10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have received, from Messrs Bowser and Company, a letter couched in terms similar to those of the letter mentioned by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) yesterday. It would appear that, in the course of a speech the other day, I quite improperly referred to petrol kerb pumps as Bowser pumps. I was under the impression that that was a generic term applying to all such pumps. I find, however, that it is not. As I have inadvertently done this firm a grievous wrong, I apologize, and shall not -repeat the offence.
– Has the Prime Minister yet come to a decision regarding the appointment of local boards under the Industrial Peace Act?
– Two or three weeks ago I received a deputation on this matter, introduced by the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). It has been closely investigated,- and I hope that either to-day or to-morrow I shall be able to forward a letter to the Leader of the Opposition stating the Government’s decision.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement regarding the rumour in returned soldier circles, that returned soldiers are to be discharged from the Post Office and other Government departments?
– I assume that the honorable member refers to the rumour that returned soldiers are to be discharged from the Postal Department because certain juniors who have reached the age of 21 years are to be permanently appointed. This matter has been carefully considered by the Government, and by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League. The Government’s policy in making appointments to the Public Service is to grant preference to returned soldiers. That policy it has endeavoured to carry out. Under the Public Service Act there is power to appoint permanently to the public service returned soldiers with two years’ service as temporary officers, as and when vacancies occur. These appointments have interfered with the promotion of juniors who were taken into the Service at the age of sixteen, on the understanding that on reaching the age of 21 years they would be considered eligible for permanent appointment. Unless there is a reasonable prospect of permanent employment for these young men, boys of the right type will have no encouragement to enter the Public Service, with the result that, in the future, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will be inadequately staffed. However, a satisfactory arrangement has now been arrived at. It will meet the wishes of the returned soldiers, do justice to the boys, and safeguard the efficiency of the department. It is intended that future permanent appointments shall be made alternately from the returned soldiers and the juniors. The number of returned soldiers concerned is approximately 162, and it is hoped that this arrangement will absorb them all within a reasonable time.
– In reply to a question yesterday, I was informed that money would be advanced by the Commonwealth Bank, at the rate of 5^ per cent., to civil servants desirous of purchasing homes at Canberra. As thousands of settlers in the country are at present paying 7-J per cent, interest on advances which have been made to them, will the Treasurer consider the advisability of enabling them also to receive money at the lower rate of interest ?
– The honorable member’s question is one for consideration by the Commonwealth Bank Board. I shall forward it to the board.
– Recently I addressed a communication to the Minister for Defence regarding the condition of the Victoria Barracks, and pointing out that the walls were a menace to the children who sometimes play near them. As the earth is falling away, the lives of such children are endangered. I ask the Minister if this matter has been brought under his notice ?
– I shall obtain a report, and, if the position is as the honorable member states, I shall see that the danger is removed.
– On Wednesday the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) brought under the notice of the Minister the intention of certain companies to import petrol kerb pumps. He also referred to the action of those companies in increasing the price of petrol. The Minister then promised that these matters would be given consideration, and that he would make a statement to the House. I ask him if he is now in a position to make a statement, and whether an opportunity will be given to honorable members to discuss the action of the Vacuum Oil Company, and the Imperial Oil Company regarding these things.
– Immediately, the Hansard report of the debate was obtainable, I instituted the inquiries promised by me last week.- Last night I received a deputation, introduced by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), when additional information was placed before me, and this morning I ordered a further inquiry along the lines suggested by that information. While keeping within the law, I shall, as promised, do all that I can to protect Australian interests in this matter, and so soon as I have obtained the information asked for, I shall ‘ make a statement to the House. I point out, however, that as inquiries have to be instituted in the other States, it will be some time before I can do so.
– I understand that the Commonwealth Government is paying a subsidy to the States of New South Wales and Queensland for the eradica tion of cattle tick, and that Dr. Robertson has been appointed to report thereon. Can the Minister say whether Dr. Robertson’s report has been received, and, if so, is it considered satisfactory ?
– A report has been received from Dr. Robertson, and is now under consideration.
– I have been requested by a representative of a Sydney newspaper to ask the Prime Minister whether he saw a cablegram in yesterday’s press pointing out that the Montreal Star - one of the largest newspapers in Canada - had made a big feature of Australia’s bush fires,- giving the impression that Australia had almost been burnt off the map. As this is another instance of misrepresentation such as the High Commissioner (Sir Joseph Cook) recently complained of, will the Prime Minister, in the absence of power to prevent these absurd reports being sent from this country,’ make an appeal to the people who sent them to mend their ways, and to refrain from sending abroad news which places Australia in a wrong light ?
– I have not seen the cablegram -to which the honorable member refers, but I agree with him that it is lamentable that such exaggerated reports of happenings in Australia are sent, abroad, as they do a great deal of damage. I assure the honorable gentleman that the Government will take every step in its power to prevent this kind of thing ; but our powers in this connexion are limited. He suggests that an appeal might be made to those who send Australian news .abroad. As there is no place where such an appeal could be made more publicly, or with greater authority than in this Parliament, that appeal I now make to the persons concerned.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the total value of Government orders placed overseas by all Federal Government departments for each year since 1917 - (a) exclusive of the cruisers; (6) inclusive of the cruisers?
– The desired information is being obtained, and the honorable member will be further advised as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he state how far the work of placing the telephone lines underground between Newcastle and Sydney has progressed?
– The necessary preliminary work of preparing specifications, &c, has been completed by this Department so far as the cable is concerned, and tenders have been called for its supply. The laying of the cable will be pushed on with the utmost expedition when practicable.
Useof Commonwealth Steamers
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– I regret that the information is not yet available. It will, however, be supplied at an early date.
asked the Minister for . Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the unlimited quantity of highgrade white marble in Central Queensland, will he instruct the Tariff Board, which is now in Brisbane, to visit Rockhampton and the Ulam Marble Quarries to take evidence on the necessity of granting adequate tariff to enable the Australian marble industry to be fully developed?
– The Tariff Board has now returned to Melbourne. The honorable member’s attention is, however, invited to item 262 of the proposed tariff schedule, from which it will be seen that increases in duty have been provided for the protection of marble produced in Australia. These increases were made as the result of inquiries by the Tariff Board; there is, therefore, no necessity for further investigation.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In regard to the Government’s proposed expenditure of £20,000,000 on the scheme for erection of homes for workers and others, will the Minister give an assurance that only Australian products will be used in the construction of these houses, thus giving employment to Australians, and encouragement to Australian industries, and at the same time keeping within the Commonwealth practically the whole of the expenditure of the £20,000,000?
– The Government’s policy is to encourage Australian industry by means of the tariff, which is designed to protect Australian products from unfair competition. The great volume of materials used in Australian homes is Australian. The builders of the homes who ultimately find the purchase money cannot, however, be deprived of their right to use any article they may so desire.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
– On the 29th January, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) directed my attention to an advertisement calling applications for a position in the Attorney-General’s Department, and in regard to which excessive working hours were necessary. I now desire to inform the honorable member that no advertisement calling for applications for a position of the character referred to by him was inserted by or on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
– On the 29th January, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr.Fenton) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information: -
The following papers were presented: -
Navigation Service - Annual Report of the Director of Navigation for the year ended 30th September, 1925.
Ordered to be printed.
Papua Act - Ordinance of 1926, No. 13 - Appropriation 1925-26; together with Estimates for 1925-26.
Debate resumed from 11th February (vide page 916), on motion by Mr.
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Charlton had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof: - “This House is of opinion that the bill should be withdrawn with a view to re-drafting so as to eliminate the obnoxious clauses referring to industrial disSptes, as such clauses, associated with the rimes Act, are an unwarranted affront to the great bodies of organized labour.”
– I do not intend to delay the House at any great length unless I receive provocation from honorable members supporting the Government. No speech could have been more provocative than that delivered by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) when introducing the bill. He quoted largely from communist and other literature to try to introduce as much discord into the debate as possible. His speech covered many pages of Hansard, and it is remarkable that eleven pages were devoted to quotations and comments relating to communists, bolshevists, and Soviets in all parts of the world. He skimmed over the vital clauses of this bill, devoting only one and a half pages of Hansard to the Government’s iniquitous proposal to bring our industrial organizations under the Crimes Act. The Attorney-General may not have known that honorable members were almost unanimous in their acceptance of the first portion of the bill relating to unlawful associations; but evidently, for some ulterior motive, almost the whole of his speech was a diatribe against the communist movement and allied associations. The introduction of the bill isa retrograde step. I remember in my youth picking up fleeces in a shearer ‘s shed and hearing a lot of talk about the treatment that was meted out by the squatters to those who sought to organize the shearers and bush workers of Australia. At that time, the Labour organizers had great difficulties to contend with, and suffered persecution at the hands of the employers. The honorable member forRiverina (Mr. Killen) will know something about that matter, because he is well versed in the early history of the Australian Workers Union. No doubt you, Mr. Speaker, in your home have records of the organization of workers in the rural districts, because your honoured father, when conducting a newspaper in Toowoomba, was prepared, in the early days to act as custodian of moneys collected to aid the formation of an association which finally developed into the Australian Workers Union. This shows that there were employers even in those days who favoured the formation of employees’ unions. Unfortunately, some employers to-day still suffer from the microbe which infected the squatters in the latter eightiesand early nineties, and caused them to oppose bitterly the formation and operation of workers’ unions.
– I do not know who they are.
– Some of them can be found even in this chamber. I shall now quote from The History of the Australian Workers Union, by W. G. Spence, a letter which was written by “ Locky “ McBean, who at one time was a wellknown squatter in the southern part of New South Wales. That letter, a certain portion of which applies to some honorable members behind the Government, reads as follows : -
Woorooma, 25th February, 1888.
To the Shearers Union, Victoria or elsewhere.
President and Secretary,
This your circular is addressed to manager, Woorooma Station. I beg to inform you that I, the writer, is the manager and owner. I have others assisting me for 16 years, 12 years, and down to 6 years. They are content and satisfied all with their positions, and I dp not wish that their minds should be disturbed, poisoned, or corrupted by any union, any bondage society, or any corrupt league, and I give each notice that when they hold any communication with any league or union that purpose evil they will be paid off as soon as I find this out, and I have to request that you do not write or send any of your print to any one here. You have sent parcels of print and writings here, but they were not read by any one, nor will they be heeded, no matter how often they come. I do not want to interfere with your union in any way, but let them leave me alone, keep clear of me and my property, and if they do trespass after a caution they will get the hardest treatment that law can inflict, and as often as they trespass on any part of my land, and to be plain with you, not a union man will get a day’s work from me. Last year 60 of the lawless ruffians camped in nine camps opposite my shed for a term till the police magistrate gave them notice to break up. I had a watch armed on my shed with guns loaded with sparrow shot, not to kill any one, but to mark their legs so as to be known next morning. For all their bounce, my shearing went as well and peaceable as ever I saw. The men took high wages out of the shed - some £32 in six weeks three days, after paying for their stores and rations bill, five or six meals a day, as they liked the best of provisions, and the lowest average was £3 a man per week clear. If this is not enough I do not know what to say. If it comes to this, that I cannot get my sheep shorn with free, not union or bond men, I will sell the sheep, put cattle on the run, as I had before. I know the evil of societies’ cliques and corruption since 1833 in Kircaldy, when Russet’s foundry was closed with the villainies of loafers, agitators sucking the wages of working men out of their pockets, then setting idle, exciting ignorant labourers on to evil. This caused a panic in Kircaldy at the time.
I draw honorable members’ attention particularly to this portion of the letter: -
But it is now time to press Parliament to bring in a bill like the Crimes Bill in Ireland to punish first the leaders and agitators and then those that are led on and take part in evils that disturb the peace of the nation and the prosperity of the country. Gentlemen, I have explained myself.
Hoping that I will never hear or see any of your society after this, gentlemen, I remain,
That statement bears out to a large extent my previous remark that the introduction of the bill is a retrograde step. So long as it remains on the statute-book it will be a standing affront to the unionists of Australia. Surely the Attorney-General could agree to the reasonable request made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) to delay the bill, which is a penal measure, until we have dealt with the amending Arbitration Bill. We should know the Government’s proposals respecting arbitration to enable us to deal effectively with the bill before us. The least the Government could have don was to introduce the amending Crimea Bill and the amending Arbitration Bill concurrently. The Government, as has been said, has put the cart before, the horse. Honorable members should know the provisions of the Government’s, industrial legislation before they are called upon to deal with a bill like that now before the House. In the circumstances in which we find ourselves, what better action can we take than to try and expunge the obnoxious clauses. We have little hope of success, for all honorable members opposite appear to have made up their minds to support the Government.
– Have members of the honorable member’s party made up their minds?
– We have virtually made up our minds to accept the first portion of the bill, and to endeavour to expunge the second .portion. The faintest respect for our pledges to the electors, would prevent us from supporting the second part of the’ bill. The Government has exceeded even the very wide mandate given to it by the people. If the provisions of the bill had been known during the election, the electors I am certain would not have sanctioned it. I understand that at the caucus meeting of the Nationalist party yesterday, exception was taken by some honorable members to some clauses of the bill. . I do not know whether the Prime Minister was able to cajole the party into acquiescence, but I hope to hear the views of the honorable members who raised their voices at that meeting. A few months ago the Prime Minister, who had been infected by the Mussolini microbe, said that Australia could be better governed by a dictator, or half-a-dozen dictators. When we observe the very amiable way in which honorable members opposite accept the proposals of the Prime Minister, it would appear that Australia to-day is under a dictatorship. Honorable members opposite remind me of pieces on a chess board, with the Prime Minister as the master player. He places the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) in his square, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hurry) in his square, and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) in his square; every honorable member is allotted his square; but they are all miserable,’ inept pawns, subject to the motions of the Prime Minister’s hand.
– The difference between the honorable member’s side and this side is that we are always “on the square.”
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) may interject, and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) may at times jump out of his square, but they both come back to their squares when the division bells ring. The vigorous member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) said that during the election campaign he had heart to heart talks with many unionists, and that they told him that ho and others like him were the saviours of unionism in Australia. He rebuked honorable members on this side, and tried to make the people of this country believe that, apart from some members of Parliament and a few people outside, no objections were being taken to the bill. In view of that statement it is as well that I should quote the views of some. of the mouthpieces of Australian trade unionism. If any honorable member wished to obtain the concrete opinion of trade unionism, he would naturally go to the officers who preside over the Trades Hall councils of the different States. The president of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, Mr. E. A. Painter, is one of the most intellectual men in the ranks of unionism in this country, and he has a thorough grip of the industrial movement. Yesterday he issued a statement in which he said -
Mr. Bruce and his Government would be well advised to withdraw the Crimes Bill to permit of the deletion of those sections of it dealing with the rights of industrial organisation.
We feel confident that Mr. Bruce does not desire to create an impression in the public mind that men by participating in matters promoted to raise the standard of life of unionists are, ipso facto, criminals. If, on the other hand, it is the Government’s motive to automatically make those embarked upon a strike subservient to coercive class legislation, then we most earnestly promise him such opportunities.
Trade unionism is rapidly approaching forms of organization wherein the strike weapon will he regarded as an obsolete system of collective bargaining; - not to be resorted to until every possible avenue has been explored towards amicable settlement of industrial disputes. But we can never, and will never, give up our inalienable right to strike, providing all other methods are abortive.
No law aimed at this right, having the most coercive instruments of punishment, which class-biased minds can devise, will be effective. We will resist any such force with the whole power of our industrial machinery.
The bill is direct incentive to disorder. It will precipitate many far-reaching disputes which will effect prejudicially the best interests of. the Commonwealth. Already the industrial movement is burning with indignation at this further evidence of the desire of the Government to unduly interfere with the dearly-won’ rights of trade unionism, a condition danger,ous and inflammable.
Mr. Bruce should be big enough to disregard the fanatical advice of extreme Conservatism and immediately withdraw the bill for the purpose outlined in Mr. Charlton’s amendment.
That is the opinion of the acknowledged leader of the trade union movement in this State, a man who occupies a position which he has reached by his own merit, and for which he qualified by serving a long apprenticeship. I wish to place it on record that not only the parliamentary labour man, but also leaders of the trade union movement, object to this biU. The president of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council has expressed himself in language that cannot bo misunderstood.
– Both the honorable member and Mr. Painter ought to be ashamed to place that statement on record.
– I am proud to place it in Hansard, because I believe it gives effective expression to the trade union sentiment in Australia. I take full responsibility for saying that I believe that the bringing of trade unionists and industrial organizations within the scope of this bill is a sop thrown by the Government to the tories, and that an attempt to placate the trade unionist will be made when the amending industrial legislation is brought forward. The Government’s method is to throw a sop to this side, and a concession to that. Time will prove whether my statement is correct. Neither the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) nor the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) can deny my right to the claim that I am as good an Australian as any other honorable member. Apart from the trade union movement, and apart from the parliamentary environment, I say that the Government, in bringing industrialists within the scope of this bill, has done great damage to Australia. These peaceable men, many of whom wear the medals of the returned soldier, and are now employed in mine, factory, and workshop, are to be branded as criminals. It is one of the most damnable pieces of legislation ever ‘submitted to this Parliament, and one of the most injurious to Australia. The Prime Minister, almost with his tongue in his cheek, complained that the Canadian newspapers had published flaring headlines to the effect that Australia had been practically burnt out. He denounced the action of those newspapers, and said that he would like to have an arm long and strong enough to prevent such malign influence from being exercised against the fair name of Australia. But what is his Government doing? The publication by Canadian newspapers of particulars of bush fires is a trifle compared with this bill. Figures supplied to me by the Commonwealth Statistician show that in one year Great Britain had four times as many strikes as Australia has had in twelve years.
– Great Britain has nine times the population of Australia.
– No, about seven times; the honorable member generally exaggerates when it suits his purpose. In Great Britain 85,000,000 days were lost in one year, and in the last twelve years in Australia only 21,000,000 days have been lost. The Government of Great Britain is not getting into a state of panic over that, although some people would like it to do so. A few months ago Mr. Baldwin, by contrast with the action of the Prime Minister of Australia, asked the British Parliament to. vote £15,000,000 to purchase industrial peace between the mine-owners and the miners. The scheme then inaugurated will expire in two months, and what will happen afterwards no one Knows. There are men in Great Britain, as there are in Australia, who desire to apply coercion. Is the honorable member aware that a conference of the Conservative party was held in Great Britain four months ago, at which the Prime Minister (Mr. Baldwin) was considerably heckled? He was asked, “ Why do you not adopt Mussolini’s methods in Great Britain ? “ Mr. Baldwin, to his credit be it said, retorted, “ The British people will never tolerate a dictator over them.” The matter did not end there. It was stated that if Mr. Baldwin did not use his big majority in the House of Commons to deprive trade unionists in Great Britain of the right to contribute to. the political funds of their party, a private member would introduce a bill for that purpose. Important movements are being launched in Great Britain, and are drawing to their ranks influential ex-naval men. A plot is being hatched by a section of the. Conservative party to depose Mr. Baldwin from the leadership of that party, because he will not go to title extreme lengths that are favoured by some of its members. History alone will disclose whether he finally accedes to their requests. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) very adroitly evaded the point that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition by way of interjection luring the speech of the right honorable gentleman. He did not deal with the leader of the Fascists in Victoria, although he disclaimed any connexion with the movement, and denied that he was sympathetic towards it. Mr. Hatcher is still an employee of the Commonwealth Government, yet he continues to conduct correspondence relating to the movement.
– Mr. Hatcher has stated that the Prime Minister is well aware of what is being done.
– He made that statement during the election campaign. Il is well to know what is being done in Great Britain, because the political leaders in Australia frequently take their cue .from abroad. I have here a newspaper cablegram, which states : -
The first official view of “ The Organization for the Maintenance of Supplies “ has been conveyed by the Home Secretary (Sir William Joynson-Hicks) ) . in a letter to a friend seeking for information about the Cabinet’s view.
Sir William Joynson.Hicks states: ; “I told the organization frankly that it was the Government’s duty to preserve .order and maintain supplies. The Government is prepared io carry out that duty, having already adopted its own plans for that purpose. The Government had not thought it necessary to make public those plans and parade its willingness :md ability to do its duty, nor did it desire to assume what might have been regarded as a provocative attitude by enrolling several hundred thousand men. However, I informed the promoters that there, was no objection to the nauguration of the body which doubtless will aid the Government by supplying classified lists of the men willing to place their services at the disposal of the country.”
A footnote states : -
The organization is presided over by Lord Hardinge (former Viceroy of India), and the members of the council include Lord Jellicoe, the Earl of Scarborough (formerly DirectorGeneral of the Territorial Forces), Viscount Falkland, and Sir James Bennell Rodd (formerly Ambassador to Italy). The object is to establish throughout the country a system of volunteers to maintain supplies for vital services in the event of a general strike.
– Has the honorable member any objection to that avowed object?
– The object is to establish black-leg unions.
– It is. Those who are connected with the Labour movement in Great Britain know what is happening, as will be seen from the following cablegram which was sent from London a couple of days later: -
The action of the Home Secretary (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) in officially sanctioning “ O.M.S.” - the Organization for the Maintenance of Supplies in the event of a general strike - for which civilian volunteers are being enrolled, is the subject of a stinging attack in the Times by Mr. .Ramsay MacDonald, the former Prime Minister. “ It is not only inopportune, but provocative,” writes Mr. MacDonald. “It is likely to have an unfortunate effect, and the country ought to know whether it represents the considered decision of the Cabinet. If there is a social danger it is the Government’s plain duty to say what it is, and to devise some plans to meet it bearing some trace of political wisdom. In hundreds of places this week the action of the Home Secretary will be considered and denounced as Government encouragement of those pernicious private organizations which are formed to create disturbance and foment revolutionary passion. It was of little use us fighting revolution at Liverpool if it was being bred at Whitehall.”
The presence on the council of Sir James Rennell Rodd, who was formerly ambassador to Italy, is significant. He knows a good deal about the Fascists, and that is the reason for his being upon the council. That organization has been established for the purpose of undermining trade unionism. There were indications of a similar movement when the British shipping trouble occurred in Australia, and other oversea dominions. A sailor who was on strike in Durban was asked, “Why do you not settle these troubles in England?” Ho said, “What is the good of trying to settle them there ? When the crew goes down one side of the ship its places are filled by substitutes who come up the other side.” Notwithstanding the disclaimers that have been made, this bill is designed for the purpose of damaging trade unionism in Australia. Honorable members will not deny that when trade unionists are treated at all decently they are prepared to listen to reason. If the working men of Australia were always treated decently, there would never be any trouble. Industrial disputes are invariably fomented by employers, but the employees are always blamed. Statements that were made upon his return to Australia by Mr. Lee Neil, the representative of the Commonwealth Government at the Wembley Exhibition, are indicative of the view of many employers. On the 15th September, 1925, in an interview that he gave to the Melbourne Herald, he said -
His visit to England had made him more sympathetic with the masses. They had a great deal of justification for their present world-wide attitude. While British seamen were asked to give up £1 a month, he knew of one shipbuilder who was to celebrate the construction of a new liner by taking the liner to Norway on a pleasure trip costing scores of thousands of pounds. “ Therefore, we should weigh well our attitude towards maintaining a reasonable adjustment of the tilings of life,” said Mr. Lee Neil. “ In the past, concessions have been granted only with reluctance. Hie fault to-day was not altogether with the men.” He would urge employers to read the signs of the times, and give way before they were forced. If they were more liberal in giving more of the fruits of industry to labour before they were demanded, relationship between Labour and Capital would be much better.
Mr. Lee Neil is a gentleman of very high standing in’ the commercial world; he holds a prominent position in the firm of Myer’s, of Melbourne.
– He merely repeated statements that have frequently been made.
– If all employers recognized the rights of their workmen, there would be very little trouble in the world. I have belonged to the printing trade union for a number of years. During the last 50 years there has been only one strike in that trade in Victoria, and it was of short duration. Round-table conferences have averted trouble. Many unions are working on a; similar basis. In all parts of the world trouble occurs most frequently amongst miners and waterside workers. Those who are acquainted with the conditions under which miners and waterside workers have to perform their duties are aware that they undertake some of the most disagreeable tasks that can be found. Apart from those industries, our industrial troubles are negligible. Dean Hart stated the case very well three months ago, when he wrote -
But let the worker live in decency, give him the chance of possessing his own home, give his children opportunities for education in all refining studies as well as preparation for technical excellence, inspire the whole population with the sense that they have a share and art interest in the affairs of the community, let them have the hearts of free men who own nohuman master, let them look in each other’s faces as brothers, let them know that for all and for each there is a divine purpose and a. God-given destiny, and what man or devil could tempt them to revolution?
Australia has realized some of those ideals to a greater extent than other countries. But we should not cease our efforts to attain better conditions. We should not be content to lag behind other countries. We are in the van to-day, and there we should remain. It should be our aim to set an example to other countries. If our workmen are given conditions the like of which do not exist in any other part of the world, difficulty will not be experienced in inducing our own kith and kin to come to Australia. We largely lack organization. Frequently the employees are blamed for trouble that is caused byothers. I remember having read some time ago of an exhaustive investigation that was made in the United States of America regarding five or six important trade organizations. That investigation was carried out by a number of engineers and others. They submitted a table which showed where the fault lay. The United States of America is, next to Germany, the most organized industrial community in the world, and it was found that 75 per cent, of the blame was; due to the employers and a considerable percentage to failure of transport services. Therefore, it seems to me wrong for honorable members to place so much blame on the workers of Australia. There are other quotations I should like to make did time permit; but I wish to say definitely that I think we should have considered the other bil) before dealing with the Crimes Bill, thai this measure defames Australia, and thai while it remains on the statute-book ii will be an affront and an insult to trade unionism in a country where there is less need than there may be in other parts of the world for drastic legislation of this kind. The people have a right to ask why, despite its big majority and its mandate from the country, the Government has introduced this bill. The proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is feasible, reasonable and sensible. Nothing would tend to bring about more peace in the industrial world than the adoption of his suggestion that the provisions of the bill relating to industrial disturbance should be deleted. There is no need for them. I agree with Mr. A. E. Painter, the president of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, that instead of this bill making the operations of industry more peaceful than in the past, it will be an incentive to strikes, and will tend to create trouble. Prior to the election the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said the same thing of another measure. Although he now seems to have become one of the pawns on the chess board which can be very easily moved, I do not suppose there is any one on the other side of the chamber who understands the industrial conditions of Australia better than he does. In respect of such knowledge the present Ministry is sadly lacking. It is also without proper advice on such matters. I see no necessity for the bill, and I shall have exceptional pleasure in voting for the amendment, and if we reach the committee stage still greater pleasure in voting for the deletion of the clauses relating to industrial disturbances. I hope that sanity will prevail on the Ministerial benches, and that these clauses will be deleted. It is unworthy that a bill should be brought in to brand as criminals the finest body of men in the world, the trade unionists of Australia, who number 800,000. This is one of the most retrograde steps ever taken in this Parliament. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) referring to the proposal to take a ballot before a strike can be declared, put a pertinent question when he asked what could be done if a ballot decided in favour of a strike. The usual practice of trade organizations is to discuss matters exhaustively in open meeting, after which resolutions are passed to decide the issues at stake by ballot. In the union of which I am a member everything is done by ballot. After an educational discussion,’ the matter at issue is submitted to a ballot, and every member who is financial is entitled to record a vote. Honorable members opposite are talking about giving to the wives of unionists the right to vote at these ballots. I remember reading of a strike in the Maitland district of New South Wales, where the wives of the coal-miners organised, and as the “ blacklegs “ went along the path to the mine hurled at them epithets and stones. They told their husbands and sons on no account to resume work under existing conditions. . As a matter of fact, in industrial disputes the women are the greatest stickers when they have made up their minds. During the police strike in Victoria, the mother of a married policeman, having read in the paper that the police were on strike, went down to her son’s house to see if he was out with the other policemen. When she knocked on the door, her daughterinlaw opened it. The mother said, “ Is Jack inor out? “. The daughter-in-law, knowing what she meant, said, “He is out.” Whereupon the mother said. “ That is all right. Now I will come in.” She would not have entered the house if her son had not gone on strike. That is an illustration of the spirit which actuates the women. I believe that if the wives of unionists are given votes in these ballots they will show themselves even more determined than the men at anytime of trouble. I have not met a member of a trade union who has not endorsed the words of Mr. Painter, that this bill will be an incitement to strikes and disturbances, and will not bring about industrial peace in this community. It cannot be said too often, here or elsewhere, that this bill will not tend to bring about industrial peace.
– Having listened very carefully to the debate on this most important measure, I am more than ever convinced that the Government, (in introducing it at the earliest moment, is simply keeping faith with the people. I cannot agree with a remark made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) relative to the speech delivered by the Attorney-
General (Mr. Latham) Sn moving the second reading of the bill. I thought the Minister gave a most lucid and clear explanation, which was of the greatest assistance to the ordinary mortals, who, like myself, do not belong to that great profession of which he and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) are such distinguished members. I congratulate the Attorney-General most heartily on the speech he delivered. Ithas been repeatedly asserted during the debate that the Government did not receive a mandate from the people to introduce this legislation.; but I fail utterly to understand how any one can seriously make such a statement. We have heard much talk about democracy. I claim that we have in Australia the most democratic form of government in the world. We certainly have the broadest franchise, because any adult man or woman who does not happen to be in an asylum or a gaol, and possesses the necessary residential qualifications, is entitled to vote at elections for the Commonwealth Parliament. At the last election all adults not only had the right to vote, but were compelled to do so, and at the greatest poll that has ever been taken in Australia, by an overwhelming majority the. Government was returned to power on the issues on which it went to the country. In his very eloquent speech, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that his party had not received the support of the young people who for the first time were exercising their right to vote. The honorable member seemed to suggest that they looked upon this right as they look upon the right to go to a picture show. I have not the faintest idea how their votes were cast at the last election, but I was particularly struck with the fact that they appeared to be more interested in the political questions then being discussed than they ever appeared to be before. I have not had much experience of elections, the last being only the third occasion on which I have stood for election; but it appeared to me that these young people were keener to grasp the situation, and went to the poll with a fair and adequate comprehension of the issues before them. Every Ministerial candidate made it abundantly clear that the most important issue at the election was the maintenance pf law and order and industrial ‘peace. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) will agree with me that that was made wonderfully clear in Queensland. That it was the main issue, and I certainly endeavoured to impress that upon the people of the northern capital, though, perhaps, occasionally under somewhat difficult circumstances. We all realized that legislation on progressive lines was absolutely essential for this great Commonwealth, and that any government worthy of the name should do all it could to bring about industrial peace and get rid of, or at least diminish, the causes of industrial unrest. We all, I think, also agreed that the mo3t important question at the moment was the maintenance of constitutional government, and the particular issue immediately in the minds of the electors was the upheaval in the overseas transport services. I think it can be claimed that those who sought the suffrages of the people . as supporters of the Government made that quite clear. Honorable members of the Opposition were in a somewhat awkward position. I do not presume to reflect on them, either individually or as a party. I have never done so. I have not. the slightest doubt that they are just as keen to maintain law and order and constitutional government in this country as is any honorable member on this side, and I believe that a majority of their supporters are equally keen to do so; but I regret that on occasions honorable members opposite have failed at the critical moment to come out into the open and say so. I have no doubt that, had the Leader of the Opposition and those who support him stood behind the Prime Minister in his endeavour to bring about the cessation of trouble just prior to the elections, the personnel of the tenth Parliament of the Commonwealth would have been very different. While I am willing to admit that honorable members opposite are just as keen in their desire to uphold constitutional government as we are, I consider that when they could have greatly helped the cause of their party they failed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and other honorable members on his side, maintain that they have no serious objection to the clauses of the bill dealing with unlawful associations. It is most gratifying to know that.
Mr. Parker Moloney. Was the honorable member ever in doubt on that matter?
– I was at one time; but as honorable members. opposite have declared their readiness to support those clauses, all doubt is now removed. Towards the clauses relating to serious industrial disturbances, however, they adopt k different attitude. Personally, I repudiate the sinister suggestion that the Government has a desire to rob the trade unionists of rights for which they have fought for many years. No matter on which side of the House an honorable member sits, he must recognize that the unions have done a great deal to improve the conditions of the working man, and I hope that they >vill continue to do so. We, on this side, cannot claim to have had experience with trade unions equal to that of honorable members opposite ; but I have spent much of my life in working, in the open spaces of western Queensland, among men who, for the most part, are members of thos? unions. Nobody can have greater respect for those men than I claim to have, and I would refuse to support any legislation intended to deprive them of any of thai rights. In my opinion, that is the last thing that the Prime Minister, or any honorable member on this side, would for £ moment think of doing. No honorable member opposite has pointed out that the drastic provisions of the bill can be applied only in matters of the greatest urgency, and under definitely sp’ecified conditions. In the first place, there must be an industrial disturbance, such as an upheaval’ in connexion with our overseas or interstate transport services. Secondly, the Governor-General, by proclamation, must declare that a state of grave industrial unrest exists. No government, I think, would use that power lightly. In the third place, any person to whom those clauses may be applied, must have been tried and found guilty before he can be deported. I have listened carefully to all the speeches on this measure, and in my limited experience in the House I regard it as one of the most important with which Parliament has ever been called upon to deal. I claim that the Government received a definite mandate to bring in this legislation. The people, by the vote that they gave on the 14th No vember, showed clearly that they approved of the legislation that the Government of the day passed prior to going to the country, and they approved of the Prime Minister’s assertion that he would, if necessary, seek further power to deal with disturbances of the character referred to in the bill. I hope that the measure will have a speedy passage. Many requests, for its withdrawal have been made to the Prime Minister by honorable members opposite, but I seriously suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he should withdraw his amendment. Neither honorable members opposite, nor members of the great trade unions throughout Australia need be uneasy, because the bill cannot possibly do injustice to any citizen who observes the law.
– I have listened with great interest to the debate, and particularly to the speeches from the Government side, of the House, and so much has already been said in support of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition that I intend to be somewhat brief in my remarks. A good deal of discussion has been directed to the second part of the bill which gives the Government power to issue a proclamation declaring that a serious industrial disturbance exists. Before referring to ,those provisions I propose to speak about the first part, which relates to unlawful associations. I have heard of nothing that would justify such drastic and reactionary proposals. The evidence adduced by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) in support of the « theory that a real, revolutionary menace exists in Australia was very feeble. He quoted the cases of a few cranks whose main contribution to revolutionary violence has been an odd speech or two. Not one specific instance of revolutionary violence has been given by any honorable member opposite. The Attorney-General merely referred to one or ‘ two isolated and insignificant brawls that have occurred in certain Australian seaports, and the importance of those brawls has undoubtedly been magnified for political purposes by the daily press. The fact that they occurred during the electoral campaign has led many people to believe that they were engineered by agents of the Nationalist party, who sought to exploit the strike by terrorizing the public into believing that revolution -was imminent. The Government’s justification of the bill is based largely on the strike of British seamen. That event resulted in the amending Immigration Act, generally known as the Deportation Act, and the failure of that measure led to the introduction of the present bill. The circumstances of that strike were exceptional, and such as are not likely to recur in Australia. It was a dispute foreign to this country, and one that could not be effectively controlled within it. The importance of that strike has been exaggerated in order to justify this measure. As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) pointed out, it was trivial compared with great industrial upheavals of the past. I was connected with the Seamen’s Union when the righthonorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) presided over strike conferences, and dictated tactics that would be characterized, under this measure, as sabotage. But to-day we find the right honorable gentleman whistling a different tune. Australia’s industrial history, as has been said time after time by honorable members on this side, shows that repression and coercion have never been successful in settling these disputes; it is necessary to exercise sweet reasonableness and toleration. In the British seamen’s strike this Government failed to mediate. The responsibility for what occurred lies largely at the door of the British ship-owners and of this Government for allowing the trouble to develop without taking steps to settle it. The only justification - if any - for the bill would be if Australia was in immediate danger of revolutionary violence and bloodshed, or if a state of war existed. When the Unlawful Associations Act was passed, Australia was at war, and although the Industrial Workers of the World, the organization at which that measure was principally directed, had been in existence for a considerable time, it was ignored by the Government until evidence was adduced that it was resorting to acts of violence. I am convinced, therefore, that this Government’ is insincere in introducing the present bill. It is trying to convince the people that there is danger when none exists. It is a bill to save the face of Ministers, and to justify the tactics to which they resorted during the election. Their unscrupulous, propaganda during the election is one of the most disgraceful episodes in Australia’s history. The Government did not win on the issue of law and order versus revolution, but by resorting to misrepresentation and terrorizing the people by means of lying literature, which was broadcast throughout Australia. It was the money power that enabled , the Government to carry out its nefarious designs. It was Edmund Burke, the English statesman, who said -
The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
This Government deluded the people into thinking that Australia was in peril of a revolution. To suggest that the electors gave the Government a mandate to introduce specific legislation of this character is manifestly absurd, for the bill is in direct conflict with the plausible speeches that the Prime Minister delivered during the election campaign when he posed as the champion of unionists, and said that they should have evenhanded - justice. The measure is based on anything but the principles of evenhanded justice, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) so eloquently pointed out; last night. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most drastic measures that has ever been introduced into a British Parliament. When the Government speaks about its mandate, it should remember that nearly half the electors affirmed their belief in the policy of the Labour party. The total number of votes cast for Labour candidates was 1,313,949, while that cast for Nationalists and Country party candidates was 1,593,533. It will be seen, therefore, that the Labour party polled within 279,584 votes of the Ministerial parties. Those .who voted Labour were the virile, industrial unionists, who believe in political and industrial freedom. This measure is more calculated, in my opinion, to increase revolutionary propaganda and industrial disturbance than to diminish them, as it is a direct challenge to those who voted for Labour. As my honoured leader (Mr. Charlton) observed in his speech, the Government has put the cart before the horse. The first duty of the Government was to investigate the causes of cur industrial disputes, and try to devise remedies for them. Had it done that, we should have been able to discuss this matter in its proper order, and in quite a different psychological atmosphere. Had the Government even brought down its amendments to the Arbitration Act instead of this repressive and coercive measure, the position would have been better than it is. But if the proposed amendments of the Arbitration Act are of the same character as the proposals in this bill. God help the trade unionists of Australia and Australians generally. One of the chief factors in the promotion of industrial discord in Australia is the vexatious delays that occur in dealing with matters submitted to the Arbitration Court. Another is the maze of technical and legal detail that has to be traversed. Still another is the limitations imposed upon the court. Eight years of my life were spent in association with the Seamen’s Union, and subsequently -in organizing clerical workers, so that I speak from considerable experience. I have had a good deal to do with Federal and State arbitration courts and wages boards, and also with special tribunals constituted by th» Hughes Government, and I say positively that the atmosphere of the Arbitration Court increases the antagonism of the parties rather than decreases lt. The court does not create that spirit of amity and reasonableness which is necessary before, disputes can be amicably settled. Another unsatisfactory feature of the present arbitration machinery is that judges are appointed to the bench who are not properly qualified to deal with matters submitted to them. Our industrial tribunals should be free from every possible legal technicality, and from the legal rules governing evidence. We should enable the parties to get together in the unfettered way that we wish for parties that have to consider international issues. The most successful industrial tribunal of which I have had any experience was that constituted by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to deal with the shipbuilding industry during the war. One of the factors that led to its success, was that its chairman, Mr. Connington, was selected because of his wide experience and human understanding, rather than his legal knowledge. He brought to bear on the problems submitted to him a good practical knowledge. The proceedings of that tribunal were stripped of ©very vestige of captious technicality, and legal verbiage. Disputes were investigated without ceremony. The proceedings were of an informal nature. The parties were permitted to smoke, and generally to comport themselves in a free and easy way. I have heard the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), on more than one occasion, quote the ship-building tribunal as the most successful body of which he has had any experience, in settling industrial disputes. No strikes of any consequence occurred during its regime, and I believe that its decisions, generally speaking, were satisfactory to the Government and to those connected with the industry. I have not had very much experience of the coal tribunal, but I believe that it too has been successful.
– I ask the honorable member not to proceed to. a general discussion of these matters, for they do not come within the scope of the bill.
– The alleged object of this bill, Mr. Speaker, is to prevent industrial disturbances. My argument is that the Government could achieve that object much more effectively in another way. I believe that the coal tribunal has been successful, for it has enabled disputes to be discussed and dealt with immediately they arose. The Government would be well advised to postj>one further discussion qf this bill until we have had an opportunity to deal with the proposed amendments of the Arbitration; Act. We should then be in a better position to know the best course to take in regard to such persons as this measure is designed to deal with. The merit of the ship-building tribunal was that any worker could approach it, no matter how trifling his grievance was. In passing, I point out that many big strikes have been caused by apparent trifles, but trifles which involved some great principle. If the conditions governing arbitration proceedings were liberalized, the Government would find that there would be no need for legislation like this. We have been- asked to offer suggestions as to how, in our opinion, industrial peace may best be conserved. May I respectfully suggest that seeing that the Government proposes to charge the trade unions with the maintenance of industrial peace by imposing certain statutory functions and rigorous penalties upon them, it should also oblige all workers to join the union covering the industry in Which they are engaged. The employment of nonunionists has, in the past, caused many industrial upheavals, and the Government could very easily remove this cause. If the- principle of unionism is sound when applied to the medical or legal profession, it should be equally sound when applied to other callings.
– It might be, if the trade unions were robbed of their political authority.
– The politics of a trade union are decided by the majority of its members, and surely even the honorable member for Fawkner believes in majority rule.
– No organization should have the right to determine the political creed of its members.
– It would be interesting to carry that argument to its logical conclusion, though I do not propose to do so at this moment. I shall content myself with observing that the views of the people generally are changing. As Lowell truly wrote -
New occasions bring new duties: Time makes ancient good uncouth
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth.
One of the new duties which the workers have been taught is that they must get a voice in the control of industry. No matter what reactionary legislation the Government, by its majorities, may place on the statute-book, it will not be able to stifle the development of thought nor the progress of ideas. The democratization of the control of industry must ultimately be realized. As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr.- Scullin) has observed, the “ dehumanizing “ of industry has been largely responsible for the deeprooted antagonism, and the chasm of misunderstanding, that has accentuated the bitterness of our industrial disputes. If the Government really desires to improve the position I suggest that it should call a conference of all parties interested, to discuss the causes of our industrial troubles and suggest remedies for them. If the Govern ment does not feel it could go so far as to call a general conference, it might appoint a royal commission to inquire into the matter, and recommend remedial measures. There is nothing of greater importance to the Commonwealth or to the welfare of the community generally than the provision of machinery for the equitable settlement of our industrial disputes.
– That is why this bill has been rendered necessary.
– This bill was drafted in a fit of party hatred and hysteria. . “What is necessary is a dispassionate investigation of the causes of our industrial troubles, and the provision of some method of dealing with them- which will be acceptable to all parties affected. When this measure is placed on the statute-book, as it will be, and probably unamended, how is the Government going to cope with unions that refuse to accept the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court and go to the State tribunals instead? One effect of the measure may be to destroy the Federal Arbitration Court, or make it so unworkable that the unions will not tolerate it. Similarly, I believe the provisions for the repression of organizations which the Government deems to be of an unlawful character will not prevent revolutionary propaganda, but will probably drive it underground. The history of the world shows that, in its ultimate results, revolutionary propaganda is infinitely more dangerous when carried on secretly than when carried on openly. The history of “Russia shows that revolution there was the result of the oppressions of czardom and the operations of secret societies. When in London, during the war, I stood in Trafalgar .Square and listened to great meetings being addressed by most violent speakers. They delivered the most violent denunciations of the British Government and the capitalist system, not merely unhindered and untrammelled, but under the protection of the London police. It would appear that the people of Engand have very sensibly determined that it is much better to have the safety valve of free speech and free discussion of these matters than to exercise repression and drive propaganda of this character underground.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable gentleman says, “hear, hear!”
– I do emphatically.
– But in this bill the honorable gentleman proposes to prevent what by his interjection he would seem to approve.
– Not at all.
– I am puzzled by the Attorney-General’s attitude on this matter. In his speech on the second reading of the bill he said -
The measure does not attempt to suppress liberty of opinion or freedom of speech. There is a radical distinction between the expression of opinion and acts of violence, or incitement to violence.
In the proposed section dealing with unlawful associations there is no such distinction drawn. It seems to me that the effect of the law will depend largely upon the Attorney-General’s administration of it.
– It will not depend on the Attorney-General at all, but on a court.
– I presume that action will first be taken at the instance of the Attorney-General.
– That does not affect the meaning of the proposed section.
– Referring to the proposed section, I submit that the bill in its present form is most vague, and is dangerously comprehensive. Any body of persons .is declared to be an unlawful association if by its constitution, propaganda, or otherwise, it advocates or encourages -
The overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage.
Might I ask what is meant by “revolution “ ? According to the dictionary definition, a revolution may , consist of a sudden change, not necessarily brought about by violence. A number of people in New South Wales to-day, influenced by party bitterness and hatred, say that Mr. Lang is a revolutionary, because, in their opinion, he is attempting to make a sudden change, which they regard as revolutionary, in the system of government of New South Wales. The failure of the Government to include in this billdefinitions of the terms used, will give power to those charged with the administration of the law which the AttorneyGeneral may or may not intend them to have. I .submit that the terms used iu the bill should be clearly defined. There is surely a difference between the advocacy of immediate, revolutionary violence and the advocacy of ultimate revolutionary changes not necessarily by violence. So, again, as to the use of the word “ sabotage.” To discover exactly what it means I have carefully searched Webster’s dictionary and have carefully looked through French dictionaries. I should like to be informed what is the accepted definition of “ sabotage.’’ I notice that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), is smiling. No doubt the honorable member believes that he knows what it is.
– I do.
– There is no accepted meaning given in Webster’s dictionary.
– The meaning is - “ The wanton destruction of the employer’s property by the workers.”
– I refer the honorable member to Webster’s dictionary and he will find there is no definition of “ sabotage “ there. I strongly object to the use of a term which is vague in its meaning, and possibly too comprehensive because of its vagueness.
– If the honorable member is opposing this part of the bill dealing with unlawful associations he differentiates himself ‘from other honorable members on the opposite side.
– I am not opposing the part of the bill dealing with unlawful associations, and I object to be trapped. I am criticizing it and am entitled to point out what I consider defects. Tho Attorney-General’s interjection is most unfair, and I regret that he should have resorted to such tactics. “ Sabotage “ may mean quite a number of things. I have sought for its meaning and I find that the original meaning of the term was simply’ to go slow. When the system known as “ Ca canny “ was resorted to in England, the French Confederation of Workers found it difficult to find a French word which would describe it. It was much in favour with its spirit and with the ca canny tactics, and ultimately used the French expression Travailler a coups de sabots, meaning to work as one wearing wooden shoes, often applied to laggards, or slow-moving people.* ‘.The ori- ginal definition then, of “sabotage” was “ go slow “. I find that it is defined in an anti-strike law passed by the French Parliament as “ The wilful destruction, deterioration, or rendering useless of any instruments or other objects with a view to stopping or hampering work, industry, or commerce.” I submit that a word of this character should be carefully defined in the bill. In its widest meaning, it might cover a regulation strike, a strict adherence, for instance, to the rules governing safety on railways, and other means of transport. It is altogether too wide a term to incorporate without definition in such drastic provisions of the law. The intention in the use of the term should be clearly stated, and should not be left as a matter to be haggled over by lawyers in receipt of fat fees. What, again, is the meaning of the term “ job control “ ? It might mean almost anything. I challenge the Attorney-General later in the discussion of the bill to define the term. I do not know what it is, although I have been associated with unionism now for over eighteen years. It might mean quite a number of things. It is used in the definition of “strike” in the proposed section 30j. It might refer to the action of one individual employed on a ship or in any industry. The term is far too indefinite to be incorporated in a bill of this character. Again, in the proposed section 30a any body of persons may be declared to be an unlawful association if by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise it advocates or encourages -
The overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State, or of any other civilized country, or of organized government.
Why confine it to civilized countries or organized government? Where is the morality of such a restriction?
– Possibly the Government would accept at the honorable member’s hands an amendment to say “ civilized or uncivilized.
– After all, what is “ civilized government “ largely depends on the political point of view and the philosophical school to which a person happens to belong.
– The present Government is uncivilized.
– Quite a number of people, as the honorable member suggests, probably consider the Government uncivilized, in its methods and administration, and in the legislation it proposes. Quite a number of honorable members on the other side no doubt consider that the Russian Government and the Chinese Government are uncivilized. I presume that under the bill as drafted, one might form as many associations as he pleased to plot against the organized governments of Russia, China, or any other country, which the Government might consider uncivilized, so long as no attack were made upon existing governments, adhering to what is colloquially termed “capitalism.”
– Would the honorable gentleman say that the Soviet Government of Russia is civilized ?
– It is an organized government, and the people of Russia are entitled, without hindrance or discrimination, to say what form of government they will adopt. To turn attention briefly tothe industrial features of the bill, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has very effectively pointed out that the proposed section 30j, giving the Go- vernor-General power to proclaim the existence of a serious industrial disturbance, is certainly not in conformity with the principle of equality before the law, and the ordinary principles of justice. It is left a matter for the Government to determine whether a serious industrial disturbance exists. If we are to retain respect for the law, the question whether any serious industrial disturbance exists should be a matter for the determination of a court. It should not be a power placed in the hands of a government which may exercise it tyrannically, and, if we are to be guided by experience, probably will so exercise it. I affirm that it should be for a court to determine also the punishment to be imposed. Why should Ave have a court vested with the power to inflict imprisonment and at the same time power given to deport by executive act. The right to impose punishment should not be divided as proposed, and the court should be vested with the power to inflict the full punishment prescribed for an offence under this or any law. The bill, as it stands, is not in accordance with the ordinary principle of the equality of all before the law. After all, the impartial administration and justice of a law is the whole foundation of respect for it. If the Government attempts to depart from these principles, in dealing with trade unionists, they cannot expect those provisionsto meet with general acceptance by the organized unions of Australia. This bill is a deliberate challenge to trades unionism, and immediately any government attempts to invoke the powers with which the present Government seeks to vest itself, under proposed section 30j, the resultant industrial trouble will be disastrous to Australia.
– It is an insult to the trades unionists of Australia to say that.
– I like to hear the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) posing as an authority of trade unionism. The honorable member would have us believe that he is devoted to the interests of organized trade unions in Australia, but I think that I, in common with other honorable members on this side, who have been associated with unionism for years, have a better right to voice the opinions ofunionists than has any honorable member on the oposite side. This section of the bill is discriminatory and unjust. A just law should apply to all alike. This law will apply only to persons engaged in certain industries. I should like to hear, later on, from the Government side some definition of “ a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States.”
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the luncheon adjournment I was pointing out that the principles upon which the proposed new sub-section 30j is based are in conflict with recognized principles of British justice. Particularly is that the case regarding the duality of punishment provided. A person found guilty of an offence is, under the sub-section, liable to imprisonment, and also to deportation at the will of the Minister. Against that I enter my emphatic protest. I now direct attention to other obnoxious proposals contained in the bill. The proposed new sub-section 8a provides for the arrest of persons without a warrant. I take it that, under the proposed new sub-section 30j, that could be applied to any person who, after a proclamation has been issued, happens to be associated with any strike. The proposed new sub-section 8a reads -
Any constable may, without warrant, arrest any person, if the constable has reasonable ground to believe -
that the person has committed an offence against the law of the Commonwealth, and
that proceedings against the person by summons would not be effective.
It is possible that similar provisions already exist in other acts contend, however, that to vest such extraordinary powers in a constable will not be regarded with equanimity by the trade unionists who will be affected by this legislation. The general tenor of the bill is to force upon the unionist the onus of proving his innocence. In that respect it is in conflict with the fundamental principles of British justice. Generally, a person is considered to be innocent until his guilt has been proved; but this legislation provides that the accused person must establish his innocence. Moreover, he may first be imprisoned. If, later, he is proved to be innocent, he has no redress against the Government. I shall not deal with the general question of deportation, as, when the Immigration Bill was before the last Parliament, that subject was dealt with extensively. I wish to say, however, that deportation for civil offences is entirely obnoxious to me. Moreover, it is contrary to the democratic principles that have guided previous governments in this country. To suggest that the existing legislation does not give the Government power to deal with those individuals against whom action is contemplated, is so much piffle. The right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), during the election campaign, said that he would deport persons in certain circumstances. He added that the Government had the necessary residuary power to do so. That statement leads me to the conclusion that this bill is merely so much window-dressing to encourage the delusion that there is a real danger to constitutional government in Australia. The dissemination of that argument during the recent election campaign resulted in the return of the Government. I want to make my position clear in this connexion. I have no time for revolutionary action, nor do I believe in unlawful associations. In my remarks to-day I have pointed out what I consider to be dangerous deficiencies in the bill. Ky criticism has been directed towards securing an explanation from the Minister as to what certain terms and words used in it mean, or are intended to mean. So much depends upon the administration of this legislation that we should be careful to ensure that every clause is clearly expressed. We should know exactly what wo are doing, and what powers are being vested in the Government. The existence of the Labour party in politics is the best guarantee against revolution in Australia. If Labour ever loses faith in politics - and it can only do so as a result of reactionary legislation and class bias on the part of governments - the menace of revolution in Australia will become real. No serious danger exists in Australia to-day. The voting at the last State elections in New South Wales successfully showed that the menace of revolution is a bogy. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), during the debate on this bill, alluded to the votes cast in favour of Mr. Donald Grant, a candidate for the Senate in the recent election. That 28,000 votes were recorded in his favour has no special significance. In any case, that candidate was pledged to the constitutional methods embodied in the Labour party’s platform; and if he did on one occasion espouse certain extreme doctrines which were in conflict with that platform, he does not espouse them now. It should not be forgotten that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who now supports the Government; has in the past expressed himself in extremely revolutionary language. The same is true of certain persons iri another place - I refer to Senators Thomas and Pearce. If these men can change their convictions, and adapt themselves to a different political environment in order to enter Parliament, others can do the same. The only real test of the existence in Australia of communists has been when communist candidates have stood as such, and have sought the suffrages of the people. When they have done so, they have been overwhelmingly defeated. Numbers of electors in New South Wales gave their first preference votes to Senator Cox and their second preferences to Donald Grant. Others did the reverse.
– Is Donald Grant a trueblue Labour man now?
– Yes. The proposed new sub-section 30j establishes a new method of dealing with industrial disputes in the federal sphere which will have no corollary in the State sphere of arbitration legislation. Before introducing proposals of this character, the Government should have conferred with the State Governments in an effort to obtain co-ordination and uniformity. But nothing was done in that direction. This bill makes no attempt to deal with various other .influences on the body politic which are infinitely more dangerous in a social sense than are these allegedly unlawful associations, I allude to the market riggers, the profiteers, the land monopolists, and other elements which voted for Nationalist candidates in order to protect their own vested .interests. Instead of introducing thi3 legislation, the Government should have* taken steps to give effect to its housing policy and to introduce a proper scheme of national insurance. The lack of adequate houses, the presence of slums, the existing unemployment, poverty, and want, comprise the fertile ground in which revolutionary discontent is bred. If the Government would tackle the housing problem with the same alacrity that it attacks trade unionism, or were to eliminate the vicious delays associated with arbitration procedure, it would do more to destroy the elements which it alleges exist and to prevent strikes than by introducing this legislation. I cannot credit the Government with any sincerity regarding this legislation. As the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) said, it is so much political humbug in an attempt to justify the false and dishonest issues upon which the last election was decided. Any government which gains power dishonestly will not endure long. The people were deluded by the vicious methods adopted by the Government in connexion with the recent election, but when another opportunity is afforded to them they will reverse their decision.
.- I do not propose to speak long on this bill, but wish to say that tie Government may .rely on my support. I am prepared to go further than the Government proposes in this bill.
Had the bill gone further it would have been more in accordance with the mandate recently received from the people. A good deal has been said regarding technical questions, party bias, and the finding of the High Court. To me, as a layman, the finding of the High Court does not mitigate the offences which certain men - Walsh, Johannsen, and others - have committed against the people of Australia. Sitting, as it were, as a grand jury, the people have endorsed the policy of the composite Government regarding the necessity for deporting those persons who commit certain offences against the community. The High Court did not say that the Commonwealth has no power to deport; the case against Walsh and Johannsen failed because of legal technicalities. The Opposition, therefore, has no justification for the boasting in which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has indulged. The fact remains that a democratic people, in a democratic way, decided that these individuals had committed a grievous offence. I was displeased to hear certain statements by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. .Coleman). He spoke of the tremendous revolution that might come about owing to the offence given to the trade unions by the passing of this bill. I admit that the trade unions are entitled to the same rights that are enjoyed by other sections of the community, but not to all the rights of the community. Many honorable members opposite, by their remarks, offer great offence to the trade unions, because the bill, if I read it correctly, is aimed, not at trade unions, but at offenders against the law. This country, possibly more than any other, by constitutional methods and at great expense, has set about to adopt means and to introduce legislation to bring about peace, harmony, and goodwill in the community. When the government of a democratic country does its utmost to ensure a fair deal to everybody, there should be punitive legislation passed to keep every section in its proper place. The members of the Opposition have taken it for granted that this bill is aimed at the overthrow of legitimate trade unions, and they say that it is an infringement on the right of free speech; but I Would point out that there is a great difference between the right of free speech and the matters with which this bill deals. Notable leaders of Labour hold this view. Mr. Lang, the Premier of the Labour Government of New South Wales, is able to discern a difference between free speech and the aims of the Industrial Workers of the World. He said-
We believe in freedom of speech, of organization, and of. conscience, but we do not believe in encouraging men who are avowedly bent on destroying our political and social institutions.
We can obtain no finer distinction than that to illustrate the difference between free speech and the aims of those persons with whom this bill seeks to deal - those who are avowedly bent on destroying our political and social institutions. There is no more democratic country in the world than Australia, and no more democratic parliament than this Federal Parliament, both Houses being elected on adult franchise. The people elect this Parliament, and expect it to govern them. The issue that is before the House at this moment was clearly put before the people of Australia by the different political parties. I marvel that the Opposition is not more chastened than it appears to be. We hear much the same kind of talk and threats now as we heard before the elections, and this attitude I cannot understand. Included in the Labour literature that was distributed during the election in my electorate, at any rate, were quotations from Magna Charta ad lib., and also Abraham Lincoln’s historic definition of democratic government - government of the people, by the people, for the people. If the Opposition agrees with that, I am quite satisfied that this side of the House does also. I maintain that if Abraham Lincoln could see the democratic government of Australia as it is to-day, he would rejoice beyond measure, because it practically fulfils his idea of a democracy. The people were asked to decide, and, as it were, sat as a grand jury an the question whether a few wreckers who came here avowedly to upset the principle of democratic government should be permitted to go beyond free speech, and whether Parliament, as set up by the people themselves, ‘ should have power to deal with such miscreants. That is the position. When people representing labour unions say that the bill is an affront to them, their statement is really an affront to the unions, because the bill does not seek to upset labour unions, or to interfere with any of their law-abiding members. It is aimed at those persons who act contrary to the will of the people as expressed at the ballot-box. It has been stated in this House that the bill is a reflection on the labour unions. What about the reflection on other sections of the community? Are labour unions to be a special and privileged class in Australia? They certainly have the right to hold their place in the community, but if the people of Australia say that they want their goods carried by sea or by land, so that they may be fed regularly and their industries continued without interruption, why should the members of any section be able to say to them, although they have committed no offence, “ You can starve until we have settled our differences?” This Parliament was elected by the majority of the electors, under a democratic franchise, to protect the people. Are they to occupy a servile position because of the threats which have been voiced by the Opposition?
– What threats?
– We have heard threats from the Opposition from time to time. Some have said that great industrial trouble will follow the passing of this bill. The Labour party has said that it has no connexion with communism or with the Industrial Workers of the World, and that it does not believe in unlawful associations. If that is so, why does it not help the Government to pass this legislation in order to deal with unlawful associations ? Mr. Gillies, the ex-Labour Premier of Queensland, is reported to have said, “ I admit that these revolutionaries can destroy the Government.” Mr. Lang has made similar statements. He said -
The re-appearance of the Industrial Workers of the World in our midst, and the cordial reception extended to these advocates of revolution, go-slow, and sabotage by Mr. Garden and his Moscow friends, make it advisable’ for me, as head of the Labour Government, to repudiate at once all connexion, political and industrial, with these disturbers of public order and political progress.
He prefaced that statement by saying -
Men who come here deliberately to set class against class, and to embitter social relationships will richly deserve all that is coming to them, and I can assure them in advance that the present Government is not going to allow criminality to flourish in our midst, whether it masquerades under the name of the Industrial Workers of the Worldor any other.
In the face of these remarks from the Labour Premier of New South Wales, surely he will stand behind and endorse the action of this Government in seeking to deal effectively with advocates of revolution. He further said -
The Industrial Workers of the World is essentially hostile to the Labour movement. Its aims are repugnant to all responsible and sane wage-earners, and it seems to me that it now shows its ugly and disreputable head simply to try and injure the chances of the Federal Labour party at the coming Federal elections. The miserable weakness of . the communist party was well demonstrated at the late State elections, so it is now thought that a. revival of the Industrial Workers of the World might act as a bolt in Labour’s machinery.
I would draw the attention of the House particularly to the following remarks of Mr. Lang: -
I do not think that New South Wales should be made a dumping ground for the industrial refuse of the British Empire. More care should be taken by the Federal authorities in the admission of undesirables.
Supposing that the Federal Government has made a mistake by allowing these undesirables to enter Australia, is it not right that it should introduce legislation to rectify that mistake? Mr. Lang also said, “I do not regard the Industrial Workers of the World as a legitimate political or industrial organization.” Yet Labour members opposite are trying to associate themselves with that organization by opposing the bill.
– The honorablemember wants to divide the industrial organizations.
– The Labour movement refuses to divide its sheep from its goats. Mr. Lang continued -
Its record in this and other parts of the world is infamous, and leads us to but one conclusion - that it is 99 per cent. criminal. It is reported in the press that one of the first speakers on behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World in the Domain declared that he was here to propagate strife, strikes, and job control. All these weapons are opposed by the unions and by the Australian Labour party, and so far as my power extends it will be used to protect the public interests and the good name of our industrial population.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr Coleman) apologized for the fact that Donald Grant had been selected as a Senate candidate in the Labour interest, and had secured 28,000 votes in New South Wales. He did not make out a very sound case; he asked this House to believe that the leopard had changed its spots. It was Donald Grant to whom Mr. Lang was alluding in. his remarks which I read, and which were made in July of last year. The following is a statement by Mr. J. McMahon - .-
The delight with which Mr. Garden, on behalf of the communists, welcomes the revival of the Industrial Workers of the World movement here, and his statement that the two organizations would probably assist one another in the effort to overthrow capitalism should be carefully noted.
I am very sorry that another candidate for the Senate in New South Wales also had to drag this load. If anything is bad in this democracy, the people have the right and power to correct it. The issue before the electors was set out in the clearest possible form - as clearly as a case is stated in the law courts - and both sides definitely, clearly, and-
– If there was anything surreptitious it came from members of the Opposition. I had the opportunity to listen to a speech by my opponent, who said that if this Government was returned to power and deported Walsh and Johansen, the Labour party, when it next came into office, would bring them back te this country at the taxpayers’ expense. Whether he had the authority of the Labour party to say that I do not know, but he said it in more than one place. He also said that Western Australia had been given a sop of ?450,000 to get votes for the Government, but that the Labour party would give the State ?450,000 for 30 years.
Mr. ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Mann). The honorable member is discussing a subject that is not dealt with in the bill.
– I submit that my remarks have a lot to do with the charges made in this House. The Opposition, having challenged the Government to go to the country, set up a hue and cry that the people were sane enough to ignore. The electors have sent’ back, stronger than ever, a Ministry pledged to govern on democratic lines. It was very difficult to find among the people who work all the year round in Queensland to raise crops that will show a profit any who would vote for men who were out to subvert our system of government. It was very difficult to advance any argument that would induce them to vote for a system that would allow their produce to rot on the ground. The potato-growers of Western Australia, who had a good crop, and could have obtained ?12 a ton for it, could not be persuaded to vote for a party that prevented them from marketing their produce when that price was obtainable. Shipping was . held up because somebody jambed his finger in a door. Labour claims to represent a certain number of electors, many of whom would have voted for the National party but for their sense of solidarity. The Australian people are peace-loving, and are ready to vote for a full democracy.
– If the honorable member stands for a full democracy, what does he say about the Legislative Councils of the States?
– The federal legislature is democratic. The hill is what the people of Australia want, and I shall vote for all its clauses. The electors have said quite clearly - what they want, and any one who opposes them is opposing the will of this democratic community.
.- I do not pay much attention to the remarks of the- honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), because he is known to hold the view that any one connected with a trade union, or who works for the improvement of the conditions of those who toil, is not entitled to consideration. I do not know why the people of his electorate returned him to Parlaiment. If he represents the views of the people of Western Australia, that explains why they have to ‘ obtain revenue from the other States to pay their debts. The Government certainly has a mandate, but obtained it by abuse, by ridicule, and by giving to its political opponents repulsive names. Leading articles in the newspapers have told the Government that it succeeded at the elections by discreditable means. The following is a -resume, of the situation which I feel compelled to convey to honorable members -
On this issue, in spite of the corruption of the press and the deliberate perversion of facts to delude the people, a big proportion of the people refused to be deluded. Their vote was tremendously significant. In every industrial centre the people were unafraid in the face of one of the most unscrupulous campaigns ever embarked upon. Under the law as it stands to-day no citizen from another land, even from Britain or America, dare express opinions adverse to the existing authority. It is questionable if Mussolini, in Italy, possesses a much greater power over the liberties of the people than may be exercised by the Government in Australia. All legal rights seem to have been abrogated, and the offending indus- trial leader is at the mercy of a puppet board created as occasion demands and manned by officials so highly paid as to savour of bribery. Labour has put up a wonderful performance in the face of heavy handicaps. It has emerged still the challenging party, preaching a progressive policy. It is the most powerful single party in Australia, and its challenge must be met. The fact that the opponents of Labour have been forced to commit unconstitutional acts in violation of every principle of freedom to uphold their cause is an evidence of their weakness. Labour has kept its balance in spite of the temptation, and calmly and deliberately it must oppose itself to the principle of deportation - for every citizen the right of opinion, the right of publication, the right of open advocacy; for every citizen trial by a jury of his peers, for every citizen the punishment only which the law provides. Anything less than this is intolerable and must be resisted fearlessly, not alone by- the Labour party, but by all who profess faith in democracy as the final solvent of the world’s problems.
That article did not appear in a Labour publication; it was written by a gentleman of literary ability, whose views are a true reflex of those of many people in this country. Does any supporter of the Government think that the Government would be in power to-day if it had not improperly used the maritime strike to influence the electors? Is it not admitted that if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) had been Prime Minister, there would have been no maritime dispute? Every one is beginning to realize that the Prime Minister did not rise to that occasion, and he was probably prevented from doing so by the influence exerted upon. him. Whether that influence came from the Melbourne Club, or from his coterie of friends in Melbourne, I do not know, but I am satisfied that influence was brought to bear, and that it has placed him in a position of which he is not proud to-day. Speeches by honorable members on this side have emphasized the importance of labour unions, and have shown, that they are the backbone of the country. The trade unions have been the pioneers ofall the liberties we enjoy to-day, and have done their share to bring about the social reforms which spell happiness to the people. When I contrast the conditions of to-day with those of my boyhood, I realize how much the working class movement has achieved. I supported free secular education in London, and when I came to Australia the idea was in embryo here, and I had the pleasure of assisting at its birth. I ask honorable members to bear in mind how the Labour party persevered with technical education, and how, when it got into power, it made free education - from the primary schools to the universities - the right of all intellectual boys and girls. Members of the legal and medical professions enjoy educational facilities provided for them by the Labour party. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), and other members of the learned professions, had opportunities that were not available in my time. He was able to go to a high school at Grafton, and later to a university. Many of those who profit so much b)’ the boon of free education denounce socialization at every opportunity. Many men in the public life of Australia to-day have benefited by the socialization of education, which was made possible by the energy with which I and others agitated for that ideal. As a boy in 1866, in London, I was hit on the head by a police constable for daring, with others, to assist to uphold the right to free speech in the public parks. There were very few unions in those days; possibly not more than fourteen or fifteen. In 1867 a royal commission was appointed in Great Britain to inquire into the organization and rules of trade unions. The members of the commission were Sir William Erie, the Earl of Lichfield, Lord Elcho, Sir Edmund Walker Head,- Sir Daniel Gooch, Mr. Herman Merivale, Mr. James Booth, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Thomas Hughes, Mr. Frederic Harrison, and Mr. William Mathews. They examined witnesses in all classes of society. They wanted to ascertain, if possible, what was the spirit that actuated trade unionists in their stand, and their willingness to bear punishment with great fortitude in defence of what they believed ‘to be right. Mr. Thomas Hughes and Mr. Frederic Harrison were eminent barristers. A quotation from the evidence of one of the witnesses, taken from Somers’ The Trade Unions, is interesting, because it shows the spirit of trade unionism. On page IS the following appears : -
The royal commission hail not only great difficulty in ascertaining the precise objects of trade unions in this inextricable blending of “trade” and “benefit” purposes, but when the “ trade “ element appeared clearly from the evidence to be the predominant object of trade unions, the difficulty of the commission became scarcely less to discover what this predominant trade object really implied.
Mr. Charles Williams, general secretary of the Plasterers’ Society, centre in Liverpool, 128 branches, and 8,000 members, on being asked what the objects of his society wore, replied - “ Protection of trade, burying of our dead, and relief in case of accident.” As there was nothing in this case to show for burial or relief fund, Mr. Thomas Hughes, member of commission, appears to have given up further query, and Mr. Roebuck assumed the examination, which, in the concisest form, was as follows : -
What do you mean by “ protection of trade “ ? - Protecting it in the same way as I would protect property.
That explains nothing - what do you mean? -Making the best of my property I can by all legal means.
That is protection of property, but what is “ protection of trade “ ? - Simply seeing that there are no undue encroachments upon it.
What do you mean by “ undue encroachments upon trade “ A man taking away from me something he has no right to.
But I want to know, without illustration, what your property here is? - I have learned a trade, that trade is my capital, and I have a right to protect it.
Is there any capital in labour? - Is there not? It is my capital.
Out of thiscul-de-sac there was obviously no escape by further question or answer, the line of catechism having passed by successive leaps, without practical sequence of any kind, from “protection of trade “ to “ protection of property,” and from that to “ protection of capital,” in which ultimate position Mr. Williams settled down confidently in the conviction that he and others having learned a trade, were entitled to lookupon the trade as their “ property “ or their “ capital,” without respect to others engaged in the trade, to the successions of capital and skill invested in the trade, and, in short, to all in the trade who had gone before or might be coming after them. Mr. Frederic Harrison, another member of commission, in this dilemma put the question - “Do you mean by ‘protecting trade maintaining the old advantages, and endeavouring to acquire new advantages for the operative plasterers?” To which Mr. Williams readily replied, “Yes, as near as that is possible.”
Mention has been made in this debate of the unfortunate maritime strike. A reference has also been made to the mining industry. My leader (Mr. Charlton) knows that for a number of years I held a prominent position in the Sydney Trades and Labour Council. I have found mine-owners and ship-owners to be the most cruel and unmerciful of employers. On one occasion, with the secretary of the miner’s association, I interviewed a mining proprietor. The men haddecided that the mine was not in a safe condition; they maintained that more ventilation should be provided in the working face. The secretary argued some of the legal points with the proprietor, but did not appear to make any impression upon him. I then interposed, and said, “Do I understand that you give no consideration to the fact that the livelihood of these men is taken from them for the present?” He replied, “We are determined to do nothing. We do not care whether they come back or not. If they remain out for twelve months I shall still have my commodity when they return.” On another occasion the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and I received a similar reply from tie ship-owners. Because Chinese were being employed, we prevented the Australian Steam Navigation Company from carrying on its operations in Sydney. We interviewed the chairman of the board of directors, who was a very prominent public man. He said, “ I cannot do anything; the board has decided to bring these Chinese here.” Public opinion was so strongly opposed to the practice, however, that the late Sir Henry Parkes informed that company that it would have to dispense with the Chinese. The principles underlying this bill are as conservative as those by which governments in Great Britain were guided between the years 1832 and 1842. During that period the government of the day brought down the Conspiracy Bill, which provided that when two or more persons gathered together they could be charged with conspiracy. Honorable members may be surprised to learn the result of that measure. A few years later the unions were legally recognized, and friendly societies were brought into existence. The meetings of those societies were held on Sundays, and they were opened and closed with prayer, in order to defeat the law. Let us come nearer home. The conscription proposals that were rejected by the people of Australia were similar to those that are contained in this bill. The Labour party opposed conscription because it believed that the object was to enable the Government to proclaim a state of martial law in order to injure the tradeunions. There was no necessity for those provisions at that time, because between 16,000 and 18,000 young Australians were then ready to leave Australia for the front, and no ship was available to transport them. The same tory spirit is at work to-day in an endeavour to take away the privileges of those industrial organizations, which have done so much for social and moral reform, and have developed a standard of living in Australia that is a model to the rest of the world. I should like to point out that the bill is likely to affect members of the British Medical Association, who have adopted preference to unionists.
– But they are not revolutionary.
– The right honorable member knows that there are two forms of revolution. There is the peaceful form - obtained by constitutional means - which honorable members of the Labour party seek to bring about, and there is the violent revolution, for which we do not stand. There is hardly a progressive body of men in Australia to-day that is not beholden to organization for its present position. The British Medical Association is strong because it would not stand for non-unionism. I remember reading in the Adelaide Register of a case which occurred in Adelaide two years ago. When a medical man, who was not a member of the association, came to the hospital to administer an anaesthetic to his patient, upon whom a dangerous operation had to be performed without the slightest delay, the chief medical man in the hospital said that he would have nothing to do with the case if the other came near it. The Leader of the Opposition has said what was said repeatedly during the last election by members of the Labour party, that undesirable persons should be punished. They can be punished under the law which exists to-day, if the Government will only take the necessary action. Under this proposed law, however, the young fellow who delivers a dodger to a house, or the householder who permits that dodger to remain on his premises, can be brought before a court and at once made a criminal, and afterwards deported. In passing, I note that under the provisions of this bill a person who has been fined for negligently driving a motor car can be declared an habitual criminal. When I first read the measure
I formed the impression that the AttorneyGeneral was a unificationist, because the bill seeks to assume so many State powers. I shall not fall out with him in that respect. It was only the other day that we had one of his predecessors, Sir William Irving, pointing out that the Senate was exceeding its powers under the Constitution. It is not my view of the result of the recent election that the Government has been given a free hand to bring in this kind of legislation. I believe that the people of Australia agree with honorable members on this side of the House that any person in Australia who is a criminal should be punished under the law. No party is a greater upholder of the Constitution than is the Labour party. “No party could have paid greater respect to the law than we did when in power. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) gave us a definition of “ sabotage.” The first time I ever heard the word used was in connexion with a strike which took place 40 years ago on the French railways. The general conclusion then formed was that the French unionists had made use of their clogs or sabots on the hind-quarters of the men who had taken their places. The Assistant Librarian tells me that the word was used during the French revolution. I do not like the definition of “revolution” provided in the bill. It is too indefinite. Honorable members of the Labour party are in favour of peaceful revolution. In fact those words appear in the original constitution of the party. There should be no ambiguity about our laws.. It will be an easy matter to bring men under the operation of this law, particularly when non-unionists are brought to work side by side with unionists. When the Hon. Andrew Garran, father of Sir Robert Garran, the Commonwealth SolicitorGeneral, was a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, he was chairman of a royal commission which took a considerable amount of evidence and drew up a voluminous report. Sir Joseph Cook, whose environment wes different in those days, when he was working in a coal-mine at Lithgow, appeared before the commission, and when asked whether unionists and non-unionists would work together, replied that if there was one thing certain on this earth, it was that unionists and non-unionists would not agree to work together - there was no possibility of it. We never know what bother ‘ is likely to grow out of an attempt to compel unionists to work side by side with nonunionists. It is well known that, in some factories or mines, outsiders have been brought in for the purpose -“of creating a disturbance, so that the owners might have some excuse for closing down. Nothing will bring about industrial disturbance more than bringing in nonunionists to work alongside unionists. The unionist who will work alongside a non-unionist is not worth bothering about. He is a mental abortion. When a Labour Government was in power in the Commonwealth, it made provision for granting preference to unionists in the Commonwealth Public Service. The principle was to be applied in connexion with an industrial award, but as soon as a change of government took ])lace, the public servants were, deprived of that preference. The courts are supposed to be impartial, but judges ‘are only human, and we know ‘ that governments have a remarkable influence even on the judiciary. Under this measure, a state of industrial unrest may at any time be proclaimed, and all who have fought for the principle of preference to unionists can be brought within the scope of the bill. As soon as persons are declared to have committed a crime they may be deported by order of the Minister. Has similar legislation been passed in any other part of the world? The tory governments of Great Britain have never proposed such a measure. England has been for centuries the refuge of rebels from the Continent. When I was in London, I knew where to find M. Thiers, the great Frenchman, who eventually had to be recalled to save France from ruin. Britain has sheltered many great intellects who have been banished from Russia and Germany. It is stupid to be afraid of men because they have advanced views. Take the two persons about whom there has been such a storm. On the only occasion when I heard Mr. Walsh address a public meeting, I thought that he showed a fine spirit. He said that the deputation that waited on the Prime Minister with regard to the reduction of the British seamen’s wages was informed that the decrease was due to competition. Mr. Walsh pointed out that if the seamen had .consented to a reduction of wages because of foreign competition, a further reduction would have been made by the competitors of the British shipowners. This would have been followed by another reduction in’ the pay of the British seamen, and he would have been a traitor to them if he had acted other than in the way he did. Many of those who have heaped abuse on Mr. Walsh are not fit to -tie his boot laces. He showed that he was true to the seamen’s cause. The platform of the Labour party is based on humanitarian ideals, a basis ‘from which the party has never flinched. Even during the ordeal of the last campaign Labour men remained loyal to those who needed their help. The Government, with its majority, can do as it likes at the present time; but members of the Opposition have high ideals of their responsibility as representatives of the people. The party opposite is prepared to do anything that will enable it to cling to office and stem the tide qf industrial progress. The merchants, land-owners, and shopkeepers could not obtain a living unless the industrial section of the community was able to purchase their goods and occupy their premises. By its opposition to Part II. of the bill, the Labour party is loyal, not only to its own cause, but also to that of the people as a whole. The Attorney-General made a great mistake in introducing the measure. He should have consulted honorable members on the Labour side and obtained their assistance in framing it. Even now it is not. too late to amend the bill. The persons sought to be dealt with are few in number; but, as a result of great labour on the part of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Government has brought down a bill that is to serve as an excuse for striking a blow at organized labour. I remind the Government that there is nothing clever in what it proposes to do. The difference between the total number of electors who supported the Government and the number who favoured Labour candidates is not great. Compulsory voting operated to the detriment of the Opposition, because persons who had refrained from exercising their franchise at previous elections were misled. They realize now that they made a mistake, and when they get an opportunity they will remedy it. I hope that every honorable member on my side will state his reasons for his attitude on the bill. The political Labour movement is to be found in every capitalistic country, and Australia has a golden opportunity, with its comparatively small population, to set an example of advanced democratic ruleto older countries where the population is large and progress very slow. This is the best educated democracy in the world. Revolution, or any disturbance of that kind, need not be feared. After the Napoleonic wars, only one person in every five in Great Britain was able to read and write. When I first joined a friendly society, I had to read an agreement to four of my fellow members, and I had to write their names, because they could make only a cross. But that day is gone. The people of Australia resent the stigma that has been placed upon their good character by the introduction of this measure. I trust that even at this late hour the Attorney-General will see the error of his ways and cause the bill to be withdrawn. I cannot understand how a man of his education and position could have introduced it in the first place, but I put it down to youthful folly. I wish to inform the Government that my constituents - and their quality may be judged by the member that they have selected to represent them - are watching the fate of this bill with keen interest. They will.be indignant if it should be placed upon the statute-book. It is unfortunate that the supporters of the Government are so conservative. The Government represents, very largely, primary and commercial interests, and it is well known that primary producers, the world over, hold tory views, One has only to read a little history to be convinced that land-holders have in the past been the greatest tyrants in the world. Irish and Scottish history is particularly emphatic on that point. I well remember the late Sir George Reid observing, on one occasion, in a conversation at the Athenseum Club, that when once Scotchmen left their homeland for Australia they were certain to reside permanently in this country. It is distressing that the Government should have thought it neces sary to have power like this to deal with industrialists. When I was last in Dorsetshire I went with a friend to see the granite monument that was erected at Ringwood in memory of the stout-hearted workmen who many years ago suffered deportation for seven years because they had the temerity to claim an increase of 1s. a week - from 7s. to 8s. - in their wages. We have industrialists in Australia of the same strong character - excellent citizens. Honorable members probably remember the great strike of the Queensland shearers’ to secure better conditions. The men were obliged, at. the lime they struck to sleep on the bare earth at night, and in wet weather they had no. covering whatever. Their fight was successful, although they were sentenced to terms of imprisonment. That they werenot worthless wasters was proved by the fact that one of them later became Speaker of the Queensland Parliament. I feel sure that, in his heart, the Attorney-General does not endorse the provisions of this measure, for in the two hours that he occupied in introducing it, he dealt with almost everything under the sun except the bill. If he had a good ease he would have stated it clearly and concisely. He would have done as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) does when he has a good case in the Criminal Court - dispose of it quickly. I trust that when honorable members who support the Government meet in caucus on Thursday next they will see that the Attorney-General’s attention is directed to my remarks; and I believe that they will come to the conclusion, after calm consideration of the whole position, that there are no such scoundrels in Australia as some of them have suggested. I hope that the Prime Minister will reconsider the position, and that, in consequence, the bill will be withdrawn.
– The honorable member’s . time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mann) adjourned.
Aeroplane Fatality at Canbebra.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- In consequence of the earnest desire of the general public to have some assurance from the Government that every precaution was taken to ensure the safety of the men who were the victims of the shocking aeroplane fatality at Canberra yesterday, I wish to ask the Government for some information. I should like to know whether the aeroplane that was used was in a proper state of repair, whether it was recently inspected and whether it was an old machine, unfit for service ? Has the Air Board yet submitted a report on the matter? If so, will the Government make it available at once? If no report has been submitted, I trust that one has been requested, and that it will be presented to honorable members immediately the House meets on Wednesday next. It has been substantially reported in Melbourne this afternoon that the plane that the men were using was out of repair, out of date, and altogether unsafe. I trust that the Minister will be able to satisfy us that the report is not according to the facts.
– I regret that the honorable member should have referred to this matter now. He must know that in the case of a serious accident of this nature from which, unfortunately, two deaths ‘have resulted, an extremely careful inquiry will certainly be held at a very early date. It is impossible at present to give any more than the bare facte. The machines used were carefully overhauled at the Richmond Aerodrome one or two days before they proceeded on this duty. They arrived perfectly safely at Canberra at about 11 a.m. yesterday morning. One landed successfully. It would appear that the engine of the othermachine stalled, and, as the plane was only 150 feet above the ground, the pilot had not an opportunity to right it. The machine crashed and broke into flames, and, unfortunately, as I say with deep regret, two deaths have occurred as the result. An official inquiry into the accident will be held at an early date, and the result of that inquiry will be published. I shall bring a complete report of the inquiry before the House. I object very strongly to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) even insinuat ing, is connexion with a department conducted as the Air Force is, any reflection upon the senior officers that they would allow a defective aeroplane to proceed either with passengers or with members of the Air Force, and thus wilfully or deliberately imperil the lives of men.
– The honorable member never suggested anything of the kind.
– I do not for a moment think that the honorable member for Hindmarsh wouldendeavour to make any such reflection.
– Certainly not. I said What was substantially reported.
– Full details of the inquiry into the accident will be submitted to the House at the earliest possible date.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 February 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260212_reps_10_112/>.