9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Bt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2,30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I am president of the Empire Development Union, an organization which is greatly interested to learn that the Canadian Government is prepared to enter into trade arrangements with the Commonwealth Government, and particularly with regard to dried fruits. It has been hinted that the settlement of the matter may be left over until after the Economic Conference has been held. I therefore ask the Prime Minister, in view of the urgency of the matter, whether steps will bc taken to enter into trade arrangements with Canada at once and without waiting for the Economic Conference?
– I agreewith the honorable member as to the importance and urgency of this matter. In the latter part of last year the Canadian Government sent Mr. Robb, the Canadian Minister for Customs, to Australia with a view to arranging a reciprocal trade treaty between Canada and Australia. When Mr. Robb was here schedules of the concessions which Australia and Canada were mutually prepared to extend to each other were drawn up and considered. But as the Canadian Government was not prepared to accept them, negotiations were continued by cable af ter Mr. Robb’s return, in the hope that the Canadian Government would be prepared to bring the schedules before its Parliament. The Canadian Government did not see its way to do that, and from that time on we have been continuing the cabled negotiations in an endeavour to finalize the treaty, because we believed it would bevery advantageous to both Canada and Australia. Unfortunately, we have been unable to arrive at a basis of agreement with respect to dried fruits. That is, of course, the most important item under consideration, and involves the major concession which
Canada is in a position to offer to Australia. I assure the honorable gentleman that the Government is just as desirous as he, or the organization he represents, can be to reach finality. I should like to make one aspect of the matter very clear, because I have noted the suggestion that the dried fruit arrangement might be settled separately from the general trade treaty which we hope to enter into. Unfortunately, that is impossible, because the Canadian Government will not grant a preference to Australian dried fruit unless the whole of the requests it has submitted are agreed to. At the present moment the Commonwealth Government does not see its way to accede to all the requests the Canadian Government is putting forward, and unless we can find some basis of compromise I am afraid it will be impossible to deal with the dried fruit question separately.
The following paper was presented : -
Northern Territory Election- Alleged Irregularities Keport by Chief Electoral Officer.
Adminj stratton - Expropriation Board.
-(By leave). - The administration of New Guinea has been brought very prominently under the notice of the public of Australia during the last few weeks. Several questions have been asked in this House with regard to certain newspaper articles which have been published, and I have promised to make a full statement about thepresent position in’ New Guinea, covering both the Administration and the Expropriation Board. The charges which have been made are of a most serious character. Australia is a mandated power administering New Guinea, and as such is responsible, not merely to the people of this Commonwealth, but also to the League of Nations, and to the nations of the world. By our administration of this mandated Territory we shall be judged iby ‘the world. I would impress upon honorable members of all parties in this House that there is no matter in which Australia’s good name is more involved than its administration of the mandated Territories, including New Guinea. I may remind honorable members very briefly how we received the mandate for these Territories. Prior to the war they belonged to Germany. Almost immediately after hostilities broke out Australia sent an Expeditionary Force, which took possession of the New Guinea territory of Germany. These possessions were under military occupation throughout the war. At the Peace Conference of Versailles the then Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) made the strongest representations in favour of giving Australia control of this Territory. He contended that it was necessary for our safety that it should not pass into the hands of any Power which in any circumstances could become hostile to this country. The result of his very brilliant efforts at Versailles was that Australia obtained the mandate for the Territory. When the administration of a mandated Territory was placed in the hands of a Government, the League of Nations was made the authority to whom reports upon it were to be submitted. The League was really given the task of policing the operation of mandates by the powers intrusted with them. Australia was given the New Guinea mandate, but this Government has to submit an annual report to the League of Nations showing how it is administering the trust which has been placed in its hands. What is known as a Mandates Commission assists the Council of the League of Nations in considering these reports. The Commission consists of the representatives of nine nations, most of whom have no mandate themselves. The Mandates Commission will meet again on the 20th of the present month, and the report by Australia upon her administration of her mandated territory during the past twelve months will then be submitted. The report of the Commission upon Australia’s administration of the Territory will subsequently be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations.
Honorable members will agree with me that from the point of view of Australia there could be no more unfortunate time than the present for making charges of this character. It is interesting to recall that similar articles to those which are now appearing were published twelve months ago, just prior to the last meeting of the Mandates Commission. Those articles -were signed by a Sydney business man, but on investigation it was found that he had spent only two days at Rabaul. and had obtained his information from various sources/ all of which scathingly condemned the administration. Those and other articles were forwarded anonymously to the President of the Mandates Commission, and it was proposed to circulate them amongst the memberg of the Commission. Fortunately for Australia the whole of the charges were refuted to the satisfaction of the Commission, and no serious results to Australia ensued, although for a time there was an atmosphere of very grave suspicion.
– Do not the Prime Minister’s remarks more particularly apply to Nauru?
– No. Last year, when the Australian delegates went to the League of Nations Assembly, which was held in September, they found that pamphlets making charges against Australia’s administration had ‘been broadcasted. All the representatives of the nations assembled at Geneva, except the Australian representatives, received copies of them. The pamphlets were printed in very large numbers, and of one of them as many as 30,000 copies were issued. They were signed by the “ League of German Patriots,” and contained extracts from Australian newspapers. la examining any statement made at such a time as the present, this Parliament, as a responsible body, should - make a judicial survey of the facta before accepting it as accurate. I do not suggest, that the articles that have appeared recently have been inspired, or that the gentleman who wrote them may not have been quite sincere, but I do suggest that much of the information obtained by him undoubtedly came from people who were deliberately assisting German propaganda.
The charges have unfortunately been ‘ made, and it is imperative, in view of the forthcoming, sitting of the Mandates Commission, that a reply should be given to them immediately. I propose to take the various charges and inform honorable members exactly of the position relating to them. I would* prefer, if it were possible, to make a full statement regarding the whole admini stration and the position of expropriated properties. I told the House recently that the Government had appointed a firm of accountants in New South Wales - Messrs. Yarwood and Co. - to investigate the transactions of the Expropriation Board, and that it was proposed to send to New Guinea their representative and a tropical expert, who would also report to the Government Upon >the physical condition of all the properties under the control of the Expropriation Board. That investigation has not yet taken place, and I am, therefore, unfortunately not in a (position to place its results before honorable members.
The Government is taking every action in its power to place the administration of the Territory on the best possible basis, and to insure that the Territory shall have not merely good, but the very best, government that it is possible to give it. In administering this Territory Australia is very much upon her trial, and it is necessary that we should show that we have inherited some of the traditions of which Great Britain has been proud for so many centuries, and which make her unrivalled in administering a native population and contributing to its welfare and advancement. Members of the Government in no way resent criticism of anything that has taken place in New Guinea, but, on the contrary, welcome it, provided that it is based on well authenticated facts which can assist us in discharging more efficiently the duty that lies to our hands. I shall put all the facts of the case before honorable members, so that they may realize what has been done, and may appreciate the grave difficulties with which the Government has been faced. During the military administration of the Territory, the German citizens, other than officials, remained there, and business generally was carried on by them with the assistance of a certain number of Australians, just as it had been prior .to 191-1. The only people who left the Territory immediately were the German officials, who, under the terms of the capitulation, were guaranteed a safe conduct to Germany. In the Peace Treaty power was given to expropriate the properties of German nationals in New Guinea, and also to deport such .persons from the Territory. The Commonwealth Government, when its mandate was received from the
League of Nations - and I remind honorable members that this mandatewas not received until May, 1921, notwithstanding that the war had ceased in November, 1918 - established, a civil administration, and action, was taken in regard to expropriated German properties. The- Expropriation Board has administered the properties since- it was established. Action having been taken to secure the mandate for Australia, it became imperative that the Government should find the personnel necessary to carry on the management and control of expropriated properties, and also that it should find an efficient Civil Service to administer the Territory, and in particular to safeguard the welfare of the natives, which was our primary obligation under the mandate. It is not; ‘I think, surprising that Australia experienced very great difficulty in finding a suitable personnel for the administration of a tropical country with a large native population. We ‘have never had a similar task placed on our shoulders. We were also faced with a similar difficulty in regard to the management of tropical plantations. We had very few people in Australia with the experience and qualifications necessary to really efficiently handle the situation. The Government of the day had a most difficult task, and I think, generally speaking, the people of Australia will indorse their actions in dealing with it. The administrative staff for carrying on the work in connexion- with the expropriated properties was chosen mainly from the personnel of the Australian Imperial Force, and particularly from those who had been sent to New Guinea.. They were, practically without exception, returned soldiers who had taken part in the war. I propose to deal at some length with the administration of the expropriated properties, and I would ask honorable members to bear in mind that we were faced with a very big task in taking control. It is not suggested that there were not mistakes made, and I .am not prepared to suggest that there is not room for improvement now, but I most certainly say that in view of the enormous handicaps imposed on us when we took over the Territory the Board has done reasonably well, and the position is certainly much more satisfactory than the criticisms which have been made would lead the people of Australia to believe it to be. I shall deal seriatim with the statements which have been made, and I think the House will agree that it is necessary for me to do so. One of the most serious statements is this -
The Administrator states that he is “ a mere trustee, powerless, except in matters of routine, by reason of the failure of the Federal Government and the League to establish a definite policy . in regard to the important questions of the Territory.”
The- first .fact to be noted is that the Administrator himself denies that he ever said anything of the sort. Thesecond fact is that the statement itself is untrue. There has been no failure to lay down a definite policy for the Territory. With the exception of two matters to which I shall refer presently, the whole policy has been laid down, and the whole system of government has been, established. Eighty-eight Ordinances have been ‘passed since the Civil Administration took control. There are only two important matters outstanding. One of these relates to land transfers, and it presents extraordinary difficulties. I want the House to know what some of those difficulties are. Under the German law, titles to property were registered in what was called . a ground-book, but no record was made in that register of any native rights that might exist with regard to the land registered. There were innumerable rights which the natives had acquired from time to time, and there were reservations on the titles of which no record had been kept. One of the most important duties of the Administration is to preserve the rights of the natives, and it was found, with respect to an enormous number of registered titles that appeared at first sight to present not the slightest difficulty so far as ordinary transfers were concerned, that a large number of questions had to be settled before anything could be done. Action had to be taken to insure that the native rights in .properties were preserved when a transfer was made. That is the reason why there has been considerable delay and very great difficulty in laying down the basis on which transfers would be effected. We had to get the position clarified before we could act. The other matter in which there has been delay is in the making of an Ordinance regulating the searching for oil. That requires an amendment of the Mines Ordinance. This matter has been held up for the reason that the Government, as honorable members know, had the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s experts endeavouring to locate oil in the Territory. It was only on 30th June of this year that the Government decided that, save in one particular area, they would throw the land open and issue licences to search for oil. This Ordinance is now practically ready and should be proclaimed shortly. Save in those two instances, there has been no serious delay in finalizing matters. The next criticism is -
Th ere is no policy, and the Administrator has no power.
The Administrator cannot have power to legislate, nor could he have power even if he had a Council. The Territory can be administered only within the terms of the mandate, and those terms can be altered only by the League of Nations. As the mandate exists to-day, no authority can legislate for the Territory of New Guinea other than theParliament of Australia. All the powers that could be given to the Administrator under the mandate have been given to him. There are twenty different subjects dealt with under the Administrator’s Powers Ordinance of 1921, and in regard to them the. Administrator has full power to act on his own initiative and judgment. The next charge is -
The Administrator “ cannot even compel the acceptance of his advice on the qualifications of the public servants who are to work under him.” He had the greatest difficulty in having a medical standard of fitness established.
That is not so. The advice of the Administrator as to the qualifications of the public servants to be sent to New Guinea has been taken on every occasion, and when the Administrator himself has beeu in Melbourne he has had an opportunity to interview the applicants for the various positions. The personnelon the administrative side has been recruited from all the States of Australia, and the work has been done through the Public Service Commissioner. The eelect:ons have been made by one of his officers. It would be impossible for the Administrator to choose his staff in the way which it has been suggested, unless either he stayed permanently in Australia, or we sent all the applicants for positions in New Guinea to the Territory for the Administrator to make his selections. When one reads the charge quickly something seems wrong, but the least examination shows that there is really nothing wrong at all. I assure the House that the Administrator’s advice and that of his officers has been taken, and there has been no attempt to send to New Guinea public servants of a class not suited for the work they will be called upon to perform. We have experienced the greatest difficulty in getting men with the qualifications and experience necessary for a tropical service dealing with a large native population, and the Government appreciates the necessity, if Australia is to continue to be the mandatory power of this Territory and to live up to the traditions of administration laid down by Great Britain in connexion with all her colonies, of having some method of training a suitablepersonnel for this ser vice. We have under consideration proposals for giving those desirous of qualifying for this service an opportunity of gaining the education and experience necessaryto fit them for the work they will have to carry out.
The other half of this charge is -
The medical standard of fitness which the Administrator desired has not been adhered to by the Government.
The facts are stated by the Administrator in this cabled message to the Government -
As regards medical standard merely mentioned in conversation that objections were first raised by doctors and individuals in Australia to comprehensive nature our form for medical examination, but these objections were silenced by fact that our form merely copy of Australian Mutual Provident Society form. Government created no difficulty this matter of control, promptly adopted form on my explanation.
Honorable members will see that that charge has no basis of fact. No man is sent to the Territory to undertake Government work until he has been subjected to the most searching medical examination.
The next charge is -
Rabaul is governed from Melbourne with whatsoever flotsam and jetsam in the way of humanity Melbourne cares to send up for the purpose.
To many of these statements I object only because they are inaccurate, and because,
I think the author of them may have been misled; but to this one I take the gravest possible exception. It is a phrase that might have been framed merely to create an effect; but it is a gross libel on. the men sent to the Territory, is most unfair, and has no justification in fact. The New Guinea service has been recruited from returned soldiers in Australia, and the Government have done everything possible to see that the men sent there are of a type suited to the work that has to be performed. The conduct of these men since they have been in the Mandated Territories is such as to prove this criticism most unfair, and T personally regret very much that it has been made. It must discount to a great extent the whole of the criticism that has been offered, for it appears to have been written to create an impression, and with a reckless disregard’ of the facts of the case.
Another charge is -
Drinking and gambling was excessive, and there was much gambling between officials and Chinese at Rabaul.
We have communicated with the Administrator with regard to that statement, and he denies it. He says -
There is no more gambling amongst the white residents than is usual in any community, and the police emphatically state that there is practically no gambling among white officials and Chinese.
The Administrator’s statement is couched in language which must commend itself to honorable members. He might simply have cabled that nobody gambles in the ‘ Territory under his administration, but such a denial would not carry conviction to the average mind. He has stated his case frankly and fairly. He says that the position is quite normal and that the police declare that there is no gambling between officials and Chinese.
A further charge is -
The number in the employ of the Government is excessive.
The facts are that the present administrative establishment comprises 185 officers, plus 36 who are not subject to the Public Service Ordinance. The staff was reported upon by a Public Service Inspector who proceeded to the Territory in 1922, and the present staff is based upon his recommendations. The German administration in 1913 included a staff of 135 officials, but it must be remembered that many functions are carried out by the administration to-day that were not considered by the Germans when they were administering the Territory. Having regard to our primary obligation under the mandate to care for the well-being of the natives we are taking all steps possible to educate and instruct them. We provide for their technical education and general training, and particular care is being given to their health. Those services require a larger staff than would be necessary if the Government did not realize a serious obligation towards the native in his own territory. I do not suggest that there are not more civil servants in New Guinea than are necessary, but was there ever a State in which there was not probably an excessive number of civil servants? That charge is always made ; it may be true in regard to New Guinea, but it is one of the functions of the Government to ascertain the facts of the case, and if the Territory is over-staffed to take action accordingly. In view of all the ascertained facts, and particularly having regard to the fact that a Public Service Inspector went to New Guinea last year and investigated this matter, there is certainly no ground for a serious charge against Australia’s administration under the mandate.
Another charge is -
Hospitals are run by the Government, and quite near were others controlled by the Board, and this condition obtains all over the Territory.
That is not true. In fifteen places hospitals are conducted by the Administration, but in only three of those, namely, Rabaul, Kaewiegi and Lorungan is there duplication, in that at each there is also a hospital conducted by the Expropriation Board. It is obligatory upon every employer in the Territory who has 100 or more employees to provide a hospital, and, if he has 500 employees, a medical officer also. For that reason a large number of hospitals is conducted in different parts of the Territory by the Expropriation Board, but the Administration has only fifteen such establishments, and at only three places is there duplication.
Consideration was given to the question whether it would be advisable to close the Board’s hospitals, but it was thought desirable to keep them open, because if they have their own hospitals the authorities can better control the natives. But the position is being re-examined. We have ascertained, however, that the charge of duplication applies in only three instances, and there are grave doubts whether there should not be duplication in thoseplaces. As I have just stated, there is an obligation on planters employing 100 or more natives tomaintain a hospital, and if the expropriated properties are disposed of, the same obligation will rest upon the new owners. The next charge is -
The Botanical Gardens at Rabaul are riddled with diseases.
We cabled the Administrator on this point, and his reply is as follows: -
Ellis did not see either the director of the gardensor the gardener when he was in the gardens. Am informed he was seen in the gardens in company with a German, who probably was responsible for exaggerated statement. Only cocoa trees are slightly affected.No other disease in garden.
Another charge made by Mr. Ellis was -
The catalogue of the museumwas defective.
The Administrator replies that there is no catalogue at all. What Mr. Ellis saw was a number of rough books, used merely to record articles as received. The catalogue is now in course of preparation. Still another charge made by Mr. Ellis was -
The telephone system at Rabaul is defective.
– Why waste the time of the House with these matters?
– I quite agree with the honorable member for South Sydney, but I have nearly finished. I merely wish to add a word or two, and then summarize the position. Replying to the charge against the telephone system at Rabaul, the Administrator states -
System worked on earth circuit. Consequently not so good as metallic circuit. It is, however, quite reasonably effective, and would cost £4,000 to convert. Probably few similar communities have a telephone system at all. I propose to convert when I can spare the money. Many more important thingsneeded.
There are a number of other charges, but I do not wish to weary honorable members with a further recital of them. I emphasize, however, that we have taken the trouble to examine them all, and have been furnished with statements as to the exact position.
– Who is Ellis?
– He lives in Sydney, and wrote a series of articles for the Daily Telegraph.These articles have been reprinted in many newspapers inAustralia. I understand that Mr. Ellis went round the islands on a vessel, and was there for about a fortnight or three weeks. Two of the charges made by him are very grave indeed, and in view of our position under the mandate, the Government propose to takecertain action withregard to them. These charges are -
Forced Government labour has been the order ofthe day for a longtime. In some cases those who have been forced to labour receive no pay, and at other times an amount less than that prescribed in the Native LabourOrdinance.
The police boys and plantation ownershave been in the habit of flogging the natives.
These charges are very serious. Throughout the period of administration the : Government have laid it down that there must be no forced labour, and that the natives must not be flogged. TheAdministrator, in his annual report, issued last January, said that there was no forced labour except for clearing purposes, for which the Native Labour Ordinances make provision. We have been absolutely unable to get evidence supporting these charges, but the Government take such a grave view of the allegations that we propose immediately to send an independent personto make an inquiry to ascertain if there is the slightest foundation for these statements. I am unable, at the moment, to give the name ofthe gentleman who has been invited to carry out this inquiry, as I have not yet received his definite reply, but I may say that he is an ex-police magistrate of the very highest reputation, and thoroughly competent to weigh evidence.
That is the position. I venture to say that the charges contained in the articles referred to cannot be substantiated, and that Australia need not be apprehensive of her good name in the eyes of the world when all the facts are known.
There are also many charges concerning the expropriated properties, andI would like to recapitulate briefly the circumstances leading up to the creation of the Expropriation Board. The Board was established when the plantations were taken over from the civil administration, and, of course, after the Mandate had been received. In the terms ofthe Peace Treaty, we had power to expropriate the property of German nationals and to deport them. The Government of the day decided that the German nationals should be deported. It is now suggested that that policy was wrong, and that the Germans should have been allowed to remain in New Guinea. I ask honorable members to get the facts before they express an opinion definitely upon that matter. Under the Mandate the right is reserved to the native population to appeal against the Mandatory Power. If the Germans had stayed to manage the plantations^ is it not likely that they, with all their powers of insidious propaganda, would have fomented such trouble amongst the native population that we should have found ourselves in a most serious position? I am not arguing that the expropriation of these properties, and the sending of the Germans out of the country was right or wrong ; I am merely mentioning some matters that honorable members should consider before coming to the conclusion that it was wrong: The duty of the Board was to maintain the plantations, to attend the matured trees, and rear the immature trees to the bearing stage. It was not their duty to administer the plantations indefinitely, but to maintain their physical condition and to dispose of them. That is the work the Board has been endeavouring to carry ‘ out. An attempt was made some little time ago to dispose of properties. A great many were advertised, but the response was very poor indeed, and practically no sales were effected. There is hope, however, that the position may improve in the not far distant future.
Several charges “have been madewith regard to the present condition of the properties, and one specific charge refers to the treatment of certain individuals. I do not propose to deal with the charges in detail, but merely say that they are open to the gravest suspicion. The whole of the information appears to have come from German nationals who are still in the Territory, and whose claims to retain their properties are at present under consideration. In these circumstances, the Germans affected will naturally take any but an impartial view of “the position. ^Complaints are made about the treatment of some of the Germans who have appealed against expropriation, and are now await ing the determination of their cases. One complaint is that the Commonwealth Government is not giving these people reasonable sustenance, and it was alleged that a man named Schwartz, who had been dispossessed of his plantation by the Board, has since December been living . in the most squalid surroundings. When this person was dispossessed of his plantation, a returned soldier was placed in charge of it, and the expropriation is now the subject of appeal. As a matter of fact, the Government is allowing this man 15s. a day, which, on the evidence we have, is ample to enable a man to live in reasonable and decent comfort in Rabaul. If he is living in squalid circumstances, there is absolutely no reason for the fact, so far as the Government is concerned. Another charge is that the allowance of 15s. a day is debited to the expropriated properties. That is quite untrue. This sustenance expenditure is a charge against the revenue of the Commonwealth, and not against the properties. Australia, has treated German Nationals not only fairly, hut generously. In addition to an ample sustenance allowance, every precaution has ‘been taken by means of a special Appeal Board to prevent any injustice or hardship. In view of our ‘actions, therefore, these . are charges under which Australia cannot remain silent.
As to the condition of these properties, their production and so forth, there are some, interesting- facts that should be laid before the House, so that honorable members may form some idea of the position pending the full statement which the Government will be able to present as a result of the special investigation we are’ making into the activities of the Expropriation Board. Copra, of course, is the chief product of the Territory, and in 1913 14,000 tons were exported, and in the twelve months, 1921-22, 25,894 tons. The Expropriation Board’ controls the major portion of the properties, and it is clear that there must be some reasonable production, or there could not be such quantities of copra available for export. In 1914 the area under cultivation was- 84,000 acres, and in 1921.-22 it was 168,000, or exactly twice as much. The Government, eis I have said, is having, a special investigation made of the whole conduct and management of the plantations by the Board. I cannot anticipate the result of the inquiry, but I say, without hesitation, that a number of the statements that are being made at the present time are obviously and grossly exaggerated. I have here a letter written by Mr. George Fulton, manager of Levers’ Pacific Plantations. The Lever Company has a great number of coconut areas throughout the Islands, and Mr. Fulton, who was in Rabaul late last year, wrote the following : -
During my visit to the Territory of the late German New Guinea, I inspected a large number of plantations under the control of the Expropriation Board in New Britain, New Guinea, Witu Islands, and New Ireland, and from the stand-point of the practical planter these, with few exceptions, were being well cared for as regards pests and diseases, and were being maintained in good order and condition as regards weeds and grass. Any exception to this general condition was usually due to lack of labour to do the work, and the neglected condition of the property when handed over to the Board by their former German owners. I saw no change in the manner in which these plantations are being maintained today compared with eight years ago, when I visited the Territory with Lord Leverhulme.
I have another letter written by Mr. Staniforth Smith, Director of Agriculture in Papua, who recently visited the Territory -
I saw a considerable number of plantations controlled by the Expropriation Board, and I congratulate you on their appearance. The management seemed to be quite satisfactory, and, considering the new material you had to handle, the results are surprisingly good. I also compared the plantations along the north road with their condition when I was there eighteen months ago, and noticed a great improvement.
I am not trying to prejudice information we may receive in the future when the whole situation is examined. We are sending a tropical expert to New Guinea to examine the physical condition of the properties, and when his report is available we shall know the facts with exactitude, and not only as presented by the Board, which might be said to have an interest in conveying the idea that everything is right. But there is sufficient evidence now to show that the position cannot be anything like what it is represented in many quarters. It is only fair to point out that the Board has met great difficulties in its attempts to administer these properties and maintain them on a sound financial basis. In September, 1920, just before the properties were taken over, copra was £40 a ton, but by April, 1921, the price had dropped to £18 10s. There is a slight revival now, and some indications’ that the position, as regards price, will improve, and the output will certainly substantially increase as the trees come into bearing. It is important to remember in dealing with this question, .that after the cessation of hostilities the German planters then on the properties, in anticipation of certain events which they thought would happen, planted a great number of young trees. These have not yet come into’ bearing, but have had to be attended to, and this has been a great financial strain upon the Expropriation Board.
I wish to remind honorable members that the very greatest caution should be observed in accepting any criticisms of the position in the Mandated Territories. The Germans held these Territories, and are determined, if by any possible means that can be achieved, to get them back. In opening my remarks, I indicated clearly that last year there certainly was a deliberate effort made by the Germans to prejudice the position of Australia, not merely in the eyes of the Mandate Commission to whom reports of the administration have to be made, or of the Council of the League, but of every nation that is a member of the League of Nations, by a propaganda which they carried out just prior to the meeting of the Assembly of the League last year. The evidence I have given should make honorable members very careful about the statements they will accept, unless they have the fullest evidence that those statements are absolutely correct.
I wish to make it perfectly clear that the Government have no objection to the fullest investigation of every phase of its administration in New Guinea. If there is anything wrong it- must be put right. This is a matter which completely transcends any differences we may have amongst ourselves in Australia. A matter which affects the ordinary administration of the Commonwealth may involve merely the fate of a Government and its good name, which in a relative sense may not matter very much, but this particular question involves the reputation and good name of Australia. We must see if we cannot insure that in this Mandated Territory we do not merely provide good government, but the very best government that is possible. The Government to-day is taking steps to find out everything possible with regard to the present state of the administration, the position of the plantations, and every circumstance affecting the welfare of New Guinea. It is proposed that, as soon as the House rises, a Minister shall visit the Territory and investigate the whole position on the spot, on behalf of the Government. In addition, the Government desires that this House should have the fullest information about what is its own territory and its own responsibility. In order that it may have that information, the Government proposes that a delegation from this House, comprising members of every party in it, should take advantage of the recess that is before us to go to New Guinea, when every possible opportunity will be afforded to investigate any matter affecting the administration. The Government is hopeful that this delegation, after visiting New Guinea, will draw up a report, and submit any suggestions it is desired to make as to the means by which the carrying out of our Mandate may be improved. I have put the position in this way because I realize that it is the responsibility of the Government to see that this Territory is properly administered. We do not wish to put any part of that responsibility on to a Committee of this House, a Royal Commission, or any one else, but we invite honorable members to become members of the proposed delegation to the Territory, see it for themselves, and make any representations they please to the Government. The responsibility will then rest with the Government to carry out those recommendations, or, if they do not, to bear the burden of having failed to give effect to them.
I have outlined the position at present, and I appeal to honorable members on both sides to realize the paramount importance of. this question to Australia, to recognise that our good name is at stake, and to be very chary about accepting statements made as to the position in New Guinea. Above all, I appeal to them to do nothing by their own actions or speeches to aid the Germans in what is undoubtedly an insidious propaganda to blacken Australia’s good name, and to have the Mandate for the administration of New Guinea taken away from us.
- (By leave.) - I shall not trespass upon the indulgence of the House further than to say that this is a very important question indeed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was careful to preface his remarks by stating that it is a matter which gravely concerns, not only the Commonwealth, but also other nations. He has asserted that the statements that have appeared from time to time from the pen of a Mr. Ellis are really without foundation. May I say that gentlemen of repute, in no way connected with the Germans, have corroborated much of what Mr. Ellis has written.
Mr.Foster. - And very many others say the very opposite.
– That may be, and they may be right for anything I know, but this is a matter of vital concern to Australia as a nation, and we have a right to probe the charges made to the very bottom. The fair name of Australia is at stake. The Prime Minister rightly stated that last year, when the Assembly of the League of Nations met, this matter was brought very prominently before it.
– And it needed to be.
– Yes, and it will be brought very prominently before the next meeting of the Assembly, because the criticism is much more severe now than it was twelve months ago. In view of this, I am doubtful whether the position as outlined by the Prime Minister will be satisfactory to the representatives of the nations who will assemble for the next Conference. The right honorable gentleman’s statement is a categorical denial of the charges that have been made, but it must not be forgotten that the information furnished to him comes from persons directly interested. For this reason, the Prime Minister would be acting wisely if he despatched four members of this House, two from each side, to New Guinea immediately in order to investigate the position thoroughly, so that by the time the Assembly of the League of Nations meets we shall be in possession of unbiased information concerning these charges. The arrangements which the Government have made cannot be considered entirely satisfactory. It may be all very well to send an expert in tropical matters to look into certain things, but he will not be in a position to investigate the whole of the ramifications of government.
– He will not have anything to do with the administrative side of the question.
– That would not be expected. Another proposal is to send an ex-police magistrate to deal with some of the charges that have been made. What should be done to clear our name, and put ourselves right in the eyes of the people of the world, is to send members to New Guinea immediately to investigate the charges, so that our representatives, when they go to the meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations, will be in a position to put before it the facts supplied by a Committee of this House.
I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the importance of this matter, he will give the House an opportunity to discuss it at a later stage in the session ?
– There will be many opportunities. I will discuss it with the honorable gentleman.
– I accept that promise. I hope that some opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the matter. If the Prime Minister will agree to send a Committee of two honorable members from each side to investigate the charges that have been made, I think the House will await with confidence their report. I repeat with all the emphasis I can that, in view of the statements that have been made, the fact that the Prime Minister has submitted statements in reply from interested parties will not satisfy the public conscience in regard to this matter. The charges should be probed to the very bottom in order that we may preserve the good name and fame of this country in the eyes of other nations.
– I desire to make a personal explanation with regard to a paragraph which appeared in Smith’s Weekly of 11th July, wherein it is alleged that I stated that my Leader, last session, was continually blackening the character of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), and that this session he was blackening his boots. We are accustomed to the misrepresentation of the press, whichis nothing new, hut the statement to which I take exception is absolutely without foundation. I did not interject at any time whilst my Leader was speaking on the censure motion is such a. way as the paragraph I have referred to suggests. In this case the bounds of decency have been overstepped by the correspondent sending the statement to the newspaper, and doubly overstepped by the proprietors of the newspaper in printing such malicious rot.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether he will will supply information as to what have been the profits of the Commonwealth Store at Port Augusta, and operating along the East-West railway.
– The amount of profit derived from the provision store business in connexion with the TransAustralian railway varies from year to year. The object of establishing these stores was not for the purpose of making a profit, but sothat the men employed might obtain necessities at as low a cost as practicable, and it was agreed with the representatives of the employees that the ratescharged should be in accordance with the prices in the newspaper, The Grocer. published monthly in Adelaide. The operation of the stores has been such that the employees throughout the whole length of ihe line purchase their commodities at Adelaide prices or lower.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he explain re the fruit “pool” what is the explanation re my charges made on Friday, the 29th June!
– I have had this matter looked into, and find that on the 14th June last the honorable member asked, “What position intheCommonwealth Service or theCommonwealth Fruit Pooldoes Mr. Ennis occupy? “ The answer given was that Mr. Ennis occupies no position in the Commonwealth Service. This statement is true in fact, as Mr. Ennis isnot on the permanent or temporary staff of the Commonwealth Service. It was further stated in answer to the question that Mr. Ennis was at present assisting the selling organization in London in disposing of the stocks of canned fruits held there. On the 27 th June it was stated, in answer to a further question by the honorable member, that Mr. Ennis is at present employed by the Commonwealth, and is assistingthe selling organization in London. This answer has evidently led to some slight misunderstanding. Mr. Ennis is being paid from the commission gained by the selling organization from the sale of Commonwealth canned fruits. He is under the control and direction of the High Commissioner in London as long as his services are required there by the selling organization. The allowance of £100 per month which is paid to Mr. Ennis is a charge against the selling- commission of 2 per cent. payable to ihe organization selling the fruit, and the other expenditure in connexion with Mr. Ennis is a charge against the Fruit Pool. I very much regret if any misunderstanding has arisen on the matter, and can assure the honorable member that the information furnished is accurate.
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that -
Combing, Spinning, and Weaving Company, under contract for the manufacture ofwool tops, the same share of profits in such wool as if it had formed part of the wool sold to the Imperial Government?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes. 3, 4, and 5. As T have just intimated, the amount payable has not yet been ascertained to the satisfaction of the Government.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Payment of Probate and Succession Duty
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The market price for stock and bonds accepted as payment for probate and succession duty could be ascertained only by extracting from the daily papers thevarying prices of each loan in each of the capital cities on nearly every day during the period of five years ended 30th June, 1922. Verymuchlabourwould be involved, also, in extracting particulars of the description of stock and bonds accepted and the date of acceptance, and in making calculations as to the accrued interest. For these reasons I regret the information asked for cannot be given.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will inform the House -
How many officers in the Permanent Forces are in receipt of command pay in addition to their salaries?
What is the amount of command pay that is paid to the different officers?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Yes, under certain conditions.: -
Provided that a pension shall not be payable under this section to any person who is not bond fide resident in Australia.
Section 46 also provides for the eligibility of the Army Medical Corps Nursing Service under similar conditions. 2. (a) In regard to section 45, ruling 21 was issued on the 8th August, 1916. This ruling reads as follows: -
Ruling No. 21.
Section 45. (8th August, 1916.)
Pensions under this section are only payable to bond fide residents of Australia; the Crown Solicitor is of opinion that a person who is a bond fide resident in Australia would not cease to be a bond fide resident merely because ho or she temporarily left Australia to pay a visit to some other country, and the Commonwealth war pension would be payable during such temporary absence. The case would be different if he or she left Australia without intending to return. The opinion is also expressed that such a pensioner who ceases to be a bond fide resident of Australia could have his or her pension resumed if he or she again became a bond fide resident of Australia.
Subject: Proof of Domicilein Australia - Section 46 (2) (c) and (d) of Act.
The Commission has decided that the words “before his enlistment or appointment for service resided in the Commonwealth “, or similar words as used in section 46 (2) (c) and (d) of the Act shall be deemed to mean that the soldier must have had a home or fixed place of abode in the Commonwealth at least within twelve months before the war.
The spirit of the section of the Act is to provide for those Australians who, at the outbreak of war, found themselves away from Australia, and consequently enlisted in the British or nearest Dominion Forces. A person merely visiting Australia at some time previous to the war for business or health reasons, and who had a temporary residence inAustralia, would not be considered eligible, neither would a person who left Australia some years before the war with the express intention of permanently settling abroad.
A Deputy Commissioner may, in the light of these directions, determine eligibility of applicants for assistance in Australia without referring the case to the Commission. The proofs required by a Deputy Commissioner in support of applications shall be a statutory declaration by applicant as to the date and period of residence in Australia, supported by a birth certificate or a declaration by some reliable person in the Commonwealth.
Where a Deputy Commissioner considers that there are special circumstances relating to a case which prevent its beingdealt with under a strict reading of this ruling, the case may be remitted to the Commission for consideration as a special case, but it is to be understood that the mere fact that any particular case docs not appear to be provided for would not in itself justify the forwarding of such a case to the Commission for special consideration, as it is the Commission’s intention to treat only those cases which come within the spirit of this ruling as special cases.
– On 6th July the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) asked the following questions, upon notice -
In view of the statements made by the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Massy Greene) in the Tar iff debate 1922, Mansard No. 74, pages 9061 and 9062, will the Minister supply the following information: -
The totalnumber of men actually employed in the manufacture of reapers and binders and mowers in Australia ?
How many of these menare returned soldiers?
Will he supply the names of the firms engaged in the manufacture of these implements in Australia, together with the number of completed machines turned out by each manufacturer?
What is each firm’s cost of production for binders and mowers?
What is the selling price for cash f.o.r. place of manufacture ?
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
In Committee (Consideration resumed’ from 10th July, vide page 871) :
Clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The head office of the Line shall be at such place as the Governor-General, by notice in the Gazette, directs.
.- I move -
That all the words after “ be “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ situated in Australia, and the Chairman of the Board shall reside in Australia during the period of his appointment. “ 2. All snips held or acquired by the Board shall be registered in Australia.”
The object of the amendment is to give the Committee an opportunity of deciding where the head office of the Line shall be. The question was fully debated on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I think it was generally admitted by honorable members that it would be advantageous to have the head office of the Line in Australia. In the past the head office has been situated in Great Britain. As we are eliminating political influence from the management of the tine, it becomes all the more important that the head office should be in this country. Primary producers and manufacturers who are interested in the export of produce or manufactured goods would then be able to place their views directly before the Board. As the clause stands the Governor-General might, on the advice of the Government, decide that the head office should be in one of the States of Australia, but, on the other hand, he might decide that it should be abroad. It would not be in the best interests of the Line to have the office abroad. So far as is humanly possible the Line should be made an Australian shipping line. The head office should be in this country; only Australian seamen, or seamen domiciled in Australia, should be employed on the ships ; and the Chairman of the Board should reside in Australia, and should know something of Australian conditions. Well qualified men might be obtained from abroad, but men of equal qualifications might be available in Australia. If a man could be found in Australiafullyqualified to carry the great responsibility of managing the Line, why should he not be given au opportunity? Other things being equal, the appointment of an Australian would be of advantage to the people of this country and to the Line. I also want the ships to be registered in Australia, and the conditions set out in Australian industrial awards to be observed on them. We should aim at creating an Australian sentiment concerning the Line and we can do that only by having the head office iu this country, by compelling the Chairman of the Board to reside here, by registering the ships here, and by stipulating that all work in connexion with the Line shall be carried out, as far as possible, in this country. It is necessary to make provision to that effect in the Bill. Let theParliament decide where the head office is to be. Otherwise this. Government may locate it in Australia, but another Government might shift it elsewhere. It is far better that the location of the head office should be under the control of the Parliament. Certainly the consent of Parliament should be obtained before the office is shifted. This isa matter which does not require very much argument. I hope the Prime Minister will accept the amendment, and also that he will agree to the chairman of the Board residing in Australia, and to the registration of all the tonnage in Australia. It is a reasonable amendment, and will make for the future success of the Line. In regard to this and other amendments, which may be moved from this side of the Chamber, I assure the Prime Minister that our only object is to improve the measure. We have already given him credit for continuing the Line, and now we want to make it both an Australian and a paying concern. We have no desire whatever to injure the measure. We want the Line to succeed.
– I quite understand what is in the mind of the honorable gentleman in moving this amendment, but there are one or two facts that I must mention. I am prepared to accept the proposal that the head office of the Line shall be in the Commonwealth. It is, and always has been, the intention of the
Government to establish the head office in Australia, and we want the Line to be. managed and controlled from Australia. I cannot accept the second part of the amendment, however. The chairman of the Board obviously will have to reside in Australia. If the head office is here the greater part of his time will have to be spent here.
– That is all I desire.
– The reason why I cannot accept the latter part of the amendment is because the words “ reside in Australia “ may cause some legal difficulty. If the head office of the Line is in Australia the principal duties of the chairman of the Board will be here, but he will certainly have to make frequent visits to Great Britain.
– I admit that.
– There is not the slightest objection on our part to having the head office here. But the chairman of the Board will not be able to spend the whole of his time here. As to the registration in Australia of all the tonnage, the position to-day is that all the vessels, with the exception of the “ exenemy “ boats, are registered here. There are legal difficulties in connexion with the “ ex-enemy “ vessels. I do not want to go into the wholeposition, but the hard fact is that we cannot register them in Australia. They are on the British register, and they must stay there. The intention of the Government is that the Commonwealth Line shall be Australian. When we have no longer an Australian overseas mercantile marine the Line will cease to exist. If the conditions which prevail in A.ustralia are such that the Line cannot be carried on, then it must discontinue. We desire to establish this Line on the best possible basis. It is to be an Australian Line, manned by Australian sailors, and worked under Australian conditions. If that cannot . be done, it will be the end of the Line. I accept the first part of the amendment, and if it will meet the wishes of the honorable members opposite, will insert the words” in the Commonwealth.”
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to-
That after the word “ place” the words”in the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
– We cannot register these vessels in Australia. I do not want to worry the Committee with details. There has been trouble in connexion with these ex-enemy vessels during a. number of years. There was a Disposals Board appointed in Great Britain to get rid of them. There are grave doubts even now as to the exact procedure ‘to be followed, but in Australia we put the proceeds of any sale into a trust account for whoever may be concerned. The enemy vessels are on the British register, and they must stay there. The technical difficulty in the way of transfer is insuperable.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 -
.- Will the Prime Minister have the word “ commissioners “ inserted instead of “ directors “? If we use the term “ directors, “ the gentlemen appointed may consider that they have to act primarily as directors, whereas if we use the word “ commissioners “ it will be understood better, perhaps, that they are placed in charge, and will be looked upon to discharge duties additional to those usually discharged by directors, and that they will have the control of the various departments. It is merely a question of terms, but “ commissioners “ would be more appropriate.
– If the honorable member proposed “managing directors” that would make the title quite clear.
.- I move -
That after the word” members,” line 3, the words “ and shall include a representative of the industrial unions whose members are engaged on the ships held or acquired by the Board “be inserted.
Three members are, I think, necessary for this Board or Commission, but I hope the proposal that a representative of the workers shall be added to the number will be agreed to. I stated last night management and all those who man the boats. It is for that reason that we ask th at the organizations of which the employees of the Line are members should have the right to elect a representative on the Board of Directors. And he must be a man chosen by the workers themselves, because they would have less faith in a nominee of the Government. I do not suggest that the Government should be bound to accept one particular man nominated by the unions; they might be given the right to choose from a number of men so nominated. This request is reasonable, and the granting of it will make for the success of the Line.
– I appreciate very clearly the view which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has stated. His amendment is designed to insure the smooth working of the Line, and the avoidance of stoppages of work for no real cause, but simply because of mutual lack of trust between the parties. I agree with the principle of giving representation to the employees on Boards controlling large industrial concerns, so that the workers may have some confidence in the management and feel assured of a fair deal. If the Shipping Directorate were a Board of that character there would be no insuperable obstacle to the appointment of a representative of the workers; but it is not a Board such as those upon which the unions have been given representation from time to time. This Bill is creating three managing directors or commissioners, whose respective spheres of activity will be clearly defined. They will be fulltime officers each controlling his own department of the industry; therefore, representation of the workers on such a Board would not be at all analogous to representation on other industrial bodies thatmeet once a week or once a fortnight and exercise merely general advisory or supervisory control. I am quite as anxious as are honorable members opposite to arrive at some understanding which will insure that industrial disputes shall be avoided. The matter has been already discussed by the Government, and we have decided that after the members of the Board’ are appointed, and before the ships are actually transferred to their control they, and representatives of the unions interested in the industry, shall be invited to confer with me with a view to discovering, if possible, a basis upon which disputes in connexion with the Line can be adjusted internally through representatives of the Board and the workers in the industry. We might be able to arrive at a definite basis upon which all disputes can be referred to such a tribunal before they reach the stage of a stoppage of work or open turmoil. So far as an internal arrangement of that kind can be made, the Government will offer no objection to equitable representation being given to the employees in the industry, but, having regard to the peculiar character of the Commission or Directorate, direct representation of the workers upon that body is not an appropriate means of trying to insure industrial peace in connexion with the Line.
.- I am sorry that the Prime Minister has not excepted the amendment; because the success of the Line will depend very largely upon the relations that are maintained between the management and the employees. In the past most of the stoppages of work have been due to very minor disputes. Some of them were mere pin-pricks, but the nature of their occupation makes seamen very ready to resent anything that appears to them to be unjust. A representative on the Board who understood the industrial conditions of the men, and had worked amongst them, would be able to do much to clear away misunderstandings. A prolific cause of industrial unrest is the fact that the management do not understand intimately the conditions obtaining in the industry, and the personal view-point oE the men. The Prime Minister is mistaken in thinking that it will be sufficient to appoint a representative of the employees to a Disputes Board.Such a Board can operate only after a dispute has arisen. What is required is a means of preventing disputes rather than of settling them. There should be on the directorate a man who understands the workers, and how to talk to them, and offers to them some guarantee of a fair deal. I hope honorable members will not vote on this amendment upon purely party lines. Theproposal is in the interests of the Shipping Line, and it will certainly be to theadvantage of the primary producers, whose goods the ships w ill carry, that the Line shall operate without friction between the management and the workers.
– This proposal will help a little.
– There is no doubt about that. Having had many years’ experience of industrial unionism, I know tow troubles have arisen, and how easily they might h-.ve been avoided. Many 8 serious dispute is brought about by tactlessness on the part of some officer or manager who is out of sympathy with the
Ken. Give the seamen a representative who will understand the industry from their point of view. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Yarra is rather too restricted, because the representation for which he asks will be confined to those who are engaged on the ships. The industry covers, not merely tl. e running of the ships, but shipbuilding and kindred occupations, and I suggest to the honorable member that the amendment should be altered to provide for a representative of “industrial unions engaged in the industry.”
– Would the honorable member’s suggestion include the wharf labourers ?
– Probably it would, but at any rate it would insure a wider field of selection. There may not bb amongst one class of unions a man with the necessary qualifications to represent the workers, on the Board, but in Borne kindred unions there may be a man eminently fitted for the post, and it is of vital importance to the industry that the best possible man for the position should be appointed.
.- I believe the adoption of the amendment will make for the smooth working of the industry and prevent many of those industrial disputes which, as we have learned from experience,’ are due largely to misunderstandings between those engaged in an industry and those controlling it. We have to remember that men engaged in the shipping industry are exposed to many hardships, and therefore they are entitled to have a representative on the Board of management. The feeling of security which they would then enjoy would mean much for the success of the Line. The amendment should commend itself to our intelligence as being both practicable and sensible. The reasons advanced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) against its acceptance were lamentably weak. He told us that members of the Board were in much the same position as permanent Commissioners engaged in managing a great public utility. The fact that the Board will be appointed permanently is the very reason why we desire to have a representative of the men on it to place before the other members the view-point of the men. This would be a very much more satisfactory arrangement than for the Board, in the event of industrial disputes, to meet representatives of the men and consult with them. The industrial history of this country, and, indeed, of every other country in the world, is remarkable for the number’ of consultations of this nature. Our experience in the management of our railways by Commissioners should be a sufficient warrant for the adoption of the amendment. The Board will be in .absolute control, and will be able to disregard even recommendations of the Government. Members on this side of the House are entitled to speak with more authority from the point of view . of the working man and the psychology of the working-class people, than honorable members supporting theGovernment, and I assure them that the acceptance of the amendment will go a long way towards insuring peace in the industry. All students of industrial conditions are agreed that the workers should have representation in the management of any industry in which they are engaged. I hope, therefore, that the amendment will be carried.
– I support the amendment. As a one-time representative of employees in arbitration matters, I can assure honorable members that a proper understanding of the position by those most vitally interested is half the battle in restoring harmonious relations between management ‘ and employees. If the marine engineers or seamen had a representative on the Board, it is possible that, if a dispute arose, he would be able to explain to the men that the enforcement of their claim might, handicap the Line in competition with other vessels. I believe that, . as sensible and reasonable men’, the unionists would respond to such an appeal from their own representative and modify their attitude. I do not favour the suggestion that the proposed representative should be selected from any of the unions en- . gaged in the industry, because that would include coal-miners and those engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, as well as wharf labourers, shipwrights, and many other unionists working on shore jobs. The right of representation should be confined to those actually engaged in the working of the ships. I trust, therefore, that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) will stand by his amendment as originally presented. .
.- I trust that the silence on the part of Ministerial supporters does not indicate that they are out of sympathy with the amendment. I take it that all honorable members who supported the second reading desire to make the Board as workable as possible, and to insure the success of the Line. I have not the slightest doubt that the Prime Minister wishes it to be successful. Therefore, I hope that those honorable members representing, especially, the primary producing interests will give the amendment their favorable consideration. The State which I represent is more deeply interested in the success of the Line than, perhaps, any other State in the Commonwealth, because we are dependent upon the continuity of our shipping services. On three occasions, at least, at a time when very large numbers of people usually travel to Tasmania, our shipping services have been cut off at a moment’s notice as a result of some industrial dispute. As I am hoping that Commonwealth vessels will trade between Tasmania and the mainland, I am anxious that the vessels of the Line should not be hampered by industrial disputes. On one occasion when, in consequence of a shipping dispute, Tasmania was practically severed from the mainland, a ship captain, who had been engaged in the trade with that State for a number of years, told me that that particular trouble would never have occurred if the directors of the shipping company had thoroughly understood what the men desired - that all was the result of a misunderstanding. That strike once started lasted for several weeks, resulting in the greatest inconvenience to the primary producers of Tasmania and to the community generally. This ship captain freely expressed that opinion, although we may take it that he would sympathize with his directors rather than with the em ployees. Let us hope that the Board will appreciate the fact that “prevention is better than cure,” for if this business is conducted in that spirit, we shall see very few disputes with the men. I appeal to the Prime Minister and his supporters to pause before they oppose the amendment, even to the extent of postponing the clause for further consideration. We on this side have been in much closer touch with the industrial world than has the Prime Minister. That, I think, will be admitted by the right honorable gentleman, and he ought to accept our assurance that if he consents to have a representative of the men on the Board, much will be done to prevent industrial disputes in connexion with the Line.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. 0’ Keefe) hits the nail on the head when he reminds us of the old ‘ saying, “ prevention is better than cure,” the truth of which is keenly appreciated by honorable members who have been associated with industrial unions here and elsewhere. For many years I was on the boa-rd of management, of the Typographical Union, now known as the Printing Industries Union of Australia, and I can say that for over forty years there was neither strike nor lock-out in the printing trade in Victoria. This was the result of a wise policy of nipping in the bud any threatened trouble; and that is a policy which we desire to see associated with the management of the Commonwealth Line. There would be no possibility of the one representative of the workers dominating the other members of the Board. Every question will be decided by a majority, so that the members nominated by the Government must, have control, but the amendment, if carried, would secure an adviser with a practical knowledge of those employed on the industrial side of the business. Such a representative would prove invaluable, because it is certain that he would be able to give timely information and advice. I appeal to the primary producers in the Committee to support this amendment, and I ask them whether they would not prefer their export business to be carried en interruptedly without the’ irritating disputes and delays experienced in the past. I do not wish to attach blame to any one, but I believe that if there had been a more amicable spirit between the management and the men, and if there had been a conference to discuss troubles, the business of the Line would have run more smoothly. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) indicated that he had some other method of attaining the objects sought by this amendment. The right honorable gentleman did not say exactly what his method was, but I infer that in some way he intends to enlist the sympathy and support of the anions. If I am right, what better plan could the right honorable gentleman adopt than appoint a workers’ representative to the Board? Some months ago the manager of one of the largest meat businesses m my constituency told me that he paid one of the leading union officials to be always about the premises, his duty being to report any likely dispute, with a view to its immediate settlement. In similar works, elsewhere, there has been no end of trouble, but all has gone well in the works to which I refer, with resultant continuity of employment, larger output, and, what is more, better financial returns to the proprietors. Similar steps have been taken in more than one instance, and large employers tell us that one of the main reasons of their success is the creation and maintenance of amicable relations with the employees. It is such relations and such results that we desire to see in the case of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. Many strikes are caused by small misunderstandings, which sometimes become of such magnitude as to disorganize the whole trade and commerce of the country. Under the Superannuation Act, which we passed last session, the Government nominated to the Board of three, a man who had practically been selected by the public servants themselves; and on the present occasion we are asking for only one representative out of four. We, on this side, desire the Line to work smoothly in the interests of, not only the Board and the employees, but the whole people of Australia. We are now for the first time placing the Line on a statutory basis, which will be lasting, and I appeal to the Prime Minister to give the Board a good send . off. With the writing down of values indicated by the Prime Minister, the Board will start on fair lines. Does the Prime Minister propose to. estab- lish a tribunal as in the shipbuilding industry ?
– Or the coal industry.
– Shipbuilding was a Government business, and in connexion with it, the Government established a tribunal for the prompt settlement of disputes. It was composed of two members of unions and Mr. Connington, a gentleman who is perhaps as conversant with trade union principles and tactics as any man in Australia. Perhaps, the Prime Minister has something of the kind in mind, but why make such provision when it is possible to give the employees of the Line direct representation on the Board? I hope it will not be suggested that honorable members on this side submit this proposal in order merely to put themselves right with the unions outside. It is done because, as taxpayers, in common with honorable members opposite, we desire that the Line shall be conducted properly and without friction. Honorable members are aware that very big business firms have taken the advice, and availed themselves of the assistance of labour unions in the conduct of their businesses, and have found that it has resulted in less friction and greater profits. Similar results may be looked for from the operations of the Commonwealth Shipping Line if the Prime Minister will accept the suggestion that has been made from this side;
.- -At first sight the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) seems rather ‘attractive; but, on consideration, I doubt very much whether the appointment of a fourth director to represent the employees would achieve all that honorable members opposite claim for -it. We know from painful experience that most of the disputes that have arisen in connexion with the Commonwealth ships have occurred between men on individual vessels, and have had to be decided by the masters. It seems to me that the industry will be generally regulated by awards of the Arbitration Court, and the appointment of a fourth director as representative of the employees would have little influence in the settlement of disputes. I think that the adoption of the suggestion offered by the Prime Minister would be more effective in preventing disputes than would the amendment proposed from the other side.
.- I trust that the Prime Minister will accept the amendment. I believe that he is well disposed towards the Commonwealth Shipping Line. The right honorable gentleman and his party claim to desire to legislate on behalf of all classes, and from that point of view the amendment under consideration might be regarded as a test of the sincerity of that claim. It is for the Prime Minister to show that he has in mind not only the interests of those who control the Line, but of the workers who will be engaged in the industry. The amendment would afford them an opportunity of placing anygrievances they might have before the Board. The proposal is not new, and the Prime Minister could not be accused by his supporters of adopting revolutionary methods if he accepted the amendment. I think that even the newspaper editors would take to the suggestion kindly if it were adopted by so wellbalanced a man as the Prime Minister. A similar provision has been adopted in Western Australia by a Government that is considered to have very Liberal views. A man has been appointed on the Board of the Harbor Trust at Fremantle to represent the workers.The experience of the Trust has been that when difficulties have arisen with the employees this representative of the workers has been able to advise the other members of the Board in dealing with matters in dispute, and there has consequently very seldom been any serious trouble. I cannot see what objection can be urged to the amendment. It will not be contended that the proposed fourth director will be so powerfully persuasive a man as to be able to induce the other three members of the Board to do something which would not be in the interests of the Line. The Prime Minister has an excellent opportunity, by accepting the amendment, to show the workers of the country that the Government is prepared to consider their interests as well as the interests of those engaged in commercial and farming industries. If the right honorable gentleman cannot see his way to accept the amendment for the moment, he might consent to the postponement of the clause in order that the matter might be further considered, and some amicable arrangement arrived at which will be satisfactory to honorable members on this side.
. have listened with interest to the arguments put forward by honorable members opposite to show why a fourth member should be appointed to the Board to represent the various industrial unions concerned in the operation of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. It appears to me that they desire that a man should be appointed to the Board for a number of years at a very high salary to do one thing only, and that is to prevent industrial trouble on the boats.
– Does the honorable member not think that the money would be well spent?
– Yes, if the amendment achieved its object.
– It appears to me to be a travesty upon industrial life in Australia to suggest that it is necessary to employ a man at a big salary to act merely as a. peacemaker. There will be no guarantee that the unions concerned will behave themselves any better because they have a representative op the Board. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) proposes that the Board shall consist of three members - one to deal with finance, another with shipping, and the third with construction. These men will hold very important positions and will need to be experts in the work which they are called upon to perform. There is nothing to show that the fourth member proposed to be appointed to the Board would know anything of the work which the other three members would be specially concerned about. The Board will be up against the competition of international brains devoted to the destruction of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. We should not have a drag upon it in the person of a fourth member, who could be of no assistance in the consideration of points of policy which the Board will be called upon to determine. I was prepared to be convinced by honorable members opposite, but their arguments in support of the amendment have left me stone cold.
. -The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) has said that the arguments of honorable members on this side have left him stone cold with regard to the claim of the men employed by the Commonwealth Shipping Line to representation on the Board. I am surprised to hear that; but in my view the honor- able member has altogether missed the point of the amendment. Some honorable members on the other side, and to a certain extent even the Prime Minister, have missed the real purpose of the amendment. In speaking on the second reading of the Bill the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) gave very fully, his reasons why the men should have some representation on the Board. It was not only that disputes might not occur or that, if they occur, might be readily settled. Honorable members’ on this side might eon tend, and unbiased honorable members opposite might agree, that the representation of the men on the Board would have a great influence for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. But that was by no means the chief reason assigned by the honorable member for Yarra for his amendment. It is not easy to express that reason, but we believe that in connexion .with a national enterprise of this kind the Australian nation would do well to follow the example set by splendid employers in other parts of the world, who have recognised the worth of their employees as men, and their rights, and have given them some voice’ in the control of the industries in which they’ are engaged. Some of the greatest writers and philosophers of the present day, detached from politics, and even industry, and in a position to express an unbiased view of such matters, have recorded that the next important step to be taken in the evolution, of the economic and industrial system under which we are living must be the conceding of some voice in the management of industries by those who are engaged in them. The honorable member for Yarra has shown that his proposal is quite practicable. We should be prepared to” make this recognition of the claims of human worth and rights. These claims have been recognised in many cases with very great success. During the years of the war, when all were forced to recognise the ‘ great services rendered to every nation by those’ who constituted its brawn and muscle, we were promised all these things in the democratization of industry. Are those on this side, of the Chamber the only members who are prepared to honour that promise 1 I do not think so. I believe that the Prime Minister, judging by the speech he made this afternoon,” is prepared to go a certain distance in honouring’ the promise, or in what he re- gards as honouring the promise. If honorable members and the men employed in the industry will examine his speech, they will come to the conclusion that there is not much in his undertaking to fulfil that promise. He has said that he will make provision for the Board to receive certain representations from the men. He has said that he is in agreement with the principle advocated by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), but, although he recognises, its virtue in application, he is not prepared to apply it. He will, however, go a certain distance, and we are sorry that, in this national enterprise, he will not go the whole way. I am sorry, because the test has been applied to the Government, lt has been charged with being a reactionary Government, but its action in connexion with the Shipping Line, taken in spite of the opposition of the press and politicians, has not displayed any reactionary tendencies. So far it has emerged well from that test. But another test is now being applied to it. .It is embarking upon a national enterprise, and surely in such an undertaking it should recognise the claims of the men it employs. I hope it does not think that the promises made were rash. I hope it does not think that those philosophers who say that the next step in industrial and economic evolution must be in the direction of giving some voice in the control of businesses to employees, are entirely wrong. I hope it does not take the. view that we have arrived at the highest point attainable in industrial development. If it does, it justifies the actions of those people who preach revolution in Australia, and who say, “ Away with political methods, for we can do no more by those means. The only thing that will do us any good is a revolutionary change of the whole system.” Let it remember that if it maintains that we. have arrived at the summum bonum of industrial progress, it preaches a policy of despair which must drive people to advocate revolution. When it talks of Communists and revolutionists, let it remember that its actions create Communists and revolutionists, whom members on this side of the House have to spend many hours in converting. I ask the Prime Minister to look upon this matter in the sympathetic way in which he has approached the whole question, of the Shipping Line. I ask him to remember that it is not only a . matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, or of preventing or curing industrial disputes. It is much more spiritual than the mere material view put forward by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green). If the honorable member would exercise his mind on this aspect of the question, he will come to a conclusion more worthy of himself than the views expressed by him this afternoon. The practicability of the proposal has been shown, and if the Prime Minister will accept the amendment, or incorporate the principle in the Bill, he will avail himself of an opportunity which few Prime Ministers of Australia halve had. He lias already - I was going to say - covered himself with glory, but at least he has removed the’ charge of being a reactionary by giving the Commonwealth Shipping Line a chance to make good. If he will incorporate in the Bill a provision for appointing a representative of the employees upon the Board of management, he will associate his name with the greatest and most progressive action which has ever been taken in Australia. Not only that, but he will have a justifiable pride in seeing his name associated with a national act which recognises in a national way the claims of the workmen in an industry - claims which have been too long denied, and should be accepted and recognised by the people of this country.
– I am in full sympathy with anything which will promote a better understanding between those employed on the Commonwealth ships and the management of the Line, but I do not think that the appointment of a representative of the industrial unions as a fourth member of the Board of management will bring about such a result. If any one, in addition to those who directly manage the Line, has a right to representation on the Board, it is the man who pays the freights - I mean the primary producer. The primary producers do not, however, regard it as reasonable that they should have such representation on the manage^ ment, although they expect to pay most of the freights earned by the Line. We have heard, in this debate, much of the phrase “ stone cold.” If the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) had received the suggestion put Forward by members of the Opposition with “ stone cold,”- conservative disdain, I would not -have been satisfied, bub I was satisfied with his alternative proposal, which would meet the case. He suggested the appointment of representatives of the seamen to meet the directors from time to time to deal with the industrial aspect of the business. This would prevent trouble, and nip it in the bud as effectively as if the men had a direct representative on the Board of management.
.- I had not the privilege of hearing the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) reply to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), but I have learned that he is not prepared to accept it. I am profoundly sorry that he has taken that attitude. I disagree entirely with the remarks of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). The appointment upon the Board of a representative of the maritime workers would make for the smooth management, of the Line. It is essential in these days that the employees should have representation on the Board. The honorable member for Gippsland will see that there is a great difference between the position of primary producers and that of the men who work the ships. While I would go a long way with him in asking for representation for the primary producers, I still hold that the primary producer does not stand in the same relative position as the employees. Although the primary producer is concerned in getting his produce sent abroad at reasonable rates of freight, the importer has a similar interest. He has to pay freights, and wants his imports brought to Australia at as low a rate as possible. The people of Australia are the shareholders of this Line, and it is essential that industrial peace should be secured. The Disputes Committee suggested by the Prime Minister will not meet the position. We have had Disputes Committees in connexion with various industries for a considerable time past, but there have been stoppages of work nevertheless. A dispute must first occur before a Disputes Committee can act. That was the position in the coal-mining industry, and, as a result, Australia to-day is suffering from a shortage of coal. The tribunal in the coalmining industry is powerless and inactive. I say nothing against Disputes Committees as such, but it is better to remove the cause of a dispute than to deal with it after it has occurred. What injury could it do to any one to appoint a representative of the unions to act on the Board? I ask honorable members to cast aside prejudices, and to deal with the matter from a common-sense point of view. The proposed appointment can result in nothing but good. The Board, in the absence of representation of the employees, might do something which it thought was in the best interests of the Line, but which would come into conflict with the views of the men employed on the ships. This would not occur if a representative of the men sat on the Board. When work ceases because of the absence of a representative of the unions from the Board’ the ships may be held up for two, three, or four days. The holding up of one of these large steamers means a loss of a very large sum of money to the people; therefore, we should endeavour to remove as far as possible the causes which bring about stoppages. The only effective way to deal with the matter is to give the men a representative on the Board. If you do that you at once create a spirit of co-operation in the running of the Line. If anything comes alongthat the seamen do not understand, they will say, “Well, we have a representative on the Board. Ho will know why this has happened. We will hear him,” and they will not cause a cessation of work. Their representative will he able to put the case to them, and if there are merits in’ the innovation the men will accept it. The trouble in the past has been that there has been no link between the management and the workers. This has been the weak spot. Surely we have had experience now which will induce us to alter the position.
– Do you propose that the men engaged in the work shall be represented?
– I think the men who are engaged in the industry should be represented.
– You do not mean all the seamen, but only those engaged on the Commonwealth Line?
– I think the amendment is clear. Of course, others than seamen are interested. There are the men at Cockatoo Dock. They should have a voice.
– Themen directly interested should have representation, but not everybody in the shipping industry!
– I do not think there is much difference between us. The honorable member wants to limit the selection of the representative to the men who are actually concerned.
– I think it would be wise.
– The amendment is that of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), but personally I have no objection to what the honorable member is suggesting. I mentioned it in my second-reading speech. I urge that if we wish to make a success of this business we will do well to give the workers a voice in the management. My experience, and I am sure the experience of other honorable members, is that if men have some say in the control of the concern that employs them, it makes for smooth working. Most of our troubles will disappear if there is a sympathetic link of the kind proposed. The difficulties of the past have been caused because the persons employed have not known exactly what was in the mind of the employers. If the workers have a representative on the Board in this shipping business they will certainly feel that they are not justified in holding up the ships until they have heard their representative. The representative will generally be able to explain their difficulty, and the work will go ahead. The same principle applies ito coal-mining. I had the opportunity of speaking on one occasion to a man holding a high position in the Howard Smith Company. He asked me what I thought of a certain man. I said, “ If you employ that man you will have a good man, and it will save you thousands of pounds a year.” He asked me how, and I replied, “ When other mines are having (trouble yours will be working, because this man will work in with the employees.” I also told him that because of this understanding his mine would be working while others were idle. That is what actually happened. The same thing will occur in connexion with ifthe shipping business. It has been discovered, in consequence of inquiry made in different countries, and in Great Britain particularly, that the appointment of a representative of the workers on boards of management has ‘been a good thing, and in order to safeguard industries it is regarded as desirable to give the working men a voice in their general management. Yet here we, as the representatives of the people whose Line this is, are considering whether or not we shall do what is being very largely done in other parts of the world. The workers themselves are shareholders in this Line. It is in their interests that the business should succeed, and I am certain that it will make for success if the Committee will agree to the amendment. If you were to ask the manager of the Line for an estimate of the losses incurred in consequence of little disputes, I think the figures would ‘astound you. While I do not argue that you will stop all interruptions by carrying this amendment, I am sure you- will minimize them very considerably. If half the troubles were stopped, it would be a big thing. I am sorry the Prime. Minister has taken the stand he has. This is not a party question, and I ask the Committee to exercise their own common sense on it. If the amendment will be advantageous to the Line, why not accept it ? It will not interfere with the Government if- the Committee accept the amendment, but it will be an expression of opinion by the House. Nothing but good can come from a decision in favour of the amendment. It will ‘assist the future running of the Line, and therefore, in my opinion, it is our bounden duty to adopt it. The House should realize that the Prime Minister has told us that if the Line is not successful under the new conditions it will go out of existence. Surely Parliament will not strike a blow at it just now. There should be no prejudice in our minds in a matter of this kind. We have lived long enough to see the justice of giving workers a measure of control in the management of industry, and we have got past the stage when we think the employers only can manage industries. This is not a case of asking for a majority on the Board. We want only one representative, and there will be three others representing different interests. It means everything, to the primary producers of this country for the Line to be successful, and I hope the members on this side as well as those on the other side who are representing country districts will consider this matter as vital to the welfare of their constituents. It is essential that we should be able to carry our produce and also our manufactured articles to wherever the markets are. We can do that only with the thorough cooperation of the Shipping Line. A greatdeal depends on this amendment, and I ask members to support it. Our sole object in bringing it forward is to benefit the Line.
.- I regret that I did not hear the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) upon the second reading, in which he advanced reasons why a representative of the employees should be appointed to the Board. My experience is that the honorable member generally gives good reasons for any attitude he adopts. ‘I would support the amendment without the slightest hesitation if I thought it would attain the objects which the mover has in view, namely, insure the smoother and more successful working of the Line. I understand that the honorable member claims that the representation for which he asks would obviate friction between employer and employee, and that an employee appointed to the Board would be a sort of personal nexus between the employer and the employees. The whole trend of modern industrial legislation has been to destroy the personal nexus between employer and employee, and to substitute the cold nexus of the law. The relations between the two parties are determined by legal enactment; the old personal relation between the good employer and the good employee has been abolished. I do not see how the appointment to the Board of a representative of the industrial unions interested in the running of the Line would lead to a decrease in friction between employer and ‘ employee, for the simple reason that no matter what the business policy of the Board may be, its relations with the employee have been already determined by law.
– Only as regards wages and hours of labour.
– As regards practically all conditions of employment.
– There may be an award governing certain matters in an industry. Some alteration in the conditions may be made before the matter can be submitted to a tribunal, and it is in connexion with such alterations that troubles arise. The representative of the employees on the Shipping Line Board would acquaint the union of the reasons for any change, and if the reasons were considered sound, there would be no trouble.
– The proposal which the Prime Minister has made would fully meet the circumstances which the honorable member has mentioned. It will not be any action of the Board that will lead to friction.
– Yes; the actions of the employers lead to misunderstanding.
– Every now and again some dissatisfaction arises amongst the employees in an industry in regard to existing conditions. They desire a change, and make representations accordingly to their employer. The employer considers the matter, and decides that in the interests of his business he must refuse the request. Then a dead-lock occurs. Should such a situation arise in connexion with the Commonwealth Shipping Line it would not owe its origin to any action of the Board The trouble would occur amongst the men who were dissatisfied with existing conditions. When they made representations to the Board, what resistance could their representative on the Board give in the consideration of the matter? Although he would be technically a member of the Board charged with the running of the Commonwealth Shipping Line to the best advantage, he would be in reality a delegate representing the employees, and he would be bound to look at the issue from their point of view, and to act as a special pleader.
– Does not that argument apply to the other members of the Board?
– No. By the very nature of his appointment to the Board he would be there to represent the employees, and if they came to a certain conclusion regarding the necessity for altering the conditions of employment they would instruct their representative to put their views, and none other, before the Board. He must of necessity act as a special pleader. If he could have a perfectly free hand to deal with the matter as an ordinary member of the Board, and not as a delegate of the employees, I would support, the amendment; but, as a delegate, he could not be free to act on his own judgment. A large amount of support was enlisted for this Bill by the assurance that the Commonwealth Shipping Line will be run according to strict business principles. Suppose that certain claims by the employees came before the Board for consideration and three of the directors said, “ We are charged with the running of this Line on strictly business principles, and therefore we cannot concede the request.” What would the representative of the employees say? He would retort, “ Business principles be blowed ! I and those whom I represent on this Board do not believe in business principles. We do not believe in big business.” His fellow directors would say,” This very enterprise is a huge business, and we have undertaken to run it on business principles. Weshall not be doing that if we concede this request.” Suppose that the workers’ delegate went back to those whom he represented and said, “ My fellow directors cannot agree to your proposal because it is opposed to: business principles.” Even if he were convinced by the arguments advanced by his fellow directors, would he dare to go back to his constituents and say that there were business reasons why their request could not be granted ?
– That is exactly what we would expect him to do.
– The honorable member is eminently reasonable. IfI thought it would be possible for the employees’ representative to make a common cause with his fellow directors in regard to the policy laid down by Parliament for the running of the Line on business principles, and to go back . to the men and say, “ We have to make a success of this Line, and we cannot do that if you insist on your demand,” I would support the amendment.
– I assure the honorable member that if we thought the workers’ representative would do the opposite, I would withdraw the amendment.
– I appreciate the honorable member’s assurance, but it is not part of the declared policy of the party to which the honorable member belongs. That policy is the subversion of the present capitalistic system.
– We are not discussing the capitalistic system; we are discussing a nationalized shipping line.
– Over and over again, when we on thisside of the House have declared that, properly viewed, the interests of employer and employee are identical, honorable members opposite have said, “ Nothing of the kind; they are diametrically opposed.” If the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) were likely to be appointed to represent the employees on the Board, and would act in accordance with the assurance he has given by interjection, I would not hesitate to support his amendment. If the honorable member and his associates were willing to recognise that in the interests of every business, harmonious co-operation between capital and labouris essential, I would support him in getting representation for the workers every time. But because honorable members take up the opposite attitude and contend that the two great forces of capital and labour are essentially antagonistic and irreconcilable, it is a farce to talk about sending a representative of Labour into the capitalistic camp in the interests of cooperation. Although the declared objective of the Labour party is the subversion of the capitalistic system, I believe that a great majority of the rank and file know in their hearts that eo-operation between capital and labour is essential. If the honorable member for Yarra would say that ho believed that in orderto make a success of any business there must be harmonious co-operation between the two great forces of capital and labour-
– I said last night that so long as the capitalistic system obtains we should have that co-operation. But I am urging it especially in connexion with a nationalized enterprise.
– If I felt convinced that that Would be the attitude of the representative of Labour on the Shipping Board I would support the amendment heartily.
– The honorable member will support Labour in nothing.
– I think I recognise the voice of the interjector, and therefore I ignore his remark. Nobody who is acquainted with my record can accuse me of lacking sympathy with the cause of Labour.
– The honorable member has an opportunity of showing it now.
– A man’s actions must be guided by his judgment. If I were convinced that the amendment would secure the end sought by the honorable member for Yarra I would heartily support it.
– It is worth a trial anyhow.
– I am almost persuaded to give it a chance as an experiment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said a little while ago that the one object in submitting the amendment was to insure the success of this shipping venture. On the floor of this House I have expressed the opinion that, under the conditions imposed on the Line, it is not likely to be a success. I sincerely hope it will. The honorable member has assured us that the amendment has been submitted, not so much in the interests of Labour, as with the idea of making a success of this great enterprise. It is because I believe it will not assist that’ object that I am forced to vote against the amendment, and I do so with the greatest reluctance.
– I do not desire to labour this question; but I feel it necessary to say a few words in reply to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). I know he is opposed’ to nationalization in any shape or form. He owes his presence in this House to his denunciation of that political doctrine, and he has been quite consistent in his attitude towards this Bill. But he has stated that, although he is opposed to the principle of Government-owned ships, if we are to continue the Line, he is anxious that it should be a success. As one who believes in nationalization, I realize that if we are ever to reach our objective, we shall have to prove that a venture like this can be made a success. That is one reason why I am supporting the amendment. I direct the attention of the honorable member to the fact that this principle was adopted in Great Britain during the war. There came a time when the workmen on the Clyde were very dissatisfied with their working conditions. They were then engaged in. building submarines and battleships, and. so grave was the outlook, that unless industrial peace had been restored there would Lave been a chance of Great Britain losing the war. It was realized then that the men’s viewpoint had to be taken into account. Eventually they were admitted into some form of partnership. Men designated as shop stewards were appointed, and were consulted by employers upon all questions affecting working conditions As a result industrial peace was restored in all the shipbuilding yards, and unity among British workmen was made possible.”
– Under that arrangement is it not a fact that the shop stewards and the management merely conferred in regard to industrial matters?
– The shop stewards had a far wider power. In his concluding remarks, the honorable member led us to believe that he was anxious to give the Line a fair trial. Well, that is the object of the amendment. If I thought that the representative of the workers would not be courageous enough to tell the unionists, whom he represented, that their demands were unfair, if, in his opinion they were, I would not support the amendment. So convinced am I that the adoption of the amendment will make for the success of the Line that I am prepared to allow the Government to appoint the representative of the men for a period of five or ten years. He will then be financially independent of union influence, and should be in a position to state the workers’ stand-point quite impartially. I wish the Line to be a success. As one whose electorate includes a fairly large section of farmers, I am satisfied that the Line will confer a very great benefit on them. One strike might involve, them in very heavy financial losses. There is another aspect of this proposal. In these modern times workers have a right to some say in the industry in which they are engaged. I quite understand the attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner. He says that there is no affinity between the capitalistic and the labouring classes. I agree with him, but this is a question of nationalization. The Shipping Line is owned by the people of the Commonwealth, and profits, if any, will go to the people, not into the pockets of a few private shareholders. In these circumstances, it would naturally’ be the concern of men engaged in Che industry to make it a success. I appeal to honorable members, especially those representing the primary producing interests, to give the workers representation on the Board. It ‘is quite likely that their representative will prove jus’t as good a -business .man as the other members.
– If a representative is appointed, he will save this country a lot of money.
– I think he will. I am sorry the Prime Minister is not present, because I wanted to say, in his presence, that I have heard that General Anderson is likely to receive one of the appointments to the Board. I want honorable members to know that while in charge of financial matters in Great Britain he cost this country more than any other man, and that it took Brigadier-General Griffiths a considerable time to clean up the mess he had . made. General Anderson always seems to be about when lucrative positions are going a-begging. Apparently we are not to have a representative of the workers on the Board; but certain gentlemen who are everlastingly kow-towing to a few individuals in the community always seem to be there or thereabouts when a .job at £3,000 or £4;000 a year is to be picked up. I trust General Anderson will not be appointed to the Board. The Government should not be influenced by the consideration that, in appointing him, if they did so, they would honour their promise of preference to returned soldiers, because General Anderson ‘did not even -enlist in the Australian Imperial Force. He went to Egypt as a friend of the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), and being in the good graces of that right honorable gentleman, he was, without enlisting, appointed as a General in the Australian Imperial Force, but got no nearer to the war than London, where he-
– I remind the honorable member that he is digressing.
– I know I am, Mr. Chairman, but I want to give a reference of character in case the gentleman mentioned is likely to be appointed to a position on the Board.
– Give us Walsh’s character now.
– If the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) knows anything about Mr. Walsh, he can give a reference as to character himself. Personally, I would rather have Mr. Walsh on the Board than Gen’er’al Anderson. The producers of the Commonwealth ought to have representation on the Board. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) declared, in the second-reading debate, that recently the producers could not obtain wheat charters from the Commonwealth Line. If they had a representative on the Board it is very probable that, as a result of cooperation, they would be able to secure the services of the Commonwealth ships. All representatives of the producing interests ought to vote for the amendment, otherwise’ they will acquiesce in a course of action that will “ kill “ the Line and play right into the hands of the private shipping companies. I have not spent much, time at sea, my only experience of seafaring being gained during the voyage to Great Britain and back and over to France, but I made up my mind then that I would never accept any position associated with the sea, from that of captain downwards. It is impossible for those unacquainted with the seafaring life to realize the conditions under which the seamen have to labour.1 It is no wonder that, after six or eight weeks upon the wa’ter, seamen occasionally get quarrelsome when ashore. They are entitled to every consideration. The amendment affords a good opportunity of making the Line a success. We want to” be able to demonstrate that Commonwealth steam-ships, owned by the people, can, in open competition with privatelyowned steam-ships, give as good a service and show a profit. We want to get the men personally interested in the concern. The personal nexus to which the honorable member for Fawkner referred would be ‘secured by the adoption of the amendment.
– But the honorable member for Fawkner will npt vote for it.
– I still hope, judging by his concluding remarks, that, if we can prove that we are only submitting the amendment from a business point of view, and with the idea of making the Line a success., the honorable member for Fawkner may vote for it. I am sure I speak for those connected with unions, both outside and inside this Chamber, when I express the wish that the Commonwealth Line may be a finan cial success. We realize that, even if only a small profit be made, the Line will bo a success if it has the- effect of preventing private ship-owners charging exorbitant freights and fares. The association of the men who work the ships with those who are responsible for their management, will prevent such disputes as have occurred during the last few years in the case of privately-owned shipping. . ‘The Govern-, ment Whip (Mr. Marr)., who was in Great Britain during the war, will remember how the British workmen threatened to drop tools if they were to be sweated while other people made great fortunes out of the war, and how it was only by the adoption of a proposal similar to that now before -the Committee that unity was secured. The Government has seen many troubles amongst the seamen, and has made no proposal to obviate them; but now the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) offers a practical and feasible solution, which is well worth a trial. If the Government fears the influence of the men’s representative over the other members of the Board, it has the remedy in its own hands, inasmuch as that representative may be appointed for a term of five or ten years, and thus be made absolutely independent of union influence.
– I rise to support the amendment of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). We are all anxious to see the Commonwealth Shipping Line established on firm foundations and made a success. If we are able to secure harmony between management and workers by the appointment of a representative of the latter to the Board, a great deal will have been done towards securing the smooth working of the Line, for we may then rely on the co-operation of those employed not only on the shipping, but in the shipbuilding industry. Surely it is worth while, with such results in view, to give the working interests some representation. Certainly the honorable member for Yarra does not ask too much by his amendment. I do not speak of a representative of the sea-faring men only, but a representative of the whole of the employees con-* ‘nected with shipping, in the dockyards, and _ elsewhere. During the war between 3,000 and 4,000 men were employed a.t Cockatoo Island, and if the shipbuilding is placed on a proper footing it is quite likely that iri a year or so we shall see that yard giving employment to a similar number, thus using -its valuable, plant to its fullest capacity. It is for this reason that I urge the creation of a desirable and necessary link by the appointment of a member of the Board to represent all who earn their living in the shipping industry. In the past most of the industrial troubles connected with Common. wealth undertakings have been due to lack of sympathy between the men and those responsible for the management. If it is necessary to have the whole-hearted support and co-operation of the employees, it is worth while giving, the men a representative, not only to sympathetically present their views, but also to accept a share of the responsibilities of manage-. ment. A few years ago the Government appointed a representative of returned sailors and soldiers to the Repatriation Commission, realizing that repatriation would prove a huge work. It was felt that the desires and intentions of the framers of the law would be best carried out, by having on the Commission some one to specially represent the returned men; and as a result of the appointment the working of the Repatriation Commission has been much more satisfactory and sympathetic than it otherwise would have been. We have not only that example, but also the example of several largo firms throughout the Commonwealth, which have established welfare and advisory committees, consisting of representatives from every department of their establishments. Those committees meet the departmental heads, or representatives of the management, and the result is a thorough understanding amongst all concerned. If the employees- in the shipping industry are given a representative on the Board, the plan will prove much more satisfactory than that of selecting men from amongst the workers to present grievances and anomalies as they arise, for then there is always a danger of victimization.
The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) seemed inclined to support the amendment, ‘but apparently was .not quite sure whether the appointment of an employees’ representative would present industrial disputes. Surely it is much better to confer before trouble arises than afterwards. An employees’ representative would be able to present the views of the men, and possibly secure a sympathetic decision. The honorable, member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is unable to .see the necessity for an employees’ representative with the object of settling industrial disputes, (because he says the conditions of labour are laid down by the . Arbitration Court. But, -while most callings are governed by awards, there are a number which are not. In 1913, I happened to be the representative of the clerks employed at Cockatoo Island during a dispute which they had with the management. Those clerks were not governed by any arbitration award, and for eighteen months they had been endeavouring without success to secure from the Naval Board a remedy for their grievances. At last they were forced to cause a stoppage of work at the dockyard. Had there been a representative of those men to lay their case before the Naval Board, that trouble might have been averted. I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) will seriously- consider the representations that have been made this afternoon by honorable members on this aide. If we can bring about industrial harmony by the step now proposed, it will be a great step towards the successful working . of the Commonwealth Line and of our dockyards. I hope the amendment will be accepted, because I am sure it must, if “carried, result in sane and reasonable management.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment to provide that the men engaged in the industry shall have representation on the Board controlling the Commonwealth Shipping Line. . Although the proposal may be new to Australia, it is not new in other parts of the world. It has been tried in America, Canada,
England, France and Germany, and has proved a great success. It stands tq reason that it should be a success, because if you place responsibility upon those working in an industry, and show that you have confidence in them, they will reciprocate your confidence. The’ degree of loyalty and satisfactory work which men will give in an industry depends largely upon the way in which they are treated by their employers. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) may rest assured that when honorable members on this side make suggestions as to how the Commonwealth Shipping Line should be run, they are keenly anxious that the Line should be successful. The Labour party stands for the nationalization of such services as the Commonwealth Shipping Line. It was instituted by a Labour Government, and it “has been proved that it can be run satisfactorily by the Commonwealth Government. The amendment is submitted in the beat interests of the Line, which, iri the words’ of the Prime Minister himself, proved to be a great ‘ boon to Australia during the last six or seven years. It is necessary for the success of the Line that we should have, first, efficiency ; secondly, continuity of service; and thirdly, minimum freight charges, affording a sufficient return to pay interest, redemption, depreciation and other charges, with a small profit.. The Line should not be run for the purpose of making great profits, but should serve a similar purpose to that which our railway / systems serve throughout Australia. It was established primarily in_the interests of the producers of Australia, who have goods to ship to the other side of the world. It should guarantee the carriage of those goods at reasonable freights. It is essential that there should be continuity of service, and that can be secured only by harmonious relations between the employees and their employer, the Board. How are we to secure these harmonious relations ? Is it by mistrusting and refusing to recognise the men, or by admitting that they are deeply, interested in the efficient working of the Line and treating them as men ? Decidedly not the former. If we are to get the best out of the men and secure continuity of service for the Line, we must trust those employed by the Board. The Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bamford), who represents a northern constituency of Queensland, knows well what continuity of a shipping service means to the people in that part of the Commonwealth. He is aware that, because of the disputes in the. shipping industry, the people of the north of Queensland have been cut off for weeks and months from southern portions of the Commonwealth, and have sometimes been on the verge of starvation. These disputes in the shipping industry might have been prevented if the consideration which so large a body of workmen de serves had been .shown to it. These men rightly deserve such consideration, because they spend the great part of their lives on board ship. The life of a seaman is not one to be envied. Seamen risk all kinds of dangers, and frequently lose their lives at sea. Those who “ go down to the sea in ships,” as our Australian seamen do, deserve great consideration from the Government. The request that they should be represented on the Board of the Commonwealth Shipping Line is a reasonable one. If there are frequent stoppages of the Line, due to industrial disputes, the Line cannot render efficient service, and cannot give that assistance to the producers of Australia, that it should give. I ask honorable members opposite to put themselves in the position of the men who are engaged on these boats. What would be their feeling if they were in the position of seamen working in a nationalized industry? Would they not be keenly desirous of making that industry a greatsuccess? We- know that they would., and if in such circumstances they would look for representation on the Board, they should ibc prepared to concede it to the men employed in- connexion with the operations of the Commonwealth Shipping Line to-day. If the seamen were represented on the Board, they would know that when they bad a grievance they ‘ could put their case before their representative, and thus the possibility of strikes would be greatly minimized. It is frequently found that those who control nationalized industries are out of sympathy with those who are employed in them. Their lot often has been cast in luxurious surroundings, and they know nothing of the conditions of the men working in the industry. Consequently there is not that harmonious relationship between them and the workers that’ should exist if the industry is to be successful. In nearly every case in which a nationalized industry has been a failure that has happened because harmonious relations have not existed between the men and the management of the industry. If our seamen who believe in a national shipping line are given representation on the Board of Management, they will endeavour to make the Line a success. If things are not going right according to their view, instead of’ creating an industrial disturbance by striking, they will appeal to their representative to use his influence with his fellow members of the Board. Some honorable members have said that the workers’ representative on the Board could not be trusted to use his own judgment. That objection to the amendment is not supported by my experience of men who have represented unions. In Queens- land industrial disputes have been prevented by representatives of the Labour party who, before entering Parliament, were engaged in the industries in which trouble has arisen. “Where the workers have had no representation in the management of an industry, a parliamentary representative of Labour’ has negotiated with the employers for them. * He has known them, lived amongst them, and understood them. They have had confidence in him, and have been prepared to accept his advice. In some cases, if he thought their demands not justified, he has told them so, and they have been prepared to give way. If he thought their demands were justified, he fought for their rights, and ‘eventually they invariably got them. If there were a representative of the men on the Board of the Commonwealth Shipping Line he would understand them, and they would trust him and would believe that he would see that they received a fair deal. If their grievance were not justified, he could put the case of the Board before them, and thus exercise an influence upon them that no member of the Board,, constituted as the Government propose, could have. Therefore, in the best interests of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, we urge honorable members opposite to give the seamen a representative on the Board, who can act as an intermediary to see that they get fair play, and so that they may take an interest in the industry and strive to make it a success. We know that the hon- orable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is strongly opposed to the nationalization of industries. He is strongly opposed to the retention of this shipping Line by the Commonwealth Government. He believes that private enterprise should control all these concerns. His opinion on this matter cannot be- accepted as that of one who is desirous of making the Line a great’ success. Men who stand for the abolition of all government trading would like nationalized industries to prove abject failures within the shortest possible time. We, on the other hand, believe that such industries as the Commonwealth Shipping Line can be run better in the interests of the people by the Commonwealth Government than by a private firm, -whose only object would be to earn the greatest possible profit. This was proved by the conduct of private shipping lines during the war, when the producers of Australia were mulct in millions of pounds sterling by the imposition of excessive freights., The honorable member for Fawkner is absolutely wrong in his contention that it would not be wise to give those employed by the Commonwealth Shipping Line a representative on the Board, on the ground that such a representative would not be free to express his own opinions: Experience has proved that men in such positions can be trusted. The. representative proposed would be elected by all the men engaged in the industry and would possess their confidence. The great majority pf these men are keenly desirous of doing the right thing by the Line, and the Government may rest assured that their selection of a representative would ‘be a good one. They would be concerned in proving that this experiment was justified. Certain honorable members supporting the Government have said that they are inclined, to give the suggestion a’ trial. I plead with them to cast their votes for the amendment. Anything which is done for the first, time is. an experiment. If Australia had stood still because other countries had not established such institutions as the Commonwealth Bank and a State insurance department, it would never have progressed. The adoption of the amendment would be a very big experiment in Australia, but in other countries it has been proved’ that, to get efficiency, mutual confidence between employers and employees must be promoted. The statement of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), that the. representative of the workers could not be relied upon to use his own judgment, is not true. The workers’ representative would be elected for not less than three, and not more than five, years, and I believe that any stand he took would be indorsed by the great majority of the men engaged in the industry, provided he was honest and sincere, and had due regard to the interests of the men and the Line. I appeal to the Prime Minister, even at this late hour, to show that he is not callous to the interests of the thousands of men engaged in the industry. I appeal to him to take them into his confidence, and to trust them ‘by giving them representation on the Board. They will then have the responsibility placed upon their shoulders of insuring continuity of service, and proving that the nationalization of shipping is an improvement upon private ownership. They will realize that they can redress their grievances by other means . than long strikes, which no workers welcome, with the consequent holding up of shipping and destruction of produce. Seamen and others employed y the Commonwealth Line desire continuity of employment. Let the Commonwealth Government prove that it is a model employer, and if it does so the men will respond. Those honorable members who are employers know that if they give their employees a fair deal, instead of treating them as slaves, 98 per cent, of them will respond by rendering the very best service they can. A new system of management is necessary to get rid of the industrial chaos that has afflicted the world hitherto. Many industrial disputes have arisen because the harmonious relationship that should exist between the workers and their employers has been absent. The Government have an opportunity to try something which has not previously been tested in Australia. If they would take the initiative, their example would be followed by many private employers.
.- The wearying platitudes of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) might have been interesting fifteen or twenty years ago, but they are not so today. The honorable member said that the great bulk of the workers were good at heart and thoroughly sound. I entirely agree with him, but, unfortunately, the great bulk of the workers, who won a fine reputation for the Labour party of Australia, have retired in disgust and have left the field of union management to the dangerous revolutionists who are now running the Labour party of this coun try. If the statements made by members of the Opposition represented the opinions of most of the workers of Australia, there would not be much difference of opinion in this Committee regarding the matter under consideration.
– Why keep repeating those statements?
– I never miss an opportunity of repeating them, and I never shall. I shall repeat them to the dismay of my young friend, who talks, almost without end, in a way which does not represent the true position. We have to take present-day conditions and dangers into consideration, and if Parliament does its duty it must adopt safeguards against the destructive influences of the leaders of the Labour movement. Because of that, I am “ red-hot “ against this amendment. It is just as well to get hot sometimes, but I assure my honorable friends that I am in the best of humour,- and that I have the greatest pity in the world for those who cannot represent things as they are. The honorable member for Capricornia referred to the policy of his party
DS a policy of nationalization. It is a policy, not of nationalization, but of socialization. Misleading statements of that character will net deceive the people of Australia, because they know too much about the situation. Members of the Opposition would have served their own interests better than they have done if they had accepted the Bill as presented by the Government. I am not an enthusiastic supporter of the Bill, and I have never been a whole-hearted supporter of the principle contained in it.
– The honorable member is now not “red-hot,” but “stone-cold.”
– I am “ red-hot “ against anything that is bad, and against the principles of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). When this subject was before the House about two> years ago, I said that I had’ no sympathy with the continuation of any part of the Commonwealth Fleet except the “ Bay “ liners. I said that every part of the world was feverishly building cargo tonnage, but insulated tonnage was limited. I thought we would be justified, for the protection of our perishable products, in continuing the “ Bay “ liners and increasing their number as occasion demanded.
– The honorable member is a socialist to that extent.
– The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) is not a Socialist, but a socialization advocate, and he does not tell his farmer constituents so.
– He does.
– He twists on those occasions, and makes his views appear quite different from what they are. Members of the Opposition ought to be thoroughly satisfied. They have spoken of the hardships and troubles of the industrialists who work for the Line, but there is not a shipping line on earth in which the workers enjoy the same conditions and receive the same pay as the men on the Commonwealth Line.
– Is the honorable member sorry for that?
– I am not sorry, because I believe in good conditions for good men, but not for loafers.
– Does the honorable member say they are loafers?
– I do not. My objection is to the men who are tricky, like the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe), in their presentation of this question to the people. That kind of thing is regarded with suspicion by audiences in every part of Australia. In spite of the excellent conditions under which the employees of the Line work, what has been the attitude, not of the great body of workers on the ships, but of men like Mr. Walsh and those under his immediate influence? They have caused the ships to be tied up on the slightest pretext. I say to the Prime Minister, we are sacrificing the interests of the producers of this country by this want of discipline. I am certain there is no chance of the Line being continued if the past is to be repeated. I should have thought honorable members on the other side would be delighted at the chance to continue the Line, and that the seamen of Australia will stillhave the possibility of Australian wages and. conditions when travelling ‘in other parts of the world. I will give another reason why there will be great danger if this amendment is inserted. Honorable members talk about nationalization. Why do they not talk about socialization ? The Communists have been admitted to the Labour party of Australia.
– That sort of thing will not suit Angas.
– Name the Communists.
– The only part of South Australia it will suit is West Adelaide. It will not suit the Commonwealth. Every man who is true to his country, and desires to see our primary and secondary industries preserved, should do everything he can to safeguard the country against this destructive movement, which has been received into the Labour ranks.
– What do you mean?
– The honorable member knows thoroughly well what I mean. The Communists have been received into the Labour party.
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) should deal with the amendment.
– The Communists sought admission in the United Kingdom, and they were rejected by a vote of about 2,250,000 to60,000 or 70,000, but in Australia they have been admitted into the fold. I ask honorable members on the other side, who state that they are the soul of moderation and safety, what they have to say about this business? They have nothing to say. The supreme council tells them what they must do.
– The council of action.
– The nature of the Labour movement outside is so constantly changing, and the titles of the offices vary so frequently, that one may be forgiven for not knowing the exact designation of officials at a particulartime. Honorable members opposite know very well that one of the leading revolutionary spirits of this country’ welcomed the Communists, and said, “White-anting has been going on in Australia for years. We have been preparing, and there is receptive soil. It will take root here better than anywhere else.”
– The honorable member is not keeping to the amendment.
– I am using an illustration, and a telling one. I shall deal with the amendment very quickly. If it is adopted by this Committee, I shall fight against the Bill, tooth and nail, night and day.
– I offer my small meed of praise to the member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) for introducing the amendment. I am sorry that dealing with the sea has made the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) seasick, but after he gets rid of the bile, he will find the journey very pleasant. The time is becoming short, however, in which he will be able to frighten the people with this Communist talk. While this sort of thing makes a brilliant display for the public outside, the honorable member must realize that the time comes when elections are held, and when this red-rag business, or putting the candle into the pumpkin, as we call it, is useless. It is all very pretty and spectacular, and most dramatic, but, likea rocket, while in the air, it is very beautiful, but it comes down like a very commonplace stick
– Will the honorable member deal with the amendment ?
– I know it is very painful for the honorable member, for once he was nearly a communist himself. I sympathize deeply with him, but I must reply to the matter so that we may consider the amendment in its true perspective. I desire the amendment to be seen clearly and in proper balance, so that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) may have his solar plexus at the right angle. In the artillery during the war we used to call that “ levelling your bubble.” Mr. Maxwell will find his bubble levelled before we have done with him. I do not wish to go into the arguments that have been used in favour of this amendment because, to my mind, they are irrefutable, but I do not want the decision prejudiced by this communist talk by members ‘who have very little care for those with whom they are out of touch. I have no fear that communism will interfere with the Bill. From its earliest days the Labour party have served the people of this country well, and its most protective legislation has come from them. I can recall the day when I was quite a young fellow, and I saw Gregor McGregor go out in his bowyangs from St. Kilda to stand on a trolly on Montefiore Hill and preach the Same, ideals that we are preaching today. Later he and “ Bob “ Guthrie, who was a sailor, and helped to run the great maritime strike of 1892, which resulted in the birth of the Labour party, were maligned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), who was then a member of the South Australian Parliament, just as he would malign us.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect this with the amendment?
– The object of the amendment is to appoint an industrial representative on the Shipping Board. The argument used by the honorable member for Wakefield was to show that that would not have the effect suggested by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I am endeavouring to prove that it will, and I mention McGregor and Guthrie to show how representatives of the workers more than make good. Guthrie was a seaman, and from the day he entered this Parliament until he fell away from the ideals which he helped to create, he made good. I said in my second -reading speech that he was honoured in his demise for the work that he did for the seafaring community of this land.
– He was the general of navigation.
– He was, and he was a sailor. I do not propose to deal further with the communist aspect of this debate, . except to say that in the thirty, years in which the Labour party have been in public life in Australia they have accomplished a great deal. They have been responsible for passing our best legislation, and I challenge any man in the House to say that the Labour party ever did anything inimical to the best interests of the community. I do not say they have made no mistakes, but they have accomplished more for the people of Australia than any party before or since. Will it be suggested that, if the amendment of the honorable member for Yarra is accepted, there is no seaman or no member of the working class in Australia to-day who can efficiently fill the position of representative on the Shipping Board? Who will say that there is not another “Bob” Guthrie? To say such a thing would be most insulting to a large section of the community upon whom this country depends for its development. If it were not for the inherent Conservatism of members on the other” side this suggestion would be accepted in the interests of the community, and it would go a great way towards the proper and efficient running of the service. I expect the representatives of the rural producers to vote for the amendment, and to subsequently move that the Board shall include a representative of the primary producers. If honorable members in the corner are as alive to the interests of those whom they represent as we axe to those’ of our constituents, they will not allow this Bill to pass without providing for representation of the primary producers on the Board, so that they may not be bled in respect of freights on their produce. They will not say that there is no man in their ranks qualified to take a seat on the Board. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) last night showed his acquaintance with the problem of freights on produce, and his general fitness to represent the producers in the administration of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. And he is not the only member of the Country party who is qualified for that work. Therefore I hope that members of that party will see that the third member of the Board is a representative of the primary producers. We require at the head of the enterprise a man with a shrewd business head. His two colleagues should be representatives of the principal interests concerned. The primary produoers will provide more freights for the Line than will any other section of the community, although in respect of incoming cargo the general community will pay indirectly a big amount in freights. I take it, however, that the representative of the primary producers, while protecting the interest of his own constituents, would also insure that the general community was not fleeced. So, too, would the representative of the workers. The representation of different interests in the control of industry is not an innovation. After all, a Board does not do the work of management; it controls the men who do the job. That is why we require at the head of it a shrewd business man. Let the Government choose the best man available for the position of chairman and representative of the Commonwealth, and the workers and the primary producers will choose the best men they can find to represent their respective interests. The adoption of this proposal would domore to make the Commonwealth Shipping
Line a success than would all the diatribes that emanated from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster).
.- I rise to support the amendment. Members on both sides of the House have declared their desire that the Commonwealth Shipping Line shall operate successfully, and if they are sincere in that profession they must be prepared to adopt means by which their wishes can be realized. It is essential to the success of any industry that the employees in it should enjoy good conditions, and be entrusted with a certain amount of the responsibility of management. As one honorable member has already pointed out, the evolution of industry is in the direction of giving to employees a share in the management, and wherever that policy has been put into operation it has proved successful beyond any question. During the five or six years in which the Commonwealth Shipping Line has been operating a number of industrial disputes have occurred between the management and the workers, some of them due to misunderstanding, with the result that the running of the ships has been hampered. We should learn a lesson from the past, and so frame our legislation that those old difficulties will be obviated in future. If the Board included a representative of the employees, more cordial relations would exist between the workers in ‘the industry and the management, and that good feeling would be an important contribution towards the success of the venture. The Prime Minister stated that he believed in the principle of giving to those engaged in an industry a share in the responsibility of management, but I am surprised that he is not prepared ‘to put his belief into practice by accepting the amendment. The Commonwealth Shipping Line is on a par with any other industry in the community, and those honorable members who profess to realize the importance of harmonious relations between employer and employee, and who say that they believe in giving workersa share in the control of industry, could have no better opportunity of putting their professions into practice than by granting representation on the Board to the employees of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) is not far from conversion to this principle, and I am hopeful that he -will support the amendment. “ While the lamp holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return.”
– The honorable member is wasting his breath. I believe in this proposal.
– I am glad to receive that assurance, and I hope the honorable member will use his influence with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who said he was almost persuaded to support the amendment. I ask the honorable member for Fawkner to realize that the amendment is moved with a sincere desire to obviate many of the industrial difficulties that have beset the Commonwealth Shipping Line in the past.
– I believe that is the intention.
– And the amendment provides that the representative to be appointed shall be an employee of the Board’. This surely should remove any fear entertained by certain . honorable members supporting the Government that the policy may be fraught with danger. The honorable, member for Wakefield is hopeless, but I think the honorable member for Fawkner may be induced to accept the amendment which will result in continuity of operations and give a greater sense of contentment to the employees of the Line. No other member of the Board is likely to have a more intimate knowledge of the actual difficulties of those directly engaged in it. . The honorable member for Richmond told us that he could see no redeeming feature in the proposal, and that all the arguments in its favour left him “ stone cold.” From an industrial stand-point, the honorable member comes from the stone age, and therefore we need not be surprised at his attitude. I am- sorry, because he should view this problem from the Australian stand-point. The adoption of the amendment will do much to remove any causes of industrial unrest among the employees of the Line. I hope that even at this late hour the Prime Minister will accept the. principle that a representative of Labour should be appointed to- the * Board and so overcome many of those difficulties that have confronted the management hitherto.
– I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) will accept the amendment. It cannot be urged as an objection that it is an attempt to obtain job control, though I have been expecting to hear this advanced as a reason why the amendment should be rejected. Job control will not be possible by the appointment of one representative of the men to a Board of four. I believe, however, that representation of the industrial unions on the Board will appeal to the best in our workmen,, and thus do much to insure the success of the Line. The workers’ representative would be able to place before the other directors the views of the men, and, in turn, would b.e in a position to explain the business view-point of the Board to the industrial unions. The honorable member for Fawkner suggested that the industrial representative, whoever he might be, would not have the courage to- stand up before fellow-unionists and explain the business side of a request that might be objected to by the management. I have had some experience with the Waterside Workers Union, and I know that, although they are a rough and l-eady body of men, they are, like the average unionist, reasonable and quite ready to hear the other side of a case stated. There are, of course, a number of single young men who, on occasion, will tell others to go to an unhealthy climate, but they are in a minority. Only good can result from the adoption of the amendment. The honorable member’ for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) made much of the fact that very often Labour representatives spoke against “ big business.” Surely he differentiates between Government “ big business,” as repre- Qsented in this shipping enterprise, and “big business” of private concerns! We do. It is the duty of Labour members to urge men employed by “ big business “ to give a fair return for wages received, and it is our duty likewise to urge men engaged in Government “ big business,” from the highest to the lowest, to do their very best to insure its success because it is a national concern, and it is along these lines that we expect ultimately to work out the social salvation of the people. On more than one occasion I have done this, and I am prepared to do so again. Labour members have the courage of their convictions. It is their duty to lead the working classes. They should be strong enough to go to the unions, and, if necessary, tell the men that a course of action which, perhaps, they favour is not in the best interests of the working classes. Unless a Labour man is strong enough to do this he is unfit for leadership. The honorable member for Wakefield has been taunting us continually about socialization. He said that I would not be prepared to go into my own electorate and advocate socialization of industries. I can assure him that I did so on nearly every occasion during the last campaign, though I did not state the case as it has been explained to-day; for the simple reason, as the honorable member himself very well knows, that an objective is not’ something which can be attained to-day or to-morrow. It is the ideal for which we are aiming. We hope to achieve our objective, namely, the socialization of industries, along the line of nation aliization, by proving the efficiency of such an undertaking as the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and gradually working on and upwards to our high and lofty ideal. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) also said that the working people were not behind the Labour party. In reply, I’ should like him to explain how it was that, at the last Federal elections in South Australia, we contested each of the ten seats, and secured the return of seven Labour members. If the working people did not vote for our candidates, who did ?
.- When I submitted my amendment to-day I refrained from making anything in the nature of a speech, contenting myself with remarks which I’ had made on the o second reading last night. I felt, however, during the course of the debate, that it would be necessary for me to give my reasons, and perhaps some of the considerations that lie behind the amendment. I hope honorable members will not accuse me of indulging in anything like an academic lecture if I place one or two of the aspects of the position before them. I trust I shall be pardoned if I say that those who are opposed to the amendment appear to have missed our. intention. They seem to regard my, proposal as one simply to settle disputes. The Prime Minister himself was under this misconception, I believe, because he offered as a substitute the appointment of a committee for the settlement of disputes. That was not the objective so much as to prevent disputes taking place.
We believe there will still be - the constituted tribunals for the settlement of disputes as to wages, labour, and working conditions. The amendment seeks to take the position a little further. I am afraid honorable members have not been studying the industrial movement in other parts of the world. I hope they have. I do not pretend to know all that is taking place, but I have given a considerable amount of study to international industrial affairs, and I have not been to a biased source for my information. I have been reading diligently, but perhaps not as fully as I might, the reports of the International Labour Office established in connexion with the League of Nations. Consideration has been given by that body to industrial problems, and a number of official reports have been issued. All of these reports do not by any means favour our side. Both viewpoints are stated, and, therefore, the conclusions arrived at are absolutely unbiased. The Prime Minister said to-day that he would not accept the principle of appointing a representative of the workers t0 a business Board to manage the Line. I emphasize that that is exactly the reason why we want a representative of the workers there. There is a good deal in the contention of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). I believe that, if he can be brought to see our point of view, he will vote for the amendment. I am afraid, however, that he has not seen it yet. The honorable member said, and I heartily agree with him, that in industry and the methods of production to-day we have lost the personal nexus, and that there is now only the legal nexus, meaning that we have lost the personal touch between employers and employed. It is true that we have lost that touch.
– Praise the Lord !
– I do not praise the Lord, but regret the fact. It was a more humane system when employer and employee worked side by side, but modern methods have swept that away. Most ‘great businesses now are carried on by stock companies, with dividenddrawing shareholders, who know not the men and women who earn the dividends, and care nothing about their personal welfare. This ‘ is not because the shareholders are soulless, but because our present system is soulless. Under every reconstruction scheme in every advanced country - in America, England, France, Germany, and Italy - great strides have been made in the last few years in the direction of giving the workers an interest in the management of the business with which they are connected. That is being done by private employers under the system of private enterprise. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) emphasized the fact to-day that Labour believes in abolishing “ big business,” that Labour stands for socialization, which means the abolition of private enterprise. That is perfectly true, and the .honorable member in no way misrepresented us; but where the analogy is between my proposition and his argument, I fail to see. Even allowing that all he says is true, it does not mean that the workers and the Labour party are not in favour of business principles being applied to nationalized industries. How could we make nationalization a success if it were not conducted on sound business principles?
– Exactly ; it is because those principles have not been applied that so far it has not been a success.
– It has succeeded in many more cases than it has failed, as all the history of the movement proves. Even in the case of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, which is said to have lost over £2,000,000, one illustration will show how enormously the enterprise has succeeded. .During last year freights were reduced by the Commonwealth Line by 10 per cent., and as a result the freights charged by other lines of shipping were forced down to the same extent. Taking the shipping masters’ estimate of tonnage, affected, the Line has saved this country £5,000,000 this year. Where nationalization has failed to bring the workers into a proper appreciation of their responsibility in the work they are doing, is where there has been a failure to give them a personal interest. Nationalization has failed where it has failed to take the workers into the confidence of the management by adopting the course which my amendment proposes in the case of the Shipping Line. As a matter of fact, we are behind the times in Australia if we are not prepared to adopt that course. The honorable member for Fawkner and other honorable members opposite, including, I think, the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), have spoken at outside gatherings in favour of the system of copartnership. Those honorable members have faith in private enterprise, and believe that the capitalistic system’ can be made humane. Many of them realize that the system is not humane to-day, but, on the contrary, is most cruel, and they are sincerely desirous of making it humane feeling, that if that is not done the system will come to an end - that it will come to chaos. The system can only be preserved, even for a time, by adopting the principles of intelligent employers all over the world, and placing the workers on boards of directors. I do not believe that the capitalistic system can be made humane; that is why I am a Socialist. Private greed and monopoly should be replaced with public con-, trol; but I am prepared to support any proposal made by honorable members opposite that will ameliorate the condition of the workers, even under the capitalistic system.” In the case of the Shipping Line we have national control, and the profits are made directly and indirectly on behalf of the people of Australia. We on this side are anxious that the Line should be a success and, that being so, we are observing what intelligent employers of labour are doing to make their private business successful. Surely that is a sound course to pursue? The Shipping Line is not “ big business “ in the ordinary sense of the term, but it represents a bignational undertaking, and, therefore, if we desire success we must copy the methods adopted by the intelligent employers referred to.
Let me give honorable members a few illustrations. In 1919 there was a Reconstruction Conference at Atlantic City, in the United States of America, and the representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce declared in favour of the very principle that is embodied in my amendment of to-day. The great steel king, Charles Schwab, said that in opposing proposals for the democratization of industry, and for giving workers representation,not on committees to settle disputes, but on boards to control business, they had been committing a psychological error, or an error in principle. Then in 1918, after the revolution in Germany, when the German Government saw the necessity for reconstruction, it provided in the Constitution for the establishment of workers’ councils, and giving the. workers a voice in management. There has been a similar movement in Italy, particularly amongst the metal workers. As I said last night, there are in England to-day sixty industries working under workshop committees and joint councils, on which workers and employers have equal representation, and those industries control 3,500,000 workers. It will be seen, as I said before, that we in Australia are behind the times.
– Labour in England and America stands on a different footing from labour in Australia.
– The objective of the British Labour party is identical with the objective of the Australian Labour party. In America the Federation of Labour is non-political, and, therefore, different in that respect from the Australian industrial unions, but there is extending a movement in America with ideals identical with those of Labour all over the world.
– Does the honorable member say that in those cases cited the workers have a voice in the management?
– In many cases, yes.
– Can the honorable member cite those cases?
– I cannot cite individual cases, -because my authority gives only the total numbers.
– The honorable member referred to workshop committees.
– Yes, and joint industrial councils.
– But the honorable member saidthat the workers were represented on the directorate, and shared in the management.
– The workers are represented on the directorates of some industries, and that tendency is growing. Sixteen years ago a prominent firm in Boston set out to increase their profits, and their first step was to place four employees on the directorate of eleven members, and to allow a general meeting of the employees to elect a committee which iitself settled all disputes that arose, fixed working hours, and so forth. In Germany the workers’ councils have a voice in the business control ; and I invite honorable members to read an article which appeared within the last few months in the Industrial and Mining Standard on this subject. Germanyrecognised that it had a serious task in meeting the competition of the world, and, though private employers did not like the idea, workers’ councils have been accepted by them as the only efficient way in which to meet that competition.
– Would the honorable member support the adoption of copartnership?
– There is a vast difference between the acceptation of that and other methods under private enterprise, and their acceptation under national enterprise. One great objection unionists have to any scheme of copartnership and of works committees is that the sole idea of the employer who adopts them is to increase his own profits, although in many cases the system does improve thelot ofthe workers. This is the same objection that the unionists have to the piece-work system, which also has in many cases improved the condition of the workers financially. But under a competitive capitalistic system the piece-work is frequently used merely as a weapon to speed up the workers, with no idea of giving any advantage to the latter. In the case of the Shipping Line, we, on behalf of the people, are the employers, and we may take a leaf out of the book of the intelligent private employer. It must be remembered that we are in Parliament as the representatives of the people, who are the owners of the Line, and we must look on it, if we wish for success, as proprietors and employers. It is from that standpoint that I have submitted this amendment. I have not introduced it as applicable to every industry; that is for honorable members opposite to do, for it is they who desire success for private enterprise. The amendment is intended for a public enterprise, and those intelligent employers who have used the method in order to make great profits set a good example to us.
– Where the employer has brought his people into co-operation with himself is when the workers are free to treat with him, uninfluenced by any outside organization.
– In reply to the honorable member, I shall read a quotation that will prove very interesting, but before doing so I desire to say that in every case where co-operation with the workers has succeeded, the employers have initiated it with a -sincere desire -to improve their lot, as well as improve the business’; -and cases in which it has failed are those where it . has been introduced by sweaters who wish to take the last ounce out of their men. I have seen examples of co-partnership in the mining industry. I worked in the industry at Ballarat myself, and under a tributing system earned 8s. a week for three months. There were 1,000 men who averaged 15s. per week for two years. In those cases where employers have been animated by a sincere desire to* improve the lot of their workers, this principle has proved a success, and I have not been able to discover a case in which the employees have failed to respond. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked whether it was not a fact that in these cases the workers were free from outside influences. I think the honorable member will admit that Mr. Cadbury has done something more than experiment in this direction. Here is what he says : -
The test of any scheme is the extent to which it creates and fosters- a spirit of goodwill without lessening the loyalty of the worker to his class and his organization.
– Does not Mr. Cadbury in the same book draw a distinction between management and workshop committees ?
– At any rate, the objection raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is well answered by the quotation I have made. Mr. Cadbury insists that the test of a scheme is that it should foster a spirit of goodwill without- alienating the workers from their class or their unions.
– I admit that; but it all depends on the object of the cooperation, and whether it includes management.
– The honorable member said that business principles might make it necessary for the Board of Management to refuse a request of their men. He said that the representative of the men would be a partisan, and oil the Board as a special pleader for them. That I deny. I. admit that, if it were a question of an appointment to a disputes committee, the representative of the men would be a special pleader and partisan, and so would the representative of the employers. That would be their job, but in such cases they would have an independent chairman to decide between them. The amendment deals with a different principle. I ask honorable members opposite to take the men into tlie management of the Line. The workers will trust their representative, -and will listen to his representations where they have made certain demands. Where he has been able to show them that, to satisfy their demands would lead to the industry being closed down, the demands have been withdrawn. I can point to numerous other cases where employees - have asked for certain conditions and the employers have replied that if their demands were granted they would be forced to close down. They have proceeded with their demands, and forced them upon the employers, and the industry has gone along flourishingly. That nas happened again and again, until the workers have regarded such statements as merely a cry of “ wolf,” and have pressed their demands until they have been acceded to. 1 believe that, if the workers are given representation in the business management of the Line, their representative will go fearlessly to them, if he is satisfied that their demands are against the interests of the Line, and will tell them the truth. That would be a good thing for all concerned, and would bring about harmony. If I believed that the representative of the men, knowing that, in view of the business aspect of the matter, demands they made were wrong, would not have the courage to go to the employees and tell them so, I would withdraw the amendment. Of course the success of any of these schemes must always depend, to a great extent, on the men who are to carry them out.
– If the men’s delegate went back to them and told them that, from a business point of view, their demands could not be conceded, would he not lay himself open to the charge so often made, “You have been ‘got at’ by your fellow directors?”
– My experience of workmen is that where a man has been chosen by themselves they place the greatest confidence in him. We have amongst the members of this House men who have been able to steer great bodies of men through great industrial crises. A notable example is the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who has guided men in serious crises. I say that if the Government selected their own nominee for appointment to the Board, regardless of the opinions of the workers, they would probably say that such a man was ‘ ‘ got at “ before he was appointed, and they would have no trust in him. But if the men appoint their own representative and he tells them that the Line cannot stand their demands, I venture the opinion that his representations will have a good effect. We are dealing with this matter as employers, and we should not fear to follow the example of the” most intelligent employers in different parts of the world to-day. There is a growing tendency to give workers a voice in the management of the industry in which they are engaged. We are interested in the success of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and I urge the Government, even at this stage, to accept the amendment and give the proposal a trial. I believe it will be found to be in the best interests of the Line ‘and of this country.
.- I feel that the Government have been given the best advice, but that they fear their friends in dealing with the amendment. The Commonwealth shipping industry should stand alongside the Post and Telegraph Department, the Railway Department, and other Departments of public utility, and should hold a most important place in the progress of Australia. Its success will add materially to the wealth of the Commonwealth.- Every honorable member who is not wedded to a particular company should give the Line his hearty support. I believe that the clause Tinder consideration is the most important clause in the Bill. The representative of- the men appointed to the Board under the amendment - if it be carried - could do more for the progress of the Line than any other ‘ member of the Board. Eighty per cent, of the expenditure of the Board would bo directly his concern. Are we not going to make some move to improve the conditions of the workers ? Has not every writer in the world acknowledged that the capitalistic system as carried on prior to the war must be altered ? Is there any man who can claim to have ‘any knowledge of the world’s progress who does not admit that changes must take place? Why should not the change proposed by the amend ment be made ? I realize that some honorable members are well advanced in years, and my experience has taught me that it is impossible to alter the views of such men. I therefore urge the younger members of the House on both ‘ sides to exercise their judgment, and to remember that the past can show us nothing of which we can be proud so far ‘as the employment of labour is concerned. It is to the future that we must look for help in this direction. I can remember the time when I had to stand on the platform and advocate early closing. The spirit displayed in opposition to the amendment is the same ‘as that which was displayed against early closing, and against demands made for the improvement of conditions in factories and workshops. But we succeeded in having factories made sanitary and fit for human beings to work in. The amendment is intended to improve the conduct and management of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. We have been told that about sixty awards of the Court apply to employees in the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and twenty awards to those employed in connexion -with the Commonwealth Shipping Line. Would it not be of great assistance to the management if one of the members of the Board were acquainted with these various awards, seeing that they must be observed in the operation of the Line? I am surprised that the Government have not accepted the amendment. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) made a speech which reminded me of a speech made by an opponent of mine some years ago in Sydney. He spoke for an hour and a half, and when he had concluded his friends asked him, “ Which side are you on?” He said, “I made a No- Yes speech.” The ‘honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is in very much the same position. He has had a legal education, and I presume he went to a university. Some members of this House have had a university education and no . knowledge, and others have knowledge but have had no university education. I venture to say that . honorable members who have knowledge are prepared to improve the conditions of those they represent. All the improvements that have taken place in the world have been due to men of knowledge. Members of the Opposition have brought- their knowledge to bear on the amendment. The adoption of the amendment is necessary to make the workers contented, for without contentment there can be no progress. It would satisfy the employees, and give them respect for the Board. The workers have very . little confidence in the directors who control most public companies, for they know that these men are out ‘ to serve their own selfish interests., A representative of the maritime unions on the Shipping Board would be anxious to serve the Government as well’ as the workers. He would do his best in the position, because he would want to retain his job. The probability is that he would watch with keen interest the progress of the Line, and try to make it a success, and, like members of the Opposition, would give his soul and carcass in the service of those he represents. The debate to-day has been a credit to members on this side. They are absorbed in their task of improving the social and moral welfare of the workers. There was no necessity for the zeal that they put into their speeches, for they could have done as honorable members on the other side did, and acted like a regiment of sealed “ oysters.” If the carrying of the amendment would have serious consequences, why do not supporters of the Government demonstrate the fact? Why do they worry about what the newspapers will say to-morrow morning 1 I ask them to be men, and, like those who sit in Opposition, tell the truth and fear no one. Any honorable member who votes against the amendment ought to have more solid grounds for doing so than have been disclosed in the. puerile speeches delivered outside this Parliament. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) asked whether the Labour party had done anything in public life that had caused fear in the minds of Nationalists. I have been associated with the Labour party in Australia since its birth, and from that day to this its ideals have been humanitarian. The foundation of the zeal which Labour members put into their speeches is humanitarianism. Christ was the first Socialist. I hope honorable members on the other side will try to be larger minded. We, on this side, are proud when the newspapers write something unpleasant about us, for we then know that we have achieved some good. The Conservatives of Great Britain now fear the Labour party, the rise of which has been one of the best movements that have taken place in my lifetime in the British Parliament. There is someactivity and zeal in the British Labour party similar to that shown towardsthe amendment by members of theOpposition. We feel that we are layingthe foundation of Australia’s futuregreatness. The Prime Minister is in theawkward company of those who cannot see eye to eye with any progressive proposal. They fear the alteration of even, a line, syllable, or comma of the present system, especially if they think it will benefit their opponents. I believe thePrime Minister has misunderstood theposition. He, of course, is the Leader of the Government. Members of the Opposition have said some unpleasant thingsabout the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), but I have watched the present Prime Minister, and have observed thecontrol which he has over his following. When his hand goes up they are silent. He has a fine body of men to lead, because they do nothing while he leads. I hoped that Nationalist members would’ have realized the wisdom of making a changed. In the past six years Australiahas lost millions of pounds because of the actions of business men who were appointed to important positions. A man who would look after the interests of Labour would be an acquisition to theBoard, and would prevent many disputes. I assume that he would be a man of clean character, in whom the workers would have confidence. I am certain that success would attend any change in this direction. Even if the amendment is not carried I hope the Government will ap-_ point some one whose qualifications will be in keeping with what we desire. I am satisfied that the result of the vote is already well-known, and that nothing I can say or do will make any difference. At the next election, however, when the speeches delivered from this side of the. House will have been read by the intelli- gent electors of Australia, the effect will be seen.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Scullin’s amendment) - r put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . S’
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That after the word “ members “ in line 2, the words, “ and shall include a direct representative of the primary producers of the Commonwealth “ be inserted.
I do not intend to debate the matter at great length. It has often been said of the members on this side of the House that we represent only the industrialists who live in the metropolitan areas. I have always taken exception to such statements. I have listened throughout today to the debate that has just concluded, and I must admit that I have wondered why the representatives who claim to have the needs of the primary producers specially in their minds have not asked for a representative of those interests to be put on the Board. I remember that in the last Parliament the member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams), and other members in that corner, frequently criticised this
Line from the point of view of the primary producers. If that is not so I ask members to deny it. There is no denial. Why has there been an alteration ? I do. not think the members of the Country party will regard me as specially hostile to them. Divisions in the past have clearly shown that I am not distinctly hostile to them. I have a very friendly feeling towards them. I remind them that many of us on this side come from districts in which the population is engaged mainly in primary production. Therefore, I trust to be allowed reasonable time to put the case for the primary producers. I have no seaport in my. district, but I have manyprimary producers, and it is in their interests that I speak. It may be said by some that I am trying to make political capital. If that is not said some members of the other side, will say,” You are only looking after the industrial section. The Labour party has no care for the primary producers.” I do not mind which way you come at me, I intend to make my battle for the primary producing interests. No one will deny that our primary production means a great deal to Australia. We are a primary producing country. Our main exports are wool, wheat, meat, fruit, fresh and dried, and other things whichI need not mention. A large proportion of our products must be exported to oversea markets, and we have a choice only between the Commonwealth Line and the Shipping Combine. The three members who are to be appointed on the Board in accordance with the Prime Minister’s statement will give their attention to finance, repairs, and general shipping matters. if they are the only men to be appointed the primary producer will not receive the consideration that should be given to him. That Board will lay itself out to make the Line pay irrespective of everything else. A representative of the primary producers would also desire to make the Line profitable, but he would look at something more than the balance-sheet. There is always a tendency with these nationalized industries to judge them by the balance-sheet only, but they should also be judged by their usefulness and the service they render to the community. A representative of the primary producers would give moreattention to this aspect than the other members ofthe Board. His decisions would not be governed only by the financial situation. I heard the member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) speak of the freight on apples, and he did not appear to regard the Line very kindly. The member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) had something to say about wheat freights, and he also seemed to be dissatisfied with the Line. The ex-member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) was always attacking the Line because of the position in regard to apples.
– He would have voted’ it right out.
– I believe that. When the representatives in this House of the primary producing interests are kept out of touch with the inside affairs of the Commonwealth Line they do not understand the situation, and they voice their disapproval. That means that their supporters outside of the House also disapprove. I believe if a representative of the primary producers could come into close touch with the business side of the shipping line he would be a great help to the management. That will have a tendency to restore the confidence of the primary producers. There are in each of the three parties in this Chamber men who claim to represent the primary producers. They may express their opinion on this amendment, but let it not be said that there is only one party in the Chamber that attends to the interests of the primary producers. One of the evils resulting from the formation of a composite Ministry is that the members of the Country party have to sacrifice some of their principles. I make bold to say that if they had not entered- into an arrangement with another political party to support the composite Government, I would not have had a chance of moving my amendment; it would have been moved by one of the honorable members in the corner.
.- I am quite sure that the primary producers will realize that this Parliament has, in the honorable member for Angas, a very accommodating man- indeed. I am equally sure that they will not appreciate his action in making a farce of the advocacy of their interests. If I understand the views of the producers, they will be satisfied to have, the brainiest and most experienced men appointed to the Board in order to insure by efficient manage- ment cheap freights, while they continue the work of growing wheat and supplying freights for the ships. That is the job they understand.
.- It is impossible to remain unmoved by the fervent, sincere, and impassioned appeal made by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) on behalf of the primary producers. I am unable to rest longer under the imputation of being an “ oyster “ which is not only “ sealed,” but also “ small-minded.” Like the honorable member for Angas, I have no seaport in my constituency, and therefore I, like him, can, perhaps, regard myself as specially qualified to deal with the subject of the amendment. If the Prime Minister were actuated merely by political considerations he would have accepted both the last amendment and that now before the Chair,’ because if the Line failed it would be so easy to say that the failure was on account of the nature of the directorate that had been foisted upon the Government by this Committee, whilst if it succeeded no apology would be required. Accordingly I suggest to the Committee that the fact that the Prime Minister has refused to accept either amendment is some proof that he is sincere in his desire to give the Line a fair run according to what he regards as proper principles. What are proper principles? We are asked .to give representation on the Board to the primary producers. Why the primary producers rather than the secondary producers? Are not we all interested in the Line? Why should not there be representation of the manufacturers whose goods will be carried by the vessels? Why should there not be representatives of the passengers and of the learned professions?
– Lawyers particular.y
– Lawyers and doctors, as citizens, are interested in the success of the Line equally with the primary producers, and as they do not export any goods they will not have the occasion for making direct representations to the management as the primary producers will. It is reducing this debate to an absurdity to suggest that upon a business Board such as is proposed there should be placed representatives of special interests in the community. The Board is to be appointed for the purpose of managing a big shipping enterprise, and the important consideration is that the appointees shall possess the qualifications essential to the proper management of such an undertaking. Under the clause as drafted, the Government will have full power to appoint the persons best fitted to sit upon the Board, and for that reason I voted against the last amendment, and shall vote against that now before us. If there were a person possessing the qualifications referred to by various honorable members opposite when speaking on the last amendment, a person who possessed not only the confidence of the workers, but also the business ability which would enable him to make an efficient contribution towards the problems of management, I would not oppose his appointment; more than that, I would consider it to be the duty of the Government to appoint such a man to the Board under the power given by the clause as it now stands.
– Does the honorable member say that there are no such men ?
– No; but if there be such a man, it will be the duty of the Governmentto appoint him to the Board, and I sincerely hope it will do so. The clause provides that the Board shall consist of not less than three and not more than five members, and if there be a primary producer who could definitely assist the Board in the performance of its functions, and a member of an industrial union who would be a useful member of the directorate in the way indicated by honorable members opposite, I hope that such persons will be appointed. The clause gives the Government authority to appoint the best man they can find for the work to becarried out, and I support it in that form.
– The charge cannot be laid against me that there is no seaport in my electorate, for it comprises one-third of the sea coast of Australia. Asa Labour man, I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment. My constituency includes two farming electorates of the State Parliament, and I would be lacking in my duty if I did not try to secure representation of the primary producers on the proposed Board. Western Australia has had remarkable experience in regard to shipping. Some years ago the small pas toralists in the Kimberleys were unable to get space on the boats to send their stock to the southern market. At that time two ships were chartered to run to the ports of Wyndham and Derby, but the whole of the space on them was controlled by the large squatters. Consequently the small men who wished to send their “fats” to market had to drive them to either Wyndham or Derby - in many instances, a distance of hundreds of miles. At times when cattle were bringing a high price in the south the pricespaid to the small squatters by the two firmsthathad a monopoly of the shipping were such that it was impossible for them to make a living. It’ was only when the Government instituted a State shipping service and laid down the principle that small growers should receive prior consideration, that the cattle industry was able to progress. No ring should be allowed to control the space in the Commonwealth ships, but I fear that, unless men are appointed to the Board to look after the interests of the primary producers, that will occur. No member of the Chamber would so reflect on the primary producers as to suggest that there is not one of their number who has sufficient capacity to qualify him for a seat on the Board. I hold the same view iu regard to the representation of industrialists, but as certain influences behind the Government policy prevent us getting justice for them, I do appeal for representation of the primary producers, so that the Commonwealth Shipping Line may fulfil one of the principal purposes for whichit was instituted.
.- I do not know why this amendment should be received with derision by honorable members opposite. If the Commonwealth Shipping Line is to succeed, the Board controlling it must be representative of other than the commercial classes. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) inferred that there are no brains amongst those who represent the primary producers. Some of the brightest intellects in this’ and every other country have come from the working classes and the rural producers. I regret very much that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was not carried. I, as an Australian, desire this Line of steamers to succeed, and I am sure that if representation, is given to the primary producers they will be able to select from amongst their number one who will insure, amongst other things, that the Line is not dominated by the Shipping Combine as it has been in the past. That is one of the reasons that induces me to support the amendment. If the Line be left to the control of three men chosen from the commercial class it will meet with little success. There must be representation of the men engaged in the industries of the Commonwealth - the producers and the workers - if a big enterprise of this character is to yield satisfactory results. When the Wheat Board was established, the primary producers were without representation, and it was not a success . until there were on the Board men who understood the job. It is fair, therefore, that the primary producers should have representation on the Shipping Board. As Australians, we desire to see the right thing done by the people, and realizing the powerful commercial interests are at work all the time to ‘ ‘ kill “ any Commonwealth or State enterprise, we should see to it that the interests of the people are adequately safeguarded.
– If the amendment is going to be defeated, it will not be on account of reasons given by those who are opposed to it. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) advanced an astounding objection. I do not know how far he claims to speak for the primary producers, but it is just as well we should know exactly where he stands. He has told us that the primary producers would be quite satisfied with the appointment of the brainiest men available, the inference being, of course, that there were no brainy men amongst the primary producers. Therefore,” his admission was tantamount to a serious reflection’ upon the intelligence of the people he is supposed to represent in this House. And, surprising though it be, the honorable member’s suggestion was received enthusiastically by all the members of the Corner party. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), as a Collinsstreet primary producer, may be excused for his view-point. His remarks this evening were just what we might have expected from a gentleman carrying on the interesting occupation of farming the farmer. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) the other day, when we sought to get an increase of ls. a bushel for the farmers’ wheat by way of a Commonwealth guarantee, could not see his way to lend us support because he and other members of the late Country party have been completely “ nobbled “ by this composite Ministry. All they can do is to indulge in loud guffaws and jibes at everything which honorable members on this side of the House seek to do for the primary producers. The honorable member will in the future find himself in awkward situations because of his utterances during the past few days. He practically declared that the primary producer did not want another ls. per bushel for their wheat.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– Well, when we made a claim for another ls. a bushel guarantee, he failed to support us. He told us that we did not speak for the primary producers, and, as he failed to support the .motion, the inference is that, as he claimed to speak for the primary producers, they were demanding ls. less per bushel. To-night, getting more timid as time goes on, he is not prepared to say anything, but suggests that honorable members on this side are not serious. He has declared that the primary producers, or at ali events the wheat-growing section of them, have been seriously handicapped at every turn through inability to charter some of the Commonwealth vessels for wheat cargoes. Surely that is another excellent reason why they should have representation on the Board. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) said this afternoon that the primary producers were responsible for. the greater, part of the freights carried by the Commonwealth Line. Is that not another excellent reason why the amendment now before the Committee should be adopted? Unless the Line has the backing of the primary producers, it will be a failure. But those on the other side who claim to be representatives of the primary producers have been completely “ nobbled “ by the other section of the Ministerial party, and particularly by the right honorable gentleman at its head - another Flinders-lane farmer. They entered this House claiming to have been sent here to fight Flinders-lane influences. Indeed, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) on one occasion said something about being able to shoot the profiteers of Flinders-lane with a short-range gun from one of the windows of this building; but instead of doing that, we find that this gentleman, and other members of his party, have gone over holusbolus to those people. The primary producers will need no divining rod to find their friends in this House. They need only look at the division lists to see -how votes have been recorded when their interests have been at stake. I venture to say that had the Labour party been in control of the Treasury bench to-day, and been responsible for the introduction of this Bill, the honorable member for Echuca would have been one of the first to rise in his place and submit an amendment in terms similar to that moved by the honorable member for Angas. But, bound as he is now to this composite Government, he is unable to exercise his independent judgment, and therefore will vote against it.
– Have the primary producers asked for representation on the Board ?
– We cannot expect them to be waiting on the door-step to make known their demands. They send representatives here and expect them to watch their interests. The primary producers cannot leave their work every day in order to keep their representatives up to the “ collar.” They expect their representatives in this House to watch and fight for their interests. Members of the late Country party will be judged on their attitude to the fourteen points which they submitted to the electors during the last campaign. There was not bad material in those points, because, with one or two exceptions, they were, I think, purloined from the platform of our party.
– Then why find fault with them?
– I am only finding fault with honorable members of the Corner party for running away from them. The primary producers, judging their representatives by this platform, will naturally expect their interests to be safeguarded, so it is only fair to remind them of the real position. If members of the Corner party intend to vote against the amendment I can only leave them to their fate.
– Reference was made by the mover of this amendment, the honorable member for Angas (Mr Gabb), to some remarks which I made this afternoon with regard to the representation of the primary producer on the Board. What I did say was that the primary producers, as the largest providers of freight, might be regarded as having an equal right to representation on the Board with the employees of the Line, but that, nevertheless, we regard it as an absolutely unfit place to ask for representation upon. It is true that the platform of the Victorian Farmers Unioncontains a plank to the effect that we believe we should have representation on all Boards dealing with the sale of primary products. But we do not ask for representation in the management of the shipping, any more than we do for representation on the management of the railways, which also carry our goods. I am told that to-day there was formed what is known as the Country Labour party, and I take it that this amendment is its first off-spring, though I am afraid it will be still-born. At the time of the last Parliament, as an outside observer, and as President of the Victorian Farmers Union, I, with other members of that body, waited patiently for some evidence of a sincere desire on the part of our friends opposite to do something for the man on the land. But what did we find ? Those gentlemen, who are now so solicitous for the man on the land, assisted to their utmost in heaping heavy Tariff burdens on the staple necessaries of the primary producers. Those honorable members will have an opportunity later of showingtheir sincerity by helping, to some extent, to remove the intolerable burdens then created, and to assist us later on to secure representation on the Tariff Board. We on this side are anxious to see this Commonwealth Line a success. We do not desire to risk failure by placing on that Board men not specially trained in the management of such a business. This is an age when specialization enters into almost every calling, and, in my opinion, the three members of the Board should consist of a man with very complete knowledge of shipping, another with a knowledge of shipbuilding, and a third a financial expert. I should like to convey some idea of my astonishment when I heard the amendment proposed, by telling a little story. It is said that an old Scotchman, whose cow had triplet calves, named the first one “ Expectation,” the second “ Surprise,” and the third. “ Amazement.” My state of mind on hearing the amendment was precisely that of the old Scotchman when he first set his eyes on that third calf.
.- We were told by honorable members opposite that they could not support the amendment to appoint a representative of the workers to the Shipping Board because communistic tendencies might be displayed by the man selected. Those honorable members are now opposing the appointment of a representative of the primary producers. Surely they do not contend that the primary producers should be debarred from having representation because of their socialistic tendencies? If the members of the alleged Country party tell the truth, they must admit that they have been “brought to heel “ by the Nationalists, and are not free to speak their minds.
– I have just spoken mine 1
– But the . honorable member had his tongue in his cheek; he was speaking the words the Leader of the Government (Mr. Bruce) desired him to speak. What was the attitude of the Country party in the last .Parliament ? What will the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson), in view of the speeches he made then about the control of the Shipping Line, ‘ and the necessity for the farmers having a fair deal in the matter of freights, do now that he is asked to vote on an amendment for appointing a representative of the primary producers to the Board? On the 13th July, 1922, the honorable gentleman, speaking on the Commonwealth Shipping Line, said -
The Victorian Wheat Corporation, which has done its best to get charters from the Commonwealth Line, has succeeded in getting only three charters from it, because in respect of nearly every application, the price quoted was 5s. to 7s. 6d. more than was quoted by private firms. Whenever the Victorian Wheat Corporation approached the Commonwealth Line for charters, it was told that it could not carry at the price quoted by private firms, and that fact was used as a lever by the private firms to keep up .freights. The Commonwealth Line instead of saving the Victorian wheat producers 2d. per bushel, as some of the Ministers have claimed, has actually kept up the freights on wheat. It is responsible for an increase v rather .than a reduction.
I have not before me the figures needed to ascertain whether the honorable gentleman was then speaking the truth. What is the best way tn give the farmers the opportunity to ge& redress , for the grievances they haw against the management of the Line ? Is it not to appoint a representative on the Board? The ‘ Postmaster-General, who has “ managed “ himself into a capital position, declared in the last Parliament that the farmers were not getting a fair deal- that freights were a great deal too high - and that instead of being in competition with the Combine, the Line was working in unison with it. The most effective way to reduce freights on wheat, wool, cotton, and other produce is by having a representative of the primary producers on the Board who is directly interested in the reduction. It is of no use trusting to highly-paid officials in the city. We know from experience that if the farmers are to get redress they must have some voice raised on their behalf, and this they could have in the person of a representative on the Board capable of adequately expressing their views.
During the last Parliament the then Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr. Mcwilliams), ex-member fbr Franklin, spoke very clearly on this subject. Mr. Mcwilliams was an ex-Leader of the Country party as then constituted, and was known as “ Fighting Mac.” He it was who put up the fight for the farmers, and who was deposed as Leader of the party because he fought the Nationalists keenly and fairly. He could not be “ “ brought to heel,” and on the 12th October, 1922, when speaking on the subject, he said -
For some time past I have complained that the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers has practically joined the Shipping Combine. Instead of assisting in reducing rates of freight between Australia and England, the Commonwealth steamers have been rather the means of preventing any reduction from being brought about. A statement I got quite recently from the Wheat Board shows that,, although they shipped last year’s wheat by some seventy-five bottoms, only three vessels of the Commonwealth Line could he engaged, owing to the fact that our vessels were charging 5s. per ton more than was being charged by any other line, although at the same time our boats were running practically empty, and some of them were even lying idle in Australian ports.
That is what the Country party thought during the last Parliament. Conditions have not changed; in fact, to-day there is more necessity for the primary producers to have some one to represent their views, seeing that they are no longer voiced by the members of the alleged Country party. As the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) has pointed out, those members are silent to-day - there is not one word of protest from them. Why this silence? Those honorable members won their seats by condemning the Nationalists. Now they are joined up with them. The farmers of Australia, many of whom work from sunrise to sunset, thousands of miles, perhaps, distant from this Parliament, cannot be expected to keep in touch with all our doings and make requests before we take action. They ought to be able to trust the elected representatives of the people to see that they get a fair deal ; and to-night we have had an amendment proposed from this side in their interests. The members of the Colin. -. try party got their seats by telling .the farmers that they would put up a greater fight for them than any Nationalist or Labour members could. The position now is that Labour members are the true friends of the farmers. Honorable members on this ‘side do not find it necessary, before taking action, to wait until they are reminded by the farmers outside that they desire representation on the Board. At a later date, Mr. Mcwilliams spoke as follows: -
Wie cannot allow the high freights to continue. The black flag with the skull and cross bones is what the Shipping Combine should be flying. The only hope we have is the competition of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and if that Line is allowed to work by arrangement with the Combine, the primary producers will be at the mercy of Tiberius.
It must be conceded that Mr. Mcwilliams was an honest and sincere representative of country interests, who could not be induced to support a Government in which he did not believe. He was not controlled by the “ farmers “ of Flinders-lane and Collins-street. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) has said that he is personally opposed to the farmers having representation on this Board, but -he speaks as a city representative; and if the farmers of Australia depend on the great commercial interests for the consideration they deserve, they will be in a sorry plight. They can no longer- depend on middlemen; they feel that they must have fair and impartial representation, -and if honorable members fail in their duty, then we on this side ‘ will see that the farmers do not suffer. An honorable -member opposite has suggested that the division fists of the last Parliament will show who the farmers’ representatives really are. Do honorable members forget the fight over the Commonwealth Bank Bill, when a proposal was made by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) that rural credits should be established for rural interests in order to release the producers from the grip of the money lender ? On that occasion the Country party voted with the Nationalists against the establishment of any such system, and to-night they are adopting a similar attitude. Those honorable members of the alleged Country party have been swallowed by the Nationalists, and there is really no Country party to-day. The members of the alleged Country party are at one with the Nationalist forces, and doubtless they will be secretly financed at the next election by that mysterious National Union. Just as I voted in favour of the workers having representation on the Board, so shall I vote for representation for the primary producers. It is a gross injustice to the farmers of Australia to suggest that they, who provide 75 per cent, of, the goods shipped, cannot elect one man from among themselves qualified to sit on the Board and represent their views. I ask the Prime Minister to accept the amendment as a fair and reasonable one, which, if carried, will result in the better and more efficient working of the Line’ with the sympathy and co-operation of the great mass of the primary producers.
.- I am rather surprised that we have not had some statement from the other side, and yet why should I be surprised, seeing that this - Government stands for big business interests. Honorable members who comprise the Prime Minister’s majority remain silent, and I suppose we can- not blame the Prime Minister if he takes his “ cue “ from them. I remind honorable members in the Corner that they were not elected pledged to support the Nationalists, and when they range themselves behind “big business,” they are betraying the trust of the people who sent them here. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) said.it was ridiculous to ask for the amendment. After his election, the honorable member went into the Country party’s room, although he represents a city constituency, and, no doubt, he helped to organize the negotiations between the Country and Nationalist parties. In South Australia, the Farmers’ party would not admit a lawyer to membership; they insisted on every member being a farmer or land worker. From the honorable member’s speech I can see that he is doing his work well as the ambassador of “big business.”
Mr.Hill. - I rise to a point of order. Are the remarks of the honorable member relevant?
– I ask the honorable member for Angas to keep his remarks relevant to the matter before the Chair.
– I merely wish to show that honorable members who are supposed to represent the primary producers are prepared to stand behind the Ministry and oppose an amendment that is in. the direct interests of the producers. There are actually only three Country party members in the Ministry, although that party is supposed to have five members there. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Atkinson) was always a Nationalist, and the Honorary Minister (SenatorWilson), as soon as he was elected, left the Farmers and Settlers’ party.
– What has that to do with tho Commonwealth Shipping Line?
– Nothing; but it has a lot to do with the neglect of the interests of the primary producers by honorable members who were specially sent here to look after those interests. I invite the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) to look at my votes on the Tariff. There is no direct representative of the primary producers on the Tariff Board, and the members of the Corner party have had something to say about it, and rightly so. The amendment before the Chair affords an opportunity to do something for the primary producers to compensate for that blunder, and those honorable members in the Corner who professed that they were prepared to move Heaven and earthto alter the Tariff in the interests of the men on the land should readily avail themselves of the opportunity now afforded to assist the agricultural community. If the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) had been on a Board . controlling the Commonwealth Shipping Line, the primary producers would not have had trouble in the shipment of their wheat. Those producers are entitled to first consideration; and, if the amendment is carried, it will operate in the interests of the Shipping Line and of its best customers.
– I regret that the Government are determined to inconvenience honorable member’s by continuing the sitting at this late hour, but I am pleased to have an opportunity to record a. vote in favour of the excellent suggestion of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). The amendment is entirely in accord with the policy of the Labour party. The outward tonnage of the Commonwealth Shipping Line will for a long time consist mainly of the primary produce of Australia ; but, owing to the higher wages and the better labour conditions generally enjoyed here, compared with older countries, Australia will probably never be a very large exporter of manufactured goods, and I should be sorry if an export trade could only be built up by the sacrifice of those labour conditions. I should not like to see our industrial conditions fall to the level of those of many other parts of the world. Methods are provided under the Constitution for safeguarding our fields of industry. The history of the world proves that countries pass through, first, the grazing, then the. agricultural, and, thirdly, the manufacturing stage, and it will be many years before Australia will have exploited the whole of its opportunities in regard to primary production. For that reason, if for no other, our primary producers should have direct representation on the Board. It has been possible for certain export agents to monopolize the cold1 storage space available for the export of perishable produce, such as fruit, with the result that many primary producers have been deprived of the opportunity of sending their products overseas. Representation on the Board would enable the producers to have a reasonable proportion of the available space reserved for them. It requires a considerable stretch of the imagination to regard the honorable member, for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) u> a Country party member. The holdings in his electorate would, in very few instances, exceed blocks measuring 40 feet by 150 feet. May be, he has been taken into the Country party as adviser to the Prime Minister. An uninformed member might be surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), but those of us who have had experience of the Country party are but mildly surprised. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) has been charged with taking action for political reasons. What is wrong with lining up the supporters of the Government .to vote on this question ? I welcome an opportunity to register my vote, and if they do not believe in the principle contained in the amendment, why should they object to registering their vote against it?
– We are opposed to primary producers interfering in a business of which they know nothing.
– I remind my honorable friend that the primary producers are taxpayers.
– Will the honorable member say how the presence of a farmer on the Board would help the primary producer ?
– The honorable member might as well ask how an advocate appearing before a court could help his client,
– The honorable member contends, then, that the proposed additional member on the Board should represent a particular interest.
– Since the greater proportion of the tonnage carried in these ships will be primary produce, it is logical that Parliament should give the primary producers representation on the Board. If the manufacturers could show that they were supplying a reason able amount of the tonnage, and if they thought they were not getting a fair deal, I would favour giving them representation on the Board. One of the reasons why Government enterprises do not give satisfaction is that the interests concerned are often not represented.
– Freights are too high at present.
– People do not like to pay more than they think is fair. The rates of freights to be charged must be determined by the management of the Line, and the Government should overlook the scale of charges very carefully, for it is responsible for seeing that undue profits are not made out of the people of the country. Some honorable members have spoken about non-political control. In the end, however, the Government is responsible. If the shipping Line makes a loss, the Government, in power at the time must answer for it to the electors. I’ believe we should have access to the Board through a responsible Minister. There are many much needed railway reforms which cannot be obtained because the Railways Commissioners are in an independent position. A Minister should have a position on the Board. Parliament, instead of having to suffer long-standing grievances, should be able to get at the people responsible. While the control of many of the Boards is outwardly and ostensibly nonpolitical, the persons in charge have strong political opinions, and make them felt to the disadvantage of the people of the country. The Labour party has always1, been prepared to accept its share of responsibility in the administration of Departments and Boards. If the control of the Board was non-political, and if the primary producers were unrepresented upon it and could not get a fair deal, how would they proceed to redress there grievances? When they appealed to the Board they would be told to go to the devil, and the Board would add, “ The control of this Board is nonpolitical. We do not recognise the Government, and our positions are secure for. five or seven years.” They would snap .their fingers at the primary producers. With the’ office of the Board in one of the large cities, and the members of ..the Board living in a city and moving among city interests, it would be more than likely that the Board’s vision of country interests would be somewhat obscured. It would lose sight of the fact that its business was to carry primary products. No valid arguments have been advanced against the amendment. The arguments put forward by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), and the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), collapse when they are analyzed. Those honorable members appear to be concerned solely because they do not want to be lined up .to vote for or against the amendment. As I have been reminded by the honorable member for Angas, they complained because no representative of the primary producers was appointed on the Tariff Board. The Board was appointed when Parliament was not sitting, and consequently nothing could be done in the matter. Parliament is now sitting, and they have an opportunity to place a representative of the primary producers upon ‘the Shipping Board. I remember the speeches made toy the Leader and other members of the Country party at. the last election. What was their slogan? It was that the primary producer should be adequately represented in the Commonwealth Parliament. His interests were to be paramount. The Leader of the Country party (Mr. Mcwilliams), in announcing his manifesto in the first session of the last Parliament, said, “ We are a party which is going forward to a definite goal. We are looking neither to right nor left, and are giving support to measures, only, and not to men or Governments: We do not support members of the Ministry, but we supp’ort measures that are for the ga>d of men in the country.” Representatives of the Country party now have an opportunity to choose between the Government and the primary producer. What will they do? I would remind them that they owe a duty to their constituents, who sent them to Parliament expecting them to voice the opinions of men in the country. If the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Echuca were not members of Parliament, but were slaving in the country to produce wool and wheat for a living, they would welcome an opportunity to vote in favour of putting one of their representatives upon the Shipping
Board. I assume that they aspired fo come into Parliament to voice the opinions of the primary producers, who, they believe, want representation. Surely they will he consistent, and give the primary producers an opportunity of placing a representative upon the Board. In all probability the appointee will not be a Labour man, but a primary producer of their own political party. Although they refuse to place such a representative upon the Board, they will not hesitate to complain of the high freights1 charged by the Line. They have, placed themselves in a ridiculous position by ignoring the interests of the rank and file of the primary producers in order te, keep the Government in power. They aresupporting a Government led by the champion, of Flinders-lane. Nationalist members, and members of the Country party, have entered into an agreement. They hold their separate- meetings, and couriers pass to and fro between the two armies with war messages. These men run great risks when they charge up. and down the stairs past the lines; of the Opposition. I believe that decorations will be handed’ “out to these despatch riders in the nesafuture. It is reported on very good authority that the- Leader of the Country party used all his- influence-which, I . admit, is not much- with the Prime Minister to induce him to> grant representation to the primary- producers-, but he failed miser ably. Having overthrown principles for expediency, they have now reached the miserable position in which they find themselves. The Opposition cannot get from the Country party the support that it has a right to expect. During the negotiations which preceded the formation of the Government, managers were appointed who “ pulled “ the Country party. A meeting was to be held in the afternoon to’ throw down .the gauntlet, but the. managers would not have that. Cars were procured and members of the Country party were rushed to the GovernorGeneral, who obligingly swore them in. Members of the Country, party, instead of refusing to support their managers, fell in meekly behind them, and have had to apologize ever since for their attitude. These men have always said that” Parliament must have a vote regards ing every penny of Government expenditure, but a recent Supply Bill for millions of pounds was rushed through the House without a word of discussion being allowed to take place. The members of the Country party, who have been swallowed by the Nationalists, have sacrificed all the principles for which they fought at the last election. The Government are retaining the Commonwealth Line only asa matter of expediency. They do not believe in its continuance, and the Prime Minister has very little faith in its ultimate success. The members of the Country party will be compelled to return to their farmer constituents and say that they did not make a noise over the sale of the Geelong Woollen Mills; but they would be afraid to inform their supporters that they allowed the Government to sacrifice the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and throw them at the mercy of the Shipping Combine. When it is expedient for the Government to dispose of an important public utility the members of the Country party support them, but they will scrap their principles in order to support a Government Shipping Line. If the members of the Country party believe in State enterprises - I do not think they do - they should be consistent. The members of the Country party who promised to support country interests will prove true to tradition, and will vote with the Government against the interests of the primary producer. That is only to be expected. Honorable members on this side have done their duty, and I trust that the primary producers generally will peruse the division list on this occasion to see how the men who are supposed to safeguard their interests have thrown them at the mercy of Flinders-lane merchants and those associated with them.
Question - That the words proposed to. be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Gabb’s amendment) - put.The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Powers of Board).
.- The Board will have power to trade, to acquire andhold ships, and, subject to the consent of the Treasurer, to dispose of any vessels of the Line. Honorable members representing country constituencies have said that the Commonwealth Line has been of immense benefit to primary producers, and I believe it has; but Tasmania has not received any benefits commensurate with its importance from the Commonwealth shipping service. If the previous Government had done their duty, a regular service would have been established between the mainland and those parts of Tasmania which at present are not served by private shipping companies. A Shipping Committee has been formed in Hobart in an endeavour to establish a better shipping service to the south of Tasmania’. Captain Evans, the Speaker in the State House, who is the local representative of Huddart Parker and Company, and the honorable memberfor Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) are members of the committee, and at a recent meeting of that body attention was directed to the unfortunate position of those in the southern portion of Tasmania who are in the grip of the private shipping companies.
The Combine known as the Tasmanian Steam-ship Proprietary Company really comprises the Huddart Parker Company and the Union Steam-ship Company. At the meeting referred to I was the only person present who held Labour views. I was not a member of the Committee, but was asked to attend as the representative of Denison, together with other Federal members. On returning to Melbourne I noticed at Williamstown six or eight idle Commonwealth vessels. I am told that there are also several Commonwealth steamers in Sydney. Harbor. Under the management of Mr. Larkin, the Commonwealth steamers have been allowed to rust in Australian ports, while the State of Tasmania has been unable to secure shipping to carry the produce of its primary producers. The constituencies of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) are dependent upon primary products. The honorable member for Franklin’s predecessor (Mr. Mcwilliams) knew from bitter experience that the primary producers of Tasmania, especially in the southern fruit-growing country, have suffered through the absence of reasonable shipping facilities. Tasmania is a portion of the Commonwealth, and has to pay its share of the heavy expense incurred by the Commonwealth Government to provide adequate shipping facilities and means of communication be- _ tween the various ports of the Commonwealth. If the late Government had carried out its duty to Tasmania, Commonwealth steamers would have been running where necessary. It may be held by the new Board that the ships to be retained will not include suitable vessels for the Tasmanian trade. I do not know whether that will be so or not, because I am not a shipping expert; but clause 10 places within the power of the Board the right to purchase ships and to dispose of surplus tonnage. The Board will also have power to act as a trading company. The Government should impress upon the Board the fact that the trade of Tasmania is peculiarly suitable for Commonwealth steamers. Unfortunately, the transport of the produce of that State to the mainland depends entirely upon shipping facilities. I am not using extravagant language when I say that during the last three or four years many of the producers of Tas mania were on the verge of starvation owing to their . inability to market their produce in the mainland. The Commonwealth vessels were not at their disposal ; consequently they were entirely at the mercy of the Shipping Combine. For reasons best known to themselves, the Combine have not catered adequately for this trade. I ask the Government to impress upon the new Board the fact that Tasmania is a part of the Commonwealth, and is entitled to an up-to-date shipping service. If they have not boats capable of dealing with the trade, suitable vessels should be purchased. I have reason to believe that the vessels to be retained will include some suitable for the Tasmanian trade. The shipping service should not be regarded entirely from a pounds, shillings, and pence point of view, but should receive the same consideration as was shown to such services as the transcontinental railway in order to provide reasonable transport facilities for passengers and cargo between the various ports of the Commonwealth. I hope that the ‘new Board will extend to Tasmania the justice which was due to it in the past.
– I wish to ask the Minister what power the Government will have under subclause d, line five. According to the wording of that sub-clause, the disposal of any ships, land, offices, shipyards, wharfs, or other premises acquired by ot vested in the Board in pursuance of this Act, is subject to the consent of the Treasurer. The word “ Parliament “ should be inserted in place of the word “ Treasurer,” but if the Prime Minister will assure me that the material and premises mentioned in sub-clause (d) will not be disposed of without the consent of Parliament, I shall be content to leave the sub-clause as it is.
– From time to time it will be necessary to sell some of the vessels of the fleet because they have become obsolete, and for other reasons. The Government do not wish to leave in the hands of the Board the power to continually sell vessels and thus gradually wipe the Line out without actually taking direct action in that respect. The sub-clause has been inserted in order to retain some control of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. The word Treasurer “ really means the Government. If the Government of the day really intended to dispose of the Line - while I have no doubt that they could do it under paragraph d - they would still have that power even if the paragraph were noi there. But no Government would dispose of the Shipping Line unless it had considered the facts knowing that it had to- face Parliament. .That is exactly the position to-day. Paragraph d was not framed to deal with that situation at all. It is there to give the Government control over the Board in regard to the disposal of the vessels of the fleet from time to time, and to prevent the reduction of the Line to such an extent that it really would not be functioning in the manner intended under the Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 -
The Board may appoint such officers and servants as it thinks necessary for efficiently conducting its business.
.- I move -
That after the word “ business “, the following words be added: - “Preference shall be given to members of industrial unions “.
The principle of preference to unionists should be established at the commencement of the Commonwealth Shipping Line under the direction of the Board. “While it may be contended that there is absolutely no necessity to embody this principle in the Bill, inasmuch as it is invariably incorporated in industrial agreements, yet in the years to come some enthusiasts on the Board, perhaps in carrying out the policy of a future Government, may attempt to run this Line with non-union labour. It would not be the first Commission or Board of Control which had attempted this experiment, and failed miserably. From time to time there have been industrial disturbances in the mercantile marine, but in the history of Australian industrial unionism I have yet to learn that any company has succeeded in maintaining non-union labour on their vessels. This amendment provides, not only for preference to unionists so far as seamen, firemen, stewards, engineers, and officers are concorned, but also for painters and dockers, and all those employed in and about a shipyard, who will be under the control of the Board. The” principle of preference to unionists is a dear one to the workers of Australia, and it should be acceptable to the Government. It is nothing new, and there is no industry of any consequence that has not, by means of the Arbitration Court, already embodied in their awards and industrial agreements the principle of preference to unionists.
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight until 12.30 a.m. (Thursday).
– I quite understand the views of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) on preference to unionists, which has been one of the most prominent industrial questions in this country for many years. A long and well sustained fight has been fought by the Labour party of Australia for the maintenance of the policy, and I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that that party has succeeded in having it established, as a general rule, in the industrial matters here. I suggest, however, that preference to unionists comes more within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, with those other principles which really govern the relations between employer and employed. Preference to unionists is generally imposed by the Court, but it certainly does not appear to me to be a subject for inclusion in a Bill. If this amendment be accepted1, there are other amendments which obviously would have to be considered at once. For instance, it is the declared policy of the Commonwealth Government to give preference’ to returned soldiers, and a natural suggestion would be that it should be followed in the case of the Commonwealth Ship- , ping Line. To my mind, neither the proposed amendment, nor a proposal to give preference to returned soldiers, is proper in this Bill. I naturally sympathize with the view of the Leader of the Opposition, but I do not regard the amendment as at all necessary, seeing that it deals with a subject for determination by the ordinary industrial tribunals created for the purpose of regulating the relations between employers and employed.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. B lakelet’s amendment) put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
. I move -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (2) All ships held or acquired by the Board shall, where practicable, be manned by Australians or persons permanently domiciled in Australia signed on under Australian articles, and the Board shall pay its employees a rate of wages notless than the rate prescribed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for the class of work upon which they are engaged.”
Itwill be seen that the first part of the proposed sub-clause provides that “ where practicable “ the vessels shall be manned by Australians, signed on under Australian articles. The words “where practicable” are used because there may be cases in which it is necessary to engage such labour outside Australia. One reason for the amendment is that men have signed on abroad, and under such articles their wages are less than those paid to the Australian seamen with whom they work. That differentiation we desire to avoid as far as possible. We have agreed that the Board shall be located in Australia, and we all desire to make the ShippingLine Australian as far as possible ; and in the circumstances the amendment I have proposed seems fair and reasonable. If there are Arbitration Gourts to decide the wages of seafaring people and other workers, Parliament should see that the awards are observed, and to that end honorable members on this side desire to have this provision embodied in the Bill.
– I said earlier in the evening that the intention is to have this Commonwealth Line manned by Australian crews, and conducted as an Australian shipping enterprise, with the object- of furthering the establishment of an Australian overseas mercantile marine. I have every sympathy with the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), but the amendments appear to me to deal with matters which are part and parcel of the general administration of the Line. It has been made clear what the views of this Parliament are. We stand in the same relation to the Board that shareholders do to directors whom they appoint to conduct their business. All the operations of the Board will be subject to review by Parliament, year by year, when its balancesheet is presented, in exactly the same way as the operations and conduct of the directors of any private company are reviewed by the shareholders. Matters of this nature ought not to be inserted in an Act of Parliament. If we insert them we shall be suggesting that we have no assurance that the Line will be conducted in accordance with our views on the subject, and think it necessary to guard the position. If that is to be thebasis on which the Line is to commence its career, there cannot be very much hope for its future. I take a more optimistic view. I am certain that when the Board is appointed it will carry out the desire and the intention of Parliament. For that reason, I cannot accept the amendment. I want it to be clearly understood that I am not unsympathetic towards the ideas contained in the amendment. I stress the fact that the rates of wages are fixed by the Arbitration Court, . and the Board will be bound to observe the awards of that Court in operating the Line.
I said, at an earlier stage in this debate, that itis the intention of the Government, before the Line is handed over to the Board, that the members of the Board and representatives of the employees shall be called together and, under my presidency, endeavour to establish a basis for the settlement of disputes that may arise in the future, as well as to define a method for handling matters before a stoppage actually takes place. Both these subjects appear to me to be peculiarly suitable for discussion by a conference of that character. They are questions of vital moment to those who are to be employed by the Line and those who are to be in charge of it. There can be no hope of real success unless the Board understands that it has to enlist the co-operation of those whom it is going to employ.
– I cannot follow the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in his expression of sympathy with the honorable member who has proposed this restriction. By reason of the adoption of Australian wages and conditions the cost of a voyage to England and back by a “ Bay “ liner is thousand of pounds greater than that of a White liner of similar capacity.
– The honorable member ought to be in another Parliament..
– I am here in the interests of this country. Honorable members will not be serving the interest of the producers of Australia by further tightening up the restrictions. Rather than add to the cost of these trips we should go out of the shipping business.
– The honorable member is preaching the policy of a Black Australia.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. In endeavouring to increase the cost of these trips honorable members are showing no consideration for the people of Australia:
– The honorable member is advocating the employment of coolie crews.
– Honorable members are not serving the interest of their people by fighting for the adoption of these conditions. . They will not insure the continuation of the Line because the provision will prove a curse instead of a blessing to this country.
– I am sorry that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) cannot accept the amendment. He has expressed the view that these ships should be Australian-manned, and I think the Committee holds the same view. In laying down the law Parliament should clearly stipulate the policy it expects the Board to carry out. If the amendment is inserted the Board will have a definite instruction on the matter, otherwise the matter will be left to the Board’s discretion.
.The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has made a statement of which we approve. We accept it in the spirit in which he made it. I believe that that is the view which he holds regarding the Commonwealth Line; but can we be satisfied with hig assurance after the speech of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) ?
– I am not the only one.
– The honorable member for Wakefield is the only one who has expressed his sentiments ; the others are silent workers. Does the Prime Minister accurately express the ideals of the Government party, or has he spoken contrary to the views of his followers? This Parliament reflects the opinions of the taxpayers of Australia. It does not favour the employment of Lascars who, when employed by private companies, are lined up on deck and counted at every port to see that none escapes. Australia is a great, asset to Great Britain commercially, but must Australia follow slavishly the custom of employing black crews in our mercantile marine? That practice is not far removed from the slavery which was abolished by America many years agc-. We do not stand for that sort of thing. I challenge honorable members opposite to indicate where they stand. Australia is regarded very highly by other nations on account of its achievements. The high standard of our people has been at- tained as the result of the conditions that we have ‘established. I once referred to the standard of the Britisher of to-day. I am of British birth, and I deplore the fact that it was necessary for Mr. Lloyd George to say that they could not have an A1 population raised on aC3 diet or living under C3 conditions. I want to seethe A1 population, the A1 diet, and the A1 conditions maintained by this Parliament. If any other honorable member opposite feels that he has a “ hot box” similar to that of the honorable member for Wakefield, let him rise and cool it off.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 -
The management of the Line is vested in the Board.
.I move -
That the following sub-clause be added to the clause : - “ (2) Whenever practicable, the Board shall cause to be purchased in Australia all necessary stores, provisions, gear, and equipment for the upkeep, running, and maintenance of the ships held or acquired by it, and the Board shall cause, whenever possible, all repair and overhaul work to be carried out in Australia.”
This amendment is much on the same lines as the previous one. I wish it to be mandatory that, as far as practicable, all repair work shall be done in Australia. There is good reason for adopting that course. Recently, when there was a considerable amount of unemployment in the shipbuilding industry, it was found that much work than could have been done in Australia was being executed abroad. I realize that there are times when ships mustbe repaired overseas, but, generally speaking, there is no reason why the major repairs should not be made in the Commonwealth. The docking of these vessels could be undertaken here, and it would provide considerable employment for Australians. I hope that the Prime Minister will accept the amendment. I hardly agree with him that everything should be left to the Board. Parliament should indicate what it regards as necessary, and then the Board would be governed by what was provided for in the Act, and, as far as practicable, it would give effect to it.
– I am afraid that I cannot accept the amendment. There is greater reason for disagreeing to this proposal than there was for disagreeing to the previous amendment, which really turned on matters appertaining solely to the Board’s affairs. The presentamendment goes a good deal further than that, and deals with matters that might be governed by outside conditions. Whilst I have every desire that all work possible should be done in Australia, and that all stares, as far as possible, should be purchased here, I do not think that we should limit the Board in the manner suggested. I do not think the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) need feel at all anxious in regard to the docking of vessels in Australia. Under the proposals embodied in the Bill, the Cockatoo Island Dockyard will be brought under the same management as the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and obviously the Board would see that the work necessary for the Line was done in establishments under its control. If Parliament’ stipulated that the Board was to do certain things irrespective of the conditions prevailing in the . industry - conditions over which the Board had no control - it would, perhaps, be placing the Line, during a temporary phase, in a position that would seriously imperil its prosperity.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) All the right, title and interest of the Common wealth in and to -
.I move -
That the following words be added to paragraph (a) : - “at the Williamstown shipbuilding yards in the State of Victoria and “.
I expressed my views on this matter last night, but I would like to emphasize the fact that this Bill sounds the death-knell of shipbuilding as a Government enterprise. The men who have been employed at Williamstown have a real grievance against the Commonwealth Government. If honorable members look upthe proceedings, at the conference between the unions, the shipbuilding trades, and the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), they will be convinced that there has been a great breach of faith. After a long conference Mr. Hughes succeeded in persuading the unions to scrap many of their important rules - for example, the rules against piece-work and the dilution of labour, and in return for that the exPrime Minister guaranteed the men permanent employment.
Mr.Foster. - A similar assurance was given in the other States.
– I expect the honorable gentleman to put up a fight for his State, just as I am doing for Victoria. I understand that the negotiations with the Harbor Trust have not reached finality, and that’ it is not too late for the Government to retrace its steps. It is obvious to me that the sale of the shipyards to the Harbor Trust will throw the present staff out of employment. The men accepted an undertaking in good faith, and there has not been a stoppage of work at the yards since. It is admitted on all sides that the work done at the yards could not have been excelled, and the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) said that it was not excelled in any part of the world. The reward now given to these men is to throw them on the industrial scrap heap. I say in all sincerity that such treatment will not encourage men to relax their union rules and enter into similar agreements. Why do I say that these men will he thrown out of employment? The Harbor Trust has its own staff, and will, I suppose, scrap the work done almost alongside the yard, and bring in its own staff to replace the Commonwealth staff. There is considerable unemployment in the shipping trade already. Even if the Government could not continue to build ships, the yard could be used for repairs, and would form the nucleus of a shipbuilding establishment if the need for one should again arise. A number of returned soldiers are employed at the yard, and they will be thrown out of work with the rest. There has been a great breach of faith with these workers. Although guarantees were not given by the present Government, they were given by a Government of which many of the present Ministers were members. We have heard much talk at different timet1 about the honouring of obligations entered into by past Governments. I think this obligation was handed down by the previous Government to the present one.
– The Williamstown Dockyard has been a subject of consideration in Parliament. The Government’s position has been outlined, but I propose very briefly to state it again, lt became neces-sary for the Government, when it assumed office, to survey the position of the Shipping Line, and the relation thereto of the shipyards at Cockatoo Island and Williamstown. We had to arrive at a decision regarding the two shipyards. After full consideration, the Government came to the conclusion that it was imperative, in the interests of Australia and of naval defence, that the Cockatoo Island works, and particularly the dockyard, should be retained. Ministers have clearly expressed the opinion that it is no part of the functions of government to conduct ordinary commercial ventures which have no national importance. The Cockatoo Dockyard and the Commonwealth Shipping Line possess such importance. Accordingly, we were faced with the regrettable necessity of disposing of the Williamsto’wn yard. Undertakings were given at a time of great stress that if the unions would agree to certain conditions the shipbuilding in dustry would be carried on. They cannot, however, be regarded as creating for all time, irrespective of circumstances, the understanding that the taxpayers would carry on the particular industry at that place. Such a guarantee no Government would be justified in giving to any section of the community. While I have every sympathy with the men who may be faced with dismissal, I do not think that Ministers can be held blameworthy, except to the extent that their policy in these matters may be blamed. As the matter has reached a point where the Government has declared its intentions and its policy, and has made arrangements to concentrate on Cockatoo Island, I regret that it is too late to alter the decision. Consequently, I cannot accept the amendment.
– Tie honorable member who submitted the amendment (Mr. Scullin) hardly stated the position fairly. No undertaking was given to carry on the dockyard permanently. The conditions laiddown and the concessions obtained from the industrialists related to the construction of certain ships which were then being built. It was stated very distinctly that unless those concessions were made the ships would not be built. That was the promise made by the Government of the day.
– The Government of the day did not carry out its promise to the South Australian shipbuilding yard.
– -I believe it gave to the South Australian yard the construction of all the ships promised to it.
– I understand that a recommendation was made to spend £200,000 in im- - proving the dockyard at Williamstown. I do not know whether the proposal has been carried out. If it has, the dock should now be fairly up-to-date. I join with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) in protesting, not only against Victoria being left out of the scheme, but also against this dock not being permitted to participate in the repairs to the Commonwealth ships. ‘ The dock will need to be used in some way for repairing Commonwealth ships. The records prove that the men there have been kept well employed, and I believe the financial returns have been exceptionally good. I agree that Cockatoo Island Dockyard should be retained, but if it is right to retain a dock in Sydney Harbor, why should one not be retained in Hobson’s Bay? The minutes of the conference with the representatives of the men employed at the yard state that the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) said -
I am sure this will be, not only a great industry, but a permanent one. The welfare of industry in general is so closely interwoven with the success of this industry that if you make good the Government will be entitled to say, “ We are justified now in giving encouragement to an industry that will enable us to compete in the markets of the world.”
That was a very distinctpledge. If the Harbor Trust should come into ppssession, a large number of men will be thrown out of employment, and among them a number of returned soldiers. I cans see no objection to the Government having a dock in Victoria when it is retaining one in New South “Wales. I do not wish to make invidious distinctions, but what is wrong in one case is wrong in the other, and vice versa.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Scullin’s amendment)-put. The House divided.
Majority . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 (Additional capital).
– The clause reads -
Subject to the consent of the Treasurer the Board shall have power to raise additional capital by the issue of debentures, or in such other manner, and subject to such conditions as are prescribed.
The clause seems broad enough to permit the Board to borrow capital outside the Commonwealth Government, and I would like the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to explain what it actually means.
– It is broad enough to allow anything; subject to the consent of the Government.
– It is a very dangerous clause and the Prime Minister should carefully consider its effect. I am preparedto go a long way to assist in getting the Bill through, but I do not like the provision as drafted.
Mr.Foster. - The “ Treasurer “ really means the Government.
– Yes, but the Line is financed with Commonwealth capital, and I do not think the Board should have the power, by issuing debentures, to secure additional capital for conducting the Line. If additional capital should be required at any time, the Treasurer of the day should be empowered to grant the necessary money; but if £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 were required the Board should not be able to go on the market. Is the Prime Minister prepared to amend this provision in some way ?
– If the Board deems it necessary to have additional capital for providing a particular service, as for, say, increasing the number of “ Bay “ steamers in order to provide a more regular service between Australia and Great Britain, it has the power to authorize the raising of that capital. The clause also provides the manner in which capital shall be raised or the basis upon which the issue of debentures shall be determined subject to the consent of the Government. Parliament would be prepared to give any Government the right to determine any question in regard to the issue of further capital.
– The legislation could be repealed.
– Yes, but we must be prepared to accept the decision of any future Government in regard to the Line. Some honorable members may perhaps hold the opinion that anything done in the future should be subject to the approval of Parliament.
– Will the Prime Minister say that, for the raising of additional capital, the consent of Parliament would be necessary?
– Parliamentary authority is not necessary under this clause. Some honorable members may say that no capital should be raised in the future for conducting the Line or any action taken until a new measure authorizing it has been passed by Parliament. It might, however, be necessary to provide a limited amount of capital for obtaining, say, another vessel, and to do that it should not be necessary to bring down a Bill. Personally I prefer the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition to the clause as it is drafted.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to move in the direction I have suggested ?
– Yes. I move-
That the words “ the Treasurer “be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Parliament.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 19 (Application of profits).
.- Subclause 4 of clause 19 reads -
The Treasurer may apply any amount standing to the credit of the Trust Account towards the redemption of debentures issued by the Board to the Commonwealth, or may pay any such amount to the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund.
I move -
That the words “ ConsolidatedRevenue “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “National Debt Sinking”.
It seems to be an altogether wrong procedure to place the profits into Consolidated Revenue when we have written down a large amount whichmust necessarily have been taken out of Loan Account. The proper thing to do, after having complied with the requirements of the other sub-clauses, would-be to reduce the national debt, which has been increased to carry on this Line, instead of placing the money into Consolidated Revenue.
– When the Line is under the control of the Board, it is to be carried on with the money earned year by year, and the profits are to be employed in creating a reserve fund until the amount at the credit of that fund has reached a sum equivalent to 25 per cent. of the issue capital. After that not more than 50 per cent. of the profitswill go to the reserve fund and 50 per cent. will be handed to the Government of the day, which will have power to employ it in redeeming debentures or may pay it into’ Consolidated Revenue. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) suggests that the money should be placed to the credit of the National Debt Sinking Fund. But we should not under this Bill tie the hands of any future Government in this matter, because the Line is being conducted, not for the purpose of trying to redeem the national debt, but as a governmental shipping and trade development venture. After the Line has been built up upon a proper financial basis, and has reasonable resources behind it, it will be a matter for the Government of the day to say what shall be done with any surplus profits realized. It might happen that a future Government might extend the operations of the Line, and conduct it as a straight-out trading venture. The Government of the day might be looking to the Line for some of its revenue. While I do not agree with such a policy, it might be one that would be indorsed by the people of Australia. I do not, however, feel justified in dictating to a future Government possessing the confidence of a majority of the people. I think the. clause is framed in a fair and proper manner for dealing with the position. I cannot accept the amendment.
.- I have listened to the Prime Minister’s statement concerning the allocation of the profits of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. He takes the stand that any Government may seize the profits of a trading venture for the purpose of showing a surplus. That would he quite feasible if the amount written down and met out of loan had been refunded, but that is not the case. Until that amount is repaid, I submit that the profits should he placed in the national debt sinking fund. Any business concern would adopt that course.
– Might I put an alternative proposal ? If the Prime Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Angas, will he accept an amendment to insert after the word “ may,” the words “ with the consent of Parliament “? We know that impecunious Treasurers are always prepared to dip their hands into funds which Parliament did not originally intend to be used for that purpose, and to obviate this practice I ask the Prime Minister to consent to the amendment.
– This is a matter of detail for determination by the Government.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [1.48 a.m.]. - I understand that on fixed deposit the Commonwealth Bank is prepared to give the same interest as is given by any other bank, and I ask the Prime Minister to amend sub-clause 6, which empowers the Board to place money “ on fixed deposit in a bank “ so that it shall apply to the Commonwealth Bank only.
– I cannot agree to that amendment, as unusual circumstances may arise which would make it impossible to comply with the provision. We argued the same matter in regard to the sinking fund the other night.
Mr.FENTON. - I presume the Commonwealth Bank will be used by the Shipping Line.
– That Bank will always receive its moneys where possible.
Mr:FENTON- There are only two places where the Line is likely to place money on fixed deposit, London and Aus tralia. The Commonwealth Bank will be the Bank of the Shipping Line, and as this Bank has offices in both London and Australia, why not insist that that Bank shall be used? I move -
That the word “ a “ in sub-clause 6 be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Commonwealth.”
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment. It is the usual practice for such; moneys to’ be deposited in the Commonwealth Bank, but we cannot lay it down that in. future under all circumstances it shall be possible to put money on fixed deposit only into that Bank.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Fenton’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 to 22 agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 20a. ( 1 ) The accounts of the Board shall be subject to inspection and audit by the AuditorGeneral for the Commonwealth.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I wish to thank honorable gentlemen of the Opposition for the assistance they have given the Government in passing the Commonwealth Shipping Bill through all its stages. I regret that it has been necessary to keep honorable members until such a late hour.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) an important development in regard to the wreck of the Sumatra. I understand that the Treasurer of New South’ Wales, Sir Arthur Cocks, has made the statement today that the Navigation Department of New South Wales has no power to make an inquiry, and that the only means of instituting an inquiry is for the Commonwealth Government to vest the Navigation Board with the powers of a Royal Commission, or to appoint a Royal Commission for the purpose.
– This is a matter of paramount importance. I have not read the statement referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, but I have been informed to-night that a telegram has been despatched to me by Sir Arthur Cocks. I shall no doubt receive it later this morning, and shall then ascertain the true particulars. If there is any real difficulty in the way of holding the inquiry which we have asked the State Government to make, we must immediately consider what other action is necessary. The Government will do that immediately, and I shall inform the House what course it is proposed to adopt.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 2 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230711_reps_9_103/>.