12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Eon. Norman Makin) took the. chair at 10 a.m., and offered prayers.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information, which I shall later communicate to the honorable member.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
In addition to the above, I am advised that there are also two liaison officers under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department, viz., R. G. Casey, liaison officer, External Affairs, salary £912 per annum, special allowance £156 per annum, and child endowment £26 per annum; F. L. McDougall, liaison officer, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Branch, also Commonwealth representative on Empire Marketing Board, Imperial Economic Committee, and Dried Fruits Control Board; total salary, £2,000 per annum, and in addition he receives an allowance of £500 from the Dried Fruits Control Board.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Parliament be given an opportunity of considering any agreement in connexion with the sugar industry prior to the finalizing of such agreement?
– I am at present unable to add to the reply given by me to a question by the honorable member on this subject on Wednesday last.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
– On the 24th July the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) asked me whether the primage duty would be refunded on butter boxes imported from New Zealand and re-exported with butter sent overseas, and I promised to have the matter looked into. I find that drawback of duty is allowed on -
Timber, undressed, cut to size for making boxes ;
Timber, dressed or partly dressed, cut to size for making boxes;
Timber, undressed, n.e.i., for the manufacture of boxes, used in the manufacture ofboxes exported covering Australian primary or secondary products. This includes New Zealand timber used as boxes for the exportation of butter, and the drawback obtainable would extend to primage duty as well as other duty.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr.
Maloney) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I now desire to advise him as follows: - 1, 2, and 3. The information is contained in the following schedules: -
Lady Calder, c/o Woodgers & Calthorpe, Canberra.
Fink &, Plottel, c/o Woodgers & Calthorpe, Canberra.
Oakley & Parkes, c/o Woodgers & Calthorpe, Canberra.
Canberra Building and Investment Company, c/o Woodgers & Calthorpe, Canberra.
State Savings Bank, Canberra. J. V. O’Keefe, Civic Centre, Canberra.
Lariston Building Company, 94 Queen-street, Melbourne.
Canberra Shops Limited, c/o Woodgers & Calthorpe, Canberra..
O’Dwyer & Grant, c/o Woodgers & Calthorpe, Canberra.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) asked the following questions, upon notice -
Who were the applicants when the vacant position of Divisional Returning Officer for Kennedy was advertised some months ago?
I now desire to advise him as follows: -
CANBERRA City Roads.
Mr. LACEY, as Chairman, brought up the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed construction of concrete roads within the city area of Canberra.
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Accounts Committee - Report, together with Appendices, of the Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into Allegations affecting Members in connexion with claims made by Broadcasting Companies against the Commonwealth Government:
Report ordered to be printed.
Superannuation Act - Eighth Annual Report of the Superannuation Board, 1029-30.
Ordered to be printed.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Fourth Annual Report of the Canned Fruits Control Board, for the year ended 30th June, 1930, together with a statement by the Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Fifth Annual Report of the Dairy Produce Control. Board, for the year ended 30th Tunc, 1930, together with a statement by the Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Second Annual Report of the Wine Overseas Marketing Board for the year ended 30th June, 1930, together with a statement by the Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Development and Migration Commission - Report covering activities of the Commission from 1st January, 1929, up to 30th June,1930, the date on which it was abolished.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Escape Island and Legendre Island, Western Australia - For Lighthouse purposes.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Statement of Receipts and Expenditure of Federal Capital Territory for period 1st May, 1930, to 30th June, 1930.
– I lay on the table of the House the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year 1929-30. The report is complete with the exception of a few summaries of recommendations relating to tariff revision matters which have been recently made by the board and have not yet been considered by the Government. When these reports have been dealt with, they will be laid on the table of the House. In respect of the board’s summaries and recommendations in connexion with deferred duties and by-law items of the tariff, and matters reported on by the board arising under the Customs Tariff Industries Preservation Act1921-22, the action taken is set out in the schedules to the report. In view of the fact that where action has been taken on deferred duty, and by-law and Industries Preservation Act recommendations, notification has already appeared in the Government Gazette, it is not proposed to print the papers annexed to the report. I move -
That the report only be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Appropriation Bill 1930-31, with a request.
Canned Fruits Export Control Bill, without amendment.
Loan Bill, without amendment.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill (1930), without amendment.
Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill, without amendment.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill (1930), without amendment.
Dried Fruits Export Control Bill, with amendments.
Wine Overseas Marketing Bill, without amendment.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Beasley) read a first time.
. -by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a small measure and requires little explanation. Clause 2 provides that the act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation. This provision is made on account of the British Imperial Oil Company’s case which is still before the court. When that case has been concluded the Government will proclaim the date of” the commencement of the act. The present law provides that regulations shall be laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament within 30 days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within 30 clays afterits next meeting. Clause 3 proposes to alter that, to provide that the regulations shall be tabled in each House within fifteen sitting days after the making of them. The other clauses are of purely legal interest.
.- This bill is an old friend; it was introduced as a privilege bill when Mr. Bruce assumed office as Prime Minister. It has been on the notice-paper ever since. Accordingly I have no doubt every honorable member has carefully scrutinized every word of it. It is now the law that regulations must be laid on the table, and may be disallowed within thirty days of the sitting of the House. The bill proposes to substitute for” thirty days “ the period of “fifteen sitting days.” Only if the House were sitting five days a week would fifteen sitting days be a shorter period than thirty days. I think the amendment desirable. There has been some doubt as to the exact meaning of the existing provision. The new section 15a, proposed to be inserted, applies to all Commonwealth legislation. This enactment was first placed in the Navigation Act, in order to prevent the whole of that act from being declared invalid on the ground that some single provision in it was invalid. It is provided that -
Every act, whether passed before or after the commencement of this section, shall be read and construed subject to the Constitution, and so as not to exceed the legislative power of the Commonwealth.
Every act of this Parliament is of course construed “subject to the Constitution,” and of necessity cannot in fact exceed the legislative power of the Commonwealth. The significance of the proposed new section is found in the further words - to the intent that where any enactment thereof would, but for this section, have been construed as being in excess of that power, it shall nevertheless be a valid enactment to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power.
That provision is mainly directed against the application of the doctrine of inseverability. The effect of the proposal is that Parliament declares a general intention thatthe invalidity of one part of a statute shall not vitiate the rest of it. If this provision is adopted, it will be important that in future Parliament shall carefully consider whether it is prepared to run the risk of ah enactment being held to be valid only in part. In some cases it may be of the opinion that the scheme of a bill should stand or fall as a whole. In such a case a clause ought to be introduced excluding the application of the proposed new section. Litigation is now proceeding in which the British Imperial Oil Company is challenging certain provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act. One of the arguments which will be raised is that the act is invalid, and, possibly, that the provisions of the relevant rates act are also invalid, because of certain provisions relating to the Board of Review. If this section were passed at once, and made to operate retrospectively, the effect would be to deprive the British Imperial Oil Company of an argument which it is now entitled to use in its appeal to the Privy Council. Accordingly, when I was Attorney-General, I agreed that the bill should stand over until that litigation had been determined. I understand that it is proposed not to proclaim this section until that litigation has been terminated. The other pro visions of the bill are obviously of convenience and importance, particularly clause 6, which deals with administrative difficulties that have arisen owing to variations made from time to time in the control of the departments of State of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 negatived.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Construction of acts to be subject to Constitution).
Amendment (by Mr. Beasley) agreed to : -
That the following sub-clause be added - “ (2) This section shall not commence until a date to be fixed by proclamation “.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In committee: (Consideration of Senate’s amendments).
– The amendments made by the Senate are merely formal, their purpose being to rectify a verbal error in sub-section 6 of section 4 of the act. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In 1922 an act was passed to secure the observance of the restrictions on the size and armament of vessels provided for in the Washington Treaty for the limitation of naval armaments. The London Naval Treaty signature, of which on behalf of the Commonwealth this House has approved, prescribes further limitations with regard to the displacement and armament of submarine and aircraft carriers, and it is now necessary to extend the provisions of the 1922 act so as to secure the observance of the new obligations. Section 7 of the act of 1922 empowered the Commonwealth to implement the provisions of the Washington Treaty for the protection of the lives of neutrals and non-combatants at sea in time of war. These provisions never came into force, and may be regarded as superseded by Part IV. of the London Naval Treaty. Opportunity is therefore being taken in this bill to repeal section 7. As honorable members are aware, this bill is submitted in conformity with a similar measure that has been referred to all the overseas dominions.
The passing of this bill is in the nature of a formality. Section 7 of the Treaties of “Washington Act is no longer necessary in view of the fact that the parties to the London Naval Conference have agreed to extend to submarines and aircraft car,riers the provisions which formerly related only to battleships and such vessels. The British Government has advised us of the procedure that it adopted as. to the implementing and ratification of the London Naval Treaty. A bill, the text of which was communicated to us, was passed by the House of Commons on the 23rd of July. It extended the provisions of the British act of 1922, Nos. 12 and 13, George V., Chapter 21, to include the restrictions on submarines and aircraft carriers, and to repeal section 4 of that act, which provided penalties for breaches of the rules for the protection of neutrals and non-combatants at sea, which rules, however, never came into force, and have now been superseded. Canada and South Africa have already been .asked to take steps to ratify the alterations of the Treaties of Washington Act. It is proposed that when the necessary legislation has been passed by all the parliaments concerned there shall be a simultaneous deposit of the ratifications of the Treaty.
.- Clause 3 of this bill provides for the repeal of section 7 of the Treaties of Washington Act of 1922, which enacts that -
Any person in the service of any Power who violates any of the rules contained in Article I., set forth in the second schedule to this act, whether or not that person is under a governmental superior, shall be deemed to have violated the laws of war, and shall be liable to trial and punishment as if for an act of piracy, and, if found within the Commonwealth, may be brought to trial before any civil or military tribunal which would have had jurisdiction to deal with the case if the act had been an act of piracy.
While this bill is designed to give effect to the Treaty of London it is also superseding an important provision in regard to submarines on the ground that certain other rules of war are being given a wider application. I should like to know why it is not proposed to extend the provisions of section 7 of the Treaties of Washington Act to the new rules. The London Naval Treaty, we must remember, has been agreed to, as to some parts of it, by only five nations and, as to other parts of it, by only three. Therefore, it appear* that the repeal of the section to which I have referred will not affect all the nations similarly. Up to the present it has been considered wise to make it a breach of the rules of warfare and an act of piracy for certain acts contemplated in the section to be committed by submarines. Apparently it is- not proposed to attach any sanction in our law to a breach of the present rules. If that conclusion has been reached because of the absence of a universal or general assent to the new provisions, I can understand it, but I should like the Minister to explain why a breach of the rules as to the visiting and searching of merchant vessels on the high seas in war time is no longer to constitute the offence of piracy.
.- I do not know that I can reply specifically to the inquiry of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), except to say that it is now proposed to bring submarines within the compass of the law which relates to larger craft and to oblige them, if they intend to sink merchant vessels at sea, to convey passengers and crews to safety. During the last war the passengers and crew of many merchant vessels sunk by submarines went to the bottom of the sea. The nations which ratified the Treaties of Washington have now agreed to regulate the conduct of submarines, and this bill has been introduced to ensure that uniform legislation shall be passed by all the governments concerned in relation to this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and - by leave - passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Tenth Assembly - -REPORT of Australian Delegation.
Consideration resumed from 20th March (vide page 327), on motion by Mr. Soullin -
That the paper be printed.
. -I again express regret that it has not been possible to give honorable members an opportunity of discussing until now the report of the last delegation to the Assembly of the League of Nations. The Prime Minister, I feel sure, has strongly desired to provide an opportunity, and it is unfortunate that it could not be done. If we are to take a real interest in the affairs of the League, we should discuss the report of the delegation to one Assembly before the next delegation leaves to attend the following Assembly.
Last year’s meeting of the Assembly at Geneva marked the completion of the first decade of the League’s existence. The study of what has been achieved by the League is interesting, and, in great measure, gratifying. While it cannot be claimed that the League has realized all the expectations of its founders, it mustbe remembered that its founders hoped that its membership would be world wide. They did not think that ten years after it was constituted, one of the greatest nations of the world would still not be a member of the League.
On the 10th January, 1920, thirteen nations constituted themselves members of the League of Nations, bound by the covenant of 26 brief articles. The decade that has since passed has been crowded with incident in the domain of international relations, and marked by a rate of progress which, in the past, would have been thought quite impracticable of achievement. That period will stand out in the history of civilization. While it is easy to criticize - and there are many who do - it can be definitely claimed that the progress during the last ten years towards a better under standing between nations has been real. The League of Nations represents the new public opinion, which is thinking to-day in terms of established peace. The first decade of the operation of the League of Nations will be remembered as the period during which a new system of international relations was introduced into the life of nations, or when, in other words, a change in the method of co-operation between peoples was brought about. For the first time a world Assembly of 54 mem ber States meet’s each year and the Council meets thrice a year. A permanent civil service of about 500 officials works day in and day out on the nations’ business. There exists a world court, and a world Labour organization; and permanent committees meet to discuss international interests, such as finance, transit, mandates, health, drugs, social problems, &c. It should be remembered always that that great organization can do as much or as little as its member States decree. If they wish to use it, it will rapidly expand; if they do not wish to use it, it will be idle, and probably die. The League has reached its present development through the natural and simple processes of sheer necessity. Even before the war, when the Hague Conferences were held, nations were realizing the necessity for better international relations. During the tragic years of the Great War a century was lived. The annihilation of the barriers of distance by Marconi, the Wrights, and others has done much to bring into close touch nations which were previously the world apart. There has also been the marked increase of world trade and finance. During the years immediately following the war there were two great influences at work - the determination of the world that wars in future must if possible be avoided, and the outstanding number of difficult, problems arising in the field of international relationship. The Peace Conference at Versailles provided for the establishment of the League of Nations, and left many world problems for it to deal with. The currency collapse, world communications, wide spread of disease and famine, were some of the outstanding problems urgently calling for attention. There was a general determination that never again would there be a world war, without even a conference to try and stop it.
As I have said, on the 10th January, 1920, thirteen nations found themselves members of the League, bound by the covenant of 26 brief articles. Among certain definite responsibilities imposed on the League by the Peace Conference were the supervision of the mandate system of government of nearly 20,000,000 people in the Near East, Africa and the Pacific, and the guaranteeing of protection for some 40,000,000 of minority populations in a dozen different countries.
The League’s first task was to see that, from the smouldering embers of the world war, conflagration did not start anew. Its first years of operation were pent in a world still hot with war. Russia was in revolution; Greece and Turkey still fought; and new nations were trying to find their way about. The 54 nations of the League, comprising the overwhelming majority of the nations of the world, have accepted the obligation not to go to war, and to submit their disputes for peaceful settlement. They have established the actual ways and means for respecting the obligation not to go to war. Any war or threat of war is a matter of concern to the League as a whole. Any nation has the friendly right - and it has been used - to draw attention to any circumstances threatening war. Every Foreign Office in the world can receive, and indeed has received, telegraphic notification within 24 hours of the arising of a dispute endangering peace. The more important States can meet, and several have met, in council within a week’s time.
Two processes for the peaceful settlement of disputes are being adopted - the World Court, and a general advance system for obviating Avar. One of the League’s greatest contributions to international life and its most noteworthy success perhaps, is the Permanent Court of International Justice. At the Hague Conferences in 1899 and 1907 the nations sought a world court of law, but failed in the effort to establish it on the fundamental question of the selection of the judges. The League Covenant provided for the creation of such a court.
The registration of treaties should not bc overlooked, because secret treaties and secret diplomacy undoubtedly did much towards causing the world war. The Covenant provides that every treaty or international engagement entered into by any member of the league shall be forthwith registered with the secretariat, and shall as soon as possible be published by it; no such treaty or international engagement to be binding until so registered. Under this provision 4,000 treaties were registered with the league within the first decade. Any one can purchase a copy of such treaties. The world for the first time has a ledger of its international engagements.
Arbitration, security and disarmament are the most difficult of all the League’s activities. It has met many difficulties, and its progress has been slow. Never before has such a definite effort been made to solve the problem of disarmament.
Efforts have been made to improve the world’s material conditions by cooperation in economics, finance and transit. In 3921 the Brussels financial conference brought all nations together in the first post-war world conference. Expert experience and knowledge faced problems from many angles. Such broad principles as “ balancing the budget,” “ reduction of armaments,” “ cessation of inflation,” and “return to the gold standard “ were made the immediate ambition of world financiers. This conference did not end with adjournment, because it appointed a permanent financial and economic committee, composed of some of the world’s foremost authorities, to continue its work.
The most varied of problems, such as the safety of vessels at sea and the coordination of aerial co-operation, are involved in the operations of the League.
The Covenant provides that “ the members of the League will make provision to secure and maintain freedom of communication and transit.” In conference at Barcelona in 1922 the representatives of 40 nations met to discuss these problems.
Incomparably the most far-flung of the League’s general social activities lies in the field of health. A world health service has been established. It has handled in the most widely separated parts of the globe dangerous diseases, such as typhus in eastern Europe, sleeping sickness in Africa, malaria in India, &c. Infant mortality has undergone detailed inquiry. We cannot overlook the work of the League in settling 1,250,000 refugees in Greece. China also sought its advice in her colossal hygienic problems. In some fields, as in health, the progress made by the League during the last ten years has been very rapid. In others, .however, such as disarmament, progress has been of necessity slow and tortuous. Again I repeat that the League can function only with the consent, or at least with the non-opposition, of the states composing it. There is little chance of forcing or driving these states along unwelcome roads. No better illustration can be found of how the League reflects the spirit of the times than its own development during the first ten years of its existence.. The first Assembly in November, 1920, showed an unexpected vitality in the League. By that time 42 states had become members, including all the former European neutrals. The gathering opened in doubt and ended in certainty. There is now an annual conference of all the 54 member states of the League, and this conference has these three main. purposes -
Nothing like that has ever before been possible, and the decision of the British Foreign Minister to attend all meetings of the League Council in person has tremendously helped the organization.
One of the greatest and most important results of the League’s establishment bag been the opportunity afforded for consultation and contact. Who can measure the value of a gathering with nine Prime Ministers, 22 foreign Ministers, 1,000 diplomats, officials and experts, and 400 journalists in attendance? Such a gathering is found in the annual Assem- bly of the League at Geneva. Statesmen meet there casually and unnoticed who could not visit each other’s countries without creating an international incident. The 1929 Assembly, the tenth, was undoubtedly the most important held in the first decade. There was the largest attendance on record - 53 of the 54 nations which are members, with the most important group of statesmen, including nine Prime Ministers and twenty foreign Ministers.
In 1929 the British representative proposed the removal from the covenant, in accordance with the Kellogg Pact, of the last gap through which war could be permissible. Some thought of the League only as a war-preventing agency, with little else to occupy it in normal periods. Others thought of it only as a means of international negotiation. It is both. It promotes co-operation to promote peace; it promotes peace to promote cooperation. A new spirit of discussion and negotiation has been established.
In Article 12 of the Covenant members agree “ in no case to resort to war until three months after the award, “ &c.,. in respect of a dispute. Under Article 15 (7) it is provided -
If the Council fails to read a report which is unanimously agreed to by the members thereof, other than the representatives of one or more of the parties to the dispute, the members of the League reserve to themselves the right to take such action as they shall consider necessary for the maintenance of right and justice.
The British delegation at the last Assembly of the League of Nations proposed certain amendments to Articles 12, 13 and 15 of the Covenant with a view to bringing it into line with the Treaty for the Renunciation of War by excluding the right to resort to war in any circumstances. A committee of eleven jurists was appointed by the Council to report on the proposed amendments, and this committee has submitted a report in favour of six amendments. This report is now under consideration by the Council of the League, which is at present in session, and the report will, in all probability, be submitted to the Governments for consideration, and later to the League Assembly next September. The proposed amendments of the British delegation are intended to close up the remaining loopholes in the Covenant of the League which permit nations under certain circumstances to go to war. It is intended to make the obligations of members under the Covenant similar to the obligations of the signatory nations of the Kellogg Pact.
I have grave doubt whether it would be wise to make further amendments to the Covenant. No doubt the proposals of the British delegation will receive the fullest consideration at Geneva next month. I am sorry that this Parliament has not been given any information as to the Government’s policy in regard to these matters. Perhaps the Minister will be able to enlighten us on the subject before the debate closes. I regret that we have not had an opportunity at an earlier stage of the session to discuss this report, and the activities of the League generally. Every year the debate has had the same fate. The matter has come down for discussion practically on the last day of the session, with the idea of filling in a little time while we were waiting for another place to deal with the measures before it. “With the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) and others who have displayed an interest in the subject, I am sorry that a better opportunity has not been afforded for discussion. Before I went to Geneva I was very sceptical regarding the work of the League of Nations; I doubted whether it could accomplish anything of value. Having attended the meetings, however, I was convinced of one thing, namely, that the representatives of the 54 nations who form the League were genuine in their desire to make the work of that great organization successful. 1 realized that while powerful nations remained outside the League it was practically impossible to bring- about disarmament, but there was no doubt of the sincerity of those national representatives who attended the League meetings.
The Sydney Morning Herald, in its issue of the 28th June last, published the report of a speech of the Governor of New South “Wales, himself a most distinguished soldier, made before a meeting of the League of Nations Union in Sydney. The report is as follows: -
Speaking at the first annual dinner of the New South Wales branch of the Australian League of Nations Union last night the
Governor (Sir Philip Game) said that if peace were to be assured in the future it would be due to the humanitarian work of the League of -Nations, rather than to the limitation of armaments. “ If nian retains the will to war he will go to war with the gloves off,” he said.
The failure of former efforts towards world peace, His Excellency continued, was largely due to the fact that they were more in the nature of coercion by* the many of the few. Vor the most part they were attempts to enforce peace from the outside rather than from within. There was no thought of setting up machinery to discover and develop the ideals of the peoples and the nations. As Lord Grey had said, there was no one with power or authority to call a conference of the disputing nations. Whether if such machinery had existed the war would have been prevented no one could say. But it could be said that it at least would have prevented the nations blundering with their eyes shut into n cataclysm which any responsible ruler or statesman would have avoided had he known how. If it were only for the fact that it had established that machinery the League of Nations deserved the gratitude of every nation.
But, the Governor added, its real significance went deeper. It was in its humanitarian work that he found hope for permanent peace in the future. He did not believe that direct anti-war measures would stop war. If man retained the will to war he would war. It was no good asking him to limit armaments, [f he fought he would fight with the gloves off - with every weapon science could invent. The picture was so appalling it could not lie contemplated without horror. The job before the league was to cultivate in the nation:: a will for peace, and that was where such bodies as the League of Nations Union could help. It was no good appealing to reason. Man was not governed by reason. As Mr. Baldwin had said, there was no chance of getting rid of the things that caused hatred and war without a moral fight. To build on the belief that limitation of armaments would achieve the ideals of peace would be to build on a foundation of sand. “ Disarmament will follow if the seed of humanitarianism can be planted,” said His Excellency. “Once that is accomplished, and I hope it will be through the idealistic side of the league, the brotherhood of mau will he a fact instead of a phrase, and at last mankind will have achieved some I bin” in the way of progress.”
The Cousul-General for the Netherlands (Mr. V. E. Teppema) proposed the toast of the League of Nations Union, and Mr. C. E. W. Bean (vice-president of the union) responded.
I sincerely hope that when the report of the Australian delegation is again submitted to this House an opportunity will be provided for discussing it fully, and I trust that the number will increase of those who take an interest in the work of this great organization, which has as its object the settlement of international disputes without recourse to arms.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fenton) adjourned.
In committee : Consideration of Senate’s request.
Senate request. - That the appropriation be reduced by £1.
– I move -
That the amendment be not made.
The budget has been presented, and the Estimates have been passed, but ever since they were presented to this House the Government has been at work closely reviewing every item of expenditure. I stated during the budget speech, and repeated during the debate, that all expenditure would be carefully scrutinized. In consultation with the State Treasurers at the meeting of the Loan Council, I again repeated the statement. A meeting of State Premiers and Treasurers is to be held in Melbourne on Monday week, and I shall confer with them on the subject of loan expenditure. In the meantime, the Government is reviewing the revenue expenditure. We realize that we must cut down cost wherever possible, doing the least possible injury to the people concerned. I have asked the heads of all departments in Canberra to meet me next Tuesday, when I shall lay before them our financial position, and impress upon them the great need for economy in administration. Wherever there is any indication of waste it must be stopped. The heads of departments in Melbourne are to meet me on the following Tuesday. It was intended that all heads of departments should be brought here, hut that plan was abandoned on the score of expense. It is evident, therefore, that every step possible is being taken to reduce expenditure, and I cannot accept the amendment from another place.
– I suppose we could hardly expect, after the debate and vote in this House on the budget and Estimates, that the Government would accept the amendment requested by the Senate that the appropriation should be reduced by £1 as an indication that certain definite reductions in expenditure should be made. The Primp Minister has said that the Premiers and
Treasurers of the States will confer with him on Monday week, and that they will examine both loan and revenue expenditure.
– Hardly that. I said that we would examine loan expenditure, and, that in the meantime I would discuss revenue expenditure with the heads of Commonwealth Departments.
– The day before yesterday, I asked the Prime Minister whether the conference of Premiers would also examine revenue expenditure, and I was told that, as the matter of balancing the budget would be considered, revenue expenditure would necessarily be reviewed.
– To that extent the honorable member is correct.
-Therefore, it is true that the conference will consider both loan and revenue expenditure. The Prime Minister has also said that he is endeavouring to effect every economy in administration in the sense of avoiding any form of extravagance or unnecessary expenditure upon the basis of the present Estimates. The Senate has asked that there shall be definite reductions in expenditure, and that the Estimates be altered. This House has already refused to adopt the motion moved by myself to that effect. It is useless, therefore, to argue the matter further. When one states that the financial and economic position of the Commonwealth is more serious to-day than for many years past, it is easy to charge him with being a prophet of gloom, a misery-merchant, a calamity-howler, a disaster-crier, or to apply other terms of abuse and derision such as I could invent on the spur of the moment; but we must look at the budget this year from a point of view which fortunately we have never before been required to take. The financial and economic condition of the Commonwealth has got beyond politics, ana if necessary the policies of parties will have to be changed to meet this development. The Prime Minister, as leader of the Labour party, cannot much longer maintain the attitude that, his party having been returned to carry out a certain policy - in respect of wages and salaries, for example - that policy shall. be carried out though the heavens should fall. There must be a change of outlook ; but up to the present that has not been realized by the Treasurer and his supporters. We who sit in opposition have reluctantly, though with a full realization of its significance and necessity, suggested a reduction of the allowance of Ministers and members of Parliament and a review of the Public Service salaries. I believe that the public servants as a body are loyal to the Commonwealth, and will willingly accept any reduction of salaries that this Parliament might consider proper and necessary to bring them into proper relation with the rest of the community. I have already had many evidences from public servants that they would not resent that policy. The Government, so far, has refused to consider this proposal, but I believe that before long it will be forced to do so by the pressure of public opinion. At the risk of offending an influential section of the community, I suggest that the hours of work of the Public Service should be lengthened. I do not wish the remuneration of anybody to he reduced unless that is absolutely unavoidable. If the Government is not prepared to consider a reduction of salaries will it consider a re-adjustment of hours? At present public servants work from 9 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. Until a few years ago the public offices in Melbourne closed at 5 o’clock, and one reason for the alteration was that so many offices and warehouses closed at 5 o’clock, that trains and trams were congested and citizens could not conveniently reach their homes. In consequence the public offices have closed ever since at 4.45 p.m. No hardship would be imposed in these times if the hour were altered to 5.15 p.m.
– In what way would that effect economies?
– It would obviate new appointments. I doubt whether honorable members supporting the Government have any idea of the hostility to this Parliament and the Commonwealth public servants which unfortunately is developing in the community because it is considered that the federal conditions are unjustifiably comfortable in this time of stress. Any little re-adjustment that we can make will, at any rate, have some psychological influence, and will not be resented by the public servants as a whole. A lengthening of hours would not effect a tremendous saving, but it would reduce the expenditure on overtime to some extent. I am aware that on the Government side are honorable members who think that the present critical position would best be met by increasing wages in order to circulate more money, and reducing hours in order to provide employment for everybody. I have previously stated the reasons why I cannot accept that view. It is absolutely opposed to every economic principle of government and business.
– The honorable member is steeped in economic superstition.
– I recognize that iiic honorable member’s views differ from mine. This bill contains certain items which even now should be reconsidered. For instance, there is over £500,000 for extraneous payments to public servants. It is very pleasing to make these payments in time of plenty, but the awards of the Public Service Arbitrator should be examined in the light .of the general condition of the community. Some honorable members on this side of the chamber have said that Parliament, having adopted the principle of fixing public service salaries by arbitration, should not attempt to interfere with them. I agree that generally it is proper that a body outside Parliament should determine the allocation of such money as the legislature is prepared to make available for the public service, but neither the Public Service Board, the Arbitrator, nor any other person or body should be allowed to deprive Parliament of financial control. It is for Parliament to determine what . taxation shall be imposed, and within the limits of the funds provided by it, the Public Service Arbitrator may operate. No external authority can be allowed to say for example, “ Nobody in the Public Service shall receive less than £10 a week. I fix that minimum, and it is for Parliament to find the money “-. That may be an extreme illustration, but I use it to support my contention that financial control must remain with Parliament, and that it is not the function of the
Public Service Arbitrator in effect to instruct Parliament to impose additional taxation. That principle is already recognized in the Arbitration Public Service Act, which provides that any award inconsistent with a law or regulation of the Commonwealth may be disallowed by either House. Therefore the suggestion that only a certain amount of money should be made available for the payment of the public service is not in violation of any principle hitherto recognized in our legislation. Whatever may be the views of ministerial supporters, I assure them that the public will not accept the principle that the exchequer must find funds to pay whatever salaries and allowances the Public Service Arbitrator may choose to award. These matters must be determined in relation to taxation which provides the fund3 from which such payments are made. I hope therefore, that the Government will review the determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator, some of which are so generous that they cannot be justified at the present time. Such a review would not be inconsistent with any principle hitherto adopted in the legislation of this Parliament.
– I thought that the proposal had been disposed of and I am sorry that it has been revived.
– These things must be buried very deep.
– Apparently the Senate is seeking to instruct the Government to save £1,000,000 at the expense of the public servants, many of whom are remunerated less generously than are members of the State public services. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) has made a further suggestion that the working hours of* the public servants should be lengthened from 4.45 to 5.15 p.m. I assume that the object of that proposal is to reduce staffs.
– To obviate the need for making new appointments.
– There is little likelihood of new appointments being made. The Government is just as anxious as the Leader of the Opposition to reduce expenditure to a minimum, but an arbitrary cut of public service salaries by £1,000,000 would have a very bad effect. It would reduce the purchasing power of the community. A reduction in the purchasing power of the people such as would be caused by a cut of £1,000,000 in the wages of public servants would react on the general community, and small business men would feel the effects of it. The Government has done all that could possibly be expected of it, in carrying out the distasteful work of prohibiting imports, and taking other measures with a view to straightening out the finances. The Labour party promised the people at the last election that if returned to office it would not increase the hours of labour in the Public Service, or reduce wages. I know many business men who favour the policy adopted by the Government, and ration employment to prevent dismissals. The present depression is but a passing phase, and Australia will recover from it..
– It may take a long time.
– The honorable member himself has faced difficulties, and has surmounted them. Owing to the mechanization of industry in every direction, we are producing more than we can consume, and the parliaments of the world will find it necessary to regulate the hours of labour in order to distribute the work of the country among the people. This will be found necessary to prevent uprisings and the overthrow of governments. I notice that there has been an unemployed meeting in Sydney of 1,200 business women. Such a gathering is unique in the history of this country:
– What is this Government going to do for them?
– It does not intend to increase the number unemployed by increasing the hours of labour in the . Public Service. The postal employers are working under an award, and no action should be taken that would have the effect of throwing a considerable number of them on the labour market. The Government is doing its best to balance the ledger; but it will never consent to place unnecessary burdens on the people on the lowest rung of the ladder.
– Those who know nothing of the inner workings of parliamentary- life, will be astonished at the statements made in another place by Senator Massey Greene; but those who are aware that for eight years be has seen everything through eyes jaundiced by bitterness and spleen, owing to his defeat by the.honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), will understand why he has distorted the budget figures in an endeavour to prove the case that he set out to establish. We all. know that he attends Parliament in the most casual way. Talk about men going slow on. their job! It is easy to get an instance of that by examining the number of his attendances in the last three years. He rarely comes to Canberra except to assist in the passage through Parliament of some measure such as the cotton bounty, in which he is personally interested.
– He was a live member when, be was in this House.
– He now only attends the sittings of this Parliament either to make bitter personal attacks on the late Government regarding its financial policy, probably in the hope of “ boosting “ the new Australian party, or to help to logroll, certain measures in which he is interested. Since the honorable senator poses with an air of outraged virtue, it is just as well that the public should know the exact position. He pretends that he is defending the public interest when he makes these personal attacks. Such conduet is intolerable.
I have not seen the Hansard report of the speech that this honorable gentleman delivered last night, but, in his indirect attack on me, he suggested that I had been misled by Treasury officials. That is an unwarranted slander on high officers of the Treasury, who are among the ablest accountants and most honorable men in the Commonwealth. There has never before .been the slightest suggestion that the public has been misled by them or anybody else with regard to the financial position. Senator Greene quoted certain figures, and then declared that the true position had never been disclosed. He gave figures which he said he had obtained from the Treasury; but, on examining them, I find that they are displayed most prominently in the .’budget papers brought down by the Prime Minister this year, .by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) last financial year, and by myself during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government. I find them set down on page 13 of the budget papers of 1929-30. The honorable senator has discovered a mare’s nest. He pretends that by some mysterious means he has unearthed a striking set of figures, yet these have been published in a most prominent position in the budget .papers annually ! He tells us that it is scandalous that the true position of the Commonwealth has not been disclosed. He adds that, owing to the policy pursued when I was Treasurer, Australia’s financial position was concealed - that it was really worse than appeared, and had no reserves available when the time pf stress came. When I was Treasurer the charge made against me was exactly the reverse of that. I was charged with following the custom that had been adopted ever since 1907, when the Surplus Revenue Act was passed; that was to take the money available at the end of the year into current’ account, and put it into a trust fund for use in a subsequent year. It was pointed out that if the process was not adopted the Government would be unable to make any arrangements for carrying on the public works of the Commonwealth. When Labour was in office in 1910, it was able to carry out works with the aid of the surplus in the trust fund. Money from this source was used in establishing the Australian fleet and for various other purposes, and I believe that portion of the cost of the East-West railway was met from this fund. There is no secret about this matter. When the constitutionality of the practice adopted was argued before the High Court, the Chief Justic said that there was no other way of dealing with public funds to secure continuity of employment and progressive public policies. It was pointed out that it was hopeless to expect the :Commonwealth Government to begin each year’s operations with no funds in the Treasury.
The honorable senator said that there was a huge deficit of £16,000,000 or £17,000,000, which had accumulated during my occupancy of the position of Treasurer. Let .me inform honorable members of the true position. On the 30th June, 1922, the accounts showed a surplus of £6,408,424. On the 30th June, 1929, the deficit was £4,987,718. The apparent deficit for the eight years was £11,394,000. But the honorable senator deliberately concealed the fact that there was offset against this total, debt redemption payments of £7,415,000 over and above all sinking fund payments, and balances in trust accounts on the 30th June, 1929, of £3,111,000, making a total of £10,526,000, which was within £800,000 of the deficit. The honorable gentleman has, therefore, die-covered a mare’s nest. All the ordinary expenditure of the Government, all the additional expenditure on new fleet, scientific research, roads, &c, had been provided out of current revenue. He said that if the true state of affairs had been revealed steps could have been taken to deal with it. It was revealed in each budget paper. But the difficulties of this Government have not been caused by the accumulated deficits, for they are being dealt with otherwise than by the budget proposals. The whole of the extra taxation being raised this year, and, in addition, the sum of £1,500,000 which was left in the reparations account by the previous Government to meet just such a time of stress as that through which we are now passing, is required to cover the deficiency in this year’s accounts, to a large degree as a result of this Government’s policy. While I was Treasurer I could have made use of the accumulated funds in the reparations account had I desired to do so, but I felt that it was wise to leave the money in the fund for the purpose of meeting any emergency that might arise. What we have to remember is that this Government is raising more than £12,000,000 in extra taxation this year to balance this year’s accounts. It has left the accumulated deficit to be dealt with in some other way. The honorable senator should have known this. He has had a long experience as a Minister of the Crown. Moreover, during the period in which he was in office, the accounts of the Treasury were presented in exactly the same way that they are being presented now. The honorable senator, as an excuse for making this attack upon me, alleged that I had been misled by the Treasury officials ; but I repeat that the Treasury accounts were presented by me as they had been presented for many years, and could have been followed easily by any one who devoted reasonable attention to them. The attack of the honorable senator on myself and the Treasury officials was entirely unwarranted, and I cannot for the life of me understand why it was launched at this stage of the session, when it is only by chance I have an opportunity to reply.
The honorable senator also asserted that the Hughes Government had met its expenditure on repatriation and war services out of revenue, whereas the BrucePage Government had met it out of loan. That is new to me, and has absolutely no basis in fact.
– I have given the right honorable gentleman a good deal of latitude, but I must now ask him to confine his remarks to the amendment before the chair.
– I shall do so, sir. I support the amendment for reasons which I stated when a similar proposal was before this chamber. I believe that the imposition of this extra taxation will do infinitely more harm to employment generally than would be done by a reduction in the cost of government. Unfortunately, such harm cannot be easily corrected. The abstraction of this extra money from the pockets of the people is unwise. I associate myself with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, and trust that even at this late hour the Government will ‘ take its courage in both hands and revise its budget proposals with the object of substantially reducing expenditure. If it does so it will not only enhance its prestige, but will safeguard the interests of the whole community.
.- I trust that the Government, will take no notice of the amendment. It has been made by another place merely to bring about a reduction of wages. I was exceedingly interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) admit that he does stand for a reduction of wages. But a reduction of wages would not have very much effect in correcting our present financial position. What this country is suffering from more than anything else is the high interest rates that it has to pay for the money borrowed by the previous Government. The Government led by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and of which the last Prime Minister was Treasurer, cannot escape its share of responsibility for our present difficulties, for it made some very costly bargains during the war period, which were said to be in the best interests of the people. I shall not countenance in any way a reduction of salaries and wages in the Public Service or elsewhere. While I was speaking on this subject on a previous occasion, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) interjected that I ought to be ashamed of myself for making certain statements in this chamber. I regret that I did not hear the honorable gentleman’s interjection, or I should have replied to it then. I have said nothing and done nothing in this House or elsewhere of which I have any reason to be ashamed. I have never changed my attitude in politics nor done things which, to say the least of it, were mean. I pointed out some time ago, that Australia had been obliged to pay £17,000,000 in ground rent to France in connexion” with the war. I do not consider that the imposition of that charge was in any sense generous.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the amendment.
– -I am totally opposed to the amendment, because it represents, as I have already said, another attempt to bring about a reduction of wages.
Reference has been made to a speech delivered last night in another place by Senator Greene. I point out that the figures quoted by the honorable senator were taken from official documents. I do not believe that the honorable gentleman desired to make a splenetic attack upon any one. He wished only to reveal the true financial position, and was allowed by the President of another place to do so. I cannot imagine anything more audacious than the suggestion of the ex-Treasurer that the present Treasurer should effect economies in government expenditure.
As a section of the press pointed out a few days ago, this was pure effrontery in view of the right honorable gentleman’s own conduct when he was in charge of the Treasury. I trust that the amendment will be rejected.
– I wish to direct attention to one of the most shocking instances of maladministration which has characterized the government of Australia for many years. The interests of many traders between Australia and the Pacific Islands, and many small traders, have been miserably surrendered to big commercial interests, whose representatives have been in frequent attendance about this chamber. The Government has taken steps to carefully protect their trade; but has paid no attention whatever, and apparently does not intend to do so, to the welfare of the people who are engaged in the inter-island trade.
– The honorable gentleman’s remarks have nothing whatever to do with the amendment. I must ask him to confine himself to the business before the Chair.
– I shall do so, sir. In view of the fact that the amendment seeks to reduce the total amount provided for in the Appropriation Bill, I presume that I shall be in order in referring to the administration of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I protest against the scandalous manner in which the new timber duties have been imposed.
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to that subject.
– In that case, sir, I shall content myself with reiterating my regret that the Government has not seen fit to agree to the proposal made at an earlier stage in our consideration of this bill for the reduction’ of parliamentary and other salaries.
.- I pointed out during our debate on the Budget proposals, and, later, during our discussion of the Estimates, that it was highly desirable that the cost of government should be reduced, and said that I was in favour of a reduction of parliamentary allowances. I am very disappointed that the Government has not seen fit to effect economies in this direction, and to take steps to reduce the cost of the Public Service by avoiding extra payments in overtime, travelling allowances and the like. The financial position will be considerably worse when Parliament meets next year. If the Government stood for tlie whole of Australia, instead of for the trade unions section only, it would consider our position seriously. The salient fact is that our national revenue has decreased enormously. An ordinary business, if its income declines, naturally decreases its overhead expenses. The overhead expenses of the Government is government expenditure. That expenditure has been lavish in the past, and it must now be reduced. Under our artificial industrial system wages are fixed in proportion to what a man consumes instead of in proportion to what he produces. Tariff schedules have been laid on the table of the House without honorable members being given an opportunity to discuss them.
– I ask the honorable member not to refer to the tariff.
– Parliament has churned out decrees without giving Parliament any opportunity to discuss them. The Government has refused to explore obvious avenues of economy suggested by the Opposition. I know that it is not popular to talk about reducing salaries, but that does not concern me. I am prepared to say on the platform what I say in this chamber. Long before there was any move on the part of the Opposition to cut down parliamentary salaries, and at the time when there was a reduction on the military side of the Defence Department and not on the clerical side, I asked the Government to give special consideration to a reduction in parliamentary salaries. The sales tax is calculated to raise £5,000,000, and the measure that was introduced to give it effect is one of the most clumsy pieces of legislation that has ever been foisted upon the commercial world.
– The honorable member may not discuss the sales tax.
– I am keenly disappointed that the Government has made no attempt to exercise economy. The expenditure for this year is even greater than that of last year. If the Government will not alter its policy it must stand condemned. It is anxious to maintain wages and salaries at any cost, and refuses to follow the example of the State Governments, which have considerably reduced parliamentary expenditure.
.- I understand that the amendment before the committee is similar to the amendment that was moved on the budget by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) to reduce the first item of the Estimates by £1 as an instruction to the Government to effect economies in the direction of a reduction of’ parliamentary salaries and of the wages and salaries of public servants. When that amendment was before honorable members I intimated that it, was my intention not to record a vote on it. Some one interjected that I was facing both ways. I want to make my position perfectly clear. I did not record a vote on that amendment because, while I was favorable to a reduction of members’ salaries, I was not in favour of this Parliament directly interfering in any shape or form with the salaries of public servants.. We have as a Commonwealth adopted the arbitration system for the regulation of industry in respect of wages, hours and other conditions. We have laid it down as a principle that the fixing of these conditions shall not be left to the employer, and that an independent arbitrator shall, after hearing evidence, determine what conditions are to operate in a particular industry. That is die policy of the Commonwealth. I see no distinction whatever between the Commonwealth as an employer and any private employer in the Commonwealth. If we take to ourselves, as a parliament, the right, to reduce the salaries of public servants while there is in existence an arbitrator whose duty it is to carry out that function, then logically we should also assume the right to increase salaries when we think fit. That being so, the public servants would be in the position of putting themselves up for sale at an election, because candidates would be asked whether they proposed to increase or rdeuce Public Service salaries and the Public Service vote would go to the highest bidder. In tha* way we should tend to destroy the stability of the Public Service. While we retain the principle of arbitration, we should give the public servants the same right of access to the Arbitration Court as is enjoyed by the employees in any ether employment. For that reason I shall oppose the amendment.
.- It is unfortunate for Australia that the Government still refuses to face squarely the financial position of the Commonwealth, and is steadfastly and sullenly rejecting suggestions for economy which, in its better judgment, it knows should be accepted and given effect. We cannot continue to carry on under the artificial conditions that have existed in Australia during the past few years. Every State Government has been forced to make reductions in government expenditure. Private people have been compelled to reduce, not only their business expenditure, but also ^ their personal expenses. It is clearly evident that the financial position of Australia is becoming worse every week, . but notwithstanding that, the Government is still persisting in its policy of spending as much as, and even more than was expended by other Governments in years of plenty. The people to-day are not prepared to risk their money in new enterprises. Australia is not devoid of money, because the Savings Banks deposits have not declined to any extent, and more money is offering for Commonwealth loans than has been asked for. But because of the uncertainty of the Government’s policy, the people are afraid to launch out in new enterprises, which are undoubtedly necessary if Australia’s financial credit is to be restored. We are standing idle, waiting for the time to come when this country will be practically insolvent, and no money available for the ordinary commitments of the Government. Our financial position is so acute that the Government should not consider itself bound to honor its promise at the last election that no reduction would take place in public servants’ salaries. The Government is ignoring obvious facts, and if it will not now take action to decrease government expenditure, I hope that, during the recess, it will realize its obli gations to the community, and reduce the salaries of members of Parliament, and of the Public Service generally.
.- An amendment to a financial measure coming from another place is quite unusual, but doubtless the Senate is impressed with the seriousness of our financial position, and is desirous of doing everything in its power to restore Australia’s credit overseas. The Government has asked the Opposition to submit helpful suggestions, and it must be admitted that we have done our best to do that. Unfortunately, the Government has persisted in its attitude of ignoring suggestions simply because they are offered by the Opposition. If we, as representatives of the people, were anxious to carry out our proper duties we should make every effort to reduce government expenditure. The State Governments have reduced parliamentary salaries, and the wages and salaries of the State public servants. The Prime Minister is shortly leaving for England and it is difficult to say what may not happen in Australia during his absence. I trust that he will leave instructions to curtail expenditure in every possible direction. We are all anxious that Australia should be prosperous, but we cannot bring that about until we reduce our existing heavy commitments. Unless a serious effort is made to reduce expenditure, Australia will soon be facing a serious position.
.- I am deeply disappointed at the attitude of the Government in ‘respect of the Senate’s amendment. It is shameful that this session is to terminate without the Government making some gesture so that the people may know that this Parliament is making a genuine effort to rescue Australia from the deplorable position in which it finds itself to-day. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has protested against any reductions being made in the salaries of public servants.
– I protest against any direct reduction by Parliament.
– I am coming to that. On the ground that this is a matter for determination by a tribunal set up by Parliament, he refused to consider the reduction of public service salaries by this House. He does not like direct action by this House. I disagree with him. This is a time of national emergency, which calls for emergency measures. In any case, I should have thought that the honorable member would subscribe to the proposal for a reduction of the salaries of Ministers and members of Parliament, because those salaries have not been fixed by any tribunal.
– I am in favour of a reduction of salaries of Ministers and members of Parliament.
– The honorable member may have distinguished between those two points in the course of his speech, but-
– I said that I wished to make that distinction perfectly clear.
– The honorable member for Henty can make a cut in his own salary if he likes.
– The Assistant Minister speaks of voluntary action. He must know that we shall never get anywhere in that way. I do not know how honorable members opposite will fare when they go back to their great industrial constituencies where there is to-day 20 per cent, of unemployment, and tell the unemployed that this House can do nothing to relieve their distress, and that, though the opportunity was presented again and again, they refused to make any reduction of their own salaries, towards which their constituents contribute as taxpayers. Honorable members opposite had an opportunity pf giving a practical expression of sympathy with the unemployed; yet to a man they voted against all proposals which might have been of assistance to those in distress.
– The honorable member is a humbug; he is not sincere.
– Let us have a vote on the issue, and the honorable member will see whether I am sincere. Let us put it to the test.
– Why exploit the poverty of the people? That is what the honorable member is doing.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I ask the honorable member to cease interjecting. I do not wish to name any honorable member*, but it should not be necessary for the Chair to be continually calling for order.
– The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) having, with his colleagues, refused to consider any reduction of members’ allowances, should not be so sensitive about it. Is he ashamed of his action? Obviously he is. The matter has been tested quite definitely by ;a vote in this House, and, so far as I am concerned, I do not propose to call for another division on the question now before the committee.
.- I was astounded to hear the remarks which fell from the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett); who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition. My sole reason for speaking on this question was to make my position, as I thought, absolutely clear, and to explain why I refused to vote on the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) for a reduction of the Estimates. .- I said distinctly that, while I was in favour of the members of this House reducing their own allowances, I objected to the House taking to itself the right of dealing with the salaries of public servants while there was in existence an arbitrator whose work that was. I refused to vote on the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition, because it was worded in such a way that, if I had supported it, it would have appeared that I subscribed to the principle that this House ought to deal directly with the salaries of public servants. With that principle I entirely disagree. The honorable member for Henty has tried to convey the impression that I am not in favour of -reducing the allowance of members of Parliament. Some honorable members will, perhaps, remember that when this House some years ago raised the members’ allowance to £1,000 without consulting the people, I, with several others, voted against the proposal, and refused to accept the additional allowance which, during the life of that Parliament, amounted to something like £1,000. When a Scotchman does a thing like that it is, honorable members will admit, at least some guarantee of his sincerity. I say again, that if the honorable member for Henty will move for a reduction of the Estimates by £1 as an instruction that the allowance of Ministers and members of Parliament shall be reduced, his motion will receive my hearty support, and I shall vote for it.
– I am convinced that, in regard to this matter, and the reducing of parliamentary allowances, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and other honorable members of the Opposition are nothing but political hypocrites.
– The honorable member must withdraw the charge of hypocrisy.
– I said that they were political hypocrites.
-Nevertheless, the honorable member must withdraw the statement.
– Very well, I shall withdraw it, and content myself with saying that they have been guilty of political camouflage. If it were possible to reduce the parliamentary allowance on the motion now before the Chair, we should not hear one word from honorable members opposite. It is because they know that the forms of the House will not permit such a thing to be done that members of the Opposition have taken up such a strong attitude. During the debate on the Estimates I strove to obtain permission to move that the allowance of members of Parliament be reduced by £500. I was not permitted to move that motion, but when I asked for the ruling of the Chair, I looked at the honorable member for Henty and others opposite, and never saw a more sad or foolish looking set of men. Then, when the ruling was given against me, the look of relief that spread over the face of the honorable member for Henty was like sunlight playing on the brass plate on a coffin. Every time the honorable member has spoken in this House recently he has played the part of a political maggot.
– Order !
– Surely that is in order? Well, I shall amend it by saying that he has played the part of a political blow-fly.
– That remark is not in order.
– I withdraw it. The honorable member has besmirched every debate he has entered into by indulging in personalities, making unfounded charges, and imputing unworthy motives. His behaviour reflects no credit on himself or his constituency, and ill-becomes a man who has been a Minister of the Crown in charge of a department. No one knows better than he that motions for the reduction of the salaries of Ministers and members of Parliament cannot be moved while the House is discussing the budget and Estimates. Fortified by that knowledge, he endeavoured to create the impression that we on this side of the House are not patriots; that the only real patriot, standing alone on a lofty pedestal, is the honorable member for Henty. He has discredited himself in the eyes of honorable members by the unwarranted charges he has made.
– I do not propose to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch), the tone of which reflects his moral standard, and the quality of his mind. I desire, however, to make a personal explanation bearing upon the speech of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). I heard the beginning of that speech; I did not hear the end of it. T spoke under a complete misapprehension. I regret exceedingly that I misrepresented him. I withdraw the remarks I made, and offer him a full apology.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I submit the following report of the conference that took place early this morning between managers representing this House and another place: -
The managers for the House of Representatives have met the managers for the Senate, namely Senators Daly, Barnes, Sir George Pearce, McLachlan, and Johnston, on the subject-matter of the amendments made and insisted on by the Senate in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and to which the House insisted on disagreeing. The managers of the respective Houses, have, after conferring, mutually agreed to deal with such amendments as follows: -
That amendments Nos. 1-11, 13, 14,16, 20, 23, 24, 27, 28, made by the Senate be agreed to;
That amendments Nos. 12, 15, 18, 25, made by the Senate be not agreed to;
That amendments Nos. 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, 29, 30, made by the Senate be agreed to with modifications; and
That the necessary consequential amendments be made in the bill.
Bill returned from the Senate with the following message: -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1928, and acquaints the House of Representatives that the Senate still insists on its amendments Nos. 1 to 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, which were disagreed to by the House of Representativs: and does not further insist on its amendments Nos. 12, 15, 18 and 25, to which the House of Representatives has disagreed. The Senate desires the reconsideration of the bill in respect to the amendments on which the Senate still insists.
In committee: (Consideration of Senate’s message).
No. 1. - Page 2, clause 9, line 31, leave out “ of such number “, and insert “ not more than three in number “.
No. 2.- Page 2, clause 9, line 39, after “ for “ insert “ proved “.
No. 3. - Page 2, clause 9, line 44, leave out “ if “, insert “ unless “.
No. 4. - Page 3, clause 9, line 1, leave out “ restoration “, insert “ removal “.
No. 5. - Page 3, clause 9, line 2, leave out “to,” insert “from”.
No. 6.- Page 3, clause 9, line 3, leave out “accordingly”, insert “to office”.
No. 7. - Page 3, clause 9, line 3, leave out “but”, insert “and”.
No. 8. - Page 3, clause 9, line 3, leave out “ no “.
No. 9. - Page 3, clause 9, line 37, leave out “ for all purposes “, insert “ , subject to section thirty-one a of this act,” .
No. 10. - Page 4, clause 12, leave out paragraphs (c), (e), (f), (g), (h) and (i).
No. 11. - Page 4, clause 14, leave out paragraph (c).
No. 13. - Page 5, clause 24, before paragraph (a) insert the following new paragraph : - (la) by inserting in sub-section (1.) before the words “ No award or order “ the words “ Except as in this act provided,”.
No. 14. - Page 5, clause 24, line 44, leave out “ and “.
No. 16. - Page 5, clause 24, after new paragraph (aa) insert the following new paragraph : - (ab) by inserting in sub-section (1.) after the words “ in any other court “ the words “ other than the High Court”.
No. 17. - Page 6, after clause 24 insert the following new clause: - “ 24a. After section thirty-one of the principal act, the following section is inserted in Division 3 of Part III.: - 31a. - (1.) An appeal shall lie to the court constituted by the Chief Judge and not less than two other judges against any provision in any award or order of a conciliation commissioner or a conciliation committee affecting -
any condition of employment which in the opinion of the court is likely to affect the public interest. (2.) Any such appeal shall be made in the manner and within the time prescribed by the rules made in accordance with section forty-three of this act. (3.) On the hearing of an appeal under this section the court may -
confirm, quash or vary the award or order or part thereof which is under appeal ;
refer the award or order, or any part thereof, back to the conciliation commissioner or conciliation committee, as the case may be, for reconsideration, and with or without such directions or suggestions as the court thinks fit: or
make an award or order dealing with the matters under appeal :
Provided that no such award or order shall include any provision which would be outside the powers of the conciliation Commissioner or conciliation committee, as the case may be. (4.) An award or order of a conciliation commissioner or a conciliation committee shall not have effect until the expiration of the time within which such appeal may be made.”
No. 19. - Page 9, clause 33, leave out the clause.
No. 20. - Page9, clause 35, leave out paragraph (b).
No. 21. - Page 10, clause 41, leave out the clause.
No. 22. - Page 10, clause 43, leave out the clause.
No. 23. - Page 10, clause 44, line 18, leave out “ repealed “, insert “ amended by omitting the words ‘and the officials of such organization ‘ “.
No. 24. - Page 10, after clause 44 insert the following new clause: - “ 44a. After section fifty-eight b of the principal act the following section is inserted: - 58b.Noofficer of an organization, or member of any committee thereof, or servant or agent thereof, shall, during the currency of an award in the industry concerned, advise, encourage or incite any member of such organization to refrain from -
entering into a written agreement ; or
offering for work, or working, in accordance with suchaward.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.”
No. 26. - Page 10, clause 46, leave out pro posed section 61, insert the following new section : -
A member may resign his membership of any organization -
if he accepts employment in an industry other than that represented by the organization ; or
on giving one month’s notice and the payment of all dues to the date of his resignation.
No. 27. - Page 1 1, clause50, after paragraph (b) insert the following new paragraph: (ba) by inserting after the word “section” in sub-section (2.) the words “ excepting the list of its members “.
No. 28. - Page 11, clause 50, after paragraph (c) insert the following new paragraph:
by inserting after sub-section (3.) the following new sub-section: - (4.) The list of members of an organization shall be open to inspection at the office of the organization during the usual office hours by any person authorized by the Registrar.
No. 29. - Page 11, clause 54, leave out the clause.
No. 30. - Page 11, clause 56, leave out the clause.
– Amendments 1 to 8 relate to conciliation commissioners and their actions. The bill, as it left this chamber, did not prescribe any limit to the number of commissioners that might be appointed. Another place has proposed that the number be limited to three. - No. 2 amendment requires that before a commissioner can be removed from office for misbehaviour or incapacity such misbehaviour or incapacity must be proved. The other amendments, up to and including No. 8. amend proposed new section 18c to read as follows : - “ (5.) The Minister shall within seven days after the suspension, if the Parliament is then sitting, or if the Parliament is not then sitting, within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament, cause to be laid before both Houses of the Parlia ment a full statement of the grounds of the suspension, and unless within sixty days thereafter an address is presented to the Governor-General by the Senate and the House of Representatives praying forthe removal of the Conciliation Commissioner from office, the Conciliation Commissioner shall be restored to office; and if such address is so presented the Governor-General may confirm the suspension and declare the office of that Conciliation Commissioner to be vacant and the office shall thereupon be and become vacant.”
No. 9 relates to the right of appeal from decisions of tribunals. This House did not allow an appeal from the decisions of commissioners, and another place has proposed a right of appeal to the Full Court of three judges. As a result of the conference of managers, a modification has been agreed to. The original amendment made in another place did not provide for a stated period in which the appeal should be lodged, or for an appeal being obviated by the agreement of both parties. The managers have agreed that if the decision of the conciliation commissioner is accepted by both parties no appeal will be necessary, but that, in the event of a disagreement, the appeal must be lodged within 21 days. That period has been fixed in order to suit the convenience of a State like Western Australia, which is distant from Melbourne, where most of the cases are heard.
Amendment No. 10 proposes the deletion of paragraphs c, e, f, g, h, and i, of clause 12. These paragraphs relate to the powers of the High Court. The intention of the bill as it left this chamber was that application for a declaration of the existence of a dispute should be made to the full industrial bench instead of to the High Court.The contention has been raised in another place that no provision which may be made in this bill can take away the right of recourse to the High Court.
Amendment No. 11 strikes out paragraph c of clause 14, which amends section 24. That section provides that an agreement shall have the effect of an award. A memorandum of agreement must be submitted to the court for registration, and paragraph c took away the power of the judge to refuse to certify an agreement if he was of opinion that it was not in the public interest. Another place has reinstated the reference to the public interest.
Amendment No. 13 provides for the insertion in clause 24, which amends section 31, of the following new paragraph : - (la) By inserting in sub-section 1 before the words “ no award or order “ the words “ except as in this act provided.”
That is consequential on the earlier amendments relating to the right of appeal.
No. 14 is merely a correction of drafting.
Amendment No. 16 provides for the insertion of a further paragraph in clause 24, as follows: - (ab) By inserting in sub-section 1 after the words “ in any other court “ the words “‘other than the High Court.”
This is a drafting amendment which also relates to the jurisdiction of the High Court.
Amendment No. 20 deals with clause 35 of the bill, which amends section 40 of the principal act, relating to the power to grant a minimum wage and preference to members of organizations. Another place has proposed the reinstatement in the act of the words “ other things being equal.”
Amendment No. 23 refers to clause 44 of the bill, which repeals section 58b, providing -
The rules of an organization registered under this act and the officials of such organization shall not during the currency of an award in the industry concerned, prevent or impede any members of such organization from entering into written agreements in accordance with such award.
Another place has proposed that, instead of repealing the section, it shall be amended by omitting the words “ and the officials of such organization.”
Amendment No. 24 provides for the insertion of the following new clause - “44a. After section fifty-eight b of the principal act the following section is inserted: - 58ba.No officer of an organization, or member of any committee thereof, or servant or agent thereof, shall, during the currency of an award in the industry concerned, advise, encourage or incite any member of such organization to refrain from -
Penalty: Twenty pounds.’”
Amendment No. 27 is on clause 50, which relates to ‘ section 72 of the principal act. The section provides that every organization and branch shall keep certain records, including a list of names and addresses of members, and that such list shall be filed with the Registrar, and open for inspection by any person authorized by the Registrar. The amendment made by another place excepts from the records to be so lodged the list of members, and amendment No. 28 adds another new subsection providing -
The Government proposes to ask the committee to agree to all the foregoing amendments.
I come now to amendments Nos. 12, 15, 18, and 25, upon which, as a result of the conference of managers, the Senate has not insisted.
Amendment No. 12 relates to the representation of parties at hearings. The Government proposed that no party should be represented by counsel or solicitor or paid agent “except by leave of the court and the consent of all the parties,” the object being to restrict the appearances of counsel to the Full Court. Another place deleted that proposal.
Amendment No. 15 is consequential on the alteration made to allow of appeals to be lodged within 21 days. Section 31 provides that awards of the court or a conciliation commissioner are not to be challenged or questioned, and another place added the qualification, “except as provided in the next succeeding section.”
Amendment No. 18 is the deletion of clause 31, which proposed the insertion of the following new section: - (38ba) The court shall not include in any award or order a provision requiring a person claiming the benefit of that award to. notify his employer that he is a member of an organization bound by the award.
In this chamber- the contention was raised that such a requirement provided opportunities for victimization. The proposed new section directed the court not to make such an order, but another place struck it out.
Amendment No. 25 relates to deregistration. The intention of this committee was to remove from the act all penal provisions. The amendment made by another place reinstated the penalty of de-registration in certain cases.
I come now to amendments Nos. 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, 29 and 30, which the managers have recommended for acceptance subject to modifications.
Amendment No. 17 proposes the insertion of a new section 31a to provide for appeals from awards or orders of a conciliation commissioner or conciliation committee. It is consequential on other amendments.
Amendment No. 19 proposes the omission of clause 33, which repeals section38d, providing for the cancellation of an award where it appears to the court that the beneficiary has done anything in the nature of a lockout or strike, or has committed any other breach of the award. The deletion of section 38d was in accordance with the view that all penalties should be repealed, but another place has restored it.
Amendment No. 21 strikes out clause 41, which amended section 49 by providing that an employee might within twelve months, instead of six months, sue his employer for the recovery of wages due to him.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to3 p.m.
– Amendment No. 22 proposes to omit clause 43 which repeals sections 56a to56g of the principal act, the provisions of which gave the court authority to cause a secret ballot to be taken on the application of ten members of a union. It has been agreed that the provisions relating to secret ballots shall be retained only in respect of giving the court or a conciliation commissioner power to order a ballot to be taken in connexion with a dispute. The Senate’s amendment is now modified to enable that to be done.
Amendment 26 amends clause 46. This clause provides for the insertion of the following new section : -
The Senate’s amendment is to leave out this proposed section and insert the following : -
A member may resign his membership of any organization -
The agreement that has been arrived at is that three months’ notice must be given in the event of a dispute arising in which the organization may be involved or unless - here the words of the section in the bill are employed - “ the member accepts employment in an industry other than that to which the dispute or matter relates “.
Amendment 29 seeks to omit clause 54. This clause reads as follows: -
Sections 86a, . 86b,86c,86d and 87 of the principal act arc repealed.
The proposal is to insert after clause 53 the following clauses : - 54a. Section 86b of the principal act is amended by omitting the words “ five hundred “ and inserting in their stead the words “ one hundred”. 54b. Sections86c,86d and 87 of the principal act are repealed.
The effect is to reduce from £500 to £100 the penalty imposed upon organizations which fine their members for observing awards.
The amendment made by No. 30 is to omit clause 56, which repeals section 89b of the principal act, giving the court power to impose penalties for certain offences. As a number of provisions would be necessary to give effect to the penalty provided for in this section the managers decided to omit them from the bill and effect necessary consequential amendments elsewhere. The proposal is to modify the Senate’s amendment as follows : -
After clause. 55 insert the following clauses: -
Section 89b of the principal act is amended by omitting the words “eightyfive or eighty-six and inserting in their stead the words “ or eighty-five “.
The deliberations of the conference were of a lengthy character. Naturally the representatives on both sides stressed their respective opinions, and endeavoured to reach a decision which they thought would meet the position. Each member of the conference entered into the negotiations with a desire to make this measure of benefit to the people from his particular point of view. I say quite frankly and definitely that the amendments agreed upon do not accomplish all that I would desire. Some of the principles for which the Government has fought will not be embodied in .the bill. Undoubtedly it has had a rugged passage in both branches of the legislature, and in the conference. The report of the conference is submitted to the committee for its favorable consideration, and it is hoped that it will carry us along the path that we all desire to follow. The administration of the measure will be watched very closely by the Government. Every possible means will be taken to make this law operate as smoothly as possible. If the circumstances under which it has been necessary for us to accept this compromise change, the Government will seize the earliest opportunity to give effect to the principles which it thinks should be embodied in this legislation. I move -
That amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 23, 24, 27, and 28 be agreed to.
I shall move to further amend amendments 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, 29, and 30.
.- The industrial power of the Commonwealth has long been a source of industrial and political dissension in Australia. The attitude to federal industrial law in this country has always been different from that to any other law. The employers have, in many cases, and in some instances for a long period, adopted an attitude of resolute hostility and opposition, and the employees have equally objected to some of the provisions which have been embodied in federal statutes. Every member of this Parliament is aware that this subject has been a source of keen controversy, politically and industrially, ever since the establishment of federation. I regret that before this hill was introduced there was not held that conference between employers and those whom they employ, to which reference was made in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General with which this Parliament was opened. But though there has not been a conference of employers and employees, there has been a conference of the kind between the political parties in this Parliament. This took place last night, and lasted from about 12.30 a.m. to nearly 4 a.m. It was, in a technical sense, a conference of the two Houses, but I am glad that the Government adopted the view that it was desirable that representatives of the three parties in both Houses should be present. The result is that what amounts to an agreed bill is now submitted to this committee.
– A new- hill.
Ifr. LATHAM. - In some respects it is a new bill; but I am not trying to score a party advantage. Neither side has secured everything that it wanted. The Government and the Opposition each accepts only by way of compromise some of the amendments recommended by the conference. The Honorary Minister (Mr. Beasley) has clearly stated that on behalf of the Government, and I now say it on behalf of the Opposition. I speak for the Opposition in declaring that we are now prepared to pass the bill. “We recognize that some of its provisions are not exactly what we would like. Some of them are far from that. We recognize that others constitute an experiment, and I hope that they may be successful. Some of the provisions constitute an improvement upon existing legislation, and the mere fact that they have been accepted by both sides in this Parliament ought to conduce to their effectual and successful operation. The Opposition desires to give those which are experimental a fair trial.
The conference was markedly successful. I recognize the reasonable attitude of those honorable gentlemen who represented the views of the Government. I think that the Honorary Minister, and those who, with him, represented the Go_vernment. will bo prepared to concede that the representatives of the Opposition also were not unreasonable in the conference. I regard this bill as an agreement in the nature of a compromise between the political- parties. I do not propose to refer in detail to the particular amendments made; but shall content myself “ with asking the parties in industry outside this House to give the new measure a fair trial, and to greet it with goodwill. I do not intend, on this occasion, to recite any victories or successes which the Opposition may have gained, or may be conceived to have gained, as the result or the protracted debates in the two Houses and in the conference. I ask those outside to regard this measure as a compromise, and to try to make it work. If it should be generally accepted outside, as I believe it will be within Parliament, then it may go far to improve relations in industry, and, therefore, to promote the success of industry and the wellbeing of the people.
The Opposition does not abandon the principles for which it has contended, but it will agree to the bill in its present form, regarding it as a measure which it hopes may work successfully. We hope that it may enable both sides in industry to obtain happy results from the principle of industrial arbitration in the federal sphere. . It is not all that we could wish, as it is not all that the Government desires ; but, in these matters, we must look at affairs from the practical aspect. If the parties to industry outside this House will give these proposals a fair chance, it may well be that they will open a new era in Australian industry. I, therefore, venture to appeal to honorable members on both sides of the chamber to accept the compromise which has been reached. I do not . think that honorable members have ever heard me appeal to them to consider matters in a non-party spirit. I have always felt that there is a certain degree of unreality in appeals of that character. I have not been in the habit of pretending that proposals in which I firmly believe, but which I recognize are consistent with and intended to promote the principles of the party to which I belong, should be accepted in a non-party spirit by those who are opposed to those principles and to that party; but on this occasion I do appeal to honorable members to accept this compromise, which has been reached as the result of the first conference of this kind that has ever been held since the establishment of the Federal Parliament. I can assure honorable members that if they had been present at that conference they would have realized the advantage Ifr. Latham. of a few men meeting round a table, all of whom understood thoroughly their respective points of view. This bill is the result of compromise and conciliation. The Government has asked that conciliatory methods should be adopted to a greater extent than formerly in the industrial sphere; and I join in that appeal most sincerely, honestly, and wholeheartedly. I am not satisfied with many of the provisions of the bill, but I shall vote for it because I hope that it will result in a real improvement of industrial relations. If the same goodwill and reasonableness are shown by the parties to industry as was shown in last night’s conference, we may expect better things. In the past, Australia has suffered from the suspicion and distrust which one side in industry has displayed towards the other. It is difficult to get rid of that feeling; it will never in the history of the world be entirely allayed. There will always be genuine differences of opinion and real clashes of interests. But if all parties are prepared to show a spirit of compromise and goodwill, and to recognize that neither one side nor the other has had all its own way in this matter, we may hope for good results. We should not regard ourselves as infallible, and should be prepared to make concessions to those who are against us. Consequently, I hope that there will be a general acceptance of this bill. Though I have the honour to be the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament, and this is a Government measure, I appeal to all honorable members to agree to the proposals without a dissentient voice.
.- There is an old saying that the victor can afford to be generous. The Leader of the Opposition can afford to be generous this afternoon, but it is a little late in the day for him to talk about sweet reasonableness and compromise, for the wreckage of industry is lying all round us because of the maladministration of the last Government in which he held the office of Attorney-General. I object to compromising on vital issues of this nature. In industrial matters there has always been a clear line of demarcation between the principles expounded by the Labour party and those expounded by our opponents. Personally I would rather leave this place, and never return to it, than compromise on matters which have been held sacred by the Labour movement since its inception. I feel so strongly on this occasion that I propose to call for a division on this motion. It is remarkable to me that any honorable member on this side of the chamber should even think of falling into line with the Opposition on a matter like this. At any rate I shall take the full responsibility for refusing to do so. “When the Attorney-General introduced this bill, he said it did not by any means give effect to the full objective of the Labour movement in regard to industry, but represented the very least that could be accepted. The Senate has torn the bill to shreds. The Leader of the Opposition said that in some respects this is a different measure from that which left this chamber; I say that it is a different measure in all respects. The acceptance of these amendments, would, to my mind, be a cowardly surrender to Nationalism. Nationalism is the predominant power in this Parliament to-day, and I refuse to surrender to it. The Senate is, metaphorically speaking, putting its fingers to its nose, and treating this House with contempt. While the Labour party was returned to power with an overwhelming majority, and a mandate from the people to improve our industrial machinery, none of the members of another place faced the electors last year. We have a superior army, but have thrown away our guns,” and hoisted the white flag of cowardly surrender. In my opinion, the Government should close this abortive session, and call honorable members together as early as possible in October, and send the members of another place to their masters. I have bottled up my indignation in regard to the happenings of the last few months so long that I cannot keep it bottled up any longer. Whatever political consequences may follow, I shall shoulder the full responsibility of refusing to accept these amendments. When the Leader of the Opposition was sitting on the treasury bench, he had no time for sweet reasonableness or compromise. He then used the big stick with deadly effect.
Hut he has received the judgment of the people upon his conduct. I have no time for the smug complacence of the honorable gentleman, nor do I intend to accept his advice on this matter. The slogan of the Labour movement in industrial and political matters has always been “ No compromise “, and that should be the slogan of this Government.
– Let us have peace, goodwill and conciliation !
– In my opinion the lion will never lie down with the lamb. If the lion gets hungry, it will invariably eat the lamb, and as many more lambs as it can find. The capitalistic lion will always do its best to swallow the Labour lamb. I shall not compromise with my opponents on this matter. A compromise will mean either that we are honest when we are on the hustings, and hypocritical when we are in this chamber; or that we have no strong convictions on these subjects. I believe that it would be dishonest to compromise, and I shall refuse to do so.
.- Certain important changes have been made in this bill as the result of the meeting of the conference; but it seems to me that honorable members on this side of the chamber will, if they follow the advice of the Leader of the Opposition, fall into the error of thinking that a little evil may do good. In my opinion, we should still insist upon taking from the conciliation commissioners the power to arbitrate. If the right men are appointed as conciliation commissioners, they may be able to do a great deal of good, but I think I shall not be far wrong if I suggest that the appointees will be prominent persons in the Labour movement. Without any difficulty I think I could guess who they will be. I have, however, nothing to say against such persons as individuals. No doubt, the leaders of the Labour movement are, generally speaking, honest and upright men; but it is conceivable that they may have an unconscious bias in favour of their own class. It is for this reason that I object to giving to the conciliation commissioners full arbitral powers. We all know that the leaders in industry, whether they be officers of trade unions, chambers of manufactures, or other kindred bodies, frequently achieve excellent results by adopting conciliatory methods of dealing with industrial disputes. The bringing together of representative employers and employees at a round-table conference often achieves good. But it is quite a different matter to call a conference of that kind, and to give the chairman full arbitral powers. It may happen that a request may be made for a 36-hour week, as is being asked for by the Clerks Union at the present time. A compromise ou such a subject would have disastrous results for industry generally. Practically all the decisions of the Arbitration Court represent compromises between the parties. The unions which approach the court invariably ask for higher wages and better conditions than they expect to obtain. After a great deal of evidence has been taken on the subject, another patch is put on this arbitration coat-of-many-colours. There is too much patchwork about the whole system. While I congratulate the Government upon having acceded to the request of the Opposition in certain matters in connexion with this bill, I feel, sure that if it would look into the subject more intently it would realize that it is unwise to clothe the conciliation commissioners will full arbitral powers. If this is done, incalculable harm, may be occasioned to industry, which is, at present, just hobbling along. In my opinion the less interference there is with industry by arbitration authorities of any kind the better it will be. We should make it possible for the parties to industrial disputes to meet in friendly conference; but we should not force agreements on one side or the other in this manner. I realize, of course, that as the bill now stands, it will be possible for the parties to appeal within 21 days against any decision with regard to hours of work and rates of pay, and that the* appeal must be heard by a full bench of the Arbitration Court. In my opinion there are likely to be numerous appeals. What will happen when an appeal is made? Will the respective parties have to submit to the court all the evidence placed before the conciliation commissioners? 1. as an employer, could not afford to attend before a conciliation commissioner day after day, or travel about the country with him as a member of a conciliation committee to collect evidence. There are few employers that could afford to do that. Where there is no agreement, evidence has to be called from both sides of industry. Then there may be an appeal from the decision of the commissioner, and in that event evidence will again be called by .the judge. Surely it cannot be contended that such a method is business-like! I prefer the system that is at present in operation with all its faults. The best reform was that which the Bruce-Page Government proposed to put into operation, and that was that big interstate disputes only should remain under federal jurisdiction, and lesser industrial disputes left to the States for settlement. That would certainly have been an improvement on the present industrial system, and would have relegated the court to what it was originally intended to be. Under this present compromise the arbitral powers of the judge are still to be exercised, and by laymen. I am opposed to that, even if some honorable members on this side “are not. I opposed this principle on the second reading, and I see no reason why I should change the attitude that I adopted then.
– Does the honorable member intend to vote with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) ?
– If necessary. The Arbitration Court operating as it is to-day, and presided over by judges skilled in the taking of evidence and the making of decisions, will bring about much better results than could be obtained by conciliation commissioners taken only from the labour side of industry. I shall vote against the compromise, in. the belief that, by so doing, something better may be obtained. The Arbitration Bill introduced by this Government is only a substitute for the stupid constitutional amendment bills introduced by it, and rejected by the Senate.
– I regret that this Government has i-ot been able to give effect to the arbitration legislation that it originally introduced; but I am prepared to support the compromise which has been arrived at by the managers of the conference of both Houses, in the belief that, .in so doing, I shall be acting in the best interests of the workers. I have a keen appreciation of the slaughter that will take place among the workers if this House adjourns without amending the Arbitration Act. AH my life I have been loyal to the workers, and I am not averse to accepting a compromise if it is in their interests to do so. I am not concerned with the tears shed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), because I -have a keen recollection of his attitude when he introduced a bill to amend the criminal code. This compromise is far from what the great mass of the workers want; but still it iB the best that we can do for them, and, if accepted, it will to some extent alleviate the oppressive conditions under which they are working. If I thought that, by going to the country, this Government could, within the next few months, give effect to its original proposals, I should be prepared to take that step; but, knowing that a period of three months must elapse before the bill can again be referred to the Senate, and that in the meantime the existing industrial conditions would bo emasculated and torn to pieces, I prefer to accept the compromise, and at least give the workers some relief for the time being. I have spent all my life with the industrial movement, and I shall continue to support it. The honorable member for “Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) is adopting a wrong attitude in opposing the compromise. I believe that the great majority of the employers are in sympathy with the workers. “We have a recent illustration of that, because when His Honour, Mr. Justice Dethridge, reduced the wages in the shearing industry, some of the employers continued to pay the rates fixed under the old award. 1 believe that if, in that case, a conciliation committee, representative of both sides of industry, apart altogether from a commissioner or judge, had met and discussed the conditions of the shearing industry, much better results would have been obtained. I am not averse to accepting a compromise. Life is but a compro- mise between contending parties, and until the system under which we live changes, we shall continue to compromise. In accepting the decision of the managers of the conference, we are, at the moment, doing our best for the workers.
.- I regret indeed the intensely partisan speeches that have been made during this discussion. If there is one thing more than another that we should seek to do at present, it is to bring about goodwill in industry. Now that an agreement has been reached between the two Houses and the partisan Parliament, there is nothing at all to be gained by fostering class hatred or a sense of injustice among any section of the community. Surely it is our duty truly to represent the people, and any honorable member, no matter to what party he belongs, should represent the whole, and not one section, of his constituents. “We should endeavour at this time of financial stress to make the industrial machine work smoothly and harmoniously. If, by accepting this compromise, we can bring that about, we shall be doing a great deal to increase the prestige of Australia, and to improve our status among the nations of the world. I regard it as a good augury that this Government, with its huge majority, has seen fit to accept a compromise, which must be fairly reasonable, otherwise it would not be willing to agree to it. On this occasion, it is setting to those engaged in industry a good example, which I sincerely believe is likely to lead to the infusion of a spirit of compromise into the relations between employer and employee. Industry could not live if there were not a certain amount of compromise in the conduct of capital and labour. It is the same as in married life. Two persons could not live together for a week unless they were prepared to compromise. I urge honorable members to accept the agreement that has been arrived at. It is 40 years since we started to drill the hostile camps of employers and employees, and there is no question that antagonism bred in that way has been responsible for the decline of our production. We have now an opportunity to remedy to some extent that position. Australia is faced with a crisis, and the tendency is to bring all sections of the community closer together.
– Does the honorable member think that this legislation will bring us closer together’?
– The alteration that is now being made in the bill will lessen the difficulties of industry.
– After all, some advance has been made in this legislation. Take the secret ballot which was introduced by the last Government with the object of giving to the workers of Australia some control of their policy and their executive. The most objectionable feature to the unions generally was the method by which the secret ballot could be instituted. Any ten men in any one union could apply for a secret ballot. Under the compromise, the principle of the secret ballot is retained in the bill, but it can be operated only by the court. At least five or six most objectionable provisions from the point of view of the unions have been deleted from the bill. As most of the unions have made some provision in their constitutions for the taking of secret ballots, there should be no objection to the court, if it thinks fit, authorizing the taking of a secret ballot. All the provisions which might have been regarded as pinpricking have been taken out. That, surely, is all to the good. Another point at issue was the right of a member to resign from an organization. The bill provided that a member of an organization should not be allowed to resign while a dispute was in progress, and this was objected to on the ground that, as some of the bigger unions have complaints before the court practically all the time, members would never be permitted to resign. As a result of the stand taken by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley), and of the subsequent action of the managers representing the two Houses, we have arrived at a reasonable compromise to the effect that a man shall not be compelled to continue as a member of a union after he changes his occupation, and that he may resign after giving three months’ notice. The acceptance of this arrangement does not constitute an abandonment of principle by those who supported the bill. It will, however, tend to lubricate the wheels of industry.
The penalties for taking part in a strike have been abolished, but the bill still contains provisions for restraining union officials from inciting their members to break the terms of an award. If we believe in regulation of industry by award, we should support legislative provision to restrain persons from breaking awards. This provision will tend to preserve goodwill by acting as a definite brake upon those who might be inclined to create illwill. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) said that he would go through the length and breadth- of the country denouncing the amended bill as representing the abandonment .of union principles. How can he justify that attitude when the alterations in the bill have been, after all, on comparatively minor matters, and do not affect the general scheme of arbitration ? It would be almost impossible to get the general public to understand the points upon which we now differ. They are not of sufficient magnitude to fight an election on. Elections must be fought on broad general principles.
Another point of difference is the provision giving preference to unionists, “ other things being equal.” That provision has been restored, but honorable members opposite cannot contend that its restoration is likely to do injury to unionism. Since the establishment of arbitration in this country, unionism ha3 made more progress, relatively and actually, than in any other country. Therefore, it cannot be asserted that the law as it stands has harmed unionism. Honorable members must be prepared to accept a compromise - no one can get everything he wants. I believe that, even when we get to Heaven, we shall not be absolutely satisfied. The bill is an instalment of better things to come. I welcome it, because it represents an agreement between the various parties in Parliament.
– I wish to make my position clear. I contested the last election principally on the issue of arbitration. I pointed out the disabilities of the last act, and stated how we desired it to be amended. This House passed the Arbitration Bill after a good deal of discussion, and the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Brennan) declared that he could not accept anything less than what the bill provided for as it left here. Members of the Senate did not contest the election at all, and, therefore, have no mandate from the people to amend the bill. It is a piece of effrontery on their part to mutilate the bill as they have done, and to send it back here to us with a request that we accept their amendments. The Government has taken upon itself the responsibility of accepting the amendments. I can see very little hope of any improvement for. the workers as a result of this bill. We fought for the principle of conciliation, and desired that the conciliation commissioners should, in ordinary matters, have the power of finally determining disputes. “ One of the amendments made by the Senate is to the effect that there may be an appeal from the decision of a conciliation committee to three judges of the Arbitration Court. My experience has been that, if an award does not suit a party, there will always be an appeal to a higher tribunal if provision is made for it. The result will be that, after a decision has been’ given by a conciliation commissioner, there will almost invariably follow an appeal to the judges. Thus, far from simplifying the arbitration process, we shall merely have complicated it, and made it still more expensive for the unions. The chief aim of the bill as originally framed was to prevent prolonged and expensive litigation. It was our desire that disputes should be finally settled by the conciliation commissioners. When the employers have the right of appeal from the decision of the commissioners to three judges of the court, the workers will get it in the neck. Yet, without even a party meeting, or members on this side being consulted in any way, the Government proposes to accept the amendments of the Senate, and we have been asked, as loyal supporters of the Government, to accept them also. I have no faith in the bill as it now is. It is not going to help the workers, nor to promote industrial peace. Those on the Government side who support the acceptance of the amendments will, I believe, regret it in the future.
– I desire to record my protest against the acceptance of these amendments. I intend not to support them, for the reason that, when the Attorney-General introduced this bill, he said that it was the least the Government could accept. He directed attention to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), when Attorney-General in the last Government, had brought down an arbitration bill, and later so amended it that he was not able to recognize his own bill. This Government is now in much the same position. About 30 amendments have been made to the bill, not by this House, but by the Senate. I have been forced to the conclusion, as have many of the electors, that the Senate has been harassing this Government ever since it assumed office, and the Government has retreated before it every time it has taken up a stand. We . have retreated from one position to another, until we shall ultimately find ourselves ignominiously defeated for our cowardice in not forcing a double dissolution. Some honorable members profess to believe that this compromise it necessary to safeguard the wages of the workers against the attacks that are being made upon them. The vital amendment, so far as I am concerned, is that which provides for an appeal from the decision of the commissioners to three judges of the Arbitration Court. It is now pro:vided that three judges may, within 21 days, reverse a decision given by a commissioner. The bill as it left this House, was somewhat tod mild for my liking, because I believed that we should have debarred the legal fraternity altogether from participation in arbitration proceedings. The bill, as we finished with it, reserved for determination by judges of the court certain questions affecting the basic wage, and hours of working, and even with that I did not agree, because I believed that the President of the Arbitration Court alone should be competent to deal with such matters. This would have been in accordance with the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister-, when he said that we should free arbitration from all entangling legalisms. We are now reverting to the very system which we claimed to have a mandate to abolish. When these amendments receive the blessing of the Leader of the Opposition, they become immediately suspect to the workers of the country. He said that a conference between the parties should, have been held in the first place to consider the arbitration bill. Now, as a result of a conference between the two Houses, these amendments have been proposed for acceptance, and he says that they constitute, in effect, a new bill. The Leader of the Opposition has in the past shown how little he regards the interests of the workers, and his acceptance of the bill as now amended arouses my strongest suspicion. Some honorable members have claimed that the amendments are suitable to working class representatives. I have not much time for those working class representatives who are prepared to accept a compromise of this sort. Who are the rulers of this country? We, for the time being, are supposed to be; but it is evident that the Senate is ruling Australia at the present time. Whenever the Senate opposes legislation sent forward from this House, we run with our tails between our legs like whipped dogs, frightened to take a stand, and face the electors upon the issues involved. The original bill has been torn to shreds. I cannot accept it, and will not vote for it. A small coterie of men from this House and the Senate have met and agreed upon the amendments to the bill. I, a member, of the Gorvernment party, have never been consulted in regard to the matter. This is altogether unfair to Government supporters.
.- It is a thousand pities that a matter fraught with such vital consequences to the community should have to be discussed under these hurried conditions. I voted against the second reading because I considered that the bill was not an improvement on the existing act. The bill was returned to us from another place with vital amendments, to which this committee disagreed. Another place insisted upon them, and at 12.30 a.m. this day, when every decent man should have been asleep, managers appointed to represent the two Houses, who were tired after a long and exacting day of parliamentary work, met to discuss the points in dispute. A compromise was reached which we are now asked to accept. I cannot support this so-called new bill. I considered the original bill bad, and even the compromise measure recommended to us by the managers will appreciably diminish the efficiency of the existing act as an instrument for the achievement of industrial peace. For that reason I cannot support it.
.- 1 propose to advise my colleagues of the Labour party to give their unqualified support to the proposals of the Assistant Minister. The bill, as amended, does not meet with my wholehearted approval. On ‘ other occasions I have expressed my ideals in regard to industrial legislation, and 1 do not propose to voice platitudes this afternoon merely to tickle the ears of those who do not understand the seriousness of the position. But I am prepared to go before the trade unions in any State, and to give to the men who really understand arbitration a full explanation and justification of the vote I shall record this afternoon. My duty in this House is to serve the people. I represent, the majority of whom are workers. Although I do not think that the bill, as amended, represents all that we should have got, I believe I am justified in accepting it as representing some improvement on existing legislation. It will remove some .of the unworkable features of the act that have tended to create irritation, discontent, and suspicion in the minds of the workers. Although it does not achieve all that I desire, I am hopeful that it will achieve something. The compromise, although unpalatable in some respects, is the best that we can get in the circum-
.- The bill as a whole does not meet my desires fully with respect to industrial arbitration; but time does not now permit of the discussion of the details of these proposals. However, I regard the bill in its present form as a distinct improvement on the law now on the statute-book, and I shall support the motion moved by the Honorary Minister.
.- 1 am not satisfied with this compromise., but throughout my political life I have made it a rule when I could not get a whole loaf to accept half a loaf, or even a crumb. This Hil still provides too much law and not enough conciliation.
But it represents a step in advance. I commend to the consideration of honorable members a system that is in vogue in Europe, Les cours des prud’hommes - the courts of wise men. Starting in France, this system has spread to Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. The courts are constituted of three representatives each of masters and men, or, as we in Australia prefer to say, employers and employees. To maintain the balance of influence, if an employer is elected president an employee must be secretary, and rice versa. The costs of settling disputes between employers and employees range from10d. to 25s. I ask honorable members to contrast that with the sum of £20,000 expended by the Federated Tramways Unions before they could get a final judgment from the Arbitration Court. Honorable members would be wise to inform their minds regarding Les cours des prud’hommes, so that, at some future date, we may pass another amending bill which will offer less law and more justice.
.- I, too, regret that at this late hour of the session we should be confronted with a sheaf of amendments made by another place in a measure that is of paramount importance to the workers. If there is one matter in regard to which the Federal Labour party has a mandate from the people it is the continuance and improvement of the federal system of conciliation and arbitration. It is regrettable that, after months of deliberation, we have to return to our electors empty-handed, and explain to them that we have yielded to the pressure of another place. On this issue we have a definite mandate from the people; members of another place have no such mandate, and the appointment by this committee of managers to confer with managers representing the other chamber was as distasteful to me as would be the appointment of managers from the ministerial side to confer with managers representing the Opposition upon matters of government policy. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that this is a Government bill ; it is not. The bill that left this chamber has been emasculated by men in another place who have no right to meddle or interfere with a policy that has been endorsed by the people. This is not the only measure which has been mutilated by the conservative party in the other branch of this Parliament. The people expected the Government fearlessly to give effect to its mandate. There may be something in the contention that half a loaf is better than no bread; but the industrialists will be dissatisfied with the crumbs that are offered to them. This bill should not be the subject of compromise. The Government has a clear and definite mandate from the people, and I do not feel justified in accepting amendments foisted on us by men who have no authority from the people to tamper and meddle with the endorsed policy of the Labour party.
Question - Thatthe amendments be agreed to -put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Keane.)
Majority . . 38
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Motions (by Mr. Beasley) agreed to -
That amendment No. 17 be agreed to with the following amendment: -
Omit sub-section (4.) of proposed new section thirty-one a of the principal act, and insert in its stead the following subsection : - (4.) An award or order of a Concialiation Commissioner or a Conciliation Committee shall not, except by consent of all the parties, have effect until after the expiration of twentyone days from the making thereof, and with the following consequential amendment: -
Page 5, clause 21, after paragraph (a) insert the following new paragraphs: - “ (ab) by inserting in sub-section (1.), after the word ‘subject’ the words ‘to section thirtyone a of this act and ‘ ; “ (ac)by omitting from subsection (1.) the words ‘of the award ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ upon which the award comes into force ‘ “.
That amendment No. 19 be agreed to, with the following amendment: - “ In lieu of leaving out clause 33 which repeals section thirty-eightd of the principal act, amend section thirty- eight d of the principal act by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words -
That amendment No. 21 be agreed to, with the following amendment: - “ Omit from clause 41 of the bill the word ‘ twelve ‘ and insert in its stead the word ‘ nine’.”
That amendment No. 22 be agreed to with the following amendment: - “In lieu of omitting sections fifty-six a to fifty-sixg (both inclusive) of the principal act, omit sections fifty-sixa, fifty-six b, fifty-sixc, fifty-six e and fiftysixf.”
That amendment No. 26 be agreed to with the following amendment: - “Omit from paragraph (b) of proposed new section sixty-one, the words ‘one month’s ‘ and insert in their stead the words ‘ three months’.”
That amendment No. 29 be agreed to with the following amendment: - “ In lieu of omitting sections eightysix a, eight-six b, eighty-sixc, eighty-six d and eighty-seven of the principal act, omit sections eighty-six a, eighty-sixc, eighty-sixd, and eighty-seven, and amend section eighty-six b by omitting the words Five hundred ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ One hundred ‘.”
That amendment No. 30 be agreed to with the following amendment: - “ In lieu of leaving out clause 56 which repeals section eighty-nineb of the principal act, amend section eighty-nine b of the principal act by omitting the words eighty-five or eighty-six d’ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ or eighty-five ‘.”
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 7th August (vide page 5628), on motion by Mr. Beasley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I am astonished at the Government going on with this measure at this particular time. Never in the history of any Parliament has an Opposition shown so much consideration for a Government as has the present Opposition. During the last month or six weeks the parties on this side of the House have done everything possible to assist in the passage of legislation to enable the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) to have a few days’ rest, and an opportunity to discuss important financial problems with Sir Otto Niemeyer and his officers, before leaving for London to attend the Imperial Conference. The Opposition has made no attempt to stone-wall any piece of legislation, whether it be the Central Reserve Bank Bill, the tariff, or that unprecedented measure, the sales tax. When it has been necessary to sit five days a week, and engage in very late sittings, and even several all-night sittings, which have given the party leaders practically no rest, members of the Opposition have accorded the Government every assistance. The introduction, at this hour of the session, of the bill now before the House is one of the meanest and most contemptible actions ever permitted by a Government.
– Order! I cannot permit the use of that expression.
– Since it is unparliamentary, I withdraw it; but I speak with strong feeling, because the Opposition has not received the slightest consideration in this matter, nor has any consideration been shown for the persons affected by the bill, or for the public at large. What is now proposed to be done by the Government will reflect on the prestige of this Parliament, and will provide some support for the charge frequently laid that, because this Parliament is far-removed from the big centres of population, it is careless of what is done with public money.
– -Then get away from Canberra.
– No; the proper thing to do is to act in the public interest wherever the federal capital may be. This bill has been on the stocks for some four or five months. When a similar measure was previously before this Parliament the debate was adjourned from time to time on motions submitted by members of the Labour party.
– That is not fair.
– What I say is true. In 1928, I said that the then Government was quite prepared to put a measure through, substantially in the form in which it is now presented except in three important particulars now first introduced. The bill was brought down again in 1929, and the then Opposition again adjourned the debate, although the Government was quite prepared to pass the bill. We pointed out the reasons why it was necessary -to do so, and those reasons are as valid to-day as they were then. Although the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act is not a modern measure, any anomalies that occur under it are completely nullified by the action of those who administer it by means of acts of grace, which bring procedure into line with average practice. Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) and myself, after this House had adjourned, sat up until 4 a.m. at the conference with the managers for the Senate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and now we are asked to discuss a measure which reached this chamber at 10 o’clock last night. I have been trying to find out wherein this bill differs from the measures previously introduced. I understand that on three or four vital matters there are differences which need elaboration; but one hae not had time even to read the bill, before one is asked to discuss it. The Senate has had several adjournments of a week or a fortnight during the session, and yet the Government waits until the 7th August before sending the bill on to this House, when the House is rising on the 8th August. The Opposition has not been treated fairly in connexion with this bill, particularly as it has endeavoured to facilitate, in every way possible, the passage of all measures introduced by the Government. No doubt there is a time when it ia the duty of an Opposition to oppose every Government measure - and the late Opposition did so in the last Parliament - but the present Opposition feels that at a time when the financial issues facing the Government are so grave and the general position of the country so unsatisfactory it should do its best to assist to pass necessary legislation. I have not, personally, during the life of this Parliament, opposed a single Government measure, without making some constructive suggestion in regard to it. The Government has found some of these suggestions so valuable that it has acted upon them. Yesterday this House passed three or four bills in record time. It is true that they were more or less machinery measures; but if the Opposition had desired to do so, it could have’ stonewalled them, and obstructed business generally. In all these circumstances, I feel that we have a just grievance in connexion with this bill. The measure could have been submitted to Parliament any time in the last six months, and it should not have been brought down in the dying hours of the session. The only information that I have been able to obtain in connexion with this bill has been gathered during the last twenty-four hours. I tried to get certain information from the Assistant Minister who introduced the bill ; but all I could get him to say was, that he would explain in committee the provisions upon which I desired information. In treating the Opposition with this lack of consideration the Government is, in effect, treating the whole community with indifference.
At a time when all the State Governments have been called upon to reconsider the salaries and emoluments of State public servants, we should not be considering the granting of -special benefits to the Commonwealth Public Service without full discussion. Seeing that various State Governments have already made percentage reductions in the salaries of their officers, this
Government could very well postpone the consideration of this measure until a more appropriate time. I have found, in travelling through various districts of New South Wales recently, that there is a feeling abroad among the people that the Commonwealth Government has no desire to effect necessary economies in expenditure. The representatives of the States on the Loan Council have been called upon to make careful investigations into ways and means of reducing expenditure. It is regrettable, therefore, that this Parliament should have refused to interfere in any way with the present Ministerial salaries and the salaries of private members; and it is still more regrettable that it should seek to irritate the mind of the people by improving, in what I consider to be an. unnecessary way, the position of public servants generally by means of certain provisions in this bill.
I find that the compensation proposed to be provided for specified injuries under this act is above the average rate for Australia, and equal to the amount paid in New South Wales, which is the highest paid in . any State. Every one associated with industry in New South Wales, knows only too well of the tragic results, and bankruptcy in some cases, caused by the passage of the workmen’s compensation measure introduced by the Lang Labour Government. In my own district 30 or 40 sawmills had to cease operation because the excessively high premiums chargeable in respect of workmen’s compensation made it impossible fi .r them to continue working. The provision of compensation for employees injured in the course of their employment is desirable; but by making the rates of compensation too high, we cause useful and valuable legislation of this character to become unpopular with the general community, and cause greater unemployment.
We have been informed that, this bill h.tb been introduced because the act at present on the statute-book, which was passed in 1912, is out of date in many respects. That was recognized by the previous Government, and the effect of it was remedied in some degree at least by the making of special grants to Commonwealth public servants injured in the course of their employment. The amounts so paid varied from time to time, but they were usually generous. The previous Government felt that it was desirable to amend the principal act to provide specific rates of compensation in respect to the loss of limbs, the loss of an eye or finger, and so on, and it had prepared a bill to meet the situation. In my opinion, that measure was adequate, and if the Government is prepared to agree to the passage of such a bill, and allow the controversial provisions of the bill now before us to remain in abeyance until a proper opportunity is given to consider them, I shall be glad to facilitate the passage of the measure.
In several respects, this bill is vitally different from the bill drafted by tb«previous Government. I remind honorable members that it has been the practice of the Public Service Arbitrator, because of what he considered to be deficiencies of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, to provide in his awards for certain payments to be made in case of sickness and injury. The previous Government felt that a matter of this kind should be dealt with in one measure, and by one authority. It therefore provided, in clause 15 of the bill which it had drafted, that -
Upon the commencement of this act the Public Service Arbitrator appointed under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920-28 shall cease to have jurisdiction to make any determination granting compensation or other benefits to employees in respect of personal injury by accident arising out of, and in the course of, their employment, and any such determination in force at the commencement of this act shall, to the extent to which it grants such compensation or benefits, be of no effect:
Provided that nothing in this section shall affect any grant of compensation or other benefits made under a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator prior to the commencement of this act.
That was done because it was felt that a definite line of demarcation should be drawn between payments in the nature of compensation and those in the nature of salaries and wages. The Government recognizes that that is a reasonable attitude, but it has not the courage to deal with this question satisfactorily. It has put forward a hybrid provision to this effect -
IS. Where in any determination made by the Public Service Arbitrator appointed under the
Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920-1929. provision is made for the grant of compensation or other benefits to employees in respect of personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of their employment, any employee to whom the determination applies shall not be entitled to compensation or benefits both under the determination and under this act but may elect to take compensation or benefits either under the determination or under this act.
That provision is unsatisfactory. The Government recognizes that the existing position is quite wrong, otherwise it would not introduce this clause, hut it has not the courage to do the right thing, and that is to bring the question of compensation for injury under this legislation. I understand that, at present, there is no Public Service Arbitrator, so that the question of compensation must compulsorily come under this provision until an arbitrator is appointed. If the Government would accept my suggestion, much of my opposition to the bill would disappear.
I come now to the question of superannuation. It seems to me that a Commonwealth employee who receives superannuation because he is injured and has resigned from the Service, should not receive full compensation as well under the terms of this legislation. The late Government proposed to liberalize the scale of compensation for permanent injury. The act of 1912 provided that if a man were permanently injured he was entitled to so much a week for three years. He was not permitted to receive more than the maximum payment set down in the schedule. So long as a man who is permanently injured is alive, so long should he be entitled to a definite payment for his injury. The last Government altered the schedule of the 1912 act to exclude a lump sum payment in such a case of permanent injury so that a man who was permanently injured might receive the new rate of compensation - £3 a week - which, over a period of ten years, would be 2½ times as much as the total amount that would otherwise have been paid. Surely, it is not right that compensation should be paid in addition to full superannuation in such cases. This makes a sharp discrimination between temporary and permanent employees. The Bruce-Page Government also recognized that a man who -was injured was entitled to a refund of his personal contributions to the Superannuation Fund, even if he were receiving payment under the Workers Compensation Act. It provided in those circumstances that there should be a payment of half the weekly pension which would, otherwise, have been paid. That was a reasonable proposal, because the man who made contributions to superannuation, while in good health, was really providing an insurance for himself, and we considered that he should be able to receive the full measure of compensation which the Government wholly provides, and, at the same time, receive the amount of superannuation which he himself has provided. That is the only way by which the Commonwealth employees can be put on the same footing as outside workers and those employed by the various States. The late Government also proposed that, in the case of a death arising out of an accident, there should be payment as well to the widow. Clause 18 of the bill which was introduced by the late Government reads -
Where an employee, who is a contributor under the Superannuation Act 1922-1924. sustains injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, and that injury causes his death or total and permanent incapacity -
Provided that the reduction shall not be greater than one-half of the share of that total amount which would be so payable to the widow: and
I cannot find any reference to that at all in the bill now before the House, and I ask the Assistant Minister whether there is any reference to superannuation in it.
– Why not?
– Superannuation has nothing to do with compensation.
– The Assistant Minister may have some information on this subject, and, if so, I regret that he did not make it available when introducing the bill. I shall refer again to this subject when the bill is in committee. I come now to the schedule itself,
– Does the right honorable member object to the payment of £750?
– It would have been wise to place in the schedule a rate averaged on the rates paid in the various States, because the taxation that it is necessary to impose to meet these various claims will bear on all the taxpayers in the States. I, for one, should not like to put a monetary value on an injury of any sort. In my profession a monetary value is placed on the saving of various parts of the body; but I should be loth to believe that what we get for saving parts of the body in any way represents their value. If it did, I should be much better off than I am at present. There has been some definite recognition throughout the various countries of what is reasonable compensation for injuries, taking into consideration exactly what industry as a whole can carry. After all, we must come back to that point.
– Surely industry can carry its own weight 1
– It should be able to carry its own wreckage. It is a question of how much industry can carry, at the same time paying good wages, making good profits on which taxation can be levied to enable the public services of this country to be carried on, and being in a position, if necessary, to compete in the world’s markets. It is questionable whether, in a measure of this sort, we can make provision for the maximum that we desire. What we must aim at is to provide a maximum that industry can afford. I do not wish to discuss that at length before only six or seven honorable members, but if the controversial points were now adjusted, I should be prepared to allow the measure to pass, and, next session, to discuss any other amendments which are considered necessary. The Government has a majority in this chamber, and can amend the bill as it pleases, or put it through without any more ado. In view of the importance of the subject, however, and the fact that it has not been reviewed in this chamber for eighteen years, more consideration should be given to it than it is receiving. I do not suppose there will be more than a half a dozen secondreading speeches on it, because the bill has been brought on when most honorable members have already left for their homes, and those who remain are here only because they have not been able to catch an earlier train. This procedure is not fair to the House, to the country, or to the Commonwealth employees. It is possible that some honorable members would contend that the bill as it stands is not sufficiently liberal. Well, we should be given an opportunity of hearing their arguments. I appeal to the Government to depart from the unfair attitude it has taken up. I am sure that the conduct of the Opposition, and particularly of myself, cannot be advanced as a reason for the Government behaving as it is doing in regard to this bill.
When the bill was first brought down in the Senate in 1928, it did not include any provision for compensation in respect of industrial diseases. It was very strongly urged by members of the Labour party in the Senate that consideration should be given to that aspect of the subject. I admit that up to that time the Government had not fully considered it. The Bruce-Page Government had an ample majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, but, because of the arguments adduced in the Senate by members of the Labour party, we had the whole matter reviewed by the Director-General of Health and a special committee, and in the bill introduced in January, 1929, provision was incorporated for compensation in respect of industrial diseases. That illustrates the advantages of allowing measures of this kind to be properly debated. There are other matters in the bill which might well form the subject of debate. There is, for instance, the provision relating to the powers of the Public Service Arbitrator, and the question whether or not superannuation should be paid to employees in receipt of compensa- tion. The Government is the custodian of public moneys, and some may hold the view that the taxpayers should not be asked to pay injured employees twice, as is done now. The schedule of the bill introduced by the last Government was discussed at length by Sir Neville Howse and myself. We went into the matter very closely, applying our professional experience, and paid particular attention to industrial diseases. As a result of this, and of the deliberations of the special committee which was appointed to go into the subject, the schedule to that bill was prepared.
– This Government has adopted the last schedule and added a few things more.
– If a proper opportunity were afforded for debating the bill, we might be able still further to amend the schedule. For instance, the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) referred the other day to the effects of white lead, which irritates the kidneys, and sometimes causes early death. If provision were made in the bill for the compensation of sufferers from that cause it would be worth the delay necessary to enable this matter to be tully considered and discussed. No harm could possibly be done to any one by delaying the measure, but much harm may be done if the bill is rushed through without proper consideration. It is a ludicrous way of doing business to expect a man to debate a bill which he has not had time to study, and which he must read while he is on his feet. This is an insult to the House. So far as I can see, the schedule to this bill is identical in most respects with that to the bill introduced by the Bruce-Page Government. I am convinced, however, that if I had opportunity to go fully into the matter I should be able to suggest some important additions to the schedule.
– Why did not the right honorable member make the additions to the last bill?
– Because, when that bill was under preparation, I was, unfortunately for myself, conducting two or three departments of State which forced me to work very hard indeed; and kept me entirely away from my professional work. I am prepared to allow the bill to go through immediately, and without further discussion, if the Government will reserve the contentious matters to which I have referred. This is not a party measure.
– It does not sound like it !
– The honorable member was not similarly treated by me when I was in charge of the last bill. I was always prepared to discuss the matter frankly with honorable members, and to consider their suggestions. I adopted the same attitude in regard to the superannuation bill.
The third schedule of the bill differs from the schedule of the act, passed in 1912, in that there is an absence of definite provision in respect of permanent injury. That provision was deliberately omitted by the last Government so that there should be no upward limit to the amount of money which might be received. I know of one case in which a telephone linesman, working in the wet, received an electric shock as a result of a short circuit, and, falling from a pole, broke his back by striking a fence beneath. Under the terms of the act he was offered a lump sum by way of compensation. Everyone thought at the time that he would live only for a year or eighteen months, and he believed it would be to his advantage to accept £500 or £600 in full settlement. Actually, he lived for eight or nine years, and when his compensation money was exhausted he was without means of livelihood, and was lying paralysed on his bed. To obviate such occurrences I removed from the bill any upward limit in regard to the amount of compensation payable. I refused to consider the commutation of compensation in such cases of permanent injury. If a man lived for only six months after his accident, I believe that we should then treat with his widow in regard to settlement by the payment of a lump sum, but on no account should we seek to discharge our liability to the man himself in such a manner. He should be paid a permanent pension of so much a week. The man to whom I have referred, would, under that arrangement, have drawn over £1,200, whereas actually he accepted a lump sum of between £500 and £600, and was compelled for five or six years to live on the charity of his friends, neighbours and relatives. We should consider whether it is right to give to a man an opportunity to accept a lump turn instead of regular weekly payments, and so run the risk of being stranded when his money is exhausted. For that reason my own bill disallowed any commutation of the compensation. However, I do not wish to be dogmatic; the matter is one for argument, and we should have the benefit of the knowledge and experience of men who have been associated with industrial organizations, and have come in contact with workers who have suffered severe accidents and yet lived for many years. The schedule of payments in the 1929 bill was based on the amounts provided in State legislation. Theprincipal allowances were -
There were also certain additional qualifications relating to the total loss of the use of any part of the body. A person who had totally lost the use of any part of the body had the same rights as a person who had totally lost that part. I have known of men with a badly smashed wrist unable to use the hand effectively. Such men should receive the same compensation as one whose arm has been taken off above the point of injury. Other men suffer paralysis of the nerves as a result of fractures of the arm. They appear to be all right, but one arm may be completely paralysed because the nerve is caught in a. bony callous. For all practical purposes that person is in the same position as if he had lost the arm at the shoulder. The bill introduced by me provided -
For the total loss of the use of any part of tie body there shall be payable the same compensation as for the loss of that part.
For the partial loss of the use ofany part of the body there shall be payable such percentage of the amount payable for the loss of that part of the body as is equal to the percentage of the diminution of the use of that part.
For the loss of one joint of a thumb, finger, or toe, there shall be payable fifty per centum of the prescribed amount for the loss of a thumb, finger, or toe, respectively; the loss of more than one joint of afinger or toe shall be deemed to be total loss of such finger or toe.
In regard to compensation in the event of death, the bill stated -
Where death results from the injury -
if the employee leaves any dependants wholly dependent upon his earnings, a sum equal to one hundred and fifty-six times his weekly pay at the time of the injury, or the sum of four hundred pounds, whichever of those sums is the larger, but not exceeding in any case seven hundred pounds:
Provided that the amount of any weekly payments made under this act, and any lump sum paid in redemption thereof, shall be deducted from such sum, but so thai the amount payable to the dependants upon the death of the employee shall not be less than two hundred pounds;
if the employee does not leave any such dependants, but leaves any dependants in part dependent upon his earnings, such sum, not exceeding in any case the amount payable under the foregoing provisions, as is considered by the Commissioner to be reasonable and proportionate to the injury to the dependants ; and
if he leaves no dependants, the reasonable expenses of his burial, not exceeding twenty-five pounds.
Honorable members will see that the payments varied from £400 to £700. [Quorum formed.] The following particulars of the range of payments in State compensation acts indicate how generous the proposals of the Bruce-Page Government were: - Tasmania, £200 to £400; Western Australia, £400 to £600; South Australia, £400 to £600; Queensland, £300 to £600; Victoria, £200 to £600; and New South Wales, £400 to £800. The proposed maximum for the Commonwealth was lower than that of New South Wales only, and was higher than that of any other State. As the taxpayers of the States have to contribute the money required for payment of Commonwealth compensation, it was reasonable that the
Parliament should endeavour to strike an average, so that there would be no marked discrimination between the amounts paid to Commonwealth employees and those received by the employees of State governments and private enterprise.
– Order ! The right honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) commenced his speech by saying that during this session the parties in opposition had never been guilty of stone-walling, but had assisted the Government to expedite business. Yet for the last 65 minutes we have listened to what was neither more nor less than clumsy stone-walling. I do not object to such tactics if honorable members opposite are frank about them; if they are stone-walling, let them admit it. The right honorable member for Cowper said that, as economy is necessary at this time, the bill should not be accepted. The aggregate amount involved in the extra benefits proposed, as compared with those provided under the existing act, is not very great; but the additions will be a substantial help to the beneficiaries. We have been told that we must, have regard to the compensation paid by State governments to their employees. That argument is not sound, although, as a matter of fact, the compensation State public servants receive is equal to that provided in the bill. The right honorable member for Cowper stated that the payments proposed in this measure are higher than are provided in any other similar legislation in the Commonwealth. That is not so. He also said that he was surprised at the Government proceeding with this measure at the present time, yet he admitted that for years a similar proposal had been under consideration. It is necessary to pass the bill now because of the unfair “position in which Commonwealth employees find themselves. The right honorable gentleman also said that the reason why the bill was not dealt with in the last Parliament was that the Opposition secured the adjournment of the debate. But we all know that a member of the Opposition obtains the adjournment of a debate only with the sanction of the Government of the day. I happened to be the member who secured the adjournment of the discussion on the previous bill, and I think that it was done on a Friday afternoon. I was prepared to speak on the measure then, but the Government asked me to move that the debate be adjourned. The bill remained on the notice-paper, but it was not placed at the top of the agenda so that it might be discussed. Therefore, the Bruce-Page Government was responsible for the delay that occurred on that occasion.
The right honorable member also said that he had had no opportunity to read this bill. I point out that he could have obtained a copy of it from the Senate at any time last week. This afternoon he dealt with every clause that was not contained in the measure which he himself introduced during the late Government’s term of office. Obviously there is no reason why the bill should not be disposed of forthwith. The right honorable member complained that a clause in the previous bill providing that compensation payments would be affected >by superannuation payments was not included in the present measure. When the right honorable member was Treasurer, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) and I saw him with regard to this matter, and he said that he could not interfere with the Superannuation Act at that time, yet under the last bill the payment of compensation to employees who were injured, or contracted industrial diseases, would affect their superannuation rights. Compensation and superannuation are entirely separate matters, and the present bill affirms that principle. The industrial diseases to which the right honorable gentleman referred are those specified in the various State acts. Commonwealth employees should not be at a disadvantage compared with State employees. The schedule to this bill mentions more industrial diseases than those referred to in the 1929 measure. If the right honorable member thinks that more industrial diseases should be covered by this bill, the Government, no doubt, will be glad when Parliament resumes, to accept any suggestions on the matter that he may offer.
There ie every reason why, even at this late hour, the bill should be passed. The present act came into force in 1912, and it has not been amended since then, although within a few years of its enactment it became obsolete because of the reduced purchasing power of money. The South Australian act of 1911 was amended in 1918, 1919, 1920, 1922, 1924, and 1926. The Western Australian act has been amended since 1912 on four occasions. The Queensland act, which was passed in 1916, was amended in 1923. The Victorian act is dated 1915. This is the fourth occasion on which an amendment of the Commonwealth act has been submitted to this Parliament. In 1926 ex-Senator Needham introduced a private bill into the Senate for the purpose of amending the act. The Bruce-Page Government submitted amending bills in 1928 and 1929, and on each of those occasions the measure was introduced in the Senate. When it reached this chamber the second reading was moved, but no debate was allowed. Therefore, Commonwealth employees have been at a disadvantage as compared with State employees in the matter of compensation since about 1914, because they have been working for the last sixteen years under an act which should have been made more liberal than it was. I was surprised to hear the right honorable member quote figures in regard to the State acts. He was in error in regard to the Victorian and Western Australian measures. Provision was made in the New South Wales act in 1925 for the payment of £800 in the event of the death of an employee. The maximum amount payable under the Commonwealth act for incapacity is £750, compared with £1,000 under the New South Wales act. This bill cannot be regarded as too liberal; as a matter of fact, it does not go far enough. Even if it were a copy of the New South Wales measure, it would not go too far. I hope that it will be speedily passed.
.- I protest against this measure being rushed through the House at this late hour. The introduction of a bill into this chamber after 4 p.m. on a Friday is probably without precedent in this Parliament. In bringing this measure down on the final day of a long and arduous session, I think that the Government has shown a lack of courtesy to honorable members, and its action is most unparliamentary. Apparently honorable members are being asked to agree, not only to the second reading of this bill, but also to the passage of it through all its stages. I again ask the Assistant Minister to agree to an adjournment of the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– This seems to be a suitable opportunity for me to compare the weekly payments made in compensation, in respect of total, or partial incapacity, under the legislation of the various States. In the first schedule of the bill it is set out that -
The amount of compensation under this act shallbe -
Provided that as respects the weekly payments during total incapacityof an employee who is under twenty-one years of age at the date of the injury, and whose weekly pay is less than Thirty shillings, one hundred per centum shall be substituted for two-thirds of his weekly pay, but the weekly payment shall in no case exceed One pound; and
Provided that no payment shall be made under this sub-paragraph in respect of any children of the employee in respect of whom he is receiving any payment by way of child endowment independently of this act.
The following table sets out the position in each State, and also shows the amount proposed to be paid under this bill: -
Under this measure the amount payable in respect to the loss of limbs, or parts of limbs, will also be in excess of the average amount payable in the States. I pointed out in my second-reading speech that the operation of the New South Wales act has had a most detrimental effect upon industry in that State, and we should not do anything, particularly under the present depressing conditions, to add to the burdens of industry or the cost of government. I know that if I were to move for a reduction of the amount stated in the bill my motion would be ruled out of order, but I trust that the Government will give some consideration to the wisdom of not insisting upon the present proposals. I should like to know from the Assistant Minister what would be the position, under this bill, of an injured worker with ten children. Would he be able to collect 7s. 6d. per week for each child in respect of which he receives child endowment, and another £3 per week in addition i
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - . “ Commissioner “ means the commissioner for employees’ compensation. “Dependants” means such of the members of an employee’s family as were wholly or in part dependent upon the earnings of the employee at the time of his death, or who would, but for the incapacity due to the accident, have been so dependent; and where the employee -
– Is it intended to appoint a special commissioner to administer this act, or will the work be done by the Secretary to the Treasury, or some other encumbent? In my experience, the Secretary to the Treasury has proved to be an admirable Commissioner of Pensions, and the deputy commissioners in the various States have assisted him excellently. I should also like to know whether “ dependants “ will include legallyadopted children?
– The Government intends to adopt the proposal of the previous Government in regard to the administration of this act, and appoint the Secretary to the Treasury as the commissioner for employees’ compensation. I think the definition of “ dependants “ would cover such cases as those referred to by the right honorable member.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 6.3 to 6.30 p.m.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Clauses 9 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 (Compensation under determination by Public Service Arbitrator).
.-I again appeal to the Assistant Minister not to carry the bill beyond this stage. In the absence of my leader, I feel a certain responsibility in regard to this measure.I am not familiar with it, and I have had no opportunity of studying it. I feel that I am not carrying out onduty to the electors and the taxpayers by merely sitting here assenting to the clauses as they are dealt with. I do not think that the Government is doing a fair thing by the committee. The bill has, in a sense, been introduced out of hours. It is unusual to proceed with legislation after 4 o’clock on Friday, even when it has been introduced earlier ; but to introduce new legislation at this hour during the closing stages of the session is straining the generosity and patience of the Opposition too far.As the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) pointed out, the Opposition has been very reasonable during this session, and during the past crowded fortnight it has been positively generous. The Government is making & very indifferent return to us by placing us in the false position of having to assent to legislation introduced at this stage. I appeal to the Government to report progress now, and to let us resume consideration of the bill in the new session.
– I could appreciate the suggestion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) if this were a new measure, but it has already been before two Parliaments.
– It is new to many honorable members of this House.
– The bill has previously been discussed from all angles, and in its present form contains only one or two minor alterations. I am sure that it received very full consideration when before the Senate, and honorable members on this side of the House, at any rate, are aware of the fact that the Senate does not pass legislation unless it is satisfied that it is in the interests of the people it represents. If we are compelled to insist upon the bill being put through at this stage of the session, we have, I am sure, ample excuse for doing so.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 28 agreed to.
First and second schedules agreed to.
.- I am not familiar with the scale of compensation in other similar measures, and I should like to have an assurance from the Assistant Minister that this measure is in line with others in this respect. I am impressed by the fact that in this bill the compensation for relatively minor injuries, approximates very closely to that for total incapacity. For instance, the compensation for total or incurable loss of mental powers, involving inability to work, is £750, whereas, for loss of five fingers of either hand, the compensation is £600. It seems to me that the compensation in those cases is disproportionate.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– by leaveYesterday the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) asked me, without notice, whether I would furnish him with the names, add resses and occupations of the persons who constitute the Provisional Council of Darwin. I now have pleasure in advising the honorable member as follows: -
As a result of the resignation of the Darwin Town Council, it was necessary to make arrangements for the carrying on of the council’s work and for the payment of men employed by the council.
The principal ordinance, under which the members of the council are elected, was at the time being revised and consolidated. To overcome the difficulty, a special ordinance was passed, giving the Minister power to appoint a temporary council. The Government Resident was asked to nominate five persons who were willing to act as members of the council. On the 19th June, 1930, the Government Resident submitted his nominations, which I approved.
The members of the council nominated by the Government Resident, and appointed by me, are -
John Henry Brogan, shopkeeper.
Robert Henry Bowman, dentist.
Patrick Brennan, agent.
Ainsly Hubert Callanan, railway official.
Patrick Enfield Connors, pearler.
Mr. Brogan was appointed to the office of Mayor.
– by leave- On the 16th July the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) asked me the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to advise him as follows : -
Freight from Goulburn to Canberra is 3s. per case of four dozen bottles. The cost per bottle landed at Canberra would be -
3.A half-pint tankard holds 10 fluid oz., and the net fluid contents of a bottle is 26 oz., or in retailing by the half-pint tankard, two and a half half-pint tankards to the bottle, giving a return by retail at1s. per half-pint tankard, of 2s.6d. for each bottle, which is not an excessive charge considering service and the wastage inevitable in ullaged bottles unless sales arc quick. Figures are not available to allow of a comparison with charges made in Parliament House refreshment rooms.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee: (Consideration of Senate’s amendments).
Scheduleof the Amendments made by the Senate.
No. 1. Clause 20, leave out paragraph (d), insert the following new paragraph: - “(d) goods sold exclusively by retail by a person (not being a person who manufactures articles for human wear), whose principal business consists of the manufacture of goods to the order of individual customers ; “.
No. 2. Clause 20, line 37, leave out “an individual”, insert “a person”.
No. 3. ‘Clause 73, line 11, after “particular,” insert “ (a) for providing for the making of such refunds as are, in the opinion of the Commissioner, necessary for the purpose of obviating double taxation of the sale value of any goods under two or more acts of the Parliament relating to the payment of sales tax; and
No. 4. First Schedule, insert “Briquettes”.
No. 6. First Schedule, insert “ Copper Sulphate; “.
No. 6. First Schedule, insert “Flotation reagents for mining purposes ; “.
Motion (by Mr. Beasley) agreed to -
That amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 be agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 5 -
– On behalf of the Prime Minister I move -
That the amendment be not agreed to.
The Government cannot agree to this amendment to include the item “copper sulphate “ in this bill for the reason that its absence from the schedules to the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1930, the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1930, the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1930, the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1930, the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 6) 1930, the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 7) 1930, and the Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 8) 1930 would create an anomaly by exempting copper sulphate only when the manufacturer of it in Australia sells it to an unregistered person and would cause administrative difficulties in distinguishing between imported copper sulphate and copper sulphate manufactured in Australia.
– I appreciate the anomaly that would be created by the exemption of copper sulplate in this bill and the non-exemption of it in the related measures. But does the Government approve of the exemption of copper sulphate? If it does, it will be easy for another place to extend the exemption through the other bills. Copper sulphate plays an important part in agricultural operations, and its exemption would, not only relieve the farmer of proposed taxation, but help him substantially in another direction. It is used extensively as a disease preventative and resistant, and to refuse exemption to a commodity which has this peculiar value would be to carry taxation to an extreme limit.
– What would be the effect on the revenue?
– I cannot say what loss of revenue would be involved in making the exemption. Copper sulphate is used by every grain-grower in the Commonwealth, and, as it is an indispensable aid to the production of wheat, I appeal to the Government either to agree to the amendment and to afford another place an opportunity to make a similar amendment in the other sales tax bills.
– I am informed that this proposal was exhaustively discussed in another place and resolutely resisted by the representatives of the Government. Therefore, no good purpose would be served by adopting the course suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr, Gullett). The exemptions already granted are the, utmost that are justified, in the opinion of the Government ; but, if the estimate of revenue from this tax is realized, the exemptions may be reduced next year. In that event full consideration will be given to the possibility of further relieving primary production.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted. Motion (by Mr. Beasley) agreed to -
That Mr. Scullin, Mr. Fenton, and the mover be appointed a committee to draw up a reason for disagreeing to amendment No. 5.
Mr. Beasley, on behalf of the committee, brought up the following reason : -
As this amendment is not in all the Sales Tax Assessment Bills, it creates an anomaly, and renders equitable administration impracticable.
(Nos. 2 to 4).
Bills returned from Senate with consequential amendments, which were considered in committee, and agreed to.
Resolutions reported; reports adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendment*.
In committee: (Consideration of Senate’s amendments).
Schedule of the Amendments hade by the Senate.
Nos. 1, 2, and 3. - Clause 4, leave out “ duty paid value”, insert “value for duty”.
No. 4. - Clause 6, line 30, at end of clause add “ or any goods, being vessels trading intrastate or interstate, or otherwise employed in Australian waters, for a continuous period of less than three months “.
Nos. 5 and 6. - Clause 9, leave out “duty paid value”, insert “value for duty”.
No. 7.- The Schedule- Insert “Flotation reagents for mining purposes;”.
No. 8. - The Schedule - Insert “Oregon for mining purposes;”.
No. 9. - The Schedule - Insert “Passengers’ personal effects;”.
No. 10. - The Schedule - Insert “Passengers’ furniture and household goods which nave been in actual use by such passengers for at least one year, not exceeding One hundred pounds in value for each adult passenger (two members of a family, being children, being, for the purposes of this item, reckoned as one adult) ;”.
No. 11.- The Schedule- Insert “Vessels;”.
Motion (by Mr. Beasley) agreed to - That the amendments be agreed to. Resolution reported; report adopted.
(Nos. 6 to 8).
Bills returned from the Senate with consequential amendments, which were considered in committee, and agreed to.
Resolutions reported; reports adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1930.
Bills returned from the Senate without requests.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating it had agreed to the amendments of the House of Representatives upon amendments Nos. 19, 21, 22, 26, 29, and 30 of the Senate; to the amendment made by the House of Representatives upon the Senate’s amendment No. 17, and to the consequential amendment made by the House of Representatives in clause 21.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that the Senate did not press its request for an amendment which the House of Representatives had not made.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendments of the House of Representatives upon an amendment made by the Senate and did not insist upon another amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this bill.
Bill returned from, the Senate “without requests.
Bill returned from the Senate without a mendment.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that the Senate did not insist on its amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
J desire to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the able and impartial way in which you have presided over the deliberations of the House during a very arduous session. I desire also 1o thank the Chairman of Committees (Mr. McGrath), the clerks of the House, the members of the Hansard staff, and the attendants for their contri-I ‘litton towards the smooth working of the House. I also express my thanks to the members of the Opposition for their help in keeping the House going, and in conducting the business before it.
.-I associate myself with the remarks which have fallen from the lips of the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), and particularly do I extend to you, Mr. Speaker, the sincere congratulations of the members of the Opposition on the capable and impartial manner in which you have carried out your duties. We knew you on the floor of the House as a keen party man ; we know you now as a capable, firm, and disinterested Speaker. Our thanks are due, also, to the Chairman of Committees and the officers and staffs of the House. May I also take this opportunity to express to the Prime Minister the hearty wishes of the members of the Opposition that his mission overseas may be both successful and enjoyable?
– It is indeed gratifying to me to hear such kindly expressions regarding myself from the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett). My duties have been rendered easier and more pleasant by the uniform support I have received from the leaders of parties, Ministers, and honorable members generally, and to all of them I am deeply grateful. The consideration extended to me on all sides during a protracted session made my labours less arduous than they otherwise would have been. I acknowledge the wonderful assistance I have received from, the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees (Mr. McGrath). He has been a most loyal colleague, and has done everything possible to relieve mc. while at the same time discharging his duties as Chairman of Committees with tact and ability. To the temporary Chairmen of Committees, also, the House is considerably indebted. All the officers associated with the work of the House have experienced a heavy strain on their physical strength and professional ability, especially during the last few weeks; but they have come through the ordeal most successfully. This chamber is fortunate in having such a highly capable staff of officers. Only when we read our proofs do we realize the value of the services that are rendered to us by the Hansard staff, who so ably interpret and express our thoughts, if not always our actual words. To the staff of the library and to all the other servants of the House I tender the heartfelt thanks of honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 8.4 p.m., until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 August 1930, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1930/19300808_reps_12_126/>.