘concerning German merchant vessels -
Arrangements have been made in the event of war to arm all the faster German steamers. In time of peace they carry a few 6-pounders on board, and sufficient trained men to work the guns. On the declaration of war they would hoist the flag and attack the commerce of the enemy; and it would probably be a matter of extreme difficulty to run them all to earth and destroy them.
– Does not the honorable member think it a good thing to guard against them?
– No. If there is anything in the suggestion that we ought to arm to preserve peace, the Germans are perfectly right in so constructing their vessels that they can be turned into war-ships at a moment’s notice. The lesson to be learned is that we ought to follow their example, and not try to penalize them because they have sufficient intelligence to equip their vessels in a better fashion than ours. Does the honorable member know what it would mean if we taxed the German vessels that come to our harbors? Has he looked up the figures of our trade with Germany? Our imports from Germany in j 909 amounted in value to £4,538,612. As a Protectionist, . I do not look at that item, which I take from the Commonwealth Year-Book, with any great satisfaction. A great deal of those imports could be manufactured in Australia, but there is the fact. We exported to Germany in 1909 £6,394,634 worth of goods, so that our total trade in the year was £10,933,246. The value of wool exported from Australia to Germany from 1905 to 1:909 was as follows -
Undoubtedly the war party in Germany is one of the disturbers of the peace of the world ; but we have no right to make an enemy of the German people because of the actions of the German war party. To carry out the honorable member’s idea, we should have to tax German shipping coming here. If we did so, do honorable members opposite think that the pastoralists of Australia would be able to sell to the German people £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 worth of wool per annum ? The motion is so ridiculous that I do not feel disposed to discuss it further.
– - What about such a motion causing international complications?
– It is the recognised right of every nation to do its best to arm itself, and rather than penalize the German nation we ought to be proud that any people have sufficient brains to have their ships so constructed. If we do anything to annoy the German people, it is quite possible that we may bring about that international war which I and other honorable members would so much deplore. I shall not debate the question further, but simply say that I oppose the motion very strongly.
.- This is a motion to be acted on rather than discussed. The less discussion there is on so grave a proposition the better. If the Prime Minister could say a word or two of a general character, the motion could be disposed of at once. The motion declares that action should be taken to discourage the trading in Australian waters of certain vessels ; and that is a serious request. If the Prime Minister could say that the Government will bear in mind what has been said, that they will consider what is the best course to pursue, and pursue it, some such assurance would be a fitting close to a discussion which, otherwise, cannot really attain its object.
– It may have appeared to honorable members that I was talking with honorable members opposite just now on this matter; but, as a fact, itwas not mentioned at all. I agree with what the Leader of the Opposition: has said regarding the motion. Indeed, I told the honorable member who submitted it that I thought it was a most undesirable one to discuss, especially at the time when he placed it on the notice-paper. The Government are fully alive to all the difficulties that lie in the path of Australia in the matter of foreign shipping, especially that class of shipping engaged in the world’s commerce, and, at the same time, carrying ali the necessary equipment of war-ships.. We are fully alive to the clangers that may arise from any want of vigilance. I can tell the House, as the Leader of the Opposition already knows, that every reasonable step has been taken to discover the strength of the statements made regarding vessels that may he armed secretly. The policy of the Government is to assist, in every way, British shipping; though it is not the intention to wilfully penalize any other Government, or any country in the world, which wishes to carry on legitimate trade in these waters. But we co say, most emphatically - shall I say determinedly? - that those who control trading ships of other nations in these waters must not presume too much on our good nature, and equip their vessels in such a way that they may not only be ships of commerce, but instruments of war. That is the position of the Government : and I think I have said enough, if not too much, to indicate to honorable members that I do not think it wise to open a discussion on the question at this time. 1 should be glad, indeed, if the motion could be withdrawn.
.- » am glad to hear the statement made by i’ Leader of the House. For myself, I saythat this motion is pointed toward.-; Germany ; and we should not cover the intention with a glamour of words, such as was used when we established the education test in regard to undesirable immigrants. An intelligent nation like the Japanese was not to be deceived by any such device; and it was laughed at throughout the length and breadth, of not only Japan, but India and China. The educated people of these countries are not fools ; and I strongly urge that we should not resort to a similar device on the present occasion. Let us have no nonsense. Are we going to refuse 0111 harbors to men-of-war which are ten timer more deadly than any armed merchantmen could ever be? If so, let us state it in plain words, and not cover up our intentions like a pill with sugar coating. 1 honour the Germans for one thing. Mr. Ritchie, the President of the Board of Trade in longland, threatened to prosecute the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for their treatment of their Iascar sailors ; and the meed of praise paid to Germany was indorsed by an admiral in the British Parliament, who said that British ship-owners ought to follow the example of that country and employ only white labour. I understand, from what Mr. Ritchie said, that every Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s ship which left England was penalized in having its tonnage restricted in consequence of the miserable accommodation provided for the lascars. That company allowed only 36 cubic feet per man, which is according to the Indian navigation laws, and not according to the law of England. If we carry this motion, will the Government of the United States of America think it necessary to follow our example? I resent strongly any attempt to keep out the vessels of a nation which is friendly at present, and which we hope will remain friendly. We in Australia axe threatened by the greatest peril that any nation in the world has. liven the peril of hunger that threatens Great Britain, owing to its confounded fiscal and land policies, is nothing to the danger threatening us. We ought to do all in our power to promote friendly relations between European nations, for we do not know the moment when we may need their help. I regard the danger that threatens us as so fearful that I do not think the mighty power of England could defend us, or even that power combined with the power of the United States. However, with the protection of the combined European nations, Australia may be saved in a moment of danger. Homer Lee, one of the most celebrated generals of the United States in that work of his, which has become a classic, and which a high authority in England has said ought to be in the hands of every officer, tells us that Japan could seize the whole of the Western coast of America and hold it. I do not think that either Australia or America has more loyal sons and daughters than those who have come from Germany.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th October, vide page 1157):
Clause 3 - “ Net profits “ means the profit made after full and due provision for current expenditure has been made, and does not include the proceeds from the realization of assets or the conversion of reserves or any portion of reserves.
Upon which Mr. Greene had moved -
That all the words after the word “ profits,” line 1, be left out, with a’ view to insert in lieu thereof “ shall not include -
any sums arising from the realization of assets which are properly applicable to the replacement of capital;
any sum arising from the conversion of any portion of other reserves ; or
any sums which under the circumstances ought to be set aside to meet liabilities direct or contingent.”
– I was not altogether satisfied with the amendment which was placed in my hands to be moved, and during the course of the debate the honorable member for Flinders suggested another, which covers the ground better, and secures all that was intended to be, but is not really, secured by the clause as framed. The Senate inserted the clause to guard against the danger of the disposal of the assets of banking companies in such a way that they might ultimately, by the means provided in this Bill, be used to cover the reserve liability. I ask that the amendment be withdrawn to permit of the insertion, after the word “means,” of the words “profits which may lawfully be distributed as dividends.” I did not think that it would be necessary at this stage to enter upon an explanation of the principles ofthe Bill, being under the impression that honorable members had accepted them in voting for the motion for the second reading. But, as a great deal of discussion has taken place on the clause, I wish to reply to some of the objections which have been raised. I understand that the Prime Minister is prepared to accept the Bill with one or two alterations, which, though slight,’ are important. He, no doubt, will indicate them later. It is not the desire of the senator who introduced the Bill in another place to relieve shareholders of just obligations, or to weaken the position of the creditors and depositorsin banks. On the contrary, he wishes to improve the position of creditors and depositors by enabling shareholders to provide reserve funds for meeting their liabilities in the event of institutions coming to grief. Our banking companies are remarkably sound to-day, so that there is not much likelihood of any of them failing. But on the shares of some of them there is, in addition to the liability for uncalled capital, a reserve liability equal to the amount of the face value ofthe share. In the event of a bank having to go into liquidation, its creditors -would demand that the shareholders should meet these liabilities, in order to pay its debts.
– But the shareholders might not have the capital with which to meet their obligations.
– Precisely. In most cases, the shares of the banks were originally subscribed by men of substance, who could have met their” liabilities had they been called on to do so. But, as time has passed, the shares have got largely into the hands of small investors. Bank shares have been regarded as a first class security, and now, in many instances, are held by persons who derive their sole income from their dividends.
– There are not very many such persons.
– The honorable member would be surprised, if he went through a bank share-list, to see how many women figure as shareholders. In many cases, their whole living, or a considerable part of it, is derived’ from the dividends. But the point I am making is that many of the shareholders are persons of no substance, or of only small means. The Bank of New South Wales shares carry a reserve liability of £20 each, notwithstanding that they are paid up to the full amount. If that bank went into liquidation, and its assets were not sufficient to meet its liabilities, its shareholderswould have to find , £20 for each share they held.
– Sometimes they have not the money.
– Exactly. In many eases, the creditors would find that shareholders were unable to meet this liability.
– They would not have taken up the shares if they had known of that reserve liability. I am speaking, of course, of widows.
– In many cases they are bequests.
– In many cases they are. The fact remains that this reserve liability, which should, arid was originally intended to be, the ultimate source of supply to the creditors of a bank in the event of its going into liquidation, is more or less mythical. When there is a possibility of a bank going into liquidation, the shareholders, realizing that this reserve liability may at any moment be called up, are very anxious to get rid of their holdings. They consequently force their shares on the market in large numbers, with the result that the panic is intensified. During the banking crisis of 1893, shares in one New South Wales bank fell, as the result of such action, from £120 to £25 or thereabouts ; and in another case from£60 to £20 each. “There are other instances which I could give, but as the time allotted to the consideration of private members’ business has almost expired, I shall not attempt to do so.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That all the words after theword “ means,” line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ profits which may lawfully be distributed as dividends.”
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 7.45 p.m.
Debate resumed from 18th October (vide page 1567), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Deakin had moved -
That all the words after the word “ That “ “be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “no measure the effect of which will be to concentrate in any one person the control of all the conditions of carrying on all the industries of this continent can be other than impracticable and fraught with danger to the whole community.”
.- When I obtained leave last night to continue my speech at a later date, I was endeavouring to show that the establishment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court had greatly interfered with the State Wages Boards. If men believe, rightly or wrongly, that better terms can “be obtained from the Federal Court, they are more likely to appeal to that tribunal than to seek an award from a Wages Board. They go reluctantly, if at all, to the Wages
Boards, and, consequently, a good deal of friction arises. I believe that if the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court had not been established we should have enjoyed a much larger measure of industrial peace than we have experienced during the last few years. We should have been more likely under the Wages Board system to secure industrial peace than we are under the dual system that now prevails. I fear that if this Bill be passed it will lead to a big crop of new litigation, expensive alike to both employers and employes. It is doubtful, in the first place, whether the amendments of the principal Act for which this Bill provides are constitutional, and we shall probably have litigation at the outset to determine the constitutionality of some, at least, of its provisions. This Bill will enormously increase the power of the Court, although it is only a few months since the people refused to extend the power of this Parliament under the Constitution to pass industrial legislation. I view with alarm the probability of a great deal of litigation following the passing of this measure. Under the Wages Board system, the cost of obtaining a decision is practically nominal ; and I think the engine-drivers would be well-advised in giving the State tribunals a trial. Every State has its own set of machinery to deal with industrial questions, and I think it would be far better for the engine-drivers to seek satisfaction at the hands of a State tribunal than that we should introduce, in the shape of this measure, another disconcerting element into our industrial life. The Judges presiding over the State Arbitration Courts have almost unanimously condemned the compulsory arbitration system of settling disputes. In New South Wales, both Judge Heydon and Judge Cohen have condemned the Arbitration system, and it is obvious that the litigation which is sure to follow this attempt to enable one Court to settle the whole of the industrial conditions of a continent must lead to a congestion of business. Complaint is made of the time occupied by a Wages Board in making an award, but it is nothing compared to the time occupied by the Federal Court in dealing with one dispute. If the whole of the industrial disputes of Australia had to be dealt with by one Federal tribunal, I am afraid great difficulties would arise. It wouldbe impossible for it to deal with the business in a common-sense manner.
– The President Has power to appoint deputies.
– The honorable member must remember that we are passing through a period of prosperity. Wages in all industries have been increased, and are still increasing - the demand for labour being greater than the supply. Under such conditions, industrial peace is more likely to prevail than in seasons of stress and adversity. With bad times, the number of cases coming before the Court must largely increase. It is true that the President has power to appoint deputies, but the class from whom those deputies could be selected is a very small one. If we really desire industrial peace, and I am sure that most honorable members opposite do, we ought to give the Wages Board system a bond fide trial. So far that has not been done. Workers all over the Commonwealth have been attracted to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, not because they like the idea of appealing to a Court - because the workers in Victoria have shown a disinclination to appeal against Wages Boards awards to the Victorian Court - but because the Federal tribunal has given decisions a good deal in sympathy with them. A good many cases have been won by the workers in the Federal Court, but careful study of all the facts will show that the expense and delay involved in making these applications largely outweigh any small advantage gained from an appeal to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court rather than to a State Wages Board.
– Which should be the better Court of Appeal from a Wages Board decision - the State or the Federal Court ?
– I should have no objection to appeals being allowed from Wages Boards decisions to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Industrial disputes ought to be thoroughly sifted by Wages Boards before they go to the Court. A Judge is an expert in the weighing of evidence, but he cannot be expected to be cognisant of the details of every industry, and the thorough sifting of the details by a Wages Board in the first instance would greatly assist the President of the Court in coming to a decision upon an appeal. Matters would then be dealt with in a far easier way by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court than if they were taken straight to that body without being thoroughly looked into through the agency of a Wages Board. The difference is quite obvious. In a Wages Board you have the employer, who thoroughly knows his business, meeting the employe, who also* knows his business, and there is no trying, to place a favorable construction on a casebefore a Judge.
– How will the honorablemember get over the difficulty that in a largepart of Australia there are no WagesBoards? There will be no uniformity.
– There is no difficulty in getting a Wages Board in Victoria. If there was no uniformity, I donot think those cases could come before theArbitration Court as it at present exists.. The only people who can bring a case before the Court are those who haveuniformity of occupation. The whole crux, of the Bill is contained in the definition’ of “ industry.” The Attorney-General! hopes, by widening the definition, to makeit include various callings, services, employments, and handicrafts. The honorablemember for Flinders clearly showed thateven this widening of the definition would not greatly affect the case, and expressed the view that, even if this measure were passed, the High Court would still remain, of the same opinion, and declare it to be ultra vires. I, therefore, do not think it. ought to be passed. I am strongly of opinion that one man, even if he delegateshis powers, can never deal with all the complicated machinery necessary to carryon the industries of our great Commonwealth.
– One Court cannot.
– One Court cannot possibly do it. The Arbitration Court system was tried in New South Wales for a: while, but completely broke down for that reason. The Court was clogged with work..
– Because we had an unsympathetic Government, who would not appoint sufficient Judges to do the work.
– Surely the honorable member cannot be right. At any rate,. I have never heard of the Judge who wasappointed being cavilled at in any way. I have had a great deal to do with industrial, concerns, but not a great deal, except at one time, with industrial disputes, and, in. my opinion, it is not possible to do thework of Australia by Arbitration Courts.. The expenses are enormous, and the timerequired to deal with cases will be so* lengthy that the system will not work. All disputes ought, first of all, to go beforea Wages Board. I have not thoroughlyconsidered where the appeal ought to lie,.. but if an appeal to the Arbitration Court would please the workers, I should be inclined to advocate it. At present, in Victoria, an appeal lies from the decision of a Wages Board to a Judge appointed by the Victorian Government. In this case, the appeal would be simply to a Judge appointed by the Commonwealth Government, and, if that would satisfy the workers, 1 should be thoroughly in favour of it. The great advantage would be that very few cases would go beyond the Wages Boards, and, even where appeals were made, the cases would have been thoroughly sifted by the Wages Boards first. To give any such enormous increase of power to the Arbitration Court as the Government now propose is likely to be destructive of the best interests of Australian industry. I hope, therefore, that the Government will consider the question gravely before they go further with it in the light of the points which have been so ably put by the honorable member for Flinders and others. I feel that in the interests of industrial peace, which .we all desire, we had far better settle our affairs in the Wages Boards than so greatly increase the powers of the Arbitration Court.
.- The Attorney-General, in introducing the Bill, played his tune on a single string. The Bill deals with a number of minor machinery matters, but its principle goes to the very base of industrial organization.
We have in “ Australia, in the last few years, been endeavouring to evolve an industrial law jurisdiction. For a considerable time, as regards industrial disputes of employers and employes, we were living in a state of comparative anarchy, the quarrels being decided according to the brute strength of the parties. We have established our criminal jurisdiction, equity jurisdiction, divorce jurisdiction, and bankruptcy jurisdiction. In each of those cases, Law Courts have been created to do justice between the parties. I believe that one of the greatest problems, if not the greatest problem, before the practical statesman of the present time is the evolving of some permanent means of settling, in a peaceful and constitutional manner, those great disputes which rage between employers and employes as to production and industry, in the same way as we have built up our law jurisdiction with regard to the other conflicting interests of our citizens. In each of those cases, the law has been built up to settle disputes mainly between individuals ; but the law with regard to industrial matters has to be built up to deal with aggre- gations of individuals. The basis for the administration of the law in industrial matters is the very antithesis of the foundation of our other legal jurisdictions. In very rare instances are industrial matters to be decided between two single individuals. We have rather an aggregation of employes on the one side, and an employer or group of employers on the other; and without some scheme of organization to enable those groups of individuals to place a. concrete case before the Court, to urge something on the one hand, and to protest against it on the other, the whole machinery of industrial arbitration must break down.
We come, then, to the question of the principles upon which those two conflicting organizations should be reared. There can scarcely be a more important principle in connexion with industrial arbitration than the basis upon which the two contending parties shall be organized, in order that their plaints may be submitted to the Court. It is fundamental.
So far we have progressed comparatively but a very short way in the direction of providing constitutional means for the redress of industrial grievances in Australia. We have framed a mere skeleton of Acts, which have been pitched at the head of our Courts and Wages Boards. Our Presidents of Courts and Chairmen of Wages Boards have been left to grapple, unaided, with the mighty problems presented to them, and to evolve, as best they can, principles by which to settle these tremendous differences between employers” and employes.
In no Arbitration Act that I am aware of has there been any effort to establish an organization of employers or employes upon a scientific principle. In that case, the procedure has been practically the same as with the other problem - a mere skeleton Act has been thrown at the head of the Court or Registrar, the Court and the Registrar being compelled to find principles of their own upon which to determine the matter. A kind of limitation is placed in the Federal Arbitration Act upon the lines of organization. In most of the State Acts we have something of the kind. Section 59 of the Act of 1904 as amended by the Act of 1909 says -
The Registrar shall, unless in all the circumstances he thinks it undesirable so to do. refuse to register any association as an organization if an organization to which the members of the association .might conveniently belong has already been registered.
There is no principle of organization in that section. It says, first, that the Registrar shall refuse to register a second organization if there is one already in existence to which the members might conveniently belong ; but it puts in the qualification “ unless in all the circumstances he thinks it is undesirable to refuse “ ; which gives him such wide discretion that it is practically left to him to determine the lines upon which an organization shall be formed. It is a makeshift section entirely.
– I think it throws an unfair responsibility upon him.
– The whole of our Arbitration Acts throw upon the officers of the Court, I will not say an unfair, but a tremendous responsibility, which our legislators do not seem to have the courage to tackle.
We have organizations in Australia based upon almost every conceivable principle between two extremes. We have, to begin with, what is known as the pure craft union of employes. The bricklayers are an instance. There a single craft of workmen is organized into a union. Going a step further, we find another variation. An instance is the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, including, as it does, fitters, turners, machinists, coppersmiths, patternmakers, blacksmiths, and a variety of others connected with the engineering trades. That is not a craft organization, nor is it an industrial organization. It is based upon a hybrid principle, using the word without disrespect. Then we go a step further. We will take, for instance, the Timber Yard and Saw-mill Employes Association. This organization takes in workers in timber yards, whether they be saw-sharpeners, various skilled workers, engine-drivers, or labourers employed in and about the mills. It is not an industrial organization completely ; that is, it does not purport to cover the whole of the employes in an industry. We go a stage further, and come to the Australian Workers Union, which provides for the whole of the employes in the pastoral industry. That is a purely industrial organization, the boundaries of which are coterminous with the pastoral industry as a whole. Here we have four different types of organizations between two extremes. The Acts have not sought to settle any basis of organization in connexion with which the jurisdiction of the Courts might be exercised. All the conflicts which arise from overlapping between the various or ganizations have been, unfairly I think, relegated to the registrars and the Courts, for them, as best they may, to find out some principle on which to grant registration, and thus admit them as part of the machinery for the peaceful conduct of industrial operations.
– That applies to both State and Commonwealth?
– It applies everywhere ; it is typical of every State and of Australia as a whole.
We have recently organized a Citizen Defence Force for Australia. The country has been cut up into various districts, and area officers have been placed in charge. What an absurdity it would be if a mere skeleton of a Defence Act had been passed, and the organization of the districts had been handed over to the officers in the various States for them to rear, perhaps, absolutely conflicting schemes according to their individual opinions. We should be in a state of chaos ; and I contend that the question of industrial organization, so far as the Courts are concerned, is as important to us in the industrial sphere as the question of the organization of our forces for defence against a foreign foe is with respect to our Defence Act. In the one case, we are defending ourselves against internal dissension, strife, and violence, and, in the other case, we are protecting ourselves against external violence.
One of the great problems of modern society is the organization of our economic relations. To organize industry and production for various purposes - not only for the settlement of disputes, but for the purpose of dealing with the questions of employment and unemployment - it is absolutely necessary that we should have some scientific principle on which the organization shall proceed. Under the present Act there is a provision for organizations to approach the Court for the purpose of dealing with industries - single industries or groups of industries. The proposal now before us is to extend the principle of organization so as to include what is known as the crafts basis - parts and sections of an industry without regard to any principle of grouping or cohesion. Thus we proceed from comparative order to chaos. This raises the issue of sectional versus industrial organization; that is, organization on the basis of a single trade, or organization on the basis of particular industries. This is a question which has caused trouble in all European countries. It has caused great trouble in England, and has been the subject of a .vast amount of contention amongst workmen’s organizations.
It has been dealt with by some of the great writers who have given attention to the subject ; and I should like to quote briefly from Webb’s Industrial Democracy, in which there is a chapter dealing with interunion relations. Summing up, Webb, who is one of our standard authorities, says this -
Trade union rivalry has, however, a darker side. When the officers of the two organizations have been touting for members, and feeling keenly each other’s competition, opportunities for friction and ill-temper can scarcely fail to arise. Accusations will be made on both sides of disloyalty and unfairness, which will be echoed and warmly resented by the rank and file. Presently some dispute occurs between an employer and the members of one of the unions. These workmen may be dismissed by the employer, or withdrawn by order of their own district committee. The officers of the rival union soon hear of the vacancies from the firm in question. Members of their own society are walking the streets in search of work, and drawing out-of-work pay from the funds. To lel these take the places left vacant - to “ blackleg “ the rival society - is to commit the gravest crime against the trade unionist’s faith. Unfortunately, in many cases, the temptation is irresistible. The friction between the rival organizations, the personal ill-feeling of their officers, the traditions of past grievances, the temptation of pecuniary gain, both to the workmen and to the union, all co-operate to make the occasion “” an exception.” At this stage any pretext suffices. The unreasonableness of the other society’s demand, the fact that it did not consult its rival before taking action, even the non-arrival of the letter officially announcing the strike, serves as a plausible excuse in the subsequent recriminations. Scarcely a year passes without the Trade Union Congress being made the scene of a heated’ accusation by one society or another, that some other union has “ blacklegged “ a dispute in which it was engaged and thereby deprived its members of all the results of their combination.
An even larger section of the wage-earning world - that engaged in the great industry of transport - has so far failed, from a ‘ similar cause, to build up any really effective trade unionism. The millions of labourers, who must, in any case, find it difficult to maintain a common organization, are constantly hampered in their progress by the existence of competing societies which, starting from different industries, quickly pass into general unions, including each other’s members. Indeed, with the .remarkable exceptions of the coal and cotton industries, and, to a lesser extent, that of house-building, there is hardly a great trade in the country in which the workmen’s organizations are not seriously crippled by this fatal dissension.
Now, experience shows that the permanent cause of this competitive rivalry and overlapping between unions is their organization upon bases inconsistent with each other;
Under these circumstances the tendency to amalgamation is, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, almost irresistible, and is usually delayed only by the natural reluctance of some particular official to abdicate the position of leadership.
That is a very strong summing up of the history of those difficulties in England by one of the standard authorities on industrial matters in the Old World.
There has recently been in England a great strike; and I find a reference to i>t by such a noted writer as Ellis Barker, in the Nineteenth Century, for September, in an article entitled “ The Labour Revolt and its Meaning.” Mr. Ellis Barker writes, not as sympathizer with workmen’s organizations, as does Mr. Webb, but rather as a critic, and, so far as my knowledge goes, as a hostile critic of the aims and inspirations of the Labour movement. He says -
Until recently the trade-unions were sectional in character. In the building industry there were seventy-two unions, in mining eighty-two unions, in the metal industries 207 unions, in the textile industries 271 unions, &c. Altogether there were 1,153 unions for fourteen industries. Many unions were small and weak, and they quarrelled among themselves. At the Rhondda Valley strike the hauling-engine men below and the winding-engine men above belonged to different organizations. They had separate agreements with the owners, and quarrelled among themselves. A few years ago the whole of the engineering and ship-building on the Tyne was laid idle by a dispute between the Fitters’ Union and the Plumbers’ Union as to which had the right to fit piping 2^ inches in diameter. They were agreed above and below that size, but could not agree as to where the dividing line should be. Instances of this kind could be given by the hundred. The ideal of the reformers of trade unionism, many of whom called themselves industrial unionists, as distinguished from trade unionists, was to have but one single union for every industry, a Cotton Workers’ Union, a Woollen Workers’ Union, &c, a strike of which would not merely hamper an industry, but bring it immediately to a standstill. “ One for all and all for each “ was to be the motto. They thought that, pending the amalgamation of trade unions, the solidarity of labour against capital should be practised. They preached that if the men in a sectional trade, let us say the boiler-makers, should strike, the workers in all other .unions of the iron industry should strike in sympathy, in order to close the works. If, nevertheless production should be attempted with outside labour, the miners should stop the coal supply, the railway workers should refuse to transport the strike-breakers and the ‘ needed raw materials, in order to vanquish the capitalist.
That is something later than Webb’s Industrial Democracy.
To bring the matter home to us in Australia, I now wish to quote from an article in the Brisbane Worker in July last, headed “ Union Scabbery.” in that article it is stated that -
There are three kinds of scabs - the professional, the amateur, and union scab. The professional scab is usually a high-paid, high-skilled worker in the employ of strike-breaking and detective agencies. His position is thai of a special officer’s in the regular scab army. The amateur scab brigade is composed of riff-raff, slum dwellers, rubes, imbeciles, college students, and other undesirable citizens. Professional scabs are few and efficient. Amateur scabs are plentiful and deficient, and union scabs both numerous and capable.
He will take a pattern from a scab patternmaker, cast it in a union mould, hand the casting to as dirty a scab as ever walked in shoe leather, and then proudly produce a paid-up union card in testimony of his unionism.
The article states that there ave fifty-seven varieties. It says -
You see, this is a carriage factory, and it is only the Amalgamated Association of Brimstone and Emery Polishers that are striking. The Brotherhood of Oilrag Wipers, the Fraternal Society of Whitelead Daubers, the Undivided Sons of Varnish Spreaders, the Benevolent Compilation of Woodwork Gluers, the Ironbenders Sick and Death Benefit Union, the Oakdale Lodge of Coal Shovellers, the Martha Washington Lodge of Ash Wheelers, the Amalgamated Brotherhood of Oilers, the Stationary Firemen, the F.O.O.L., the A.S.S.E.S. Societies have nothing to do with the Amalgamated Association of Brimstone and Emery Polishers.
That was written to caricature the ridiculous lack of unity and overlapping amongst workers’ organizations. To continue the quotation -
At the next regular meeting of those societies, ringing resolutions endorsing the strike of the Amalgamated Association of Brimstone and Emery Polishers will be passed. Moral support is pledged and five dollars’ worth of tickets are purchased for the dance given by the Ladies’ Volunteer and Auxiliary Corps for the benefit of the Amalgamated Association of Brimstone and Emery Polishers. The whole thing is like beating a man’s brains out, and then handing him a headache tablet. During a very bitterlyfought moulders’ strike in a northern city, the writer noticed one of the prettiest illustrations of the working of plain scabbing and union scabbing.
Union scabbing is the legitimate offspring of craft organization. It is begotten by ignorance, born of imbecility, and nourished by infamy. My dear brother, t am sorry to be under contract to hang you, but I know it will please you to hear that the scaffold is built by union carpenters, the rope bears the label, and here is my card. This is union scabbery.
The Bill proposes to open the door to craft registration, so that organizations like t’ at of the stationary engine-drivers and firemen may be registered. The difficulties due to want of unity are shown by what is taking place in Tasmania. The constitution of the miners’ organization provides for the inclusion of all the groups of employes at Mount Lyell, but a dispute with the employers having taken place, the enginedrivers have refused to knock off work to assist the miners who have done so. The striking of the engine-drivers would mean the gaining of an important strategic point. It was stated in the press a few weeks ago that an arrangement had been come to with the engine-drivers, and commenting on this news a Sydney paper said - -
It is expected that the trouble will assume a very much more serious phase if the enginedrivers cease work, as the mines will become flooded and unworkable, causing great damage to the workings and considerable delay in resuming work.
If the mine-owners were faced with the possibility of loss of this kind, they would immediately come to terms, and as both parties have resorted to what I may term the methods of violence, although they are not physically injuring each other, there should be no putting on of kid gloves. If the shareholders and managers of the Mount Lyell Company could take any course which would defeat their employes, they would take it, and the miners are legitimately entitled, a state of war having been declared, to demand the assistance of the engine-drivers. The engine-drivers have refused to give this assistance.
– They will give it under certain conditions. The miners have not kept their compact.
- Mr. Sidney Webb has pointed out that when trouble arises, and there are conflicting organizations in an industry, there will be disagreement. There is always some excuse invented in such circumstances. There have been very few instances in Australia in which, on an industrial dispute occurring, where sectional bodies with conflicting jurisdiction are operating side by side, one organization has not tried to get something by imposing conditions on another organization. In to-day’s Age it is stated that, at a general meeting of the miners at Zeehan, at which 530 members of the union were present, the following resolution was carried unanimously -
That we, as a union, give members of the Federated Engine-drivers’ and Firemen’s Association, with the exception of drivers on the railway, forty-eight hours’ notice to cease work, as we consider that they are working detrimentally to our interests, and the interests of unionism generally.
– Surely the honorable member does not accept newspaper evidence. There has been great misrepresentation.
– I do not accept the opinions of the newspapers, but I accept their news items.
– I ask the honorable member not to go into too much detail.
– I shall not deal with the Mount Lyell strike further, because there are some points which have not been settled. The matter is sub judice.
Another instance of the difficulties to “which I am referring was reported in the Sydney Worker of Thursday, 24th August, in an article headed “ Engine-drivers and Saw-millers - Who should decide wages claims.”
The action of the Saw-mill Employe’s Union in the matter of making an agreement with employers regarding a scale of wages and conditions for engine-drivers and firemen employed in connexion with their industry was the subject of a complaint to the Labor Council of New South Wales at its meeting last week.
There was no settlement, the matter being referred to the executive for report.
Suggestions have been made for overcoming this difficulty. Broken Hill is regarded as a militant Labour stronghold, and the unions there have decided in conference that no new craft organization shall be formed. There is to be a. combination of all the unions, based on industrial lines.
At the Queensland Trade Unions Congress, held on Thursday, 10th August, Mr. Anderson moved -
That the congress, fully realizing the great danger of the trade and craft unions, strongly urges upon workers in every industry to form themselves into industrial unions.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Mccormack and carried.
In a short article dealing with industrial unionism, the Western Australia Worker says - .
Both the leader and ex-leader of the British parliamentary Labor Party have been writing to the press pointing out that the days of little strikes are over, and that henceforth strikes must be far more widespread and cruel in their results. Quite so. Sectional strife is not only wasteful, it is also futile. With industrial unionism accomplished a strike will become decidedly widespread. It will become universal. But it will not be cruel, as Mr. Ramsay Macdonald states. It will be so irresistible that it will carry all before it, and thus be enabled to fulfil its mission peaceably. The cruelty will appear in the larger and larger strikes which will take place while industrial unionism is being accomplished. The suffering which will be -caused will be the cost the workers will pay for their education. If they could learn NOW that their salvation lies in industrial unionism the suffering could be largely dispensed with.
A leading article in the New South Wales Worker of the 17th August, headed, “ The Need of the Hour,” says-
The multiplicity of isolated unions is a source of weakness. That is no new discovery. But it is a truth which we have to keep on discovering, and insisting upon, in order to counteract the tendency to split up into little trade organizations, and segregate in crafts. . . .
Labour’s industrial organization lags behind its political organization. It must be brought into line with it. Industrially it has not risen to the level of Inter-State Federation, which the people of Australia attained ten years ago. It must be brought abreast with the community.
The best efforts to overcome this trouble have been made in Victoria, where a committee of the Trades Hall Council was appointed to recommend a scheme of organization, to which I shall again refer a little later, because it offers a suggestion which may be of great assistance in dealing with the Bill. This is the report of a special committee of the Trades Hall Council, which was made an Order of the Day for 17th August, to be taken immediately after the Council’s minutes -
CLASS A. -PrimaryIndustries.
Group 1. - Agricultural, horticultural, pastoral.
Group 2. - Mining and quarrying.
CLASS B. - Manufacturing Industries.
Group 1. - Metal trades : comprising engineers, blacksmiths, ironfounders, ironmoulders, enginedrivers, boilermakers, brass workers, coppersmiths, tinsmiths, agricultural implement makers, bolt, nut, and barb wire workers, oven, stove and range makers, bedstead and fender makers, electro-plate workers, wire workers, lead workers, glass workers, farriers, bicycle trade employes.
Group 2. - Building trades : including carpenters and joiners, masons and stone workers, brick, tile, and pottery makers, bricklayers, lathers and plasterers, slaters and tilers, plumbers, painters and decorators, tuckpointers, electricians, builders’ labourers, sewerage and general labourers, asphalters and tar pavers.
Group 3. - Wood workers : comprising saw-mill and timber yard employes, furniture trades, coachbuilders and wheelwrights, coopers, brushmakers, wicker workers, match-factory employes, picture framers, millet-broom makers.
Group 4. - Textile : Woollen mill, cotton mill, and flock-mill employes, tailoring trade, hatters, dress and mantle makers, shirt and collar makers, whiteworkers, knitting and hosiery workers, tie, cap, glove, and umbrella makers, dyers and feather dressers, tent, flag, and sail makers.
Group 5. - Proyidoring : Millers, bakers, pastrycooks, and biscuit makers, butchers and meat’ workers, butter and cheese makers, food preserving and condiment workers, sugar refiners, confectioners, hotel and caterers’ employes, soap, starch, and candle makers, ice and cold storage employes.
Group 6. - Licensed trades, &c. : Tobacco, cigar, and cigarette workers, brewery employes, spirit distillers, aerated water manufacturers.
Group 7. - Printing and allied trades : Typographical, lithographers, bookbinders and paper rulers, process engravers, commercial artists, stationery makers, &c, cardboard box and carton makers, printing trades general workers, paper makers, ink makers, journalists.
Group 8. - Leather and rubber workers : Fellmongers, tanners and curriers, leather dressers, boot and shoe makers, saddle and harness makers, leather goods workers, rubber workers, furriers.
Group 9. - Chemical industries, &c. : manufacturing druggists, ammunition and cordite workers, salt refiners, artificial manure workers, gas workers, fireworks manufacturers.
CLASS C. - General Service.
Group1. - Commercial : Shop assistants and warehouse employes, clerks, bookkeepers, &c, travellers and canvassers, packers and sorters, licensed collectors, hawkers and dealers, bill posters, hairdressers.
Group 2. - Transportation (a) (Land Section) : Carters and drivers, railway service, tramway service, cab-owners and drivers, bread carters, Wood, Coal, Hay and Chaff Union, lift attendants, motor-car drivers, undertakers.
Group 3. - Public servants : Civil service, fire brigade, municipal employes.
Group 4. - Domestic : Household workers, laundry workers, coachmen, office cleaners, hospital attendants.
Group 5. - Recreative : Musicians, stage employes, supernumeraries, vaudeville artists, general sports employes.
That was the scheme formulated by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. It was proposed that representation on the Trades Hall Council should be upon the basis of industrial groups, or, in other words, that it should be in respect of industries, and not separate trades or callings.
I have not been referring to these difficulties as between the unions without having a purpose in view. Tremendous difficulties have arisen between organizations based upon different principles, and in some cases Trades Councils and representative labour bodies have been compelled to face the issues, although they have refrained from doing so where it was possible to avoid them. They have had to try, in some cases, to find a means of overcoming the troubles : but, without laying down any definite plan, we are proposing to transfer the whole of theseinrerunion disputes to the jurisdiction of the Court. The President of the Court has, no doubt, had some experience of union organization, but we are simply proposing to hand over to him a bald Act of Parliament, and to say to him that these organizations, for the purposes of the Court, shall be registered and become part of the machinery of the Act. We are casting upon him the onus of deciding the serious problems that arise as between these organizations. It will be for him to deal with the overlapping that takes place. He will have to determine, for instance, what union shall cover the engine-drivers in the saw-milling trade, and the enginedrivers employed in shearing sheds. We have stationary engine-drivers employed in shearing sheds, saw-mills, and engineering shops. All these are already provided for by unions registered under the Act, and it is now proposed that another union, based upon an entirely different system, shall be registered side by side with them.. The result will be a repetition of the experience of State industrial tribunalsthroughout Australia. The bitter struggles that have taken place from time to time will be transferred to the legal arena presided over by the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and he will have to take up the task of solving these problems without having any policy laid down by the Legislature of the Commonwealth.
I shall give honorable members an illustration of some of the difficulties with, which the Court will have to contend by quoting a statement made by Judge Heydon in the Industrial Court of New South. Wales in connexion with a case in which I was interested. It is only one of a number of the same kind. Application was made by one of the railway unions for a Wages Board, and opposition was offered by another union to the constitution of that Board. The presiding Judge, in that case, heard Mr. Warton, for the Tramway Union, Mr. Black, secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, Mr. Sullivan, secretary of the Moulders Union, Mr. Irons, secretary of the Bricklayers Union, and Mr. Millard, secretary of the LabourersUnion. They all appeared to object to the constitution of the Board to deal with certain groups of tramway men, and HisHonour said -
I must seek out some simpler road with regard to Boards than has been followed hitherto. I was in great hopes that the measure submitted by Mr. Beeby to the House would have resulted in relieving me of this, but the mass of Boards, the overlapping, the dovetailing, the variety of interests that are put before me when applications are made - the thing is becoming overwhelming altogether. This very thing is an example. I have two unions, first of all, to deal with, a thing which is really quite outside my proper duties, dealing with the claims of different unions in the same industry. Then a number of different industries appear, and there are a number of existing awards, some have expired, seme have not; some Boards have expired and their awards are in existence; some Boards have expired and their awards have expired also. The thing is becoming a mass of confusion. I shall have to devise some scheme, which I shall inform the industrial world of, by which the thing shall be simplified ; it ‘ is getting too troublesome and complicated.
The learned Judge spoke at much greater length, but it is not necessary for me to make a further quotation from the report of his remarks.
Some of the State Legislatures appear to be making an effort to overcome these difficulties. The Parliament of New South Wales, for instance, is seeking to get rid of these troubles in a way that is in direct opposition to what we are endeavouring to do here. The New South Wales Industrial Disputes Act of 1908 contained a schedule setting forth the different groups of employes which should become the units of organization for determining the conditions of the various industries, and the Boards for these groups are as. foi low : -
Baking, boot trade, brewery, bricklayers, brickmakers, Broken Hill mines, butchering, cigar trade, clothing, coachmaking, cold storage, confectioners, coopers; copper, silver, and gold mines; Council of the City of Sydney, dressmaking and millinery, electrical trades, farriers, fellmongering, furniture trade, gasworks employes, glassworks, Government railways and tramways, hairdressers ; hotels, clubs, and restaurant employes; Hunter River District Board of Water Supply and Sewerage, iron trades, jam industry, laundries (public), Maitland collieries, Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board, milk industry, musicians, Newcastle collieries, painting trades, printing, pastrycooks, plasterers, plumbers and gasfitters, saddlery, saw-mill employe, shearers, shipping, shipbuilding, Southern collieries, shop assistants, stone cutters, storemen and packers, Sydney Harbor Trust, *tanning, tip-carters, tobacco industry, trolley draymen, undertakers, unskilled labourers, waterside workers, Western collieries and shale miners, wire mattress makers, wire netting, woodworkers.
By an amending Act passed in the same year the following groups were added : -
Aerated waters, bag and sack making, biscuit and cake making, boiling-down, bone-mills and manure works, cardboard box making, coke workers, dredging, engine-driving and firing, hatmaking, ice manufacturers, laundry, milling, packing, paper mills, rope making,’ smelting) soap and candle making, wine and spirit stores.
There is also a drag-net section, and clerical workers, I think, have been added recently to this list, which comprises someeighty or ninety groups. It will be noted, that engine-driving and firing is referred to in the schedule which I have just read. The honorable member for Werriwa alluded, to it last night as indicating a reason why a similar provision should be made in theBill now before us. The difficulties to. which Judge Heydon referred have comebefore the Industrial Court of New South Wales over and over again with respect toenginedrivers and firemen. The general position is becoming absolutely intolerable. Its seriousness was recognised by the Government of New South Wales in an> amending Bill which it introduced on the- 21st May last.
– Was that Bill passed?
– Owing to certain* difficulties that arose in the New South Wales Parliament, it was not passed. But it represents the considered views of the New South Wales Labour Cabinet. The schedule reduced the number of groupsfrom about ninety to twenty-three. The Boards are designated as follow : -
Iron trades, building trades, wood workers, clothing trades, printing trades, food supply and! distribution, leather trades, shipping, transport,, manufacturing, coal mining, metalliferous mining, engine-drivers and firemen, clerical workers, unskilled workers, shop assistants, warehouse employes and storemen, furniture manufacturing’ trades, railway and tramway workers, hotel, club, restaurant, and domestic workers, iron and steel manufacturing, rural workers, pastora? workers, and general workers.
In the case of engine-drivers there will probably be some amendment when the Bill is dealt with in Committee in the State House. I am, however, dealing with the principle of organization rather than an individual case. Remember that that is ari effort on behalf of organized labour in New South Wales to remedy some of the difficulties of overlapping organizations.
The whole scheme of that Bill is; organization for the purposes of the Act upon industrial, and not upon craft, lines. There is going to be no interference with the craft unions, but there is to be a series of industrial Boards. There will be a permanent chairman appointed for each of those industrial groups, who shall hold office for three years. He will be a District Court Judge or a barrister, and all claims in connexion with disputes in that industry will be referred to that Board. There might be a number of different unions in the industry j but that Judge would have jurisdiction over the whole industry. Consequently, when he is hearing a dispute, even if it is in regard to a section of an industry, £he is to have some general knowledge, and keep in his mind the necessities and coneditions of the industry as one complete unit. That proposal shows that these difficulties are being recognised in the union movement itself, and that an effort is being made to overcome them. In this respect it is the most advanced measure yet placed before any Parliament.
If you could get a meeting of the workmen themselves, you would find very little dissent from the idea of the organization of workmen upon industrial lines, that is, upon lines coterminous with the industry. But the trouble is that vested interests have grown up around those craft organizations, and the interests of officials have to be considered. During my investigation of this matter for a number of years, I have found that one of the great stumbling-blocks to grouping on industrial lines is the necessity for providing for those officials who, through many years of service, have, no doubt, considerable claims upon the employes in an industry. I addressed a mass meeting of a craft union on this question a little while ago, and, with about three dissentients, they carried a resolution to accept the industrial form of organization. The meeting was 300 or 400 strong, and comprised all but a very few of the men concerned ; but the idea was never carried out, for the simple reason that the executive .officers refused to carry it out. From that day to this that organization has gone along on craft lines.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Railway Men’s Union?
– I do not wish to refer to the particular union, because if I did my remarks might be regarded as an attack on some person or other. I wish to avoid all personalities in this matter. I am not so much blaming individuals.
Very great difficulties have arisen. Aggregations of capital and the modernized organizations of employers in the last few7 years have transformed the whole basis of the organization of production, and the trouble has been that the old craft idea has not yet been able to adapt itself to the changed conditions which the practical business-minded men of the community have adopted for the more effective control of industries and manufactures.
I contend that the industrial, as against the craft, basis is the more effective, from the view-point of an Arbitration Court.
I wish to refer to some of the difficulties of the craft idea. Let us take the very case of the engine-drivers. They are associated with industries from Cape York to the furthermost point of Tasmania, and from Sydney to Perth. We have them in the sugar mills of Queensland, in the mines of Tasmania, and in every little industry throughout the Commonwealth. They are to become a unit for the settlement of industrial disputes between employers and employes. I do not think it is within the range of practicability to organize the engine-drivers of Australia. You may organize 30 per cent, of them, and that 30 per cent, may be able to submit a case to the Court, and have an award made which may or may not govern themselves or the whole of the engine-drivers of Australia.
– If that organization goes on as it is at present, they will soon be all in.
– If die honorablemember could ascertain the actual number of stationary engine-drivers in Australia, and of those in the organization, he would find that they did not represent a very large proportion of the whole. I am well acquainted with the organization, and on terms of personal friendship with its officers, and have been watching its progress very closely for a long time. It has been to me a very interesting study.
– It has only just been started.’
– I admit that, as a Federal organization, it has not been long established ; but I can see that it is going to be the source of tremendous trouble to a number of organizations already in existence, and I have been watching for those troubles to eventuate.
Having got an organization of enginedrivers, let us suppose that the case is placed before the Court. There are very few stationary drivers employed in any one industry. They are employed only in twos and threes, and, if the employers are to have any representation in the Court, all those who employ enginedrivers will have to organize on the same basis. There are 30,000 employes in the New South Wales railways and tramways. I suppose out of that number there are only twenty stationary engine-drivers. If it were possible for State employes to come under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, the New South Wales Railways Commissioners, and other employers, would be compelled, on this basis, to be in fifty or sixty differentemployers’ organizations. In regard to the engine-drivers, the employers would have to form an Engine-drivers’ Employers Association in order to present their case to the. Court. There are enginedrivers in the pastoral industry, and, therefore, the squatters would have to join that body ; so would all the sugar-growers and owners. These employers would have to become members of a separate organization for every craft or section represented in their industry.
– Could notone man represent the whole of those in Court?
– If a case in which I aminterested is going to be presented to n Court, I want to have a say in it, and to call evidence, if necessary. Upon the basis I have described, all those employers who employ engine-drivers singly or in twos or threes, in different industries, would have to be organized into an organization of employers of engine-drivers. Similarly, all the employers in different industries would have to be organized into an association of employers of carpenters ; and, in short, into employers’ associations representing every craft, vocation, or avocation in their industries. I am not profoundly concerned with the difficulties of the employers, except that I wish to be fair, but I simply use their case as an apt illustration.
The same difficulty applies to the employes. With an organization scattered throughout the length and breadth of a great continent, it will be an absolute impossibility for the employes belonging to it to meet together to decide questions. How can they ever meet ? All that can be done is for two or three to come to a conclusion as to what they want, put it on paper, and send it to head-quarters. That immediately throws the whole of the conduct of that industrial organization into the hands of one or two executive officers. The interests of the men’ may be represented or they may not I do not know any instance which illustrates so vividly the difficulties of the purely craft idea as that of the stationary engine-drivers.
We come to another point. They have a case to submit to the Court.It is said that the same conditions ought to be laid’ down for stationary engine-drivers in all the industries of . Australia. We take, first, the question of wages. Some of the industries which employ engine-drivers are prosperous, and can afford to pay excellent wages. Perhaps, in those cases, the employers, rather than go to the Court, would be prepared to concede certain wages ; but when the case comes before the Court, the employer in some little tin-pot industry employing only one or two engine-drivers may come to Mr. Justice Higgins and say, “ If you lay.’ down that rate, you absolutely cripple my industry, anddrive me out of business. I can produce my books to show that what I am saying is true.” The consequence will be that the Judge will say, as has been said before, “ I am not here to lay down a rate which will cripple an industry. I must lay down a rate which will enable it to carry on.” That will mean that the rate for all engine-drivers will be laid down on the basis of the least prosperous industry. There is no getting away from that position. That rate will then become the standard wage for engine-drivers throughout Australia.
I am for uniformity, so long as uniformity means levelling up; but I. am not for uniformity which means levelling down. We are not dealing now with the old days of guilds and crafts, when employes and employers were organizedon purely sectional lines. We are dealing with conditions in which the great captains of industry have organized themselves into all-embracing and conglomerate undertakings. In face of the organization of employers in that way, we are to have the. employes organized on this little worn-out idea of craft organization ! It is like facing the up-to-date British Navy with the stink- pots of China.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - Hear, hear !
– When the cheers come from that side, it is very suspicious.
– I amnot interested whether the cheers come from that side or this. Some honorable members have noticed my attitude in this matter in New South Wales for a number of years past. It has brought me into conflict with large numbers of people in that State. I am urging my convictions rather than seeking any cheap popularity. 1 know that the leading minds in trade unionism throughout the world favour the more scientific organization as against the craft idea, and not one of them could be found to advocate the latter. I might except. Mr. Samuel Gompers, of America, whose precise views. I have not been able to determine. Industrial organization is favoured by such writers as Webb, Ramsay MacDonald, and all the great European, including the German and French leaders, in the industrial world.
As to hours, in some industries it is necessary to work men in shifts. Men may work six days of eight hours each, or. forty-eight hours in the week, of eight and three-quarters for five days, and four, and a quarter on the Saturday. I know of some cases where the forty-eight hours are worked in five days, Saturday and Sunday being days of rest. Under the circumstances, a Judge would not lay down special hours for the enginedrivers employed in the jam-making industry, for instance ; we could not expect him to find a basis for the hours out pf step with the rest of the industry in which they were engaged.
This means that the greatest difficulty would be experienced in dealing, perhaps, not so much with hours, as with general conditions. The general conditions are very often irritating to the employes, but tie Court would not deal with them, because the Judge would say, in the case of engine-drivers, for instance, that so few of them’ were engaged in so many varying industries that he could only attempt to deal with the larger question of wages, and, perhaps, of hours. The great mass of industrial regulations, which are regarded as important by the employes, the Judge could not deal with, because they affect so many different industries in which the engine-drivers employed are only a small part.
If, however, the’industry is the unit of the organization, these problems are simplified, as far as they can be. In the pastoral industry, for instance, the whole of the employers and employes can organize, and, as ‘an industry, submit their case to the. Court; both sides being completely represented. One award can be given covering the whole of the industry, completely regulating its working conditions, for agiven number of years.
In connexion with the. New South Wales railways’ and tramway’s; there are between fifty and sixtydifferent awards with different sets of wagesanda multitude of conditions. As one connected with the organizationsof the men for a number of years, could never tellthem what the conditions were in regard to a particular section without consulting the awards. A similar difficulty is experienced by the officers who have to carry out the awards; andall over. New South Wales complaint’s are beingmade that awards are being broken. An amusing instance occurred, which showed me that the officers of the Department are anxious to carry out the directions of the Court. Inconnexion with the paper with whichI am. associated,somanyquestions were asked that it was necessary to start a consultation and advice column; and a prominent railway official told me to send onthree copies each week, so that the questions and answers might be cut out and forwarded, to the Departments affected. He further informed me that the foremen were not waitingfor instructions; but that the very moment they, saw a question answered in’ the newspaper they carried out the advice there given. That means they said that we are placing our own interpretation on the awards, and in many cases men are paidmore than they think they are entitled to. There isno. disposition on the part of the officers not to carry out the awards, but amongst the fifty or sixty, they get muddled up.
With the. industry as a unit, the whole of the generalconditions - hours, wages, disadvantages, and dangers- can be considered, and a proper allowance made for them. There would be a periodical settlement anda minimum of friction. The employerswouldnot behaled to a Court every otherweek, and the industry would, asfarasispossiblewithourpresentma- chinery; go onin- peace andquiet, thus enabling production to be much more efficiently conducted thanunder theother principle.
Another important point is the basis on which the reward of labour shall be allocated, and this is one of’ the difficulties ofmodern times. The Age, in a leading article on Tuesday last, stated that one ofthegreat problems before statesmen to-daywasthequestion of the reward of workmen’s’ labour-on what basis it ought to be fixed.The article went on to say -
Amidstachaosofstrikes and lockouts, heartburningsandfactory burnings, . workers’ riots, brokenheads andflaminghouses, one question is constantlyrecurring, to the minds of thoughtful rnen-“ WhatisLabor’sjustshare of the national income ?”Sofar,the accepted answer to this has notemerged. There are many answers, as there are many parties to the controversy. There are the extreme claims on one side that Labor has a righttothewhole,andontheother equally extreme claims that capital has a right to as much asitcan squeeze out of the deal.
The cause of our present troubles lies in the fact that so farthe economicworld has found no answers tothose questions. The capitalist has always claimed that his share is as much as he can gel. This makes good in a quite independent way the contention of Mr. Chiozza Money that “the prices of commodities have risen,” while wages have remained stationary ; a rise of wagesis overdue all round.” In a dim and undefined manner the wageearner’ has come to feel. this. He is getting a smaller proportion of. the national income than lie formerlygot.A rise in wages is due to him. But when he gets it that will not settle 4he problem. It will be a palliative, not a remedy.
This is the crux of the whole question. By our skeleton Act we practically leave the Court to find out some principles on which to act; and some palliative principles are being slowly evolved.
The first was laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins with regard to the lowest grade of labour, usually called unskilled labour. He held that the unskilled labourer should get a basic living wage according to the needs of the average family under conditions such as those of the workmen in a country like Australia. That, of course, is the bare living wage - the wage paid to the man animal, as it were - and the special disadvantages, difficulties, and dangers of the industry have to be taken into consideration. This having been done, the Court arrives at the rates of wages for the lowest grade of labour.
As to the skilled operative, it has to be ascertained what is the relative difference between his reward and that of the unskilled labourer. If a bricklayer’s labourer, for instance, is receiving 7s. and a bricklayer ns., the recognised difference is 4s. ; and Mr. Justice Higgins, having laid down the rate for the lowest class of labour, takes the recognised difference into account and arrives at the reward of skilled labour. If the pay for bricklayer’s labour rose to 9s., the difference of 4s. would make the rate of pay for the bricklayer 13s. ; and that is as far as we have got in laying down a principle. It is not a principle evolved by this or any other Parliament, but one evolved by Mr. Justice Higgins out of the necessities of the case, because the Act presented to him is practically a skeleton or framework of a machine left for him to put into proper working order.
We now come agains to the question of industry versus craft. To arrive at the rate of wage, the living wage is taken into consideration together with the special disadvantages and dangers of the industry. If employes are segregated into crafts, the peculiar difficulties of an industry as a whole cannot be taken into consideration; there cannot be separate awards for enginedrivers engaged, some in flour mills, some in sugar mills, some by mining companies, and so on. This means that the dangers and difficulties of those particular industries cannot be taken into account. Then, as it has’ been laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins that the living rate for the lowest scale of unskilled labour is to be the basis, is it not shown immediately that the skilled worker has a tremendous interest in the lowest rate awarded in his industry? Suppose the unskilled worker were to insist on having craft organization, the skilled worker, if he realized his own interest, would say that he could not afford to let the unskilled man settle the living wage by means of his own organization, and would insist on combining their strength, because the pay of the lowest scale of labour is the starting point for arriving at the pay of skilled labour. As the rate for unskilled labour is a most material factor in deciding the pay for skilled labour, it is necessary that skilled labour should take part with the unskilled labour in fixing the basic living wage. If we have engine-drivers or any other particular craft formed into an organization by themselves, they- will not take any notice of what is done by unskilled labourers, who are left to state their own case. When an organization is weak, its- case is badly stated. A skilled worker may find that his wages are not assessed as high as they should be, but that he is compelled to accept, for three years, an award giving him a low rate of pay, because he did not assist earlier in increasing the living wage for unskilled labour.
The Attorney-General referred to the difficulty caused by the employment of engine-drivers in a large number of industries, who are being paid at various rates. He said that the engine-drivers in one industry would not be content so long as the engine-drivers in another were being more highly paid. No doubt that is so; but the engine-drivers as a whole would not be content if “their wages were fixed ou the basis of what the least prosperous industry employing engine-drivers could afford. The engine-drivers would be more content as a whole if. some were getting 9s. and others ns., than if all were reduced to 9s. During the course of the honorable gentleman’s speech, I made this interjection -
If the same class of employes in different industries are to be paid at the same rate, does it not mean that the least successful industry will lay down the conditions for the whole?
I do not think that he successfully dealt with that point.
I also asked -
Should not the value of the product of an industry determine what the labour employed therein shall get?
The honorable gentleman adroitly evaded that question. The workers in any industry will never be satisfied until they know that they are getting the value of their work, which, at the present time, it is impossible to determine. For instance, no one can say that the value of work of bricklayers is worth or 30s., or £2 a day. The wages fixed by the Courts have nothing to do with the value of the work of those receiving them. No principle for determining that value has been ascertained. We cannot be satisfied with this state of things ; and I have more faith in human nature than to believe that the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs will continue for ever. I think that industry will be organized on both sides, and the value of its products, and of the labour employed to obtain them, determined. When that happens, an equitable distribution of the results can te made. This equitable distribution would be impossible with industries organized on the basis of crafts. Some engine-drivers, for instance, are employed in the sugar industry, others in jam factories, and others in many other industries. If they presented a case to Mr. Justice Higgins, it would be impossible to fix a wage in, accordance with the value of their work, I mean according to their contribution to the value of the product, because it would vary according to the industry in which they were engaged. We hope that, in years to come, the workmen v will be equitably paid for their labour by the application of scientific principles which will determine its value.
– Who would assess the actual value of work done?
– Some kind of tribunal must be appointed. I do not know whether we can improve our present arrangements in this respect.
– -Could we use the New South Wales Boards to which the honorable member has referred ?
– It would not matter whether the work were done by an Arbitration Court or a Wages Board, so long as it was intrusted to a competent body possessing ample powers, and operating upon scientific and equitable principles. I hope that in the near future a principle will be evolved for the guidance of the Courts in making awards in relation to wages. At present we are experimenting ; and, after ten years, have made practically no progress in regard to the permanent settlement of disputes.
The honorable member for Darling suggests that this is due to the limitations of the Constitution. I say that it is not. The constitution empowers us to provide for the settlement of disputes, either by craft or industrial organization, and we have the right to say, within certain limits, what principle shall be observed. We have not exhausted these powers.
As prizes and honours are given tothose who invent labour-saving appliances and improved mechanical methods, why should not premiums be offered for political ideas to stimulate thediscovery of principles which will settle thegreat problems now confronting the civilized world? Politicians might well use whatever ingenuity and inventive geniusthey have in attempting to discover suchlegislative devices. The settlement of industrial disputes and the prevention of international quarrels by arbitration are the two greatest problems; confronting the statesmen of Christendom to-day, and to theseproblems the great intellects are devoting themselves.
There are two clauses in the Labour objective. It provides, first, for the cultivation of Australian sentiment, and,, second, “ for securing the full results of their industry to all producers by the nationalization of monopolies, and the extension of the economicand industrial functions of the State and> municipalities.” Monopolies are usually concrete industries. The sugar monopoly and theshipping monopoly each covers an industry. The proposal is to nationalize monopolies. Industries are the units on which, the operation is to be made. If the workmen and employers in an industry are organized on the same lines, the nationalization of that industry when it becomes a monopoly will be facilitated, and the transfer from private enterprise to State control will become easy. The shareholders can be paid off, and there will remain all the machinery for controlling and carrying, on the industry.
In the nationalizing of a monopoly - I refer only to the question of employment - the condition of the employes in an industry must be improved. If it is not improved, and if that improvement is not made evident, employes in other industrieswill not be convinced that nationalizationis necessary for the proper reconstruction of society. The improvement I speak of” must be made patent to the employes inother industries, and to the public. TheState must prove itself to be the ideal employer. Conditions in State-controlled’ monopolies must be better than those inindustries controlled by private enterprise.. Now, if you have men organized according to crafts, you will have some artisans- employed by the State under particularly good conditions, and others doing the same work in industries governed by private enterprise in which the conditions will not be so good. These will be members of the same craft organization. This will create a state of things such as the AttorneyGeneral says should be avoided.
Craft organization cuts across the Labour objective. In this connexion let me quote from the work of a gentleman who attracted a great deal of attention while he was in Australia, Professor Mills, .a great student of industrial problems. At page 230 of his book, The Struggle for Existence, which is one of the best works I have had an opportunity to read, and others like myself look upon the professor as one of the foremost exponents of economic questions, the following passage occurs -
Some years ago the problem of the transition from capitalism to Socialism was regarded as a most difficult one, because of the great number of private owners who would be opposed, on account of private interests, to the establishment of the co-operative Commonwealth. But capitalism has not only been perfecting and extending the equipment of industry and the knowledge of the wide world’s resources ; it has also been effecting the concentration which leaves an ever-lessening number of people personally interested in the perpetuation of capitalism, while it increases, by the same ratio, the number of those personally interested, because of personal benefits, in the establishment of Socialism.
Again, this concentration in the ownership of the means of production is perfecting the completest possible organization of the great industries. The capitalist owner can now hire, not only the labour to do the lifting and carrying, but the superintendence of production and the marketing of the products have also become the functions of the “ hired man.” Under complete capitalism, the capitalist renders no service whatever. Even his service in management at last becomes a hired service. He simply appropriates the lion’s share o’f the products in consideration of having given his consent that the workers may use the earth and the machines in the necessary work of producing the means of life.
Another heading is -
Labour Organizes According to Industries, not Tools.
By “ tools “ he means really the sectional idea of organizing on the crafts basis -
But this is not all. The organizations of Labour which formerly were effected along the lines of the trades are taking shape now along the lines of the industries. Formerly all organized working men who used the same tools belonged to the same labour organizations without regard to the nature of the industry in which they were employed. The present movement is in the direction of effecting an organization of all working men engaged in any in dustry, regardless of the tools used by the individual workers so employed. By this is meant, that all the men in any way connected withtransportation are coming rapidly into a singleorganization; all those engaged in any way in the building trades, into a single organization; all those engaged in any way in> the distribution of goods through the great department stores, in to another great single organization. All this is brought about by thenecessity of all those who work for the sameemployers belonging to the same organization, in. order most effectively to deal with their ow» common employer or association of employers’ with interests in common.
Then, at page 494, he deals with industrial organization -
The employers now employ at the same timemen working in many trades. Carpenters, masons, plumbers, all working for the sameemployer, are rapidly coming to understand theadvantages of a labour organization of all thoseengaged in the building industry. This is what is meant by the industrial organization of trieLabour Unions. The Western Federation of Miners includes all workers in any way engaged in or about the mines. This is unquestionably the strongest form of labour organization for effective work in dealing with the masters. It is, further, an advantage inasmuch as the development of Labour Unions along the line of the great industries is making the beginnings under capitalism of the very organizations most likely to constitute both the industrial and political subdivisions in the actual administration of affairs in the beginning of the co-operative Commonwealth. The International Machinists’ Union, the Brotherhood of Railway Employes, the American Labour Union, and many Trades Councils and State Federations allied with the American Federation of Labour, have declared? for industrial unions.
I fully realize the difficulty that confronts us in regard to this matter. I have a conviction, born of many years of close investigation, that if there is any law by which these disputes can be settled according to constitutional means, the industry unit is that through which success might best be achieved. In the absence of such a scheme we have unions played off one against the other, in friendly negotiation and in the Courts, as is being done to-day in connexion with the Mount Lyell strike. If we are to submit these great disputes to tribunals of one kind or another, the industry basis certainly offers a scientific method of organizing both employers and employes. By scientific organization only can the value of the product of the industry be computed and a scheme of distribution be formulated in connexion therewith. That is the basis of organization most likely to create such an atmosphere as will assist in the evolution of great principles upon which disputes between employers and employes in the future may equitably be adjusted.
We are, however, confronted by serious difficulties. As a party, we do not come into this House representing only the industrial unions. We, as a Labour party, come here representing industrial and sectional unions alike. They are based on varying degrees of craft and industry, and, perhaps, no advantage is to be gained by catching them, so to speak, by the scruff of the neck, and saying to them, “ You shall organize on these lines, without regard to your old associations and organizations upon craft lines.” No matter how they overlap, how unscientific their method of grouping, they must be educated, rather than coerced, into the adoption of more up-to-date and logical principles.
I think that the unit of organization for the purposes of the Court ought to be the industrial unit.
– As at present.
– Yes. The position might be met, however, by a suggestion I have to make later on. The honorable member for Flinders delivered last night an extremely powerful speech on this question. I may say in passing that I always listen with the greatest pleasure to the honorable member when he is dealing with such matters, because of the ability that he brings to bear upon their elucidation. I do not always agree with his political conclusions, but upon questions of constitutional law the honorable member is certainly a very great authority. He pointed out last night that the whole scheme of the existing Act is based upon the industry as the unit of organization for both employers and employes. It is not for me to say whether or not his argument can be answered. It seemed to me to be unanswerable, but he pointed out that we were now making an effort to fit a definition of craft and industry into the whole scheme of an Act every section of which deals with the industrial unit as an organization. He pointed out that the High Court in the enginedrivers’ case took the Act as a whole. The learned Justices said, in effect, “ We are dealing, not with the definition section, not with section 7, section 39, or section 55, but with the Act as a whole. We have to look at the construction” of the Act as a whole to find out what was the intention of the Legislature; to ascertain whether the unit, for the purpose of the Court, was to be the industrial unit or the craft and industrial unit running side by side.” The honorable member has shown that the proposed alteration of the definition section at the commencement of the Act will not overcome the judgment of the High Court. It will be necessary, he says, to frame the Act on totally different lines. In other words, the Act, as a whole, will have to be recast so as to fit in with and become the complement, as it were, of the new definition now proposed.
I think that if effect were given to my proposal, we could combine the Attorney-General’s scheme with that at which the honorable member for Flinders is aiming. ‘In other words, we need not interfere with the registration of these unions. So far as the Court is concerned let the industry be the unit of organization, and let the award of the Court cover the industry. Let the industries be dealt with one at a time, and then let all the unions in an industry interested in a dispute, and in the laying down of awards for that industry, be brought together. Let them agree among themselves as to the submission of a case to, and its conduct before, the Court, and let the award cover the industry. Such a system would enable the engine-drivers to have their own separate craft organizations to thresh out matters peculiarly relating to them if they so desired, but if they wished to go to the Court they would have to go before it together with the other unions interested in the industry.
– Does the honorable member desire that there should be two decisions in respect to the one industry ?
– No. One award one industry. I say that this could be done without interfering with the unions in their present organization. We could allow them to have their craft organizations with their varying degrees as between the craft and the industry. But all the unions concerned in an industry would have to agree upon a joint representation of their case before the Court.
I should like to see inserted in the Bill a clause providing that the Registrar shall act as a Conciliation Commissioner. The Registrar should be given power to call together organizations interested in a dispute relating to a particular industry, or the conditions of that industry. The representatives of these organizations would come before him, and I feel sure that they could meet round the table in a conciliatory spirit and arrive at a determination that would enable them to go unitedly before the Court. They would be able to appoint some one to represent them, and pay him to carry out the one single object of securing the best conditions for the whole of the employes in the industry concerned.
I am not advocating in this respect a procedure that is entirely new. As a matter of fact, it has already been followed. As I have pointed out, Judge Heydon has been for years confronted with these difficulties. He has had one union applying for a claim to be heard, and some twenty unions objecting. He has had representatives of twenty unions sitting at a table, and jumping up, one after the other, saying “ I appear for this or for that union.”
– That is on account of the Wages Board system.
– The position was the same in the Arbitration Court.
– In nothing like the same degree.
– It was certainly not so acute ; but I have appeared in the Arbitration Court in a case in which there have been probably twenty different unions represented.
– The honorable member has not.
– The honorable member will allow that I am able to speak on this phase of the subject with as much authority as any other honorable member. I was in charge of cases before he became associated with that Court. For the last ten years I have had charge of more cases before the Industrial Court and Wages Boards than I could readily count up, and 1 have been particularly interested in the difficulties that have arisen, based upon the varying degrees of the trade and the industrial organizations.
– Did the Judge invite the parties to confer, or had he power under the Act to deal with them?
– The Judge of the Industrial Court of New South Wales had placed in his hands what was practically a. skeleton Act. He had no guiding principles before him, and he has found the position intolerable. He complained that it has taken him. as long to settle the difficulties between unions as it would have taken him to hear the case itself. He has said that the greater part of his time is occupied in threshing out difficulties between the unions, and that he must find some way out of the trouble.
The Amalgamated Engineers and the Australasian Engineers are two overlapping unions organized on the same basis.
They are registered under the Commonwealth Act.
– But the Arbitration Court can make an award covering the two unions.
– I am now referring to the Federal Court, while the honorable member has in his mind the State Act. The position is the same in the New South Wales Court. There the two unions are registered, and the difficulties that have occurred in the State Court will arise in the Commonwealth Court.
– They will be intensified by this amendment of the principal Act.
– The two unions are already on the register. We have in the existing Act a section which provides that the Registrar may refuse to register any association as an organization if an organization to which the members might conveniently belong, has already been registered. That is an illogical and unscientific provision. Many of these powerful unions will not fight each other on the question of registration. It is only when a question arises as to which union should cover the working conditions of a particular set of men that trouble occurs. In New South Wales, this very case has arisen. Two engineering societies, claiming to exercise jurisdiction over the engineers, go to the Arbitration Court. The Amalgamated Engineers object to work with the Australian Engineers. Judge Heydon said, “ I must find some way out of this interminable difficulty. I shall appoint a Board, on which each of those societies shall have one representative.” He prescribed the way in which the representatives of the two employes’ organizations should be elected ; but he left it to the employers to appoint two representatives for themselves. The Australian Engineers had a long list of claims for wages and conditions, and the Amalgamated Engineers had another. They could not agree as to the claims to be put before the Court. The Judge said, “ If you cannot agree, refer it back to me, and I will settle that point also. The matter has to be referred to another tribunal, and I will set myself up in this case as representing only the interests of the engineers, and settle what claims are to come before the Court from them. I will not consider myself as concerned with the interests of the employers for this purpose. If you two unions cannot agree, I will take the claims myself and settle the matter after hearing what you have to say.” The next question was who was to conduct the dispute. The Australian Engineers wanted their man, and the Amalgamated Engineers wanted theirs. The Judge told them to . agree amongst themselves on one person, and, if they could not, to refer it back to him, when he would decide.
In another case in which I was interested, two unions had been competing against one another for the last ten years, and the same conflict arose. This was a case in which it was thought that the interests of the men were diametrically opposed. In fact, the union officers had for a long time preached the absolute necessity of the men dividing into separate organizations on the ground that their interests could not be adequately maintained if there was unity among them. We went to Court, and the case of the engineers was quoted. The Judge said, “ We will do the same in this case.” There was a conference between two officers of these organizations, and although it had been thought a vital necessity for the interests of the men for those two bodies to stand up against one another to the last ditch, it was .discovered at the very first joint sitting that out of 100 different claims there was an amicable agreement on all except two. Those two points, I believe, will be amicably settled also. This shows that those two organizations could have worked all along in agreement, under one set of rules. Then the question of who was to conduct the case arose. The very moment one gentleman’s name was mentioned both unions agreed to put their consolidated claims into his hands, and leave it to his discretion to decide what evidence to put before the Court. . The award will be given covering the employe’s in the two organizations as one unit.
I believe that many of these union difficulties are imaginary. These craft organizations have been standing off, fighting each other at arms length for so long that they have never got into the same room to talk things over. They have imagined difficulties between them which did not really exist. I should like to suggest, in the hope that it may point to a way out of this great difficulty, that the Registrar of the Arbitration Court should be appointed as a Conciliation Commissioner to deal with cases of that kind.
– The same power might be given to the Deputy Registrars in the various States.
– That is really a matter of machinery, but some authority is wanted. In the. New South Wales Arbitration Court, the Judge himself does not hear the case, and consequently these disputes requiring settlement in the preliminary stages can be safely referred to him. In the Commonwealth Court, however, we could not have these union difficulties thrashed out before the Industrial Judge. He hears and decides the disputes between employers and employes. I want to avoid that. If honorable members who represent Labour in politics want to do a service to the industrial organizations of this country they will try to prevent these union difficulties being fought out before Mr. Justice Higgins. In that fight, some of the salient points in the union’s case will be given away, and its weaknesses exposed, so that when the real issue between employers and employes comes before him for trial the Judge’s mind will have been prejudiced by the arguments used by the unions in competing against one another. I should like some other authority to settle these inter-union difficulties, and, for the moment, the Arbitration Registrar comes into my mind. I believe he is a capable man. I want an absolutely capable and fair man, who will take no end of pains to see that justice is done between the various conflicting bodies.
I feel sure that we can concede the question of the registration of these different crafts and sections, and give them legal recognition as to all other purposes. Outside the work of the Industrial Court, we can leave them free to follow their own lines of organization, but we can tell them, “ When you come before the Court, the Court will deal with industries, and lay down awards for industries. Where you overlap and have a conflict of jurisdiction, your difficulties must go before the Registrar or Conciliation Commissioner. Settle them there first, so that when 5’ou go before the Arbitration Court itself you may present a united case in response to the unity df the employers.”
– That will necessitate many men being in two unions. A man will have to be a unionist as engineer, and a unionist according to the industry “in which he is engaged.
– Not at all. Take the shearers case which has just been before the Arbitration Court. There are a number of stationary engine-drivers in the pastoral industry. A case has to be presented to the Court dealing with the pastoral industry as a whole. Mr. Mitchell, the president, or Mr. Pearce, the general secretary, of the Engine-drivers Union, can confer with the Australian Workers Union as to the claim to be put forward for engine-drivers. If there is any dispute between the two, the Conciliation Commissioner will bring them together in order that their case may be fought out jointly. There is no compulsion there for men to be in two unions. They can be in whichever they like. We could adopt groupings such as the Melbourne Trades Hall Council Committee recommended. By that means we should not interfere with their method of organization, and yet we would not interfere with the value of the industrial unit as the organized basis for the settlement of the industrial conditions of the industry. We should be able to have an award laid down on the basis of the industrial unit. We should be able, following Mr. Justice Higgins’ plan, to decide the living wage for the lowest grade of skilled worker in the industry. We should have the whole of the unions concerned in that industry putting up a united battle in the Court to lift up the rate of wage for the lowest grade of unskilled worker in it. That would give an opportunity to all the skilled workers to assist in the light. That wage would be the basis on which we should arrive at the wage of the skilled workers. Their rates would be apportioned to them on the principles laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins, by finding out the difference which originally was determined in the rates for skilled and unskilled work amongst the workmen and their employers. Thus, in the case of the bricklayer and the bricklayer’s labourer, the difference being 4s., when the lowest rate for the labourer is lifted up to 9s. the rate for the bricklayer is automatically fixed at 13s. Skilled and unskilled workers would thus have an interest in each other’s case, and each would be fighting to lift up the rates for the other. These principles would operate until a more perfect scheme emerged from our experiments.
I hope that, in the near future, there will be laid down some scientific and equitable method of apportioning the results of their industry to the various classes of workers, having some actual relation to the value of their work and of their production. We can never be satisfied until some such basis is reached. In providing for the industry as a unit upon which the Court shall operate, we shall be assisting in the evolution of those great principles which will enable us, in the future, to accomplish what is set out in the labour objective - to secure to the producer the full result of his industry - but also in the meantime to settle one of the greatest immediate problems confronting modern society, namely, the arrangement of some equitable plan upon which the differences of employers and employes can be amicably determined in their industrial relationships.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Groom) adjourned.
Bill recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 2.
In Committee (Recommittal):
Clause 2 -
The First Schedule to the Principal Act is amended - (ii.) by omitting from Part IT. the definition of and rates of postage for “Magazines” and inserting in their stead the following definition and rates of postage : - “ Magazines - that is to say,
Magazines, reviews, and other similar publications, wholly set up, printed and published in Australia for sale in numbers at intervals not exceeding three months and consisting of writings or articles on current topics, fiction, religious, technical, scientific, or practical subjects, for each magazine, ½d. per 8 ounces or part of 8 ounces ;
Magazines, reviews, and other similar publications (including newspapers), printed and published outside Australia for sale in numbers at intervals not exceeding three months and consisting of writings or articles on current topics, fiction, religious, technical, scientific, or practical subjects, for each magazine,½d. per 4 ounces or part of 4 ounces;
Catalogues wholly set up and printed in
Australia,½d. per 4 ounces or part of 4 ounces.”
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas) agreed to-
That the word “ definition,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “definitions.”
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas) proposed -
That the words “wholly set up, printed and published in Australia for sale” (paragrapha), be left out, with a view to insert in heu thereof the words “ wholly set up and printed in Australia and published for sale.”
. -Has the Minister considered the point raised by the honorable member for Angas with respect to the restrictive nature of this definition? In the original Act, the definition is a wide one ; but here the meaning is specific, and magazines will have to come within the limited terms here given.
– I can only repeat what I said the other evening, namely, that if honorable members think this definition is restrictive, 1 am quite prepared to omit all the words after “ three months.” I do not think that the words ought to be struck out; but there is no intention on the part of the postal authorities to prevent the circulation of legitimate magazines.
– I desire to move an amendment to provide that the paper used shall be of Australian manufacture. This is a real protectionist Bill ; and the honorable member for Maribyrnong might have gone a step further, and stipulated for Australian paper. There are, I believe, paper mills in both Victoria and New South Wales.
-i should like to know, Mr. Chairman, what authority we have for dealing with amendments other than those for the consideration of which the Bill was recommitted? Mr. Speaker definitely asked the Minister to state for what amendment it was proposed to recommit; and if authority was given to recommit for these two amendments only, are we not exceeding it by going into these other matters?
– By the recommittal of clause 2, the whole schedule is before the Committee, and any amendment in the schedule is in order.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - resolved in the affirmative.
– Definition is necessarily a limitation, as applied to articles going through the post. Heretofore there has been no such definition.
– I am prepared to move that all the words after “ three months “ be omitted. Before I accept the suggested amendment of the honorable member for Maranoa, I should like to hear the honorable member for Maribyrnong and other honorable members who support the idea of the magazines being wholly set up and printed in Australia. The suggested amendment is logical ; but I am rather against it, because I think it would handicap magazines we desire to see published here.
– I shall be glad to accept the assistance of the honorable member for Maranoa in ob taining a higher duty on paper when the Tariff is under discussion. In this particular instance, without accusing the honorable member of ulterior motives, I think he is submitting this amendment in order to defeat other desirable provisions in the Bill. I shall therefore not be able to cross the floor with him.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - resolved inthe affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Page) proposed -
That after the word “ sale,” lineto, the words “and upon paper made in Australia” be inserted.
– I trust the Committee will not accept the amendment. As I said the other evening, the amendment would be desirable from a Post Office point of view, because the rate is very low, ana magazines printed in Australia are carried at a loss. The amendment would mean that no magazines would be printed and published in Australia.
– The paper industry is “ languishing “ in Victoria.
– We are anxious to develop the Australian magazine; and I hope the day is not far distant when the necessary paper will be made in Australia.
– It is made here now.
– At the same time, it would be unwise to accept the amendment.
– I think the constituents of the honorable member for Maranoa will be very much obliged to him for trying to raise the price of their magazines.
– They read only Hansard in my constituency.
– It is perfectly obvious, from the conduct of honorable members opposite, that a proportion of the people in Australia do not read as much serious literature as they should. If people could only be induced to read more seriously-
– Will the honorable member deal with the amendment?
– I protest that I am dealing with the amendment. The honorable member for Maranoa wishes to make it infinitely more difficult for the reading public of Australia to obtain the best literature; and I hardly think he can be quite serious.
– I am serious enough; this is a”languishing industry.”
– Then I am sorrv to hear it.
.- The desire to encourage the making of paper in Australia is a very laudable one, but I do not think that the honorable member for Maranoa can show that either magazine or newspaper can be economically made in Australia. The adoption of this proposal if applied to newspaper, would make it impossible to publish the Worker. It would merely increase the price of magazines without giving any advantage to paper manufacturers in Australia.
.- I understand that the honorable member for Maribyrnong will be willing to support the honorable member for Maranoa if, when the Tariff is under discussion, he makes a proposal similar to that now before the Committee, but I would point out that the whole provision before us was framed with a view to protecting and fostering Australian industries. It would be ridiculous to suggest that it costs the Post Office any less to carry a magazine, review, or publication set up and printed in Australia than to carry a similar production published in any. other part of the world. We may make the interesting discovery, if the matter is pressed, that the Zone Hand magazine, whilst decrying the foreign manufacturer, does not bother to help the local paper manufacturer by using Australian paper. It will be remembered that the Bulletin and Lone Hand proprietary succeeded in escaping a duty of 15 percent. on the British-made, and 20 per cent. on the foreign-made, super-calendered paper used by it by getting the Minister to “ deem” that paper ordinary newspaper, and admit it “ free “ accordingly.
– The high priest of Protection in Victoria, the Melbourne Age, published some time ago a list of industries which it declared to be languishing, and among them was the papermaking industry. My amendment has been moved with a view to helping this industry. It will bc remembered that when we were dealing with the iron-bounty proposals an attempt was made to extend the bounty to wire-netting made from wire manufactured from German iron. I claim the support of the Protectionists. If they do not stand by me to-night, God help themto- morrow when the Age comes out I
– Why not apply theamendment to newspaper?
– I should be glad to do it if it were possible. When the Tariff 5s again under discussion, I hope that I shall have the honorable member’s support to the proposition.
Amendments (by Mr. Thomas) agreed to-
That the words “ printed and published outside Australia for sale,” lines 19 and 20, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ not wholly set upand printed in Australia and published for sale.”
That the letter “ c “ be left out.
That in line 28, the words “ for each catalogue “ be inserted.
– I suggest to Ministers that more than one copy of amend ments like these should be provided. The officer on my right and the officer on my left have to depend on the copy in front of me, which is not fair to them or to roe;
Bill reported with further amendments, and again recommitted for the further consideration of clause 2.
In Committee (Second recommittal):
Clause2. (Vide page 1663.)
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas) agreed to-
That after the word “ months,” in paragraphs a and i, the words “ and consisting of writings or articles on current topics, fiction, religious, technical, scientific, or practical subjects” be left out.
Bill reported with further amendments, and, by leave, passed through its remaining stages.
Armed Foreign Merchant-ships,
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This afternoon the Prime Minister made a! statement with regard to a motion that I had before the House, dealing with the question of armed foreign merchantmen. By the courtesy of the right honorable gentleman I have been given a proof of the Hansard report of his speech, in which I find the following words -
We do say mostemphatically-shall I say determinedly ?-that those who control shipsof other nations trading inthesewaters must not presume too much on our good nature, and equip their vessels in such a way that they may not only be ships of commerce but instruments of war.
In view of that statement I take advantage ofthis the first opportunity open to me of signifying my intention of withdrawing from the notice-paper, with the consent ofthe House, the motion standing in my name. The Prime Minister’s statement meets completely Day wishesin the matter, and I am very gratified tohear that the Government have arrived at this conclusion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111019_reps_4_61/>.