9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and road prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will give the House an opportunity, before anything further is done in connexion with them, of expressing its opinion as to whether the seaplane carrier and floating dock should not be of much larger proportions than is intended?
– The construction of the seaplane carrier and subsidy for a floating dock willcome up for consideration in connexion withthe financial proposals to be submitted in the budget. So far as the seaplane carrier is concerned, the plans and specifications have been asked for and are on their way to Australia. The Government proposes to proceed with the work of construction as soon as the plans arrive.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
Willhe supply the following information : -
The assets of the Commonwealth Bank atthe end of last financial year (1924)?
The total deposits in the CommonwealthBank -
Otherwise; for the same year?
The accumulated profits for the same year?
– The information asked for has already been published in the Commonwealth Gazelle, but now I repeat it: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions areas follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Homo and Territories, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– I shall obtain the particulars, and furnish them at a later date.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Aerial Mail Service - Maintenance of Communication
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether any steps have been taken towards inviting tenders for an aerial mail service between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia; and, if not, is any such action contemplated at an early date?
– Nodefinite action has yet been taken towards the installation of such a service. It will, however, receive consideration in any extension of present aerial services; but I regret that I am not in a position yet to say when any further extensions will be possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– At present, the Government is not officially aware that a shipping strike is impending, and deprecates any such suggestion. In the unfortunate event of the position suggested by the honorable member arising, the Government will take whatever steps the circumstances warrant.
Production of Power Alcohol
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1.What was the annual loss met by the Commonwealth Government onthe three Fruit Pools while they were in operation?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– It is not known what particular preparations are referred to, but the Department of Health, in association with the Department of Trade and Customs, have for some years prevented the appearance on labels and printed matter accompanying some imported “ medicinal “ alcoholic preparations of any claims for medicinal qualities. The Department of Health has no control over preparations of this kind made in Australia.
Claim of H. Dean and Sons
.- I move -
This motion affects one of my constituents, and is really an echo of the administration of the War Service Homes Commission, as it concerns occurrences that go back as far as 1921. Although I have no sympathy with many of the claims that have been made upon the Commonwealth Government respecting the construction of ships and other things, yet this case appears to me to merit at least some consideration. The War Service Homes Department persuaded Messrs H. Dean and Sons to enter into a contract for the supply of bricks. This company was at first opposed to anything of the kind, because that portion of its works manufacturing bricks was not then fully developed. The company comprised really a family of tilemakers, although it made bricks for local clients. The policy of the department at that time was to draw supplies for the construction of the war service homes from various makers throughout the district. The department had decided to build some hundreds of homes in the district, and as the ordinary supply of bricks was unsatisfactory, it proposed to control the supply, so that the work could be proceeded with post haste. The department wrote to this company, as I shall show by the correspondence, and asked it to contract for the supply of bricks. I propose to read some of the correspondence sent to Messrs. H. Dean and Sons by the department’s represen tative, in whose name the arrangement was made. The first letter reads as follows : -
The quantity of bricks being supplied by you to this commission is very unsatisfactory. We are of the opinion that is partly due to your being under the impression that our business is only temporary, and therefore do not consider it good business to yourself to give us absolute preference. We wish to assure you that our constructional programme is permanent and that our requirements will only be met by the receipt of 250,000 bricks per week for at least ten years, and a continuance after that of a slightly less quantity for an indefinite period. It is not the policy of the commission to acquire brickworks or commence new works of sufficient capacity to supply the whole of our requirements. This policy will only be adopted as a last resort. We are in a position to make an agreement with you to accept the maximum quantity of bricks for which you are in a position to guarantee delivery, say, from 50,000 to 75,000 per week for three, five, or more years. An agreement to this effect would enable you to extend your plant if necessary, and would guarantee your output. We would ask you to give this matter your full consideration, the decided advantage of such an arrangement being most obvious.
– Who signed that letter?
– Mr . Cook, who represented the department.
– He did not.
– The next letter reads -
In furtherance of our verbal discussion, would you forward a written statement regarding your supplying this commission with your output, giving the following particulars : -
Period for which you are prepared to grant output.
Quantity you anticipate being able to supply.
Price for- (1), common; (2), O.K.; (3), callows; (4), clinkers; and (5), various fancy bricks, if any.
Please repeat in detail the above particulars and any other matter with reference to same.
The third letter is as follows : -
We would advise that you supplement or vary the agreement of which we have written the following as an indication according to what you consider a fair basis. We, the undersigned, hereby agree to supply bricks of quality and size to submitted sample. We also agree to supply bricks at the rate of 200,000 per month from 1st October, 1920, to 1st April, 1921, and after that date we agree to supply 250,000 bricks per month until 1st October, 1923, the price to be 63s. per 1,000 for good quality, common, as sample, War Service Homes Commission to take delivery at kiln. We agree to load all lorries or drays with all dispatch. The following will be the only recognized conditions that will vary this agreement : - We would ask you to go into this matter and enlarge on the above as you consider necessary, returning same to us.
That letter is signed also by Mr. Cook, who wasthen in consultation with the Sydney office of the War Service Homes Commission. The following is another letter on the same subject : -
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 11th instant, and note that you are not agreeable to arranging a contract. You actually state you are not in a position to make one. From the interviews we have had, I was under the impression you were prepared to grant this commission your whole output, therefore we cannot understand why you are not in a position to make a contract, as it would hold good whether your output was nil or 100,000 per week. As we must, and intend, to assure our brick supply - and, if necessary, will commence construction of works large enough to supply our whole output - we would be glad to know if we are to rely on you for bricks or not.
As a business man you will, of course, realize that your word is not sufficient for us, and it is necessary that matters be arranged definitely by contract. We realize it would be necessary for you to use a large proportion of your bricks on your works until such time as they are completed.
We should be glad to hear from you.
It will be seen from that letter that Messrs. H. Dean and Sons were not anxious to enter into a contract, and that the writer, to force the company to do so, made the threat that the departmentwas prepared, if necessary, to open up its own works. The technicality upon which the Crown appealed to the Full Courtwas that the agreement did not make provision for Henry Dean and Sons to do certain private business. Honorable members will recollect that at about that time the policy of the commission was altered by the substitution of construction by day labour for construction by contract. The result was that Henry Dean and Sons were deprived of their contract with the commission, and were left to bear all the expense to which they had been put in order to fulfil their part of the agreement. They tried to induce the commission to make a voluntary settlement, but the commission, while admitting that the contractors had a moral claim, contended that they had no legal standing inasmuch as the agreement had not been signed by the higher officers of the commission in Sydney or Melbourne. Failing to get a settlement, Messrs. Dean and Sons, upon the advice of their solicitors, sued the commission. The case was heard by a judge and jury. The defence offered by the commission was that no contract had been made, and ex ception was taken to the admission as evidence of the following memorandum from Mr. Cook, district officer at Newcastle, to the Deputy Commissioner for War Service Homes in Sydney: -
Commonwealth of Australia
War Service Homes Commission,
Newcastle District Office,
Watt-street, Newcastle, 21st September, 1920.
Memo to Deputy Commissioner, Sydney
Subject : Brick supply, Henry Dean & Sons.
In answer to your verbal request for the result of interview with Mr. Dean, of Henry Dean & Sons, on the 20th inst., I wish to inform you as follows : -
Mr. Dean was very much against making a contract at the present time, his reasons being -
I explained personally that the quantity of output did not effect the making of a contract, as I am assured this firm is aiming at an outputof 200,000 per week within twelve (12) months.
It was finally agreed that a contract be made on basis as follows : -
Price as aforesaid to be varied only by-
We would be glad if you would have this legally phrased in the form of a contract, inserting any additional matter which may be necessary, but not drastically altering the general conditions, and return to this office to be submitted to Mr. Dean for approval and signature.
The Crown endeavoured to suppress that document, which definitely committed the commission to this contract, and upon the basis of which Henry Dean and Pons incurred heavy expenditure in order to extend their plant. The court gave a verdict in favour of the plaintiffs, the amount of compensation to be decided, presumably, by arbitration. The Minister for Works, when replying, may tell the House that about nine other judges have heard this case, and have given judgment in favour of the Crown; but the point that I wish to impress upon honorable members is that the facts were heard by only one judge and a jury, and that court found for the plaintiff. The commission appealed to the Full Court, not upon the merits of the case, but upon a technicality, and the Full Court reversed the decision of the lower court. Not desiring to continue this costly litigation the firm again endeavoured to get a settlement by agreement with the commission, but notwithstanding that the lower court had found in favour of the plaintiffs, the Government would give them no satisfaction. When the case was taken to the High Court it upheld the decision of the Full Court upon the point of law - of course, without hearing the evidence. It is a strange fact, however, that some of the judges of the High Court, in deciding similar cases in Victoria, upon the evidence gave a decision directly contrary to that which they gave in the appeal of Henry Dean and Sons. The case was determined solely on a legal point. This man and his sons were induced by the department to enter into a contract and incur expenditure. They did not want the contract, and did not seek it; practically at the request of the department they accepted it. But almost immediately afterwards they were informed that the policy of the department had been altered, and that, although they probably had a moral claim, they had no legal claim, and if the case were taken to court the department would fight it. I believe that I am right in saying that any person in the British Empire who fails to receive satisfaction from a British court has the right of final appeal to the King. Surely, therefore, these people are entitled to have their claim further considered. A select committee should be appointed by this House to inquire into the merits of the case, and I hope that the Minister will see his way to agree to its appointment. A full investigation should not occupy more than one month. The amount of the claim does not concern me greatly, but I am concerned that the right thing should be done. The Minister may say that Cook, the district officer at Newcastle, had no power to enter into a contract. He was, however, the responsible officer of the department in the district, and the Government should accept responsibility for his acts in the same way as a private employer is held responsible for the acts of his servants. I hope that the House will agree to the motion.
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) has, no doubt, acted in good faith, believing that an agreement or contract between Messrs. Dean and Sons and the department existed, but I shall endeavour to prove that at no time was any contract or agreement entered into between the War Service Homes Commissioner and the firm in question.
– Was there an understanding between them?
– It is a common practice for departments, when endeavouring to fix up contracts, to first arrive at a basis upon which business can be effected. I shall endeavour to show that Cook in this case acted only on behalf of the War Service Homes Commissioner. The brief history of the case which has been prepared shows that Messrs. Dean and Sons made representations in 1922 in connexion with an alleged contract for supplying bricks to the commission. The matter was investigated by the then business advisor to the commission, Sir
James McCay, who submitted a report, dated the 13th June, 1922, in which he expressed the opinion that no contract had been entered into, and that Messrs. Dean and Sons had neither a legal nor a moral claim for compensation. Of that view the firm was advised, but on the 24th March, 1923, Dean and Sons issued a writ claiming £26,500 from the commission for damages for breach of an alleged contract for the supply of bricks. I may say, in passing, that to-day the firm would willingly accept £11,200 in full settlement of its claim.
– I know nothing about that.
– The Deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, who went exhaustively into the matter, recommended that the case should be defended, as he was of the opinion that the plaintiffs had no valid ground for their claim. Mr. Weston, of counsel, concurred in that opinion. The case came on for hearing before Mr. Justice Campbell and a jury on the 29 th September, 1924, when the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff with damages to be fixed by agreement between the parties. I am not a lawyer, and I do not pretend to know much about the law, but that seems to me to have been a most remarkable finding.
– He was the only judge who heard the facts.
– On reviewing the verdict and the opinion of counsel, the commission decided to institute an appeal to the New South WalesFull Court. The appeal was heard on the 17th November, 1924, by Mr. Justice Street, then Acting Chief Justice, Mr. Justice James, and Mr. Justice Ferguson, and the court gave a unanimous verdict, with costs, in favour of the commission, thus reversing the verdict of the lower court. Messrs. Henry Dean and Sons then gave notice of their intention to appeal to the High Court, and on the 9th January the Deputy Commonwealth Crown Solicitor in Sydney received from the firm an intimation to this effect. On the 2nd February the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), Mr. C. Dean, and Mr. Read, a solicitor, waited upon the Prime Minister in Sydney, and sub mitted the following proposals to him for a settlement of the matter: -
The solicitor for Messrs. H. Dean and Sons submitted their case in writing. The matter was then considered, together with the evidence and views by the Crown Solicitor. This officer reported -
The real question in the action was whether there had been any contract at all between the parties, but the action was conducted under the obsolete procedure in force in New South Wales, and the case seems to have centred on the question whether there was a memorandum of a contract sufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds.
The case was tried before a judge and jury, and a more unsuitable case for trial by jury could hardly be found.
I agree with that, and I may say, in passing, that in cases in which the Government is sued by a private person before a jury the jury is generally inclined to favour the private person. The Crown Solicitor’s report proceeds -
Personally, I am satisfied that the action would never have been instituted if the trial would have had to take place before a judge without a jury. In my opinion there was no evidence whatever of a contract between the plaintiffs and the War Service Homes Commissioner. A Mr. Cook, an officer of the commissioner, carried on certain negotiations with the plaintiffs with a view to entering into a contract with them for the supply of bricks to the commissioner, and a number of terms or heads* of agreement were undoubtedly agreed to. There is no suggestion that Mr. Cook had authority to bind the commissioner, and it is clear that he nevereven contemplated doing so. Thevery document put forward as a memorandum of a contract shows clearly on the face of it that it is not a memorandum of a contract at all. It is a report by Mr. Cook tothe Deputy Commissioner, and’ explains the negotiations, and as far as the contract is concerned it states - “ In answer to your verbal request for the result of interview with Mr. Dean, of Henry Dean and Sons, on the 20th inst., I wish to inform you as follows : - “ Mr. Dean was very much against making a contract at the present time, his reasons being
uncertainty of output; (b) requires every second kiln to carry on with construction of new kilns; (c) necessity to complete various outside orders in hand; (d) his main reason is the necessity of a guarantee on our part to empty a kiln of 80,000 in four (4) days. “ I explained personally that the quantity of output did not affect the making of a contract, as I am assured this firm is aiming at an output of 200,000 per week, within twelve (12) months. “ It was finally agreed that a contract be made on basis as follows : - 1. War Service Homes Commission to take whole output of H. Dean and Sons’ brickworks from date of signing contracts for a period of five (5) years. 2. Henry Dean and Sons agree to erect additional open kilns and one Hoffman pattern with all possible dispatch. (Open kilns are now in course of construction.) 3. When the output reaches 130,000 weekly, Henry Dean and Sons to have right to disburse all excess outside of contract. 4. The commission guarantees to empty each kiln of 80,000 bricks within five (5) days after twentyfour (24) hours’ notice of opening has been given to Newcastle office of commission. 5. If commission be not in a position to take delivery of any particular quantity of bricks, district works officer, Newcastle, to authorize Deans to disburse outside of contract. This clause not to prejudice commission’s liability to take output to 130,000 weekly. 6. The price for good-quality common brick, equal to submitted sample, to be 63s. per 1,000. 7. The delivery to be taken by the War Service Homes Commission at kiln. 8. Henry Dean and Sons agree to load all lorries or drays at kiln with all despatch.9. Price as aforesaid to be varied only by -
increase or decrease in award rates of labour in brickyards; (b) increase or decrease in cost of coal.
Delivery to be subject to climatic conditions. We would be glad if you would have this legally phrased in the form of a contract, inserting any additional matter which may be necessary, but not drastically altering the general conditions, and return to this office to be submitted to Mr. Dean for approval and signature.”
The basis of a contract had been arrived at between Dean and Cook, but no contract was ever signed. .
– Cook having no authority?
– That is so. Nothing further was done after the basis of the proposed contract was submitted to the War Service Homes Commissioner.
– But the firm began to spend money immediately in expectation that the contract would be made.
– Then the manager showed himself to be a very poor business man. If I had been in the position of expecting the execution of a contract which provided for the expenditure of some thousands of pounds on the duplication and extension of my plant, I should certainly have waited until the document was properly executed before embarking on the proposed expenditure. The Crown Solicitor’s report proceeds as follows: -
A lot appears to have been said about Mr. Cook’s authority, and holding out, and so on, but it is obvious that Mr. Cook was not the Commission, and there is not a shadow of evidence that he had any authority to bind the Commissioner by a contract such as that set up or that the Commissioner held him out as having any such authority. But all this is quite unimportant, as there is clearly no contract even if he had full authority.
As regards proposition (1), viz., that the finding of the jury be accepted, I think that it ought not to be agreed to because I think that the finding is not in accordance with the evidence and is contrary to fact and is bad in law.
As regards proposition (2) viz., that a select committee be appointed to consider the whole matter and award the plaintiffs such amount as the committee deem just, I think that it should not be agreed to, as a similar course would have to be followed in other cases if the plaintiffs should choose to ask for it. But the main objection is that it would be unconstitutional to confer judicial power on a select committee.
– He is attempting to control Parliament.
– He is doing nothing of the kind. He is advising the Government, which is the duty he is paid to do. His report proceeds -
As regards proposition (3), viz. : that in the meantime it be agreed that time is not running, so far as the appeal to the High Court is concerned, I think that it depends on the acceptance of propositions (1) and (2). But it strikes me that the plaintiffs seem to expect all take and no give, as they ask the Commonwealth not only to abandon its legal rights and to grant a concession as well, but they neither give anything nor abandon anything. The appeal is the plaintiffs’ appeal, and they, like other appellants who resort to a court, should be bound by the rules of the court. “ My opinion is that the Commonwealth has nothing to fear from the appeal to the High Court. My opinion is also that the judgment of the Supreme Court is right and just. My opinion is also that the action is one which ought not to have been brought.”
The representations of the firm’s solicitor and the available facts in the case were considered by the Cabinet, which decided that the proposals submitted on behalf of Messrs. H. Dean and Sons could not be accepted, and that if the firm proceeded with the appeal to the High Court the commission would defend the action. The High Court, consisting of the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Isaacs, Mr. Justice Higgins, Mr. Justice Rich, and Mr. Justice Starke, heard the appeal of Messrs. H. Dean and Sons on the 23rd April, 1925, and without calling upon the commission’s counsel to address the court, dismissed it with costs. As to the facts of the case, the writing relied upon by the firm to establish a contract is the letter of the 21st September, 1920, from the District Works Officer at Newcastle to the then Deputy Commissioner at Sydney. It is, in effect, nothing more nor less than a report of negotiations carried out by an officer, and agreement reached on certain points subject to the execution of a proper agreement in writing to be submitted to Mr. Dean for approval and signature. Such an agreement was neither drafted nor submitted to Mr. Dean, and the negotiations lapsed because of the decision of the Commissioner set out in the following letter dated the 13th November, 1920, in reply to the proposal submitted by the Deputy Commissioner, Sydney, to enter into a contract with Messrs. Dean and Sons. The letter reads : - “ With reference to your memorandum above referred to, having in mind the fact that the price of coal at Newcastle is very much cheaper than it is in Sydney, it appears to me that 63s. is too high a price for a contract of the nature you have in view. After full consideration of all sides of the question, I desire to inform you that providing the price of bricks is 6Os. per thousand loaded into drays or trucks, as the case may be, and that such price will only increase iu so far as there is an increase in the wages fixed by the Arbitration Court and that the price of bricks, adding this increase, will at no time be greater than 10 per cent, less than current market rates, negotiations may proceed. The same provision to apply in the case of a decrease in the current market rates.
Please report further us to the result of your negotiations.”
The result of the further discussion between the Deputy Commissioner and Mr. Dean is set out in the following report from the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Hutchings, dated the 26th November, 1920.- “ In further reference to the above memorandum I have to advise that I placed your views before Messrs. Dean and Sons, but the firm regrets that they are not able to quote any lower price at the present time than 63s. per thousand.
They are at present engaged in the duplication of their works, which duplication will be completed within six weeks or two months from this day.
I have arranged for them to supply in the ordinary way of business, and not subject to contract, bricks at the previous rate agreed upon, i.e., 63s. per 1,000, and they indicated that when the duplication is in full working order they may. consider a contract for an extended period for a lesser sum than 63s. per 1,000.
The matter then dropped, as very early in 1921 the Government decided to abandon construction by ‘day labour, and, in future, to submit all constructional work for completion by contract with private builders. Assuming that there was a contract in existence, the commission to February, 1922, should have ‘ taken 10,140,000 bricks, but in that period it ordered in the ordinary course of supply 329,000. In sworn evidence Mr. Dean admitted that he at no time complained to the commission of any breach of the contract, and stated -
I do not say it was a serious breach of contract, because I did not know that a contract was in existence, and I did not know whether I could enforce a contract at that time; I was not sure of my position. I will say that much.
– That shows he did not seek it.
– It shows that there was no contract.
– Is Cook still in the Department ?
– I cannot say, but I shall find out if the honorable member wishes me to do so. I give some excerpts from letters received from Mr. Dean and signed by him. The first is dated the 2nd June, 1922, and is as follows: -
Let me at once clear your mind of any impression of any claim made by me on behalf of my firm to the War Service Homes Commission for compensation for an alleged breach by the commission. I mentioned that a contract had been drafted for the supply of 520,000 bricks per month, and when the terms were mutually agreed to between us, I was told that the draft would be sent to Sydney for completion. The contract was never completed. When I asked why the delay I was told that a change of plans had been decided on. … If we acted foolishly in doing this before a contract was made, I can truthfully say it was done from an honest desire and determination to do our best to meet the wishes of the commission.
– Was that expenditure incurred by Mr. Dean with the knowledge of the Commissioner, pending the execution of a contract ?
– I am unable to say whether it was incurred with the knowledge of the Commissioner, but it is probable that part of it was incurred with the knowledge of Mr. Cook-
– Who had drafted the terms of the proposed agreement.
– The next letter is dated the 9th August, 1922, and reads -
I mention this to clear away the statement that I alleged the existence of a contract, and asked for compensation, for an alleged breach of the commission. I never made any such statement.
Not for an alleged breach of contract; that has nothing to do with the matter in my mind. Why that is brought into such prominence I do not know. I have made no claim on that account.
– If there was no contract, what was the cause of action ? He says he did not allege a contract.
– His counsel did.
– The case has been heard by no fewer than nine judges, :ind only one judge decided in favour of Messro. H. Dean and Sons, and (hen only on the jury finding that there was a contract. A body of laymen is not a suitable tribunal for determining, as a matter of law, the existence of a contract, and, as one judge remarked, it was a puzzle to find any evidence of a contract. Messrs. Dean and Sons appealed to the High Court, the highest legal authority in the Commonwealth, and that court dismissed their appeal. They now seek to make the matter a political one. This, on the question of principle alone, is wrong, and every member should take a firm stand and definitely insist that he will not be a party to such tactics.
– Ti; is not my intention to discuss the merits or demerits of the case under review ; I desire to voice my pro) est against a practice that has grown up in this House of seeking the appointment of select committees to go into the cases of individuals or firms. The practice is a dangerous, if not a vicious one, and shows a very false conception of the duties of this Parliament I hope that honorable members will vote against the motion submitted by the honorable member “for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). The honorable member has been a member of this House long enough to know that there are other methods which he could pursue. I would advise him to adopt some other method than that which he has proposed this afternoon.
.- It appears from what has been said by the honorable member for Newcastle that
Henry Dean and Sons, thinking that they had a claim against the Government, pursued it in the courts, and failed. This House is now asked, in effect, to sit as a court of appeal from the courts of this country.
– But the firm got a verdict in one court.
– And that verdict was upset.
– On a technical point; not on the facts.
– In accordance with the law of the land. This; and other Parliaments of Australia make the laws by which the rights of our citizens are to bo determined. It is for the Parliament making the law to alter it, if its operation is thought to do wrong.
– It is a common thing for Parliament to validate something which has been done, although a court has pronounced it illegal.
– The proper way in which to deal with any complaint against a law is by an alteration of that law, not by permitting an individual who is sufficiently influential or persistent to induce members of Parliament to allow hia case to be dealt with on other than legal grounds. This claim has been pursued fully in the courts, and the decision of the courts has been against it. Therefore, it must be accepted by this House that the claimant has no legal right.
– Did he not do work at the instance of the department ?
– I shall refer to that. The matter must be- dealt with on the basis that there is no legal right. Then the question arises whether there is any moral right which this House should enforce after the inquiry and report of a select committee. Prima facie a citizen of Australia has the rights that the laws give him ; but there are no means of enforcing what are known as moral rights. These are obviously the subject of grave differences of opinion. Parliaments exist for the making of laws to determine what the rights of citizens are, in order that disputes ‘ shall not be decided according to the indefinite and more or less varying standards of moral right. When a citizen has failed to establish his rights in the courts of the country, relying upon the laws applying to his case, which this Parliament and other Parliaments have made, that ought to be the end of his claim. But there arc other considerations affecting this case. I understand that the claim is based upon what has been done by a subordinate officer of a Commonwealth department. This Parliament and the Government are in the position of trustees of the public funds, and if they distribute public money to persons who can induce members of Parliament to move for a select committee, and not to persons who are not sufficiently influential to induce members to move on their behalf, we enter upon a very dangerous course. I am debating this motion entirely as a question of principle. I suggest that no citizen is entitled to act upon an expectation that a contract will be made, and then to make a charge upon the public funds as though a contract had been made. Our duty is prima facie to make laws and leave the courts to adjudicate upon the cases brought under them. The courts, having administered the laws, their decisions should be regarded as final. If the laws do not meet with the approval of this Parliament or other Parliaments that have made them, the Parliament concerned should take action; but it is emphatically not for Parliament to sit as a court of appeal from the ordinary tribunals of the country. If we once begin to do that, it will mean that any individual -who is sufficiently persistent or influential will be able to get his case reheard after it has failed in the court. Honorable members must know that every day of the year there are citizens who fail in claims brought sometimes against other citizens, and sometimes against the Government, and they fail often upon what are called technical points, which means that their claims are not claims recognized by the laws made by Parliament. In this instance the claim appears to be based upon a change of policy by a governmental department. Substantially it appears to reduce itself to this - that a citizen of the Commonwealth had reason to believe that a certain policy would be pursued, by a Government department. He extended his works or incurred other expenditure upon the faith of that belief, and in so doing took an ordinary business risk. The department’s policy was changed. Now, if this Parliament is going to admit, in effect, claims for damages owing to changes of departmental policy, how wide the field that we open to possible claimants! All kinds of legislation affect the rights of citizens, and in many cases new legislation, or changes of departmental policy, result in pecuniary loss to citizens. The most conspicuous example of the kind is legislation affecting the tariff. Changesin the tariff undoubtedly affect the pecuniary interests of large classes of the community. Is it to be dreamed of that the public funds are to be held responsible for a change of policy, whether made by responsible Ministers in control of a department, or by Parliament itself ? I put it to the House that the claim is unreasonable, and that if it were admitted we should have as a common practice the appointment of committees of this House for the purpose of considering what, in effect, were appeals from our courts of law ; and deciding those appeals, in accordance, not with the laws which Parliament has made, but more or less with the indefinite ideas of honorable members of what was a fair thing. For those reasons, I oppose the motion.
– Honorable members have just listened to the argument of a lawyer who is speaking on behalf of the Government. I do not understand legal points myself, but the position as it appears to me is that the War Service Homes Department decided to build 200 houses a month. It approached Dean and Sons, manufacturers of bricks, and said, “ Your plant is too small; duplicate it and supply our requirements.” This company, in goodfaith, dealing with an officer of the department, extended its plant to supplyrequirements. A considerable expense was. incurred. The Minister to-day read a number of documents which showed, undoubtedly, that the department had a. knowledge of the negotiations between Dean and Sons and Mr. Cook. Had thepolicy of the department not been* changed, the contract would have beencompleted. In this cowardly way advantage was taken of a small business company with little capital. Notwithstanding the legal quibbling which we have just heard, and the talk about standing on legal rights, I maintain that any citizen of this country has the right to appeal to this House for justice. I am surprised that honorable members opposite intend to vote against the motion. It is an old institution that the Speaker has the right to receive petitions, and the most humble citizen of Australia can petition to this House. This company has the right to come to this House to obtain justice.
– After its case has been defeated in court ?
– This case, went before a jury and Dean gained a verdict. An appeal was made, and the case was lost on a technical point. Honorable members opposite set the law on a pedestal, and contend that it should not be criticized. This Parliament is above the courts of law in this country. The judges are the employees of this Parliament. We provide them -with their salaries, and if their decisions are wrong, this Parliament should put them right. The honorable member for Newcastle has a right to move in this House for a select committee. The investigations of the committee would cost the country nothing. Its members would give good service free, hear the facts, examine documents, and report to the House. I am not a legal man, and I look at this matter from a common-sense point of view. I am surprised that honorable members opposite, who profess to be democrats, deny the right to a citizen of this country to appeal for justice to this House. I shall vote for the motion.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) that we should be very careful indeed in appointing selectcommittees of this House. I also agree with the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) that we have no right to appoint a select committee to sit in judgment on the courts of the land. We have no right to appoint a select committee that might be regarded as a kind of court of appeal from the courts of the land. But if the facts are as I understand them to be, I shall certainly vote for the appointment of the proposed select committee. I understand that a representative of a government department, Mr. Cook, acting on behalf of the Commissioner for War Service Homes, entered into negotiations with Messrs. Dean and
Sons; that he agreed with them upon the terms of a contract to be entered into, and that the next step in the proceedings was to reduce the contract to proper form, so that it could be formally executed. J3ut - and the whole case turns on this - pending the preparation of the document for execution, the department, by its attitude and action, gave Messrs. Dean and Sous to understand that the contract would be executed in due course.
– The Commissioner objected to the price.
– 1 am. relating the facts as I understand them. The Commissioner, through his representative, Mr. Cook, induced the company to incur an expenditure respecting the contract that it was expected would be executed. Owing to a change of policy on the part of the Commissioner, the contract was eventually not entered into, and Messrs. Dean and Sons brought an action. The courts have held that no contract existed, and that, therefore, there was no cause of action. If that is so, then Messrs. Dean and Sons are entitled to have the facts inquired into, and if they incurred expenditure owing to the attitude or action of the Commissioner, they are entitled to some compensation. A select committee inquiring into these facts would not in any sense question the decision of the courts. The courts may have been perfectly right in deciding on the facts before them that.no contract existed, and that as far as legal claim was concerned, Messrs. Dean and Sons had absolutely no case. But the fact remains that very often a mau having no legal claim has a very strong moral claim. What harm can be done in appointing a, select committee which, after all, inquires into the facts and makes a recommendation to tho Government?
– Mr. Dean assumed that he had obtained the contract.
– It is no question of Mr. Dean’s assumption. The question is: “Did Mr. Dean make the assumption on the strength of representations made by the Commissioner?”
– I believe not.
– As far as I know it was not, as the honorable member for
Kooyong suggests, that Messrs. Dean and Sons incurred expense simply on the strength of their own belief that the contract, would be entered into. If that were so, they would have no claim at all, and I should vote against the appointment of a select- committee. My vote will depend on whether the fact can be established that Messrs. Dean and Sons were induced to incur expenditure by the representations of the department. I understand that at that time, as the honorable member for South Sydney pointed out, the department was exceedingly anxious to get ahead with certain work, and in all probability told Messrs. Dean and Sons that they could proceed with the work. In the meantime the Commissioner changed his mind, and Messrs. Dean and Sons were left lamenting. Mr. Dean admitted, in one of the letters read by the Minister, that he quite recognized that there was no contract, but on the strength of the representations of the Minister, he had incurred expense, and, if that was so, although he had no legal claim to compensation, he had a very strong moral claim.
– I support the motion moved by the honorable member for Newcastle for the appointment of a select committee. I do so without a knowledge of the facts other than what I have heard here to-day. I think it is sufficient for an honorable member to make out a prima facie case to warrant him in asking for the appointment of a select committee on a matter affecting the Government. The argument put forward by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) is that a man has no right to come here once his case has been defeated in the courts of the country.
– That is a sound general principle.
– If the honorable member thinks so, then he should have been found voting in quite a different direction from that in which he has voted in this chamber, especially when the Government came down to this House with validating measures to upset the decisions of the courts of this country.
– I have voted against those measures.
– Not on all occasions.
– I have voted against all retrospective legislation.
– I have a strong recollection of the wool agreements that were entered into between the Commonwealth Government and a number of fellmongering companies. When the court declared that none of those agreements were legal, a validating measure was introduced into this chamber legalizing agreements as far back as 1917. Last year this House dealt with a measure to validate an act of the Government, which, though morally right, was held by the courts to be illegal. I supported the measure, and would do so again. I do not suggest that anybody who has failed as a litigant may apply to this Parliament for the appointment of a select committee to re-open his case, but if a- man who has a moral claim against the Government fails to establish it in the courts because of a technicality, what chance of redress has he other than that afforded by an inquiry by a parliamentary committee? In our pri- vate capacities, if any person has a moral, but not a legal, claim against us, and we are just menA we agree to negotiate with him sp that equity may be done. Surely the Government should adopt the same attitude. I do not say that the moral claim of Henry Dean and Sons is strong, although’ upon the facts related to the House this afternoon it seems so.- This House is merely asked to appoint a select committee to investigate the claim. The committee, if appointed, would inquire into all the circumstances connected with the transaction in question, and the claim of the contractors would be proved to be either just or unjust. When the committee reported its findings, the House would still have the right to determine what action should be taken. Any man who has entered into a verbal or written agreement, or any other arrangement with the Government under which he has “suffered through the actions of Commonwealth officers, and is unable to get redress at law, is entitled to have his cas© heard by a select committee representing all parties in this House. For the reasons I have stated, 1 support the motion.
Motion (by Mr. Marr) that the debate be adjourned - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resumption of debate made an order of the day for the 9th July.
Notice of motion (by Mr. O’Keefe) -
That in the opinion of this House provision should be made by the Commonwealth Governwent without delay for the establishment of an adequate shipping service for both passengers and cargo between Hobart and Melbourne - having been called on,
– Not having received certain information with which I desire to support this motion, I ask that it be postponed until 13th August.
Motion postponed accordingly.
Notice of motion (by Mr. Mann) -
That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the circumstances ‘ leading up to the retirement of Mr. Mark Baker Young from the service of the Commonwealth Bank, and into the complaints and charges indicated in his letter of the 15th October, 1923, to the then Acting Governor of the Bank; such committee to consist of Mr. Brennan, Mr. Gregory, Mr. Mackay, Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Frederick McDonald, Mr. Edward Riley, and the mover, five to form a quorum; with power to send for persons, papers, and records, and to adjourn from place to place, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken, and that such committee do report one month from this day - having been called on,
– In the absence of certainpapers and information relating to this case, it will be inconvenient for me to debate this motion to-day. I therefore ask the honorable member to postpone the motion.
– I do not wish to defer this discussion longer than is necessary, but as I shall be absent from Victoria I shall not be able to submit the motion before the 27th August. I therefore ask that it be placed on the notice-paper for that date.
Opposition members objecting,
– I remind honorable members that it is the invariable practice of the House, when a motion upon notice has not been submitted, and is, therefore, not in its possession, to allow the member in whose name it stands on the business-paper - the proponent - to postpone it to any date he chooses. It is certainly not customary to take a vote upon the question of postponement.
Motion postponed until 27th August.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Bruce) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Bruce) read a first time.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to validate certain refunds of income tax and for other purposes.
.- In view of what has recently happened in this House, it is as well that we should know what this bill contains. I ask the Treasurer to supply us with information concerning the measure.
– Mr. Speaker-
– If I call on the Minist er, he will close the debate.
.- It seems remarkable that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) should ask leave to introduce a bill for an act to validate certain refunds of income tax and for other purposes. Evidently the Government has already remitted the taxation, and the Minister thinks that all that is now necessary is to ask us to validate the refunds. The Treasurer should have supplied us with information concerning the bill. We know that the Government has allowed the big landed proprietors of this country to escape the payment of their just taxation to the Commonwealth. It is another instance of the willingness of the Government to assist those interests which stand behind it.
– The Minister was given no chance to supply the information.
– He had his opportunity, but did not avail himself of it. He has treated the House with scant courtesy.
– Nonsense !
– According to the honorable member, everything with which he does not agree is nonsense. Parliament in its wisdom passed anact imposing certain income taxation upon certain people, and we must accept the view that Parliament knew what it was doing. The action of the Ministry in going behind Parliament and treating its legislation as a dead-letter strikes a blow at responsible government. If a Minister can remit taxation without the knowledge of Parliament, and then ask Parliament to validate his action, saying that there is no other course open to honorable members as the deed is done, something is wrong. I, for one, take this, the earliest possible opportunity, to enter a. strong protest against actions of this nature.
– The honorable member did not protest against the Minister for Trade and Customs having this power.
– The honorable member is wrong; I did protest. Parliament imposes Customs duties in order to assist in the development of this country, and no Minister has a right to remit those duties behind the back of Parliament. I say that distinctly and definitely. I take the same stand in relation to this matter, and contend that the motion is establishing a very dangerous practice, and. for that reason I have taken the unusual course of protesting at the stage when leave to introduce the bill is sought. If a Minister is at liberty to act contrary to the laws of the country just as the whim takes him, of what use is Parliament or responsible government?
– The honorable member should vote against the validation.
– Before I vote on any matter I wish to know something about it. A full explanation should have been submitted to the House by the Treasurer before he asked for leaveto do something whichis in direct conflict with the legislation enacted by Parliament. I protest strongly against his action.
– The present occasion offers a splendid opportunity to the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham). The honorable member has so championed the cause of the law courts, and urged that they should be supreme, that he should object to this bill, the purpose of which is to hand back to certain persons money that the court decided was a just. tax. I hope that the honorable member will take the view that the court, being a legal tribunal, should not be superseded by Parliament. Instead of lessening the authority of the courts, Parliament should support them in every possible way.
– Evidently the honorable member knows more about the bill than we on this side do.
– Yet honorable members on the other side will vote for the bill, because they will benefit by the legislation, if passed. We on this side have their names and the names ofothers who will benefit from such legislation, and in due time we shall place them before the electors. So far as I am concerned, every stage ofthis bill will be fought, andwe on this sidewill make it our business to acquaint the people of the Commonwealth with what takes place.
.- The point raised by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) is, prima facie, well taken. I have not yet had an opportunity to hear the proposals, and shall not until the bill is introduced, but I shall certainly require to be convinced that there is good ground for refunding the payments already made before I support their validation. If these payments have been made in accordance with the law of the land, and, in particular, if they have been the subject matter of litigation in the courts - as to which at present we have no inf ormation - I shall require to be satisfied that there are special reasons for going behind the law.
– Unless objection is taken to the order of leave, we are prohibited from amending the bill in certain respects at a later stage. I have reason to remember a ruling to that effect given on a previous occasion in this House. Honorable members will recollect that a bill came before us which it was desired to amend, but Mr. Speaker ruled that honorable members had missed their opportunity to object to it in that they had allowed the order of leave to go through without opposition. I do not intend to let this occasion pass without entering my protest against the lack of information. Certain portions of this order of leave are set out in definite language. We have the words, “ refunds of income tax.” There is no doubt as to the meaning of those words, but there is considerable doubt as to the meaning of the words, “ and for other purposes.” What are those other purposes? The Government has already refunded the taxation.
– The motion serves another purpose; it provides Opposition members with an opportunity to talk.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) will realize how wide are the words “ and for other purposes.” Under them almost any thing of a financial character could be included.
– Not necessarily financial matters. The other purposes might be to carry out the Government’s intention to deport certain persons.
– I should not go so far as that. I do not suppose that opportunity would be taken under this bill to amend the electoral law, but I anticipate that definite proposals other than the refunding of income tax will be brought before us under this bill ; otherwise there would be no necessity for the words “ and for other purposes.” We should allow the Treasurer a very wide range indeed if we permit this order of leave to pass without opposition. Unless he can give a satisfactory explanation of what he intends to do, I feel disposed to move that the words “ and for other purposes “ be struck out. If the bill were confined to the validation of certain refunds of income tax, we should know where we stood, although, probably, we should object to the refunds being made and vote against the bill. As the motion contains the words “ and for other purposes “ it might be construed as authorizing the introduction of a bill validating any financial act. Members on this side are not opposing the motion merely for the sake of doing so. Mr. Speaker understands the situation, he having had extensive experience both in the Commonwealth Parliament and the Victorian Parliament. He at least realizes what a wide range of financial proposals could be introduced under this motion. I move -
That the words “ and for other purposes “ be left out.
– I hope that the amendment will be carried. I know quite well that honorable members opposite are prepared to do whatever the Government tells them to do. One could not expect the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to take an independent stand and vote according to his conscienceon such a question as this. This kind of procedure has become, by repetition, almost second nature to the Government. The House is asked to validate something that has already been done. Honorable members do not know even the nature of the action to be validated, and much less do they know what the “ other purposes “ are. This is not the first time that honorable members have been trapped into giving a too ready consent to the introduction of a bill. It is only right that honorable members should be told, when they are asked to vote on a motion like this, what they are committing themselves to. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) should be congratulated on intervening, in the interests of fairness, at this stage. Although it asks honorable members to agree to the motion, the Government is not honest enough to tell us what the bill will do. We ought not to be asked to go further than to agree to a bill being introduced to validate something that the Government has done; but we are asked to agree to something about which we will not know anything until after we have voted. On a former occasion the Prime Minister was very prominent in contending that we could not take certain action because of an order of leave, and I have no doubt that if he gets his way this time he will prevent honorable members ‘ from discussing the question properly. Seeing that the Speaker has ruled that an objection cannot be raised at a later stage, the right time to object is now. The Minister in charge of the bill ought to tell the House what the “ other purposes “ are.
.- If the House gives the Treasurer leave to bring in the bill, alterations of it will not’ be permitted. Their experience during the last few years should induce honorable members to take more interest in the financial affairs of this country. If the House is to be treated in this way, honorable members might as well give the Government unfettered control of finance. I am strongly opposed to doing that, and shall seize every opportunity to prevent it being done. We do not know whether the refunds have been made necessary by errors of administration, by High Court decisions, or by those things which the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) is so anxious, because he and his legal friends have done, so well out of them, not to interfere with. When administrative mistakes have been made, the House should be given an opportunity to warn those responsible that, the errors must not be repeated. I surmise that some of the refunds are necessary in the Customs Department, which taxed electrical machinery wrongly, contrary t>> the intention of the Parliament Tl,., machinery was for use by a public utility, and was not obtainable in Australia. ‘ N/o doubt the department has come to the conclusion that it must refund some of the duty collected. If I were the Treasurer, having a nature that prompts me to handle business in an honest way, I should be only .too ready to place all the facts before the House. The Government ought to give way on this matter. Surely it is not afraid to publish all the details ! Surely our administration has not become so degraded that the Government needs to be secretive ! If so, it should be turned out of office at once, and we should not wait until the end of the year for an election. But it has sufficient numbers in this House to cut the throats of the members of the Opposition if the standing orders would permit it. Members of the Opposition are demonstrating their desire to have the affairs of this country administered honestly, instead of by the “ backdoor” method now so often employed.
– In order to satisfy members of the Opposition, who have taken an extraordinary action in objecting to this motion, I shall explain what the usual procedure at this stage is, why it is followed, and what would be the effect of the amendment. Ordinarily the motion for leave to bring down a bill, and the first reading of it, are treated as formal, with the object of enabling honorable members to see the bill in print before discussing it. On the second reading the Minister in charge of it explains its provisions, so that honorable members can discuss it in the light of that explanation, and with a full knowledge of its contents. That procedure is being followed in this instance. It would be quite unfair for me to enter into a long explanation of the bill at this stage, before honorable members have had an opportunity of reading it. The title of the bill has been deliberately chosen by the law officers of the Crown, who say that it is a title that defines the objects of the bill. When leave is -asked to introduce a bill for certain objects, “ and for other purposes,” it is taken for granted that the “ other purposes “ are cognate to those objects, and in accordance with the principles of the measure. If the amendment of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton, were agreed to, the machinery necessary, to carry out the objects of the bill could not be provided. I ask honor- able members to allow the motion for leave to introduce to pass.
– What is the purpose of the bill ?
– To permit the Government to refund certain revenues. A very elaborate statement would be required to explain the bill, and I ask honorable members to accept my assurance that I shall explain it as fully as possible when it is before them.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 1st July (vide page 601), ‘on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That this bill be now read a second time, on which Mr. CHARLTON had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ now “ the following words be inserted : - “ withdrawn and redrafted to provide more adequate provisions regarding alien immigration, and for the reconsideration of the drastic proposals to deport Australian citizens.”
Mr. COLEMAN (Reid) [4.351- After the bewildering outburst last night of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), who pronounced a series of curses upon the party with which I am associated, the time has arrived to apply a little reasoned argument to the bill. The first part of the bill proposes to vest in the executive the right to fix the quota of immigrants to be allowed into Australia from southern European and other foreign countries. The case against that part of it has already been ably stated by th.e Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who pointed out that the control of immigration by the present Government has been most unsatisfactory. A secret agreement was entered into with the Maltese Government, behind the back of this Parliament, under which the quota of Maltese who could be admitted into Australia was increased. it seems to be the definite policy of this Government to ignore Parliament in these matters. I, for one, am not prepared to vest a discretionary power in the Ministry to determine how many Southern European migrants, or migrants from any other country, shall be admitted into Australia, for experience shows that in this regard the Government cannot be trusted. The system adopted in the
United States of America of prescribing by statute the quota of migrants to. be admitted is a proper one. If the Government does not deal with this acute problem in a thorough and satisfactory way, in the near future, disastrous effects to the economic well-being of our people will follow. Because of ite great gravity, Parliament is the only authority which should determine this matter. The only reason that the Prime Minister gave for not incorporating in the bill a quota system on the lines of American legislation was that if we were to fix a quota by legislation it would cause considerable resentment amongst European nations at the present time. Is that sufficient justification for the Government to claim the exclusive right to say who shall and who shall not be admitted to Australia ? That the methods adopted by the Government are un businesslike and totally unsatisfactory is shown by the manner in which shiploads of undesirable migrants have been brought to this country, simply to be disappointed and returned to their own land. Will not a continuance of that policy be calculated to cause more resentment in the countries from which these unfortunate people come? We have a perfect right, under international law, to determine who shall be admitted as citizens of this country. The most practical way of dealing with the problem, and the one calculated to cause the least amount of friction with European nations, is for us to fix. definite immigration quotas. The Prime Minister also objected to the quota system on the ground that its adoption would involve the maintenance of an extensive consular service throughout Europe. I fail to see why that should be necessary. We already have a passport system in operation, and that could be extended and adapted for the purpose of limiting the inflow of migrants from particular countries. The adoption of the quota system is undoubtedly the most honest and practical course to take to restrict migration. We should say to people in other lands, “ We reserve to ourselves the right to maintain our racial purity, and we are prepared to allow only so many of your nationals admittance into our country annually.”
The attitude of the Labour party towards immigration has been subjected to a certain amount of criticism by honorable members opposite, and, as usual, it has been misrepresented. It might be us well, therefore, for me to repeat definitely, here and now, that the Labour party is opposed to immigration while present economic conditions prevail. One of the factors that has determined the attitude of the Labour party on immigration is the unemployment position. 1 understand Mr. Sutcliffe, of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, to have recently said that over 150,000 people are out of work in Australia at this moment. About 10 per cent, of our wage and salary earners, or 159,080 persons, were unemployed according to the 1921 census on the 4th April, 1921, there being at the same date 1,661,973 wage or salary earners all told. If such facts as these do not constitute an adequate reason for the adoption of our policy on migration, what in the name of reason would be considered to be practical grounds for objection? Apart altogether from the unemployment stand-point, the Labour party believes that the natural development of this country and the growth of our secondary industries will ^continue in such a way as to induce a class of migrant to come here which will be infinitely more acceptable and much more easily assimilated than the class that is coming in consequence of the artificial means that this Government has taken to stimulate immigration.
During this debate much has been said about the reasons which induced the Government of the United States of America to restrict immigration to that country. It can hardly be doubted, on the evidence available, that the American attitude was adopted in consequence of the alarming way in which people from foreign countries were flocking into that country. The United States of America, at this moment, includes about 14,000,000 foreigners in her population, and their presence constitutes a very grave problem. No one who has been to the United States of America and has seen, as I have, the huge colonies of Germans, French, Italians, and even negroes, in her great cities, each of which supports a newspaper printed in its own language, which maintains a vigorous propaganda in favour of the particular racial prejudices of its nationals, c-an
Mr. Coleman. fail to ‘recognize that America’s foreign population constitutes a grave and serious problem to the government. In view of America’s experience, we should certainly do our utmost to preserve our 98 per cent, of British origin, which is our most sacred possession. Another’ matter which perturbed the Government of the United States of America, and led to the adoption of the quota- system, was the great army of unemployed which grew up in that country in consequence of the unrestricted immigration that was permitted. In the twelfth annual report of the United States Secretary for Labour (Mr. J. J. Davis), which covered the fiscal year that ended on the 30th June, 1924, are some most interesting statements. Publications such as this, may I say in passing, are not procurable in our Library. Honorable members who desire to have them must obtain them from private sources. I secured this copy direct from America. I find that the Library had a copy of the report for the previous year, but I experienced the utmost difficulty in getting hold of it. We ought surely to have available publications which will inform us of the experience of America, and of the remedies that she has adopted to deal with the enormous influx of foreign people into her country particularly in view of the present subject of discussion. The report to which I have referred contains the following: -
Since the close of the war the subject of immigration has been receiving more and more attention by the American people. It will bo recalled that when this administration came into office in 1921 there were nearly 6,000,000 bread-winners out of employment in the United States of America, and immigration was beginning to assume its pre-war proportions. The 66th Congress realized that the rising tide of unemployment and labour unrest in certain quarters called for some definite action in the way of an immigration policy. A bill placing a numerical limit upon immigration to the United States of America was passed by the Congress, but did not receive the signature of President Wilson. While this bill died with the close of that Congress, it was passed in substantially the same form at the special session called by the late President Harding, and became a law on 19th May, 1921. The law was amended and extended by the resolution of 11th May, 1922, but expired bv limitation on 30th June, 1924.
Economic conditions in America have changed since the first limit was placed upon the number of immigrants that were to be given the privilege of taking up residence here. The millions of unemployed have been more or less absorbed into normal conditions of employment. The great pool of surplus labour which existed in 1921 has been drained nearly dry, and the advocates of cheap labour a year apo, in anticipation of a shortage, began a vigorous national campaign for open immigration, on the theory that Europe was a reservoir of ‘abour, and all that was necessary to secure it was an open main.
The economic dangers that faced the United State3 of America- in consequence of the magnitude which her foreign immigration assumed, and also the unavoidable unemployment, which was a natural corollary, was undoubtedly the principal reason which induced her to restrict immigration by adopting the quota system of immigration. Another which might be mentioned was the effect which the enormous increase of foreign people was having on her own citizens. The third factor which’ I shall mention was eugenic. I am not one to cast aspersions on fellow human beings of any country, but we cannot get away from the. results of scientific investigation. Tho following is from the report which I previously quoted, and it deals specifically with the results of the migration of southern European, nationals’ to the United States of America -
A scientist who made a thorough study of American mental standard, testifying before the House of Representatives Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, estimated that if the mental tests applied to the American army during the world war had been enforced against the foreign-born now in the United States, and all showing a mental level below a standard fixed between low average and inferior intelligence had been excluded, 45.6 per cent, of the nearly 14,000,000 foreign-born in the United States would have been barred.
There is the undoubted justification for the attitude that has been adopted by the United States of America. In order that Australia may profit from the American experience, the Labour party demands that a most stringent limitation shall be placed on the influx of other than Britishborn people into this country. We wish to maintain our own racial purity. Parliament is the authority to determine the quotas of foreign people that shall be admitted to Australia. It should not be left to the caprice of a particular Minister or to the policy of a particular government. The matter is far too serious. The increase in population by immigration reached its peak period in the United States of America in 1907 - I am speaking now from memory - when the number admitted was 1,285,000 people. In 1914, out of a total immigration of 1,218,480 persons, 915,002 were from, eastern and southern Europe. In 1921, the year in which the first quota system operated, 222,260 out of a total migration to America of 805,228 were Italians. In spite of the stringent regulations which America now enforces, 6,409 migrants were refused admittance there last year for various causes, included in which were insanity, epilepsy, and imbecility. If the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) proposes to participate in this debate, I should like him to inform honorable members whether the report of Sir Neville Howse on the examination of migrants has been considered, and whether the Government1 has given effect to, or proposes to give effect to, his recommendations. In any case the reports of our medical advisers are all based upon physical standards of perfection. The American Secretary of Labour has said that that was the serious blunder in the policy of. the United States of America, and that the Government should have paid as much, if not more, attention to the memtal development of the migrant. This is a matter to which our Government should give very serious consideration. The remarks which have been contributed to this debate, based on the report of Mr. Ferry, the royal commisisoner who inquired into migration to Queensland, have been such, as to show that the problems that have afflicted America are problems with which, we are already confronted. People have already come into the Commonwealth who cannot be assimilated into our social system, nor can they adapt themselves to our economic standards. We have admitted, people whose habits, ideas, training, and former environment have been such as to make them a very serious problem indeed for this country. There is no need to dilate upon the desirability of preserving the purity of our race. It has already, been referred to by other speakers. It is dealt with in Mr. Ferry’s report, and in the United States of America it is accepted as the guiding feature of the modern migration policy of that country. In regard to immigration, the United States of America has reached the limit of absorption.’ Indeed, in the opinion of independent critics, she passed that limit many years ago. We cannot hope to maintain our high standard of civilization and physical perfection if we do not’ give the matter of immigration very serious attention. It is universally recognized, and we are entitled to say it ourselves, that in this country we have a very high standard of mental perfection and physical efficiency. These are qualities; which have stood us in good stead in bringing the Australian Commonwealth to its present stage of development. Let me say here that the stage of. development which has been reached in Australia in the short, space of a little over 100 years is undoubtedly remarkable. Experience- has told us that the migrants who- took the risk of adventuring abroad to come to this country, settle here, and become its citizens,, have been the persons who have most readily adapted themselves to out conditions. The people who have been brought here from overseas under settlement schemes;, and various schemes mainly intended to relieve Great Britain of unemployed1 and in some instances of physical’ misfits - though that has recently been; checked to some extent - have not been so readily assimilated. In America it was never found necessary to- resort to artificial means: of stimulating migration to that country. I mention this because last evening the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) took honorable members on this side to task because they did not exhibit a readiness and anxiety to take advantage of that doubtful . Grecian gift, the migration agreement. That agreement was designed to relieve Great Britain of its unemployed problem, but its acceptance would commit this country to very widespread obligations. It provided that we should absorb a huge number of migrants for whom preference” should be given in employment and in land settlement. Very grave consideration of the matter is required before this or any other Australian Parliament can safely decide whether the agreement is designed in the best interests of” the Commonwealth. In the United States of America the increase in population has been due very largely to the American policy of developing secondary industries. Let it be said that in concurrent periods of development the increase of population in America has. been proportionately very much smaller than the increase in Australia. The report from which I have quoted contains a number of very interesting statistics, and I should like to have them included in Hansard without reading them, but I understand that is not permissible.
– During the past fifteen years the population of the United States of America increased by 10,000,000. The total increase of population by immigration since- 1820 amounted to 35,000,000. If we take the last 40 years, the period of great industrial expansion in America, we shall find that the . population increased by between 25,000,000 and 26,000,000, speaking again from memory, as the result of the admission of migrants. The balance of the increase in population during the period was due to natural increase. I understand .that the Commonwealth Statistician has told us that the present rate of increase in our population through ordinary channels of migration reaches the limit of our power of absorption.. In view of the number of our unemployed, it is ‘evident that the statement of the Commonwealth Statistician is based upon actual facts. I have gone into this lengthy explanation dealing with migration to justify the attitude of the party with which I am associated. “We believe that there are ways and means of stimulating the prosperity of the country and of absorbing unemployed. Schemes might be adopted for the construction of public works, amongst others the building of cruisers here, and similar proposals, which would create prosperity and open up avenues of employment, and we could look for additions to our population due to the natural attraction of our prosperity.
– A very important meeting at Runnymede was held recently in connexion with it.
– Yes; only the other day people went to Runnymede to celebrate the downfall of King John and the anniversary of British freedom. Article 39 of Magna Charta reads -
No freeman shall he arrested or detained in prison or deprived of his freehold or outlawed or banished or in any way molested: and we will not set forth against him nor send against him unless by a lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.
That has all been disregarded by the Government, and it has also disregardedthe spirit of the Habeas Corpus Act and the Bill of Rights. These three constitutional documents have been the boast of every person with British blood in his veins as typical of British institutions. Under this bill an arbitrary power is to be vested in a Minister of the Crown to determine what is right on political considerations, charged, no doubt, with bias. We are being asked to substitute for the spirit of the British constitutional system the spirit which characterizes the French or Continental system where the state is supreme and the liberty of the individual does not count - the system, rightly condemned by British constitutionalists, known as droit administratif or “ administrative right.” I do not challenge the sovereignty of this Parliament or the supreme power of the Government to do as it pleases under the Commonwealth Constitution or to carry out Executive acts, but I say that we are warranted in protesting against this legislation which is absolutely out of harmony with the spirit which has hitherto characterized the constitutionalism of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), who is a lawyer, in effect damned this bill with faint praise. He suggested by inference that the arbitrary power which under the measure is to be vested in the Minister may be dangerously used. We have every reason to believe that it will be dangerously used. During the régime of this Government Parliament has been shut up for eight or nine months at a stretch, and matters of far-reaching consequence to the welfare of the Commonwealth have been dealt with by Executive acts. Parliament has not been given the opportunity to express an unhampered opinion upon those acts. The caucus system dominates the Nationalist and Country parties opposite, although they are always attacking us because we are bound by a similar system. The caucus system on this and other questions binds honorable members opposite into such a mass that it is impossible to get an independent expression of opinion from them. The honorable member for Kooyong has a legal conscience, and he is able to plead in any way it suits him. Only the other day in the law courts he defended a certain man named Thomas Walsh against his being fined £10, and in doing so pointed out the inherent weakness of the Commonwealth arbitration system. He pleaded along lines that were totally in contradistinction to the argument he submitted in support of this bill. There is no justification for this legislation at the present time, whatever may have been the justification for similar legislation during the war years, when we had in force the War Precautions Act. Personally, I saw no sufficient justification for that legislation; but, assuming that there was justification because of national emergency, no such reason exists to-day to warrant the introduction of legislation such as this bill. The fact that the Government has resorted to this legislation is a proof of its inherent weakness and mental inability to understand the psychology of the people of the Commonwealth. We have always demanded the fullest degree of freedom of speech and action, and by this legislation the Government is attempting to deprive us of something that is a part of our very life. The Government proposes to create boards to deal with the deportation of individuals. The personnel of the boards will be determined by the Government. It will probably appoint persons favorable to its political view. The whole thing is morally wrong. Even if we were to admit the right of the Government to deport British subjects, the proper authority to determine the question is a jury of the accused man’s countrymen presided over by a judge who would be above party strife and bitterness, a man whose position of judicial eminence and independence would be such that he could be confidently trusted to determine any matter brought before him in the light of the constitutional principles which should guide the policy of this country. Here, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, we have a Government that classes citizens of the British Empire as aliens. Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, natives of New Zealand, South Africans, and every other part of the Empire may be regarded as aliens. In other words, the unity of the Empire is swept away by l his decision of the Government.
– It is a national in- i-ult.
– It is not only an insult, but whilst we have Imperial unity it is a line of policy to which Great Britain has every reason to object. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility i hat the time will come before long when Great Britain will object to our treating British subjects as though they were foreigners. In a few month’s we shall have a change of Government, and the Labour party will then have an opportunity of rectifying the maladministration of this Government. The bill is designed to deal only with an emergency industrial” situation, and of course the Government, in framing its policy, is guided by its class view-point, by its attitude toward social problems, by its general environment and by its association with market-riggers, land monopolists, profiteers, and others. There is no suggestion in the bill to deport persons who by inflating prices, causing lock-outs, rigging markets, and various other nefarious methods cripple the prosperity of Australia, create unemployment, and arouse social bitterness. These persons are friends and supporters of the Government, and they obtain knighthoods and other distinctions as rewards for their masterly exposition of capitalist philosophy. The Government will, no doubt, pass this measure, because honorable members behind the Ministry will support it, no matter how far-reaching its effect may be. There will be no independent vote from Government supporters, except perhaps from one or two honorable members, such as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), who during this session has been a caustic critic of the Government which he formerly led. As I have said, the clause providing for deportation is repugnant to British institutions. The Boards created under this legislation will be creatures of the Government, and their decisions will be made during moments of passion and public prejudice which the circumstances of the time have excited. Furthermore, the proposal to create boards and to give the Minister authority to deport British subjects from Australia will not achieve the purpose desired by the Government. The Prime Minister, in his wild and hysterical statements about the present industrial situation in Australia, stated that strikes occur as the result of the efforts of one or two individuals. This statement shows that the Prime Minister undoubtedly knows nothing of the industrial psychology of the masses, the control and management of trade unions, and their many problems. These are things from which he has held himself aloof. His outlook is not Australian, but English, and his whole training has served to keep him out of touch with the economic condition of trade unionism. It is absurd to suggest that one or two individuals are controlling and directing the industrial policy of the great unions of this country. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) knows this full well, because only a few days ago in a debate in this House he called it a fallacious doctrine, and years ago he himself was a successful strike leader, who never hesitated to take any measures necessary to bring strikes to a successful issue. I hope that before the debate closes we. shall at least hear something from him regarding the effect of this proposed legislation. Honorable members supporting the Government arn’ always ready to talk about national honour, and the need to fight in the interests of the national welfare. They do not seem to recognize that in industrial matters the question of honour is very often involved. Most strikes are the natural outcome of the employers’ tactics, and are very often the only means of bringing about a satisfactory settlement. The proposal to deport strike leaders, who, after all, are the duly elected representatives of their unions, is striking a blow at the right of collective bargaining, which implies the right of domestic control by members over the management and administration of their unions. Contrast this policy with that of Britain, where the right to strike has been, recognized since 1S75 by British Parliaments. To say that the whole course of industrial policy in the Commonwealth is controlled by one or two individuals is also a reflection upon the intelligence of the mass of the workers. It is an evidence of the abyssmal depths of ignorance into which the Prime Minister has sunk while misleading his Government and his colleagues. Only a few months ugo there was in our Australian waters a coffin-ship known as the Port Lyttleton. It was proved definitely that this vessel was unseaworthy and a menace to human lives. The organized unions refused to man the ship, and said that the vessel would not be allowed to put to sea. The Fuller Government of New South Wales, which has since been relegated to the oblivion which it rightly deserved, immediately flung the union secretaries into jail and refused them bail. Had this legislation been in operation at that time, these men would have been deported. It is such actions as these that cause the workers to take extreme measures to secure the recognition of their activities. Legislation of this character must have a far-reaching effect, and I submit that if the Government use the authority outlined in the bill, abolish trial by jury, and deport men at the instance of a biased Minister, it will not mitigate, but rather foment, industrial disturbances. The great body of public opinion will at all times resist unfair legislation, and will destroy those who administer it. Like tho Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and other honorable members on this side, I have had considerable experience of unionism in this country. For eight years I was connected with the Seamen’s Union, and I profess to understand the psychology of its members. In 1906 I, as a boy, went to sea. The hours were about 60 a week, and the seamen worked two watches of six hours. The coal consumption was not limited, as it was subsequently under the Navigation Act. the outcome of years of agitation by the Seamen’s Union. The wages and conditions of the seamen were barbarous, and their manner of living was not fit for dogs. The men had no satisfactory menu, their food being practically thrown at them. They had no protection at all. It was only as a result of the efforts of their industrial organization that the seamen were able to throw off this iniquitous and arduous form of economic servitude. All ‘along the line the seamen, in their fight to secure better conditions, were met with the bitterest opposition of the shipowning interests. Similar conditions existed in other industries; for instance, in 1916 I took over the organization of the clerks in New South Wales. The living wage at that time was £2 15s. 6d. a week; I found that clerks were receiving 30s. a week after twenty years’ faithful service with reputable city mercantile houses. Amongst the principal offenders were the softgoods warehouses of York-street, Sydney, and Flinders-lane, Melbourne. Only after a strenuous struggle and resort to cajolery and diplomacy were we able to bring about an amelioration of working conditions. Because we were not strongly organized, the employers regarded us with contempt; but by a slow and painful effort, coupled with the liberalization of the state arbitration laws, clerks and others have secured a fair measure of redress. Therefore, to attribute to organized workers the blame for all industrial holdups, as this bill contemplates, is tr> ignore historical facts. For many years in New South Wales the interests associated with the party which now occupies the Ministerial bench in this chamber restricted the right of access to the Arbitration Court because of employers’ opposition. Following the same class policy, the Government is attempting, by this bill, to place upon the workers and their leaders the full responsibility for every industrial trouble, whether it be a strike or a lock-out. The industrial history of this Commonwealth proves that that attitude is not warranted. At the present, time serious industrial trouble, affecting the whole Commonwealth, is threatened: and this Government fails to realize that methods of conciliation and persuasion will be more effective than repression and coercion. The latter policy has never succeeded in Australia. It did not work with our soldiers on the other side of the world. They rose in revolt against it; their love of liberty was such that, while they could not be driven, they were willing to be led. The same thing applies in industrial circles in Australia to-day. Ths Government fails to accept those principles which should guide any Government in its conduct of a nation’s affairs. Do honorable members on the Government side remember the fable of the -wind and the sun ? According to this fable, , the wind and the sun strove for mastery over a man who was wearing a heavy cloak. The wind thought that it would cause him to discard his cloak bv blowing with all its force; but the man only folded the garment more tightly around him. But the sun shone genially upon him, and, under its warming influence, he soon discarded the cloak. In that fable lies a great moral. Every effort to force -people only creates resentment. A conciliatory attitude will always accomplish more than force. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), who now sits in lonely isolation in the Government corner, knows well the truth of my statements, for when he led the Government in this House he expressed similar views to those that I am now setting before honorable members. He stated, as we have stated, that the Commonwealth Arbitration Act was both complex and technical, that it contained too many irritating provisions, which caused delays in the settlement of disputes. What did the right honorable gentleman do when he was faced with a serious position in the coal industry ? He realized not only that it was a key industry, and that any stoppage of work in the coal mines would have a paralyzing effect on industry generally, but also that the conditions under which the miners were employed were such that they required special treatment. He therefore created a special tribunal to deal with mining disputes. I admit that that tribunal has certain inherent defects, and because of that fact the Labour party thought it advisable to oppose the Industrial Peace , Act when it was introduced; but the conciliatory spirit it displayed averted a serious strike, with all its disastrous consequences. The right honorable gentleman understood the temper of the miners, and their close organization, and realized that it was cheaper in the long run to create machinery suitable to their needs than to say, “ It is a fight to a finish.” It requires no powers of diplomacy, no spirit of sweet reasonableness, no qualities that one would expect from the leader of a governing party, to say, as the right honorable gentleman now leading this Government has said, “It is a fight to a finish.” If one is’ regardless of the consequences of one’s utterances, it is easy to speak in that strain. Honorable members should learn the lesson taught by the great strike of 1890, when the whole trade of this country was paralyzed, and banking institutions closed their doors, and they should take such steps as are designed to prevent a further upheaval of that description. I appeal to the Government not to ignore the lessons of history, but bo make every effort possible to achieve a settlement in this important key industry and to prevent the paralyzing effects of a strike. Unless- the Government does this, the result will be disastrous to the economic fabric of the Commonwealth, and owing to the obstinacy, stupidity, and short-sightedness of the Government, thousands of men will be thrown out of work. The Government is carrying a tremendous responsibility in this matter, and I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the Government should “ pull off their dogs of war “ and approach this problem in the right spirit. If we want to remove the causes of strikes, let us get right to the kernel of the matter - amend the arbitration laws, and remove the existing hindrances to co-operation. Shakespeare makes one of his characters say, “ Let’s kill all the lawyers.” The lawyers have been responsible for many of the troubles. I say that with due apologies to the honorable member for Batman, whom I except from the indictment. T repeat, however, that one of the main causes of trouble has been the presence of lawyers, with all their technical points. I do not desire to go into the merits or demerits of the present industrial trouble affecting Australia, but I say that it *i** possible to bring about a satisfactory settlement. For that reason, strenuous efforts should be made, and everything possible done, to bring about that result. The Government lays itself open to the grave charge of being in collusion -with the private shipowners in causing this industrial trouble. The seamen have definitely declared, through. their mediators from the Melbourne Trades Hall and other industrial bodies, that they are prepared to accept a conference, and to abide by the results. of a- properly constituted conciliatory tribunal. An attempt should be made to arrive at a basis of agreement, so as to prevent a disastrous and paralyzing industrial war. 1 am not here to apologize for or to criticize, condemn, or uphold the action of any one union, as that does not affect the issUe under discussion, but I .am here to declare that it is the function of the Government to keep the wheels of industry going, by allaying the causes of unrest, and preventing everything which is calculated to create a disturbance, arouse resentment, or provoke a spirit that will disturb the economic security of the Commonwealth. A government which is guided by the principles of conciliation will find favour in the sight of the people. If this Government thinks that it will hypnotize the people of Australia by speaking of the pernicious doctrines of certain sections of the community it exhibits a lamentable lack of judgment. In five of the states of the Commonwealth Labour Governments are in office, and in the remaining state - Victoria - the Labour party is morally in power. It is only prevented from- taking its rightful place by an unholy alliance between the heterogeneous elements that oppose it in that state. The people of Australia look to the Commonwealth Government, even though it be now on its deathbed, to do something to avert economic disaster. In conclu-“ sion, I appeal to the Government to withdraw these deportation clauses from the bill, because they are in conflict with the spirit of British liberty, out of harmony with the idea of Imperial unity, and likely to lead to a storm of protest from the people. The Government should adopt an attitude of sweet reasonableness in regard to this matter.
.- It is not my intention to fill many pages of Hansard on this occasion. I never do so. because I remember well the advice which was tendered to me by the late Honorable Jack Want, and Charlie Pilcher, K.C., when 1 was admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. On that occasion they advised me that if I had anything to say, to get up and say it in few words, with the best language, and the best manner possible, and then sit down. I have always endeavoured to follow that advice, and to-day will be no exception. I desire to place before the House some impressions I gained during my recent world tour. One is led to ask concerning this bill - Is it necessary; ia there any use for it? I have no hesitation in saying that at no time in the history of Australia was legislation of this description more necessary or urgent than at the present time. After I returned to Australia I proceeded to Hobart with my family last Christmas, and found myself the victim of a serious hold-up of the shipping services between” Tasmania and the mainland. I regret to have to admit that I was forced to the conclusion that the Government which I supported played a weak hand in regard to maintaining the communication between the mainland and Tasmania. I was in Tasmania with over 1,000 people stranded like myself, and went through the whole experience, even to going on board the Hobson’s Bay when she arrived off the Tamar Heads, and seeing the appalling conditions which existed on that vessel. A different spirit now moves the Government, as is evident by its introduction of this bill. At last the people of Australia have their answer to the question which they have asked me everywhere I have gone, “ When is Bruce going to make’ a start ?” The righthonorable gentleman made a start when he introduced this bill. This measure might well be entitled. “ Save Australia Bill” or “Protect’ the Unionists Bill.” If there is one body of men which will benefit by this legislation, it is that section comprising the unionists of Australia. Hundreds of men in the Seamen’s Union, and also in the transport unions of the Commonwealth, are waiting for the Government, or some one else, to take action te protect then’ in doing an honest day’s work The first portion of the bill deals with persons coming to Australia. In this connexion a great deal has been said regarding the Italians. During anextensive tour of the United States I found that the whole of the transport workers on the railways, east, west, north, and south, were Italians. Even in Canada the great majority of the employees on the railways and in the factories are Italians. The explanation is that the Italian is a very hard worker. Do not think that I am advocating the filling of Australia with Italians, but the time has come for us to decide how we shall populate our empty spaces. The right honorable’ member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) said recently that in regard to migration we are approaching the cross roads. He is wrong. “We are at the cross roads. We have seen how Japan raised the migration question in connexion with the Protocol of the League of Nations, aud the problem df international trade when dealt with by the League must directly involve the consideration of the rights of the J apanese to occupy certain parts of Australia. We cannot evade the fact that we have no moral right to keep practically empty nearly 3,000,000 square miles of territory while other countries are overcrowded. Japan, with a population of 63,000,000, has hundreds of people to the square mile, and the annual birth-rate is 770,000. The policy for Australia to adopt is the introduction of migrants from the Motherland, but we should not bring them out in great numbers until the unemployed already here are absorbed. If the finances permit, the Government should at once allocate at least £1,000,000 per annum for the construction of great arterial roads in the various states, thus finding work in the country for the unemployed, opening up rural areas, and giving to the man on the land greater comfort and some of the amenities of civilization. How can we ask any man to settle in the back-blocks where he may have no neighbour within 50 or 100 miles? Let the people in the country have concrete roads and cheap motor cars, and community settlements will develop, with schools of arts, jazz halls, picture shows, and billiard rooms. Thus the settlers outback will get some of the recreations and pleasures that are enjoyed by the people in the cities. The first essential is to open up the country by good roads, and when the unemployed have been absorbed, other people from the Motherland
CaD be introduced. There is no need for me to discuss further the earlier clauses of the bill, which have been already ably debated, especially by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham). 1 desire to address myself more particularly to the well-worn theme of communism. No doubt, other honorable members have experienced, as I have, when endeavouring in halls or on street corners to warn the people of the dangers of communism, , manifestations of impatience on the part of the audience, and cries of “ Come off it. Give us something fresh.” Very few people in Australia realize the seriousness of this menace. One must go to the other side of the world to learn what is happening. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), after his return from Geneva, made a speech at Newcastle with which I thoroughly agree. No doubt, while he was abroad people whispered in his ear warnings against this new political peril. About Christmas time Mr. Lang, who is now Premier of New South Wales, made a strong and able speech against communism, and when I read it in the press in Hobart I wrote to him a letter of congratulation, and offered to go on the same platform with him and others who desire to eradicate this deadly canker. Communism affects more closely honorable members opposite than it does honorable members on this side of- the House, and there are few members of the Opposition who would not like to help us to enact legislation which would rid Australia of the direct emissaries of Moscow. If honorable members opposite had met some of the people I have met, and heard what I have heard from men who have studied this problem in Russia and Germany for the last 30 years, they would not laugh. The year 1920 marked the commencement of what I’ might term the great offensive of communism. In that year Zinovieff presided at what was called the PanAsiatic Soviet Congress at Baku. Nearly 2,000 delegates attended, and passed m a series of resolutions which were the foundation of much of the unrest of which we read to-day. As a result of that congress Egypt, and India, and other parts of Asia, were flooded with pamphlets printed .in many languages, and containing directions for the establishment of the Soviet form of government in those countries. In June of last year the “Third Internationale” met at Moscow, and was attended by Mr. “ Jock “ Garden as the representative of Australia. It is interesting to note that the machinations originated at that congress ultimately brought about the political downfall of a very fine man, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, and his Ministry. The conference decided, amongst other things, to establish a communist organization throughout Europe, and to encourage intensive propaganda in the British dominions.
– Can the honorable member connect his remarks with the bill?
– Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Some clauses of the bill relate to the deportation of certain undesirables, and I am indicating some undesirables who are finding their way into Australia, and the principles they are advocating. At the time of that, congress I was about to go from Berlin to Moscow, but I was advised that it would not be wise to undertake the journey. However, cer- tain leading men were introduced to me - I cannot disclose their names - and at one meeting with them I was told of the principal features of the famous Zinovieff letter, which some weeks later was used during the general election in Great Britain, and led to the defeat of the Labour Ministry. I was also informed that the Communist party was very active in Australia, I asked whether the emissaries were foreigners with long black hair and beards, and I sought to discover their method of operation. I was told that the Soviet agents are discontented Britishers who desire to establish a new order of society, and who undergo an intensive course in the tenets of communism. When they were qualified, they are sent to Australia on passenger ships, with passports, forged if necessary - I saw some such - and upon arrival they join industrial unions. They :lo not immediately proceed to foment trouble, but wait until some grievance, real or imaginary, arises, and then they sedulously aggravate the sore. Their method may be likened to the pricking of a pimple with a rusty nail. The information given to me is that men in close touch with the Soviet Government of Russia are at Walsh Island, Cockatoo Island Dock, and in the Seamen’s Union and the transport unions. Messrs. Walsh and Garden, I am told, are also in direct touch with Moscow. And those state-‘ ments are corroborated by what has been taking place in Australia during recent months. While I was abroad I heard more of the inner history of the tram strike and police trouble in Melbourne than I could learn here. There was also a big strike in Western Australia, and when the State Arbitration Court ordered the men back to work they merely doubled their pickets, and continued to defy the court. There was the shipping hold-up at Christmas, and since then the industry has been subjected to the repeated pinpricks of job control. More recently there have been the disputes leading up to the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union and the present shipping trouble, and I shall be very interested to hear the result of the inquiry into the origin of the fire on the Canberra. Mr. Garden, after his interview with the Prime Minister last week said, in effect, that if the lights of the cities and towns were extinguished the responsibility would lie with the Prime Minister and not with the seamen. What did he mean? Are the workers employed in connexion with the lighting systems ready to throw the cities into darkness at the behest of Mr. Garden and Mr. Walsh ? A general survey of the industrial situation makes one realize that we are faced with a serious problem. Shipping is the main artery of commerce, and without that channel for the transport of our goods the community will be helpless. I sincerely hope, therefore, that the seamen will not listen . to the counsels of Messrs. Walsh and Garden, and that all parties will combine to avert what is undoubtedly a very grave menace. What is happening in Australia is occurring in other parts of the world, and this universal ferment synchronizes almost to the moment with the programme issued from Moscow. We have watched the course of recent events in India, and have seen how the intensive percolation of the doctrines of communism through the population of Egypt culminated in the murder of the Sirdar. The communist rising in Italy, the date of which was foretold to me almost to a moment, was stamped out only by the prompt and firm action of ‘Mussolini and the fas.cisti There was the Zinovieff . plot in Great Britain. The present upheaval in China is admitted to have been engineered by communists. We read of. many disturbances in Germany, at the instigation of these people, which led to the shooting of many men. There have been, quite recently, outrages at- Sofia and Belgrade, including the explosion of bombs in a cathedral during Divine service. That crime caused the death of many people and the wounding of many more. Tha troubles in Australia dovetail with the disturbances abroad. I have many friends amongst the men working on the waterfront, and, as a result of conversations I have had with them, I am convinced that the bulk of the workers desire to be allowed to follow their avocations in peace. But how can they do so when they are threatened with victimization and black-listing? Under the present system of control they are obliged to abide by the decision of the unions, which are led by a few extremists. The only way out of this difficulty is the adoption by the unions of the secret ballot, so. that the men engaged in industries may express their will without intimidation. But continuous peace, prosperity, and happiness will never prevail amongst the workers until they are paid, not only a basic- wage, but also a share of the profits made by the undertakings in connexion . with which they are engaged. In ‘ other words, we must have cooperative effort. Again I congratulate the Prime Minister and his Government on bringing down this bill, which, from what one can gather in conversation outside this- Blouse, is applauded by 90 per cent, or more of the people of this country, who regard it as a means of doing the only thing possible at a time of stress and strain.
. - I am pleased to be here to support this bill. All honorable members must realize that the state of affairs existing in this country cannot be allowed to continue. Industrially we are handicapped by conditions of which we have every reason to be proud. With our eyes open we have set up a standard of living higher than that in any other part of the world, and we have fixed by law a basic wage that provides the lowest-paid workman with the necessaries of life and a margin for luxuries. But this basic wage is being taken from the workers by indirect means. Honorable members opposite have stated that the bill is aimed at trade unionism. I say unhesitatingly that if I thought so I would not support it. Every thinking man must admit that the trade union movement has benefited the people of the Empire. Honor able members opposite arrogate to themselves the right to speak for the workers of this country, but honorable members on this side have more genuine sympathy than they with the man who earns his bread by the labour of his hands. Those who represented the good old-fashioned labour spelt it 1 - a - b - o - u - r, but honorable members opposite, who claim to represent it now, spell it I»- - a - b - o - r, with a capital “ L,” and with the “ u “ left out of it. I describe them as parasites, which is the word they apply to honorable members on this side. We should protect the workers of this country against those who consider themselves the aristocrats of the Labour movement. I have been more closely in touch with the workers of this country than have most of the honorable members opposite, and no man has more genuine sympathy, with them than I. Our high standard of living places us at a disadvantage when we have to compete commercially with other parts of the world, where similar conditions do not exist. We must therefore protect our workers from any direct or indirect attempt to deprive them of part of the benefit they enjoy. The men who are leading the industrial trouble in Australia to-day live and fatten on strikes. They have nothing to gain from the prosperity and contentedness of the community, which every one should seek to promote. When the day arrives when all are happy they will lose their jobs. Many of those who are disturbing the industrial peace of this country should not have been allowed to come here. They have abused the privileges conferred upon them by citizenship of this country. By organizing strikes, and thus reducing the time that the members of trade unions can work, they are reducing the standard of living in this country. If a unionist is on strike for 25 per cent, of his time, his standard of living is obviously reduced. We have: heard the bolshevik maxim -that “an empty stomach makes a weakened brain,” and it would appear that :these men are acting upon it. I shall not deal with the legal aspect of the bill, for the bon- orable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) did that last night. He pointed out the absurdity of imagining that this bill, although it confers great powers on the Government, will be administered in a way that will be unjusttothetrade union movement. Honorable members opposite have said that it is a two-edged sword, which, when they get into office, may be used in a different way from that now intended. But we must assume that every government will administer the laws of this country with ordinary sanity. I have no hesitation in saying that neither the members of this Government, nor those of a Labour government, if one should be returned at the next or a subsequent election - that, I admit, is an unlikely supposition - would administer the act in anything but a sound, common-sense way.
– We should at least deport a few of the honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member might wish to do so, butI am sure thatwhen he is supporting a government - he can never hope to do more than that - he will find that it will restrain his ardour, and that the act will be administered sanely. The honorable member for Kooyong pointed out that the existing law is capable of being, but had not been, administered unjustly. It has been contended that we should not encourage immigration while there is unemployment in this country. The speeches of honorable members opposite cannot camouflage their belief that no immigration should be allowed. It is unfortunate that we should have so much unemployment in Australia, but it is equally unfortunate that in many places in the country development is blocked because of the impossibility of securing labour. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook), in moving the adoption of the Addressin -Reply, said that in the shires with which he was connected employment in road making could be found for 500 men. I have a farm in northern Riverina, where we cannot find men to do the developmental work that is necessary to increase the productiveness of the locality. It is not a matter of rates of wages. I could employ ten additional men on my farm for the next three months, and pay them well, but I cannot get them. I have lost a considerable amount on even my small block, because I have not been able, in the last eighteen months, to get a couple of men to construct 2 miles of fencing. The attitude adopted by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) is quite sound. This problem should receive the serious consideration of the Government. It is remarkable that while, on the one hand, there is much unemployment in the cities of Australia, on the other hand, we cannot get men to go into the country to do the work that ought to be done. While men are receiving unemployment doles in the cities, producers in the country are crying out for workers. Practically half the money granted by the Commonwealth Government for road work in New South Wales in the last financial year was unexpended for the reason that many of the shires were unable to get men to work on the roads. Such a condition of affairs indicates that something is wrong somewhere. I trust that the Government will maintain its intention to keepout of this country all undesirable aliens who attempt to enter it. I hope this bill will pass, and that it will be administered firmly. Foreign agitators who enter Australia for the express purpose of stirring up strife should be sent back whence they come, and we should take every care that our own Australian people are protected. Only those who are prepared to develop our country according to our wishes should be permitted to come here, to help us to work out our destiny.
.- I deprecate strongly the making of speeches which bear any semblance of irresponsibility or desperation. For that reason I regret the manner in which the Government has introduced this bill. As to the subject of immigration generally, I am confident that, if the mind of our people could be ascertained, it would be found that they are completely opposed to a continuation of the. policy which has permitted an indiscriminate influx of aliens into Australia duringthe last two years. Our people disapprove of and resent the failure of the Government to prevent from entering Australia many foreigners who are quite unsuited, because of their former environment and general outlook on life, ever to be come worthy citizens of it. These people, in my opinion, will never be able to help us to develop Australia in the highest and best way. It is a peculiar circumstance that while southern Europeans seem to come here without any trouble at all, in many instances, our own kindred from the United Kingdom find that they must obtain special permits to immigrate here. Some honorable members have been requested by their constituents to make representations to the authorities to secure special permits for their friends in Great Britain. Why should southern European aliens be treated better than our own kinsfolk? I desire honorable members to understand that I do not blame these people for their inability to adapt themselves to our Australian conditions and standards of living. They are unable to do so because of the totally different conditions under which they have lived in their own country. To illustrate that they are unable to conform to our standards of living I refer honorable members to the circumstances in which some of thesepeople are living in a town in the district represented by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) . A number of Greeks there are working three shifts, and the beds they occupy never get cold. As soon as one man leaves his bed, it is occupied by another of his fellows, and it is practically always in use. How can we expect such people to adjust themselves to our standards of living? The Government has been very properly requested to take steps to prevent their entry into the country. It could have done so had it courageously administered the legislation already on the statute-books. When the Prime Minister has been requested to use these powers, he has invariably said that the situation was very delicate, that interference would be likely to cause international complications, or that we must be very careful not to offend the susceptibilities of these people. In other words, he has not mastered the situation, but has permitted the Governments of other countries to dictate to him.
The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) pointed out last evening that since 1901 the dictation test was practically the only one that persons had to undergo to decide whether or not they were suitable immigrants. If that is so, I should like to know under what authority the Prime Minister, when he was abroad in 1923, entered into agreements with the governments of certain European countries for the adoption of the quota system of immigration? It is extremely regrettable that he took this action without consulting Parliament, which certainly should have had an opportunity to express its mind on the matter. That the various governments with which he negotiated realized that he had the power to act as he did was shown by their readiness to negotiate with him. They knew that the International Court of Justice has determined that this is a matter of domestic concern. The Prime Minister has been remiss in his duty in that he has not restricted the influx of these aliens who are totally out of touch with, and unable to appreciate, our standards of living. The Labour party desires to improve Australia’s economic conditions. Honorable members opposite have indulged in a considerable amount of cheap talk about our attitude towards immigration; but, notwithstanding their remarks, we are interested in populating our vast spaces and increasing the security of our people. In order that there shall be no misunderstanding as to where we stand, I direct the attention of honorable members to the policy that was adopted by the Australian conference of the Labour party held in Melbourne on 27th October, 1924. In the report of its proceedings, under the heading of “Immigration,” the following appears: -
We insist that land, housing accommodation, and employment be provided for overseas immigrants before they are invited to come to Australia.
– A very fine policy.
– It is a very fine policy. It would promote and maintain the welfare of the people, and ensure to the Commonwealth the admission of immigrants who could comply with the high physical standard we have in Australia and would be fitted to join us in the future development of this country. This is a policy that will stand the scrutiny of the keenest critic and meet the approval of every true Australian. The class of immigration we favour does not suit our friends opposite. They desire that immigrants shall be brought here in such numbers that they may break down the industrial and economic conditions of the Commonwealth. Many of the people who have arrived in Australia within recent months, through their ignorance of Australian conditions, and their inability to speak English, have afforded an opportunity to unscrupulous individuals in Australia to exploit them by inducing them to accept conditions of labour and rates of wages below the standards which have been established by arbitration courts, wages boards, and other constitutional authorities set up to control such matters in Australia. If there is in this country anybody endeavouring to destroy the constitutionallyappointed tribunals in the Commonwealth to remedy industrial wrongs, it is the present Government. The present immigration policy is lowering our standard of racial purity and altering the conditions of our community life. We have already been reminded in this debate that in some of the northern districts of the Commonwealth certain alien immigrants are settling in national groups. In some of these the motto has been adopted that “ no Australian need apply “ for ordinary employment or to engage in business. It is a very great mistake to permit anything of this kind. If there is one thing which more than another has added to the difficulties of the United Slates of America, it is the growth of separate communities of different nationals. We should leant the lesson afforded by the experience of the United States of America in this connexion before it is too late. If the Government is sincere in its professed intention to stem the stream of migrants coming to this country from certain parts of Europe it can have no objection to the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. We know that is not the purpose of this bill. Its first six clauses are intended to create a smoke screen to camouflage the more drastic and far-reaching provisions of the bill contained in clauses 7 and 8. As the debate has progressed we have noted that honorable members on the Government side have devoted themselves almost entirely to clauses 7 and 8. They realize that with these clauses they may be able to create an impression throughout the Commonwealth that serious and dangerous conditions exist which call for action by a strong administration, and for powers which the Government at the present time does not possess. The Government is endeavouring to create a psychology in the Commonwealth as a result of which, through the minds of the people being concentrated upon another matter, its sins of omission and commission may be forgotten, and it may look for a further tenure of officein which to continue, as it has done in the past, to give special privileges and advantages to the people who are to-day exploiting the citizens of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Last evening the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) stated that this legislation had been introduced in desperation by the Government because of the industrial situation. I do not dispute the honorable member’s view, but rather agree with him, that the Government acted in desperation. The Governor-General’s Speech received severe public condemnation, because it was poverty-stricken, and devoid of any definite proposal for the benefit of the community. The Government, anxious to draw public attention to itself, in view of the proximity of the general elections, saw in this bill a most excellent opportunity for an appeal to the people. The newspapers of this country, through their leading articles, have impressed upon the public mind the great necessity for the introduction of this measure. The stage has been set, and the scenery painted by the press. Further to justify the introduction of this bill, we find that Government instrumentalities have been purposely used to bring about a disturbance in the industrial life of this country. But the Government is not quite so clever as it thinks it is. The general public are too well informed ever to be deluded by the treacherous action of this Government. Honorable members behind the Government profess to sympathize with the workers of this country, yet every political act of theirs has been carried out with the idea of keeping the great working mass in subjection, under conditions that certainly are not in accord’ with the present industrial life of Australia. Even the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) says that he is a genuine friend of the worker. A review of the industrial history of the honorable member would be a very interesting document, and would show that the part played by him as an employer of labour in this country is no better than it ought to be.
– The honorable member makes that statement well knowing it to be untrue.
– The honorable member for Macquarie must not use such words in Parliament, and I ask him to withdraw them immediately.
– At your bidding, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the assertion that I made, but I ask that the honorable member for Hindmarsh be asked to withdraw his statement, which was absolutely incorrect, and one he had no right to make. He has no knowledge of my conduct as an employer, though ray life is an open book, and he has no right to cast aspersions upon my “character.
– If the honorable member for Hindmarsh has aspersed the character of the honorable member, of course he must withdraw his aspersion, but should the honorable member for Macquarie think that because a statement is incorrect it must be withdrawn when objection is taken to it, I would inform him that, from my long experience, I know that very many such statements are not withdrawn, and the Speaker cannot compel their withdrawal as unparliamentary. I leave the matter with the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Mr. MAKIN. - I withdraw the statement that the honorable member’s attitude in industrial matters has been no better than it ought to be.”
– I take exception to the way in which the honorable member for Hindmarsh has withdrawn his statement. The remarks he was making were a reflection on me. He said that my character as an employer was no better than it ought to be, and he cast a direct aspersion on my character as an employer of labour in this country. “I object to those- remarks, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– If the honorable member for Macquarie will inform rae what were the words of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that he considers unparliamentary, I shall, if. I share his opinion, enforce the rule of Parliament; but I am not able to pick from the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh the phrases to which the honorable member objects. He must assist me.
– I can refer you, sir, only to what the honorable member for Hindmarsh said. He stated that my career as an employer would not stand looking into, and was no better than it should be. In doing that he deliberately suggested that I had acted as an employer in an arbitrary way, and had dealt unfairly with my employees. No other inference is possible. I have been an employer of labour ever since I was eighteen years of age. I have never had the slightest dispute with an employee, and have always been on the best of terms with them. The statement made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh was derogatory to my character, and I ask that it be withdrawn without reservation.
– The situation is not by any means clear. An honorable member cannot compel the withdrawal of remarks that are offensive or objectionable to himself unless, in addition, they are unparliamentary.
– And untrue.
– The Chair does not concern itself with the truth of the statements made in Parliament, but with the observance of forms and the limitation of words and phrases. I, myself have been called “cruel,” a “sweater,” ami other uncomplimentary epithets have been applied to me; but, although the statements were objectionable to me and untrue, I was unable to have them withdrawn at the direction of the Chair. If the honorable member can show that an expression has been used that was unparliamentary, either by implication or by inference, I shall insist on its withdrawal. So farI have not heard such an expression.
– I shall not press the matter any further.
– It has been stated by honorable members supporting the Government that the Labour party lives on the strife that is fostered in the affairs of our community. But the position is reversed . In an effort to secure another three years of power, the Government is fomenting industrial strife throughout the length and breadth of this country. There has been a systematic endeavour on the part of commercial and mining magnates to promote industrial strife by enforcing working conditions and wages contrary to those set up by the Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister informed me the other day that every adult employee in the Commonwealth Service, temporary or permanent, was receiving at least the Commonwealth basic wage, and child endowment, if entitled to it. That statement is absolutely incorrect. During the past six months a certain Commonwealth agency has been used for chartering labour from abroad to evade paying Australian wages and conditions. In this way the Government is endeavouring to foster and foment industrial strife and disputes. This bill is the most reactionary measure that has ever been introduced into this Parliament. The Government is reviving the methods that were in vogue in the early days of the nineteenth century, when, because of some slight misdemeanours, certain persons interested intrade union matters were transported. The following passage from A History of the English Agricultural Labourer, by Dr. W. Hasbach, will be interesting to honorable members : -
At the beginning of the thirties, the trade union movement in the towns manifested a strength very disquieting to the propertied classes-. Touched by it, six overworked Dorsetshire labourers, paid at starvation wages, trusting to the freedom of organization granted in 1824, attempted to form a union in 1832. But they were arrested, and the judge, Baron Williams - no representative of the old aristocratic self-government, but a “ learned “ judge - condemned them, on the 17th March, 1834, totrans portation for seven years, on the ground that illegal oaths had been administered. Only under the strong and continued pressure of all kinds of agitation, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, was a pardon obtained for the condemned men three years later.
Those men were transported because they had endeavoured to secure the protection of trade unionism against the injustice of long hours of labour and low wages. They were not infamous criminals. The history of Australia shows that men of that type and their descendants became very prominent citizens of this country. One of the founders of the city of Melbourne was the son of an ex-deportee. A man who subsequently became a member of the Legislative Council in New South Wales was a deportee, and one of the greatest Australian patriots, a man who was in the forefront of the advocacy of self-government for what were then Crown colonies, was the son of a deportee. Probably this Government, through the instrumentality of legislation based upon political and industrial prejudices, will possibly deprive this country of the services of men - honest trade union supporters and trusted officials - who are worthy citizens to-day, and whose descendants would become honoured members of our community. Honorable members on this side will not agree to legislation which will make such injustices possible. Are the people who will be liable to deportation under this measure to be tried by a jury of their peers, in accordance with the first principles of British justice? No; they are to be haled before a board.
– Only some of them.
– I thank the honorable member for the reminder that some persons to whom the bill will apply may not even have a trial by a board. But even in the most favorable circumstances the only tribunal to determine whether or not a man shall be transported will be a board comprising one member of the judiciary and two other gentlemen who, in all probability, will owe their appointments to the fact that their political ideas agree with those of the Government. Doubtless political patronage will extend to those appointments, as it has done to all other appointment made by the present Government. I fear that before a person comes before that tribunal he will have been judged and found guilty; and from the decision of the board there will be no appeal. In certain other circumstances set forth in the bill a man may be deported, merely on the order of a Minister, for some action he has taken in connexion with trade unionism, or for some endeavour to improve the conditions of the men and women employed in industry. I personally have experienced cruel and tyrannical victimization by men belonging to the class represented by honorable members opposite, and because of that my family have suffered grave anxiety. There sire leaders, of the trade union movement who arc doing their utmost to maintain industrial peace, but they are thwarted by a continual agitation on the part of the employing class for the purpose of creating trouble. We know that the capitalists employ emissaries for the purpose of bringing about a condition of affairs to which no self-respecting worker can submit. I regret that such a reactionary measure as this bill should have been introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament. We boast of our liberties, but honorable members opposite are prepared to scatter to the four winds of heaven the great charter upon which our freedom is founded. What do they care for Magna Charta or the declaration of rights? They have no desire to live in amity with their fellows or to preserve peace in industry. It suits better the class they represent to foment industrial disturbances, and in that endeavour they are ably abetted by the editors of some of the great metropolitan newspapers. There is in the city of Melbourne a man who is supposed to express the opinion of the community - I refer to the editor of the Age - who. if he were true to the country of his origin, would be writing his leading articles with a fountain pen made in Germany, but who is unscrupulously misusing his Australian citizenship and his journalistic power in order to instil into the minds of the people of Victoria the idea that the leaders of the workers are responsible for the industrial strife in this country. If the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) has not forgotten his experiences as an industrial leader he will admit that the captains of industry, by every means in their power, endeavour to defeat the efforts of the workers to improve their position. Remember that the seamen did not seek de-registration; the action which deprived them of the protection of the conciliation and arbitration law was taken by the employers. I hope that honorable members will bear in mind that on more than one occasion the captains of industry have expressed their opposition to arbitration as a means of avoiding strife. A very instructive address was delivered recently by Sir Henry Braddon, who argued in favour of the abolition of the Arbitration Court and the substitution of other means of determining wages and working conditions. If there is one party that stands by industrial arbitration, and desires to promote peace and the true progress of the country, it is that which sits in opposition in this House to-day. We have at all times endeavoured to improve by constitutional means the working conditions and standards of living of our people, and we have repudiated extreme action in any form. But the party now in power is endeavouring by this bill to do something contrary to the principles of the Constitution. The Government wishes to deprive Australian citizens of the right of trial by a jury of their peers. Even a man charged under the criminal code with having committed a capital offence is tried by a jury, and whether found innocent or guilty he remains a citizen of the Commonwealth. A man with an honorable career, who has done his best to make the world better than he found it, may, under the tyrannical measure introduced by the Prime Minister, be deported if he speaks against the captains of industry, or desires an improvement in the conditions of his fellow men. It is nothing to the Government that for many years he has been a valued citizen, or that, because of the uncertainty regarding the future, his family is distressed.
.– This bill deals with two widely different matters - the immigration of persons other than those of British origin, and the deportation of undesirables. I shall deal with it under those two heads. As far as the bill provides for the restriction of the immigration of persons other than those of British origin, I heartily support it, although I should have thought that no new power was necessary for that purpose. I imagined that we already had sufficient power to deal with such persons. But if the Government asks for more power, 1 am prepared to grant it. It is not quite clear what the Government proposes to do with this power when it is granted, or what is the basis upon which the quotas are to rest. Soon after the Prime Minister assumed office, I asked whether the principles guiding the department controlling migration remained the same as during my term of office, and I understood the right honorable gentleman to reply that they did. I might indicate here what I conceive to be the proper basis for determining the quotas - upon which I acted myself - of immigrants other than those of British origin. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), in the course of an excellent speech, reminded us of the troubles that confront the United States of America to-day as a result of having opened wide its doors to the whole world. The people of other countries have entered the United States of America in millions; I understood him to say that its immigrants numbered something like 25,000,000. The United States of America have been called the melting pot of the nations ; but it is a melting pot that does not melt. Any one who has made a first-hand acquaintance with the conditions of the United States of America knows that there are millions of people there to whom the English language is . unknown. Their ideals and their outlook on life, their historical background, are entirely alien from ours. Whatever was the position in that country some years ago, to-day there is barely 50 per cent, of the population of the Anglo-Saxon race in the United States of America, whereas in Australia very nearly 98 per cent, of the population is of British origin. *We are laying the foundations of this young country, and we have before us, in the example afforded by the United States of America the effects of promiscuous intercourse with the world. We see that the people of the United States of America now recognize this, and they have slammed their door, but too late. They have now within their portals vast bodies of men who will not, and cannot, assimilate their ideals of civilization. This bill aims at preventing the influx of such people into this country. We should so fix our quotas that the present percentage of foreigners to the total population of Australia shall remain until the end of time the extreme limit of foreign immigration into this country. Whatever the condition of society in this country, the number of people of other than British nationality allowed to’ live here should not exceed their present ratio to the total population. Their numbers would, of course, increase as the population as a whole increased. I am satisfied that, if a plebiscite of the people of this country were taken on the subject, a large majority would vote for this. I hope that the Government will give effect to this principle, and when the clause dealing with this matter comes before us in Committee we shall be able to discuss it in detail. I shall pass from this part of the bill with one further observation: I have noted that a learned man in our community has spoken of race as if it were nothing. I say that race is the one thing that stands out in the world to-day. It is the determining factor in the progress of man. We are where we are, and what we are, by virtue of race. The United States of America had developed to almost its present condition before these millions from the south of Europe entered the country. They . are ^living as guests in a mansion which they did nothing to build. I am in favour of maintaining the quality and characteristics of the Australian people. Without saying anything disrespectful or critical of other nations, I say that we have our own ideals, and by these we must be guided. The ideals of other nations may be superior to ours, but they are not ours. There is no way by which their ideals can marry with ours, without both becoming degenerate. But I am at a loss to understand the attitude of the Opposition towards this part of the measure. I listened very carefully to the splendid speech of the honorable member for Reid, but still cannot understand why the Opposition opposes a measure which restricts immigration. This bill restricts immigration. It is a net with a closer mesh than we now have, and permits fewer people to enter this country.
– We oppose it because it does not restrict.
– I believe in selected immigration, and would keep out undesirable Britishers as I would keep out undesirables of any other nation. We attempt u> do that .now. I am at a loss to understand tor what reason it is said that the measure affects employment or unemployment. If it keeps out undesirables, no matter whence they come, to that extent it should conform to the policy of honorable members opposite.
I leave that phase of the question, and come to the other part of the bill, that which provides for the deportation of undesirables. Its discussion has engendered a good deal of heat. I am not inclined to be censorious of the temper displayed, for considerations of first importance are involved. Liberty and the rights of free speech are involved. In these days the great outstanding question is some form or other pf class war, and it seems to me that the bill is in danger of being regarded’ as a partisan measure. Let us consider what it proposes to do. An amendment of the present law is proposed to give to the Minister power to deport two classes of persons : One- any person declared by the Minister to be, in his opinion, from information received from the Government of the United Kingdom or of any other part of the British Dominions, or from any foreign government, through official or diplomatic channels, undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth.
The Minister may bar the entrance of such a person to Australia, and may deport him if he has gained admission. To that I say nothing, although I should have thought that the powers contained in the principal act were ample. I turn now to the second section which has been the cause of much controversy in this chamber, the amendment of section 8a by the addition of a proposed new section a a -
If at any time the Governor-General is of opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening the peace, order, or good government of the Commonwealth, he may make a proclamation to that effect, which proclamation shall be and remain in force for the purposes of this section until it is revoked by the GovernorGeneral.
When the proclamation is in force the Minister may summon .the person to appear before a board to show cause why he should not be deported from the Commonwealth, and, if the board so recommends, he may be forthwith deported. If honorable members refer to . the principal act they will see that the power to deport has been on our statute-book for a considerable time. This power of deportation can be operated if a .person - advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any state . . . or of all forms of law, or advocates the abolition of organized government … or who advocates or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of, or affiliated with, any organization which teaches any of the doctrines and practices specified in this paragraph.
Under that section, which has been the law of the land for years past, Walsh’, Johannsen, Garden or any man of their type could be deported before midnight to-night, because they are all members of an organization of the kind described; their objective is the overthrow of organized government; all are avowed communists. Honorable members who have familiarized themselves with the communist creed will know that its adherents fall within the provision of section 8a of the principal act. There is provision in that section under which the Minister may deport persons who are guilty of any of those offences. Everybody knows that these men hold these opinions. But they have not been deported. They have been allowed to preach them in season and out - of season, and the law, so far as I know - I was out of the country for six months,- and goodness knows what happened then - has never been employed against them, no one has been deported under it. These offences are political in their nature. A.s to whether it was right or wrong to put the law on the statute-book, I say nothing. That it is there, and that it can be used now, no one can deny. In the circumstances. I wish to ask the right honorable gentleman what necessity is there for further legislation ? I turn now to the new offence created by the bill. Any one concerned in promoting or starting a serious industrial disturbance can be deported. This is a new penalty for a very old offence. J. have had a very long experience of industrial matters. Some honorable members have been good enough to remind ma of this during the debate. Industrial disputes are inevitable in society where progress is the order of the day. ‘You cannot have progress without friction. Unionism from my earliest recollection of it - and my recollection goes back a long while - has had to fight very hard for everything it has obtained. I shall tell honorable members a little of what it has gained during the last quarter of a century or so, and how it has gained it. When unionism was broken by the great strike in 1890, it naturally turned to the political arena, and eventually secured a majority representation in Parliament. From that day until a little while ago it never looked back. I cannot recall an hour when it had not to fight for every step of ground gained, and whether the cause was’ good or bad, action was always condemned by those entrenched in the citadel of privilege during the time that it built up its organization. Therefore, I am not to be frightened by a declaration that men are going to strike. I must know what a strike is about before expressing an opinion whether it is good or bad. A strike in itself is neither good nor bad ; everything depends on its object. No honorable member in this chamber would vote to bring back the condition of things existing in this country 30 years ago. The great majority of us at least recognize that this is a very much better country to live, in now than it was then; better not only for some, but better for all. But T remember quite distinctly being told that every step we took in the direction of reform was a step towards destruction.
Let us look at the position as it is to-day. That part of the measure that, deals with the deportation, of undesirables is clearly aimed at those who are fomenting a shipping strike. As to the facts, there can he no dispute. These men are deliberately resorting to direct action, and defying the law in a country which hn.« created legal machinery for settling industrial disputes. Twenty-five or 30 years ago the seamen of this country were industrially in a very bad way, though not in quite such a bad way as the seamen of other countries. Little by little they have won the best conditions in the world. If they look back through the years that have gone, and reflect how they gained their present conditions, they will see how little they obtained by striking, and how* much by law. If they do this, they will surely hesitate about turning their backs on methods so fruitful of good to them and to the whole community and taking up the desperate and hazardous weapon of the strike. Who is responsible for the present attitude of the Seamen’s Union? It i3 said that the leaders are not responsible. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) said that it was an insult to the intelligence of unionism to say that the leaders were leading the men, for, as a matter of fact, they were being pushed on by the great mass of the unionists. That is not so. I have had considerable .experience with the whole of the waterside group, and I have seen the way in which things happen. I have been at a union meeting with 50 men, in which 26 would be a majority, ‘and that meeting has declared for a strike. The next morning 5,000 men who belonged to the branch, coming to work, saw the notice to that effect posted up. That is an extreme case, but many times I have seen the business of a union carried on by 200 out of 5,000 members. Every man who is in a union knows these to be facts. The extremist is always bold, and always on deck; the moderate rarely attends the meetings, and is always- timid. -The extremists shout down the moderates, and there is, too, the mechanism, created in part by the leaders and in part y those who, as it were, enjoy the choicest tit-bits that fall from the union table. This is so strong that it is almost impossible to break it. I have not the slightest doubt that, if a man ran counter to the wishes of this clique of the Seamen’s Union, he would look in vain for a good ship. I speak, of course, as one who has no .personal knowledge of the present dispute. I have not had tho privilege of hearing at first hand what the other unions think about the matter ; but I know, as every man of any information knows, that of all times in the year this is the worst for a maritime strike. As a practical man, if I were going to fight, I would have more sense than to fight now. If any one were to go round the waterfront of Australia, he would not get ten men in 100 to vote for Walsh and his methods. I do not know how many would vote for him in the Seamen’s Union; I speak only of the waterside workers. But they are slipping down this declivity, and, before they or anybody knows where they are, they will be at the bottom of the pit, and nothing on earth will pull them out, because the discipline of the union must be maintained. I do not advocate that men should go against their unions, but I urge that the unions as a whole should act, and by their authority endeavour to stop this most lamentable struggle. The bill proposes to deport the leaders. Will that bring peace? It may; but only for a little while. The right honorable gentleman has been accused, in effect, of endeavouring to fan this yet little flame into a fierce conflagration. I do not believe for a moment that such an infamous idea ever entered his head. Whether his is the right or wrong way to go about things, I have no> doubt that he believes it is necessary for the Government to take action. I ‘am not going to discuss the question at length, but I do not believe that the threat of deportation will prevent this trouble, or that the removal of either Mr. Walsh or Mr. Johannsen, or both of these men, would prevent it. I do not know what is their authority in the union, but the union is entitled to its own opinion. If its members allow themselves to be led away by either Mr. Walsh or Mr. Johannsen, theirs is the responsibility, but when the Government says, “ If this notice that has been given, to take effect on the 14th, does take effect, we shall deport Mr. Walsh and Mr. Johansen,” I ask myself, whether it is likely to be effective. I do not believe that it is. As things are how, the great mass of unionists is not behind these men. But’ if the Government makes martyrs of them, it will rouse the passions of the rank and file by an act which will appear to them to be partisan’, and in the interests of the other side. By such action the Government will convert men who are now seeking an opportunity to prevent this trouble into champions of those in whom they do not now believe. Let us look at the principle which underlies this measure. It is proposed to deport certain persons who take action in connexion with industrial disputes. I think it was the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) who said that the time might come when certain employers would foment a dispute. I do not know whether I ought to tell tales out of school, but I must say that the greatest conflagration that I was ever in was, I firmly believe, fomented by employers in collusion with the leaders of the union. Their action nearly wrecked this Commonwealth. If a Labour Government were in power at a time when a dispute occurred, and it considered that employers were fomenting that dispute, should it deport the employers? Is ostracism to become a weapon to be used first by one party and then by the other ? In my opinion, it is preferable to follow the well-beaten path that has served in the past. Let these men be tried by a court of law, and, if found guilty, imprisoned. That surely would act as a deterrent, and be at least as effective as deportation. This bill is aimed at persons not born in Australia. I do not know upon what ground it is assumed that native-born Australians will not engage in acts of the kind contemplated by this measure. They are certainly encouraged to do so, insofar as it is not proposed to deport them. While I admit freely that imported men do promote unrest more frequently than Australianborn leaders, still, if we believe it to be right to deport other than Australianborn men who are disobeying the laws of the country by engaging in labour disputes, we should be consistent, and deport - or at least punish - Australians for the same reason. It should make no difference where a man was born, whether in Melbourne, in San Francisco, or anywhere else. The position, after all, is that a union which, by legalized methods, has won more for its members than men engaged in the same industry in other parts of the . world have won by either legalized or other methods. Certain men in that union are now deliberately setting about the business of wrecking unionism and the country. And they do this, not to improve wages and conditions, bub to destroy society. Under the section of the principal act to which I have already referred there is power to deport - a person who advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth, or of any state, or of any other civilized country, or of all forms of law, or who advocates the abolition of organized government, or who advocates the assassination of public officials, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization which teaches any of the doctrines and practices specified in this paragraph.
It is impossible to shut one’s eyes to the opinions that these men hold. Their real object is not to make labour satisfied, but to make it dissatisfied. What I cannot understand is that honorable members on the other side of the House do not boldly declare that they wash their hands of them. There can be no doubt of their opinions. They want to pull down society. They are against our White Australia policy. Mr. Walsh has boasted that he is an internationalist, and he has opened the door of his union to all sorts and conditions of men. Men of all the colours in the rainbow are to be found there. The only sort of man for whom he has no use is a white man who dares to stand up for his own opinions. He and men like him do not believe in democracy, or rule by the majority. They do not believe in law; they do not respect agreements. It has been suggested that some other form of arbitration might be provided for them. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) said this afternoon that during the war I granted to the coal miners another form of arbitration tribunal. That is so. But the coal miners did not deliberately invite the Arbitration Court to strike them off the register. When they wanted another tribunal they asked for it. They wanted one form of tribunal in preference to another. Theirs was a perfectly proper request, and they got another tribunal. But the scannerhave deliberately drawn the sword, and finding themselves to be in a bad position, they are now moving heaven and earth to get some safe ground on which to stand. Supposing that they get another arbitration tribunal. Mr. Walsh has stated over and over again that nothing will bind him, and that he will bow to the authority of no body except those who hold the same opinions as himself. What can you do with a man like that? Mr. Holloway asked the other day for another form of arbitration, but he know? very well that Mr. Walsh has repeatedly said - and that Mr. Garden holds similar views - that they will not be bound by any agreement made with those whom they call capitalists. Of what use is it, then, to endeavour to deal with these men ? They have drawn the sword, and they have said that they will take society by the throat- and make it yield to their every demand. That is a very wrong attitude, and I would certainly do everything in my power to put such men where they could do no harm. But for all that, I am not in favour of deporting then, because they hold these opinions on in dustrial matters. If we should say to the people of this country, “Unless you hold the same opinions as we do you must leave,” what would it amount to? Deportation will provide no final settlement of the trouble.. We are more likely to secure a peaceful settlement of this dispute by other means. I take it for granted that this measure is before us now because of the seamen’s dispute. If that is not so then there is certainly no urgency for it. I suggest that we are more likely to reach a peaceful settlement of the dispute by abstaining from pushing this provision for deportation. I propose to vote for the second reading of the bill, but when it reaches the committee stage I shall endeavour to amend the deportation clause. I should prefer to see it deleted altogether, but if it is not deleted I hope that it will be amended, so that any action that may be taken in accordance with its provisions shall be taken in our law courts in the usual way. I suggest to tho Prime Minister that he would be taking a wiser course by not pressing the provisions for deportation; but whether that provision is retained or not it would bo far better that any disputes that arise under it between sections of society or between individuals should be settled by courts of law. I think everybody in this community would wish that men like Mr. Walsh should be tried like others in a court of law, where they would have the opportunity to be heard in their defence, leaving it for the court to say whether they are innocent or guilty. That would appeal to the good sense of the community. I shall endeavour to amend the bill in that direction.
.- The right honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat stated that this bill was designed to deal with the conduct of Mr. Thomas Walsh, but that the law as it stood provides ample power for that purpose. I venture to say that whatever object the Government had in introducing the bill, it goes far beyond Mr. Walsh or anybody else. It would catch Mr. Walsh and many others in its net. There is a gentleman in this city who was mentioned by the right honorable member for North Sydney - a man respected, even by his opponents - who only a few months ago was called upon to act for certain stevedores. Had this measure been in operation at that time he could have been dealt with under its provisions. The right honorable member for North Sydney also called attention to the ‘ great advances that the working men of this country had made in the last 25 or 30 years. He said that they had advanced from misery and degradation to comparative comfort. He complained, however, that the affairs of the organizations which had been the means of achieving this result were conducted by comparatively few men. In part that is true, and in part it is not true. There is no organization of men of which it could not be said that its affairs are conducted by a few of its most earnest and sincere members. That is true of trade unions, friendly societies, and practically every other organization of a similar nature. Their affairs are conducted by the relatively few men in them who are energetic, earnest, and sincere. If by the wise leadership of a comparative few the seamen of Australia have won better conditions than any other seamen in the world enjoy, it is to the credit of the few who accomplished the great task. I have had experience of trade unionism apart from the waterside workers. I have been an officer of the seamen’s organizations for many years. I have had, in some instances, experiences quite ‘ the reverse of those described by the previous speaker. I have seen in this city hundreds of members of the Seamen’s Union fighting against a few officers who desired to put an end to a strike which they had no hope of carrying to a successful issue. I refer to the great maritime strike of 1893, which was caused by the ship-owners endeavouring to force the seamen to accept a reduction of £1 per month in their rate of pay. At that time the officers of the union did everything they could to conclude the strike. It is well known, also, that at the time the shearers in North Queensland and at Broken Hill were involved in an industrial trouble which their officers were doing their best to terminate. But the men resisted all their efforts. In this very city, within the last few years, I fought for many months against a body of men who were determined to go out on strike in opposition to the wishes of their officers. Eventually the strike occurred. Honorable members will see, therefore, that while it is sometimes true that relatively few men conduct the affairs of trade unions, it is also sometimes true that the men take the very opposite course to that which their officers advise. This bill deals with many things. It deals with the importation of immigrants, and I do not intend to discuss the methods proposed to deal with them. It deals also with the deportation of certain people, and that is what I do propose to deal with. First of all, permit me to say that I have no objection to deportation on principle. I have protested against it in the past because 1 mis-‘ understood the principle. In doing so, I thought I was acting upon a principle which should be supported. But deportation may be a very much lighter form of punishment than incarceration in a jail. I have a certain sentimental regard for deportation. It has for me a certain charm and attraction because of its fine possibilities. It is the embodiment of the lex talionis, the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for. a tooth. What may happen to me to-day may be another’s fate to-morrow. On this ground I have no great objection to the proposal. One reason why I should like to sec it given effect is that honorable members opposite may register their endorsement of a policy of this character. We shall then have no doubt as to where they stand, and we shall know that they will be responsible for furnishing a precedent for action which is capable of a glorious expansion. I propose to deal as briefly as possible with the limitations of the application of this measure, and the methods of its application. This policy of deportation is said to embrace three periods in our. history, and we are now about to enter upon a fourth. I take the first period as that prior to the war. For 100 years before the war there was practically no restriction upon the admission of people to this country, and no provision for deportation. For a period of 100 years men of various races came freely to this country. The right honorable gentleman who has just resumed his seat has said that they were mainly of the AngloSaxon race. But they were men of all creeds and all shades of social opinion. They included nihilists, anarchists, chartists, socialists, and red- republicans like the gentleman who now occupies the position of Australian High Commissioner in England. These men were regarded as rebels in their own country, and they were rebels here. There were amongst them men who were distinguished by the punishments inflicted upon them by the Government of the country from which they came. They were in many cases recognized as rebels here also, but we know that many of them set their impress upon the legislation of this country. The shades of some of them flit through the chamber in which, we are now assembled. Men who suffered imprisonment here or abroad have occupied the place which you, Mr. Speaker, occupy to-day. They have sat in the Speaker’s chair; they have sat where the Prime Minister sits this evening. Men who were advocates of violence, and who spoke of broken heads and flaming houses, afterwards occupied the Treasury bench here, and were responsible for conducting the country’s affairs. Looking back over that period of 100 years when there was no restriction upon freedom of opinion or speech, men dared to do these things despite the social and political despotism of the time, because they were judged not by the opinions they held or what they said, but by their conduct. It was only when by his conduct a man came within the range of the law as it existed at the time that the authorities stepped in and assailed him. The second period was that of the war. During the war we set up a process of deportation. 1 fought the deportation system then even against a Labour Government. The emergencies of the state were put forward as a justification for it at that time. I said then that the only class against whom the law would be directed were the workers. I say now that they are the only people to whom the bill now under consideration will be applied by the present Government. The Government may be trusted to shelter and protect its own. Class distinctions and limitations are well defined, and, as I have before pointed out in this chamber, the members of the Government are the special protectors of the monetary interests they represent. They fight the battles of those interests in this chamber. Under the original provision for deportation, I have seen men prosecuted by the Government of the day. It had a man arrested, brought before a court, tried by a judge, and after the judge had acquitted him and set him free, having pronounced him hot guilty, it had him seized in the dead of night and transported to an island in the South Seas. The third period is that since 1920. There was then for the first time an important departure made. Whatever distinction there may have been drawn between men there had never been any distinction drawn between one Australian citizen and another born within the Empire and under the flag. Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen coming here were regarded as of our own race, subject to our laws, and having the right to participate equally with those who were born here in all the benefits derivable from our social and political conditions. In 1920, for the first time, on the ground of public necessity, there was a distinction made, and for three years men who came to this country from the Old Land were aliens within our borders. We drew a distinction between one class of British citizens and another. The. right honorable member for North Sydney has said that 98 per cent, of our people are of the Anglo-Saxon race. An Australian is a British subject. If an Australian walked into the city of London to-morrow, few as might be the social privileges he would enjoy, and insignificant as would be his political power, he would be on an equal footing before the law with people born in Great Britain. If he walked into Canada he would have similar rights. We are only a section of the British Empire, and yet we have drawn a distinction which makes an Englishman an alien within our borders. That was done in 1920. I now come to the particular proposition at present before the House, that within our boundaries an Englishman shall be an alien all the days of his life, and shall not stand on an equal footing with those who’ are born in this country. It would be interesting to consider what is an Australian. Only the other day in China the Chinese drove a man named Butterfield, who was born in China, into the Shanghai River. They chased into that river in the person of Butterfield three generations of despotism. It is important to remember that a man born in India is not necessarily an Indian. He may be an Anglo-Indian, just as Butterfield was an Anglo-Chow. There are men born in this country who are not necessarily Australians. They are AustralianBritish. I direct attention to men who came into this country like the right honorable member for North Sydney and others, who, for half a century, have striven to prevent the working men of this country from falling into the condition of the workers in the land from which they came. They have tried to build up an Australia which should not be shapen after the image of tho land out of which they were driven, but should be based upon the noblest ideals of the human race. Through their children they have sunk their roots deep into the soil from which they have drawn their substance. They have lived laborious lives to improve the conditions of the working men of this country. The conditions which the workers now enjoy in Australia are largely due to the efforts of men who came from other lands. The right honorable gentleman who now occupies the position of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth talks of social ideals; but let any one look back to the conditions which existed in the past. Let any one read the reports of British royal commissions of the black slave trade, and the sweated conditions of the great cities of England. The Prime Minister and those behind him assert that they would not think of having such conditions here. See how they have been humanized by the very force of Labour. I direct the attention of honorable members to what is occurring in Fiji, where the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, from which the party opposite draws monetary assistance to fight its political battles against Labour, is operating at the present time. Even the local native labour was not cheap enough for that company. It brought to Fiji, Hindoos who have to work for twelve hours a day, little children who are working under the conditions to which children were subjected in Great Britain 100 years ago, and women who have to work half a day to secure for themselves half a pound of rice. The Rev. “Weir Burton has told us that they save money only by selfcultivated starvation. The party opposite fights us in the political field with funds drawn from the blood-soaked fields of Fiji. I compare Britishers who came from the Old Land 40 or 50 years ago with men of an entirely different type. There are in this country men who were born upon its soil, it is true, whose manner, talk, and even dress is not Australian, but “English, you know.” Their regiments are “English, you know.” Their firms are registered in England. Their banking operations are conducted through English-controlled banks, because they are “English, you know.” This is the country in which they were bora, and from which they’ draw their wealth, but their true home is 12,000 miles away. I know how people were treated by this type of man 30 or 40 years ago. Glorious are the dead, and noble are those who have passed away! In this state and in this city I have known men to be prosecuted under an act 100 years old. When a conviction could not be secured against a man in one court he was dragged before another. I have known men to be drawn from Broken Hill to other parts of New South Wales, and from this city into the squatterridden sections around Deniliquin in order that convictions might be secured . against them. Judge Darley described men 30 years ago as organized criminals. Who does not remember an incident of the early nineties during the shearers’ strike, when a man was declared to be before a court, although he was 100 miles away ? The judge instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of guilty, which it did, and the man was given two years’ imprisonment. I come now to the bill under discussion. I draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that, occupying the Government benches, is an Englishman by name Herbert Edward Pratten. Does any one think that he can be deported under this bill ? No. This honorable member may abuse his office, may misconduct himself, may cause ruin and disorder to thousands of people in this country, but he cannot be deported. He may commit robbery and manslaughter; his victim may be found at his feet; he may confess his crime, and yet he cannot be deported. Before Herbert Edward Pratten, the Englishman, the capitalist, a Cabinet Minister, can be deported a warrant must be issued for his arrest, and an indictment filed against him. He must be taken to court and given the opportunity of engaging the best counsel to defend him. He must be heard in open court. The jury must bring in a verdict of guilty and the judge pass sentence before the Government may lay hands upon him and deport him. I do not deny his right to be defended, nor his right to an opinion, although his opinion is not mine. I would not deny him justice. If he had a co-partner in renown I would not deny to both a reward ; if he had a co-partner in crime a penalty should he imposed upon both. There should be no discrimination. But what is granted to Herbert Edward Pratten as a right should be given to every workman in this country. Is it possible to deport Herbert Edward Pratten ? Yes, it is. But before he can be deported, without open trial, without indictment, without sentence passed on him by a judge, he must first become a workman. Secondly, he must belong to a trade organization. There is then no necessity for him to commit manslaughter, rape, or any other odious offence. All that ir. is necessary for him to do is to express an opinion or give a direction, and although he may be the voice of thousands of men, yet because he gives a direction which, in the opinion of the Government, interferes with and obstructs trade and commerce, he becomes liable to deportation without a judge, without a jury, and without a verdict of guilty. “ Nonsense,” says the Government. “ there is a board.” Is it an open court? Is a warrant issued, or an indictment filed? Is there a jury and a judge? No. The board is the creature of the Government. To-day the Government has resurrected the star chamber after centuries of death and odium. The Government says, “But the board will be composed of honest and upright men.” What fools the members of the Government would be to seize a man in the night and bring him before the board if they were not sure of the verdict that would be brought in. Is that not self-evident? If the Government were not. sure of the decision of the board offenders would be sent to the open court. Honorable members supporting the Government say, “ The Government in power is fair; it has nothing against any man in particular, and the measures it passes affect employers and employees equally.” I shall give honorable members one instance to the contrary. The honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. .Hughes) referred to the Seamen’s Union, and I shall refer to the maritime workers. The cooks employed on the Boorara, a vessel controlled ‘ by the Commonwealth Government Line, were entitled to award rates. The Commonwealth Government Line refused to pay the money due to them. What are men to do- if this Government will not compel its servants to obey the arbitration award ? Some say, “ Go on strike.” “ No,” say the moderates, “ don’t go on strike; if the award is violated, go to the court and sue the Commonwealth Government Line for the money due to you.” One of the cooks went to the court and won his case. Naturally, one would expect that the Commonwealth Government Line, anxious to secure peace, would then pay the award rates. It said to Jones,” You have won your case, but you others, Brown, Thompson, and Smith, will not get a penny until you individually fight your cases in the courts of the, country.” The Commonwealth Government Line would not pay award rates to the cooks on the Jervis Bay. The seamen thereupon refused to board the vessel, and warrants were issued for their arrest. The news was published from one end of this country to the other, but not one word of the true facts was mentioned . A general strike was imminent, so Judge Powers intervened. After hearing the facts, he said that it was a scandalous thing that the Commonwealth Government Line would not pay award rates unless each individual case was fought out in the court. The Line still refused to pay the rate. In the name of God, what other alternative had the men but to stop work ? Now this Government tells us that the board will be composed of fairminded and decent men, who will actfairly between employer and employee. The Government, under this bill, would prosecute and deport the person who advised the cooks to refuse to work until their legal payments and requirements were met. But what is done to those iri control of the Commonwealth GovernmentLine who simply refuse to obey the law ? Does the Government dismiss them ? No. Who are the men for the most part dominating tha Commonwealth Government Line? Tom Walsh, in spite of all his errors, has been more years in this country than some of the mongrels running the Line have been months. They deliberately man the Commonwealth vessels with oversea men, and in many cases incite them to provoke disturbances. As a matter of fact, any man connected with the maritime calling knows full well who is behind the Government’s action. Inchcape is behind it. In 1918 Larkin told me in Australia House, London, that Inchcape had endeavoured to buy him out. It is as fair to say that the bulk of the officers administering the Commonwealth Government Line are agents or Lord Inchcape and the Peninsula and Oriental Company as that our men are instruments of foreign governments. Our organizations are trying to do a decent thing. The Moreton Bay is another case in point. Lord Inchcape’s boats bring out passengers who are mentally deficient, some of them being lunatics. These persons are ordered back. Is it not fair that they should return in the ships that brought them here? But what is done? Lunatic asylums are made of the vessels of the Commonwealth Government Line, and these lunatics are taken back to the country whence they came. In the Moreton Bay, one of the stewards had to wait upon the lunatics. They attacked him and he would not stay. Another steward was sent, and he would not stay. These men were dismissed, and there was a strike. The newspapers did not print one word of the true facts in this case, or in the case3 of the Boorara and the Jervis Bay. The only news that appears in the press is the inspired paragraphs furnished by the Government. Noel Lyons, who is now in New Zealand and likely to be deported, was described in one of the newspapers here as an American Industrial “Worker of the World. This man is a native of Melbourne, and. his mother lives almost within a stone’s throw of this House. She signed a declaration that her son was a native-born Australian, but the newspapers gave not one word of publicity to it. The Government, by introducing legislation for deportation, will do no good in any shape or form, -but rather provoke greater evils. The bill is not justified. Any man who disobeys the laws of a country should pay the penalty. At present, a person can be deported after the adoption of legal methods. If a person is tried and found guilty and ordered by a judge to be deported, well and good. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) this . afternoon gave us a repetition of the familiar, talk about communism. How has public opinion developed in this country if not by the advocacy of what people regarded at one time as extreme views? Chartism was formerly condemned as extreme, and my friend, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) was once considered a most extreme and dangerous character. Indeed, if these proposed deportation laws had been in existence he would never have been permitted to enter the Commonwealth, or, if he had entered it, would have been pushed out very quickly. I have a lively recollection of a journal called The New Order, which he edited, and in the pages of which could be found as good a description of the evils of the existing order o”f society as could be found anywhere. One could see the revolutionaries marching on the front page, with the light of the New Jerusalem in the distance. The instrumentalities by which we were to accomplish the reform of the world were set out, and all the monsters of exploitation were to disappear. But time has brought changes and transformations, and in the progress of a great world-wide movement individuals and sects, and the doctrines they preach, are dropped by the wayside. Public opinion cannot be stifled, and it is far better to allow it to be expressed openly. Ministers tell us that communism is a menace, allpowerful and all-pervading. It is like the hidden hand. Do not honorable members recollect the scare in regard to the anarchists, who were said to be working to undermine all systems of government? At one time all Labour members were denounced as atheists and anarchists, who had no belief in a God, and desired to destroy the state. There has not been a day in the history of the Labour movement when hobgoblins have not been raised in order to frighten the people in regard to it. But bogy after bogy has disappeared. Birds are at first terrified by a scarecrow, but, having seen the sun rise upon it and* set upon it day after day, they in time get enough confidence to sit upon it themselves. Similarly, the community has lost its fear of every one of the bogies that have been raised by opponents of the Labour movement. I was in England in 1918.. At that time Britain’s back was to the wall, the Germans seemed to be about, to gain, possession of the Channel ports, and the Allied generals appeared to be incapable of handling the problem. So I hurried to Europe to see what could be done. There were at that time in England a number of men who were known as “ The Hidden Hand.” Most of them were criminals; some had been in jail, and others were imprisoned later. The Vigilante, a notorious ‘ paper, exploited “ The Hidden Hand “‘in order to create an international scare. There was another paper, called John Bull,, edited by Horatio Bottomley. Associated with him was one Grant Morton, who had worked a dope swindle, as a result of which he raked off £1,000,000. He had with him a German Jew called Rosenfeldt, who rechristened himself Robson. Whilst those papers had nothing to say against Princess Lowenstein, who was in correspondence with the enemy, or Sir Jonas Jones, who also was in correspondence with the enemy, and was fined £2,000, or that well-known German family which changed its name from Wettin to Windsor, they had a great deal to say about a poor English woman who had married a German. Her husband having been interned, she resumed her maiden name in order to earn a living. She was exposed by “ the hidden hand.” “and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. At that time Bottomley was flying about the country in a motor car and flapping the flag. That was preliminary to the perpetration of the swindle for which he was put into gaol.
– I presume the honorable member intends to show a connexion between this story and the bill.
– I am dealing with the hidden band. Mr. Tom Walsh is said to be a communist, and for that reason the House is advised to pass this atrocious piece of legislation. I am endeavouring to show that the policy adopted by the Government is similar to the odious methods employed by Bottomley and those identified with him, for, unquestionably, the British Government of the day was paying money to him in order that he might carry on his stunts. Bottomley would arrive in a car at the place of meeting and say, “ Ladies and gentlemen, I told you last week to watch the Prime Minister. This week I direct your attention to one of the great mysteries of the war - ‘ the hidden hand.’ I can explain it to you. I know its machinations, and I advise you to read the last page of the next issue of John Bull. You may ask me what I would do if I were Prime Minister. I tell you to watch Winston Churchill and Lloyd George, and if you believe that the hidden hand is a real menace to the safety of Great Britain, as I believe it to be, look in the next issue of John Bull for a startling article. That is all I can’ tell you today.” The Government is adopting much the same attitude as Bottomley did. .Ml it does is to talk of men who are relatively few in number and count for nothing in the community or its industrial organizations. It is in the measure to which they can influence the opinions of other men that justify the ideas which they advance? No country suffers merely because some individual in the community thinks he sees the light of day. I can conceive of nothing more absurd than what the Government is doing. It claims to be a Government with great Imperial sympathies. It says it loves the Old Country and desires to save it from a great menace. It claims to represent the business ability, culture, and talent of the Commonwealth. Yet it confesses its incapacity to solve the problems that confront it. If any man in the community abuses the laws and the privileges of citizenship he should be dealt with by the community in tho interests of the country at large. But this Government will- not itself tackle the problem. It speaks of the dear old Mother Land that shelters us with its arms, and without the strength of which the Australian nation could not endure for a day, and instead of stamping out the firebrands in our midst it proposes to cast them into the dear old mother’s lap ! That is the’ Government’s service to the Mother Land, which has 1,500,000 people unemployed and many actually starving. All that this Government proposes to do to help Great Britain in its distress is to deport firebrands 12,000 miles overseas in order to multiply her difficulties. This bill can achieve no good. It does not attempt to cope with the problem other than by throwing the responsibility upon people on the other side of the world. It will only arouse animosity and ferocity, and assuredly what the Government does to others by means of this legislation will in turn be done to Ministers or their supporters. There are plenty of instances in which troubles have been fomented, not by a few obscure men, but by the employing interests. There is undoubted proof of industrial strife having been deliberately caused by the coal-m,ne owners in New South Wales in order that coal should jump in price, and trade become profitable to them.
The Government, which is now supreme in this House, declares that this measure must go through. If it does, all I cau say is that the evils chat will flow from it will be greater than those which it is designed to remedy.
.- I rise to support the bill, the purpose of which is to deal effectively with aliens who may be regarded as undesirable citizens from the point of view of Australian national sentiment. “We should be grateful to the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) for the figures which he furnished to the House last evening concerning the situation in Queensland, due to the influx of southern Europeans. He told us that foreign labour is being employed in north Queensland at below award rates. Since there has been a Labour Government in that state for many years, I should like to know why it has not taken steps to put down the very glaring evils mentioned bv the honorable member. I doubt, however, if the Labour Government of Queensland has been altogether sincere. As the ex-Premier, Mr. Theodore, is himself, so I understand, a native of central Europe - I believe he comes from one of the Balkan States - it is natural to suppose that he would have a certain amount of good feeling for immigrants from that portion of Europe.
– Mr. Theodore is an Australian native.
– I have no desire to do the ex-Premier of Queensland an injustice. I really understood that he was born in central Europe, and was brought to Australia at an early age. The report of the Queensland Royal Commissioner, Mr. Ferry, with regard to the influx of foreigners into north Queensland discloses an extraordinary state of affairs. We are told that foreigners, themselves unemployed, have been communicating with their compatriots in Italy and elsewhere, and have actually been signing nomination of forms guaranteeing them employment. By this means, immigrants from southern Europe have been able to get their passports vised, and have been admitted to Australia. Evidently there has been an extraordinary laxity in administration somewhere, and I hope that the Government will tighten up the regula tions. I am not in favour of flooding Australia with immigrants from either southern or central Europe. Many years ago, when I travelled two or three times to the United States of America from England, the Cunard Company had a contract with the American Government to supply a certain number of central and southern -European immigrants. Vessels controlled by the company visited various Mediterranean ports picking up emigrants, who were taken to a big camp in Liverpool, and then transported across the Atlantic to the United States of America in larger vessels like the Ivernia and the Saxonia. No attempt whatever was made to cater for the comfort of the immigrants, who could only be regarded as a cargo of human beings. At that time it was believed that these immigrants could be assimilated in the population of the United States, and that they would make decent American citizens - we know now with what little success. The Government of the United States of America was forced to take drastic restrictive action, and as the tide of immigration appears to be flowing towards Australia, the Commonwealth Government, recognizing the danger to this country, has introduced this measure with the object of exercising control over immigrants who may prove to be unassimilable. I am surprised that honorable members opposite should oppose the measure. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes), who spoke this afternoon, has obviously not given the bill that consideration which its importance demands. He stated that under paragraph gd of section 3 of the principal act there is already authority for the Government to deport any persons who may advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any state. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) has pointed out, however, that this power to deport must be exercised within three years from the date of arrival. Therefore, if a foreigner gained entry into Australia, and remained here undetected for three years, there is no power in the principal act to deport. To get over this difficulty certain provisions have been included in the measure now before the House. The deportation clauses of the bill have raised the ire of honorable gentlemen opposite. To-night we listened to a dissertation by the honorable member forBourke (Mr. Anstey). At times the honorable member was lucid, at other times his remarks were quite irrelevant to the matter at issue, and I am glad that you, sir, intervened with a request that he should confine his observations to the bill. We have in our midst people who are enemies of this country. Many of them are self-proclaimed enemies. The Government’s duty is to protect the people against individuals of this kind, and it should take whatever action is necessary to curb their activities. Many of them should be deported. Before proceeding to give instances of individuals who come within this category, I desire to say that there is a section of the community whose members freely advocate communistic views. The Labour party, after having dilly-dallied with them for a long time, has at last excluded the communists from its ranks. If a political party considers it expedient to keep these persons out of their ranks, surely the rest of the community should have the right to say whether they should be allowed to remain in the country. If they are not fit to belong to the Labour party, one wonders whether they are fit to remain in the country.
Mr.brennan. - Very sound reasoning !
– While I do not want to give these particular individuals any more advertisement than is necessary, it may be of advantage if I relate a few facts concerning them, and then ask the House whether it stands for conduct of that character. Let me read a cablegram which appeared in the chief metropolitan newspapers of London on Wednesday, the 29th August. 1923-
The Helsingfors correspondent of the Morning Post states that the Pravda publishes a horrifying account of the trial of a group of bolshevik officials atPavlograd who wore convicted of a long series of abominable crimes against the population, their charge including murders, trial less executions, and robberies. In one case, Nikitenko, the president of the Soviet executive committee at Slavianka, and three militiamen, abducted a schoolmistress and carried her to Steppe, where they violated her.
– Order ! I think that the honorable member will find it hard to connect that incident with this bill.
– I was pointing out that this is the type of individual who will be dealt with under the bill, and whose presence in Australia is undesirable. The cablegram continued -
They then carried her through the village, naked, after having her tarred.
– Order ! I think that the honorable member had better not proceed further with the reading of the extract.
– I have read sufficient to show the type ofperson that we could well do without.
– The law would deal with them in Australia; and the honorable member knows it.
– I agree with the honorable member that if those actions were performed in Australia the law would step in. I have here a report written by Mr. George Waite, the assistant secretary of the New South Wales United Labourers Union -
A clean-up at the Trades Hall is overdue, for the malign influence of the Soviet emissaries has prevented hundreds of studious, decent unionists from attending meetings, and the poor attendance behind the banners of the eight hour demonstrations in Sydney, Lithgow, and Bathurst were public protests against Labour being manipulated by misleaders expounding foreign dogmas subversive of Australian democratic sentiment and our social evolution in accord with natural law. The Sydney Labour Council is affiliated with the Red Trades Union Internationale, and the returned delegates from Moscow congresses openly boast of being in constant secret communication with the rulers of Russia, who regard England as their traditional foe, thwarting their expansionist designs in Asia and Europe to-day, as during the Czarist régime of the past.
How do the communists stand in regard to indtistrial troubles? In 1921 they published a secret “ bible,” some copies of which have reached Australia. From this “ bible “ I shall read one excerpt in relation to industrial troubles in Australia, to show honorable members that if the present trouble on the water front extends it may not be difficult to determine who are its fomenters -
In the present circumstances the unemployed represent a revolutionary factor of gigantic significance. The communists must take upon themselves the leadership of this army. By bringing the pressure of the unemployed to bear upon the trade unions, the communists must seek to effect the rejuvenation of the latter, and, above all, their liberation from their treacherous leaders. By uniting the unemployed with the proletarian vanguards in the struggle for the revolution, the communists’ party will restrain the most rebellious and impatient elements among the unemployed from individual and desperate acts and enable them to actively support . .. . the struggle of the proletariat, thus developing beyond the limits of the present conflict, and making thestarting point of the decisiveoffensive. In a word, the unemployed must be transformed froma mere reserve army of industry into an active army of revolution.
The Leader of the Opposition stated that this bill would apply only to the workers of this country. The individuals I have mentioned are workers in the sense that they are dirty workers; they are not workersas we understand the term in Australia. The honorable gentleman stressed the point that a man who had resided in Australia for 30 or 40 years, but wasnot born in thiscountry, would, under the bill, be liable todeportation. I point out, however, that to deal with those persons who, after their arrival, remain quiet for a periodof three years, and then commence to preach doctrines inimical to the best interests of Australia, it is neces sary that we go back beyond a period ofthree years. I have tried to ascertain the attitude of members of the Opposition towards the present waterside trouble, and particularly their views of the Seamen’s Union, but they have on eachoccasion evaded the issue. I should like to know whether the Seamen’s Union has the support of the Labour party in its present struggle. If not, whydo not honorable members opposite say straight out that they stand for arbitration, and not for direct action? I have not heard a word to that effect from any of them. If the Labour party supports the Seamen’s Union, it stands behind a body that has deliberately flouted the Arbitration Court. According to the Melbourne Argus this morning, Mr. R. V. Keane, general secretary of the Australian Railways Union, states -
Railway menare behind the seamen in their claims that rates of wages and conditions should be inserted in their articles of engagement, and have every sympathy with the rank and file who, because of deregistrationby the Federal Court, have nowno tribunal other than that ofdirect action.
The secretaries of other unions believe itnecessary that they should act unitedly; in fact, I understand that there is a union Secretaries’ Union in Sydney. It is noticeable to those who have watched the trend of events,and., possibly, have taken some part in them, that theunion officials every year appearto be taking more power into their own hands, and arrogating to themselves the right to speak for their unions, preventing the unionists themselves from having a voice in the management of their own affairs. That criticism may be fairly applied to many Labour organizations, and particularly to the Seamen’s Union. The majority of its members are seafaring men who are unable to attend the union meetings regularly. Some of them were shipmates of my own when I was at. sea, and a fine lot of fellows they are. The longshore section ofthe union is composed largely of ‘’’ crooks,” “ hoodlums,” and “ spongers,” and it is a hard matter, I am told, for a genuine sailor tobecome a member of the union, although it is a comparatively easy matter for a “ crook,’’ who has just been discharged from jail, to obtain admittance, so long as he is prepared to support the union.When a vessel arrives in port, the genuine seamen are told by the officials what they must do, and much as they desire to get rid of their autocratic” bosses,” they find it very difficult to do it. Intimidation, particularly in Sydney, is rife. Abill such as the present measure will go a long way in the direction of liberating the seamen from the octopus that has fastened its tentacles upon their union. In April, 1921, the president of the union - an individual whose only claim to manhood is that he wears masculine attire -stated -
The seamen will not have arbitration. They only accept such compromise as theyare driven to holding to such agreements as long as they are suitable, and determined to break them as soon as the circumstances of the moment demandthat they should. If the revolutionary exigencies of the occasion should demand it, even the existing constitution of the Seamen’s Union would be scrapped.
– I feel justified in saying that the honorable member will not be in order in discussing the practice of trade unions unlesshis remarks bear on the present bill, and I warn him that it is not wise to steer too wide of its subject-matter.. So long as the honorable membercan establish the relevancy of his remarks, well and good; but, hitherto, I have not observed it.
– I submit that I have shown that some of the union officials advocate direct action in order to foment industrial strife, whichthe bill seeks to minimize as much as possible. Some of my remarks, I contend, bear on the clause relating to the preservation of the peace and good government of the Commonwealth. Mr. Justice Powers, President of the Federal Arbitration Court, has stated in open court -
Mr. Walsh also declined to submit to the court any application for a variation of the clause. He went further,and said in open court that the Wyandrawould not be supplied with a crew until the claims madeby the union were paid. The statement was not made offensively, but with an air of authority as if Mr. Walsh hadbeenappointed as a final Court of appeal to settle claims in Australia, and as ft dictator appointedtoy Parliament authorized to make and enforce the navigation Haws el Australia. Until lately the people of Australia assumed that the federal Government had been entrusted with that power.
I have heardnocondemnation from honorable members oppositeconcerning this person. Are they afraid to declare whore they stand? Are they frightened of the votes of some of theCommunists, ot arc they pandering to them? Mr. Deputy President Webbhas also made some remarks about this union. The judges are not afraid to speaktheir mind, but honorable members opposite appear to be frightened to say a word. Mr. Deputy President Webb said-
A careful consideration of the facts which have beensubmitted to me has forced upon my mindaninevitable conclusion that this union has entered upon a policy of defiance ofthe law, and that it is determinednot to depart from it. Walsh’s attitude in court fully confirms this. The policy which this union has adoptedhas involved allclasses of peoplein serious loss and inconvenience. There is no doubtin ray mind that a great deal of the unemployment and disputes which exist amongst the workers to-day is due directly to the dislocation of industry which has been causedby the unlawful actions’ of this union.
Mr. Deputy President Webb, therefore, definitely locates the responsibility for much of the distress that is prevalent today in Australia. Why is it that honorable members opposite have no word to say in condemnation of the policy ofthe Seamen’s Union? I do not think they are evenbrave enough to condemn it by interjection.
– Was the honorable member a member of iihe Seamen’s Union when he was at sea?
Mr.R. GEEEN.- Yes; I belonged to the Seamen’s Federation.
– Then why “ scab “ on them like this ?
Mr.R. GEEEN. - I understand that Walsh is a married man. I would send his female out of the Commonwealth with him.
– Oh, do not say that!
– The honorable member for Adelaide ought not to object to my remarks, for, in the Sydney Domain, this woman referred to him, in common with other soldiers, as” 6s.aday murderers.”
-I would say its a case like that, “ Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Mr.R. GEEEN. - I have here some extracts from speeches made at the conference of the Australian Labour party held in Melbourne in June,192 1. On that occasion Mr. Macpherson, a New South Wales delegate, is reported to have made the following remarks : -
He had come to theconclusion that the resolution was not going to be peaceful. The sacrifice of few individualscould notbe allowed to count.
Another gentleman, who, until recently, was the president of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party, and is now Vice-presidentof theUpper House of the New South Wales Parliament I refer to Mr. A. C. Willis - gave utterance to the following sentiments at that same conference : -
If you cannot get political power without resorting to violence, it is no use asking the people to vote. Instead, we should be here discussingthe formation of the Bed Army. Either youmust organize on the lilies indicated and get complete control in that way, or you must train a big organization on the basis of a deliberate overthrow by force.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), who was also present on that occasion, said a few words which I should like to recall to his mind. He was reported as follows: -
The parliamentary machinehas been used to give sanction to the schemes of the capitalistic system. We want the parliamentaryregime to give sanction to our proposal, and the scheme we have prepared. From those industries nationalized shall be chosen the general central council, which will really take the place of our Parliament to-day.
First we have the statement that the revolution will not be peaceful, and that the sacrifice of a few individuals cannot be allowed to count; then Mr.. Willis comes along with his proposal for the formation of a “Red Army,” and Mr. Scullin follows this with his suggestion that our Parliaments shall be superseded. Mr. Holland, M.P., a representative of the New Zealand Labour party, also contributed to the discussion. He said -
The programme laid down here is revolutionary and socialistic, and justified by Marx. . . . Labour is going to pass through the most critical period in the history of the world. The war period will be no circumstance in comparison.
In spite of these extraordinary statements the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in this chamber (Mr. Anstey) made a speech to-night which contained absolutely nothing at all. Honorable members opposite say in effect, “ We will keep these communists out of our own movement, but if you attempt to deport them we shall resist you in every way.” The communists are “ white-anting “ the Labour movement, but I must confess that until now I have not realized to what an extent they have succeeded in so doing. It is not often that. I quote the. Age newspaper, for, as a rule, I do not agree with its sentiments, but I refer honorable members to its remarks on the speech made on this measure by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton).. It Bald that he had never appeared in such a horrible light in his life, and that, it was a bad day for the Labour party when he spoke on this bill. I support the bill in its entirety, and I trust that it will be the instrument by which the Government will be able to deal once and for all with Walsh, Johannsen, and men like them. The measure under discussion provides the Australian Seamen’s Union with a means of ridding itself of an incubus, of placing its control in proper hands, and of the authorities deporting such men as Walsh and Johannsen. I support the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr* 0*Keefe) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I have received a communication from the manager of the New South Wales Cooperative Wholesale Society Limited, which reads -
We experience great difficulty in securing recognition from the Australian Dried Fruits Association. We have been referred by them to the Victorian Dried Fruits Board, who in turn argue that they have, not taken any action in the direction of appointing distributing agents anywhere. We note in the press that Senator Wilson, Minister for Markets, states that the demand on the board for finance to assist in the export of fruit is very limited. Recognizing that the industry is in a very difficult position, although the outlook was much improved, the Government has already announced its intention not to’ press for a repayment of the advances made to growers last year. Parliament will be asked to consent to these advances being repaid, half out of the proceeds of the 1926 crop, and the balance out of the proceeds of the 192.7 crop. Seeing that the Government is assisting in the financing of the growers, we think it only right that any boycotting of consumers’ associations should be restrained. We have made repeated applications for consideration to these associations, and have been referred to a group of merchants in New South Wales, who turn our application down because we are a cooperative society.
This is not the first instance in which such action has been taken, as I brought a similar complaint from the New South Wales Co-operative Society Limited before the House last session. Notwithstanding the- fact that we are complaining of difficulty in finding markets for our dried fruits, and that the growers are experiencing considerable hardship, a wholesale co-operative society, which has a membership of approximately 40,000 consumers of dried fruits, is unable to obtain supplies. The board appointed by this Parliament to deal with the marketing of dried fruits grown in this country is not acting in the manner we anticipated. I have complained on different occasions concerning the personnel of the board. Mr. W. C. Thomas, a flour miller, is the chairman, and the Government representative, and two other members of the board, which consists of seven members, are also connected with commercial pursuits. It is easy to realize that cooperative societies will never receive a fair deal from any board on which there is such a strong representation of commercial, men, who are opposed to co-operative effort. Although we are continually urging the necessity of bringing the producer and consumer closer together, boards are appointed which have not the slightest desire to give effect to the intention of Parliament.
– Is any reason given?
– No. The society was referred to the Victorian board, and the Victorian board referred it to the merchants in Sydney. It will, therefore, be seenthat dried fruit will not be supplied direct, but must go through certain distributing channels. This is a startling condition of affairs, more particularly as the industry is being subsidized, and an effort is being made to satisfactorily settle the returned soldiers in fruit-growing areas. The Government should endeavour to prevent a recurrence of instances such asI have quoted, and also refrain from appointing gentlemen to such boards of control whose interests are in conflict with those of the growersand the consumers.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is under a slight misapprehension in regard to the work of the heard to which he has referred, of which Mr. Thomas and Mr. Bell are members. That board was appointed under an act of this Parliament to deal solely with the exportation of dried fruit ; it has nothing whatever to do with the distribution of fruit within the Commonwealth.
– It refers the society to other boards.
– It is not the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board referred to in the communication, but obviously the authority which deals with the distribution of fruit within Australia. State boards have been appointed to deal with the distribution of fruit within Australia, and with those boards the Commonwealth Government has nothing to do. The matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition should be dealt with by the Victorian Government, the New South Wales Government, or, conceivably, the South Australian Government. The communication does not refer to the Commonwealth board.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Houseadjourned at 10.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 July 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250702_reps_9_110/>.