18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– by- leave-
I inform honorable members that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) has been asked to act, as .from the 24th April as Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation during .the absence abroad of Mr. Drakeford.
– Many of my constituents have complained to me that they are being discouraged by the high postal charges ‘ that are imposed on food parcels which they would like to Bend to Great Britain, and have drawn attention to certain anomalies.
I understand that the present . postal rate is ls. lid. on a parcel weighing from 1 lb. to 3 lb., 3s. Id. on a parcel weighing from 3 lb. to 7 lb., and 5s. lOd. on a parcel weighing from 7 lb. to 11 lb.- I have had brought to- my notice the fact that the consignor of a 7-lb. parcel which was a few ounces overweight had either to re-pack the food in order to remove the overweight, or pay the rate of 5s lOd. that is chargeable on a parcel, weighing between 7 lb. and
II lb. The present practice is causing considerable inconvenience to persons who, when packing, cannot estimate the weight to within § oz. Will the Minister representing, the PostmasterGeneral ask that Minister to remove the existing anomaly by providing for a proportionate charge on* parcels that arebetween the stipulated weights?
– The parties to the agreement under which parcels are received in Australia for despatch to Great Britain are the British Government on the. one hand and the Australian Government on the other hand, and its terms cannot be altered bv the Australian Government without the consent -of the British Government, which does not approve of any reduction of the existing postal rates.
– I am asking not for a reduction but for a proportionate charge.
– The British Government would have to agree to the request’ of the honorable member. Up to date. it . has not seen fit to alter any of the conditions ‘ of the agreement, in respect of both the rate of postage and. the weights of the parcels despatched. I shall ask the Postmaster-General’ to. make representations to the British Government. The . matter has been raised at ‘ least a dozen times, and the same answer has been given on each occasion. Insistence on the existing practice is due not to any desire on the part of the Australian. Government to adhere strictly to the terms of the agreement, but entirely ‘ to the inability of the British Government to see the wisdom of changing the conditions in the direction desired by the honorable gentleman.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture any statement to make, or will he make a statement at some appropriate time, upon the question of meatless days, when there may be a total absence of meat consumed in Australia, in order to facilitate the supply of food to Great Britain?
– I anticipate being able to make to-morrow a comprehensive statement to the House on the subject of food for Great Britain. I feel confident that, to the degree that that statement may deal with meatless days, it will be entirely satisfactory to the honorable member
– The people in charge of the British freighter Port Fairy have been obliged to reveal that the projected, trip by that vessel to New Zealand to lift a full cargo of 10,000 tons of meat has had to be cancelled because it was held up for. five weeks -in the Port of Sydney owing to a strike on the waterfront there. The freighter is now in Melbourne lifting a cargo consisting substantially of apples. Some meat and butter are also being loaded. In view of the announcement of the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Government is doing and will do all it can to ensure the shipment to Great Britain of as much meat as possible and the revelation - -
– Who has made a revelation ?
– The captain of the freighter, I understand. In view of that revelation will the Prime Minister give an . assurance . that any strike or other industrial. circumstance likely to produce such an unfortunate -result as that will he regarded by the Government as a matter ^ concerning it and therefore one about which it will take some .action?
– I am not aware of the statement purported to have been made about Port Fairy. I have found lately that some statements about shipping and other matters made in questions asked by honorable members opposite on the basis of press reports have been entirely inaccurate. I shall need to make full inquiries whether the statement referred to by the honorable gentleman is factual. I will ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping what was and is the position about Port Fairy before replying to the honorable member.
Mr. E. A. Harrison
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether a Mr. E. A. Harrison was employed at one time by the Prices Branch? Is Mr. E. A. Harrison a brother of the honorable memher for “Wentworth? Was Mr. E. A. Harrison dismissed from the Prices Branch ? If so, for what reason?
– I shall be glad to pass the question on to the Minister for trade and Customs, with a ‘ view to ascertaining whether or not there is any truth in the statements of the honorable member.
– Did the Prime Minister, in a letter to the Granville branch of the Australian Labour party last February, say that he did not think there would be any increase of the price of tea? Did the right honorable gentleman say last Monday that Australians could not hope to buy tea in future at a landed cost of less than 4s. per lb.? If so, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House, of what steps, if any, he proposes to take so as to ensure that there will be no undue rise of the price of. tea to the Australian consumer ?
– I have not recently made any statement as to what is likely to be the price of tea in the near future. I believe that, at a press interview last week, I indicated that, according to the information available from India and elsewhere from those who are associated with the industry, it appeared unlikely that the future landed cost of fair-quality tea would be less than 4s. per lb. I did not then indicate what was likely to be the price in Australia, nor did I say what subsidy would he payable or to what date it would continue to operate. No consideration has been given recently to the amount of subsidy that will be payable in future. “When a- decision on the subject has been made, I shall inform the honorable member of it.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping take such steps as may be considered practicable to ensure to those persons who require them, adequate supplies of candles, lamp burners and lamp chimney glasses ? Many persons in the outer suburban and country areas are unable to obtain them. This causes considerable difficulty,- particularly to mothers of families of young children, especially when there is sickness in the house. While there is a shortage of candles for practical and urgent use, would it be considered reasonable to disallow the manufacture and sale of candles for luxury c decorative purposes ?
– The Government realizes that the shortage of the articled referred to by the honorable member is inflicting considerable hardship on many persons in the community, but for some time it has not had power to control the production or distribution of these commodities. The’ Department of Supply and Shipping is doing its utmost to induce manufacturers to make these goods in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of the community, but it is not possible at this stage for the Government to invoke the defence power under the Constitution in order to take control of their production and distribution.
– According to a cablegram from London, the Dutch radio station at Hilversum has stated that the Australian ban on Dutch -shipping threatened to cause starvation among 1’6,000 Indonesians and was holding
Hp in Melbourne 2,000 cases of Dutch Red Cross supplies for the Netherlands East Indies. . That state of .’affairs is confirmed by the local press, which states that sick .and starving Indonesians are flocking into Batavia and that the treatment available is inadequate to their needs. In view of the seriousness of the situation, will the Prime Minister confer with the Attorney-General, and. if necessary, with al] the members of ‘his party, in order that steps may be taken to end this stupid .ban on Dutch ships, which has already injured Australia’s good name, and to ensure that supplies will be sent to Java?
– The hold-up of shipping is not confined to Australia. Certain difficulties have, ocurred also in Indonesia. It is regrettable that there have been some delays in Australian ports, and it is hoped “to straighten the matter out. Apart from other ships, the Manoora is sailing io-morrow or the -next day to the Netherlands East Indies with 2,500 tons. Everything will be done to despatch medical supplies to the ‘East Indies.
– I .desire “to -make a. personal, explanation. Last night, I said that he Leader of the Opposition .had accepted fees from the Commonwealth in -what is known as the *James dried fruits case when it was taken on. appeal to the Privy Council. I have since been informed that I was wrong in making that state-‘ ment, and I wish to withdraw it. I do not believe in using this chamber as a place in which to attack a man by making inaccurate statements.
– Recently the Minister for Immigration suggested ‘that ships should disembark immigrants at Fremantle and then return to Europe, the people being them transported ‘to other parts of ‘the Commonwealth by coastal ship, train or even by -air. ‘In view .of that suggestion, will the Prime Minister do something .to provide more ships for the coastal trade to serve the dual purpose of transporting migrants to the east and carrying .urgently needed cargo from the east to the west?
– Recently the Minister for Immigration told me that he shad discussed the matter with the Director of Shipping and the Minister for .Supply and Shipping, and he believed that coastal ships would be available to carry immigrants to the eastern States if it could ‘be arranged for them to be disembarked at Fremantle.
– In Monday’s issue of the Western Australian, the Minister for Lands in the Government of “Western Australia is reported to have said that the red-tape methods of Canberra’s professors and economists were holding up “land settlement in “Western Australia. He further said that Mr. Fyfe, the Director of Land Settlement, had. been instructed to press for a more expeditious method of settlement when he visited Canberra. Will the Minister “for Postwar Reconstruction say whether it is true that red-tape methods or of delay of any other kind is ‘holding up the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land ? If so, will he do what is necessary to overcome the difficulty, and .if the statement is not true, will he .deny the allegations containe’d in the report to which I referred ?
– - 1 ‘have not .seen the statement to which the -honorable member refers, but I deny emphatically that redtape -methods, or any other departmental procedure, is holding up land settlement in either Western Australia or any other State. Under the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, which ‘has been ratified by this Parliament, ‘both the States and- the Commonwealth -have responsibilities ; and the ‘Commonwealth ‘is determined to carry out its responsibilities insofar .ais they ) relate -to the provision of .land for .ex-ser.v-ice personnel on which they -will be able to ma’ke a reasonable income. However, I shall inquire into the matter raised by the honorable member to see if there is any way in which the present procedure canbe improved.
– I direct the atten tion of the Minister for External Affairs to two matters which have been published. The first is that, apparently, in an article published in the United Nations World the right honorable gentleman has said that the time has arrived when the United Nations Charter provisions for military agreements placing forces at the disposal of the United Nations should be fulfilled. The other is a reported announcement in the New York Times that the Military Staff Committee of the Security Council has decided to limit the size of the proposed international police force to one which can handle only disputes among small and medium powers. In view of the importance of these reports will the right honorable gentleman at his earliest convenience make a statement as to whether there is substance in the report about the Military Staff Committee, whether Australia has sought from the United Nations any indication of the forces to be raised and matters relating to them, and what reply, if any, has been received to such communications? ‘
– Of course, the whole basis of the functions of the Security Council is that there should be an agreement recommended by the five permanent members of the council-the five major powers - dealing with the contributions which the various nations shall make for the purpose of safeguarding peace; and it has always been the view of those who signed the Charter, a view repeatedly expressed in this chamber and elsewhere, that that agreement must be finalized. The Military Staff Committee, limited as it is to the five major powers, has not yet. made its report to the Security Council which consists of eleven members, of which Australia is one. The report mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that the forces mentioned in the Military Staff Committee’s interim report will be sufficient to deal only with disputes between small and medium powers, has not been an official report at all. It has possibly leaked out from the deliberations of that committee. That question is connected with the question of the veto, because no forces can be used against the will of any major power. I shall consider whether it. is not possible, at a time the Prime Minister might permit later in the session, to deal with this and other matters in order to state the position, so far as the United Nations are concerned as it exists to-day.
– Twelve days ago, on the adjournment of the House, I drew attention to a complaint regarding an anomaly in the sales tax legislation. The complaint stated that a trailer sold with a draw-bar is subject to sales tax amounting to more than £30, but that a trailer of the same type if fitted with a pair. of. horse-shafts is free from tax. Does this anomaly exist, and, if so, will the Prime Minister endeavour to have it rectified?
– I cannot say that therein any likelihood of adjustments being made to the sales tax at an early date. The matter raised by the honorable member is beingexamined and I am. endeavouring to secure a reply as soon as possible.
– Under the heading “Indonesian held in gaol for. Deportation” the Canberra Times of to-day states-
Married only four months ago to a Sydney girl, A. J. Maramis, an Indonesian, has been arrested and detained in gaol for deportation.
Maramis, according to his friends, is welleducated, and a member of a wealthy family. He was formerly an officer of a Dutch ship, and on leaving the sea early this year, entered business as an importer and exporter.
He married Miss LottieReid, who said that if her husband was sent away, she would go with him. Recently, the Immigration Department, cancelled an order exempting Indonesians from deportation. Maramis applied for an extension but received no reply.
I wish to make it perfectly clear that I am not questioning the deportation of
Maramis which I understand is an application of the White Australia policy. I ask the Minister for Immigration, will Maramis’s wife come under the ban placed upon Australian women who have been prevented from joining Indonesian husbands in -Indonesia, and does not the honorable gentleman regard the right to choose whom one will marry as a fundamental human right which- should not be interfered with by preventing Australian women joining Asiatic husbands, however mistaken the Government may feel their marriages to be?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable members’ question is “ Yes “. The wife of Maramis will not he permitted to travel with her husband on Manoora to Indonesia. I indicated clearly, the attitude of the Government on this matter when I was questioned in general terms on the repatriation of Indonesians by the honorable member for Bourke on the 18th April. The honorable ‘ member for Bourke then asked me whether it was a fact that the Australian wives and children of a number ‘ of Indonesians who were returning to their country had not been allowed to accompany their husbands. I can only repeat to the honorable member for Fremantle what I then said to the honorable member for Bourke. The Indonesians are being repatriated at the expense of the Australian Government. It was originally intended to allow wives to accompany their husbands, and to take their children with them, if they so desired, but the Indonesian authorities Ira ve asked the Government not to permit any Australian women to go to Indonesia at the present time. Australian women in Indonesia are seeking financial assistance to return to Australia. In this respect they are being supported by their Australian relatives. I believe that it is in the best interests of everybody that no Australian women should be in Indonesia now. At some time in the future they will be allowed to go there if they wish to do so, but they will have to travel at their own expense or at the expense of their husbands in Indonesia.
From that, it can be seen we are not placing a ban on Australian wives joining their husbands in Indonesia. We are merely saying that it is not advisable for the wives to go to Indonesia now, and that it is not considered proper that wives should be able to go to Indonesia on Manoora at the expense of the Australian Government.
– But that is not the issue in this case.
– The issue in this case is whether an Australian woman should be allowed to go to Indonesia at present.
– But not whether she should be allowed to go at the Government’s expense.
– That is so. The reply is that she should not be allowed to go at present. There is no ban on her going at some future time. When that time will be is a matter for the Australian Government to decide, partly at least on the advice of the Indonesian authorities. It was the Indonesian authorities themselves who raised the question of the desirability of Australian women being in Indonesia at present. Almost without exception, Australian women now in Indonesia, are asking to be repatriated.
I have indicated the position .generally. In answer to the statements quoted by the honorable member for Fremantle, I wish to state that Maramis did not leave his employment on a ship early this year, and did not enter business as an exporter and . importer. He is an Indonesian who served with the Dutch forces during the war. He was repatriated to Indonesia about twelve months ago on the first boat carrying Indonesians from this country - I think it was Esperance Bay. He then went to Singapore and secured a permit from the Australian Commissioner for Malaya to enter Australia as the representative of a Chinese firm. The instructions to the Consul-General in Singapore were that he could issue Australian entry permits to Chinese subjects to represent Chinese firms for a period of three months. Maramis and another Indonesian were given permits because the Consul-General misread his instructions. They were permitted to enter this country for three months, and they should have left at the end of that period. However, they applied for an extension of the permit for a further three months, and this- request was granted. They were therefore not refused an extension. The second period of three months expired, and M.aramis sought another extension. He wanted to remain here permanently. He is being deported because he does not intend leaving Australia. As Manoora which is leaving to-morrow is the last vessel of its kind that will be provided by the Commonwealth Government for the repatriation of Indonesians, action was taken to deport Maramis and he is being held pending the sailing of that ship.
Shortage of Supplies in Queensland.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and .Shipping, as a matter of urgency, -whether in view of the shortage of certain foods in Queensland, including eggs - there is no feed available for poultry - and potatoes, and also the scarcity of matches, he would make inquiries to see what could be done to make supplies of these commodities available. All I got in reply was an effort by the Minister to be offensive.
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to make remarks of that kind.
– As this is a matter of urgency, will the Minister tell me what steps he proposes to take to remedy the position ?
– The attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping has already been directed to that matter, but I will approach him again to see what action can be taken to expedite an answer.
– Has any date been set down for the visit to Australia of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, or has the proposed visit been abandoned ?
– The first intention was, as the honorable member knows, that the Prime Minister of Great Britain should visit Australia about Christmas time last year, but because of events that required his presence in the United King dom he postponed that visit to about Easter: Because of so many pressing problems in governmental affairs in the United Kingdom he could not come, and some time ago he intimated to me that there was no possibility of his visiting Australia this year. He has given no indication whether he will be able to make the trip next year.
Ban on Export of Meat Paste to Burma.-
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the Commonwealth Government has put an embargo on the export of meat paste to Burma and whether the British Government has not placed an embargo on the export of that commodity to Burma? Is he aware of the export of meat paste from Britain to Burma?
– I am not aware of any embargo of the kind referred to by the honorable member, but I will ascertain the exact position and inform the honorable member.
– When does the Minister for Defence propose to make to the House the promised statement on the future defence requirements of Australia ?
– The question of the future defence requirements of Australia is, of course, very closely related to our commitments to the United Nations. There are so many aspects of this problem that a considerable . time will elapse before I shall be in a position to make a statement to the House on the subject. However, I hope that I shall be able to do so towards the end of May or, at the very latest, in the early part of June, before the House goes into recess.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a report in the Queensland press that 250,000 tons of cargo destined for ports in that State is held up at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide awaiting ships? As this cargo is urgently required’ and’ includes building materials, manufactured’ goods, and industrial and general requirements, will the Prime Minister take immediate steps to have the hold-up. investigated and appropriate action taken to overcome it so that the people of the northern State may not be further inconvenienced?
– I have not seen the statement that the honorable member said had appeared in a section of the Queensland press. I know, of course, that some cargo is held up at all ports awaiting shipment to. other States. That has been a cause for complaint for some years - since before the war in some instances. The honorable member mentioned Melbourne as one of the ports at which cargo intended for Queensland is held up. There has been continuous working on the Melbourne wharfs and whatever ships have been available have, I presume, been used.by the shipping authorities. I do not recall any specific complaint about 250,000 tons of cargo for Queensland being held up. However, I have’ from time to time received representations about cargoes of building materials and other essential articles being delayed and I have discussed the subject with the Minister for Supply and Shipping. I shall have the matter investigated and will obtain a reply for the honorable member.
– In view of published reports that men who have gone on strike in key industries . have found other employment and may not resume their former employment, can the Prime Minister indicate the drift of this skilled employment and what its ultimate effects are likely to be?
– It. is always true to some degree that skilled tradesmen leave their trades and engage in other occupations. That happened before the war, and before the beginning of the present difficulties in regard to the supply of labour. I understand that, as the result of industrial troubles and things of that character, some skilled tradesmen have taken employment in jobs which do not require the skill which they possess. Generally speaking, I think it can be safely said that men who are skilled tradesmen usually end up and remain in some form of employment that gives them the benefit of their skill. It is not possible to prevent, all leakages; in fact, the Commonwealth lacks constitutional power to prevent men from moving, from one class of employment to. another. I believe that, since the beginning of the. present industrial trouble, numbers of skilled men. who have been said to be on strike have accepted work in other avocations, perhaps of a skilled character or perhaps of an unskilled character. I am afraid, that, very little can. be done to prevent men from working where they choose. I shall have inquiries made from the Department of Labour and National Service in order to ascertain whetherI can give the honorable member a statement showing the degree to which such movements are taking place.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen recent press reports suggesting that the Government of the United States of America is considering the imposition of a levy on Australian woolimported into that country? Can the Minister say whether there is any truth in those suggestions? If there is, will he make urgent representations to the Government of the United States of America with the object of mitigating any danger which might occur to Australia’s export trade in wool ?
– I have not seen in the press any references to the attitude of the Government of the United States of America towards imposing additional duties on wool, but I am supplied with authentic ‘ information regarding this matter, and I assure the honorable gentleman that the Government has the situation well in hand, and will take appropriate action in respect of that problem.
– Has the
Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs seen a complaint by an executive of a manuf acturing company that before being permitted to export two shoes for a left foot as samples for a possible export market, it was necessary to visit four government departments and fill in six forms? If that is the general procedure, is the honorable gen- tleman prepared to take steps to simplify it? If so, what steps are proposed?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member referred, but if it is true, the position appears to me to be manifestly absurd. If the honorable member will provide me with the name of the firm concerned and all the relevant details, I undertake to have the matter thoroughly investigated with a view to having the position altered.
– Is the Acting Minister for Air aware of the difficulties of dental officers in the Royal Australian Air Force through their inability to obtain their release after a considerable period of service? The reason is that these men, who enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, are now looking after the teeth of recruits for the interim air force. I approached the Minister for Air on this matter before he went abroad and asked him whether a roster could be compiled so that these dental officers might know when theycould expect to be released and resume private practice. Will the Acting Minister for Air inform me how much work these dental officers actually do, and whether that work could be performed by local dentists as enlistments in the interim air force are negligible at the moment. Will the honorable gentleman make a general statement in relation to these twelve men, who appear to have been retained in the Royal Australian. Air Force very much longer than is reasonable because they enlisted to serve for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter?
– Since I became Acting’ Minister for Air, the matter of the release of these dental officers has been brought to my notice and I instituted inquiries to ascertain whether a roster, such as that which the honorable member suggested, is operating. I shall make further inquiries to determine whether too many dentists have been re tained by the Royal Australian Air Force, and supply the information as soon as possible.
– I ask the Prime Minister the following questions: - 1. Is it a fact that increased food exports from Australia would not necessarily benefit the British people? 2. Does the International Emergency Food Council control the allocation of all food exported from Australia? 3. Is Australia a member of the International Emergency Food Council? 4. If so, when and by what process did this country become a member? 5. If Australia is not a member of this council, in what way is it bound by the council’s decisions? 6. Who are the members of the International Emergency Food Council, and how were they elected ?
– As was explained quite recentlywith regard to butter, meat, and possibly other primary produce, there is a direct contract with the United Kingdom. The distribution of wheat and sugar, however, is determined by the International Emergency Food Council. The United Kingdom is, of course, vitally concerned with the decisions made by that body, and is a member of it. At the moment, I am not able to supply a full list of the members, but I shall arrange with the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and Supply and Shipping, to furnish a copy to the honorable member. At the same time, it has been made clear from time to time that when sugar is exported from this country, its distribution is determined by the council, and’ the British Government approves of this procedure. The same applies to the export of wheat. I shall obtain the other information requested by the honorable member, and communicate it to him.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 29th April (vide page 1685).
Clause 8: -
Part III. of the Principal Act. is repealed and the following Parts are inserted’ in its stead: -
Upon which Mr. Menzies had moved by way of amendment -
That, after proposed new section 43h, the following new section be inserted: - “ 43ha. - (a) The following lockouts shall be unlawful: . . . [vide page 1671) “.
.- The new section proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) represents a contribution from two political parties on the gravest crisis that has ever confronted this country in peace-time. This . crisis may very well bring the country to ruin and civil war unless prompt action be taken. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in his reply to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition did not advert at all to the details of our proposal which deserves the closest consideration of every member of this chamber irrespective of party. The AttorneyGeneral contented himself with saying in a perfunctory way : “ This proposed new section is just the same as the provisions of the act prior to its amendment in 1930”. That is not so. This proposal is a considered attempt to meet a grave problem. It is not a mere imitation of previous legislation, and the Attorney-General should at least have had the courtesy to give it a more careful examination. The proposal contains four provisions. First, that certain strikes and lockouts shall be illegal, namely, strikes and lockouts against awards of the court and in respect of disputes of which the courts have cognizance. That does not cover the entire field in which strikes and lockouts may occur, but it does cover cases in which it is essential that tha authority of the law should be. upheld. Secondly, it provides that incitement to strike or lockout shall constitute an offence and provides appropriate penalties. In this connexion I emphasize that an employer who participates in a lockout is rendered liable, and may be prosecuted and fined an amount not exceeding £3,000. The proposal does not seek to enact that every employee who strikes shall be liable to prosecution, but is aimed at the prosecution of . persons . inciting employees to strike. Members of the Opposition believe that the rank and file members of trade unions who. strike are not really the guilty parties, but rather the trade union officials who by their agitation induce their members to strike. Therefore the penalty .clause is .directed at those responsible for inciting to strike, rather than at the strikers themselves. It is provided that organizations, whether of employers or of employees, which participate in unlawful strikes or lockouts, shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence, and may similarly be fined.
The third provision - and this is quite new - is that the Arbitration Court, either of its own motion or upon * the application of any interested party, or upon the motion of the Attorney-General as the representative of the Government of the day, may - to use a colloquial phrase - freeze the funds of any organization, either of employers or of employees which engages in an unlawful lockout or strike. A receiver may be appointed by the court. It is also provided - and justice requires - that when the court acts, notice shall be given .to the organization against which it is proposed that action shall be taken, so that it may show cause as to why its funds should not be taken over temporarily by a receiver in that way. The importance of taking over, or freezing, funds in that way is that, if an organization is engaging in an unlawful lockout or strike, its funds - very often of a substantial nature - should not be available to it to enable it to continue to commit a breach of the law. So we propose that, for the time being, not by way of confiscation but by way of suspense, the court will take control of the funds of any such organization, so as to prevent their use for unlawful purposes.
The fourth proposal is that any proceedings taken may be taken either summarily or upon indictment. That is a counterpart of provisions to be found to-day in the National Security Act, and in a great deal of other Commonwealth legislation. There is nothing new about it. But it is provided that the consent of the Attorney-General must be obtained before the launching of any proceedings. That also, as honorable members know, comes from the National Security Act and other Commonwealth legislation. I draw attention to it here, because the Attorney-General either said or suggested that these powers would be used on, every occasion, or on frequent occasions. Our submission is that these are reserved powers, and that they will not be used on every occasion. As a complete brake on and safeguard against their being used impetuously or hurriedly, we propose that the consent of the Government must be obtained before any proceedings are taken in accordance with the terms of the proposed new section. Indeed, they are powers which it is proposed shall be taken to be used in cases of emergency. Nobody will suggest that these provisions would be put into operation every time there was an unlawful stoppage. But they must be available so that, should the need arise - and it exists »t the present time in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia - then the Government would have the power to take necessary action. The Attorney-General has said that, in the past, the Government has had no power to act. I suggest that, during the war, under the various National Security Regulations, the Government had ample power; and the real indictment against the present Administration is that, notwithstanding the extensive power which it had, it did not take action to prevent unlawful stoppages of various sorts, or to punish those responsible for them. I also point out that, under the Arbitration Act as it now stands - an act that we are in the process of amending - considerable power is given. There is section 3S.d, which provides that the courtmay cancel awards where there has been a breach of them by either party. Sections 38 and 44 provide that the court may impose penalties for non-observance of awards. Section 49 provides that a breach of an award is, in effect, a breach of the law. The importance of that is that, having established the fact that there has been a breach of the law of the Commonwealth, advantage may be taken of other Commonwealth legislation for the purpose of inflicting punishment for such breach if that be thought necessary. That is a power which, may be exercised at the instigation of the AttorneyGeneral of the government of the” “day, whereas most of these other powers to which I am referring at the moment lie exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. Then there is section 56d, under which the court may order a secret ballot to be taken, and section 60, which provides for the cancellation of the registration of organizations for any cause disclosed to the court; this’ would include, of course, unlawful action. Most but not all of the powers which exist at the moment are powers which are to be exercised by the .Arbitration Court. Some of them by virtue of section 49, which I cited a moment ago, and also by virtue of National Security Regulations, some of which still exist, may be exercised by the Government. It is not true to say that the Government has not the power to exercise them. The plain fact is that the Government possessed ample power, had it had the necessary resolution, to take action in an appropriate case. But because it may be insisted that there is not adequate power - as I have pointed out, there is some power - we say to the Government, “ Here is a carefully thought out code, which will lie in reserve for you, and will be available to you when you need it in grave cases, or in cases of national emergency”. If the Government will accept this proposal and, in any appropriate case - not in every case - will demonstrate to the people of Australia that it has the courage to take action, then there will be a most dramatic improvement of the industrial’ position in Australia. I repeat that the question is one not of prosecuting on every occasion, but of being able to point out to persons who wish to cause industrial and economic chaos by strikes that there is power to take action against them and that, if necessary, it will be exercised.
.- The proposed new section 43ha provides penalties for such offences as strikes and lockouts. Penalties are already provided for in the principal act, as well as in the Crimes Act, but, in my opinion, punitive legislation is always administered in a one-sided way.
– Does the honorable member believe that the existing penalties are adequate?
– Yes. Anti-Labour governments have always adopted a onesided attitude when administering laws’ which provide for heavy penalties for offences; and should a change of government take place, that, policy would again: be followed. I recall .the severity with which the Bruce-Page Administration dealt with waterside workers, timber workers, and coal-miners who were alleged to have committed breaches of the law. Numbers of men were sent to gaol, but offending employers who had contributed to the funds of the non-Labour parties were allowed to go scot-free. Surely honorable .members have not forgotten the great lockout of coal-miners who, after sixteen months of unemployment, were forced to accept a reduction of their wages by 12^ per cent.? Ultimately, five supporters of the then Government rose in rebellion and compelled the then Attorney-General, Sir John Latham, who is now Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, to institute proceedings against Mr. John Brown, a coal-owner. But when the Parliament adjourned for the Easier recess the prosecution against Mr. John Brown was immediately withdrawn. If that is -not one-sided administration of the law I do not know what it is. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White)., the honorable member for Moreton ‘ (Mr. Francis), and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) were in the Parliament at that time, and they know that I have spoken the truth. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was also here. He was one oi the five supporters of. the then Government who took a stand .in the matter and insisted on proceedings being instituted against John Brown. However, as I have said, the proceedings were withdrawn, and John Brown went scot-free. But did the waterside workers go free? No ; they had to pay the penalty. They were treated as I was treated when a lad sixteen or seventeen years of age for taking part in .a petty .stoppage at a mine. I was sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment with bread and water as my only food and drink. That is how the workers are treated under legislation providing for penalties for offences.
The .Leader of the Opposition ,(Mr. Menzies) must he aware of the pinpricking that is resorted to by some employers in order to irritate their employees. The employers have control of the pay envelopes .of those who work for them, and sometimes workers find that a deduction has been made from their pay on the ground that a portion of the wages represents a conditional payment. Is it any wonder that the’ next day they stop work? The workers are compelled to go to the court if they desire improved conditions or the continuation of conditions which’ they previously enjoyed. Their claim may or may not be granted. Why should not the owners be compelled to go to the court if they wish to change conditions? They simply deduct an amount from each man’s pay envelope. Actions of this kind have been the main causes of disputes in the coal-mining industry. For over forty years, in the Burwood mine - the mine in which I first worked - provision was made for payment for what is known as Jerry band, but six months ago the owners stopped that payment in respect of a section of the mine. Thereafter a condition which applied to work in the west section of the mine did not apply in the south section. The result was that that mine was idle for eight or nine days. As the Burwood mine is in my electorate, and as I am- keenly inter ested in the coal-mining industry, I endeavoured to persuade the mines to return to work. It was a hard task, because they were angry at the departure from a custom which had operated for many years. . Only when I promised them thai I would do all in my power to expedite a re-hearing of their case did they return to work. Evidence was given by men as old or older than I am regarding the customs which prevailed at that mine when it -was owned by the Australian Agricultural Company, before it was taken over by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.’ Nearly every strike that has occurred in the coal-mining industry has been the outcome of some petty change of conditions applying to the workers. The miners have taken the stand - and I believe rightly S0- that the owners should approach the court for authority to make such .changes. Any unauthorized change of conditions by employers should be regarded as an offence, but there is nothing in the proposed new section to that effect. Moreover, it would be difficult to police. Its administration would have to be undertaken, not by lawyers, but by men who know the customs and conditions under which men have worked in various industries.
I sincerely believe that an attempt is being -made by employers in some industries to conserve their . assets. For instance, the coal-owners, realizing that coal is a diminishing asset, want to conserve it until the company tax has been removed or greatly . reduced. They believe a change of government would have that result, and in the meantime they will not exploit their coal reserves fully because of the -high taxes that they are called upon to pay. Accordingly they adopt pin-pricking tactics in order to provoke the workers to strike. The Labour party believes in the company tax, but the Opposition does not. It is largely because of the reason that I have mentioned that coal production is not so great as it was.
– I ask the, hon- ‘orable member to discuss the proposed new section.
– The proposed new section provides for penalties for breaches of the law.. I am dealing with the subject of penalties, and am pointing out that the first thing to do is to ascertain the causes of strikes and lockouts. Before we can find a remedy for any trouble we must know its cause ; unless the causes -of disputes .are known .and removed, legislation providing for penalties will bo ineffective. The amendment is not warranted. Penalties ar,e already provided ‘ in- the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but they have been ‘ applied in a one-sided fashion. If further penalty provisions are included they, too, will be applied against the workers, but not against the employers who may lockout their men. As I have said, the workers are too prone to react to the pinpricks of the employers, and immediately to stop work. They should .try to convince the court and the public that the trouble las really been caused by the employer. Instead of doing this, however, they stop work as soon as some condition of their employment to which they have been accustomed is varied by the employer, and they take the blame, whereas the blame really lies <on the (employer. I should like the workers to be more patient sometimes, and to defer action until they are able to convince the appropriate . industrial tribunal just where the blame lies. If that were done, it would quickly become evident that in many instances the -employers are to blame.
– The amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) seeks to make it an offence for any organization of employers or employees to embark upon a lockout or a strike In other words, the Leader -of the Opposition is seeking to -establish the principle that we cannot have direct action and arbitration at the same time. The one is the antithesis of the other. If we are to have strikes, .then we must wipe out ‘arbitration; if we are to have arbitration, we must wipe out strikes. The amendment prescribes penalties for those who foment strikes, or for employers- who lock out theia1 employees. It is provided that persons and organizations offending against the law will be punished and, in certain instances, the funds of organizations may be frozen.
We listened to a notable speech from the ‘Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). He opposed the amendment, and said that the Government did not believe in penalties or any form of coercion. There followed from this side of the chamber an astonishing revelation by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who stated that -the Attorney-General had been a party, not many years ago,, to an arrangement under which he agreed, if certain procedure was followed, to the imposition of penalties on employers and employees or their organizations which embarked on lockouts or strikes. The Government now says that it does not believe in penalties, but it has for years allowed the Crimes Act to remain on the statute-book, providing penalties^ including imprisonment in some instances, for those responsible for the .particular kind of disturbance which is now threatening Victoria. Even when the Labour party was in Opposition it did not raise any particular clamour against the Crimes Act. It ds evident that the remarks of the Attorney-General to-day are at complete variance with his attitude of a few years ago, and they are also opposed to the spirit of the Crimes Act which has remained in force with the consent pf the Government. Apart from the present amendment, this bill provides penalties ranging from £10 to £500 for offences against industrial law. Thus, the AttorneyGeneral has placed himself in an extraordinary position by saying now that he is opposed to penalties.
During the last two years, there has been a welter of industrial trouble in Australia, culminating in the extraordinary and dangerous situation which exists in Victoria to-day. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that if the Government . of Victoria, and the Commonwealth Government - which must accept a large share of ‘ responsibility - do not handle the situation firmly anything may happen. The trouble may very well spread to New South Wales and South Australia, which, of course, is what the Australian Engineering Union wants ? It will not be satisfied until the trouble is Commonwealth -wide. The dispute in Victoria has ‘ already brought about an almost complete stoppage of transport in that State, and has thrown out of employment thousands of innocent persons who want to work. In addition, it has caused tremendous inconvenience to thousands of housewives, and it is holding up all forms of food production. According to this morning’s newspapers there is now a threat that the city of Melbourne may be blacked out, and if this happens it may result in the unleashing of a dangerous criminal element. We remember what happened in Melbourne during the police strike some years ago. On that occasion, the city was not blacked out, but police protection was withdrawn, and for a time the law was not enforced. Now we are faced with the threat of a black out in Melbourne and a number of provincial towns, as well as the cutting off of power to many farm homes. If these things should happen they may spell the beginning of trouble, the end of which no man can see. Perhaps this is the kind of trouble the Communist agitators want. We know that they do not want the rule of law in industrial affairs. As a matter of fact, that is the last thing they want. They want to smash the rule of law in industrial affairs just as they want to smash democratic government. If the trouble in Victoria should develop it is possible that many thousands of people may forget the real issue involved, and take sides in a general disturbance. In this welter of conflict of opinion, and even of action, the Communists may see their chance to seize power. If they ever succeed in this it will be a bad day for’ us all, but particularly for the working man who is so terrorized and dominated by this new form of despotism called trade unionism. Behind the present strikes are two main causes. One is the failure of the Government to acknowledge the changed circumstances and conditions peculiar to the immediate post-war period.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– Much of the trouble’ which has led to the moving of this amendment has resulted from the failure of the Government to recognize certain circumstances ; and, secondly, because of the craven weakness of the Government in failing to deal with the strike in Victoria many months ago. The present dispute in that State commenced in January last year, but the Government has taken no action of any note to deal with the matter. Retreats by the Government of Victoria and this Government have, undeniably, contributed to the deplorable situation in Victoria. It is noteworthy that the issues arising in the present dispute were referred to a conciliation commissioner who awarded an increase of wages of, from 5s. to 9s. a week on the application of the Amalgamated Engineering Union.
– Order ! The honorable member is entitled to make only passing reference to that matter. I ask him to return to the question before the Chair.
– The dispute was referred to a conciliation commissioner; but after this measure becomes law, there cannot be any appeal from a decision of a conciliation commissioner. What all the parties desired was an appeal to the Arbitration Court, but certain action taken by the court led to the deregistration of the
Amalgamated Engineering Union and contributed to the present dispute.
– I shall not permit the honorable member to disobey my ruling. He must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I submit that I am in order in referring to a particular case that was referred to a conciliation commissioner. This proposal relates to conciliation commissioners. Whereas at present, an appeal can be made from a decision of a conciliation commissioner to the court, no such appeal can be made after this measure becomes law.
– The proposal before the Chair does not deal with appeals.
– We know that if we are to have in this country the rule of law in industrial affairs, the only way we can enforce it is by imposing penalties for breaches. For that reason, the amendment imposes penalties upon organizations of employers or employees who fail to observe the law. So far as I can see, there is no other way by which we can enforce the rule of law- in this country. In respect of all crimes, we prescribe penalties to fit each particular crime; and thousands of our people are now beginning to believe that the greatest criminal of all is the industrial criminal, particularly those who incites the workers to strike, not in order to obtain redress of a grievance, but solely to achieve their own personal ambition for power. In, the hands of such individuals the worker is -merely a tool. I am not entirely without knowledge of what goes on in trade union circles. Behind much of the trouble existing to-day which we contend could be prevented in the future by imposing the penalties set. out in the amendment, are those individuals whose one ambition is to rise to power in the trade unions and later gain political power, because, unfortunately, trade union bosses have a habit of being rewarded with political power. This method has led to the emergence of the communist element, and if that element is allowed to have its way, the circumstances which I have described will ultimately arise and lead to the downfall of the Government. The alternative is that the Government must control that communist element. . The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) has said that he does not believe in following that course. If that be so, I should like him to tell the committee what method he does believe in; whether he believes that the present situation should be allowed to continue or whether the Government of the day should act, and exactly how it is to act. Weakness on the part of governments breeds mutiny and chaos. Enough weakness has already been displayed by the Government with the result that we are now on the fringe of chaos. The Attorney-General has twitted us with the reply that the people rejected our policy at the, last general elections. I agree with the view expressed by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that if anything can be said about the result of the last general elections, it is that the Government did not win seats or even hold all the seats that it had. The Liberal party and the Australian Country party gained seats at those elections, whilst two independents also captured seats from the Government. It is clear from the people’s verdict that they are not satisfied with the prevailing conditions, and that if there is to be a trial of strength on -this matter the right thing for the Government to do is to adopt the method suggested by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), that is, to throw down the gage to those who have fomented the present industrial trouble and face the issue whether the people want industrial law. The Opposition would be only too happy to abide by the result of such an appeal to the community
– I have always been opposed to the provision of penal sanctions in our industrial law. Therefore, I strongly oppose the amendment. It does not suggest anything new, but merely revives old hoary provisions which, as the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said last night, are now recognized to be ineffective by not only political parties but also organizations of any importance in the land, excluding, perhaps, a few hard and intolerant employers. The mass of employers realize that penal sanctions in the industrial law are not effective, and that when they are applied they only cause bitterness in industry and generate a spirit of revenge, creating, restiveness among the workers as a whole, because such penalties never have been and never will be applied to anybody but the workers. Because of that,, when such- provisions have been imposed they have left bitterness in the hearts of the workers and have kindled the fires of industrial unrest. The spirit imparted into this debate last night, particularly by the Leader of the Opposition, reminded me of the spirit, prevailing in the nineties, in the days of the maritime strike, before- the forces of labour had been organized and industrial legislation had been placed, upon the statute-books of the States. In those days the spirit of intolerance animated the minds of employers, who imposed brutal treatment, and sanctions on the workers in order to bring them, to heel. The conditions of the nineties are talked about, to-day not only by the old, people- but also- by the younger generation, and if penal sanctions are imposed they will prevail again. The Attorney-General pointed out last night how useless it would be to impose penalties as a means of achieving industrial harmony. Everybody realizes that only once in a blue moon would such penalties be applied, but they realize, too, how useless they would he in providing the remedy for industrial disputes. This is not a measure to impose penal sanctions, on the workers,, or to bring, down the hard fist of the law on the working man ; it was brought forward by the Cabinet and. discussed in the Labour party caucus as the result of the Government’s election pledges to the people that if it were returned to power it -would extend the principle of conciliation and abolish the harshness of penal sanctions in. industrial matters. If the proposal’ of the Leader- of the Opposition were embodied in the bill- it would destroy the whole measure as it wass conceived by the Government. For- that reason I am , totally opposed’ to penal sanctions..
– Then the honorable member will* probably vote against the bill because penal1 sanctions are to be found in it.
– I pay no heed to the legal’ quibbles of the right honorable gentleman-. I remind’ him that he is not now in the High Court and that he cannot brow-beat us- into acceptance of his proposal merely by injecting legalisms into this debate. I realize that there are sanctions in this legislation; they were referred to by the Attorney-General last night.
– There are many others that were not referred to by the right honorable gentleman.
– As far as I am concerned. I would not give to the court the right to put sanctions into awards. That, however, is another matter. Last night, the Leader of the Opposition, with tongue in cheek, talked glibly about lockouts and strikes. As a matter of fact he put lockouts at the beginning of his proposal in an attempt to indicate how broad-minded he was and that he would “ knock “ the bosses first and the workers afterwards. “What “hocus pocus”; what humbug 1 The right honorable gentleman knows very well that in nine cases in every ten the existence of a lockout cannot be proved, since employers have hundreds of ways of putting men out of employment without rendering themselves liable to the accusation of having- brought about a lockout. We all know their favorite devices. They say they want to re-organize their industry, to. install . new machinery, to overhaul this and that, and then put forward a hundred and one reasons to justify throwing their employees upon the streets for weeks and weeks.. The Leader of the Opposition knows that in submitting this proposal, he is; as it were, tossing a double-headed penny, that it is loaded against the workers, that everything he and his party stand for is loaded against the workers- and calculated to create industrial trouble instead of bringing about industrial harmony. Because he and his party, and members of the Australian Country party, too, fear that this’ bill will play a useful part in bringing about industrial peace in this country, they do everything to thwart it. The right honorable- member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes’) told them long ago that they thrive on. industrial trouble, and that industrial disputes are more beneficial to them than to the. workers. Because they are fearful that an instrument is now being hammered out in this Parliament which will prevent a repetition of the bad industrial conditions of the past they try to throw a spanner into the works by seeking to introduce this old hoary provision designed to impose sanctions. I am sure that the committee will treat it with the contempt it deserves.
.- The proposal of the Leader ofthe Opposition (Mr. Menzies) appears to me a very simple one. It constitutes merely an attempt to arm the law with deterrents sufficient to ensure its observance. It seems extraordinary that it should have aroused such a storm of protest and unreasonable abuse on the part of honorable members opposite. If they look at section 75 of the act they will see that it imposes a penalty for breaches of its provisions. Section 75 reads -
No officer of an organization, or member of any committee thereof, or any 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
accepting employment, or
offering for work, or working, in accordance with such award.
Penalty: Twenty pounds.
There is an example of a penalty already provided for in the act, which is to remain. Either honorable members are sincere and consistent or they are not. The only difference between the penalties proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and those accepted by the Government is that the former would be effective whilst the latter are completely and utterly useless. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has referred to the ineffectiveness of such penalties, contending that they bring the law into contempt. Nothing could bring the law into greater contempt than what is happening in Melbourne to-day. The law is defied and laughed at by every section of the industrial labour movement. The Attorney-General has stated clearly that he is opposed to the imposition of penalties for breaches of the arbitration laws, and has chided us with a tendency to discipline and coerce the workers. Surely when the law is being openly defied by certain sections of the community, there must come a time when discipline must be enforced. Honorable members opposite had no qualms of conscience during the war period in prescribing that men in “uniform could be sent summarily to gaol for 28 days even for being rude to their superior officers, as the honorable member for “Watson (Mr. Falstein) well knows. In his case, however, what the honorable member for Watson lost on the swings he probably made up on the roundabouts. During the war honorable members opposite, realizing the dangers to themselves, willingly supported the imposition of extremely harsh penalties on members of the fighting services; but now that their necks are no longer in danger they will not tolerate the imposition of penalties designed to ensure the functioning of the arbitration system in the interests of the great mass of the people. Whilst I do not suggest that the crisis in Victoria today is comparable with war-time conditions, it is a most serious state of affairs indeed. Surely the first duty of the law is to protect the community and the workers themselves against these happenings. So far, the dispute has been confined to Victoria, but I have no doubt that as soon as the elections in New South Wales are over, the dislocation will spread not only to that State but also to other parts of the Commonwealth. The malcontents in New South Wales are being kept quiet only because elections are pending. If the McGirr Administrationbe returned to office, the strife will extend immediately to New South Wales, paralysing that State as it has paralysed Victoria. Surely the people of this country are entitled to look to the law for protection from those extremists who have reduced the city of Melbourne to its present sorry plight. The law should provide adequate penalties to check the activities of these new Hitlers like Brown and others, who have done everything in their power to undermine constitutional processes.
– What about the New Guard ?
– Every time the law is brought into disrepute or loses its force, there will be a New Guard. Either the force of the law must regulate the community, or the various elements in the community will fight their differences out amongst themselves. That is what is happening in Melbourne, and it is something that should be guarded against in this measure. The proposed new section lays down a set of definite rules on a vital issue. It is most extraordinary that the Attorney-General should present a measure like this to Parliament because, from his experience of the law, he knows that where the interests of a country have to be preserved it is not sufficient to prescribe a set of rules unless penalties for breaches of them are also provided. “We do not lay down a set of rules against arson or sabotage and expect people to obey them without prescribing penalties for failure to obey them. We provide the most stringent penalties against those crimes, and surely, in this equally vital matter, there should be a similar provision. There has been some talk of what section of the community would be penalized if the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment were accepted. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has said that it is the ambition of the Leader of the Opposition to throw into gaol the waterside workers, the miners, and every other troublesome element in industry. That statement is on a par with the honorable member’s usual utterances in this chamber. Everybody knows that the Opposition has no such proposal. The sole purpose of the proposed section is to deal with those powerful agitators who by conspiring against the law and usurping the functions of the law have reduced Melbourne to its present deplorable state. I say without apology that those men who are causing a black-out in the city of Melbourne at present - a black-out that may have far-reaching results not yet visualized - should not be merely fined, but should be put behind the bars. We have been informed by the Attorney-General that this is not the time, in the heat of the moment, under pressure by various elements of the community, and with rising public feeling in Melbourne, to talk of penalties and the enforcement of the law. If this is not the time, for heaven’s sake when is the time? The right honorable gentleman also said that penalties are ineffective. What does he propose as an alternative? Is this Government to sit idly by while things become worse? If the law be not- enforced we shall experience the chaos which threatened in Sydney twenty years ago.
– Hear, hear - the young Fascist !
– The honorable member for Watson has never seen a Fascist and would not know one if he saw one. I am wholehearted in my support of the proposed new section, and I hope that it will receive the favorable consideration of the committee.
.- I have had a quiet look at the section that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) proposes should be inserted in this hill and I am wondering what can be the purpose of these penalty provisions. I cannot believe that the right honorable gentleman is anymore cruel than any other honorable member, nor do I think that he wishes to be unfair to any section of the community. But let us examine the justice of the whole proposal. In the first place, for more than half the life of the Constitution, we had penalty clauses in our arbitration legislation and, I understand, it was an anti-Labour government that eliminated them.
– No. It was the Scullin Government.
– At least it was done with the support of leading Liberals of the day. -
-That is correct.
– The only conclusion one can reach, therefore, is that the penalty provisions were of little use. Listening to honorable members opposite, anyone would think that never before have we had industrial trouble in Australia. It is interesting therefore to find from records that present day conditions existed on innumerable occasions, long before communism was ever heard of in this country. I refer honorable members to an interesting portion of a speech made in this Parliament by ex-Senator Drake Brockman - a name not unfamiliar in this chamber. I am not challenging the integrity of the individual. I am merely repeating what he said -
I wish to say, with regard to the Arbitration
Court, that, in my opinion, arbitration has been a failure in Australia.
Then he went on to point out that between the years 1913 and 1920, in N.S.W. alone, there were over 2,000 strikes, involving a loss of about 11,500,000 working days? Where were the penalty provisions then? Where were the Communists?
– It was the International Workers of the World.
– Four alleged members of that organization were imprisoned, but later released, because there was nothing against them. I repeat that when penalty sections were in operation in our arbitration laws, 11,500,000 working days were lost in a period of seven years in one State alone. Yet now the Leader of the Opposition would reintroduce penalty provisions as a means of securing peace in industry. Liberals are so thick-headed that they have an infinite capacity to forget, because they have not the capacity to remember. Ex-Senator Drake-Brockman further said -
In the Commonwealth during the same period there were over 3,000 strikes, involving over 000,000 working people and resulting in a loss of 17,200,000 working days.
Penalties were provided for in the act then. He proceeded -
If that could happen during the period referred to, how can it bo said that the system of arbitration in Australia is anything but a complete failure?
From 1920 to 1940, except for two years, parties of the same political complexion as that of honorable gentlemen opposite were in power in the Commonwealth, and had the necessary time to improve a system that he said was a complete failure. Honorable gentlemen’ opposite want penalty provisions made, not because they think that ‘they could bc enforced, but in the hope of gaining a political advantage. Whether penalties are needed depends -on whether justice has been meted out to the workers. If it has not there is no need for penalties, because strikes are justified.
Some interesting material is to be found in official documents. In the Harvester award of 1907, Mr.. Justice Higgins made this striking comment on what the Commonwealth Parliament means by “ fair and reasonable “ in charging the Arbitration Court with the responsibility of fixing wages -
It is to be regretted that the legislature has not given a definition of the words, lt is the function of the legislature, not of the judiciary, to deal with social and economic problems!
That is the function of the Parliament. Yet honorable gentlemen opposite claimed on the hustings that it was the function of the judiciary. We shall soon see why. They do not want the Parliament to have that function because they know that the Parliament is the only place where the workers can possibly get justice. His Honour went on -
Some very interesting evidence has been given by working men’s wives and others; and the evidence has been absolutely undisputed . . The usual vent paid by. a labourer, as distinguished from an artisan, appears to be 7s.; and, taking. the rent si.t “s., the necessary average weekly expenditure for a labourer’s home of about five persons-
I emphasize “ five persons “ - would seem to be about £1 12s. 5d. This expenditure does not cover light (some of the lists omitted light), clothes, boots, furniture, utensils (being casual, not weekly expenditure) , rates, life insurance, savings, accident or benefit societies, loss of employment, union pay, books and newspapers, tram and train fares, sewing machine mangle school requisites, amusements and holidays, intoxicating liquors, tobacco, sickness and death, domestic help, or any expenditure for unusual contingencies, religion, or charity. If wages are 36s. per week, the amount left to pay for all these things is only 3s. 7d.
That gives a lovely picture of conditions in 1907. I do not quibble about it, but I emphasize that the basic wage in 1907 was based on a. family unit of five, a man, his wife and three children.
In 1943, Chief Judge Beeby said -
I was impressed by the new evidence and argument as to the inadequacy of the earnings of the lower-paid wage earners with families. On our accepted standards of living, looking at it from the needs point of view only, I regard the present wage as adequate for a family unit of three persons, but think it offers only a meagre existence for a family unit of four.
In other words, between 1907 and 1943, the basic wage had deteriorated from being based on the needs of a family unit of five to the” needs of a family unit of three. Never, however, did the court really fix the basic wage on family needs. Owing to the growing restiveness, the Menzies Government in 1940 introduced child endowment of 5s. a week payable in respect of each child after the first in a family. I defy anyone to keep a child on 5s. a week. No wonder the Liberals do not want the Parliament to .determine that matter, because they know that if it did those anomalies could not exist. The basis on which justification for the insertion of penalties should be considered is whether justice has been meted out. Why were the penalty provisions abandoned if they were likely to be effective? I have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that they were not effective, because 17,200,000 days were lost in the period referred to by the then Senator Drake-Brockman. There were no Communists then with which to tie up the strikes. If penalty provisions would be effective to-day, why were they not effective then? Obviously they could not be invoked. Of course I am stating nothing new when I say that. Honorable gentlemen opposite know that penalties would ‘be as ineffective now as they were then. They want penalties provided for political reasons. I do not regard members of the Opposition as less humane than Labour Ministers and their supporters, but they, are grossly misinformed. I think the penal provisions sought by the Opposition are not only needless but also inimical to the principles that we enunciate. We are resort-, ing to conciliation, and, in my considered opinion, to embark on conciliation and, at the same time, provide for penalties like those sought by the Leader of the Opposition is a. contradiction in terms. If the penalty system had not been tried before, I might agree to give it a trial.
– This bill contains penal clauses.
– Then, why does the Opposition want more? The honorable gentleman- himself is bursting his boiler to have more penal clauses inserted. If the honorable gentleman’s apparent knowledge of the law is any . criterion, I ought to be able to get through the law school in three months. Without wishing to be unkind, I must confess my amusement, when I hear honorable gentlemen opposite railing- against the dispensing of justice in the conciliatory, sense by fifteen commissioners, and I recall that the Acting Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court is the very man who, in the Senate, in’ 1922, declared that the arbitration system in Australia was a complete failure. My honorable friends opposite express enor mous- fears that we may do something wrong in making our choice of men’ tofill the positions of conciliation commissioners, but could we do anything worse than did the anti-Labour government in appointing to- the Arbitration Court bench a man who was most denunciatory of the system that he was appointed to administer. I do not say that he is not capable of dispensing justice, but I have shown, by reference to Mr. Justice Beeby’s report in. 1943, that the system of arbitration has deteriorated to such a degree that the basic wage is now calculated to meet the needs of a man, wife, and one child, whereas, according to Mr. Justice Higgins’ report) it was originally based on the needs of a man, wife and three children. Can any one wonder why family life has deteriorated in this country? Do honorable members opposite think that family life, or the standard of arbitration, deteriorated first: I leave it to them to decide. The plain fact is that a man could not keep a wife and three children on the basic wage to-day. For the reasons which I have stated, the penalty provisions proposed by the Leader of the Opposition are absolutely unnecessary. I have proved that they are unnecessary and, in any case, as the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) said, there are enough penalty provisions in the bill now.
– I did not say that. I said that there were some provisions.
– Very well, that will do. The honorable member can split words if he likes.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) had to go back 20, 30 and even 40 years into history in order to bolster up the arguments that he advanced in opposition to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). Like many of his colleagues, the honorable member seems to have learned nothing from experience. In the years that have intervened since the period to which he- referred, there have been two world wars. Has- he learned nothing from the experiences of those wars? Has. the Attorney-General. (Dr.
Evatt) learned nothing from them ? The. right honorable gentleman pretended that he had learned a lot when he went to San Francisco, because at that famous conference he used historical facts as a basis for plans for the future and for amendments to the proposals of other nations. However, when the Leader of the Opposition submits a proposal of the kind now before the committee, the Attorney-General and his ‘cohorts refer to the past in an effort to produce evidence that the scheme will not work.. The right honorable gentleman might as well tell the United Nations the same story; probably he would be telling the truth if he did so.
There has been a great outcry by supporters of the Government against the use of penalties and sanctions. They claim that penalties represent the spirit of the nineties, and so forth. As the Opposition has pointed out, the bill contains numerous provisions for penalties. But what kind of ‘penalties are they? Proposed section 43 provides for a penalty of £.100 for an organization which engages in a strike or lockout. Under that provision, the Chamber of Manufactures, the miners’ federation, or the Ironworkers Union, could be fined £100. What kind of a deterrent would that be? It would be just as effective to impose a fine of £5 for the offence of criminal assault as to do that. A member of an organization may be fined £10. Such a penalty, would be useless. The Government should either be honest and remove these penalty provisions from the bill, or provide for penalties that would be real deterrents to breaches of the law. The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) have said that strikes are the only means by which workers can improve their conditions. If that were the truth, there would be much more justification than there is for the arguments which have been advanced by the supporters of this bill. Let us examine the disastrous strike now in progress in Melbourne. What is the consequence of the lack of penalties in that case? The strike is in protest against a decision made by a conciliation commissioner who. has powers similar to those which will be conferred upon commissioners by this bill. The Amalgamated Engineering Union applied to Mr. Commissioner Mooney for a wage increase of £1 a week. Mr. Mooney granted an increase of 9s. a week which, with the 7s. basic wage increase, made a total increase of 16s. a week, only 4s. less than was claimed ‘by the union. There was no appeal against Mr. Mooney’s decision.
This bill will prevent appeals against decisions of the commissioners, upon whose judgment the Attorney-General is pinning his faith. Despite the fact that the increase granted to the union represented only 4s. a week less than was claimed, the engineers -went on strike and threw out of work tens of thousands of people who had no direct concern in the dispute and who were not even remotely affected by its issues. As a result, the- whole community in Melbourne is in a state o.f chaos. What does the AttorneyGeneral propose to do to rectify that situation? If he refuses to impose adequate penalties on those who instigated the strike - whether they be employers or employees is immaterial - the community will suffer. The victims will be, not the strikers, hut the housewife who has to line up to buy food and the worker who has to walk to work instead of riding on a tram. What can the Government do about such a situation if it refuses to accept the suggestion that penalties he imposed? The Attorney-General said last night that the Prime Minister was working “night and day” and “using his good. offices” to try to effect a settlement of the dispute. But what can the Prime Minister do other than ask Mr. Cranwell, of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, to abide by the law? He has had not the slightest influence on the strike, and the results of his negotiations show that, without penalties, the Government is powerless to protect the rights of the people of Victoria in this disturbance. We have been told that penalties are out of date, that they have been tried, and that they have failed to achieve their purpose. The Government says that the sections of the act which provided for penalties were repealed because they had failed. What is the most up-to-date experience in the world regarding the effectiveness of penalties for strikes and lockouts? The great coal strike in the United States of America is the most outstanding recent example of the effectiveness of penalties imposed by a government which really sets out to deal with industrial problems. John L. Lewis is the most powerful. industrial leader in the world to-day. He is a complete autocrat and is czar of a union consisting of more than 400,000 American soft coal miners. In Australia we have only about 20,000 coal-miners. John L. Lewis commands these 400,000 workers, every one of whom will obey his orders. He challenged the authority of the United States Government. He called a strike, and said that his men would remain on strike until they had gained certain conditions. The challenge was taken up by the Truman administration. Lewis was taken before a federal judge, and, after a hearing in which contempt of court was the issue, it was ruled that a breach of the federal law had been committed by Lewis and by the United Mine Workers of America. Lewis, personally, was fined 10,000 dollars and the United Mine Workers, an organization of which he is president, was fined over 3,000,000 dollars.
– Most of which had to be refunded.
– Yes, but what was the consequence? The strike was over within 24 hours! I should not object to the refunding of fines as long as the Government did ultimately bring about respect for law, and industrial peace, by the just imposition of penalties. If honorable members opposite desire to bring their knowledge up to date, instead of delving into the records of Ilansard of 1913, they should study current literature from America. I desire to show what has been happening recently in the coal-mining industry, and the effect of the omission of penal provisions from the awards which relate to them. For the first sixteen weeks of 1946, coal losses, as the result of strikes and stoppages, amounted to 377,000 tons. For the corresponding period this year, the loss is 704,000 tons. This increase of nearly 100 per cent, has occurred at a time when Australia’s need for coal is more urgent than ever before. Some “honorable members opposite suggest that strikes are due to the fact that the workers do not receive justice, and that the stoppages take place because they are the last resort, of men who have failed to secure recognition of their claims before a conciliation commissioner or the Arbitration Court. I have here a record of the strikes that occurred in the coalmining industry last week. At the Richmond Main, which is one of the biggest mines in the Newcastle area, a strike occurred on the 22nd April last because a wheeler had asked the under-manager whether he had to work a horse which he had worked on the previous day. The officer replied that he did not, but that it was proposed to try out the horse on the following day. The wheeler then attended a pit-top meeting, and an intimation was conveyed from it to the under-manager that the horse would have to be removed from the mine and that failure on the part of the management to comply would result in a stoppage. When the under-manager did not agree, the pittop meeting decided that the wheelers should cease work. The mine was closed.
– Why did not the under-manager agree to the request?
– I shall explain that. On the following day, the lodge, representing all the employees on the mine, including the wheelers, decided. that all the men should return to work on the next morning. I emphasize that the lodge itself desired a resumption of work. On the following morning, however, the wheelers remained on strike, and the Richmond Main ceased . production for several days. Was that a strike against unjust industrial conditions which the workers could not tolerate? These ,men refused to obey the instruction of their own union. Yet the Government refuses to accept the Opposition’s proposal for the inclusion in this legislation of penal provisions in order to restore respect for and obedience of the law.! The purpose of these penal provisions is not to coerce reasonable men, or -inflict injustice on those who are fighting to right a wrong. The object is to deal with the agitator and the irresponsible person, who do not care how much the community suffers from their actions. But the AttorneyGeneral refuses to accept the amendment which the Leader of the Opposition submitted, and stakes his faith on the success of the conciliation commissioners, who will be appointed under this bill. Events have already proved, from the experience of the conciliation commissioner, Mr. Mooney, that some workers will go on strike even against a determination of a conciliation commissioner. If the AttorneyGeneral insists upon retaining these paltry penalties of £100 for an organization and £10 for an individual engaging in a strike, what authority does he propose to invoke to deal with industrial troubles? Under this bill, a conciliation commissioner may make an award against which there will be no right of appeal. Even the Government cannot intervene to vary the decision. Yet this bill does not contain any provision, except a paltry fine, to enforce the observance of the determination. For example, Mr. Thornton, of the Ironworkers Union, or the Communist, Mr. Brown, will be’ liable to a penalty of only £10 if they promote a strike.
Sitting suspended from 12.J/5 to 2.15 p.m.
– The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition ife designed to give some force to the provisions of the bil] now before the committee. Those proposals provide substantial but not overburdensome penalties for those who incite strikes, create industrial chaos and dislocate the industrial and economic life of the community. The AttorneyGeneral has rejected the proposals advanced by the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is present in the chamber and I invite him to declare what he proposes to do about the state of semi-revolution now existing in Victoria, and the threat of the dispute being extended to New South “Wales and South Australia by the Amalgamated Engineering Union.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There has been considerable discussion on the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and many legal arguments have been advanced in support of the proposed new section. These arguments have been countered with equal vigour by members with legal knowledge on the Government side of the chamber. However, I object to having to listen to misleading statements such as those made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. anthony), when he endeavoured to draw a parallel between the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition and the action recently taken by the United States Government. It is quite obvious that the honorable member does not understand legal procedure, because what happened in the United States of America was not the infliction of a fine on any individual or trade union for breach of an industrial award, but exaction of a penalty for breach of an agreement entered into under the ordinary law. In the United States of America the system is .not one of arbitration but one which provides for industrial bargaining. As a result of the bargaining
– Is not arbitration bargaining ? ‘ .
– No, arbitration is entirely different and those people who are seeking to destroy arbitration in this country are endeavouring to substitute forit the system which resulted in the recent industrial crisis in the United States of America.
Mi-. Anthony. - Unless it was a penalty for breach of law.
– But it is a different kind of thing altogether because that wasa. breach of the ordinary American law. The fact that an American court was able to impose such huge fines, indicatesclearly that it was a breach of theordinary law. But let us look at what actually happened. An agreement wasmade between the soft coal miners’ organization and the mine-owners concerned and subsequently the agreement wasbroken. The owners went to the court and asked for an injunction to prevent the continued breach of the agreement caused by the miners not returning towork
– The honorable member does not know the facts himself ; theagreement was made with the United States Government.
– I will put it in any way the honorable member likes so long as- he can understand it. What happened was that in contempt of the injunction granted by the court certain proceedings were taken, as the result of which heavy fines were imposed. That has no relation whatever to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition. The tactics pursued by the Opposition in this debate are to utilize the time which should be devoted to constructive criticism of the bill in the committee stages for the dissemination of propaganda designed to influence the people who will vote in Queensland and New South Wales next Saturday. One of the real reasons, if not the only reason, why objectionwas raised to the guillotine being employed in this debate - a device which ensures that the debate must terminate this evening - is that members of the Opposition wanted the debate to continue all through this week so that they would have an opportunity of continuing their electioneering propaganda in the interests of their parties’ candidates in New South Wales and Queensland. No penalties are provided in the industrial law of Great Britain, although it is a fact that penalties were at one time imposed by a gentleman who is now Earl Baldwin. But those penalties were later removed. The real difference between this Government and the Opposition is whether any useful purposes would be served by prescribing industrial penalties of a coercive type.
– Then why did the Government which the honorable member supports leave section 58 in the act.
– When the honorable member asks me why this Governmenthas or has not done certain things I might very well reply that the Government of which he was a supporter left many things undone. The honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Holt) made much of the fact that some agreement was reached in the Advisory War Council between members of the present Opposition, who were then in power, and members of the present Government, who were members of the council, but, significantly, he did not say whether it was reduced to writing. Any agreement made was reached only because the country was engaged in war. The honorable member does not suggest for one moment that to-day, under peace-time conditions, members of the Government would agree to such an arrangement,
– Quite obviously the Government does not agree.
– Of course not. But that does not entitle the honorable member to make capital out of the fact that under the pressure of war certain compromises had to be made.
– I made no attempt to make capital out of it; I was merely correcting a misleading statement.
– The honorable member forFawkner made a most misleading statement.
– I did nothing of the kind. I was answering the criticism of the Attorney-General when he said that the present Opposition when in power were not prepared to take this action.
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson has the call.
Mr.FALSTEIN.- In fact, the Government did many things during the war which it would not do to-day; for example, the extension of the area in which persons could be compelled to serve in the Army.
– The honorable member does not agree to that?
– No, I do not think that that is a good thing. I do not speak for the Government, but I believe that people who subscribed in general terms to many of the actions taken by governments during war-time would not subscribe to them in peace-time. Apart altogether from that, the secret and confidential nature of the proceedings of the Advisory War Council have been violated by the honorable member for Fawkner, which, of course, leaves the way open to Government members to indulge in the same kind of breach of faith. But in any event there is no real relationship between what was agreed upon then, or is not said to have been agreed upon, and conditions to-day.
– There is the record in Hansard of the statement of the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin.
– There is no relationship between a happening in wartime and what is now proposed, which would be effective under peace-time conditions. It is clear that many persons who support the Opposition in this regard hold the view that everything is all right when the bosses are in control. But to-day, with full employment in this country and workers able to command decent wages for their labour, Opposition members propose that if they decide to leave their employment for reasons best known, to themselves, they shall be reduced to a state of servility.
– Are they not now inthat state?
– Not at all. The Australian worker can say whether, where and at what price he will sell his labour. But under the penal provisions proposed by the Leader of the Opposition he “would have a gun pointed at his head.
– That is a grossly misleading statement.
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) claims that, in the absence of penalties such as these, there might be violence on a wider scale than would be embraced1 by a merely local struggle. He said - these are his own words - “Lots of persons would be taking sides, and there would be a clearcut1 division of the people of Australia “. I suppose he had in mind an armed conflict. That kind’ of’ thing would, db noth-ing towards removing the difficulties of the industrial position to-day. Nor would the proposed- penalties. The whole purpose of the Mil is to. emphasize the need’ for conciliation; not to put into the hands of people who- are endeavouring to subvert- that- principle & weapon which would, enable them’ to say to rank and* file members of trade unions) “ If’ you1 permit matters “to take their- course in the direction in which- they are now proceeding, you; can be put in- gaol orfined. Who is to say that’ you will not be specially chosen- for the infliction of some penalty which is not- directed against* the employer?-“’ The plain factis, that the proposal of the Leader- of the Opposition, has been, put’ forward’ to serve a- number of: purposes. First. ifr is a- proposal which, enables Oppositionmembers to dilate at’ some length on: the subject of industrial unrest;, and to-, en1deavour to relate that- industrial unrest to something which this. Government, or State- governments, are alleged to have failed to do. There is no relationship between the two. Their whole idea is to enhance the election prospects of Liberal party and Australian Country party candidates in New South Wales and Queensland. Another purpose of the proposal is to justify the argument advanced at the outset by members of the Opposition, that the time allotted for the consideration of the bill in committee was not sufficient. They wanted the debate to drag on throughout the whole of this week, which is the last week of the election campaigns in New South Wales and Queensland. Having, regard to these considerations, the proposal should be rejected by the committee.
-. - We have listened to two extraordinary contributions to the debate, one from the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha), and the other from the. honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein). The honorable member for Denison went back to as early as 1913 to adduce arguments in support of his submission that the Government should not accept the proposal of the- Leader of the Oppostiion (Mr. Menzies). Ho dragged in everything he could think of, even the computation- of the basic wage, with a view to confusing the issue, and roamed all round the country. Like “ the flowers that bloom in the spring”, his arguments had’ nothing whatever to do with- the proposal which the committee is now considering. Then the honorable member for Watson- adopted, a most extraordinary attitude, which is made more extraordinary by reason of the fact that he lays- some claim - how small it is it does not. matter - to the possession- of legal knowledge. Referring to the argument of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), concerningthe action taken by the Government of the United .States of America against John L. Lewis for contempt’ of court; thehonorable member, said that penalties maybe imposed- for breaches of a general1 law.. Obviously; he is in accord’ with such penalties; because he- did not criticize them: He- then- went- on to- say that in Australia, there may be a breach) of something- which- is* not a- general law, notwithstanding that it is the law of the country, in which event no penalty should be imposed. I am astonished that a man who has a smattering of legal knowledge should come to such a ridiculous conclusion. The observations of the honorable members for Denison and Watson showed that they are opposed to penalties of any kind under our industrial law.
– Hear, hear!
-I remind the honorable member “ for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that section 58ba of the act as it stands, which the Government does not propose to amend, provides for a penalty of £20 being imposed on any officer of an organization, or member of any committee thereof, or servant or agent thereof, who, during the currency of an award, encourages or incites any member of such organization to refrain from entering into a written agreement, accepting employment, offering for work, or working in accordance with such an award. What do honorable members opposite propose to do about that? They contend that there should be no penalty provisions in the Arbitration Act. Do they consider that that penalty would be sufficient to compel observance of the law by malcontents who are prepared to hold this country to ransom? If they-do not, obviously they should increase it. If they regard it as sufficient, all unionists will be given “ an open go “ to take any action they think fit, because such a penalty is not likely to act as a deterrent. Let us be realistic, and face up to facts.’ The honorable member for Denison had something to say against penalties. I refer him, and the. honorable member for Watson, to the observations of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who made it perfectly clear that no less a triumvirate than the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, the present AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) - who is opposing the penalty provisions now proposed - and the then honorable member for West Sydney, who is now High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom, Mr. Beasley, were prepared to agree to penalties which, it was suggested, should be imposed against unions, because they considered that there was no other way in which the unions could be controlled.
To-day, the Government is in a very sorry position. The committee must decide whether it will agree with .the Government’s interpretation of what will deter striking unionists, or whether it will accept the proposal of the Opposition. Whatever decision it makes will affect the situation which exists in Melbourne today, because if the strikers there know, as surely they do know from what is happening here, that the Government has no intention to provide penalties for breaches of the arbitration law, they will have no fear c)f the consequences of disrupting the community. In the circumstances, why should they be concerned about holding the country, to ransom? They know that, whatever they do, no action will be taken against them. In effect, the Government says to all the malcontents in the community, “ Good on you, boys. Keep on as you are going. There will be no penalties for whatever breaches of the law you may commit.* Hold the community to ransom;’ get out of the people as much as you can; plunge the country into a state of revolution. You are safe, whatever you do “. How different it would be if the Government were to say that it intended to administer the laws of the country for the good of the nation, and not for any section consisting of malcontents ! If the Government made it clear that the law would be enforced,. I have no doubt that there would be a repetition of what happened some years ago when a government led by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) froze the funds of the unions. The strike which was then disturbing the community was settled within a few hours. It requires a strong government to take action against malcontents. If the present Government were to develop some strength, it would contribute more to the settlement of the present dispute than by adopting a pathetic attitude, pandering to pressure,, and adopting a policy of retreat and appeasement. Everything except a determination to enforce the law is being tried by the Government. In answer to a question, the Attorney-General admitted that the Government lacked adequate powersto deal with malcontents. -Yet when given an opportunity to obtain that power,, he does not avail himself of it.
The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Cain, had something to say yesterday in relation to conditions in that State. He knows that the law is being broken. Persons who are found guilty of theft from individuals are punished, but the Government adopts a different attitude towards those who rob the community, despite the fact that they are in the same category as common thieves. Mr. Cain spoke of the malcontents in Victoria as brigands; and he was right.
The Attorney-General is opposed to penal sanctions, and therefore he must be opposed to arbitration, because unwillingness to provide penalties and sanctions is equivalent to an admission that the law will not be enforced. As the AttorneyGeneral is opposed to the system of arbitration, he must condone strikes and be in favour of direct action. That brings him into, line with the Communists who disrupt the community by applying direct action. The Attorney-General is encouraging the malcontents in their war -against the community. Well organized minorities are holding the nation to ransom. Honorable members know the -danger which threatens the City of Melbourne and Victoria in general. They -are aware that in a comparatively few hours there is the possibility of a total blackout, with all its implications of distress and crime. Yet the Government is prepared to sit idly by and take no action. It is prepared to allow Victoria to drift into a state of anarchy, possibly leading Ho revolution and bloodshed, before the strike is over. I say advisedly that the -situation in Melbourne to-day is the prelude to revolution. Should a state of revolution arise, the Commonwealth Government will have to accept the responsibility, because its inaction in this crisis can have no other effect than to inflame the passions of the strikers. It is useless for the Government and its supporters to say that they have always been opposed to penalties.
The Attorney-General is reading into the proposed new section something which is not intended. He says that the power contained in it would be used indiscriminately. We on this side say that it is a power which should be held in reserve, and used only when special circumstances demand it. The adoption of the pro posal of the Opposition would strengthen the hands of the Government if it really wanted to protect the interests of the community as a whole. Although the purpose of the proposed new section is that these powers shall ‘be held in reserve and used only when emergency arises, the Government and its supporters wish to construe it as providing a weapon which would be used at every conceivable opportunity. That is not so.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The proposed new section moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) embodies two proposals for inclusion in the arbitration laws of this country. First, it proposes to declare that certain lockouts and strikes should be unlawful and to impose severe penalties for participation in a strike, and secondly, it proposes that the funds of an organization which participates in an unlawful lockout or strike shall be frozen. Many years ago the Conciliation and Arbitration Act contained a provision imposing very heavy penalties for illegal strikes and lockouts. I remind honorable members that the greatest sufferers from strikes are the workers themselves, without’ the imposition of any legal penalty. The workers do not go on strike without giving the matter deep consideration - certainly not when the strike is likely to tie up large sections of industry and throw hundreds of thousands of people out of work. As the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) rightly pointed out, the employers, who are in control of industry, can generally achieve their ends without imposing a lockout in such a way as to violate the law. On the other hand, the workers, if they are operating under an award, cannot do anything to improve their conditions except by going on strike. The award in question may have been made two or three years ago, and in the meantime no opportunity has presented itself for obtaining redress of grievances. If they wish conditions to be varied, their only remedy is to go on strike.
Reference has been made to a proposal for the freezing of the funds of organizations of employers or employees which embark .upon illegal strikes; or lockouts. That is certainly a lop,sided,penalty. -For instance, one section of workers belonging to a union may. go on strike, but under the present proposal the funds of that union throughout the whole of Australia could be frozen. .We . should .remember that unions use their funds for purposes other than approaching the Arbitration Court, .and seeking ^better awards, lt funds are frozen, members may be deprived of sickness and mortality benefits, and it may be impossible for a union to pay its office staff and other employees. Thus, the whole organization would be thrown into chaos, not only in the State where ‘the trouble occurred, but throughout the whole of Australia. The situation is very different in the case of an organization which may be guilty of -a lockout. For instance, is it proposed that if an auxiliary company of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited locks out its employees illegally a receiver will be put in to freeze’ the entire resources of that company? If that is not done, this proposed new section would operate unfairly. During the regime of the BrucePage Government, a fine of ‘£1,000 was imposed on a trade union, but it has not been paid yet.
– The imposition of that fine led to a bigger strike.
– That. is so. I was at one time involved in a big industrial upheaval, and;members of the party opposite, which was then in power, said the same things- about the workers as are now being said in connexion with the dispute in Victoria. Eventually the matter was settled, and one of the terms of the agreement was that there should be no vindictiveness and .no victimization. .Nevertheless, when the men went back to work, 75 per cent, of them were victimized. The present Prime Minister (Mr. ‘Chifley), who had been a first-class engine-driver when the strike began, was reduced to a third-class fireman. I myself, who had been an acting driver, was also reduced to a third-class fireman. If the proposal be accepted, it will be used on every opportunity to browbeat the workers and prevent them from exercising their right as Australians to strike when they have a just cause for striking.
;- The .purpose of this .proposed new .section is, ;I believe, the exact opposite of .what Government supporters pretend to. believe. It is not designed .as a penal measure against ‘the workers as such, but it isproposed to give power to deal with the saboteur .and destroyer .who uses the workers to create conditions in industry that will redound to his own aggrandisement, and ultimately to the distress of the workers, a fact which. every Government supporter .knows. It is unfortunate that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) spoke as he did. He conveyed the impression that he would, give carte blanche to every sawdust Mussolini in Australia to work ‘his will on the long-suffering public and with the blessing of the honorable member. I do not believe that is the view of the Government itself, which certainly has the right to feel resentful against those who profess to be its supporters. The Government has been given the responsibility of directing the country during .a period of wonderful opportunity. After the conclusion of the war there were great potentialities for industrial development. We could have been, greater than ever before in our history. Why was this opportunity not taken ? Because the will of the Government has been impeded by those” whom the Government is protecting. The Government has refused to impose penalties which would have the effect of preventing such, people from sabotaging the public interest.
On -every occasion during the last two years when the rights of the public have been challenged by some kind of industrial upheaval, and the Government has been. asked to take action, it has pleaded lack of .power to intervene. Now, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) proposes” to relieve the Government of that feeling of helplessness by having inserted in this legislation a section to protect public instrumentalities, and the public generally, against attempts at sabotage by irresponsible persons.
– Does the honorable member think that fining the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and the union each £1,000 would be reasonable?
– If the honorable member .will listen to me he will discover what I think. It is more than extraordinary that government supporters, almost without a single exception, have resisted the inclusion of any penal provision in this bill. One can only come to the conclusion that they are either utterly unable to appreciate the possible danger of allowing present industrial conditions to continue or that they are absolutely indifferent to them. We are not necessarily stampeding .because of the position in Victoria, but we see it progressively worsening and reaching a state that might easily lead to national disaster. If, us the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, the next step is to withdraw sewerage engineers, who can say that the health of the community will not be gravely endangered? The -unions will use every endeavour to bring the people to heel when they refuse to bow their knees to these sawdust dictators. The withdrawal of sewerage engineers would create pestilence and disease in the community. While the Government makes a pretence of dealing with the effects, it refuses to deal with the causes, and the cause of the present dispute in Victoria is staring it in the face to-day. If such a thing as is contemplated by the Leader of the Opposition transpires those responsible would perpetrate a major crime against humanity. Yet government members are telling us to-day that there is no reason why power should be given to any authority in Australia to deal with the planners of such a crime. Although 1 usually do not descend to low levels in politics, I feel I must reply to the assertion of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) that we propose the imposition of penalties upon those who disobey the arbitration laws only in order to influence the elections to he held in New South Wales this week. I throw the allegation in the teeth of the honorable member, and say that he and his party are resisting the acceptance of the proposed new section merely in order to influence. the workers of New South Wales before they record their vote next Saturday. The Leader of the Opposition asked at what stage will the general community react against their saboteurs of its rights; how long will the people allow the privileges which they have fought and paid for for hundreds of years to be denied tq them by a few irresponsibles ? The turning point is inevitable; the public will stand so much, but no more. By its inactivity or fear of the consequences, this Government is encouraging the agitators to continue their threats. As I have said, the Victorian position has developed progressively. The Leader of the Opposition said that, in his opinion, the engineers have a ;case. I believe that they have. I learned only recently that one of them is now employed in another occupation, wielding a shovel, and getting £1 a week more than he got when he was employed in his skilled vocation. Very definitely he has a case. But the point is that they have defied the conciliator. Does not this bring out forcibly the very arguments which we propounded yesterday for uniformity in awards as a means of preventing this sort of thing from happening? I am gravely concerned about this matter, and not merely talking for the sake of talking. The position in Victoria has become steadily worse. It began by the defiance of the engineers of an award of a conciliator. The union then induced certain key men to withdraw from major industries, thus rendering those industries inoperative and because the employers said, “ We cannot function “, the unions claimed their members had been locked out. That lockout was deliberately planned and designed so that the people locked out would be entitled to payments from the social services unemployment fund. If the employees had struck, as they intended to they would not have been entitled to payment. The position in Victoria has arisen by no mere accident; it was well planned. The next thing that happened was that electric train services were stopped, compelling workers to find their way to work as best they could. When they tried to get motor transport to convey them to work they found that motor transport had been picketed and by threats, intimidation and coercion against omnibus -drivers’ bosses let the workers walk to work. Honorable members opposite can plead about the brotherly love that exists between all unionists; it means nothing. In the near future, this Government will find itself confronted with a crisis which it will Iia ve cause to remember and to regret. As the next step the, unions overnight withdrew the engineers responsible for the maintenance of the few country trains still running and’ bringing food to the metropolis. The next step was to threaten a complete black-out by withdrawing the engineers from the electricity undertakings. Because they found that the people were able to carry on by some means, the unions then thought that they would stop all trams and thus force the people to walk to work. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, the next step will probably be to withdraw water and sewerage engineers. The Government would then be in a position in which it would have some explaining to do to the people of this country. In their blatant arrogance, some of these self-styled and self-appointed dictators appointed pickets to prevent people from using- their own thoroughfares and their own instrumentalities. They hope that.by coercion, persuasion, intimidation and, finally, by violence, to get their way. If the people organize themselves to resist this picketing, and attack the pickets, they are immediately arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. We have reached such an unhappy state of affairs in Victoria that one gentleman, Mr. .J. J. Brown, a Communist member of the Australian Railways Union, recently had the temerity to issue a pass authorizing an omnibus to pass through’ the pickets in the streets of Melbourne. It was not the Government who said that the omnibus could go through, nor was it the people who have a right to use the streets; it was Mr. J. J. Brown who consented to its passage. The Premier of Victoria is terribly disturbed about the position. He probably has some inside information which we do not possess because he says that the position is even worse than has been disclosed ; but he pretends to be helpless about it, just as does this Government. Yet when we try to embody, in this legislation a provision which, by the imposition of penalties, will give some power to the court to control unlawful strikes and lockouts every honorable member on the government side resists it. Why is it resisted? Not because of any feelings that they have for the workers.
As I have had the pleasure of telling the workers before, the sooner they get rid of the stupid idea that they are effectively represented in this Parliament by those people who style themselves as the Australian Labour party the sooner they will make progress.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the Australian Labour party.
– I know much more about it than the honorable member has ever learnt. I warn the honorable member not to try me on, because I can tie him alp in five minutes. I have done more work in my time than half of the honorable members on the Government side have done collectively.
– That is because they have always been on the dole.
– It is because they have never learnt to work. They should not treat this matter lightly. I am in earnest. The possibilities are terrifying if we continue as we are doing to-day. It is one thing to smile, sneer and jeer at people on this side when they make proposals, but it is another thing to face up to it if .the worst should happen as the result of the strike leaders being allowed to do as they please. When they find that they can do what they like with impunity, arrogance will beget arrogance and the position will become worse. If it ever comes to civil war, which God forbid, the Government will probably say-, “ We have no power to deal with it “ and the public will be forced to deal with it themselves. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will not treat this- matter as lightly as many of his supporters have been treating it.
.- The honorable .member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) has discussed the merits and demerits of the Victorian strike. That is not the question before the committee. The committee is considering a proposal by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that heavy penalties should be provided for in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill against strikes and lockouts. That bill has been introduced by the Government in a conciliatory spirit. We desire to place conciliation in the forefront. We claim that conciliation has been missing from the present Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. We place great reliance on it. The proposal, of the Leader of the .’Opposition is that we go back to 1930 and re-impose similar penalties that were then removed, from the act with the concurrence of the Opposition parties. It is extremely important to examine the reasoning of some men who were in politics then. Mr. S. M. Bruce, the then Prime Minister, speaking on the Maritime Industries Bill, in 1929, when lie was going to pull the Commonwealth right out of the arbitration field, except for jurisdiction over the maritime industries said -
I remind the House that from the commencement, strikes mid lockouts have been illegal, and penalties for engaging in them have been provided. In the intervening period, Labour governments have at times been in power and have not departed from that principle. We endeavoured to make it operative and1 proceeded to enforce the law. Experience has, however, shown the impossibility of enforcing the law when organizations representing tons ot thousands of nien refuse to ‘obey it, and that goodwill and co-operation must be established before obedience cun be obtained. Clearly the principle embodied in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904-1928 is not now acceptable, and it is futile to attempt to carry out the provisions of that act. The incisure now under consideration contains no provisions for the outlawry of strikes or lockouts, or for the infliction of penalties upon those responsible for them.
We now have a complete reversal of form. The present Leader of the Opposition takes the contrary view. The atmosphere that prevails to-day was prevalent then. Long drawn-out strikes were’ frequent. The untold industrial turmoil was the reason that actuated Mr. Bruce in trying to take the Commonwealth out of the arbitration field. As the honorable mem ber for Denison (Dr. Gaha) said, there were no Communists in those times to blame for the industrial strife anil stress. Yet millions- of man-hours were lost. Strikes have gone on ever since. Even during the war workers went on strike. Mr, Bruce told the House of Representatives and the country that nothing could be gained by imposing heavy penalties on workers. He went on to say -
There is “no question of more outstanding importance to the citizens of Australia than the solution of our industrial problems. For years we have been trying to find a solution, and after what has occurred in recent years, I am convinced that we shall inevitably fail unless we are able to bring the contending parties closer together, and obtain that co-operation which is essential.
That is what I say. Conciliation is. the most important factor. The Labour Government intends to make it the leading feature of this bill. The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition to reimpose penalties is reactionary, out of date and out of step with progress and the economic conditions of the people. We repose our hopes in conciliation rather than punishment. Into this conciliatory measure we should not introduce punitive provisions. It is not a punitive bill. The workers of Australia saved Australia. We should be grateful, not revengeful, spiteful and vindictive. No good comes from force. In any event, the punishment suggested would not be practicable. The result of the heavy penalties sought by the Opposition would be to make big fires out of little ones. Industrial discontent and discord would be spread and conditions like those spoken about by the honorable member for Gippsland would be caused. Owing to the propaganda spread by members of the Opposition parties and the press of this country, there is little sympathy at any time for the workers. Their case is never made known to the world. The whole press of Victoria is against the strikers. It holds them in contempt before the people. It belittles the workers. It is trying to induce honorable members to believe that if the Government puts “ the boot “ into them and adopts strong punitive measures, which are better known in Germany and Italy than here, we shall get rid of strikes and the workers will settle down to a peaceful existence. The opposite will be the case. We shall only instil further bitterness into industrial life, and prevent all chance of restoring peace in industry. As some honorable members have pointed out, the workers themselves take no pleasure in strikes. They do not want strikes. They suffer through strikes. But we cannot overlook the fact that there is a great deal of camaraderie and brotherly feeling among the workers. They cannot be expected to “ scab “ on one another. They display to their union the loyalty that is expected of a decent body of men. To-day we are experiencing considerable industrial unrest, similar to that which occurred in 1930, but we must not forget that after every war there is an inevitable aftermath of industrial discord and strife. The penalties which the Leader of the Opposition lias proposed were previously in force. They were tried for years, but were found ineffective and were abandoned. Now, for political purposes, honorable gentlemen opposite suggest that those heavy penalties should be reimposed. I am certain that the Opposition has no faith in the efficacy of this proposal, and in the contention that the penalties, if adopted, will, end industrial strife. When the present Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir John Latham, was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth in 192S, he said, when speaking on a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill -
I think there still stands upon the statutebook of New South Wales a provision which makes it necessary to take a poll before a strike may be declared; but it is a dead letter, as such provisions generally are, because there is the same difficulty in enforcing strike penalties after a ballot as before it.
At that time, the failure of attempts to apply force to the workers, who had gone cn strike, was fresh in his mind, and he exhorted this Parliament not to associate itself with the imposition of heavy penalties against strikers. I believe that the Government takes a very serious view of strikes; we greatly deplore the present position in Victoria, and we are doing everything in our power to end it.. We shall not improve conditions in the industrial life of Australia unless, we begin by establishing a fair and reasonable basic wage. Having done that, Ave require a. better margin foi” skilled workers, in industry, and more amenities for employees. Why is- there industrial discontent in Australia? The explanation is that the workers’ earnings are not sufficient to provide adequately for their wives and families. We have adopted the AttorneyGeneral’s proposal to appoint additional conciliation commissioners, who should, have a sympathetic understanding of our industrial life and economic conditions. The present Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McGirr, has taken a courageous stand’ in legislating, for the introduction of the 40-hour week. His’ action will go a long way towards satisfying the workers’ in that State, and bringing about peace in industry there. Mr. McGirr has set a good example to the rest of Australia. With a higher basic wage, a shorter working week, increased amenities for employees, higher margins for skill and sympathetic conciliation commissioners, we shall do more in a few months to establish industrial peace in Australia than severe penalties can possibly achieve. I myself have little confidence in force. The right to strike has become part of our national life. Conditions in Australia are not comparable with conditions in the United States of America. All too frequently strikes in America are accompanied by violence, riots and loss of life. Fortunately Ave have had A’er.y little experience of that in Australia. We think differently from the Americans. It is futile for honorable members opposite to plead that because industrial discontent has been momentarily settled in the United States of America by the imposition of heavy penalties upon Mr. John L. Lewis..’ similar action would be successful in Australia. What do we know about negotiations behind1 the scenes which led to the settlement of the dispute with Mr. Lewis? I have little doubt that Yen shortly industrial troubles will .break out again in the United States of America.’
– Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- I see little hope of industrial peace, progress or prosperity in. Australia when honorable gentleman like the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams), who profess to be the leaders of the workers, condone the strike in Victoria and almost give it their blessing.
– I said that we deplore it.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to reflect on what he said, but I heard him distinctly, and I do not desire to misquote him. Other honorable members sitting to the right and left of me expressed their surprise at his observations. To-day, unworthy industrial bosses are coercing the workers in. Australia. They call them “ scabs “ if they resist proposals to declare strikes, and terrorize them into participating. These men should not be allowed to have an “ open go “, as they are to-day. Honorable members opposite completely misrepresent the object of the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.. Menzies). The right honorable gentleman is attempting to ensure a period of continuous industrial peace, national development and progress. Immediately following the conclusion of World War JJ., Australia, should have been, and still can be, one of the greatest nations of the world. We have a vast quantity of raw materials, and the advantage of accumulated skill which our industrialists obtained from the manufacture of arms and munitions. That reservoir of skill is immeasurably greater now than it was before the commencement of World War II. in 1939. If that skill and the ability of executive officers who performed wonderful work in industry during the war, were concentrated on the development of Australia, free from industrial disturbances, Australia would experience the period of full employment about which the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) glibly speaks. Despite the right honorable gentleman’s assertions to the contrary, unemployment is widespread in Australia. Industrial disturbances have thrown out of employment hundreds of thousands of workers. Under such conditions, all this talk about full employment is futile. The Leader of the Opposition proposes that the persons responsible for strikes and lockouts shall be dealt with effectively by the court. In other words, those who incite strikes and lockouts should be severely penalized. The court should examine the circumstances of each strike or lockout, and impose appropriate deterrents. The court should have power to freeze the funds of any employer or employee, or any group of employers or employees, in the event of continued industrial trouble in their particular industries for which they may be held responsible. It has been emphasized by many speakers on this side of the chamber that the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is intended to meet emergency conditions such as arise when there is a continued a persistent disregard of the awards and determinations of pur industrial tribunals. It is well known to all of us that heavy penalties may be imposed for breaches of both the civil and industrial laws. The principle has been established that continued- disobedience of the law, which inflicts injustice and inconvenience on the people, must be met by the imposition of penalties in accordance with the nature of the offence. That is the spirit of the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition. Under our existing industrial law, penalties varying from £10 to £500 may be imposed for different acts of defiance of the law. The Opposition believes that if substantial penalties could be imposed on those responsible for the existing industrial dispute in Victoria a settlement would be reached very quickly, An excellent example was given by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) of the effects of heavy penalties for industrial breaches when he referred to the recent dispute in the coalmining industry in the United States of America. He pointed out that the big union- boss of America, Mr. John L. Lewis, who had incited the coal-miners to defy the law of the country, was prosecuted and fined a very substantial sum. Almost at once the strike collapsed and the coal-miners were back at work again. The arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition in support of his proposal have not been effectively replied to by any Government supporter so far. I ask honorable gentlemen opposite to indicate what steps they suggest should be taken to end the dispute in Victoria. Have any steps been taken by the Government to achieve this objective, or is it proposed to do anything to end the dispute which has occurred because of a flagrant disregard of our industrial law? We have been told that the Government is pinning its faith to conciliation; but conciliation has not got far in Victoria. Conciliation having failed, and arbitration having been disregarded, it seems to me to be inevitable that penalties must be applied to those who are responsible for the continuance of the dispute. Industrial peace is essential in the interests of the whole community. The Government has indicated that it will reject the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition. That means that continued turmoil and trouble will occur. It seems to me that interminable dislocation is inevitable unless the Government does something definite to meet the situation. If it fails to act the people of Victoria will be forced to take a hand in the settlement. I 6ay advisedly that that will mean more turmoil and probably bloodshed. If the Government has a better proposal than the Leader of the Opposition has submitted, let it be put forward. The present position in Victoria cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. “We have’ been told again and again that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is giving his full time to devising ways and means to settle the dispute in Victoria, but he is not getting anywhere. The Premier of Victoria is thoroughly dissatisfied with the steps that have been taken so far. The fact of the matter is that this Government is not prepared to deal strongly with union bosses. It seems to be concerned with the interests of the bosses more than with those of the workers. The overwhelming majority of the union bosses in the industries chiefly involved in the existing dispute have shown that they are not interested in the welfare of the workers. They are the emissaries of Russia, and they are out to bring about the destruction of our economic and industrial system. It can scarcely be denied that honorable members on this side of the chamber arS the only ones who are making a plea on behalf of the workers. The only plea of honorable members opposite is for the union bosses. The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition, as I have said, is in certain circum-, stances to impose heavy penalties on those who commit major breaches of the law. Maximum penalties are proposed for flagrant breaches, and minor penalties, for less serious offences. It is the action of union bosses which is causing the turmoil and dislocation in Victoria, and I submit that these bosses should be subjected to the utmost rigours of the law.. Honorable gentlemen opposite do not seem to be concerned by the fact that very little, if anything, is being done by the Government to restore peace in industry in Victoria. Both employers and employees must be compelled, by some means, to obey the ,law. Seeing that arbitration has failed, and that direct action has been resorted to, some fresh step must be taken to restore harmony. The imperative need, in my opinion, is goodwill between “ employers and employees, and this Parliament should bend its whole endeavours to the devising of some means by which goodwill can be achieved. “Without goodwill it will be impossible to secure maximum industrial production. If goodwill fails, conciliation must be resorted to. If that fails, we must not throw up our hands in despair. Some other means must be adopted to maintain industrial activity. The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is designed to achieve that end. If some such steps are not taken, the people will have to take a hand. I fear the consequences of the inaction of both the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Victoria, as they may lead to the introduction of jungle law, with resultant bloodshed. Honorable gentlemen opposite tell us, with their tongues in their cheeks, that they believe in arbitration, but they are not prepared, it seems, to support the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition to strengthen our arbitration law. I still hope, however, that the right honorable gentleman’s proposal will be accepted, for it ‘ is designed to assure continued peace iri industry in Australia.
.- The honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) hit the target in his speech when he was dealing with the conflict in the parties in this Parliament in their philosophies in relation to industry. The Labour party does not stand for the coercion of the workers, and that is what the stiffening of the penalties suggested by the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Menzies) would amount to. If honorable gentlemen opposite desire to apply that policy they must first convince the people of Australia of its effectiveness. They will have an opportunity to do that in 1949. In the meantime, they cannot expect the Labour party to accept their policy. The honorable member for “Wentworth revealed one of the few touches of realism manifested by honorable gentlemen opposite during this discussion. The’ problem that we are discussing is not new. The Leader of the Opposition is clearly .advocating the adoption of coercive measures, for his proposed new section sets out that -
Any person including any organization of employers who does any act or thing in the nature of an unlawful lockout, or takes part in an unlawful lockout, or aids, incites or encourages an unlawful lockout shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One thousand pounds.
That could be a penalty on a big or a small company. Another proposal is -
*here an organization of employees or any of the members thereof take part in an unlawful strike such organization shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One thousand pounds.
Consider the relative severity of a fine of £1,000 on a union of 1,000 - members, each of whom pays an annual subscription fee of 35s., and on the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the annual profit of which may be as high ms £600,000. In a union of average size, the confiscation of £1,000 would represent confiscation of its entire funds. In an average business which would engage in a lockout, -and would therefore have a large number of employees, a penalty of £1,000 would be insignificant. The proposal is class-conscious legislation of the worst kind, heavily weighted against the trade unions and in favour of the employers.
Honorable members have referred continually to the strike in Victoria as an instance pf the need for placing increased coercive power in the hands of the Commonwealth Government. This . proposal is not new. The. honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), and some of those who preceded him, directed attention particularly to the serious threat to the public services that is involved in that strike. Let us see what the Australian people have thought of coercive proposals in relation to the maintenance of essential public services. In 1926, in a period of intense industrial upheavals, the BrucePage Government, believing that it had not the power to coerce, asked that the following power should be written into the Australian Constitution: -
Protecting the interests of the public in case of actual or probable interruption of any essential service.
Let us see what the people of Victoria thought of that proposal. Those who voted in favour of the Commonwealth having the power to coerce in such cases numbered 296,000, whilst those who voted against the Commonwealth having that power numbered 537,000. The people of the Commonwealth as a whole rejected the proposal by a majority of more than 400,000 votes. The State of Western Australia, which I help to represent in the chamber, rejected it by a majority of three to one.
In the ‘proposal of the Leader of the Opposition there is another coercive power which has its parallel in a second submission by the Bruce-Page Government at the same time, for the amendment of the Constitution in such a way as to give to the Commonwealth direct control of trusts and combines in restraint of trade, trade unions, and associations of employers or employees for industrial purposes, including the formation, dissolution, regulation and control thereof. The people of Victoria voted in this way: That the Commonwealth should have such power, 310,000; that the Commonwealth should not have the power, 546,000, a majority of nearly two to one against the proposal. The Australian people as a whole rejected the proposal by a majority of more than 400,000 votes. The people of Western Australia rejected it by a majority of three to one. That is the last declaration of opinion by the Australian people on proposals of the kind that are now being put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.
We have heard members of the Opposition carry their analysis beyond the stage of a fine of £1,000. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), has said, 1 believe quite honestly, that the Opposition does not propose to attempt to do anything so absurd as to imprison all the members of an entire trade union; that is not physically possible. Not in this debate, but at various other times, he has suggested that leaders of trade unions’ should, be imprisoned. The present proposal is, not to imprison leaders but to impose a fine not exceeding £1,000 on a union. The obvious consequence of that would be that a union would not register its funds, but would conceal them, as lias been done by unions in the United States of America, and therefore, no draft upon them could be made by a government. It is assumed that, if the secretary of a trade union were imprisoned or otherwise punished, the entire union would cave in. That assertion, of course, is complete rubbish. Opposition members must know that, according to the statistics, of the 7,000 employees locked out in Victoria more than 6,000 have found employment elsewhere. The confiscation of the entire funds of the union, were those nien on strike, and the order that they return to that work, would necessarily fail. They have the right to take other employment, and to ignore the industry which wants to employ them. There are no powers of industrial conscription under which they could be sent back to industry. Honorable members opposite have always been most emphatic that there should not be powers to conscript ‘ the workers. Consequently, this proposal would not provide a solution of industrial unrest. If the funds of the union were confiscated the result would be increased solidarity on the part of the other unions, in order to make good the money that had been lost, as well as to increase resistance. When, the fine of £1,000 had been paid, the workers would not be back at their employment. There is no tittle of evidence in support of the likelihood of work being resumed after the penalty had been imposed. With manifest absurdity, the proposal is to impose a fine of £1,000 on an individual, on a trade union, and on the wealthiest company, no matter how ridiculous the penalty may be relatively. It is vicious class-conscious legislation of the worst kind, and no Labour government would agree to it. Honorable members; opposite claim that it is useless their submitting proposals, because of the refusal of the Government to accept them. In. respect of this proposal, at least, they are right.
.- We have listened to a most extraordinary set of speeches from the other side- of the chamber this afternoon. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley)- devoted most of the time at his disposal to remarks about the coercion of workers. It is not the intention of any member of the Opposition, now or at any future time, to coerce workers. Our sole intention is to ensure that the law governing arbitration and industrial- relations shall be observed. To say that a man who offends against the law is being coerced by being penalized, is to distort the meaning of the proposal. The imprisonment of a man who breaks into one’s house and steals the family silver does not constitute coercion of the whole fraternity of burglars. The honorable member went on to refer to the inequality of the proposed fine. He said that a fine of £1,000, if levied on a trade union, would be a very heavy penalty, whereas a fine of a similar amount, if levied on the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, or some other large company, would be a mere bagatelle. I cannot say whether the honorable member knows what funds are now at the disposal of hig trade unions. Let us take a case in point. Yesterday, Mr. Cranwell said that he had behind him dominion funds totalling no less than £9,000,000. What, then, would be £1,000 to his union? The rejoinder of the honorable member to arguments from this side of the chamber in that respect would seem to be quite absurd. He also contended that it was unlikely that any action proposed by Opposition members would have any effect on strikes. Surely the purpose of any penalty or law is that it shall act as a deterrent. The imprisonment of a burglar for three years does. not prevent others from committing .burglary. Similarly, a union, or an association of employers which had been fined. £1,000 would not be absolutely prevented from again going on. strike or causing a lockout.. All that we say is that this deterrent should be embodied in the law.
I have said that the- speeches of some honorable members opposite have surprised me. I shall1 refer to only two, each of whom made the same remark - the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams). What most surprised me was that both of those members tried to absolve the Communist party from responsibility for the strikes that have occurred. I do not contend that the- Communist party has- been wholly responsible,, but I do assert that i t must bear a very large degree of the responsibility. In order to prove that, I need only- say that all the key industries ‘in which there are now strikes are, in the main, Communist-controlled. Honorable members opposite; looking back to the year- 1920, refer to the number of strikes that then occurred, when there were no- Communists, the implication being that- Communist influence is not behind the- strikes that are occurring to-day, and’ that the poor “boobs” who are led astray by those who are at the head of their unions are not the victims “of communism. I do not- accept that. Another statement by the honorable- member for Denison was that more days were lost because of strikes in the post-war years after “World “War I. than have been lost in that way since the termination of World War II. That is true. But the honorable member omitted to mention that the hardship inflicted on the community was then comparatively slight, compared with what it is to-day, for the reason that the strikes that then occurred were spread more widely over the- community and did not affect key industries as they are being affected to-day. A further statement; whether made, in malice or in- ignorance I do not know, was- th at in which- the honorable- member compared the- Arbitration Court as it existed in the early days of the century, with its character in- the* last- few years. He said that. Mr. Justice Higgins; in’ the Harvester, award, fixed a- certain basic wage for- a> man, wife; and three children. He then, said that the Arbitration Court, presided; oven- by Judge Beeby, awarded a basic, wage for a man, his wife a-nd. one child, and, he asked! us; to> note, bow the standard was dropping. The fi, st award was supposed to- provide; for- the. needs- of five people^ the- next: for- only threes. What he forgot to. point’ out; knowingly,. I. suggest,, was- that- Judge Beeby’s award was framed on an entirely different basis ffrom that of 190.5-.. The- Beeby award.. was based, on what industry could- bear;, and not upon Ute , actual needs; of- a-, man-, his wife.- and. child-.
I do not believe that- Government supporters realize; what lies- behind what is taking’ place in industry to-day: The . Attorney-General said that he did’ not like imposing- penalties, but he went on to say that the court could impose them if it- wished. If he does- not object to the court imposing penalties why should he object to our- taking the proper course, and making provision for their imposition in this bill? Surely there- is a right way to do it. In this as in other matters the Government- is refusing to shoulder- its responsibilities,, and is showing a disposition to place them on some one else. Because the- Government has-not the courage to introduce penal provisions, it says that the court may impose penalties, and the Attorney-General has said that he would not object. The same trend was noticeable in connexion with the wage-pegging- regulations. The Government, instead- of wiping out the regulations and accepting- the responsibility for its: action, as it should have done, passed the whole matter over to the Arbitration Court, telling it to fix whatever w.age it thought- fit, having regard to the interests of the- country as. a whole. I repeat that that was not the- duty of the court,, but of the Government. Whenever the- Government is presented with a difficulty it goes into- a “flat spin.”-. If it can, it pushes- the responsibility on to some one else. If it .cannot do’ this, it “sits tight “‘and does not do anything.
The community in Victoria is being held to ransom by a small body of’ men. I cite the case of Victoria because what is happening there to-day will, no doubt, happen in Sydney next week, and in Adelaide the- week after.. Melbourne, a great metropolis,, is; in- a> state: of. siege. In. the middle ages,, troops, used to- in.vest a’ city and cut it. off from alii supplies. To-day- a. Gordon; has been drawn- around the City of Melbourne. Practically no transport is. entering or leaving the city. By next week,, no. doubt, the. cordon will be drawn still’ more tightly, and then the city.- will be entirely besieged. Who is> to accept- responsibility, for this state of affairs? ? What does- th e Government; propose, to.- do. about. t% The Leader- of the Opposition has proposed that penalties he inflicted f or- breaches of the law.. but; the Government has– refused to. agree. What, I ask; is’- the Government’s; positive policy for dealing with- the situation? If it continues te- do. nothing the people; who are; in- a very exasperated’ state, will themselves take> action: The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) told 115 that everything was all right, and that the workers were merely trying to get something more. The fact is, however, that the workers, or a small section of them, are using force against the community. They are trying to starve the community. Is such a situation not the responsibility of the Government? Any government worthy of the name should accept responsibility, and take, appropriate action. This is not a party matter. Every one is agreed that public order should be maintained, and it is the duty of whatever government may be in power to enforce the law. The Leader of the Opposition has moved a proposed new section which is designed to deal with the- situation. Its effect is merely to increase the amount of the penalty for a breach of the law. If force is used against the community, and the Government does nothing, the community must itself use force against those who are seeking to oppress it. No one is forced to enter any trade or occupation, but when a man does enter industry he not only has rights but he also assumes, obligations. No government, should stand aside and allow one small section in industry to evade its responsibilities. It must step in and see that those responsibilities are discharged. I hope that even at this’ late hour common sense will prevail, and the proposal of the Leader 6f the Opposition will be accepted.
.- The .Scullin Government, of which I was a member, removed from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act the provision which imposed penalties similar to those which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) now seeks to have imposed. Therefore, I am not disposed to re-insert them in the act. That does not prevent me from agreeing with Mr. Justice Higgins who, in association with Mr. Justice Isaacs, declared that strikes were incompatible with conciliation and arbitration. This whole bill is directed in the first place to conciliation, and then, as an afterthought, perhaps - although a serious thought, no doubt - to arbitration. The conciliatory provisions are emphasized by the fact that, although conciliation and arbitration are in juxtaposition, conciliation is in the first place.
Conciliation and arbitration is the settled policy of the Labour party. We had very great difficulty in getting the legislature to ‘accept conciliation and- arbitration, although in saying this I do not wish to rob Mr. Justice Higgins, who was then Mr. Higgins, of the honour of having himself introduced the matter in the Convention of 1S9S, which discussed the proposed Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. Indeed, he succeeded in introducing the principle as a placitum in the Constitution, where it has remained ever since. I wish to point out - and I fear that this has been sometimes forgotten by honorable members opposite - that the Labour party won an election on the issue of conciliation and arbitration, and it won it by a very large majority. I remember that I waa returned by the largest majority ever secured by a candidate in the State of Victoria, although a larger majority was obtained by the then honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) in the same interests in New South Wales. At all events, in 1929 we secured a majority, but, unfortunately, only in the House of Representatives, because that was’ the only House dissolved. There was still a large army of opponents in the Senate, so we had great difficulty in prevailing upon that Chamber to pass our legislation. Mr. Bruce, who had been Prime Minister, was defeated by Mr. Holloway, now member for Melbourne Ports and Minister for Labour and National Service. When I sought to eliminate these penal clauses from the act in 1930, I was greatly encouraged hy the fact that Mr. Latham, now Sir John Latham, who was then Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, uttered those words which were quoted by the Attorney-General last night in opposing the proposed new section sought to be incorporated in thin bill by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). It is perhaps curious that those words should have been uttered by a gentleman who was the elected representative of Kooyong in this Parliament, a seat now occupied by the Leader of the Opposition. As I was responsible for introducing a bill to repeal the penal clauses in the act, I do not propose , to have any part in their re-imposition. For many reasons. I do not believe that penal clauses are likely to be effective. In moving for their re-imposition, the Leader ‘of the Opposition made a powerful speech, but it was replied to fully and completely by the Attorney-General, and I do not intend to minimize the importance of his contribution to the debate by adding anything to what the right honorable gentleman said.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired,
.- As this debate proceeds two points seem to emerge very strongly from it, first, that the Labour party is afraid to take any action, afraid of displeasing its militant unionist supporters and the Communists, and, secondly, that the party is out of date. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that he did not believe in these penal clauses in 1930, and that he does not believe in them now. At least the honorable member -is consistent. But the young honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) endeavoured, in a flow of words, to explain away the hostility to them by saying, “ If you fine a union £1,000 for an unlawful strike and only fine the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited a similar amount for a lockout, that would not be equitable “. If the honorable member is prepared to propose an amendment that the fine for a lockout be increased to £5,000 we shall support it. The honorable member’s academic dissertation would not convince anybody. We have listened to the “ clowning “ of the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha), who scraped around ancient history and dug up a bit of comedy as his contribution to the debate. Honorable members opposite do not seem to realize that a grave crisis, with its centre in Melbourne, faces this Commonwealth to-day. The Labour party is out of date because strikes are out of date. Strikes were all very well as a means to an end in bygone days; they are no longer a useful weapon. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) told us what he did when he was a small boy. His theme song was, “Don’t go down the mine, Daddy “. All things of the past! We were told of the days of slavery, of the workers being chained, with leg irons. What nonsense to think that, in a great democracy such as this, members of Parliament should live so constantly in the past, and be so unrealistic in their attitude to present-day events. To-day a crisis confronts this nation as the result of chaotic conditions brought about by industrial anarchy. Yet when the opportunity is presented to us during the consideration of this bill to impose provisions which would prevent a repetition of the state of affairs that now exists the Government rejects them. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) and others harangued the committee about there being no punishments of any kind; but punishments are already provided for in the act. It is true that the maximum fine is only £20, which certainly would not deter these agitators, but the fact remains that the principle of imposing penalties is already recognized. We are endeavouring to have the penalty provisions brought up to date so that strike-making will no longer be a protected industry as it has been’ in the past. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) himself achieved fame by going on strike in 1917. I understand that that was a calamitous strike - I ,was not in Australia at the time - and in that connexion I shall quote from the book on the cover of which is the imprint of the hammer and sickle. It says -
The 1917 strike resulted, primarily,_ because of its reformist leadership, in defeat, in a bad setback for the unions. Many of the unions did not recover from the defeat for years, and even to-day the cry is raised that 1917 proved the “futility of strikes”.
Then it goes on with a little “hate” against the Independent Workers of the World, who were the forerunners of the Communists. The trade unions are again heading for disaster. To-day there are men who live on strike-making. There is, for instance, the ridiculous Mr. Brown, who has been issuing certificates that buses may run through certain streets in Melbourne. Yesterday he declared the Melbourne Argus “black”. If he declared certain other newspapers “red’’ we could understand it. But what will he do next? Apparently he regards himself as being above the law. He is the de facto Minister for Transport, just as Mr. Healy, of the Waterside Workers Federation, is the de facto Minister for
External Affairs. I have another quotation to make from the charming little publication to which I have already referred. Quoting a manual for Communists entitled Armed Insurrection, which no doubt is studied by all Aus- tralian Communists, including those who have been responsible for the present state of affairs in Melbourne, the -book says -
Street fighting, aiming at the physical extermination of the enemy, should be absolutely without quarter. Any sign of human feeling from the proletariat to its class enemies during the armed struggle merely creates fresh difficulties, and may, if circumstances go against us, lead to the failure of the movement.
The attack should be made by surprise, and all the leaders on the other side should first bc assassinated, and all who might oppose the success of the undertaking exterminated.
What a crazy announcement in a democracy! These futile people who in this Parliament represent what was a great political party, the Australian Labour party, are now more or less the puppets of unscrupulous individuals who, should a state of national emergency again arise, would undoubtedly be traitors to the community. In New South “Wales alone there are 22 unions under Communist domination to-day. That is why the slogan of the Communists is compulsory unionism. The more men they can induce to join unions, the more men will they have under their control. Sanctions such as those provided for in the proposed new section are needed to-day to curb these disturbers of the peace. There is no great industrial unrest in this land to-day. “We are suffering from man-made troubles - self-inflicted wounds caused by men who throughout the war sheltered in reserved occupations. By and large, the people of Australia to-day are fairly content. They can find work with reasonable hours and conditions, and they can improve those conditions by application to the Arbitration Court, which has outmoded strikes. Yet, due to the activities of those individuals who live on the credulity of good working men, there exists in this country to-day a state of affairs similar to that which gave rise to fascism in Germany, and to presentday conditions in Russia or Yugoslavia. The good working man is afraid to attend union meetings where the loud voices of the militants dominate discussions. Hardships have been imposed upon inno- cent people, and women and children have been exposed to dangers. But this Government is too craven and spineless to act. Honorable members opposite should get away from the old “chains and slavery” business, and fight back at these men - some of them declared Communists and others crypto-Communists - who are a constant menace to the community. Are honorable members aware that to-morrow, the 1st May, was the date fixed, not by the Communists, but by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, for the commencement of , a general strike throughout this’ country? The aim was to paralyse the whole of the Commonwealth; but something, went wrong. There was some dissension in labour ranks. In fact most of the troubles from which we suffer to-day are due to the rivalries between these putty despots. To-morrow, transport throughout the Commonwealth was to have been dislocated; but Saturday is polling-day both in New South “Wales and Queensland, and it’ would not have ‘been politic to have made May Day the heyday for these gentlemen; so the strike was called off. The centre of industrial unrest now is the State of Victoria, which never in history has seen a Labour majority in its Parliament, although it has had some Labour governments it is true, due to support of independents, and to other reasons. If this .Government cannot see plainly that it should accept the proposal that has been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition so that men such as those who are making Victoria the centre of their machinations to-day may be brought to task, it is unworthy of the name of a government. How absurd it would be if we were to argue that there should not be punishments for breaches of the ordinary laws’ of this country. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams)’ in a sugary speech of his usual patter-for-the-proletariat type told us that working men must not be punished. But I assure the honorable member that working men do not want his patronage. They want’ the right to work. I know of many skilled workers who have been told by union dictators that they must leave their usual employment and dp unskilled labour. This depletion of the ranks of the workers in skilled .trades is retarding the training of young men including returned soldiers, and preventing the wheels of industry, from, turning. If a police magistrate, for instance, had only the authority to say, “You are a naughty hoy and must not do it again “, it would not be safe for anybody to be in the streets at night. It would be an encouragement to the criminal. And how could discipline be maintained in a defence service if the commanding officer of a unit could not inflict punishment upon an offender, but could only hear a case and- conciliate? Conciliation when carried to extremes is only another word for appeasement. It was appeasement at Munich that led to World War LT., and it is appeasement of the Communists to-day that is the source of rauch, of the trouble in the world, and is causing this country to suffer its present handicaps. This measure, to be effective, requires the addition of definite sanctions. We do not suggest that the penalties provided should be as severe as those that may be imposed in a criminal court; but a man who defies the law should be made to face the law. No one should be outside the law; yet here we find the Prime Minister and members of his Government wringing their hands pathetically and saying, “What can we do about it? It is a matter for . the courts “. The State Labour governments shelve their responsibilities by saying, “ It is a Commonwealth matter “, and so on. All this inefficiency is apparent to the people of this country. It is high time this Government realized that it was elected to govern Australia, and does not merely represent the Labour party. I know that there are many honorable members opposite who detest the activities of these disrupters as much as I do, but they are caucus mutes. They are fettered by . caucus decisions. They are opposing improvement of the measure. They -will have to take the consequences. I do not need to paint the picture in Victoria again. We all know how bad it is. At any time there may be a stoppage, not only of power, but also light- a black-out with all the possibilities of profit that that gives to the underworld. We remember the 1923 strike damage and the cleaning up that had to be done afterwards. One union was on strike then. Now, owing to the activities of Mr. Cranwell .and Mr. Brown, Melbourne suburban transport has ceased. The engineers have been pulled out of the power houses. So it goes on. They are very cunning. They save money. They pull out only a few men from this place and that. They withdrew the moulders from the foundries. The employers were put in a false position, ‘ and had to close down. Then they called it .a lockout.
Mi*. James. - Put some life in it.
– Now we hear again the worn-out record of the honorable member for Hunter. He will soon be telling us again that it was a lockout on the northern coal-fields in 1929. It was not a lockout, but a strike by the coalminers, because they would not accept the decision of the court. I went to the coalfields then, but the honorable member for Hunter was not within many miles of the mines. I hope even that at this late hour that the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition will be accepted.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Speakers on the Opposition side have told us the old, old story - that the workers are to blame for the industrial unrest. Right down through history the blame for industrial trouble has been laid on the workers by those people who reap the profits from the workers’ labour. The Opposition pins its faith on coercive methods to ensure industrial peace. In doing so it is following precedent set many years ago by people of. the same class as it represents. Men were transported from England to Australia for having had the temerity to ask for, I think, 2s. more a week. They were receiving about 7s. a week. Honorable members opposite would derive great benefit if they read the history of the Tollpuddle Martyrs. Elsewhere in the world, as in Australia, not one benefit that the workers have received has been given voluntarily. Each has been strenuously resisted. Speakers on the Opposition side have declared that all the industrial troubles to-day are caused by the workers, but I have always found that it takes two to make a quarrel: Not all of the employers are bad. The Melbourne Herald of the 5th February reported the head ‘ of an engineering firm in Victoria, a Mr. Draffin, as having said that the trouble in Victoria could and should have been simply settled in its initial stages but for extremists on both sides. ‘ He meant intolerant employers and intolerant representatives of the workers. We have heard a lot about the man who claims to be the representative of the workers - he was elected by the workers - Mr. J. J. Brown, but we have not heard one word, even from this side> about the representative of the Chamber of Manufactures, Mr. Mackay. He is intolerant and is equally to blame with Brown. Punishment will not bring about peace in industry and the tolerance and understanding that the good employers are asking for. They are not asking for penal provisions, because they know from experience their futility. This bill expresses the desire, of the Government for peace in industry. The industrial unrest in Victoria to-day could have been settled at the outset had there existed on both sides the will to conciliate. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said he considered that the engineers were not receiving pay commensurate with their skill and their services to the community. Wage-pegging has been eased and to-day there is only a difference of a shilling or two between the offer of the employers and the claims of the employees. I think that even now they could get together and settle this dispute but for the pride of the intolerant employers. I think they do not care if. all industry stops. ‘They probably think that that would bring about the downfall of the Labour Government. To them that would be a great victory. Until recent years the employers have had a terrible weapon that they have not hesitated to use against the employees - the weapon of hunger. I have no time for men- like Mackay. He had great protection given to him in his industry by the tariff, but not one penny of that benfit did he pass on to me as a farmer. We do not forget these things.’ His reasoning is that if the engineers are out of work for three months they will exhaust their little reserves and then be ready to accept any terms th’at the employers like to inflict upon them. It i3 logical to argue that way, although it is a pity that we have to. There is nothing that we can do. The matter is in the hands of the Arbitration Court, whose procedure is almost incomprehensible to the ordinary man. I deplore that the Opposition should try to make political capital out of the position in Victoria. The workers have been described as criminals. But during the war, when their wealth was at stake, to . whom but the workers did the wealthy look to even die in defence of it ? The Opposition blames Communists for the industrial upheavals of to-day, but who created communism in this country but the anti-Labour government that created the depression, and flung 500,000 men on the dole? These legal men, who are supposed to know bo much more than laymen, brought about overnight an arbitary 10 per cent, reduction of the wages for which the workers had fought for many years by constitutional means. They did so in spite of the warnings of the unions, which said that such, action would be like throwing petrol on a fire. The workers then had to fight for over twenty years to secure the reinstatement of those wage cuts and their former conditions. The employers showed no desire to help them, and the unions, had to expend huge sums from their funds to win their long battle. Nevertheless, men like the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) blame only one side for the troubles which occur in industry. As a man who has been a worker, and who probably was elected to this Parliament by the votes of the workers, the honorable member should not condemn them and blame them for industrial disturbances. His attitude is shameful. Why does he not attack some of his supporters, who probably finance the so-called Australian Country party?
– Tell the truth.
– I am telling the truth. I am never ashamed to do so. I have never had to .crawl to anybody in my life, and I never will. I shall continue to speak the truth. The honorable member must know that I am telling the truth.
– I know that it is a lie.
Mr.- McLEOD. - I recall the experiences which I had when I was a boy. I was not very big, and life was hard, but I used to read a little. I was working for a very wealthy man, and I- told him a few home truths, which I pass on to honorable members opposite now. This man was talking to mo about the railway employees engaged in the strike which took place in 1907 or 1908, and he said that he would put the strikers against the wall and shoot them. Like many employers, he was completely intolerant of the workers. I reasoned with him and pointed out that the men engaged in the strike were workers who had nothing to sell but their labour. They had been fighting for a higher price for their labour in order that they could provide their families with a few additional comforts. I said to my employer, “Instead of paying them that extra price you would shoot them. Yet when you take, your sheep and cattle to the saleyards and find that you cannot obtain the prices that you expect, you take them home and wait until prices rise, so that the workers have to pay more for their meat. You would not expect the workers to shoot you for doing that.” We meet many such men in the course of a lifetime. I have known many others like him. This Government and we who support it are concerned at the proposal to impose coercive methods upon the workers. By punishing- them, we would not make them more reasonable in their outlook. Such action would only widen the breach between them and the employers. I know that the proposal before the committee will meet the fate that it deserves.
.- I did not intend to speak, but I have been impelled to do so by some of the extraordinary remarks made by honorable members opposite. The arguments raised by the Opposition have been remarkable, particularly those relating to the selection of men to settle industrial disputes as conciliation commissioners. Honorable members opposite have argued that, in order to be capable of settling disputes, a mau must have legal training. My experience has proved to me that that is very far from the truth. A man’s education is of little importance; his knowledge of the circumstances of a dispute and the conditions of the industry in which it occurs is the important factor. For example, I recall a dispute which occurred in my electorate recently, and which threatened to develop into a large-scale strike. The parties involved were the rice-growers in the-Murrumbidgee irrigation area, the lumpers in the railway’ yards, and the carriers. I do not profess to have any legal training, but I took action to bring about a prompt settlement. I came to Canberra and interviewed the then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), and talked the matter over with them. I made certain suggestions to overcome the cause of the dispute, and my suggestions were accepted, with the result that the whole trouble was disposed of before it reached the proportions of a strike. The persona best qualified to settle industrial disputes are men with experience of the industries’ in which the disputes arise who are blessed with a fund of good common sense and logic. Honorable members, opposite speak as though they had a monopoly of brains and common sense in this Parliament. This Government has proved itself, both in .peace and in war, to be capable and wise. It includes representatives or rural industries and highly trained legal authorities. Therefore, it will be able to draw upon a wide range of knowledge and experience in selecting the men to be appointed as conciliation commissioners. It will select men of common sense and ability. It will not, for instance, select a farmer to settle a waterfront dispute. I will appoint men who have experience of theindustries with which they will be called upon to deal. The arguments employed by honorable members opposite astound me. There can be no doubt that the bill represents a genuine effort to put an end to the industrial upheavals that have beendisturbing the country in recent months.. I do not say that all of these disturbances have been warranted. Many of them were of such a nature that they could have been settled in a very short time by conciliation commissioners with experience of the industries affected. Everybody knows that there have been delays in-. the procedure of the Arbitration Court in settling disputes that could have been dealt with quickly and satisfactorily by experienced conciliation commissioners. I do not blame the Arbitration Court for such delays. It cannot be held responsible if there are not enough judges to do its work. However, the appointment of conciliation commissioners with appropriate qualifications will certainly speed up the settlement of disputes. All of the disputes that have occurred recently may not have been justified, but we know that the workers have had many genuine complaints. Over the years, the Australian worker has had a raw deal. He was promised all sorts of good things during the war, and now is the time to give him what he deserves. In order to make good some of the promises that were made, we must appoint men to settle disputes m the shortest possible time. I do not profess to be an industrial authority; I know more about rural matters than secondary industries. However, I have common sense and, therefore, I am able to appreciate the logic of the Attorney-General’s answer to the Leader of the Opposition. [ compliment him upon the capable way in which he dealt with the Leader of the Opposition’s proposals. He did not leave the Leader of the Opposition a leg to stand on in any of his arguments. He proved to us, and to the people of Australia, that he has mastered the subject of industrial conciliation and arbitration, and I compliment him on the genuine effort which he is making to establish an efficient and quick-working conciliation and arbitration organization.
– I rise to order. I suggest that the honorable member for Riverina has been asleep, like Rip Van Winkie, for some time, and that the subjectmatter
– Order ! The honorable member must state his point, of order. ‘
– The. committee is now discussing a proposed new section, not the conciliation commissioners.
– Order ! I consider that the remarks of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) are more relevant to the matter under discus- sion than were the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta when he was speaking.
– I did not believe that, in my speech, I would tread on the corns of any member of the legal profession. Obviously, the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) does not like the truth. I compliment the AttorneyGeneral on introducing this bill, and on allowing honorable members ample opportunity to discuss its provisions. This measure will restore industrial peace more quickly than would any other proposal.
– I move -
That the Minister for Transport bc now heard.
This motion is in conformity with the Standing Orders.
– I should like the honorable member for Barker to state the relevant standing order.
– It is competent for any honorable member at any time to move that another honorable member be heard.
– Order ! The Standing Orders provide that a motion may be submitted, “ that an honorable member shall be heard “ only when an honorable member has been ‘refused a hearing by the Chair. The Minister for Transport has not sought to be heard.
– The Minister for Transport himself can clarify the matter, because he has been sitting in the chamber all day.
– I oppose the proposed new. section which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has submitted. Honorable members opposite have complained about the absence of sanctions in the bill. My reply to their criticism is that sanctions are contained in this legislation, and the severe penalties which the Leader of the Opposition proposes are not warranted. The Opposition has directed its attack against the alleged activities of the trade union movement. Whilst the proposal prescribes penalties for lockouts and strikes, honorable members opposite have devoted their time to attempting to prove that all the industrial upheaval’s and ills in Australia for many years have been the result of action on the part of the trade union movement. However, I recall that shortly before last Christmas between 4,000 and 5,000 workers in the Balmain district were locked out through action taken by the metal trades section of the Employers Federation of New South Wales. On that occasion members of the Opposition did not display their usual enthusiasm for the public interest.
This lockout, which completely held up work on the waterfront in Sydney, was the result of deliberate and premeditated action by the metal trades section of the Employers Federation of New South Wales. The trouble began with a dispute, and when the employers decided to lockout their employees, other members of the federation who were not affected by the dispute and who did not desire to be involved in it, were compelled to close down their works. The dispute developed out of certain action by crane-drivers, and many of the small industrial shops on the Balmain waterfront do not employ that class of worker. However, as the result of the decision of the metal trades section of the Employers Federation, the smaller shops’ had to cease operations. The lockout continued for months, and on the waterfront in Sydney, and particularly in West Sydney, many thousands of men and women experienced a black Christmas. That was one of the most amazing and diabolical hold-ups in recent times. I have referred to these facts on previous occasions, but they bear repetition because members of the Opposition attribute the whole of the industrial unrest to action by the trades union movement. A review of the industrial position during the last twelve months will show that many industrial disturbances have been more the responsibility of the employers than of the trade unions. Workers do not go on strike for small issues, because they know perfectly well that their action will entail sacrifices for themselves and their families. Indeed, their sacrifices are infinitely greater than those made by the employers. In making a stand in defence of principles, the men make sacrifices ; but the employers, after a lockout, have not made any sacrifices. The lockout on the Balmain waterfront :might possibly have ended about a week before Christmas, but the Employers Federation refused to continue negotiations during that time because a settlement at that stage would have meant that the workers would receive holiday pay.” Therefore^ the-dispute continued.
I should like to know how Cockatoo Island, in which the Government has an interest, is able to dictate policy to the metal trades section of the Employers Federation on the Sydney waterfront, and compel smaller firms against their wishes to close their factories. Honorable members opposite declare that industrial disputes have occurred. Everybody agrees that they have occurred ; but the lockout at Balmain proves conclusively that the employers are not without responsibility, for them. Any attempt to impose severe penalties will not achieve success. The proposed penal provisions are the abnegation of freedom, and we, as free, people, should not sit idly by when any effort is made to shackle the trade unions. In the past, such attempts have been made, but ail had catastrophic effects on those who initiated them.
Honorable members opposite referred to the equity in the proposed penalty provisions, and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), in reply, pointed out that talk about equity was ridiculous when a wealthy organization like the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and an industrial organization with 500 members might both be fined £1,000. A fine of £1,000 would be a mere bagatelle to the company, but it might be enough to smash a union with a small membership.
– Would it meet the honorable member’s objection if the penalties were increased?
– I am opposed to the penalties. I believed that there are sufficient safeguards in the bill without them, and the proposed penalties are unnecessary and unwarranted. We should not accept the proposal of the Leader of the ‘Opposition because it is opposed to the principles -of democracy. If trade unions are to be of any value to the workers they must be absolutely free and unshackled. If they are to serve the community they must not be subjected to conditions such as those proposed^ The acceptance of the proposal Before the committee would strike a ‘blow at the freedom of trade unions and restrict their activities. It could, indeed, result in the destruction of trade unionism. There are some large trade unions but there are also many small craft unions with limited membership. The imposition of heavy penalties against such unions would destroy them entirely.
– The approach of the Opposition to this measure has been dishonest. When the Government proposed to limit the time of the. debate; members of the Opposition protested vehemently on the ground that they would not have enough time to discuss all the provisions of the bill; yet, on this proposal, which has been submitted by the Opposition, four Government supporters have spoken in succession without any Opposition member endeavouring to secure the call. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) expressed the attitude of many members of the Opposition when he seized upon this opportunity to display his vindictiveness and spleen against the trade unions, and to sing a hymn of hate against the workers. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) referred to them as industrial criminals. He drew a comparison between this proposed legislation, and the penalties imposed under criminal law. He and other members of the Opposition regard the workers, whenever they seek to improve their industrial conditions, as a section of the criminal class. We . on this side do not accept that. It is amusing to hear members of the Opposition talk of compelling the workers to continue in employment under conditions which the workers do not regard as reasonable. Only recently, the Opposition opposed the attempt of the Government to obtain more power over industry on the ground that the Government was trying to direct labour, to do something which, of course, the Government had no intention of doing. If the wheat-growers consider it their right to protest against the regulation of their industry and any interference with their right to sell their product on the open market for as much as they can get, no objection should be taken to theendeavours of the workers to sell their labour for as high a wage as they can secure. It is interesting to recall that, in spite of all the talk by members of the Opposition about the need to send food to the starving Britons, members of the Australian Country party demanded world’ parity prices for their wheat, even for the wheat sent to Britain. This clearly shows how hypocritical they are. All the worker has to sell is his labour. Over a period of years, the workers have not received a fair return for the efforts which they put into industry. It would be difficult to find one member of the Opposition who has ever done an honest day’s toil in his life, yet they are always crying for increased production on the part of others. The economy of the nation is dependent upon the workers. Members of the Opposition have criticized the coal-miners, and have tried to show that their conditions of employment are very good. They . have said that there should be no difficulty in getting sufficient miners to produce all the coal needed. The fact remains, however, that since the controls have been lifted, and the miners are free to leave the industry, many of them have sought other occupations because they did not regard . the wages and conditions in the coalmining industry as sufficiently attractive. There are now many vacancies for miners. If honorable members regard the conditions as so attractive let them seek jobs in the mines. I am sure that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) could arrange to engage them.
Governments in the past have tried all methods to coerce the workers. The fact is that a government can have whatever legislation it likes passed by the Parliament, providing for whatever penalties it thinks should be imposed, but if the majority of the people regard it as bad law it cannot be enforced. Previous governments have tried the deportation of workers, not for making what, by our standards, could be regarded as excessive demands, but simply for fighting for the right to form trade unions. The Opposition now knows that it is bad politics to attack the unions as such. Members of the Opposition say that they believe in. trade unionism. However, like the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron),, they want the unions to be mere marionettes, so that when the Government pulls the strings the unions will jump as it wishes. That was the condition of the trade’ unions in Germany under Hitler. Indeed, there is a great deal in common between what honorable members opposite are now advocating and what was advocated by the Nazis at the time they rose to power in Germany.
Honorable members opposite ask why government supporters should quote what happened in the past, but it is sometimes good to look back. The Opposition has now completed a circle. It has probably exhausted the list of possible names for its party. Years ago, there was in New .South Wales a Liberal party which held office under Charles Wade, the Premier of that day. In the coal strike of l’909 he thought that the way to promote industrial peace was to put leg irons on trade union leaders. Time has passed, and the name of the Liberal party has changed many times, until it has now come back again to the old name, but the breed has not changed. To-day, members of the Liberal party are advocating something which is identical with what was tried many years ago. Why do they not advocate the infliction of severe penalties upon dairy-farmers who withhold their product from market until they get a better price for it? Why do they not advocate severe penalties for the master butchers who held up supplies of meat because they were dissatisfied with the price fixed by a government authority in accordance with the Government’s decision to regulate the industry? In order to show how ridiculous is the attitude of honorable members opposite I. remind the committee that during the war, when a number of disputes occurred in the coal-mining industry, the Opposition thought that they could be solved by forcing young men employed in coal-mining to engage in military service. The young men were so anxious to serve that they marched in a body to the’ recruiting office, where most of them were accepted. But no sooner had they entered camp than members of the Opposition, fearing a fall of coal production, appealed to the Government to allow these young men to return to the coal mines. The Opposition claims that what is needed at this time is a strong government. Let us consider what the parties now in Opposition did when they were in office. What was the nature of the strong action taken by them against trade unionists? At that time attempts were made to bribe trade union officials to betray the members of their unions by asking them to sacrifice conditions which they had won only after many years of agitation and fighting for their* rights. Surely the Opposition has not forgotten “slush fund” - a secret fund established by an anti-Labour government out of Consolidated Revenue which evidence before a royal commission presided over by Mr. Justice. Halse Rogers revealed was used to bribe union officials to betray the members by whom they had been elected to office and whom they had undertaken to serve. The parties who operated that fund now talk about the necessity for strong action being taken against organized workers. They know that the strong action which they advocate in this chamber will not secure industrial peace. They talk about the seriousness of the situation in Victoria, and express the fear that it will result in an insurrection. Listening to them an innocent person might be deceived into believing that they were opposed to insurrection, but the fact is that members of the Opposition would be delighted to know that some act of violence had been committed by the strikers. The workers are, however, too intelligent to fall into the trap set for them by the agents ‘provocateurs who sit on the Opposition benches to-day.
Another point stressed by the Opposition, was that there should be a secret ballot of unionists whenever a serious strike threatens. They claim that a secret ballot would solve most of the industrial troubles that arise. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) is a legal man, and when he refers to an illegal strike the implication is that there can be legal strikes. I should like him, or any other member of the Opposition, to explain to the committee when under the terms of. the proposed new section a strike becomes legal. Honorable members opposite professes to have great faith in the secret ballot but what would be their re-action if the secret ballot revealed a majority in favour of the calling, or the continuation of a strike? Would the Opposition then say that the strike was legal and that the men were justified in striking? No. They would have a secret ballot, but if the decision did not suit them, they would still want leg-irons placed on union leaders and severe penalties imposed on the striking unions.
There is a great deal of loose talk about industrial unrest’ and the methods by which industrial workers should be controlled. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to the coal-mining industry and endeavoured, by citing figures, to show that in 1946 industrial disputes had caused a considerable reduction of coal production. When I was Minister for Labour and National Service in the first Curtin Government, in 1942, the Government promulgated regulation 77. It was applauded by the Opposition as a regulation under which strong action could be taken against the coal-miners. As Minister for Labour and National Service I did not apply regulation 77, because I did not believe that it offered any chance of solving the troubles which existed in the coal-mining industry. Instead, I dealt with every dispute on its merits. The result was that in 1942, when members of the Opposition were protesting against’ “the weak attitude of the Government and of myself as Minister, there was a’ record production of coal. That is an indication that, if workers in industry are approached in a reasonable spirit, and if their complaints are dealt with on their merits, they are prepared to co-operate. In their approach to this measure honorable members opposite have said that they do not object to the change proposed by the Government. -The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in referring to the proposal to appoint conciliation commissioners said that the important thing was that the right men should be selected, but he did not indicate what men he would regard as coming within that description. The honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) quoted some of the opinions expressed by the present Acting
Chief Judge Drake-Brockman of the Arbitration Court, when he was an anti-Labour senator in this Parliament. Any one who reads his speeches will realize that he displayed just as much vindictiveness and bate for the workers as has been shown by any other antiLabour representative in this Parliament. A similar charge could be laid against the late Judge Dethridge. I am not sure whether it was he or Judge DrakeBrockman who, when dealing with a claim by workers for improved conditions, said that he did not regard a radio receiving set as a necessity in the home of a worker. It is not correct to say that the Arbitration Court has been responsible for all the improvements that have taken place in industrial conditions in Australia. Many privileges now enjoyed by workers were gained only after much protest and fighting for their rights. On a number of occasions the court has merely recorded decisions which it realized were inevitable if there was to be any chance of men returning to work in particular industries.
Honorable members opposite have also referred to the need for peace in industry. Surely they have not-
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. ARCHIE Cameron) proposed -
That the Minister for Transport be granted an extension of time.
– The Minister may take his second period only if. no other honorable member desires to speak. As. the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) has risen, I give him the call.
.- Honorable members opposite are strangely reluctant to debate a proposal which they say would prevent industrial .unrest.. Unlike them, I participate in the debate with enthusiasm, because I believe that it can be demonstrated that coercive legislation applied, to industry has failed. Indeed, so complete has been its failure that the idea has been abandoned by most people. I believe that it would be* a retrograde step to endeavour to embody it in legislation. In their references to the trade union movement many honorable members opposite have referred to the “good old Labour men” of the past, and ha ve then proceeded to tell the committee that a different type of trade union leader- now exists, and is responsible for the industrial unrest of the present; time. That cry has a ring which is strangely familiar; on every occasion down the years when trade unions have sought to advance the interests of their members, or improve conditions in- industry, it has been heard. Even in the early industrial revolution, when women and children were- employed in mines and factories, the same old cry rang through the Parliament. Prom the birth of industrial arbitration as a federal responsibility in this country, the Arbitration Act had contained penal sections directed against strikes and lockouts. From time to time, Governments have admitted .frankly that coercion has not provided a solution of industrial unrest but, in fact, has brought the law into contempt, because of the- impossibility of enforcing penalties. That has been’ admitted by the present Chief. Justice of Australia, as well as by a former antilabour Prime Minister at a time, of acute- industrial unrest. Those gentlemen not only repealed some of the penal provisions,, but also supported their complete abolition- when that was proposed by a Labour government. The history of industrial legislation in this Parliament, supplemented by industrial experience throughout the civilized world, has proved that coercion does not provide a solution of industrial, unrest. It, has also been shown, that coercive measures are far from equitable in dealing with unions and with workers in industry generally. We have been, told .to-day that, only those, who are extreme in their views and who make extortionate demand’s on industry would be dealt with under the proposed punitive provisions. But, as the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward’) has pointed out, the very existence of those coercive provisions would constitute a real danger to the liberty of the subject and to the rights of men and women in this country. The person who makes- extortionate demandsis not’, far- removed from the one who seeks improved conditions in industry. It is’ a: short step, from the man- who simply asks for better working- and safety conditions,, improved rates of pay, and- fewer working hours, to the man who, to-day, is classed as a menace. The whole history of industrial arbitration furnishes evidence of endeavours to bring the parties in industry closer together. The main purpose of this bill is to continue the endeavour to make the parties believe that they have common interests, and that it is better to resolve differences by conciliation before a dispute occurs- than to permit them to grow until a strike is inevitable. If we admit that to be the case I believe that,, upon calm consideration, we must also agree that coercive measures cause bitterness to be aroused, among the parties- and make them drift further apart. If any government were foolish enough in this twentieth century to restore- such discredited measures to our industrial machinery, it would be bound to fail to achieve industrial peace The relative inequality of the proposed penalties- has- been unmistakably demonstrated’ by the honorable member, for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). An Opposition member; by way of interjection, sought to learn whether the Government would agree to the insertion of provisions’ which stipulated heavier fines against wealthy companies or smaller fines against unions. My answer to- that is clear and unequivocal, and I believe that I voice the view of the: Government. We object in principle to the- coercive and punitive legislation suggested by honorable- members opposite. We believe that it is sectional in its character;, that, it could- have every grave consequences’ to the- organized- trade union, movement of this country, and that it could act as a very strong deterrent against workers obtaining even, reasonable increases of wages; improved amenities, or- fewer hours of labour.. We reject it on principle; having in mind the history of industrial legislation, throughout the world. We are reinforced’ in eur objection by tie statements of leading members of the- Opposition, in which, they have admitted that certain- provisions enacted by previous governments had proved in practice to be futile,, and that they had had to reduce- penalties and actively support the abolition- of coercive measures. I know that this proposal will be defeated. I believe that, in order to- preserve equity and justice, it ought to be. Certainly, its defeat is necessary if we are to secure reasonable working conditions and freedom from industrial strife.
.- The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) asks the Government to adopt more severe penalties against workers in industry. It has been most capably dealt’ with by those Government supporters who have . already spoken. There is no doubt in my mind that there are people in this country who are determined to suppress, not only the workers, but also the middle-class section of the community. I have seen adopted in industry such coercive methods as a blackbook system, by means of which the time taken by workers on a small portion of a job is timed, and that time is adopted as the basis for calculating the time required to complete the job, no account being taken of any difficulties that might be encountered at a later stage in the process of manufacture. Honorable members claim that the Parliamentary Labour party is unfit to govern, and that it has lost control of the workers. It is about time that the Opposition realized that the industrial wing of the Labour party is totally independent of the political wing, and that the latter does not control the former. I have seen workers to whom coercive measures have been applied openly revolt and go so far as to -refuse to accept employment from employers who have been known to apply coercion. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) said that the ministerial party did not represent the workers of this country. Wo represent all sections of the community; but he, like . most honorable members opposite, has changed his political colour from time to time. Perhaps, he might find a solution of this problem were he again to become a follower of Major Douglas. From time to time we read in the press statements by overseas politicians, who represent the same interests as honorable members opposite represent, that we shall not establish industrial peace in this country until there are 150 men available for every 100 jobs. That is the objective of honorable members opposite. They would be most disappointed if the present disputes in Victoria were settled to-morrow, because they would then have nothing to talk about. ‘ Since I have been a member of this Parliament I have not heard them do anything but badger the workers. I was engaged in industry in 1943, just before I was elected to this Parliament, when I defeated, the spokesman for the Liberal party in South Australia, I and ray mates were led to believe by our employers that they would never again resort to coercive measures. However, their insincerity was revealed when many ex-servicemen, upon their return from the war, had to fight those very employers for whom they worked before their enlistment in order to obtain their rehabilitation rights. That is typical of the sincerity of the promises made to the workers of this country by the interests represented by honorable members opposite. It is significant that during the twelve months immediately following World War I. more man-days were lost to industry than in the twelve months immediately following World War II. In 1919 a Liberal Government was in office in this Parliament, but it did nothing to stabilize conditions in industry. The very people who to-day tell us that the Government should legislate to establish peace in industry were not capable in 1941 of organizing the war effort of this country when the Japanese were on our door-step. Yet honorable members opposite now have the audacity to tell the Government what it should do in order to establish peace in industry. As I said in my speech on the motion for’ the second reading of ‘ the bill the industrial officers of many big organizations have .expressed the opinion that we have reached a stage in this country when our only ‘hope of maintaining industrial peace is by conciliation, and that the imposition of penalties upon workers is completely ineffective. I heard so much of that kind of talk that I began to wonder what was really the objective of those leaders of industry. However, I was convinced that they at least were genuinely desirous .of bringing about a better state of affairs in industry and really believed that the best means of obtaining that objective was by evolving simpler methods of industrial conciliation. Those employers would be the very last to say that penalties of the kind contained in the proposed new section should be imposed on the workers. We fought and won the war in order to establish world peace ; but we can achieve lasting peace only by conciliatory .methods. I believe that by applying the same principle under this measure we shall establish industrial peace in Australia, and thus enable this country to develop as it should develop.
.- The Opposition has shown its teeth in relation to the proposed new section submitted by its leader. Honorable members’ opposite have given a fair indication of where they stand on industrial conciliation and arbitration. For the word “ conciliation “ they prefer “ coercion “ ; and, listening to the out-moded rubbish talked by honorable members opposite with regard to penalties, one would think that this debate was taking place 100 years ago. Looking back in history, we find that the principle of penalties was condemned, on both sides of this chamber in the past, and that provisions in respect of penalties were deleted from the principal act for the reason that they were unworkable, unchristian and unhumanitarian. The same development has taken place in the industrial law of other countries where a worker’s right to strike is now recognized. No penalties are prescribed under the industrial law of England or the United States of America. Such provisions disappeared for the reason that they were entirely unworkable. But, whilst they may have disappeared from our own statutes, the philosophy of the mailed fist is still advocated by many people in this country. That philosophy has been preached in this debate by honorable members opposite, with saliva on their lips and a quirk to their voice. They declare, “ We must take direct action “. That is the old “new guardian “ in another guise. They say, “ Let us use anything in the nature of an industrial explosion as an excuse to get out the old bludgeon “. That is the cry of honorable members opposite, young. and old. I could understand that attitude being adopted by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), but his pupil, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has excelled his master in his vitriolic utterances about the workers. All honorable members opposite are tarred with the same brush and imbued with the same, philosophy. They want direct action. I hear an interjection from the lone wolf, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Honorable members on this side know him as “I have spoken”. All his prophecies during the last three years have been proved to be wrong. When he makes a prognostication I know that his prophecy will assuredly not be fulfilled. I distinctly remember him saying that the Germans were luring the Russians in to the Pripet Marshes to destroy them. If he thinks he is luring us into the Pripet Marshes to destroy us ho is mistaken. As a bird of ill omen he is a moulting eagle, and as a lone wolf he is only a dingo. The Minister for Transport. (Mr. Ward) drew attention to the severity of the conflict that musteventuate if ‘ penalty clauses are to be inserted and coercive action taken against workers. The Minister recalled to our minds that a miner named Bowling was weighted with chains during the regime nf a conservative government in New South Wales. That act of barbarity has become a symbol for the coerci’on.of the working class in this country, and that period was one of the most disgraceful in our history. The Opposition to-day still thinks in terms of chains and the belaboring of workers. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), characterized by his flair for choosing the right word, was most dramatic, but it had nothing whatever to do even with his own proposal. He was defeated almost effortlessly by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in the discussion which followed his utterances.
– I rise to order. The honorable member is not addressing himself to the question before the Chair.
– The honorable member is referring to what he calls the oppressive nature of the proposed new section. I rule that he is in order.
– I have previously had occasion to refer to the honorable member for Balaclava as an aeroplane without an undercarriage - he is always seeking to land, but ds afraid to “ put down “ on the tarmac. This matter of introducing penalty clauses is not wholly a political one; it goes further than that because it affronts the conscience of the nation to allow an industrial disturbance of the moment to deflect us from the logical, sane and common sense course proposed in this bill. As the Attorney-General pointed out the legal, political and humanitarian aspects of this, matter all suggest that we are not. allowing ourselves to be led astray by the current industrial disturbance. Members of the Opposition have brayed loud enough, but the only time they showed any real concerted feeling was when they found something with which to flog the worker and could demand from h im their pound of flesh and their pint of blood. I can understand the feelings of members of Victorian constituencies at the moment ; but surely they should make some effort to discuss this most important matter of conciliation and arbitration dispassionately instead of seeking to inject into the debate all sorts of personal issues.
The proposed new section has been discussed at great length, and one Government supporter- after another has felt impelled to rise and draw attention to the danger that confronts the nation and to remind, the Opposition that it is following a course which is highly dangerous to itself. Of course everyone knows that danger is its bedfellow these days. Honorable members opposite are seeking to introduce conditions that mankind in its accumulated experience has rejected as passe. The right to strike has been asserted, and successfully established, as the right of workers throughout the world. There are some honorable members who think’ that every time the workers of this country are involved in some dispute they must be the ones at fault, and that the best thing to do is to go out and bash- them, but their Australianism is only skin deep. We solemnly warn the Opposition that they are playing with fire in their attempts to meddle with this legislation. When the people of Australia generally, and the people of Victoria in particular, are inflamed by recent industrial events it is no time to start sabre-rattling. We have had enough of that in this country. Australia has fought two wars to maintain its system of democracy. We do not want any coup d’états such -as the honorable member for Henty proposed,, because democracy is the way of lifeto which we are pledged as a nation.
In conclusion, I emphasize that thereis no point to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition. Despite his brilliant speech, the fact remains that he based hiscase on the sentimental issue. Admittedly, the situation in Victoria is a grave one ; but there can be no going back. If the clock has not moved forward for theOpposition it has certainly moved forward for Australia. Australians do not want strikes settled by coercion and’ bashing, by the calling out of the military forces. In any event, history teaches usthat those attempts have always failed. Many critics of the bill have not even read the Constitution of Australia. If they had they would see that the word “ conciliation “ appears before the word “ arbitration “. They think that the best way to achieve a little fleeting limelight is to advocate the summary punishment of the worker. But this is a complex problem, with far-reaching issues. . The proposals in this bill represent a forward move industrially, and if the Opposition are prepared to make a Roman holiday out of it for electioneering purposes they prove themselves recreant to their trust as members of this Parliament. I repeat that there is no true Australian who believes that disputes can be settled by calling out the military forces. The advocates of the maxim “shoot down the mob “ are still with us, although to-day they advocate, not shooting them, but putting them’ in gaol. If we once yield to them they will want leg-irons introduced, and having got those they will want to restore chain gangs and prison hulks. Eventually we would disappear into the mists of history, because the Liberal party is itself an anachronism - it is dead, but it will not lie down. We see before us the tragic picture of people babbling of the past, advocating the adoption of .stringent measures against the workers. But the workers of this country are the people of this country. Honorable members opposite .are continually talking of the past, but we can forget what they say because it is fantastic to suggest the re-introduction of coercion with its attendant chain gangs and leg-irons in this year of grace.
.. - The discussion of the proposed new section moved “by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) baa been somewhat protracted, and the amazing thing about it is the fact that, although the Opposition claimed that when a limitation of time was imposed on the bill t hey would not have sufficient opportunity to discuss it in all its aspects, we now find that they have either exhausted themselves or have grown weary of the discussion. Member after member on the Government side has risen in his place and has discussed the proposal submitted by the Leader of the Opposition but the Opposition is strangely silent. “What is the reason for their silence? Have they had their ears to the ground and found that the penal provisions proposed by the Leader pf the Opposition are unpopular with their constituents? They can no longer twit honorable members on this side of the House as dumb and silent supporters of the Government. Rankandfile supporters of the Government have made earnest and considered contributions to the debate on this proposal. Either honorable members opposite have been told that the course they are pursuing is unpopular or they have tired of their efforts to defend it. If that be not so, let lis hear the real reason.
– That is not the real reason, and the Minister knows it.”
– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) may be able to speak for the Opposition - I do not know- - there are many honorable members who claim to be able to speak with authority for the Opposition, but such is the character of the Opposition parties that no one knows who leads them from day to day. The purpose of the proposed new section moved by the Leader of the Opposition is to impose sanctions upon those who do not strictly observe the industrial laws of this country. Tin my opinion its adoption would not’ advance the cause of industrial peace. The fact that such an amendment was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is a clear indication that honorable members opposite have not learned their lesson from history.
It is well known that sanctions incorporated in other measures in the past have proved ineffective. In an excellent speech the honorable member for West” Sydney (Mr. 0’Connor) told us what happened in Sydney not many years ago at the instance of employers’ organizations. Is it thought for one moment that if the organizations of employers wish to disregard the law and lock men out of industry a penalty of a mere £1,000, would be sufficient to deter them? A penalty of that kind would mean nothing to wealthy organizations of employers determined to pursue a certain course of action. The introduction of sanctions in this country would only inflame the minds of those on whose behalf this legislation is being amended. We have just emerged from one of the greatest crises in our history. We have successfully fought a world war which embroiled all sections of the people in every part of the world. During the w.ar leaders of world thought expressed the view that the end of the war would usher in a new era for mankind. The acceptance of this proposal would constitute a negation of the two of the four freedoms expounded by the late President Roosevelt in inspiring statements during the war, namely, freedom from fear and freedom from want.
– There is no freedom from want in Melbourne.
– Honorable members opposite have become rather unbalanced by the .position in Victoria. I realize the difficulties facing the people of that State to-day and that they will* continue until the industrial trouble there is settled and industries begin again to flourish. However, we should not allow the position in Victoria to warp our judgment as to the efficacy of this bill. In this amending bill emphasis has been laid first on conciliation and arbitration, and its whole purpose would be destroyed if these penal sanctions were included in it. I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) that the acceptance of penal sanctions would completely destroy the bill. We should view these matters in a dispassionate way profiting’ by history. Will the inclusion in this bill of the penal provisions set out in the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition, inspire workers in industry to apply themselves to their jobs in the belief that they are living in a state of society in which freedom from fear is a fundamental principle? The very essence of the proposal is distrust and fear, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition knows that quite well. The right honorable gentleman, of course, always puts his case well, and I have no doubt that he would put his case just as well from this side of the committee as he does from the Opposition side.
– He will, after the next elections.
– That remains to be seen.
– That is wishful thinking.
– I am afraid that it is. We heard several challenges in the course of this debate last night about going to the country on this particular issue. I recall an occasion some years ago when a challenge to go to the country on an arbitration issue was accepted. Those honorable members of this chamber who survived the catastrophe that followed - the elections of 1929 - will, I am sure, have learned their lesson. Another appeal to the country now on the arbitration issue would result in a repetition of history. Therefore, I advise honorable members opposite not to ‘be too persistent in their challenges. However, I have no wish to depress the Opposition unduly, and I assure members of it that I do not think that there is “any likelihood of an election on this question or on any other issue at the moment.
– With what clause is the honorable member dealing?
– I am dealing with the right honorable gentleman’s motion for the inclusion in the Arbitration Act of a section providing penalties for breaches of our industrial laws. I have said that the right honorable gentleman has put his ease well; but unfortunately he had a very bad case. He made the best of it, but in the circumstances that is not enough. A study of Tasmanian history and an examination of some of the relics of the penal settlements established in that State will show what happens when punitive measures are taken for what were, in many cases, minor offences. In the early days, the usual penalty was flogging; but when O’Hara Booth came to Tasmania he introduced the system of solitary confinement because lie considered that the. prisoners had become used to flogging. Then we had the period of the settlement at Port Arthur, when prisoners went insane because of their treatment under O’Hara Booth’s system, and had to be housed in asylums especially built for this purpose. If our system of arbitration in this country is to be successful, we must lay emphasis on conciliation, and we cannot do that if we insert in measures of this kind provisions prescribing heavy penalties.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
.- Before dinner Ave heard some- extraordinary speeches about the appointment of conciliation commissioners and the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that penalties, ranging from £1,000 to £100, should be imposed for non-observance of their awards. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) said that the Opposition displayed a spirit of intolerance.
– So it does.
– Certainly we ‘ do. We are intolerant of what is going on in the capital city of Melbourne. If the honorable member tolerates that, his right place is not in the Commonwealth Parliament. The Australian people, especially those. living in Melbourne, have been tolerant almost beyond breaking point. The people will not and cannot tolerate this danger much longer. What sort of a man would he be who would tolerate the situation in Victoria where a black-out threatens in Melbourne and many provincial cities? The honorable member for Werriwa also referred to the statement of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) that penalties would be useless. Certainly the Attorney-General did say that; but he did not indicate anything to take the place of the penalties provided for in the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition. To repeat, the AttorneyGeneral’s assertion that penalties would be useless gets us nowhere. Elsewhere in a speech that contained nothing constructive, the honorable member said that the Australian Country party,- of which I am proud to be a member, lived on industrial unrest. What a ridiculous statement! Why, the parliamentary members of the Australian Country party represent men on the land who, for many years, have tolerated uncomplainingly war, drought, bushfires, floods and. even superfluous politicians, and have still kept going. If the men in the cities whom members of the Labour party describe as the workers of Australia had to put up with the conditions that beset the primary producers, we should have had revolution in this country years ago. A more absurd statement than that the Australian Country party lives on industrial unrest I have never heard. I am sure that the committee must have thought the honorable member was cracking a joke. Perhaps he was. I cannot imagine that even he would make such a. ridiculous assertion except jocularly. I pass by the other remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa because I cannot spare him more time from my fifteen minutes.
The honorable member for Denison (Dr.- Gaha) spent most of his time- reading from Ilansard; but he did make a general attack on the arbitration system, as the Government is doing. He declared that the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition could not be worked; but his was a speech made in a spirit of despair and, as he had nothing constructive to offer, I need not waste more time .on him. The honorable member for -Watson (Mr. Falstein) spoke about full employment. He cannot have been’ in Victoria lately. Full employment! There is no full employment there. The men are out on strike. One cannot obtain goods. Employment is far from full. The honorable gentleman also said that this bill emphasized the need for conciliation. Fancy emphasizing the need for conciliation to-day when we want to ensure that the rulings of conciliation commissioners shall be adhered to. That is what we want and that is what I hope we shall get. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) declared that workers did not go on strike until after earnest consideration. I have talked with many workers in
Melbourne on the railways and in other jobs. Most of them say, “ We are quite satisfied with the present position, but we have to go out on strike “. That that is so was proved by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard), who said that many workers were satisfied to work on, but that when a strike was ordered they had to strike to be loyal to their union. That amazing statement proves that the men we honour in this country, the men who will do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, do not give consideration to strikes before striking, because they have not the opportunity of doing so. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) honoured us. with a speech. I have been a member of Parliament for about twelve months.
Government Members. - Too long !
– Too long for you fellows, and I shall be here a lot longer. When I was interrupted I was about to say that in my year of membership I have heard the honorable gentleman speak about half a dozen times. Every time he has made exactly the same speech about the same matters - honorable members know them : the different names by which the Liberal party of Australia has been known - the United Australia party, and so on. We all know that that is true, but why waste the time of the committee on such a matter as that ? If there is any political party in this great country that is wrongly named it is the party that calls itself the Australian Labour party. It does not represent the labouring community. The greatest labourers are the men on the land, the primary producers, who would be misrepresented by honorable gentlemen opposite. The honorable gentleman gave full support to Mr. J. J. Brown, the Victorian strike leader, as did every honorable gentleman opposite.
– Who is Brown ?
– The honorable member would not know, and I shall not bother tq explain. Not one honorable gentleman opposite has said one word in condemnation of men who incite the workers to strike. The law-abiding people of Australia demand -law and order. The great lack is strong leadership. I am reminded of a story by that great writer, Elbert Hubbard, about a part of the coast of South America on to the ledge of which, when the sea is rough, lobsters are washed and, when it recedes, are stranded. This Government has been washed on to the ledge by the rough sea of industrial unrest. It cannot get the people back into production for’ the same reason as that’ for which the lobster cannot get back into the sea - it has no backbone. “We want a government with backbone. I notice that, whenever I speak in this chamber, honorable members opposite pay me the compliment of interjecting and trying- to stop my speeches from being broadcast in an intelligible form, but their tactics do not. carry any weight at all. “What are the penalties that those who incite strikes and lockouts impose on the community ? Also, how do they compare with the penalties, provided in the amendment - because there must .be some relation between the two. The penalties imposed on the community by men who incite strikes include,, first, lack of production. Primary producers cannot obtain, spare parts for machinery, or superphosphate. The rail freight on. superphosphate over a distance of 150- miles is 9s. a ton, but road hauliers demand at least £3 a ton. People are even unable to obtain bicycle tyres so that they may ride to work. “When we ask why this is so, the manufacturers say that they cannot make tyres on account of the metal trades strike. Long after the war has ended women, are still standing ia queues. Only recently a medical specialist said that many women, were suffering from cardiac trouble- as ‘tie result of standing in queues and carrying foodstuffs! All of these things are penalties imposed on the community by strikers. All. of them are inimical to the economic restoration of the nation. Government supporters have repeatedly said that the workers want something better than they had before the war, during which they did so much for the country. But they say never a word about members of the Australian Imperial Force and other’ fighting men who have returned to settle on farms or establish small businesses in Melbourne and in Victorian country towns. The strike in Victoria will drive such small operators into bankruptcy. These men did a real job for their country during the war, but now that they have returned to civil life they will suffer financial ruin. “What will happen to a man who plants wheat on his new farm for the first time but cannot obtain spare parts for his tractor and other machinery?’ What a dreadful penalty is imposed on him by the strikers ! The Leader of the Opposition has proposed a paltry £1,000 penalty for inciting strikes. I would fix a penalty of £10,000 if I had the chance to do so, or even £100,000. The Minister for Repatriation made a flowery speech, in which he mentioned Port Arthur and spoke of men who liked to keep the convicts in chains. He said that the breed remained the . same on this side of the chamber, and that we like the same things’. I remind him that in the early ‘thirties of last century, in Van Diemen’s land, a bill was passed through the Legislative
– Be careful!
– I am being- very careful. That bill finally put a stop to the transportation of convicts to that “ tight little island “. It was put through the Legislative Council by Dr. Adam Turnbull, my great-grandfather, in. spite of strong’ opposition. Therefore, if indeed the breed remains, the same,. I thank the Minister for the compliment.
I repeat that we need strong leadership in this country. Any dead fish can go down the stream as this Government is doing, but it takes a good live trout to go upstream.. The time has come for action, and the proposal submitted by the Leader of the Opposition is a move in the right direction, even though it may not be perfect.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- After listening to the dissertation by the honorable member for Wimmera’ (Mr. Turnbull) on bicycle tyres, lobsters, cardiac failure and convicts, we had better return to the subject before the committee. The bill under consideration places emphasis on conciliation, as against arbitration, in dealing with industrial disputes. Being a conciliation measure, it is, in fact, a test of the sweet reasonableness that exists between the great majority of employers and employees in this country. This being so, it will be readily realized that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), which implies legal sanctions, is entirely foreign to the principle of the bill. It is, indeed, the parting of the ways. There is a clear division of opinion in this committee between members of the Opposition, who believe that only punitive measures against the workers will bring industrial peace, and the Government and its. supporters, who believe that, if the emphasis is placed upon the principle of conciliation as against even arbitration and certainly as against punitive measures, whether they be exercised through arbitration or by force of law, industrial peace will speedily return.
I listened with interest to the Leader of the Opposition when he submitted his amendment, and I noticed the glowing tribute that he paid to the Government of the United States of America for the manner in which it settled its industrial difficulties. The right honorable gentleman emphasized the manner in which the American Government dealt with John L. Lewis, but he dealt with the matter on entirely false premises.’ There are no arbitration laws in the United States of America, and, therefore, the American Government was not enforcing arbitration laws. It used other processes of law to deal with that particular problem. We- have such processes of law already at hand in Australia. In this bill we are dealing, not with the processes of law common to both the United States of America and Australia, but with a conciliation measure which the Government considers will bring about a better state of industrial peace in this country. Since the Leader of the Opposition paid such a glowing tribute to the American Government for the way in which it dealt, not with the employers, but with the employees and their union leader, I wonder whether he is committing the Opposition to go a little farther and to support the American Government in the measures which it is enacting and which, even in the anti-Labour press of Australia, are described as “ repressive labour laws “. There is an old saying that “he who rides on the tiger’s back
can never dismount “. Since the Leader of the Opposition so much enjoys- riding on the back of the American tiger when it comes to dealing with working-class organizations, I wonder whether he will drag his crowd right along the track and follow the American Government’s present policy in relation to industrial laws. It is obvious from this discussion that the Opposition is divided even against its own motion. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) had “ a shilling each way ‘’. He was in favour of penalties, but not of repressive penalties; he was not in favour of coercion. He was one of the later speakers on the Opposition side of the chamber, and, in view of the tenor of the debate, I am beginning to wonder whether some members of the Opposition would not, like stout Herminius, gladly recross the bridge to escape from their leader’s amendment. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), in contradistinction to the honorable member for Flinders, who would not coerce the workers, said, “ We must enforce the rule of law, and a strong government would take punitive action against the strikers “-
– I shall show the honorable member what is wrong with that statement, and what has been proved to be wrong with such an attitude in Australia during the last 50 years. In the early ‘nineties, a government of a similar mentality to that with which the honorable member was associated, brought out Gatling-guns and read the riot act to strikers, and out of its attitude grew the Australian Labour party that governs this Commonwealth to-day. “ Those tactics were designed to repress the workers, and the. honorable member for Wentworth advocates the adoption of repressive measures to-day.
The .right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was closely associated with a coal strike. The government of New South Wales at that time believed, as the honorable member for Wentworth believes, in enforcing the rule of law. Claiming to be a strong government, it took action so punitive that it had Peter Bowling, the leader of the coal-miners, placed in leg-irons. It was dismissed from office at the next ‘ elections. On the other hand, the wealthy coal-owner, John Brown, received different treatment at the hands of an antiLabour government. A government of the same kidney as the honorable member for Wentworth decided to prosecute John Brown, but did not proceed with the case. Did that government enforce the law? Did it exercise its punitive powers against the wealthy coal-owner? Tho leader of the workers was placed in legirons; the wealthy coal-owner went free. When the seamen’s strike occurred, an anti-Labour government not only sought to put some of the strikers in gaol, but also attempted, illegally, as the High Court later determined, to deport the union leaders from Australia. However, those measures did not end the seamen’s strike, just as placing Peter Bowling in leg-irons did not “end the coal-miners’ strike. During the regime of an antiLabour government, a coal-miner was shot dead at Rothbury in New South Wales. That was a punitive measure, but it did not end the strike. When the tim-her workers’ dispute occurred, an antiLabour government engaged Judge Lukin, who had retired from the Bench and should have been lying back and taking things easily, to smash the 44-hour workingweek. He practised on the timber workers. He imposed a fine of £1,000 on the Timber Workers Union, and he fined Mr. Holloway, who is now Minister for Labour and National Service, £100 for having incited the strike. That anti-Labour government took punitive measures, but was not “ game “ to collect the fines. That occurred in 1929. Although the government of the day applied exactly, the same punitive penalties which the Leader of the Opposition contends should be included in this hill, the most disastrous strike in Australian history . lasted’ for eleven months. During the timber workers’ strike, Judge Lukin haled twelve timber workers before him, and gave them a fortnight in which to return to work. He warned them that failure on their part to obey the order of the court would result in their imprisonment for six months. Those men did not’ return to work,- and they did not go to gaol. So much for the alleged efficacy of punitive measures ! Anti-Labour governments had those punitive provisions in the act, but they were rarely “game” to exercise them. When they did, the only result was the spread of industrial disputation.
I note with satisfaction a glimmer of intelligence which comes from some persons who used to be associated with the political parties that now constitute the Opposition. Mr., now Viscount, Bruce, who was formerly Prime Minister of Australia, is neither a Communist nor an associate of Communists. Referring to the imposition of penalties on strikers in 1929, he said-
I remind the House that from the commencement, strikes and lockouts have been illegal and penalties for engaging in them have been provided. In the intervening period, Labour governments have at times been in power and have not departed from that principle. We endeavoured to make it operative and proceeded to enforce the law. Experience lias, however, shown the impossibility of enforcing the law when organizations representing tens of thousands of men refuse to obey it, and thai goodwill and co-operation must be established before obedience can be obtained.
The essence of this bill is goodwill, cooperation and conciliation between employer and employee without a threat of force. As Mr. Bruce pointed out in his speech, governments had imposed penalties on strikers, but had not- succeeded increating industrial peace. He declared that co-operation between employers and employees must be established before obedience could be- obtained. This bill requires complete co-operation between the reasonable men on both sides in order to keep the wheels of industry in motion.
I propose now to deal briefly with the opinion expressed by the present Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir John Latham, when he was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth in an anti-Labour government. After the timber workers’ strike of 1929 had lasted for eleven months, and after the Government had exercised all the punitive measures that are proposed in the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment, he said -
I believe that it is not sound to make either a ‘lockout or a strike a criminal offence. 1- am, and have long been, of the opinion that such penalties tend to “bring the law into contempt. I know, and honorable members on both sides know, that frequently the announcement is made in the press by an officer of a union tha t if ti certain course is persisted in there will be a strike. The date is fixed, and thu strike takes place; but it cannot be proved that there is combined action under the direction of the union officials . . . These sections have been in the act for a long time, more or less as placards.
Sir John Latham is now Chief Justice of the High Court, and I suppose that he is a reputable witness. I say to the Opposition: If honorable members opposide formed the Government to-day, the punitive measures that they now desire to incorporate in this bill would be no more than a placard, and a threat to organized labour. Despite all their idle talk about the present dispute in Victoria, they would not deal with the matter more effectively than the government led by Mr. Bruce, which went to its Sedan in 1929. Honorable members opposite must take notice’ of the opinions of men like Sir John Latham, who pointed out the absolute impossibility of enforcing these sanctions on huge bodies of workers. Yesterday and to-day, I listened to the speeches of my puny contemporaries opposite, and I place more value on the experience of Viscount Bruce and Sir John Latham, who have held high positions in this country, than on their views.
– The devil is quoting the scriptures !
– I might be quoting the devil. I thought that Viscount Bruce or Sir John Latham was the devil when I sat in opposition. If honorable members opposite do not share their views, it behoves them to convince the people of Australia that their former leaders were hopelessly wrong. Otherwise, honorable members opposite are hopelessly wrong when they seek to insert in this bill penal provisions which their own’ leaders in the past found to be entirely ineffective for bringing about industrial peace.
.- Nearly all day honorable members opposite have been telling us about Peter Bowling - they clanked his leg irons at us - the chain gangs, the moving story of Port A rtb nr. the grievances of workers back in 1890, the . iniquity of the capitalistic bosses and the virginal innocence of the workers. They made our skins creep with stories of Machiavellian conspiracies by the political parties represented on this side of the chamber to bring the workers back into chains. They have- treated this measure as if we were in office and were at this moment preparing to exercise every one of the punitive measures embodied in this proposal. I remind them that a Labour government is in office at the moment, and. that we on this’ side of the chamber are simply offering to it a reserve of power so that it may say to agitators and rebels throughout this country, “ These are the remedies of which we will avail ourselves if you do not obey the law “. From the criticism of our attitude, one might be excused for thinking that we had suggested that the Government should exercise the proposed powers immediately. Presumably, the Government can trust itself to be fair and reasonable in exercising them. As has already been pointed out, the proposed new section expressly provides that none of these steps may betaken unless thu Attorney-General of the day consents. That is another safeguard against action of an impetuous, unfair or injurious nature. All the proposed new section provides is that certain types of stoppage, either strikes or lockouts, shall be deemed illegal, and then it establishes machinery making those responsible for such illegality liable to punishment. I emphasize that this provision is directed not against the individual worker but against persons who incite others to strike. The whole organization will be liable.
– It is proposed to make the whole organization liable for an offence by one individual member of it.
– That is the offence of incitement. I point, out to the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) that that applies only to the offence of incitement. Thar, provision, is identical with section 5S of the existing act. We have done no more than repeat that section in the proposal that we have put forward. It is aimed not at the individual worker but at the person who incites others to strike.
– If reference .Ls made to paragraph e pf the proposed new section it will be seen that it also Applies to individuals taking part in a strike.;
– The Attorney-General must admit that the whole purpose of this proposal is to attack the organization responsible for lockouts or strikes.-
– Or any person who takes part in them.
– No. I refer the AttorneyGeneral to paragraph e of the proposed new section. It states -
Whether an organization of employees or any of the members thereof take part in an unlawful strike suCh organization shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence.
I emphasize that it is not the individual but the organization which will be punished.
– It is ridiculous to make the organization responsible.
– I repeat that it is the organization at which we are aiming.
The plain fact that has emerged from this discussion is that members of the Government have ceased to believe in the supremacy of the law, and we must face up to that because it represents a turning point in Australia’s political history, they have ceased to believe in the principle that responsible institutions should make the laws of the land, and that those laws must be obeyed by every member of the community whether he likes it or not.
– But the honorable member wants to alter the law.
– If members of the community do not like the law, their remedy is not to strike, and to seek to tear the community to pieces, but to alter the law by democratic means.
– The honorable member wants to alter the law now, yet he insists that the law must be upheld.
– That is one of the corner-stones of democracy, and it is not merely lawyer’s talk. It has been the view of intelligent men in British communities down the ages that we cannot have representative government unless everyone abides by the law. To-day the Labour Government has thrown that principle overboard. It says, “ “We do not believe in the supremacy of the law”. Of course, the Communists say that too; in fact, that is a classic Marxian principle. They say, “ Let us jeer at it and bring it down in contempt” and they have been very successful in. achieving that because the Labour party has swallowed holus bolus this doctrine.
Here are some of the phrases that have fallen from the lips of Labour members: “What is all this talk about the law; all this prating of the rule of the law? What does it amount to? Men are always entitled to break the law if they suffer injustice “. I heard that said in the precincts of this chamber by Labour members the other day. They quote history in support of their contention, and refer to Cromwell and the American colonies; but the cardinal principle which they overlook it that there is- no longer any wrong without a remedy, and that lawlessness cannot be tolerated in a community . where remedies, constitutional and otherwise, are provided.
We have in Australia a system of industrial regulation whereby men can at short notice submit their grievances to independent tribunals and obtain judicial determinations. The trouble in Australia to-day is that if a determination is favourable to unionists it is alright, but if it is unfavorable it is all wrong and they insist on the “ sacred “ right to strike. Sooner or later that principle must go. We cannot have industrial law side by side with the right to resort to direct action. The employee cannot have it both ways. That principle has been enunciated not only by lawyers but by men of experience and fairness in all walks of life. It is an utter .fallacy to suggest that in a modern community men have the right to tear up the rules because the rules do not happen to suit them. Institutions are provided to remedy grievances where they exist. Having in Australia been successful in instituting an arbitral system, it can no longer be valid for men to say, “ We will have it both ways. If we get a suitable award, all right; but if not, we will strike.” We cannot have a wellordered community if that principle is adhered to.
On many occasions recently the Attorney-General has said that the Government has not the power to take action in certain industrial disputes. The right, honorable gentleman and I have been sparring on this subject for weeks. -Sometimes the AttorneyGeneral says that the Government has not the power, arid at other times he says that it does possess the power. If we ask him why he does not take the power, he is strangely silent. He does not say why he will not accept such power when we offer it to him. We on this side say- that these thing are so important to the community that they should not reside in the Arbitration Court alone but that the executive government - at the present time the Chifley Labour Government - ought to have the right to protect the community from disruption. I do not care to quote the Victorian dispute unduly because it is only an illustration of a principle, that goes beyond any one dispute. The legislation with which we are now dealing will provide for the future, as well as for any particular disturbance at the present time, however grave that dispute may be. How grave it is we can realize from to-night’s press reports that, in Victoria, transport workers are arming themselves with pick handles and staves because they do not think that they are safe. Supporters of the Government do not like to hear these things, but we on this side say that if the Government will not uphold the law of the land, sooner or later citizens will have to do so. We say that so long as the Government has the courage to govern, and is willing, either to accept amendments designed to help it to govern, or to rely on the existing law, which is probably sufficient - in other words, if it has the “guts” to govern - these powers will not be necessary. Because the Government has not the courage to enforce the law against its friends, and is afraid of pressure groups, the trouble in Victoria is assuming such serious proportions’ that men there are arming themselves against lawbreakers.
– What is the honorable member’s authority for that statement; is it some newspaper report ?
– My authority is a newspaper which has sometimes been found to be correct.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta were defending me, I should plead guilty and get it over quickly.
– If I were given a brief to defend the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) I should throw it in straight away, and have nothing to do with it; it would be hopeless. No one on this side of the chamber is doing more than to offer to the government of the day extra power to vindicate the law of the land. If the Government does not accept that power, it is too craven to govern.
.- No member of the Opposition who has so far spoken has sought to answer the point raised by several government spokesmen on the question of the differential penalties which are provided for in the proposed new section moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). Under it, the wright honorable gentleman proposes to impose on a company, or on employers, a fine of £1,000 and to impose a similar fine on a striking union. No member opposite has attempted to show that a fine of £1,000 on a company which is large enough to stage a lockout would be a penalty of any significance whatsoever. As the proposed new section provides in paragraph. 0 that there shall be only one prosecution, it follows that a prosecution launched against a company, and resulting in a fine of £1,000, would be the end of the matter. Its effect on a large company would be almost infinitesimal ; but on a trade union of moderate size its effect would be tremendous. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) evaded paragraph e of the proposed new section, which provides -
Where an organization of employees or’ any of the members thereof take part in an unlawful strike such organization shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence.
In other words, if ten members, or two members, or even one member of a union offends, the whole organization shall be liable to certain penalties. Surely that is a principle which no one will say corresponds with justice ?
– Even if the union did not authorize the action it would still be liable.
– That is so. Honorable members will realize how biased the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is. The honorable member for Parramatta said that the only action that could take place under the proposal of his leader would be action authorized by the.
Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. That statement is a contradiction of paragraph / (ii) of the proposed new section, which reads -
The Court may act under this section of its own motion or upon application made to it hy the Attorney-General or any interested party . . .
The proposal of the right honorable gentleman goes further; it provides, in paragraph / (i) -
Where in the opinion of the Court an organization or any of its members is taking part in an unlawful lock-out or strike the Court may direct that a Receiver be appointed of the funds and assets of the said organization . . .
If five members of an organization disobey the law, the court, of its own motion, and without consulting the AttorneyGeneral, may freeze the entire funds of the union. It is interesting to note that no similar proposal working in the opposite direction has been made.
Let us consider the effectiveness of this proposal if applied to an employer who engages in a lockout. Under paragraph i of the proposed new section “ lockout “, without limiting its ordinary meaning, “ includes a closing of a place of employment, or a suspension of work, or a refusal by an employer to continue to employ any number of his employees with a view to compel his employees or to aid another employer in compelling his employees to accept terms of employment
Let us see how that provision’ would apply to an employer who is engaged in a lockout and dismisses from his employment, excludes from employment, or refuses to employ any number of his employees with a view to compelling them to accept terms of employment. In the event of a dispute arising about wages, should an employer refuse employment to an individual, that situation could be classified as a lockout. But do honorable members opposite seriously think that in such an event the court would, on its own motion, take action, and that the situation would be regarded as one in which the court should act? No; such an interpretation would be regarded as absurd by any judge, yet, on strict’ interpretation, it would apply to the dismissal of one man. The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition in respect of employers is weak when compared with the coercive proposal in relation to trade unions. A few individual members of a union may involve their organization in a fine of £1,000, and cause the funds of the union to be “ frozen “. There is not much in any of the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition which deserves recommendation. I should be interested to hear any member of the Opposition answer the point that the fine of £1,000 would be of no significance to a large company, but would be of great significance to a union. I should also be interested to hear honorable members opposite justify the punishment of an entire union because of the action of some of its members. If this proposition is not designed simply as a one-way application of pressure on working-class organizations, why is sub-section i of the proposed new section, in that portion of it which is directed against employers engaged in a lockout, so weak by comparison with the immense power of the coercive proposals that are directed against trade unions?
– Whenever this Government is in great difficulty in committee, it always has handy its reserve power in debate. A few moments ago, we were privileged to hear from the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who has sat in the committee for practically the whole of the day, with quite a number of volumes in front of him, ready to quote scripture at any moment which happened to suit him. For the time being, he cast aside that rather tarnished halo of impartially which he assumes on certain occasions, and came into the debate to tell the Opposition a little of what he thought of the merits of its proposals. Throughout the day we have also been honoured by the almost unbroken attendance of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). It is only when something very serious in regard to penalties - a subject in which the honorable gentleman is most proficient, because his proficiency is governed by his fears - is being debated, that the Minister graces this chamber with his presence. Throughout the day, too, we have been privileged to see on the treasury bench the rather benign countenance of “the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully). He stuck to the treasury bench, like tar does to a blanket, but so far he has not given us the benefit of bis views on this very vexed question of penalties. The honorable member for Dalley ought to be an authority on penalties, because it is his duty - and a privilege which, I believe, he exercises with a good deal of glee on certain occasions - to impose penalties under the Standing Orders of this branch of the legislature. I put it to the honorable member for Dalley, and to the Labour members who support him, that if his views as to whether penalties should be imposed for breaches of the industrial law are to hold good, then under what system of logie does he propose that he shall henceforth impose a penalty on me when 1 happen to make some passing reference lo some slight slip that he may make in Iris other capacity?
The honorable member was good enough to say that the important filing needed to-day is co-operation between reasonable men on both sides of industry. He seemed to consider that that is going to be effected by some measure under which people will be able to break the law with impunity - I use that word “impunity” after study* - and that, no matter what that breach of the la.w may be, there will be in the law no penalty of any description which can be enforced. That is the attitude of the honorable member for Dalley. It appears, too, to be the attitude of the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), the Government, and the Australian Labour party. The first thing which the Labour party has to determine is whether, in the event of there being laws in this community, there are to be any penalties at all. I put it to the committee that there can be no essential difference between, on the one hand, an arbitration law, and on the other hand, a law to maintain peace and order, to raise taxes, to control traffic, or to govern the different social relationships between a section of the community and the individuals of which, it is composed. If there is to be no penalty, if there are to be no sanctions, in respect of breaches of the industrial law, no matter how dreadful those breaches may be, then it will be a very short step indeed, from that position to the one in which .my friends opposite will be arguing that, in any event there should be no penalties for any breaches of the law ; in other words, that we should have a state of society in which every body could do exactly as he pleased. Such a state of society is on our doorstep today. It is inside one of the biggest of our capital cities. Apparently, honorable members opposite have no remedy for the position with which they are confronted.
It is an old rule that “ the punishmentshall fit the crime “. If there is any criticism to be levelled at the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), I should say it is simply this, that for the crimes which he has described in his proposal, the penalties are inadequate. That is the only criticism which I feel could be levelled at it. Let us look at what those crimes are. They are not crimes within the meaning of the Grimes Act. They are not crimes in the sense in which we refer to criminal offences. But they are serious breaches of the industrial law, serious stabs, strokes, at the industrial order of the community, and at the peace, order and good government of Australia. First, the Leader of the Opposition desires that action shall be taken against persons who are guilty of a lockout. He desires that action shall be taken against persons who incite or encourage an unlawful lockout. Then he passes to the employee, in respect of whom he states that any strike shall be unlawful if it be a strike against the terms of an award of the court, or of the conciliation commissioners which this Government says are so necessary. Next, he says that any person who in any way incites or encourages an unlawful strike shall be guilty of an offence, and that, where an organization of employees, or any of the members thereof, takes part in an unlawful strike, such organization shall be guilty of an offence. That is a very reasonable proposition. If for the settlement of industrial disputes, we areto institute an arbitration law, if we are to submit to arbitration instead of to the law of the survival of the fittest or to resort to force, it follows in logic, or at any rate in common sense in the conduct of civilized government, that there must be some penalties on people who deliberately break the law of the country, or incite or encourage other people to do so.
I have said before - it is not new to honorable members opposite - modern civilization as we have developed it in our Commonwealth cannot be carried on effectively and reasonably unless all persons in the community are prepared to abide by the law which is placed on the statute-book by a majority of the members of this Parliament. What do we find? Honorable gentlemen opposite say that they are pledged to arbitration, that they believe in conciliation; yet the moment the matter becomes one of enforcing awards of the Arbitration Court, or of their own selected conciliation commissioners, they say that all persons shall be free, as individuals, as members of a group, an organization, a union - whatever one cares to call it - to flout, ignore, and defy the very law which they say is so necessary for the peace, order and good government of Australia. A more illogical and impossible attitude could not be taken up by any government. I again take the stand which I took on the motion of the second reading: We cannot bind thousands of men to go on working under an award they do not like; but the present position arises because those men say they must have the right against law, common sense, social requirements and necessities, to say that if they are dissatisfied with anything in respect of an award then no other person shall work in that particular avocation either.. Not only are they not prepared to obey the law of the land; they go much further and say that no other citizen in the community shall obey the law either. That is the crux of this problem. That is the position from which the Government cannot run away. It is a position which is almost inside government offices to-day. The problem is there, and it must be dealt with. The Government is not dealing with it, or even attempting to deal with it. All we have heard up to date are certain weak, mild, anæmic contentions - nothing new - -that the Government does not possess adequate constitutional power. One of the most interesting speeches with respect to the proposed new section was that made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), when he dealt with the constitutional position in the United States of America. The honorable mem- ber for Dalley also referred to that matter; but I put it to him that the constitutional position in the United States of America is almost on a parity with our own.
– I do not argue that-
– The honorable member was very careful about what he said; and he should be the last to interject. ‘ There are times when Daniel should come to judgment; there are times when he who applies the law should obey the law. What the honorable member is trying to do at this moment is the very thing that I am complaining of, namely, that those who are charged with the responsibility of carrying out the law are not prepared to obey that law. The honorable member for Richmond made the excellent point that whatever may be the shortcomings of the Commonwealth Government from a constitutional point of view, it shares those shortcomings almost item for item and word for word with the Government of the United States of America. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) may shake his head; he might just as well shake his watch and start it going. If he has studied, or even read without studying, Lord James Bryce’s American Commonwealth he will realize the truth of what I am saying. If he has studied the debates from which the Australian Constitution was formulated he will realize that the model on which the Australian Constitution was made was no other than the Constitution of the United States of America; and in no relevant particular has the Australian Constitution been altered.
– What has this got to do with the imposition of penalties?
– It has a lot to do with that matter if the speeches made by honorable members opposite had anything to do with it; because I am not raising any point which has not previously been raised by honorable members opposite. One honorable member opposite took the Opposition to task for having dared to submit the proposed new section because we had dared to vote against the motion for the second reading. He has been in Parliament as long as I have, but he has been longer in Opposition, and he should know that it is a good rule in Parliament that when the Opposition is beaten in a division on the motion for the second reading of a measure, it is the bounden duty of the Opposition to endeavour to make the measure as workable as it can, and not to play the nasty boy, and say, “We will not play in your backyard; we lost the division. We will not have anything to do with you “. So, the Leader of the Opposition has submitted the proposed new section in an endeavour to meet one of the gravest shortcomings in the bill as the Opposition understands it. It ill becomes honorable members opposite to challenge the Opposition’s right or good faith - they may challenge our good sense if they like, but not our good faith - when we endeavour to improve faults which we see in the measure. This issue cannot be easily turned aside. The question of industrial conciliation is very important. The honorable member for Dalley should be an authority on that also, because when I sat on that side of the chamber and he was a member of the Lang Labour party he took a certain attitude towards his brothers in the official Labour party. If the attitude of the conciliation commissioners to be appointed under this measure is to be based on his methods of political conciliation in this chamber, then the future for Australia appears to be even worse than the Opposition thought it could be even under this law.
– If the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is any criterion of the mood of honorable members opposite they are in full retreat from the proposed new section submitted by their leader. I have never heard the honorable member for Barker weaker, or heard him stray so far away from the subject under discussion. One would imagine that honorable members opposite were propounding some new theory in this chamber when they suggest the imposition of penalties by statutory provision. Penalties have been included in many acts of . the Parliament passed, always of course, by non-Labour governments. There was the Transport
Workers Act 1928-1929 introduced into this chamber on the motion of the then Attorney-General in the Bruce-Page Government, the present Chief Justice of Australia. That act was passed for the purpose of smashing a strike, and smashing the Waterside Workers Federation. It introduced a system of licences. It made every waterside worker apply yearly for a licence, and gave discretionary power to the licensing officer to issue licences.
– This sounds like the Stevedoring Industry Bill; it is identical, with the Government’s own bill.
– It is nothing of thesort, because under that measure nopower was given to a licensing officer tocancel a licence in any case in which, as was prescribed under the Transport Workers Act, he is satisfied that -the worker after a licence has been issued to him has failed to comply with any lawful order or direction given in relation to his employment, or has refused to work in accordance with the terms of an award, or has attempted to exercise intimidation or violence in relation to, or use threatening and abusing language, to any waterside worker or to any officer authorized to perform duties in the administration of that act. The purpose of that act was to keep members of the Waterside Workers Federation off the waterfront in certain ports and to give the work entirely to members of the Casual and Permanent Waterside Workers Association.
– That was the effect of it, because for many years from 1928-29 onwards very few bona fide members of the Waterside Workers Federation were given any work. The work was given in the proportion of one bona fide worker of the Waterside Workers Federation to five members of the volunteer organization. But an appeal to the court was provided in that particular legislation, and the court was given power to stand down an applicant for licence, where it thought he should be stood down, for a period of not less than six months and not more than twelve. That was a piece of legislation of Draconian severity. What the Government did under the Stevedoring Industry Bill was. to repeal that particular section of the Transport Workers Act, and it was repealed without any opposition by any honorable member opposite. When that section of the Stevedoring Industry Bill was under consideration, not one honorable member opposite objected to the repeal of such a piece of punitive legislation; and that being so how can they argue for the provision of penalties under other legislation ? Section 30j of the Crimes Act 1914-1932 makes provision in respect of industrial unrest, as follows : - 30j. - (1.)If at any time the GovernorGeneral is of opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States he may make a Proclamation to that effect, which Proclamation shall be and remain in operation for the purposes of this section until it. is revoked. (2.) Any person who, during the operation of such Proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to, urges, aids or encourages the taking part in. or continuance of, a lock- out or strike - (a.) in relation to employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States; or
– And the Labour Government, with all its majority during the last three years, has not attempted to repeal that provision.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) will be given an opportunity at an early date to vote for its repeal. The Labour Government has not enforced it. We have had much to do in preparing the new order that we were elected to bring in, but in due course we shall repeal that section of the Crimes Act. The present Opposition was in power when that legislation was placed on the statute-book, and if coercive mea sureswere capable of preventing strikes, and bringing about industrial peace, that piece of legislation should have done so. It was enacted many years ago, and has been amended from time to time. There was industrial trouble in Australia before the Crimes Act was passed, and there has been industrial trouble since. Some honorable members opposite seem to believe that industrial peace can be achieved by legislation, even under a capitalist social system, but the Labour party does not subscribe to that. Industrial trouble has its roots in the capitalist system of exploitation of the many by the few, resulting in the condemnation of a great majoriy of the people to existence on the basic wage, or something near it, while the rest of what they produce by their labour is taken by those few who own the means of production, distribution and exchange. On this question there is a philosophic difference of opinion between the Labour party and the Opposition. The Labour party believes in peace in industry. It does not want industrial unrest. So far as the trouble in. Victoria is concerned, it should be remembered that the Amalgamated Engineering Union has not been engaged in a big industrial upheaval in Victoria since 1918, and the trouble to-day is not of its making. The engineers did not go on strike. They were locked out in the first instance, and they then refused to go back to work until certain claims which they believed were just were met to their satisfaction. I do not urge a continuance of any strike. I should like to see the dispute in Victoria settled quickly.
– It cannot be settled by passing laws giving authority to impose fines on organizations, as has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– What other way is there?
– All such troubles must be settled ultimately, and they cannot be settled satisfactorily until they are settled justly. Justice will be done only when recognition is given to the claims of the workers to an increasing share of the product of their labour. We deny that a certain proportion of the product of industry should be earmarked for wages, another for .profit and another for interest and so on. During the war, the workers were promised a new deal, and they are now looking lor it. Much of the existing industrial unrest is due to the action of the Opposition in opposing the referendum proposals for increased industrial power for the Com mon wealth Parliament. Had that power been granted it would have been possible for a 40-hour week to be introduced by act of this Parliament. Of course, honorable members opposite who believe in peace by coercion would not have voted for a 40-hour week. They do not want Parliament to regulate working hours or to prescribe the conditions governing the fixation of the basic wage. If they are not willing that the Parliament should have that power, what right have they to say that it should legislate to interfere in an industrial dispute to the disadvantage of the workers? I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament should have full industrial powers. A majority of the people voted in favour of giving this power, but the proposal was defeated because it was not supported by a majority of the voters in a majority of the States. An interesting and erudite book called Towards Industrial Peace in Australia has been written by Dr. Foenander,- who has given the subject close study. He states -
For success in any system of State regulation .of disputes both parties must approach the court in a spirit of -peace. There is no other way. There must be no scuffling on the temple steps. To enforce legislation in the teeth of unionism will at the best drive resistance underground into unlawful association. Filling the gaols may bring about a legal peace, but it is of the illusory character which, according to the gibe of the Roman satirist, prevailed in Britain during the first century A.D. : Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.
Every person who has had any experience in administering the law has expressed the same opinion. Sir John Latham, who was Attorney-General in the Lyons Government, when speaking in 1930 on the. arbitration bill introduced by the Scullin Government, said -
I believe that it is not sound to make either a lockout or a strike a criminal offence. I am, and I have always been, of the opinion that such penalties tend to bring the law into contempt.
The opinion expressed there by the then honorable member for Kooyong is in marked contrast to the opinion now expressed by his successor (Mr. Menzies).
– Honorable members opposite are’ now quoting Sir John Latham with approval.
– Yes, we quote him when it suits us, as do honorable members opposite when it suits them. Just now, they do not want us to quote Sir John Latham because his opinion destroys whatever validity there may seem to have been in their argument. ‘Sir John Latham continues -
I know, and honorable members on both sides know, that frequently announcement is made in the press by an officer of a union that if a certain course is persisted in there will be a strike. A date is fixed, and the strike takes place; but it cannot be proved that there is combined action under the direction of the officials. . . . These sections have been in the act for a long time more or less as placards. I doubt whether their real significance has been realized until recently, and I do not think that for many years they have had the honest support of the public as a whole.
The penal provisions which Sir John Latham was criticizing were no worse than those now proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. In the opinion of Sir J ohn Latham these, penal provisions wereeffete in 1930, but what was effete in 1930 becomes strangely modern in the eyes of the Opposition parties in 1947.
– Times have changed.
– But the honorable member has not changed. Politically speaking his views belong to the stone age. All I urge upon honorable members opposite is that, in the light of the views of Sir John Latham, they should not make themselves ridiculous by persisting with this proposed amendment.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
– We have all heard the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) make many speeches in this chamber. I would be the first to concede that some of them have been effective; but I have never heard him make a less effective speech than the one he has just concluded. The honorable gentleman seems to have followed the lead given by many of his colleagues and browsed through Hansard in order to treat the committee to” a series of quotations from the remarks of former members of the Parliament, judges of the Arbitration Court and writers on arbitration matters, and thus fill in his time. What we want to hear is not what Sir John Latham said in 1930, what the late Mr. Justice Higgins said in 1937, or what Dr. Foenander or anyone else may have to say on this subject; we are more interested to hear what this Government thinks of the embroglio that exists to-day. Speakers from the Government side have all played on the one string of the old harp. We are discussing a measure of a very notable character, a measure designed to abandon our traditional judicial system of arbitration practised by trained, experienced and qualified men, and to substitute for it - and that substitution involves the whole economy of Australia - a numerous band, the exact number of which we have not been permitted to know, of untrained but, no doubt, hand-picked, laymen. This, in itself, is a very grave and notable step in substitution, but on top of that there is to be no appeal from the decisions of these laymen. We have resisted the change from the traditional system ; we have resisted this substitution of untrained people; we have sought to give to the people of Australia the protection of a provision for an appeal against their decisions and we have failed in every one of those attempts due to the present caucus system of government. Now we are trying to salvage what we can from what we believe to “be a dangerous measure by inserting, even at this late hour; a provision which will give some assurance that the awards of the conciliation commissioners shall be enforced. That is the present stage of the bill we are now discussing. We are not considering what may happen under the operation of this substitute commission system in an atmosphere of abstract debate ; we are considering the proposal in an atmosphere of crisis in which there is defiance of an award of an existing commissioner in Victoria by powerful unions, presumably against the will of this Government, and, certainly, against the will of the Government of Victoria. In fact, the Premier of that State has been impelled to-day to describe those who defy authority as brigands.
– And a Labour Premier, too..
– That is so. We are discussing this proposal in an atmosphere in which there was presented and read yesterday to the Victorian Parliament a letter written by a coterie of unions which, having arranged the picketing of the substitute system of transport organized by the Premier of Victoria, is now seeking to extend the system of picketing throughout country districts. The letter which ends “Yours fraternally”, bears the signatures of A. E. Fair, of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, B. Flanagan, of the Federated Ironworkers Union, and J. J. Brown, of the Australian Railways Union. Having pointed out to country members of the relevant unions the system of picketing established in the City of Melbourne, they go- on to say - and this is the deadly paragraph of the letter -
The committee desires this practice to extend to the country districts also, hy the setting up of sub-committees comprised of members of unions involved. Present road operators should operate normal services on their present routes only, and not run off them. ?vo new road operators should he permitted to run on any route. Please treat as extremely urgent.
The whole system of organized society can operate only in conjunction with the maintenance of authority. We have been accustomed to believe that the authority recognized in Australia was that of the chosen government. To-day there is no authority reposing in this Government, and there is obviously no authority reposing in the Government of Victoria. Indeed, the only authority recognized and functioning in that State, which comprises one-third of the population of Australia, is the authority of Mr. J. J. Brown, the notable Communist leader of the Australian Railways Union. Yet this afternoon and to-night there have been, I suppose, a couple of dozen speeches by Labour members and Ministers, but not one word will Hansard record of their condemnation of this state of affairs. The extreme limit to which any of them has gone this afternoon has been to say, “ I am not able to justify it “. So, we have sought to incorporate in this measure some provision which will ensure the enforcement of the laws of the land. We have been told that these so-called punitive measures have been tried before and have failed. That is a one-sided argument. I agree that they have failed in part; but armies have’ failed to prevent war,, and we have not disbanded our armies;’ the police have failed to prevent law-breaking, but we have not abolished the police forces.
Laws can function only when they are associated with some provision of sanction, of penalty for non-observance or defiance. These are the circumstances in which we are discussing this measure. As society becomes more and more highly organized so the opportunity increases for small coteries . of specialists who comprise portions of organized society to hold it to ransom. Just as a modern lethal weapon increases the opportunities for criminals to engage in crime, just as it has shown the necessity for increasing the strength of the police forces, for constantly reviewing the deterrents to crime provided in the criminal code, so do these more specialized attacks upon society which are developing under the new technique adopted in Communist circles require a review of the existing industrial laws. We are reviewing the industrial laws, and I put it strongly to the Government and to the people that any government would be recreant to its duty, if when reviewing industrial laws it failed to recognize the necessity to take some precaution for the defence of this country against assaults on its social structure. For what else is the function of government but to organize society, and having organized society to defend it against those who would attack it? Often we have heard dripping from the lips of Labour members stories of the exploitation of the many by the few. But what else is going on in Victoria to-day? To-day we have a new form of tyranny - the tyranny of communism and neocommunism that is being practised widely in certain parts of this country. Why is this Government so defiant of its obvious obligations in this matter? The real explanation, of course, is the close identity that exists between trade unionism and the Australian Labour party. Each of these, of course,. has its place in the social structure of Australia. No one has suggested otherwise;- but to identify the two organizations with different sets of objectives and responsibilities is impossible if Labour is to discharge its real duties and obligations to the people of this country. No Labour Minister or member could make a speech other than those that have been made in the course of this debate by honorable members opposite, although each man knew well that he was abandoning his responsibilities. Each Labour member who represents a safe Labour seat comes into Parliament only after securing the endorsement of those who are members of industrial unions and as such are entitled to cast their votes at Labour pre-selection ballots. These members come into this chamber unable to defend the social structure of this country against the attacks of extremists, and at the same time retain any delusion that they will ever again secure the preselection to stand as official Labour candidates. That is why whatever Labour may be able to do in this country, there is one thing that it will never be able to do while its political party is constituted as it is to-day, and that is discipline extremists who defy the law. Any group of people that accepts the responsibility of governing a country, knowing that it cannot do so, is virtually acting in a treacherous mariner, and is endangering the national safety. We know that for years in the realm of military affairs, Labour preached the doctrine of pacifism. It was only when this country was brought to the brink of catastrophe that Labour abandoned that policy. Honorable members opposite learned their lesson, but only when we were on the edge of the precipice. Now they, are the pacifists of the industrial arena, and they are prepared to watch this country sliding towards the brink of the precipice while still preaching the doctrine of ‘pacifism; There may be a place in human society for pacifists, but that place is on the side line. There is no place for them in the ranks of those who seek to exercise the responsibility of government. So, I say quite plainly that those who resist this proposal do so with manacles on their hands* No one could be more” effectively manacled than he who enters the Labour caucus. That is shown in the behaviour of those who support this Government or are members of lt.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I did not think that I should ever hear from the deputy leader of a party the abusive remarks “that have been made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). The honorable member has attempted to cast serious reflections upon i he integrity of honest Labour men. I am one of those who represent in this Parliament what he has termed a safe Labour seat. The bulk of the people in my electorate are workers, and so long as 1 have breath to speak I shall defend i hem from speeches of the type to which the committee has just listened. The honorable member has said, in effect, or as near as he could without transgressing the Standing Orders, that 1 am a fraud and a cheat.
– The honorable member is jamming the cap on himself.
– There is no need to put the cap on. The honorable member for Indi cannot get away from the reflections that he has cast upon certain Labour members. I consider that he reflected directly on me because I believe that I received more No. 1 votes than any other member of this chamber at the last elections. If the honorable member believes that I am a pacifist, obviously he does not know what he is talking about. Any one who believes that I am not prepared to put up a fight does not know me very well.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) sought to chastise me for saying last night that, because members of the Opposition voted against the second reading of the measure, they should not attempt to amend the bill at the committee stage. But he will find, if he cares to read the Hansard report ‘of my speech, that what I asked was why, if honorable members opposite believe, as the honorable member for Indi apparently does, that this measure is the only means of saving the present position in Victoria, they endeavoured to defeat the bill on the ‘Second reading,,_seven days ago. That is what I said last night. The Oppo sition is attempting to hoodwink the people with propaganda that this bill has to do with the position in Victoria. The honorable member attempted to impugn my decency and honesty-
– Order! The honorable member must return to the amendment.
– This amendment is merely a vehicle for the distribution of political propaganda. At other times honorable members opposite have accused the Labour party of repudiation. The amendment is repudiation, although the Leader of the Opposition may not consider it to be, because when the workers go to the Arbitration Court they know that unless they abide by its decision they will be subject to certain penalties; but, if the penalties proposed by the right honorable member were enforced, the arbitration system would be so loaded against them that they would not go to the court. We on this side represent the workers. The workers of Hindmarsh look to me to protect- them, and I will protect them. I make no bones about iti 1 do not camouflage my intentions as honorable gentlemen opposite try to camouflage theirs. Their . purpose is not protection of the workers, the ordinary people of the community, but retention of the old system under which the judges of the Arbitration Court are handpicked from the ranks of men who have grown up in a conservative atmosphere. They also desire to clothe those judges with power to impose heavy penalties. I remind them that the Arbitration Court has .just dealt with a case of defiance of the law by the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which has been told that if its members do not return to work within fourteen days from the date of hearing, i+ will be deregistered, with loss to its members of all the benefits given to them by arbitration. To-night, honorable members opposite have freely quoted from the press about developments of the situation in Victoria, but they have carefully refrained from repeating the announcement over the air about the action taken by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which fears that if theArbitration Court is not obeyed by the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and it is consequently deregistered, grave injury will be done to the trade union movement. We have been accused by the Opposition of having encouraged the leaders of the Victorian disturbance. We have done no such thing. We want the men to go back to work as quickly as possible. Talk about the use of pick-handles and other weapons may sound all Fight over the air, but it is incitement, and I appeal to honorable gentlemen to keep to the facts. If we want conciliation let us have it; but it appears to me that what the Opposition wants is not conciliation but an arbitration court with power to say to the workers, “ You must do as ?’e order you shall be locked up “. I oppose the amendment, because I believe that it will not bring about and maintain peace- in industry but create further unrest.
, because we want, fines imposed on employers and employees who foment industrial strife, was a. tirade of abuse of the Opposition which desires to improve the bill by the only means within its power, the moving of amendments in committee. On this subject the honorable member has made three speeches exactly the same in substance, apologizing for his disapproval of the amendment of the Leader of the- Opposition (Mr. Menzies), which is designed to ensure that industry and commerce hall keep moving by providing that people who incite, strikes against the law, the worst element in the community, shall be adequately dealt with. It may be news to the lion-., able member. but we desire to protect the interests of the workers. No less are we concerned with the interests of the employers. Each side must be given a “ fair go “. Ministerial statements have been made about encouragement to industries and capital from other countries, chiefly the United Kingdom and the United States of America to come to Australia. But how do we propose to ‘ treat them ? We must consider the employers as well as the employees.- We have heard from Government supporters to-day of nothing but the interests of the workers, particularly those who are engaged in the disgraceful strike in Victoria which is holding up trade and commerce throughout the Commonwealth and creating trouble, turmoil and loss everywhere. In Queensland alone, exservicemen are waiting for materials to build homes for their families and to make improvements to their farms, and factories are deprived of supplies which are essential to the economic expansion which is a feature of our post-war national policy. The development of the nation is being retarded because of the false sentiments that have just been expressed by the honorable .member for Hindmarsh. The Government is abandoning the principle of arbitration at the behest of the Communists. This bill represents another step in that retrograde direction. We are forced to accept this bill because of the Government’s majority, but we are endeavouring to improve it by means of the amendment, submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, which provides for the imposition of penalties on those who break the law.
The honorable member . for Hindmarch accuses us of endeavouring to do something against the interests of the workers. That is not true. The penalties proposed would be applicable to employers or employees who caused lockouts or strikes. The honorable member seeks to disseminate, over the air and through the pages of Hansard, the low sentiments by which the Labour party climbed to power, and which, though in the wane, it still persists in espousing. Honorable members opposite try to convince the public that members of the Opposition are attempting to grind down the workers. Whence does the incentive to work come, if not. from the members of the Opposition and those they represent? Who invests the money that provides employment in industry? We are not, and never have been, opposed to the workers. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) has tried to depict us as ogres who would bind the workers in chains. He claims that we have always opposed the interests of the workers. I ask him: Where do the workers secure the privileges that made possible the election o.l this Labour Government and the formation of the great industrial movement which has arisen in Australia? The workers have secured ‘their present high status and powerful influence in the community through this Parliament under the administration of non-Labour governments. Unionism in Australia has been made possible by non-Labour governments. The powerful industrial organizations to which workers belong and which are intended to protect their interests developed under the administration of non-Labour governments. Nevertheless, Ministers and their supporters try to convince, the people, through Hansard and over the air, that we on this side of the’ chamber want to hound down the workers and return them to conditions of slavery. They claim that this has been our aim since the era of the Eureka Stockade. The Minister for Transport says that we, and others like us have through the centuries, been opposed to the workers. How do we know that the Minister’s ancestors” were not amongst the greatest Tories and oppressors of the workers? I have made investigations and have discovered that there were many Wards amongst the “brass hats “ and anti-Labour forces of Australia and Great Britain in other years. One of these was Professor Robert De Courcy Ward. Another is the right honorable Sir Joseph Ward, who was leader of the United party in New “ Zealand in 1928-29. Perhaps he is connected with the Minister for Transport in direct line. There was a Lieutenant-Colonel Lancelot Ward, C.M.G., who was awarded the Somaliland Medal and the Nandi Expeditions Medal pf 1905-6, and a Captain Sir Edward Simon Ward, whose club was the White Orleans in Scotland. The Minister may be related to them.. Yet he accuses us of being connected with those who, over the centuries, have oppressed the workers ! Other names on the list are those of Major Charles Lionel Atkins WardJackson, Conservative Member of Parliament for Herefordshire, and LieutenantColonel Viscount Guy Bernard Campbell Ward.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to return to the amendment before the committee.. Those remarks have nothing to do with it.
– I had to make those statements in self-defence. Some of the Minister’s ancestors and relatives might be included in the list and, therefore, he may be associated by blood ties with the misdeeds for which he has blamed us and our ancestors. Our ancestors might have been the working people who were down-trodden by the lordly ancestors of the Minister.
Mr. Falstein interjecting,
– I cannot include the honorable gentleman in this category. I am speaking of Australians of British descent. We on thi? side of the chamber are interested not only in the workers but also in the employers. The amendment which has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is designed to help both of those sections of the community. However, there are other sections to be considered which have not been mentioned by Ministers and their supporters. They have referred only to the strikers. They have overlooked the primary producers, who are suffering severely because strikes have prevented the manufacture of farm machinery, caused stoppages on the wharfs where primary products await shipment, and interrupted rail transport services to country centres in Victoria. The farmers are not paid “ day by day, whether there is rain or not, and they are not paid attendance money like the waterside workers. They suffer more than anybody else as the result of strikes. We want to provide for- penalties against strikes and lockouts so as to assure to those people a fair return for their continued and long labour, in which, very often, they are assisted by their women and children. Their labour produces cheap food for the workers in the cities to enjoy. We want to provide that, if workers or employers break the law, they shall be penalized. That is the intention of the proposal before the committee,” which has given rise to so much abuse from Government supporters. The primary producers have no supporters amongst honorable members on the Government side of the chamber ; therefore, their interests have not been considered. We have been abused because we have condemned certain sections of the workers for their determination to strike whenever they wish to do so. The Minister for Transport, in his speech, returned to his theme of class “hatred, the old cry which helped Labour to advance to power. However, people have become so accustomed to this parrot cry that they demand something more realistic. He, and many of his colleagues, claim to speak for the workers. How many honorable members opposite have done a hard day’s work with a pick and shovel ?
– How much work has the honorable member done?
– I have done years of it, as have all who work properties, and I am prepared to work with a No. 5 shovel and a few other labouring tools in competition with the Minister if he is prepared to accept the challenge. The honorable gentleman knows that very few members of the Labour party in this chamber have ever employed anybody. For that reason they look down upon employers and preach a doctrine of hate against them. Small employers invest money in order to create something of their own, not with government assistance, but by using their own savings. The man who employs somebody in the hope of developing some industry or of producing something of value from the soil, “or in a factory or a business, is looked upon as a menace and a “ scab “. He is a man to be pillaged by these people in the Parliament who live on the Labour theme that “ the worker should have a fair go “. We on this side of the chamber have always sought a “fair go” for the worker, and we have made that possible. The political Labour party has not got a monopoly in that regard. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) abused us because we are opposed to certain union officials like those in Melbourne to-day who despise unions and create strikes and loss. But who are these people? The Minister showed his hand, because obviously the people he is seeking to protect are the Communist strike leaders in Victoria. He condemned us because we said the activities of these disruptionists should be curtailed and that fines and penalties should be inflicted on them. Honor able members know to-day that the whole trades union movement is up in arms against many of these agitators who are exercising control of particular unions to the detriment of their members and the people oi Australia. Are we not justified in attacking these agitators? If we do not do so. now it will soon be too late.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) did not put forward any very serious criticism of this proposal.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In the first place, I want to assure the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who was good enough to draw attention to the fact that I have spoken on this bill in committee,’ that the Government held out’ no inducement or request .to me to speak. The reason I spoke was because I know something of the industrial movement in Australia, and the causes of the present industrial trouble. Furthermore, I believe I am a man of ordinary common sense, something which is not too abundant amongst honorable members opposite. I have been through the mill and I know at first hand much “ of the causes of industrial discontent. I know the remedies which have been ‘applied, or attempted to be applied in the past, and I assert that the only method which will work is the one which the Government now proposes. I know that cynics always cast doubt on the assertion that there is a sufficient number of reasonable men and women in the industrial Labour movement, and in the combined employers’ movement, to enable their differences to be settled by conciliation. I realize that there is a hopeless minority in both the industrial Labour movement and amongst the employers, and these people are a chronic cause of industrial trouble. However, I believe that the moral force actuating the great majority of men and women amongst employers and employees can, if given the opportunity, enable the conciliation system to work. The important thing is that employers and employees should be given an opportunity to confer early enough when an industrial dispute arises or even before” a strike takes place, or when there are merely the ingredients of a strike present. The provision in this bill for the parties to confer with one another is one of its outstanding qualities, and if that provision is enacted I believe it will be of great assistance.
Comparison of the speeches of the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Indi. (Mr. McEwen) indicates clearly the difference of opinion existing amongst members of the Opposition parties as to the efficacy of the severe penalties proposed in this suggested amendment. “Whilst the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) qualified his support of the amendments proposed by the Opposition by saying that he did not believe in coercion or in the adoption of punitive measures, the honorable member for Barker said that the only fault he found with the proposal was that its penalties are not severe enough. Frankly, the honorable member for Barker has had very little experience of industrial affairs, although undoubtedly he has talked a great deal in this chamber and in his constituency about ‘them.
– I have heard the honorable gentleman speak on primary production, a subject with which he has had nothing whatever to do.
– That may be; but I represent wheat-eaters and not wheatgrowers. Earlier to-night I quoted at some length from the views expressed by gentlemen who formerly led the Opposition parties. One of these gentlemen Lord Bruce, has been lauded to the skies by honorable members opposite, who have said privately that there was no position in the Empire too important to be offered him. His views should carry some weight with them, more particularly when we remember, that he was for many years an administrator in this country and had every opportunity to observe the weaknesses of the penal system as applied to industrial law. I emphasize that his opinions are not those of an irresponsible person. He declared unequivocally that peace in industry cannot be achieved by the adoption of punitive methods. I also referred honorable member to the opinion expressed by Sir John Latham, the present Chief Justice of Australia, when he was a member of this chamber. The honorable member for Indi took me to task for doing so, but the opinions and the reputations of Lord Bruce and Sir John Latham will live long after the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), and I doubt whether twenty years hence any one will trouble to quote him on anything at all. In 1930, after one of the most protracted and disastrous strikes in the experience of the Commonwealth, the penalties now proposed by the Leader of the Opposition were actually inflicted on the union concerned. The penalty imposed on certain members 6f the union was £100, and this penalty was inflicted on the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). Those fines were never collected, and their imposition was not a deterrent. The imposition of the fines certainly did not settle the strike; in fact, it so inflamed the minds of .workers throughout Australia that that particular strike went on for eleven months. During that time the Timber Workers Union collected £10,000 a week from other unions to carry on the strike. When punitive measures are adopted against one section of the trade union movement the minds of members of all other unions are inflamed and they come readily to the assistance of their comrades.
The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) expressed rather an interesting view. Referring to the penalties proposed he said, “ These measures are not to be used indiscriminately. “ For weeks past the Government has been accused of discrimination in the imposition of penalties, and if there is one weakness in the administration of law it is to give to the Executive the right to discriminate. If the proposed fines of £1,000 for an organization and £100 for an. individual are to be a deterrent, they must be used without discrimination, no matter who the offender may be. Some honorable gentlemen opposite are trying to qualify their support of this proposal. If they really believe in the efficacy of these penalties, they ‘must admit that the penal provision’s must be used without discrimination.
– The honorable member for Dalley is now trying to qualify his position.
– Once the legislature gives to the Executive power to determine whether or not it shall enforce the penal provisions, it creates a fatal weakness. The reason .is that the Executive will have the right to discriminate as to whether it will prosecute the employers or the employees. Naturally, that is a fatal weakness, although honorable gentlemen opposite say that the purpose of the provision is to protect the Government. I have pointed out that, in the past, governments which have used the punitive measures have failed, and their leaders declared in later years that the penal provisions were not effective.
I note that, under this proposal, an org.mi.zn ti on of employers may be fined £1,000 for a lockout. The Balmain lockout, which occurred recently, was quite blatant. The employers who engaged in ir made no attempt to maintain secrecy’ about if. Tens of thousands of men employed in the shipbuilding industry were deliberately locked out, and the employers held up for months nearly «100 .ships in Sydney Harbour, including vessels which would have taken food to the United “Kingdom.. But honorable members opposite did not demand that the Government should take punitive measures against those persons responsible for deliberately locking out thousands of workers on the waterfront, and holding up ships to a greater degree than ever the waterside workers did. Another weakness in the amendment which I have discovered is that some strikes will be declared unlawful, and the Leader of the Opposition did not. explain to the committee the kind of strikes that he deems to be lawful. I CI P S 1 r e some enlightenment on that matter. If some strikes are unlawful, it logically follows that others must be lawful. I notice, also, that any strike which occurs in the course of an industrial dispute of which the court or the conciliation commission has taken cognizance shall be unlawful. With his long experience of the industrial jurisdiction, the right honorable gentleman must realize that one of the most prolific causes of industrial unrest in Australia has been the delays in the courts in dealing with disputes. I have already .dealt with the timberworkers’ strike. On one occasion eighteen months elapsed from the time the court took cognizance of a dispute in the timber industry until it made the award. If the interminable delays of the past can be eliminated by the conciliation commissioners taking prompt action to prevent or settle a strike, agitators, irresponsibles and Communists, who are in a minority, will be- deprived of their most prolific breeding ground for the promotion of industrial unrest.
– Most of the strikes are against the Government.
– I am not concerned with that. What I am dealing with is the fertile ground that is provided for those persons to promote strikes. I have already described the failure of punitive measures. The Leader of the Opposition adopts, as one of his proposed penalties against the unions which incite a strike, the freezing of their assets. That idea is nearly as old as the right honorable gentleman himself. Early in this century a. government led by Mr. Lloyd George adopted such a measure against the transport strikers in Great Britain. The method was successful temporarily in stopping the strike, but only the shattered remnants of the political party which he led remain to-day. Although it may be true that temporarily a government might gain some advantage by the adoption of punitive measures, it is equally true that it will soon cease to exist when the people get an opportunity to. deal with it. Therefore, when honorable members opposite recommend the introduction in 1947 of the freezing of the assets of a trade union for the purpose of deterring it from continuing a strike-
– That action had nothing to do with the fall of the govern- ment led by Mr. Lloyd George.
– I did not say that it did.
– The Speaker must be heard in silence !
– The Speaker will be heard, whether the Opposition likes it or not.
– Order! , The honorable member’s time has expired.
. - During the discussion on this proposal, two points have been constantly emphasized. Honorable members opposite have stressed the workers’ right to strike, and have accused the Opposition of desiring to coerce the workers. Once in a while, it is necessary to establish a personal position in this chamber, to make valid certain things that one would say. I am the child of a working man, who takes great pride, even at his age now, in his skill as a tradesman. I adopt what may be called a working-class attitude and outlook on matters of this kind. My mother’s father was a miner who died of miner’s phthisis, and I am not left unmoved when members of the Labour party speak of the struggles of the past, because I know something of them. I do not remain cold when they recall some of those struggles; but I grow very hot under the collar when I hear some of their gibes, insisting that members on this side of the chamber are anxious for the return of those days. There are some people - let us frankly admit it - who see no shame in the conditions of those days, but I challenge any honorable member opposite to name one member of the Opposition who could be included’ in that category. I have looked at this measure from the standpoint of my natural heritage, and listening to the arguments advanced by Government supporters, I have Wondered just what is behind certain of their contentions. For instance, I wonder why they stood out so violently against the proposal that a party to a dispute should have the right to appeal against the determination of a conciliation commissioner. I have said that I believe in conciliation. May I suggest that the least .conciliatory members in this chamber are those who support the Government. When I hear arguments advanced for the right to strike in the terms that I have heard this evening, I begin to understand why they desire to destroy the power of the Arbitration Court. They have said repeatedly that the right to strike must be protected, but the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has effectively disposed of that view. In a democracy” where industrial workers are protected by an arbitration system such as we have here, every citizen has the right to say, when an award is made, “ I do not approve of the terms of this award, and I shall not work under it “. But that man has no right to seek to prevent others from working under that award. When he does so he is actually breaking a law of the Commonwealth. I have not so far heard any supporter of the Government say, in so many words, that the law of this country should not be observed, but by implication they have said over and over again that the industrial law should not be observed. If they admit the right to strike they admit the right to break the industrial law of the Commonwealth. An honorable member sitting on this side said just now that, in this debate, he had not heard any one on the Government benches condemn the present strike in Victoria, and that the nearest approach to condemnation of that strike was the remark of an honorable member that he did not justify it. By defending the right to strike, honorable members opposite defend that strike. Who is to determine when the ‘ time to strike has arrived other than the men themselves?
– On that reasoning, the honorable member would defend the lockout in Balmain?
– On that incident, I am in entire agreement with the honorable member. We on this side believe that what is sauce for the. goose is sauce for the gander also. It is well on occasion to refer to the past, so that we may learn from the lessons of history, but I remind the committee that the Battle of Hastings was fought with bows and arrows, and that we live in a different age and have adopted different standards.
Let us now turn to the subject of coercion. In modern society a strange reluctance to sheet home moral responsibility for the breach of any law - the moral law, the civil law or the industrial law- is becoming more and more apparent. Some child psychologists say it is wrong to smack a baby. I do not advocate the smacking of tiny infants, but I believe quite firmly that the man who a long time ago advised a little corporal punishment here and there was wise. I believe that moral responsibility must be accepted in this case as in others. The contention that the proposed new section moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is something in the nature of coercion is entirely wrong and false. By the laws of this country we provide a system of conciliation, and such protection as the Arbitration Court is still able to afford under this measure, under, which workers may achieve their ends in a lawful way without harming the rest of the community. Those who break that law should be punished. To say that offenders are being coerced when they are merely brought to book for a breach of the law is to adopt a completely unsound attitude. I very warmly support the proposed new section, and I hope supporters of the Government who will .yet speak will give a better justification for their attitude than I have yet heard.
– No one could listen to the appeal of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) to re-state the objection to the proposed new section without ‘ agreeing to the request. The honorable member complained that the main criticism directed against the proposed new section has been that it means coercion. Without using the word “ coercion “ necessarily in a bad sense, I say that the proposed amendment does provide for coercion; it applies coercion in a manner which is quite out of proportion to the particular matter with which it deals. Here I desire to correct, if I may, the idea that the issue in this debate is whether or not the law shall be enforced. That is not the position. It is not a question of any failure on the part of the executive government to apply any section of the law as it exists, but an attempt to place on the statutebook a law which at present does not exist. That is important in relation to the turmoil in Victoria at the present time ; it is now far too late to amend the law in relation to strikes to deal with that situation. There was no law of this character in force when the trouble in Victoria first arose. The Parliament is being asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to declare a new law for the Commonwealth. That is1 important; because it has already been determined that the Arbitration Court, in deal ing with a dispute, has the authority, if it thinks fit, to include in an award provisions directed against any action in the nature of a strike or a lockout. That has been done in a few instances because, generally, the opinion of judges has been that the penal provisions of the Arbitration Act, and therefore of awards of the court, are ineffective and futile. Many of the judges have expressed that opinion. Under proposed new section 43 “ the court or a conciliation commissioner may, in relation to an industrial dispute which comes before it or him … fix maximum penalties for any breach or nonobservance of any term of an order or award, not exceeding £100 in the case of an organization or an employer who is not a member of an organization bound by the order or award, or £10 in the case of a member of an organization “. The court has power, therefore, when dealing with a dispute, to ask whether it is necessary to include in an award, a provision, such as that which was contained in the metal trades award at one stage, directed against action of the nature of a strike or a lockout. If the court thinks fit, it has power to do so when dealing with a dis- put,e. The Parliament has given that power to the court,, and this legislation continues that power. What the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition seeks to do is to exercise the power of the Parliament to say what shall be the law, and that the penalties under the law shall be heavier than those permitted by a conciliation commissioner or the Arbitration Court. The fact that the penalties are so great makes the proposed new section amount to a legal coercion.
– Some coercion is being exercised in Victoria now, but not by law.
– I refer the committee to a point which, so far, has not been answered by those who support the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition. In paragraph e of proposed new section 43ha it is provided that -
Where an organization of employees or any of the members thereof take part in an unlawful strike such organization shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One thousand pounds.
In that paragraph the term- “unlawful strike “ means one where an industrial dispute which may be dealt with by the court is pending.’- An organization is liable to a similar penalty should any of its members take part in such a strike. Under that provision, a few members who went on strike in some establishment in order to enforce a demand would render the organization of which they are members liable to a penalty of ?1,000. All that would be necessary would be evidence of two or three members of an organization having left their work in order to enforce a demand against the terms of an award. But the proposal does not stop there. It goes on to provide that where, in the opinion of the court, an organization or any of its members - two or three members would be sufficient - is taking part in an unlawful lockout or strike, the court may direct that a receiver be appointed of the funds and assets of the organization for such times and upon such terms as the court may direct. That is .coercion. That is legislation which imposes a penalty quite out of proportion to the evil that is sought ro be remedied. And that is what was meant by the present Chief Justice, in the statement quoted by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear),namely, that penalties of that kind bring the whole system into contempt. The same comment applies to the observation of Mr., now Lord, Bruce.- Further, I refer the committee to-
– Legal sophistry.
– Not legal sophistry, but remarks by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when penalties of this kind were proposed by the Bruce-Page Government. It was then argued that there was a series of industrial disputes and disturbances; and. there was, because it was the eve of the depression. At page 5057 of Ilansard, volume 118, the right honorable member for North Sydney said this in relation to provisions which were the same in substance, providing for the imposition of penalties in respect of a lockout or strike -
V.n either ease, industrial war is declared. That is not what we desire. We do not want to wait till a mere spark of unrest becomes a conflagration; we want to extinguish the trouble almost at the moment of ignition. There is a stage at which strikes can be dealt, with most effectively.
Mr. Seabrook. ; How?
– By conciliation and meting out even-handed justice, of course; there is no other means. If the honorable member asks for some panacea, some patent medicine to be taken from a bottle or in tabloid form, 1 cannot supply it. 1 am endeavouring to point out that the provisions in the bill are not calculated to achieve what the AttorneyGeneral is seeking to do’, and what we all desire to be done.
So we have the authority of those who are experienced in industrial law, and no one more so than the right honorable member .for North Sydney, who was the founder of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, and who was en: gaged in some of the most difficult, dangerous and disturbing industrial disputes in the history of industrial arbitration in this country.
– And whose advice the Government rejected on the Stevedoring Industry Bill. .
– In what respect?
– His views on that measure were very unpopular with the Government.
– I do not know that they were. One-half of the right honorable member’s speech was directed to criticism of’the Leader of the Opposition.
– He voted against that bill.
– That may be. I cannot assume that every suggestion of the right honorable member for North Sydney is correct. But I submit that, when we have the combined opinion of the Chief Justice of Australia, the right honorable member for North Sydney, and Lord Bruce, we have a fairly wide body of authority as to the inefficiency of penalties of this character. It has been said by speaker after speaker on the Opposition side of the chamber that no honorable member on this side of the committee has condemned the failure to be loyal - that is what it comes to - to loyally observe and obey the directions of the court in connexion with the dispute in Victoria. That is quite a false statement. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and other Ministers have repeatedly expressed their views on that matter in this chamber. Actually pending in the court is the question of a very severe and drastic remedy.
– What is that?
– Very severe?
– I believe so.
– At this time? The right honorable gentleman must regard us as simpletons.
– The right honorable gentleman does not say so, but there have been occasions on which he has so described it. The ability of a union to represent its members in the courts, and to sue for breaches of awards, is destroyed at one stroke by deregistration. That capacity as an industrial organization is vital to the existence of a trade union. Deregistration is a severe blow at its industrial status, and naturally unions have fought vehemently against applications of the kind. These matters are actually now before the court. They were mentioned before the court in Melbourne this morning. We are hopeful that it will be possible to settle the dispute in Victoria, the court taking such action as it thinks fit. It has been said over and over again in this debate that the Prime Minister and the Government have been doing nothing in connexion with it. I contradict, that, and point out to the committee that the Government has ‘ been most active, and has done everything possible, although it has no executive authority to make orders and. give directions in connexion with the matter. I sum up the position. From 1904, when the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was first passed, until 1930, penalties of this general character were contained in the act. In 1930, the Scullin Government removed them from the act. That action of the Scullin Government had the support of the then Opposition in both this chamber and the Senate. From 1931 until 1941 or 1942,. governments were in office which had it in their power to restore those penalties to the act. They were governments which, for. the greater portion of the time, were led by the late Mr. Lyons, who had previously been a member of the Scullin Administration. As far as I know, it was never proposed to the Parliament at any time that those penalties should be re-enacted.
– There was never a crisis like the present one.
– Laws are not passed in a crisis, as panic legislation. If laws are believed to be necessary for the maintenance of industrial peace and justice, they are embodied in the permanent legislation. . Waiting for an emergency to arise would show that the remedy was dictated and coloured by what was regarded as the nature of the emergency. Nothing could be worse than that. I repeat tha’t the penalty provisions were repealed in 1930, and that no attempt was made subsequently to re-enact them.
– Notice of such a bill was given in this chamber.
– Leave was given to introduce a bill in 1941.
– The then Leader of the Opposition asked that its consideration should be deferred, and the present Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, agreed’ to that being done. Now, seventeen years after their repeal, it is sought to re-enact those provisions. They would not contribute in any way to industrial peace or justice. So far as provisions of that character can be deemed to be necessary to settle a dispute, they can be incorporated in any award or order of the court. ‘The courts have not incorporated them often, because they have reached the opinion that provisions of that character are of little or no value.
The last matter to which I wish to refer is the statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) in his speech last night. “ Mr. Holt.- Does the Attorney-General propose to give me an opportunity to reply ?
– The honorable member has already had his say.
– I rise to’ order. Although 22 members of the ministerial party and only fifteen members of the Opposition have spoken to-day, the Attorney-General is now going beyond the allotted time of fifteen minutes. Is the Attorney-General in order in speaking beyond fifteen minutes in committee, particularly in respect of a measure which the Government has declared to be an. urgent one, and on which it has precluded full discussion ?
– And on which the time for consideration of the committee stage expires in five minutes.
– The AttorneyGeneral has utilized very little time in the committee to-night. He has a right to reply, and no limit is placed upon the time which may he taken by the Minister who is in charge of the measure.
– The Attorney-General was not the mover of the motion before the Chair; I was.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put -
That the Attorney-General be not further heard.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Menzies’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That clause 8, as amended, the remainder of the bill and the circulated amendments of the Government, be agreed to, and that the bill be reported with amendments.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 8 (vide page 1705).’
Proposed new section 43p - (3.) The Court or a Conciliation Commissioner may, by an award, or by order made on the application of a person bound by an award, prescribe a minimum rate of wages. (4.) The Court or a Conciliation Commissioner may provide for the payment of a lower rate for an employee who is unable to earn the minimum wage so prescribed, in which case the Court or Conciliation Commissioner shall provide that the lower rate shall not be paid unless a person or authority specified by the Court or Conciliation Commissioner has certified that the employee is unable to earn the minimum wage.
Amendment - Leave out sub-sections (3.) and (4.). insert the following sub-section: - (3.) Where the Court or a Conciliation Commissioner, by an order or award, prescribes a minimum rate of wages, the Court or Conciliation Commissioner may provide’ for the payment of a lower rate for an employee who is unable to earn the minimum wage so prescribed, in which case the Court or Conciliation Commissioner shall provide that the lower rate shall not bepaid unless a person or authority specified by the Court or Conciliation Commissioner has certified that the employee is unable to earn the minimum wage.”.
Proposed new section 43r - (1.) A Judge or a Conciliation Commissioner, and a person authorized in writing by a Judge, a Conciliation Commissioner or the Registrar, may at any time during working hours enter any building, mine, mine working, ship, vessel, place, or premises of any kind wherein or in respect of which any industry is carried on or any work is being or has been done or commenced, or any matter or thing is taking or has taken place in relation to which any industrial dispute is pending, or any award has been made, or any offence against this Act is suspected, and may, to the extent and for the purposes named in the authority, inspect and view any work, material, machinery, appliances, articles, book or document therein. (2.) A person shall not hinder or obstruct a judge, a Conciliation Commissioner or any other person so authorized in the exercise of any power conferred by the last preceding sub-section.
Penalty: Ten pounds.
Amendment. - At the end of proposed subsection (1.), after “therein”, add “and may interview any employee engaged therein “.
Amendment. - Proposed sub-section (2.), after “sub-section”, insert “or make to a Judge, a Conciliation Commissioner or any other person so authorized, in exercising any power conferred by that sub-section, a statement, whether orally or in writing, which is false or misleading in any particular “.
After section fifty a of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 50aa. The Registrar or an Inspector appointed under the last preceding section shall, whenever so directed by a Judge, and such an Inspector shall, whenever so directed by the Registrar, institute proceedings for an offence against this Act or for the recovery of a penalty under section forty-four of this Act.”
Amendmen t. - Proposed new section 50 a a, after “ Judge,” insert “ or a Conciliation Commissioner “.
Clause 16 -
After section seventy-two a of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted in Part V.:- “ 72b. A certificate of the Registrar that a specified person was ata specified time a member or officer of a specified organization or of a specified branch of an organization shall; in all. courts and proceedings, be conclusive evidence that the facts are as stated.
Amendment. - Proposed new section 72b, leaveout “conclusive”, insert “ prima facie”.
Clause 17 -
Before section eighty-one a of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted in PartVII.:-
Proposed new section81aa (Bureau of Research Statistics) -
Amendment. - Add the following subsection : - “ (3.) Information collected and’ compiled, and the results of research carried out, under this section shall be furnished, as prescribed, to any person . or organization desiring to obtain that information or those results.”.
Proposed new section 81ab - “ The Chief Judge shall summon, not less frequently than once in every six months, a conference of Conciliation Commissioners to discuss questions relating to the operation of this Act,and in particular means for ensuring expedition in the settlement of industrial disputes.”
Amendment. - Leave out “six”, insert “ four “.
Proposed new section 81ac - “ The Chief Judge shall, once in each year, furnish to the Attorney-General, for presentation to the Parliament, a report on the working of this Act and, in particular, the extent to which the objects of this Act have been achieved.”
Amendment . - Leave out “ shall, once in each year “, insert “ and the Chief Conciliation Commissioner shall, once in each year, each “.
Clause 20 -
Sections eighty-nine b and ninety of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - “ 90. Copies of every award and of every variation of an award shall be sent to each Registry as soon as possible after the making thereof and shall be open for inspection.”.
Amendment. - Proposednew section 90;’ leave out “ variation “, insert “ order varying an award or affecting the operation”.
Section ninety-two. of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: -
Amendment. - Proposed new section 02, add the following sub-section: - ‘ “ (2.) The power conferred by the last preceding sub-section to make regulations with, respect to the practice and procedure of the Court shall include power to make regulationswith respect to any jurisdiction conferred’ upon the Court by any other Act, whether passed before or after this Act.”.
Circulated new clause 14a -
After clause 14, insert the following new clause: - “14a. Section fifty-eightd of the Principal Act is amended by ‘adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - “‘(3.) The Court may, in its discretion, instead of disallowing the rule, direct theorganization concerned to alter that rule, within a specified time, so as to bring it intoconformity with the requirements of this Act and, if, at the. expiration of that time, the rule has not been so altered, the . Court may then “disallow the rule and the rule shall be void.’.”.
Bill reported with amendments.
– The time allotted -for the remaining stages of the bill has expired.
Question put -
That the report be adopted and that thebill be now read a. third time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That the Housedo now adjourn.
– I desire to bring forward a matter which warrants the closest attention of the Government and calls for an immediate investigation. Following so closely upon the questions which I asked about the activities of certain officials of the Prices Branch, it seems that the Government has a duty to perform in the public interest to ensure that the matters which 1 raise in this House shall be cleared up. When investigating the charges, the Government should not exercise the same methods that it adopted when inquiring into the charges which the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden) and I made concerning the Commonwealth Salvage Commission. As honorable members will recall, on that occasion, I gave the names of the members of the advisory panel who were prepared to give evidence. But when the Government appointed Mr. Conde to investigate these charges, it refrained from even approaching the Leader of the Australian Country party, myself, members of the advisory panel, or even the firms whose names I mentioned in the House in connexion with that affair. Consequently, Mr. Conde’s report was really a “whitewashing” document. The successive charges, which are to be made by me, are of a very minor character compared with what is being said by the general public. They point to the need for the Government to take action to inquire into these matters affecting public administration. If the Government refrains from making inquiries into the charges, its action will reflect, not only upon the Government itself, but also, ultimately, upon the Parliament as a whole. I do not propose to be put off by intimidatory questions such as the one asked by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) to-day. I look upon the honorable member’s question as designed solely to intimidate me, and to prevent me from making in this House necessary exposures of malpractice. The, affairs of my brother are his own business, and. any matters associated with his calling, if known to the honorable member for Parkes, may well be voiced in this House and not referred to by innuendo in a question such as he raised to-day. I am quite prepared to furnish the names of the people who have placed these matters before me, and to quote their charges chapter and verse. For some months, my brother has been employed in the emergency housing section under the control of the State Government. He was appointed to that position by Mr. Kelly the Public Service Commissioner, after Mr. Kelly had known of his services in the Prices Branch. That, in itself, is a sufficient answer to the innuendoes of the honorable member for Parkes.
– The honorable member for Wentworth made innuendoes about certain individuals under the cover of parliamentary privilege.
-I said that I am prepared to support the charges thatI made by giving to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) the name of the person who provided’ me with the information. That is entirely different from asking a question containing not specific charges, but only imputations, as the honorable member for Parkes did to-day. However, notwithstanding that intimidatory question, I propose to pursue my demand for a special inquiry into the charges made by me. The Government has not answered those charges. Let us see if it will answer the one that I propose to make to the House now.
– The charges made by the honorable member are under investigation now.
– No doubt we shall receive a report after the -New South Wales State elections are over, because possibly the Government fears what the investigation may disclose. I have received a letter from a reputable source, and I have the permission of my informant to make his name available to. the Government if it is prepared to hold an inquiry into the charges. The letter is addressed to me and states -
Your ‘statement made to the House last evening was brushed aside as being unfounded. Perhaps the same members who ridiculed your statement re graft will apply the gag on this particular section which I am now revealing.
Does graft exist in our Rationing Department concerning the issue of permits for caf6 supplies, namely, butter, meat, sugar and tea?
To lend support to the fact that something irregular takes place in the permit section of this department I hereby place before you the activities of certain cafe proprietors trading in close proximity to those as listed above.
At the base period of supplies, namely 1942, certain cafes were on the market for sale at figures ranging from £1,000 to £1,500. The takings of such cafes were stated to be approximately £100 to £1.20 weekly. To-day such cafes are submitting returns to the Permit Section of the Rationing Department alleging their turnover weekly as £300’ to £400 and are changing hands to foreigners at from £4,000 to £5,000.
The question is, if supplies were based and quotas fixed on 1942 figures and the Prices Branch have refused to allow any increase on 1942 prices, which one is led to believe, where does the increase in business come from ? Also what set of circumstances allow the takings of these particular cafes to rise 200 to 300 per cent, when it is alleged that prices are fixed, quotas fixed and supplies are impossible to get to the ordinary- trader.
In setting out the above irregularities I am forwarding a concrete case which will bear any investigation from any angle and shows that either a laxity or a “don’t care” attitude is being taken by some responsible person, whether for payment or otherwise.
A cafe situated in Pitt-street has been closed for the past four months. (This can be proved by the wages-book and gas and electricity used.) Yet the proprietor has forwarded at least twenty false declarations as to trading to the Rationing Department and has received supplies from the Rationing Department covering all the period of which such caf 6 was closed, and for periods ranging for another three months.
As four declarations have to be made each month and each false declaration carries a penalty of £100, it would seem that black marketing is being practised on a huge scale.
Records at the permit issuing office of the Rationing Department must bear out the above facts.
Second case is that of the same proprietor in a business also in Pitt-street. Approximate turnover in 1942, £90 weekly, quotas being issued on these figures.
Trading figures of this cafe to-day will show 15,000 meals at 2s. monthly average, which means that his trading and turnover has increased to £350 weekly at least. This trading has been done on the quota of 1942 - unless of course there is graft in some direction.
The third case is that of a caf6 recently sold :it £4,500, again to foreign proprietors. Approximate turnover in 1942 was under £100 weekly, quotas being based on these figures in 1D42.
This business was sold with a guaranteed turnover of £250 weekly three weeks ago. It is situated in Campbell-street, City.
Would the honorable member ask the House where the extra) meat, butter, tea or sugar is obtained to allow the additional takings in each of these cases or if such permits have been increased and for what reason ?
Should the member feel that this matter be made a subject of an inquiry you are at liberty to disclose my name, although I would appreciate your confidence in this matter during the question-time.
Trusting that your disclosures will assure us of some method of equality in trading . .
These are very serious allegations and the Government must take notice of them. If the Government is prepared to give an undertaking that an investigation will be made, I shall make available the name of my informant and the names of the cafes concerned. I am not concerned as to whom these charges may implicate. If individuals are using government administration for their own nefarious ends, then, whoever they are, they should pay the penalty that can he imposed upon them under the law. I urge the Government not to delay inquiries. I realize that the elections are pending in New
South Wales, and that possibly the Government is afraid of what may be revealed; but in the interests of public morality and ‘ public administration, action should be taken immediately.
– An inquiry will be made into the matters mentioned by the honorable member foi- Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), and I suggest that the information in the honorable member’s possession be handed to the Commonwealth Investigation Branch.
The prices administration matter that the honorable member mentioned previously is important, and it is necessary that the House should recall what took place. The honorable member referred to certain revelations in regard to prices administration, but when his question was carefully examined, it appeared, not that he had discovered something, but that, he had found out that the alleged discoveries had been made. Apparently he got on the track of the report of the investigators. That matter, of course, being the subject of an investigation, is in the hands of the responsible Minister, and the House will be informed of the result at the earliest possible moment.
– I can assure the Attorney-General that the information did not come to me ‘from any administrative source.
– I am not criticizing the source, and I do not want to know it ; but whatever the source of the honorable member’s information, the substance of it was that the government authorities were already examining the matter.
– Obviously, or the men concerned would not have been fired.
– Exactly. That shows that some action was being taken. Referring again to the rationing matter that the honorable member has raised to-night, I point out that, whilst the honorable member is very ready to impute motives to the Government concerning elections, it is curious that he should make these charges on the eve of State elections.
Question, resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Customs Seizure of Luggage
Because of the shortage of timber in Australia for building and other purposes the question of the temporary suspension of the customs duties on certain classes of imported timbers was referred to the Tariff Board in August, 1945. for inquiry and report. It was thought at the time that if this were done the importation of timber would bc stimulated and greater quantities would become available in Australia. It subsequently became apparent, however, that the quantities which uther countries had to offer Australia were very limited owing to the world shortage and that any temporary suspension of the custom; duties would not materially affect supplies in Australia.. In view of this and of the practical difficulties which would arise from any such temporary suspension of duties no action has been taken on the Tariff Board’s recommendation in the matter. This fact, has, however, not delayed the clearance from bond of any imported timber as and when it was required for consumption in Australia.
I desire to inform the honorable member that the timber in question probably refers to ships’ dunnage which is timber used in the stowage of cargo in a ship’s. hold. Sometime? it is not required by the ship after the cargo has been landed and in these circumstancesome ships may have dumped some dunnage it sea. However, there is, and has been for some time past, such a shortage of certain typos of timber in Australia that it is unlikely that destruction or dumping at sea o) timber in good condition would be resorted to in order to save customs duties. Dunnage is admissible at concession rates of duty if it is. landed to be used in the manufacture of boxes, and most of the timber used on overseas vessels as dunnage would be of sizes suitable for box manufacture. There are certain firms in Australia who are interested in and readily purchase ships’ dunnage timber for box;-.making and there have been quite a number of i such transactions within recent times. Sometimes portions of the dunnage timber discharged are in bad condition and suitable only fur burning. In some instances of this kind, dunnage has been destroyed under supervision, hut in other cases the defective dunnage timber has been presented to approved charitable institutions for use as firewood in such institutions. During the war years ships’ dunnage wim disposed of through the Commonweal u Salvage Commission and the Army Salvage Service. My colleague, the Minister for Suplily and Shipping, would he glad to hear of any proposal to dump at sea, dunnage timber in good condition in order that arrangements could bo made to use it for government departments and thus help to relieve the drain hu Australia’s timber resources. If further particulars could be furnished of the instance referred to by the honorable member, I would lie pleased to make inquiries with a view to ascertaining the reasons for such timber having been disposed of at sea.
Shipping : “D” Class Freighters ; Pilfering of Cargoes.
What is the estimated loss on the wharfs through pilfering of cargoes over the past five years in each of the States?
The details required were forwarded by letter direct to the honorable member for Barker.
Division of Import Procurement. - Mr. Pollard. - On the 17th April the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked a question concerning the action taken by the Division of Import Procurement on applications for import licences for rifle ammunition. The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
I he Division of import Procurement wu> terminated on the 31st July, 1946. Applications for import licences are now handled by the Central Import Licensing Branch and Collectors’ of Customs in the various States. Consequent upon the recent industrial troubles in Victoria, local production of rifle ammunition ceased. Action was taken during February, March and April of this ye’ar to issue sufficient import licences to the Australian representatives of American ammunition manufacturers to provide an adequate supply to satisfy the urgent demands of country people. From inquiries made, I can assure the honorable member thru all applications for licences to import rifle ammunition have been answered. On receipt of each application an interim reply was sent and all applicants have now been advised to whom they should direct their inquiries for supplies. If the honorable member will supply me with any instances of inattention to such applications I shall make inquiries as to the cause of the delay. I understand that no importations against the licences issued have yet been made.
Food for Britain
The Department of Commerce was advised by cablegram on the 13th January, 1947, from London that an advertisement had appeared in the Times along the linos of that quoted by the honorable member. The Sydney office of the department was asked -to investigate this matter immediately, and as a result of their inquiries it was found that this firm had been shipping gift food parcels against orders placed by individuals in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, &c, and that the service provided by them did not differ from those supplied by a number of grocery . organizations. Lawson Glasson and Mower, however, had received complaints from the donors to the effect that parcels were not being received in the United Kingdom, and consequently they were examining the possibility of casing a number of parcels and sending them by sea to the United Kingdom to an agent who would take care of the distribution of the parcels to the recipients in the United Kingdom. Lawson Glasson and Mower supplied the Department of Commerce and Agriculture with a list of the commodities included in the parcels made up by them and these conform to the contents of parcels being despatched as gift parcels by grocers, department stores, &c, throughout the Commonwealth. This firm was willing to undertake the task of packing and forwarding to and distributing through its United Kingdom agents bona fide unsolicited gift parcels addressed to individual persons in the United Kingdom donated by any person in any of the countries previously mentioned who might choose to take advantage of their system in preference to sending the parcels through the post, subject presumably to the Ministry of Food being willing to grant an import licence to cover the bulk consignment. Other and more serious cases of this nature have arisen recently. A South Australian firm, describing itself as United Distributors recently distributed circulars to the staff of large industrial undertakings in Britain. According to these circulars, United Distributors would despatch a food parcel to any member of the staff who was willing to pay fi sterling to the account of A. E. Bishop at the Bank of New South Wales, London, for transfer to the same person’s account with the Bank of New South Wales, Adelaide. A firm known as P. and B. Supply Centre Limited, Beaufort Gardens, London, offered through an advertisement of Australian food parcels containing 2 lb. coffee, 1 lb. sugar, 1 lb. cocoa and 1 lb. tea for a price of f i 3s. Other firms have been advertising in Polish newspapers. The Australian trade representative in London recently investigated activities of an organization called AngloPolish Relief Supply Company which offered Australian parcels. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture discussed these latter cases with the Rationing Commission and was informed by them that investigations were being conducted into the activities of the Australian associations’^ these firms. In the case of United Distributors a refund has been made of all moneys paid to the account of A. E. Bishop by members of the staff of Joseph Lucas Limited and other organizations who sought to obtain food parcels from this source. In the other instances the commission has been unable to find evidence of any contravention of rationing regulations and consequently is not in a position to take any direct action against the agents of these firms, although it is under stood that they have given assurances that they would cease their activities in this connexion.
In view of the urgent need in country districts for telephones, lack of which in some cases is causing extreme inconvenience to primary producers, doctors and business men, will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral take up the question of speeding the supply of new telephones to meet the needs of hundreds of applicants already on the waiting lists?
The Postmaster-General has now supplied the following information : -
Approximately 77,000 applications for subscribers’ telephone services are outstanding in Australia at the. present time. The telephone service throughout the Commonwealth has been affected adversely due to conditions arising from the war, and in order to overtake the arrears of applications which have accumulated and to meet the great increase in the demand for telephones, it will be necessary to erect many new buildings, install a large quantity of automatic switching equipment, and lay a considerable amount of underground cable. The principal obstacle to securing a marked improvement in the situation is the necessity for the erection of new buildings to accommodate automatic equipment, the great majority of the exchanges already being occupied to full capacity.
The Postal Department is proceeding with a £25,000,000 programme to improve and expand the postal and telecommunication services, and the works to be carried out during the next three years should enable the post office to regain the ground lost during the war, meet the development and also increase the value of the services in the capital cities and country districts. The first stage of the programme will comprise those projects which are necessary to permit immediate and urgently needed improvements to be effected in the facilities.
A commencement has already been made with the rehabilitation programme, but the progress will depend mainly on the availability of skilled man-power and materials. These matters are receiving special attention, and it is hoped that the conditions will enable the plans to be implemented expeditiously and effectively. The exceptional measures which arc being taken by the department to meet the position will be evident from the fact that when war ended, despite abnormal difficulties associated with buildings, technical materials and skilled labour, 90,000 subscribers’ telephone services were installed throughout the Commonwealth, of which 55,000 were connected in metropolitan areas and 35,000 in country districts. This represents a marked increase on the rate of progress achieved prior to the outbreak of war.
The importance of overtaking arrears of telephone applications is appreciated fully by the Government and the Postal Department, and a special organization has been set up to assist in this objective. The honorable member may rest assured that the post office will spare no efforts to rehabilitate and improve its services, and that every means whereby greater expedition can be secured will be adopted.
Department of External Territories
The following persons who were members o£ the Directorate of Research, and Civil Affairs, Department of the Army, are now attached to organizations located in Sydney, under the control of the Department of External Territories: -
Australian School of Pacific Administration - (i) J. R. Kerr, Colonel, member of Australian Imperial Force, Principal of the School, salary £1,250 per annum; (ii) I. Hogbin, Lieutenant-Colonel, member of Australian Imperial Force, Lecturer (part-time), salary £250 per annum; (iii) J. P. McAuley, Captain, member of Australian Imperial Force, Lecturer, salary £700 per annum; (iv) Miss I. E. Leeson, Major, member of Australian Women’s Auxiliary Service, Librarian, salary £300 per annum.
Legal Section - (i) T. P. Fry, LieutenantColonel, member of Australian Imperial Force, Officer-in-Charge, employed part-time on fee of £150; (ii) E. Smith, Captain, member of Australian Imperial Force, Assistant OfficerinCharge, £720 per annum.
All the members of the Australian Imperial Force had service overseas.
Prices Control : Staff
Wheat and Flour
Broadcasting: News Session of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Has the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General been drawn to the report on the 7 o’clock news session of the Australian Broadcasting Commission last evening, in which a full account was given of the speech made on the adjournment motion by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), and which concluded by saying that the gag was then moved? In view of the considerable time that elapsed between the conclusion of the debate and the news session, will he inquire who was responsible for this onesided comment being broadcast and have the person suitably reprimanded? Will he also give instructions that will ensure that such an occurrence shall not again take place?
The Postmaster-General has consulted the Australian Broadcasting Commission and received from them the following statement : -
The first reference to the debate on Mr. Abbott’s motion was made in the 1.30 p.m. bulletin on Wednesday, the 23rd April, when mention was made of Mr. Abbott’s speech and of the reply of the Minister in charge of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman). The same bulletin was repeated at 4 p.m.
In the 7 p.m. bulletin, the matter was more briefly dealt with, and it is a fact, as stated by Mr. Falstein, that no reference was made to the Government’s reply. However, this deficiency was remedied in the 7 a.m. bulletin on the 24th April, when reference was made to Dr. Evatt’s reply.
It is the consistent aim of the commission to present a well-balanced report to the public of parliamentary proceedings, and indeed of all news, and it greatly regrets the omission of any reference to the Government’s reply to Mr. Abbott in the 7 p.m. news on the 23rd April.
Mr. Sardjono : Activities in Australia.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 April 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470430_reps_18_191/>.