2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Business of the Session.
– Honorable senators have at different times made inquiries with regard to the sittings’ of the; Senate, and the progress of business. Perhaps it will be convenient if I givea general answer to these inquiries now. “ I am sure that.it will be convenient to honorable senators, with regard to their own arrangements in regard to both public and other . business, that an intimation should be. given. . Ordinarily, such an announcement is made in the other branch of the Legislature, but it is only proper that similar in-‘ formation should be given when necessary in’ the Senate.
– There can beno dehate on a statement’ of this kind, and I presume that the honorable and. learned senator asks the leave of the Senate to make it. I presume that it is the wish of the Senate that the Attorney-General shall proceed.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, heat.
– For the reasons’ which Ihave given, I will indicate the course of business that we propose, and the days on which I intend to ask the Senate to sit. On Wednesday next I shall move that Tuesday be added to the sitting days of’ the Senate, as provided by the sessional order. Honorable senators have “asked that ample notice should be given of an intention to’ sit on an extra day . per week, and I think this is ample notice.
– The dav after the Cup?
– Really, I was oblivious of that interesting and historic event, but I am glad that the order of events meets with the approval of the honorable senator. There are two matters of first-rate importance with which Parliament has to deal before the close of the session. The first is already occupying the attention of the Senate, and the second is under the consideration of the House of Representatives. The business of this Chamber to which I allude is, of . course, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which” I intend to press forward with all possible despatch, with the co-operation and aid - which I respectfully solicit- of honorable senators. The Budget and the Estimates are in the initiatory stages in the other Chamber, and I hope that the Appropriation Bill will como up to the Senate at an early date, so that we may, as soon as we have discharged ourselves of our onerous responsibilities in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, deal with that measure; which, of course, it is essentia] that we should do before the session proceeds much further. We also intend to proceed with the Papua Bill and the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Sur.vey Bill.
– With all due respect, the honorable and learned senator may as well put that Bill under the table.
– We intend to make an earnest effort to carry it, and I hope to give reasons which I. trust may secure the consideration of my honorable friend, even if they do not convince him of the wisdom of adopting another course than that which he has indicated.
– What about the Manufactures Encouragement Bill?
– My honorable friend, Senator de Largie, alludes to the Bill with regard to bonuses. The Ministry hope that some additional time may be available in respect to that question, which, of course, is an open one, and is being thoroughly dealt with elsewhere. Then, if possible, the .Fraudulent Marks Bill, which has been passed in this Chamber, and is now in the other branch of the Legislature, will be proceeded with. We shall do everything we can to push that Bill through. There are two other important Bills - one of which we hope to introduce in the Senate - which we shall endeavour to pass. The first measure is under my own consideration. It has relation to the protection of the shippers of fruit and other perishable produce. The subject is one/of which I have personal knowledge and experience, and I am entirely at one with the attitude taken up the other day by the Prime Minister in his reply to a deputation which waited upon him in relation to the subject, and elicited his views,, which are the views of the Ministry.
– Ha.s not that sub- ject been submitted to a Royal Commission ?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON__ The other measure is very short. . It has relation to the Defence Forces, and . the policy of the Government, which will be announced - as I mentioned in answer to a question some days ago - when the Defence Estimates come up for consideration. 1 Senator Pearce. - What about the Trade Marks Bill ? .
– In the time at our disposal it is of no use to un:dertake more than we can carry through. The Bill to which Senator Pearce alludes, and about which he asked me a question the other day, I hope as soon as we have made substantial progress with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to have sent on. to the other Chamber ; but I am afraid that there is little or no chance of its being passed this session.
– Have the Chamber of. Commerce been successful, then ?
– It is. a question of time. We shall do all thatlies in our power, with the assistance of honorable senators, to get the work through, so _ that there may be an opportunity to relieve honorable senators ‘ from the strain, of their duties as early as possible, at. least in December. It will be seen that the time at our disposal to carry out the pro-, gramme which we have laid down is not very great, but I am sure that, with the co-operation of honorable senators, we shall be able to do the work.
– I wish to ask a question with regard to a point which the Attorney-General did not make quite clear. Do I understand that it is the intention of the Government in the Senate, as in the other Chamber, to afford an’ opportunity for dealing with the Manu- :factures Encouragement Bill ? The AttorneyGeneral referred to it, but left a doubt in my mind as to .whether the Government intended to make an effort with regard to that measure, or to give a private senator an opportunity to take charge of it here.
– If time is available, an opportunity will be given to the other Chamber to deal with that measureif I am not out of order in saying that- so that it may be sent to the Senate as soon as possible.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice-
Is the Government negotiating with the prei sent contractors of the mail and other services between the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands for a further extension of these services?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Referring to the question asked by Senator Staniforth Smith on the 30th June last regarding the urgency of the appointment of the New Heb- sides Land Commission -
Did that Government communicate with the Imperial authorities by cable urging the immediate constitution of the Commission as promised ?
Have the Government any objection to take the necessary steps to lay on the table of the Senate copies of all communications sent to the Colonial Secretary regarding this subject, and the replies received?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following paper: -
Telegrams from Premier of Western Australia to the Prime Minister notifying resolutions passed by botlh. Houses of the Western Australian Parliament with regard to reservation of Crown lands along the proposed route of the railway between Kalgoorlie and the eastern boundary of the State.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, it is desirable and necessary in the best interests of the white population of the Commonwealth, to amend the laws affecting the sugar industry so as to provide -
That the Excise duty on all sugar produced within the Commonwealth shall be increased to £6 per ton; and
That the bounty on sugar-cane, in the production of which white labour only has been employed, shall be increased to 10s. per ton on cane giving 10 per cent, of sugar, the bounty to be increased or reduced proportionately according to any variation From the 10 per cent, standard ; and
That the bounty on all beet-sugar, in the production of which white labour only has been employed, shall be increased to£5 per ton.
I submit this motion to the Senate with a very deep and grave sense of the importance that the view which I shall attempt to enunciate may have upon one of the greatest industries of the Commonwealth, and upon the welfare of Australia generally. It is a matter which is intimately concerned with the welfare of at least one of the States, and which is of very much importance to another State. I allude to Queensland and New South Wales. I bring forward the subject only after the gravest consideration, and with a full knowledge of the working of the laws passed by this Parliament, as they have affected the sugar industry up to the present time. It will be within the knowledge of honorable senators that the great idea which animated the Commonwealth Parliament, in dealing with the sugar industry, was - first, to foster the growth of sugar by white labour, by every legitimate means at the disposal of this Parliament ; and, secondly, to adopt the great principle of preserving Australia for the white race. It was a desire to enable the industries of this country to live up to that ideal that animated the Commonwealth Parliament in passing the laws which have been placed upon the Statutebook relating to the sugar industry. There is no one who ismore in sympathy with the motives which animated the Commonwealth Parliament in passing that legislation than I am. I believe that they were fully convinced that their legislation would be conducive to the welfare of Australia; but 1 believe thathonorable senators will agree withme, after they have heard what I have to say on the subject, that that legislation has not attained the ideal which the Parliament had in mind, and will not attain that ideal in the fullest degree unless more than one radical alteration is made in it. It is for that reason that I have taken a course which I believe will commend itself to honorable senators as affording a very effective remedy. It is within the knowledge of the Senate, and of everybody in Australia who pays any attention whatever to political matters, that every State in the Union has expressed itself in emphatic terms in favour of the policy of maintaining Australia white, and of carryng on the industries of the Commonwealth by white labour only. That is a noble ideal. Because, Mr. President, unless we have a white race in Australia carrying on our industries, we can never become a great nation, as we all hope and believe that we will ultimately become. No matter how well situated :i country may be, no matter what natural advantages it may possess, no matter how heavenly its climate or how industrious its people, if a large proportion of its population is coloured, and its industries are carried on by an alien race, it can never become great in the fullest sense of the term. Honorable senators can find no examples in history of a nation which has become great when its industries have been carried on by coloured labour.
– What about Japan at the present time?
– Japan is, . I believe, an offshoot of one of the oldest civilized nations in the world. Whether it has proved itself - as we read it has done, and as Senator Walker and some others who admire the Asiatic races seem to believe; - to be a great nation in the present crisis, is a matter which I do not think it is necessary for me to discuss.
– Japan has, I think, proved that.
– I have said that every State of the Commonwealth has emphatically declared itself In favour of the policy of a White Australia. I do not believe that even Senator Fraser, who is such an ardent advocate of coloured labour in some industries, will deny that statement. The people of every State have emphatically declared that it is our duty as a representative body, controlling the executive power of the Commonwealth, to give faithful expression to their wishes. Strange as it may appear, the State which is most interested in carrying on industries by means of coloured labour - the State which it is said could not carry on some of its industries without black labour; the State which we were told would be ruined if coloured labour were taken away - has been the most emphatic of all in declaring in favour of the policy. I allude, of course, to Queensland. The representative of Queensland in the present Government will bear me out in that statement. It is a stranger fact still that the two big Federal electorates in Queensland, which include almost the whole of the land devoted to sugar growing in that State, the electorates of Wide Bay and Herbert, have both pronounced emphatically in favour of white labour. The Herbert electorate comprises a long, narrow strip of country on the North Queensland coast, extending from south of Mackay right up to Thursday Island. That electorate was cut out by the Queensland Government at the time practically as a kanaka preserve, for one of its own particular representatives. It was felt that no one but an ardent kanaka advocate could ever be successful as a candidate for Parliament in that electorate. But at the Federal elections held in 1901 and in 1903, the electorate returned a representative in favour of the White Australia policy by an exceedingly large majority. These facts conclusively point to the conclusion that the people who were told that they would be ruined if they were deprived of coloured labour, are themselves of an entirely different opinion. Honorable senators will .admit that the people who live in the sugar districts, and who understand their conditions, should be the best judges of what is for their welfare.
– What about the meeting that was held at Townsville recently ?
– I shall tell the honorable senator about that before I am finished. We were told times out of number that if coloured labour were taken away from the industry in Queensland, white labour, even if white men were willing to do the work, would not be available. It is curious to note how the advocates of coloured labour have continually shifted their ground. At first they went so far as to say that white men could not do the work ; when it was demonstrated that white men could do and were doing the work, they said that, though white men could do the work they were not willing to do it. When it was shown that, as well as being able to do the work, white men were willing to do it, the coloured labour advocates again shifted their ground, and said that, whilst white men could and would do the work, they were not available to do it.
– They are not doing it now at Cairns.
– Seeing that I have lived at Cairns for about twenty-two years, and only came from that place the other day, I should be able to speak with as much authority about the district as Senator Fraser. I can tell the honorable senator that if any honest attempt were made to carry on the sugar industry in the Cairns district by means of white labour, , there would be plenty of such labour available for the purpose. White men have been prepared over and over again to carry out the work required in that district, and would have done so if they had’ been given an opportunity. ‘ I shall prove that statement up to the hilt before I sit down.
– Then they do not want a bonus.
– I shall be able to tell Senator Dobson a little about that.
– I gathered that they would not want a bonus from what the honorable senator said.
– The honorable and learned senator gathers whatever he thinks will suit himself. I believe that before I sit down I shall be able to make out a good case in support of the motion I submit. I believe I shall be able to convince every honorable senator who desires to see effective expression given to the will of the people in favour of a White Australia that I propose the most effective and the most economical way of carrying out the policy. Senator Fraser has told us, by way of interjection, .that there is no white labour available for the sugar industry in Cairns. I remind honorable senators that there has never been more than 500 kanakas in the Cairns district, and some time ago, when the Chillagoe Company required a large number of men to carry on their works at wages which ranged from 6s. to 7s. a day, they advertised for men in every portion of Queensland, and, I believe also in New South Wales and Victoria. What was the result? If they had required ten times as many men as they did, they could have secured them over and over again. Instead of 600 or 700 men, which was about the number they required, thousands of men went to the district in search of that work, with the result that many of them had to endure a great deal of misery. No honest attempt has been made to carry on the sugar industry in the Cairns and Mossman districts, the two most northerly sugar districts, with white labour.
– That is to say that the sugar growers are trying dishonestly to do away with white labour.
– I do not insinuate, nor do I wish to convey anything by way of innuendo; but I say straight out that a large majority of the big sugar growers of North Queensland have set themselves to discredit, by every means in their power, the white labour movement in the industry, and they have put every possible difficulty in the way of allowing the experiment of io d 2 growing sugar by white labour to be successful.
– That is straight enough.
– I shall be able to prove that statement by official documents in my possession. At all times white men have been willing and anxious to work in the industry, but they have had to carry their swags along the roads, and look over the fences to watch kanakas doing the work which they required in order to enable them to obtain a livelihood for themselves, their wives, and little children Honorable senators will admit that it is unreasonable to expect white men to remain in a district for the sake only of the work to be had during the crushing season. At the Mulgrave central mill, which is a co-operative mill in the Cairns district, immediately the crushing season was over the few hands who were employed about the mill were discharged. They were not retained to do the work which had to be done during the slack season. At the same time contracts for the cutting of firewood and other work to be carried out during the off season were made with coolies, kanakas, and men of other coloured races. Even the contract for the stacking of firewood in the mill yard, carried out during the off season, was given to Indian coolies, whilst white men working at the mills during the crushing season were incontinently discharged at its close, although they had been getting only low wages. I again ask honorable senators whether they think it is fair that white men should be expected to remain in a district all the year round for the sake of the few months work they may get during the crushing season, when they know they will be deprived of .the opportunity of doing the little work to be done during the off season? At one time and another we have heard, a great deal in this Senate and in the press to the effect that the climate of the north is unsuited for the labour of white men, especially in the sugar industry. In replying recently to Senator Fraser I had an opportunity of disproving that, and I need not now repeat my arguments on that phase of the question. I can tell honorable senators where they will find the facts for themselves. I proved that, instead of the climate at Cairns being hotter than the climate of Bundaberg and the southern districts of Queensland, during the summer months, the maximum temperature is actually lower at Cairns than it is at Bundaberg. That is proved by Dr. Maxwell’s report, which was presented to this Parliament in 1901, and which can be found in our Votes and Proceedings for that year. I showed from a return laid before the State Parliament of Queensland, that the climate of Cairns is about on a par with the climate of Brisbane, in the matter of humidify. When is was pointed out to the advocates of coloured labour .that the official figures as to temperature were against them, they immediately shifted their ground, and said that it was a question, not of heat, but of humidity, that is the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. I took occasion, from my place in the State Parliament, to have official figures laid on the table of the House, which utterly disproved that statement. Honorable senators will find the figures to which I am now referring, and which I quoted here recently, at page 1389 vol. 3 of the Votes and Proceedings of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for 1901:. The present Federal legislation fails, and fails lamentably to carry out the idea which this Parliament had in view when it considered White Australian legislation as affecting the sugar industry.
– In what respect does it fail?
– It fails for this rea- . son, that while at encourages the growth of sugar bv white labour, it also encourages, fosters, and subsidizes the growth of sugar by coloured labour. That is the respect in which it fails. The White Australia legislation passed by this Parliament, as affecting the sugar industry, is shortly this: That after 1903 the recruiting of kanakas shall be entirely stopped. That at the end of 1906 all the kanakas still remaining in the country shall be deported to their islands. That comprises one-half of the legislation, and the other half is contained in the Tariff, which provides that there shall be an excise duty of £3 a ton paid on all sugar grown by any kind of labour within the Commonwealth; that there shall be an import duty of £6 per ton on all cane sugar imported ; and that there shall be a duty of ^10 per ton on imported beet sugar. We can leave the imported beet sugar out of our calculations, as it scarcely affects the question. The effect of this legislation is that all sugar grown in the Commonwealth, no matter what labour is employed in its production, enjoys protection to the extent of £3 per ton. As we do not produce nearly sufficient to provide for our own requirements, the price of sugar is increased by £3 per ton to the consumers. That is to say, the consumers of sugar in Australia are actually paying £3 per ton more for the article than they ought to pay, no matter by what labour it is grown.
– If we consumed more than we grow, the price would be still higher.
– That only strengthens my argument. In addition to the provisions to which I have referred, the Sugar Bounties Act provides that for all sugar cane grown by white labour only, there shall be a bounty paid of 4s. per ton, which is calculated on a basis of sugar contents of 10 per cent. That amounts to about £2 per ton on the manufactured article. Thus sugar produced by white labour is protected to the extent of £3 per ton by the Tariff, and £2 per ton by way of bonus> a total protection of £5 per ton, whilst sugar produced by coloured labour benefits to the extent of £3 per ton by direct protection. This is the whole crux of the question. I say that it is no part of the duty of the white people of Australia, and it was never contemplated that they should give any protection whatever to sugar produced by coloured labour.
– It was intended that the planters should get something for having to do away with coloured labour.
– I point out that our legislation has been absolutely ineffective for the purpose of carrying out the object which this Parliament had in view.
– _ Does the honorable senator mean that kanakas are still being brought into the Commonwealth?
– I do not. Very many of them are still in the Common- I wealth, and if honorable senators will allow me to go on in my own way I shall explain where the danger lies. The present system, shortly summed up, is that the advantage given to growers of cane by white labour only amounts, including protection and bonus, to £5 per ton. whilst the growers of cane by coloured labour are given an advantage by direct protection of £3 per ton. That means that those who grow cane by white labour are only £2 per ton better off than those who grow cane by coloured labour. I- ask. and I think the people of this, country will demand an answer from the present or any other Government that may be in power, why £3 per ton should be exacted from all the white people of Australia, from one end of the continent to the other, in order to carry on the sugar industry by coloured labour? It was never contemplated, and it never should have been contemplated, that the white people of Australia should have to put their hands into their pockets to pay per ton extra for sugar, in order that it might be sucessfully cultivated by black labour. Why should the miners at Herberton and Mount Garnet, at the back of Cairns, or away at Croydon, and the Etheridge, where the climate is hotter than it is at Cairns, have to pay ^3 per ton extra for their sugar, to enable it to be cultivated by coloured labour? Why should the farmers of the Darling Downs or of New South Wales or Victoria be compelled to do the same there?
– Because we desired to do a fair thing by the planters, while they were getting rid of black labour. It is a question of justice.
– I do not propose to do any injustice whatever to the growers of sugar. The people who have received special concessions for the employment of kanakas, have always obtained them by false pretences. When kanakas were first introduced into Queensland in 1863, it was said that they were only required in order to give the industry a start ; but the longer the planters had them, the more they wanted them. In 1890, or 1891, Mr. Cowley, the member for Herbert in the S’tate Parliament of Queensland, and at present Speaker of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, and the great kanaka advocate in that State, said publicly from his place in the .State Parliament, and all over the State, that all the planters desired was, that they should be allowed to employ kanakas for another ten years, and they would then be quite satisfied to let them all go. That term expired in 1901, and they are still demanding a further extension. They got extension after extension on false pretences, and yet Senator Dobson says that they must get compensation.
– No; I was answering the honorable senator’s question.
– The Parliament of Queensland spoke by Act in opposition to the honorable senator’s statement. What does he say to that?
– It did very many things which were contrary to the voice of the people.
– lt got the kanakas all back again after turning them out.
– Yes; it did by a most disgraceful intrigue. Financial institutions paid thousands and thousands of pounds in order to bribe the prominent politicians. By a stroke of the pen they wiped out no less than ^20,000 worth of overdrafts. That was the sort of corruption which was carried on by the advocates of coloured labour in order to stultify the will of the people.
– Did not the leader of the Opposition cross the floor of the House and become Premier?
– Yes, he did in order to carry out a policy which he had previously denounced.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that there was absolute cash bribery in the Queensland Parliament?
– Yes, it amounted to nothing else. It was a most disgraceful state of affairs when huge overdrafts were wiped out by a stroke of the pen by financial institutions, in order that their will might be carried out.
– That is a wild statement to make.
– It is not; because its truth was proved by a public examination of acts.
– It is a very strong statement, and the honorable senator ought to be absolutely certain before he speaks.
– What can a prominent politician do when he is told that if he does not act in a certain way he will be prevented from voting ? What can he do when he is told that if he dares to adopt a particular course in .Parliament certain institutions will take action to prevent him from sitting there?
– All I can say is that they must be a very bad lot up there.
– I do not suppose that prominent’ politicians are worse in Queensland than in Tasmania. The employers of coloured labour are not entitled to any compensation, as Senator Dobson seems to contend. Up to the present time they have had an abundant supply of kanakas to carry on their industry. They have also enjoyed a protection of £3 per ton. If my proposals be adopted, those who grow sugar by coloured labour will get no protection. The excise duty will be made equivalent to the import duty, and will be collected on every ton of sugar grown in the Commonwealth, no matter by what sort of labour it is produced. It is an absolutely fair proposal, inasmuch as the sugar they produce will have to compete in the markets of the Commonwealth with the sugar produced everywhere else on exactly the same terms as df there were no Federation. Prior to Federation sugar produced by coloured labour in Queensland had no protection in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– Had it not a protection of £5 per ton?
– Yes, in Queensland ; but, as we produced a very much larger quantity than we could possibly consume, that protective duty was totally inoperative, and we had to find a market in the other States, China, Singapore, and elsewhere: We had to compete throughout the world on exactly the same terms as the sugar produced everywhere else. If my proposal be adopted, the users of coloured labour will have nothing to complain of, because their sugar will only have to compete in the markets of the Commonwealth on exactly the same terms as if there were no Federation. How can they blame this Parliament, which leaves their position exactly the same as it was before Federation ?
– Except that they cannot get the labour which they used to be able to procure.
– In that case, they will not produce by coloured- labour. I contend that the sugar which is grown by coloured labour should be placed in that position.
– But the Act takes away the coloured labour after a certain time, and the honorable senator wants to take everything from the sugar growers.
– The Act does not do anything of the kind.
– After 1906 it does.
– It takes away only one kind of coloured labour. That is the great paint which I wish to make, and which was proved by the meeting to which the honorable senator referred. Not only do the advocates of coloured labour in Queensland, for their special benefit, set themselves to try to discredit the White Australian movement, and. to prove that sugar could not be successfully grown by white labour, but they also were continually casting about for ways and means by which to defeat Federal legislation. What do we find now? When there is a prospect of kanakas being taken away, we find that the large owners of sugar lands are leasing them wholesale to Chinese. .They are al” loving Chinese to step in and displace white growers in every possible way.
– Why does not the honorable senator propose to deport Chinese as well as kanakas?
– I should propose to do a great many things if I could. When I was a member of the State Parliament I proposed to pass a measure to prohibit the leasing of lands to Chinese under any circumstances, and, strange to say, my motion was carried by the Parliament.
– Was it carried in both Houses ?
– No. I was not very much concerned about carrying the proposal in the Upper House, because that body represents nobody but a particular coterie of wealth and commercial interests.
– That is a charge of corruption.
– If the revelations before the Butter Commission in Victoria are a guide to the standard of morality in the mercantile and commercial community we should be justified in holding almost any opinion about it.
– But the persons concerned are being prosecuted for wrongdoing.
– They will be, though.
– Not a word on that subject has been breathed yet. However, I do not wish to be led1 away by these interjections from some honorable senators, who apparently do not .desire .to hear the truth. My statement with regard to the leasing of lands to Chinese is borne out by the landowners. Yesterday’s Argus contains a telegraphic report of a conference of sugargrowers, in Townsville. The first resolution reads as follows: -
That the conference, having a long and practical experience of the development of tropical Queensland, affirms that the maintenance and expansion of tropical agriculture are absolutely essential to continued settlement and development by the white population of the tropical parts of Australia] that, in consequence of the unrest due to the existing policy of the Commonwealth, considerable areas of land in tropical Queensland are already passing into the occupation of Chinese and other Asiatics for purposes of sugar-growing ; that, in the absence of a permanent settlement of the future attitude of the Commonwealth towards tropical agriculture on lines calculated to establish the same on a sound basis, the whole tropical portion of Queensland will eventually pass into the hands of Asiatics; that the Federal Ministry be urged to take immediate steps for the appointment of a Royal Commission to thoroughly investigate and report upon the present position and prospects of the sugar industry, especially as regards the question of labour for working the industry.
Even the sugar-growers admit that there is an immense and immediate danger of the sugar industry passing largely into the hands of Chinese.
– Where are these Chinese coming from? We do not allow them to come in now.
– There is a very large number of Chinese in the Commonwealth.
– They are coming across from the Northern Territory.
– They paid their polltax, and came in under the States laws.
– A large number have come into Queensland from the Northern Territory.
– There has never been a large number in the Northern Territory. Only 2,000 or 3,000 in all.
– The honorable senator interjected a similar statement when I was speaking on this subject in the early part of the session. I took the trouble to look up the statistics of the States, and I found that the honorable senator was quite wrong, because there is a far larger number than 2,000 or 3,000 in the Northern Territory.
– I am speaking of the number at the present time. I know that there were from 4.000 to 5,000 there.
– The number is constantly decreasing.
– The facts in some of the tropical districts are indicated by that resolution of the conference, which I may mention was composed largely of advocates of coloured labour. The vastmajority of its members were enthusiastic advocates of coloured labour; when they bear witness to the fact, I think that honorable senators opposite who are prepared to swear by them at all times will accept the truth of their statements.
– We are not prepared to swear by them at all times.
– From my knowledge of the Cairns district, I can say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are leasing an enormous area of land on which sugar is growing to Chinese. As regards this year and next year, I believe that it has entered into contracts to take cane off between 3,000 and 3,500 acres of land leased to and cultivated solely by Chinese. In the Johnson River district it is largely the same. In every district right down the coast in which sugar is grown the tendency all the time is to lease the land to Chinese, so that they may step in when the kanakas go.
– Would the honorable senator rather have kanakas than Chinese ?
– It is not a question of choice, and I refuse to be bound down to any such alternative. We shall have neither kanakas nor Chinese, and if our sugar must be produced by either, undoubtedly it is no part of our duty to give them protection. The only effective way to carry out the wishes of the people of the Commonwealth, and the good intentions of this Parliament, is to refuse to give any protection to sugar produced by coloured labour. My proposal will, I believe, be entirely effective. If this Parliament had not said a word about deporting kanakas, or about coloured labour in any form, as far as the sugar industry was concerned, if it had simply taken away all protection from sugar grown by coloured labour, and given the full amount of protection which it deserved to sugar produced by white labour, I believe that its object would have been achieved, and the sugar industry successfully carried on by white labour.
– How about the revenue ?
– It is not a question of revenue. If it is a question of revenue with the honorable senator, I would point out that we can gain a very large amount every year by adopting my proposal, and therefore I hope to get his vote. If it is purely a question of revenue with him, let us keep the excise duty for £6 a ton from all those who produce sugar by coloured labour.
– Who pays it?
– It is paid by the people of Australia.
– Yes ; but how are we going to get it from those who are producing sugar?
– Can any one be so stupid as to imagine that if a man had to pay £3 out of his pocket for something, he would be that much richer?
– But the honorable senator supported the policy here long ago.
– I was not here. But I have always supported the White Australia policy since I have been in the Commonwealth, and I hope to continue to support it until I am under the soil.
– I was referring to the Customs duty.
– Because I am a supporter of a policy, and because I went so far outside the Parliament as to support the proposals of the Commonwealth Government, that is no reason why I should not be dissatisfied with the length to which the Parliament then went, when I see that its policy is not entirely effective. I may mention that at my own expense I came all the way from Queensland, before this legislation was submitted, and placed my views before the Prime Minister, Mr. Barton, and his Attorney-General, Mr. Deakin. I pointed out ‘ to them that the whole object could be successfully achieved if they adopted that proposal. Either: they did not see eye to eye with me, or else they thought that their own proposals would be more easily carried through Parliament. At any rate, they preferred their own proposals, with the result that we have not been so successful in fostering the cultivation of sugar by white labour as we ought to have been. A large proportion of the sugar growing is still carried on by coloured labour, and the industry in future is likely to largely fall into the hands of the Chinese - a result which I think was never contemplated by the people or the Parliament. Now the Chinese are even more objectionable to the people of Queensland, and I believe to the people of Australia generally, than are the kanakas.
– They paid to come in, and we have to keep our agreement with them.
– What agreement have we with the Chinese?
– The agreement under which they paid their money and entered the Stats?
– We did not agree to give them protection in any industry in which they might engage. We do not propose to do with the Chinese anything that is not justifiable.
– Our laws permitted them to be naturalized and become citizens.
– I do not propose to include any naturalized Chinaman. To show the absurdity of the position which has been taken up in regard to this race, take the case of Queensland. Its law has always been that the Chinaman could not take up or lease land from the Government - he could not own land. But while the Government took up that attitude in regard to Chinese, they gave the freehold of their lands, very often for half-a-crown an acre, to white citizens, who immediately granted leases to the Chinese. If it was a good thing to lease land to Chinese, then the State should have reaped the benefit by granting leases to them. Now, while the Chinese may engage in any industry they choose, we have nothing to do with that matter. It is no part of the duty of the white people of this country to subsidize the Chinese. All the encouragement which the Commonwealth can afford should be given to white people who are struggling to carry on an industry under very difficult circumstances. Senator Dobson, and others who represent the southern States, seem to think that it is a very great hardship indeed that their people should be taxed for the sake of the White Australia policy.
– Tasmania is willing to pay her share.
– I honestly believeand I think I may go so far as to say I know - that Senator Mulcahy is in favour of anything that will establish the White Australia policy on a fair basis. But I wish to point out for the benefit of those who do not share his opinion - arid, indeed, for his own benefit also - a few of the points which have struck me. The influx of a large white population into North Queensland in connexion with the sugar industry has been of very great benefit indeed to the people of Tasmania and Victoria. The white population of North, Queensland consume a very large quantity of fruits, jams, and other commodities which are produced in the southern States. One of the largest storekeepers in the Cairns district told me quite recently that .the stuff which he had to import from Tasmania, and Victoria in the shape of fresh fruits, dried fruits, jams,, vegetables, potatoes, and sn on, had increased by 150 per cent., owing to the large number of white people whoare at present engaged in the sugar industry, instead of coloured people who formerly did the work. . The consumption of that quantity of produce in that part of the Commonwealth is of material benefit to the States which produce the goods. The Customs Department could bear out my statement that the southern States have derived ait enormous benefit from the policy of encouraging the sugar-growers to carry on their industry by white labour. That is a view which I think those honorable senators who> represent Victoria and Tasmania might take into their favorable consideration. There are other aspects of this case upon which I should like to dwell briefly. One would imagine that as the question has been fought out so often as between white and black labour, and as to the desirableness of Australia being populatedby white people instead of by a mongrel race, a piebald race, or a mixed race, there would be no necessity to deal with the matter any further. But the advocates of coloured labour are never resting. Everything that happens gives them fresh courage. They endeavour to turn all facts to their advantage. They are animated by no feeling of patriotism towards the country in which they carry on their industry. Their sole desire is to make the largest profit they possibly can within the shortest time, irrespective of whether irretrievable harm is done to the country or not.
– The honorable senator has an extraordinary opinion of them.
– I have formed my opinion from a long experience.
– The honorable senator is a young man yet.
– I may be a comparatively young man, but I have had an experience extending over twenty-two years of these people inNorth Queensland, and I say unhesitatingly that the big companies which carry on the business of sugar production there are conducted entirely with a view to profit-making. They have no care as to what becomes of. the country so long as they make their profits. Commercialism has no conscience. It does not care a hang for anything, so long as the cent, per cent, comes along at the due date.
– Steady ! steady !
– The Labour Party has all the conscience, I suppose?
– Commercialism is absolutely conscienceless, as has been proved over and over again.
– We do not expect it to have a conscience. Business is business.
– I will, if necessary, give a few instances of the patriotism and the morality which are coincident with commercialism. England has never been at war with a foreign country. but the enemy has been armed with weapons manufactured and supplied by British makers. The bul lets with which to shoot down their fellow British subjects were made by British manufacturers. They have no patriotism.
They care nothing for the welfare of their country. They consider it rather smart business to be able to supply a foreign countrv under such circumstances, and they justify themselves by saying, “ If we do not do it, foreigners will.”
– I suppose the honorable senator does not believe that England will stand by the fishermen just now?
– That has nothing to do with the case.
– The principle is rotten.
– “Undoubtedly it is.
– The honorable senator’s principle, I mean.
– I have been trying to point out that the principle of commercial ism is absolutely rotten. I have known men in the highest ranks of life - men of “unstained reputation,” as they have been described - men who have been represented to be of the highest commercial standing - who have been proved to be guilty of gross acts of commercial immorality. Some of them considered that it was a serious injustice to reflect upon them in the slightest degree, until we had at the head of the Customs Department a man who was honest enough to make them face the music, and then they were found to be tainted just the same as the commonest criminal. The revelations df the. Butter Commission in Victoria are a disgrace to any country. But these things are merely coincident with commercialism.
– These are exceptions.
– Senator Givens condemns the whole lot.
– There are rogues in every department of life.
– I say that it is impossible in view of the revelations we have had, for an honest man to compete successfully under commercialism.
– That is humbug; the honorable senator ought to be ashamed to talk nonsense like that.
– It is not nonsense, and I am not ashamed. It is time ‘ the truth was told.
– I rise to order. Is Senator Givens justified in hurling these wholesale slanders at the commercial members of the Senate?
– I do not think I am called upon To say whether Senator Givens’ statements are iustified or not. I do not think that under the Standing Orders I can stop him from making accusations,. whether they are justified or otherwise, so long as he confines himself to remarks which are not out of order.
– Please do not forget that I am a commercial man.
– I am not alluding to Senator Pulsford in any way whatever, nor do I reflect upon any individual or any number of individuals. I am pointing out what, in my opinion, must be coincident with the system of commercialism.
– I am afraid that Senator Givens does not know much about the question.
– I have heard merchants openly boast about the things which they have done, and which are plainly at variance with ordinary morality.
– The honorable senator cannot speak of these things from his own knowledge.
– I have heard hundreds of merchants boasting in railway carriages and other places of how they “ did “ the other fellow, and they considered it rather a smart piece of business. It is not the fault of the men, but of the system which encourages that kind of commercial morality.
– The honorable senator selects his companions with great care.
– Unfortunately, the exigencies of circumstances which surround every man sometimes compel one to go into places that are neither desirable nor good.
– The honorable senator should travel second class, then he would not meet with such people
– I have pointed out that the only thing, which these’ large capitalists in North Queensland care about is the making of profit, but in making that statement I appear to have aroused the ire and indignation of honorable senators opposite. I maintain that the history of the sugar industry in North Queensland1 more than justifies my statements.
– Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been lost in the sugar business..
– I believe that millions of pounds have been lost in the industry. But that was not owing to the scarcity of coloured labour. There was plenty of it. It was not owing to the lowness of price, because when there was plenty of coloured labour the pride was nearly double what it is to-day. It was owing to extravagant and ruinous management, and to the reckless manner in which the planters launched out in their enterprise. Take the ablest kanaka advocate in Australia, Mr. Cowley - a very able man in his own way. I have known him personally for twenty years. I knew him when he was manager of a splendid plantation on the Herbert River. He had plenty of kanaka labour. In fact, sometimes he had so many kanakas that he could1 not find employment for them all. He had an abundance of capital at his disposal. Yet the plantation was a howling and egregious failure. That is an illustration of the blessings of coloured labour. In the Cairns district, in the early eighties, there was a sugar plantation which was entirely owned by Chinese, and worked by them. Only one white man was employed there. Yet that plantation was a howling failure. These facts conclusively prove that coloured labour is not necessary for the success of the sugar industry. They are facts which cannot be denied. Hundreds of plantations went to . ruin at a time when there was plenty of coloured labour, and when a very high price could be obtained for sugar. Consequently that ruin was not owing to any action of the Federal Parliament, nor to the lack of coloured labour. It was due to something entirely different. Perhaps Senator Fraser will be able to explain it. As I have said, there is a great danger that the whole industry will to a very large extent fall into the hands of the Chinese, unless something is done to stop it. If the Chinese must grow sugar - if the owners of property must lease their estates to the Chinese - it is certainly contrary to the intention and spirit of tha laws which this Parliament has passed that they should be subsidized, and it is certainly contrary to a resolution adopted by the Queensland Parliament in 1901. I maintain that we ought not to give any protection whatever to the Chinese producers of sugar.
– Is there not a decrease in the number of Chinese in Australia?
– A very small decrease.
– There was a decrease of 5,000 last year in the whole of the State’s-.
– They have been decreasing for the past ten years.
– If the Chinese are decreasing there is no harm in passing such a law as I advocate, because when the Chinese have left the country the measure will be innocuous, although it may remain upon the statute-book.
– The Honorable senator need not be afraid if Chinese labour is decreasing.
– I am afraid that disaster will accrue to the sugar industry before the Chinese have sufficiently decreased to any appreciable extent. As pointed out by the resolution which I have read, and which was passed at a conference of growers in Townsville, the sugar industry is largely passing into the hands of Chinese, and unless something is done to prevent it, and the white people are assisted to resist the inroads of these aliens, the sugar grown by coloured labour will increase, and the quantity of sugar produced by white labour will decrease. That is what it amounts to. The Chinese are afforded a protection of £3 per ton on their sugar, and I say again that it is no part of the duty of this Parliament to tax the white people of this country for the benefit of Chinese growers. It is no part of the policy of this Commonwealth to tax our people for the benefit of a coloured race. I may point out that since the present Government has been in office the Minister of Trade and Customs has stated that he understood that a large number of Chinese were leaving Victoria and going to Queensland to grow sugar ; and he expressed the opinion that it would be a very good thing for the Commonwealth if they did go there. The Minister of Trade and Customs, I suppose, thought that he was showing the true Federal spirit in making that remark. He thought that Chinese labour was a good thing. But Queensland does not want then?- It has been proved that Queensland has no desire to have the number of Chinese within her borders increased. If Mr. McLean wishes to benefit that State he will, therefore, do all he can to retain the Chinese who are already in Victoria in this State. The reason why land is being leased to Chinese in anticipation of the departure of the kanakas, seems to be that there is a spirit of unreasonable hatred, or fear of white labour, in the minds of many of the plantation owners of North Queensland. I do not know why they have this hatred of white labour, but apparently it is so. They have done everything they possibly could to discredit white labour. All sorts of misstatements have been made, and if it had not been for the watchfulness of a few people in North Queensland who were determined that no false statements should be placed before the people of the Com monwealth, the case which would have been made out by the advocates of coloured labour would have been almost overwhelming. Fortunately, the facts have been collected bypeople interested in maintaining Queensland as a white State, and I believe that the balance of testimony is now entirely opposed ‘to the continuance of any coloured labour whatsoever in the Commonwealth. In order to show the way in which white labour was discredited, and how kanaka advocates set themselves, by every means in their power, to discourage the employment of white labour in the industry, I shall refer to one or two instances. I quote the following case in connexion with the Mossman Mill only because it is one in connexion with which I have absolutely official documents to prove my statements, and because it affords a fair sample of the way in which white labour has been invariably treated by those who have desired to discredit it. In 1902 a party of white men were engaged under contract to supply cane to the Mossman Central Mill. The contract was made by the Mill Company, and it was for the supply of 40 tons of cane per day. Some time after the contract was made the company found that there was more cane registered as grown by white labour than they had anticipated, and they desired the men under contract to increase the supply. The men were quite willing to do so, and they agreed to increase the supply to 70 tons per day. On 24th October the Mill Company wrote to the representative of the contractors in the following terms, and I have here the original letter: -
It being now necessary to reduce your cane deliveries to forty tons (40) per day, I am instructed to give you one (r) week’s notice to do so, as specified in the agreement between yourself and this company.
– I thought the honorable senator said that the company wanted the contractors to increase the supply? ?
– That is so, and the men did increase the supply to 70 tons per day, but on the 24th October, 1902; they received this written notice to reduce the supply. That shows that the men were supplying more cane than the company was prepared to take from them. The men reduced the quantity supplied in accordance with the letter which I have read, and on the 24th December- and honorable senators will please note the date, Christmas Evethe company sent the men this letter -
I am instructed to inform you that according to your cane deliveries for some considerable time past, which has only averaged 38½ tons per day, it is impossible for you to harvest all the white rebate cane, as per your agreement, before the termination of the present crushing season, thus causing the growers and the company a great loss. Owing to the average daily supply not coming near the amount of your contract, this company is reluctantly compelled to notify you that your contract is cancelled through non-performance of the conditions contained therein, therefore you are to discontinue work on Saturday afternoon, the 27th inst.
J. Crees, Secretary.
From that letter it will be seen that the company desired to make out that the men were not able to harvest all the cane before the crushing season closed, although their own letter of the 24th October shows that the men were delivering more cane than the company were prepared to take, and were ordered to reduce their deliveries. I have in my hand proof positive of the quantity of cane they delivered during the Christmas week, and it will be seen that instead of delivering only 40 tons per day they delivered a total of 251 tons 4 cwt., which is 11 tons more than the contract demanded. I should like to make a little further comment upon this. It has been said that white men are drunken, that they are unreliable, cannot be depended upon, and that on account of their conduct a whole mill might be hung up and its work delayed. If it is permissible for white men ever to have a little jollification, it is surely permissible at Christmas time. Yet I have here the certificate of the Commonwealth excise officer employed at the Mossman Mill, and it shows that not only did these men go without a spree during that Christmas time, but they worked on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and every other day of the week, and delivered for the week eleven tons more than they had contracted to deliver. The company desired to show that these men would not carry out their contract, and that ruin and loss would fall upon the company unless they dismissed them. This was indeed a most shameful case, and the greatest indignation which any man could express regarding a company that would act in this way would be justified. The official documents which I have here may be inspected by any honorable senator, and I propose to read the figures showing the number of trucks and the number of tons of cane supplied each day by these men : -
I may say that the 27 th December was at Saturday, and the men cut no cane, because the company had given them notice that their contract was to expire. They therefore gathered and sent in what had already been cut. These figures give a total for the week of 251 tons 4 cwt, which is 11 tons in excess of the quantity the men were required by their contract to deliver. I should inform honorable senators that these men had to buy that work. They had to put down a deposit of £100 before they could secure the contract, and when they wished to separate, the company refused to return themtheir deposit unless they signed a paper for the benefit of the black labour advocates in the Commonwealth Parliament, stating that they were unable to carry out the work - unless they signed a statement which amounted to a lie. But even a worse case than this occurred in connexion with the Mulgrave Central Mill in 1903. No less than eleven farmers desired to register for the bonus paid on white-grown cane, and included amongst them were two of the directors of the company, who represented. I think, nearly half of the total quantity of cane which was to be sent to the mill. The managing director of the company was Mr. A. J. Draper, one of the men who was sent to the conference at Townsville about which we read. When he noticed that these farmers desired to register for the rebate, he did not tell them that, as free men, they could do so. He sent them a. written document, which can be produced here, to say that he would only allow them to register if they agreed to adopt either of two courses. It will be necessary for me to go back a little in order to explain what those courses were. When the Commonwealth legislation on the sugar industry was pending, the Mulgrave Central Mill, in order to get ahead of that legislation and make sure that their supply of kanakas would not be interfered with, indented, or had under engagement, 250 kanakas. This was a totally illegal transaction on their part, because, under the Queensland law, a man could only indent kanakas or havethem under engagement for the purpose of carrying out work on his own land in connexion with tropical agriculture. This company had no land, and was not engaged in tropical agriculture, but purely in manufacturing sugar, and it could only hire out kanakas to men who were growing the cane, lt was quite illegal, under the Queensland regulations, to sublet kanakas in any way. This company was therefore guilty of an illegal action, for the purpose, as I say, of getting ahead of the Commonwealth legislation. Mr. Draper said to the eleven farmers to whom I have referred, “We will allow you to register for rebate, and will allow you to cultivate and harvest your sugar by white labour, but if you do so you will have to pay your full ‘ whack ‘ of the wages coming to the 250 kanakas we have employed.” That was his written decision. These men were to be compelled to pay the white labour employed in cultivating and harvesting their crop, and also the black labour which was not, but which might have been, employed in that work. These are hard facts which cannot be got over. I could quote hundreds of instances where it has been sought by the most discreditable means to throw doubt upon the possibility of growing sugar by white labour.
– That was as bad as bribing dairy managers.
– Of course it was. The other alternative which Mr. Draper put before these farmers was that if they did get their cane harvested by white labour thev should be satisfied with the amount of the bonus given by the Commonwealth for the harvesting only, so that they would have nothing left out of the bonus to assist them in the cultivation of the cane at. all. It will be seen that the people who were interested in preventing white men engaging in this work stopped at nothing in their efforts to prevent farmers registering for the rebate, and thus proving that sugar could be successfully grown by white labour. In spite of all the difficulties which have been placed in their way, white men in the sugar district have gone in for growing sugar bby white labour, and I am more than pleased to say that the experiment has been highly successful, and that a very large quantity of the cane now grown in North Queensland is cultivated by white labour. At Bundaberg. Mackay, and many other places there is a superabundance rather than a scarcity of white labour, and the sugar industry is not able to absorb the white labour available, with the result that, even during the crushing season, unemployed at Bundaberg have had to apply for Government passesto take them to other places where it war. likely they would be able to obtain employment. It can be proved by official records that there is ample white labour to be obtained for all the work to be done on the sugar plantations of Queensland, and so long as our own countrymenare vainly looking for work, it should not be any part of the duty of this Parliament, and it certainly should not be the pleasure of this Parliament, to provide any protection or encouragement for industries carried on by coloured labour. We should give all the protection we can to enable our industries to be carried on by men of our own race. I have occupied longer than I intended, but the importance of the subject must be my excuse. There is just another aspect of the case which I should like to put before the Senate. I should like to point out that I have followed in my motion the language of the Sugar Bounties Act. I have included beet sugar, as it is included in that Act, though, perhaps, unfortunately for the Commonwealth, we need scarcely concern ourselves about the beet sugar industry in this Commonwealth. It does not ‘ appear to be likely that the sugar beet willbe grown here to any considerable extent, if at all. I believe that Senator Fraser will admit that, because the honorable senator was interested in the one great experiment which has been made in this country, to try_ to produce sugar from the sugar beet. I believe that if the course I advocate is adopted, we shall have an enormous gain in revenue.
– There is only £1 per ton difference involved in the honorable’ senator’s motion.
– There is a great deal more involved. There is £3 per ton involved in respect of all sugar produced bycoloured labour. Whereas at the present time the excise duty is only £3 per ton, I propose to increase it to £6 per ton, that is to make it exactly equivalent to the import duty on cane sugar.
– The honorable senator would give no concession to growers of sugar by coloured labour?
– If I had my way I should not give an infinitesimal fraction of a farthing for the production of sugar by coloured labour.
– Does the honorable senator recognise that no sugar would be grown by coloured labour if what he proposes were given effect to.
– I should hope it would not.
– Then where would the revenue come from?
– I speak of the transition stage. If people will insist upon employing coloured labour for (he growth of sugar I believe they should be made to pay for it.
– The honorable senator would secure a larger revenue from sugar grown by white labour.
– It does not alter the position, as regards white-grown sugar.
– White-grown sugar will only get the same rebate as is given now ?
– No; I propose to give a rebate of £5 per ton on sugar grown by white labour.
– Senator Playford does not see the true inwardness of the motion. All that the growers of sugar by white labour would pay is £1 per ton, whilst the protection given them would be continued at the same rate as at present, and Senator Givens proposes to take away from the growers of cane by black labour all protection.
– That is so. I refer honorable senators to page 6 of the Treasurer’s tables, and they will there find that on the estimates of production of this year, made by the Customs authorities, the increased duty received - if my proposal is carried into effect - would amount to £293,430. The increase on sugar produced by white labour would be £33>57°> making a total increase of £327,000 on Queensland-grown sugar. There would be an increase in the total Excise duty on sugar produced in New South Wales of £61,800. This represents a very large sum of money, and I say that if people will continue to grow sugar by coloured labour we should avail ourselves of the opportunity to get that much revenue out of them. As I have pointed out, over and over again, we should not give any protection whatever to industries carried on by coloured labour. It was no part of the mandate of the people to this Parliament; it is not carrying out their wishes. It is our bounden duty to give effect, as nearly as possible, to their will. If sugar-growers will persist in employing coloured labour they should not receive any protection. If it were withdrawn they could have nothing to complain of, because their sugar would compete in the markets of the Commonwealth on exactly the same terms as if there were no Federation.
– They had the home market then.
– They had; but as the production was so far in excess of the consumption any protection they had was totally ineffective.
– Except in Queensland.
– It was not effective even in Queensland, because it is well known that when production is very far in excess of local requirements the industry cannot be protected.
– No duty can be collected.
– Not one farthing of duty was collected, and the sugar producers, competing amongst themselves, were always willing to sell in Queensland at exactly the same price as they could get elsewhere- in fact I believe they sold at a slightly lower price to obviate any difficulty in collecting their accounts, and to get quicker returns. So that the protection was totally ineffective. Where is any injustice done to these people?
– There was not any protection before Federation.
– There was protection in nearly every State in which sugar was produced.
– There was in Queensland ; but there was no protection to Queensland sugar when it went into another State.
– Of course there was not, because Queensland’s law did not operate beyond its boundary. The sugargrowers have reaped an enormous advantage from the effects of the Federal legislation. Prior to Federation the price of sugar was £18 per ton. Since that time the price of foreign sugar has been so reduced that it can be landed at about £10 per ton. Notwithstanding that enormous decrease in the price, the sugar-growers’ have been able to successfully carry on their industry, by reason of the fair protection afforded to them by the Tariff. In these circumstances it was their bounden duty to give as loyal a support as they could to the accomplishment of the object which the Federal Parliament had in view when it afforded them that protection. But, instead of pursuing this course, they have continually thrown difficulties in the way. They have seized every possible opportunity to try to get an extension of time for the kanakas, to obtain further concessions, so as to enable them to hang on for a little longer to the coloured, labour which is so dear to their hearts. Within the last few weeks - since the advent of the new Government - they have begun to pin their faith to Mr. Reid. They say, “ Mr. Reid will give us an extension of time for the kanakas, if we can only make out a strong case.” They are now asking for a Royal Commission to inquire whether black labour should not be left with them for a longer period. The day for appointing a Royal Commission on the coloured labour question has gone by. The people of Australia have made up their minds to have nothing more to do with coloured labour. They, do not wish any time to be wasted by a Royal Commission, or any one else, in inquiring if Australia is to be white or black. Their verdict has been pronounced, and they will not delegate their power to any Royal Commission. -When the advocates of coloured labour in the sugar industry are counting upon Mr. Reid giving them further concessions, they are. if I may be pardoned for using the pun, leaning on a very rotten “ reed “ in that respect, because I believe that he will be no party to flouting the mandate of the people.
– Then the honorable senator does not think him a rotten reed in these circumstances?
– I was only making a pun when I used that phrase. I was not alluding to Mr. Reid as Prime Minister, or as a man, but as a rotten reed on which these persons are relying. I think I have said sufficient to prove that coloured labour is not necessary or essential. I feel perfectly satisfied that neither the present nor any other Government will ignore the decision of the people, when they so emphatically declared in favour of a White Australia. In order that the information may be as full as possible, I intend to quote from the Budget papers a table with regard to the results of White Australia legislation in the sugar industry.
– The honorable’ senator is going to show how his motion if adopted would bring about an increase of revenue.
– If the sugar-growers will persist in employing coloured labour, we shall get an increase of revenue., If the remedy I propose is effective, as I believe it will be, it will do away with any increase of revenue, but it will effectively carry out the main policy of this Parliament, when it passed this legislation.
– But it will decrease the revenue if it is successful.
– The Treasurer will have to think about that.
– Yes. It will, however, increase the revenue in other ways. We should have so many additional white workers engaged in profitable employment that the increased revenue due to that cause would more than counter-balance any deficiency in the Excise revenue.
– No; the sum is too vast.
– Each year we have lost a vast sum through not charging the increased dutv which I propose. This year, through giving protection to sugar grown by coloured labour, the .loss on Queensland sugar, will be not less than ,£327,000, and on New South Wales sugar not less than than ,£61,800. although it was supposed that nearly all its sugar was grown by white labour. Why should we give that enormous amount of protection to coloured labour ?
– Under the existing legislation these people pay an excise duty of £3 per ton, and under his proposal the honorable senator would make them pay an extra sum of £3 per ton.
– Yes. If the protection which is afforded to coloured labour were taken away we should get that extra amount.
– Does the honorable senator propose to charge an Excise duty of £6 a ton?
– The effect of my motion is that there shall be no protection given to sugar produced by coloured labour, but that the full amount of the present protection given to sugar grown by white labour shall remain to the extent of £5 a ton, only that instead of receiving an indirect protection of £3 a ton and a bonus of -£2 a ton they shall receive the whole sum as a bonus.
– That is, to the existing disabilities for growing sugar by kanaka labour, the honorable senator proposes to add the monetary penalty of £3 a ton-
– The honorable and learned senator is not fairly stating the case, because there is no penalty now for growing sugar by white or any sort of labour. On the contrary, there is an encouragement, because there is a protection of £3 a ton. It is a kind of bonus which is given to people for growing sugar by coloured labour. As soon as white people understand the real position I believe they will rise in their might and say that it shall not continue to be done. Why should hardworking, struggling men pay dearly for sugar if it is to be produced by coloured labour ?
– Does nor the honorable senator think that before we impose the additional duty of ,£3 a ton, we should give the sugar-growers a little more time to get out?
– They were allowed a very fair margin of time to effect the transition from coloured .to white labour. T should not have submitted this motion i”f there had been any indication of a desire on their part to effect a transition. In the absence of the honorable and learned senator, I have stated that the sugar-growers have thrown every possible difficulty in the way of the achievement of this policy. They have done everything they could to discredit white labour, saying that it was not available, and could not be got. They have libelled all white men in the country; they have said that white workers are not reliable, but drunken, besotted men. who cannot carry on an industry. Now, if that argument is true in regard to the sugar industry, it is also true in regard to every other industry. Every other industry is successfully carried on by white labour. If the sugar industry is entitled to reliable labour, why should not white workers be entitled to reliable employment? Will Senator Walker help us to get reliable employment for white workers? Why should sugar-growers be able to demand reliable labour, if white workers cannot also demand reliable employment?
– Thev can get it.
– They cannot. As the honorable senator knows, many of them tramp Australia with their swags, and cannot get work.
– Many of them really do not want work.
– Another libel.
Seantor Walker. - It is a positive fact.
– Does the honorable senator say that that is a characteristic of white workers?
– They are going through the country begging.
– That is only a characteristic of a paltry few.
– At the present time labour cannot be got in the north-western part of Victoria.
– This question of reliable labour is a phase which has often struck me. Why it was never recognised before that the unfortunate white worker had a claim to reliable employment I do not know. There is no agricultural industry that I know of that is so little dependent on reliable labour as the sugar industry. If a crop of wheat or barley is not harvested within the fortnight in which it is reaped it is lost, and it might be pleaded that for a harvest of that kind reliable labour is required. But if a crop of sugar is not harvested within a week or a month it is not lost, in fact, it very often gains from the delay. Sometimes it can be left standing with great gain for two or three months. And if it is not harvested this year it may be allowed to stand over till next year, sometimes with gain.
– In Bundaberg a crop was allowed to stand for three years, and they got ninety tons to the acre.
– When the mills start work they want to keep going.
– Yes, and when a man’s stomach is empty it wants to be filled. Very little sympathy do we get from, black labour advocates for white stomachs which want to be filled. White workers are supposed when they put a spoonful of sugar in their tea to pay a subsidy in order to enable that article to be successfully grown with white labour.
– Precious little sympathy do the poor blacks get when they want a feed.
– The honorable senator has opened up a new aspect of the question, to which I had not intended to allude. My statement that black labour advocates have no conscience is proved by the infamous records of the kanaka traffic. They brought the black boys from their happy islands, in many cases thev kidnapped the black boys, in order to kill them off by the score. A reference to the official figures will show that the death rate is at least three times as great amongst the kanakas as amongst the white population. It must be remembered that the while population includes a very large proportion of very young children and very old persons, amongst whom the death rate ought to be much higher than it is amongst adults. The kanakas are recruited in the prime of life - between 16 and 40 years of age - and therefore the death rate among them ought to be very much lower than among the white population, as they have no very young children or old people with them. I suppose that if a fair comparison were made, it would disclose that the death rate is about five times greater among the kanakas than among the white population. Such is the love which Senator Walker has for his beloved brothers whom he brings over from the South Sea Islands in order to be crucified in the interest of the beloved profits of the sugar-growers.
– Apparently when the poor fellows are here they are not to be at liberty to get a living.
– Whenever I go to Queensland I make a point of . talking with as many kanakas as I can. Whenever I ask how they like Queensland, or if they wish to go home, the invariable reply is that if they could only get an opportunity to go home they would be glad to gp. We want to give them that opportunity. We wish to allow them to return to the land where they were happy, and knew no care, and not to return to Queensland to be killed in the interests of the sugar industry, as they have been by the thousand. Considering that the kanakas come here without female companions, what sort of morality would such a very moral gentleman as Senator Walker expect to exist under such conditions?
– It does not matter so long as they make a profit.
– I pointed that out before, and they were wildly indignant because I happened to speak the plain truth.
– Is it not the case that at the end of their term many of them have re-engaged voluntarily ?
– Sometimes they do re-engage, but we have to remember that in many cases kanakas are afraid to attempt to return to their homes for fear they may be landed at the wrong island. We know that after kanakas have tried to return home, they curiously enough, for some reason or another, have re-engaged and returned to Australia ; and inquiries show that they have never been allowed a chance to go on shore except at a hostile island. Those are some of the methods by which this infamous kanaka industry has been continually bolstered up ; and it is time Hie white population of Australia purged themselves of such an outrage on civilization. This traffic is only a veiled and limited slavery at the best ; and in this twentieth century, seeing we failed to do so in the nineteenth, it is time we stopped it for ever. For general information, as well as for the information of honorable senators, I propose to read some tables extracted from the Treasurer’s Budget Papers, so that it may be seen what effect legislation, so far, has had on the sugar industry, and the employment of white labour. Those tables are found on pages 6 and 7 of the Budget Papers, and are as follows : -
Having read those figures, I do not propose to detain the Senate at any greater length, because I think I have said enough to prove my case. There are, however, one or two leading facts to which I should like to call attention. One fact is that the growers who employ white labour are more numerous than the growers who employ coloured labour, while, on the other hand, the acreage cultivated by white labour and that cultivated by coloured labour are about equal. This shows that the small growers are in favour of producing sugar by white labour, whereas the larger growers prefer black labour.
– The small growers confine themselves to the habitable parts.
– I have yet to learn that there is any part of Australia that is uninhabitable.
– Will the honorable senator tell us how it is that, while the areas are about equal, that cultivated by black labour gives a much larger return per acre?
– F’or heaven’s sake do not ask the honorable senator to say anymore, or I shall have to go !
– I dare say that my remarks are very unpalatable to men like Senator Fraser, but I am speaking in the interests of my constituents and the people of Australia, as those interests appear to me, and as I hope they appear to other honorable senators. In reply to Senator Walker, I have to say that I do not know that the figures are altogether correct ; I am inclined to doubt them a Little. But, accepting the figures as absolutely correct, there is a very easy explanation, which makes my case all the stronger. Growers when they have poor land and poor crops, find that, in order to make a profit, they must obtain the bonus which is paid for the employment of white labour. In the northern districts I have known people who, when they had an exceptionally poor crop, found that this was the only means by which they could make their enterprise pay. The facts show that the better class of land is in the hands of the very rich owners ; and I need hardly say that when the Colonial Sugar Refining Company lease land it is land which they have practically worked out. Land of the kind is leased to small growers who register under the Act, whereas the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and other companies who have the best land, prefer to cultivate by black labour. Another reason is that in the north, where the production is comparatively much heavier than in the south-
– Why use the word “ comparatively ?”
– Everything is comparative.
– The production in the north is absolutely heavier.
– Senator _ Fraser would be a youth in comparison with Methuselah, but he is an old man in comparison with myself.
– Is it not another reason for (he difference in the production that the white growers have only commenced, and that their plantings are not yet productive ?
– That may also be, and probably is, a reason. We must take the figures for that year with’ a very large grain of salt, because the Department were careful to state that they represented only an estimate. I dare say the Department have even as yet not sufficient information to prove that the estimate is quite accurate. But while the figures, therefore, may be discounted to some extent, our information, so far, proves that sugar can be, and is, successfully grown by white labour. That being so, our duty is to carry out the mandate of the people of Australia to foster and encourage the carrying on of this and every other industry by white labour only. To give any protection whatever to the products of coloured labour is totally opposed to this mandate of the people. Parliament should refuse to give any such protection ; and1 it is for that reason I placed this motion on the notice-paper. I hope that after, full consideration the motion will receive a favorable verdict, not only in this House, but in another place, and that effect will be given to the desire to maintain Australian industries for white people, and white people only.
– The motion affirms that it is desirable, in the interests of the white population of Australia, that our laws relating to the sugar industry should be amended ; and I take it that Senator Givens’ meaning is that there should be an amendment in the interests of Australia. This motion deals with only one industry - though it is a very important industry, the well-being of which we desire - and it is necessary that we should carefully ascertain whether the proposal is reasonable and just. We must take care that the motion does not involve anything even approaching a breach of faith. Senator Givens has told us that the people of Australia have come to a decision on this subject, and that he wishes that decision to be adhered to, but the decision of the people, in regard to the sugar industry, was expressed by the legislation passed bv this Parliament in 1901, and we should be careful that, unless for some very necessary and cogent reason, it is not prematurely interfered with. It will be remembered1 that in the manifesto of the Barton Government, it was stated, first of all, that as to the introduction of coloured labour generally, the
Government would take immediate action, and invite Parliament to stop it. I am speaking from memory, though I think I am fairly accurate, when I say that the manifesto did not regard kanaka labour as standing on exactly the same basis as coloured labour generally, A number of people in Australia had been encouraged to enter into the sugar industry in the belief that the coloured labour then employed would be of a more permanent character.
– The States passed laws to that effect.
– Under the sanction of the laws of the States people went into this industry, and, therefore, the manifesto proposed to deal with the subject by gradually reducing the number of kanakas until finally they were all dispensed with. In dealing with this subject Parliament regarded the abolition of kanaka labour as intimately connected with the legislation regarding import and excise duties. That fact is well known- to honorable senators, who were members of the first Parliament, because the House of Representatives, when discussing -the Tariff, postponed the consideration of the sugar duties, while the Bill dealing with the kanakas was before the Senate. When Parliament approved of the abolition of coloured labour it was understood that the House of Representatives would deal with the sugar duties in such a way that white labour would supplant black labour within a certain time. It was understood that Parliament would grant certain advantages to the sugar industry to enable it to be carried on by white labour. It was arranged that there was to be a general advantage of £3 per ton for Australian sugar, produced either by white or black labour, as against the outside competitor. That was the protection that was given to the sugar industry in Australia as against the outside article. But we went further than that, and took action - of which I thoroughly approved - to give an extra benefit of £2 per ton to the grower of sugar by white labour. It was generally considered - and I think some of us must he held responsible for having persuaded Parliamentthat that margin of £.2 per ton would be ample to cover the difference in cost between the production of sugar by white and black labour. I believe that experience has proved that that is so. It used to be suggested at the time when the late Government proposed to give that advan tage of 4s. 5d. per ton of sugar cane, that 2s. 6d. would in most districts of Queens land represent the difference in cost of harvesting with white labour instead of black So that the Government in allowing the £2 per ton - equal to 4s. 3d. per ton of cane - made what we may regard as a. very fair allowance to those who were willing to grow their sugar with white labour. I will endeavour to show further on that that legislation has <been successful. The theory was - and I think it has worked out all right - that during this period of transition, before the kanakas leave Australia altogether, a certain amount of protection should be given to those who had been carrying on the industry under the sanction of the laws, of the States. That protection was given.. But we gave an extra protection to the grower who used white labour only in order that white labour might gradually supersede kanaka labour. I think the figures show that the principle has been, working very well. It could hardly be expected that the producer of sugar by blacklabour would fall in with the Commonwealth legislation almost at once, while thelaw allowed the kanakas to remain. But the whole of the kanakas will be away by the end of 1906. The proposal which Senator Givens is now making does not, I askthe Senate to observe, give any greateradvantage to the grower of sugar by whitelabour than he has now. A very different problem will have to be faced when theproduction in Queensland and New South Wales overtakes the consumption ; but up to-, the present time the man who grows sugar by white labour has had the advantage of the protective duty of £3 per ton, together with a bonus of £2 per ton, giving him an advantage of £5 per ton over the foreign producer. The honorable senator would’ sweep away the protective duty altogether, and give the grower £5 per ton by way of bonus. So that his proposal would not materially benefit the man who grows sugarby white labour. What Senator Givens proposes to do at once is to sweep away the margin that enables the men who are growing sugar here to continue to exist. And if he does that, does he not see that he will be encouraging ‘the importation from outside of sugar which is grown by foreigngrowers with black labour?
– It must be so.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Senator Givens doesnot propose to give any more protection to the man who is growing sugar by white- labour than he has now. The man who is growing sugar by coloured labour in Australia may look upon the man who is growing sugar by white labour as a competitor, but his more powerful competitor is the man who is growing sugar by coloured labour in other countries. Let me give the imports of sugar into Australia in the year 1902. I take the figures from page 272 of Coghlan. Our imports were - from Mauritius, 20,924 tons; Fiji, 25 tons; Java, 61,738 tons; Hong Kong, 7,923 tons; Europe, 500 tons; China., 2,163 tons; United States, 16 tons ; India, 13 tons ; total, 93,302 tons. These imports for 1902 represent sugar produced almost entirely by coloured labour in foreign countries. If, as proposed, we sweep away the protective duty of £3 per ton in favour of Australian sugar, the result must be to flood the country with sugar grown in foreign countries by black labour.
– No; sugar would continue to be grown in Australia by white labour instead of black.
– But there would be no further encouragement to grow sugar by white labour than there is at the present time. The amount of encouragement would be exactly the same - £5 per ton. . If the man who is growing sugar by coloured labour now, finds a difficulty in standing this competition, it is probable that his sugar will be supplanted by sugar coming from outside, rather than that its place will be taken by sugar grown by white labour. The sugar which is imported into Australia represents part of the world’s supply of sugar. It is available in unlimited quantities, and is ready to be imported into Australia at any time. If we take away the protective duty, our markets must be flooded with foreign sugar. In the course of time the advantage which the Australian producer enjoys in growing sugar by white labour, and which the honorable senator proposes to continue under all circumstances, may, perhaps, be sufficient to enable him to cope with that foreign competition. But the first result of the honorable senator’s proposal must be to render it entirely unprofitable for many people who are now growing sugar to carry on their industry, and to bring in sugar produced in foreign countries.
– It would make it unprofitable for them to work with coloured labour
– But the honorable senator is not offering any greater inducement to the growers to grow by white labour than they have at the present time.
– Yes. At the present time there is a difference of only £2 per tan between sugar grown by white and black labour. Under my proposal there would be a difference of £5 per ton.
– In every case at the present time, the growers have a protection of £3 per ton against the foreign grower, and the grower of sugar by white labour has an additional protection of £2 per ton. Senator . Givens proposes to give to the grower by white labour £5 per ton instead of £2 plus £3. Therefore, he gives the grower no more assistance than he had before. Consequently, instead of having to compete with the man who is now growing sugar by coloured labour here, the grower will have to compete with the man who is growing sugar by coloured labour in foreign countries.
– That is only special pleading.
– lt is not special pleading at all. It is as clear as possible. The man who is growing sugar by white labour now gets a protection of £3 per ton against the world, and a special bonus of £2. Under the honorable senator’s proposal, he will have no protection against the world, but will get a bonus of £5 per ton.
– That is equivalent to £5 protection.
– But the honorable senator proposes to raise the excise to £6 per ton. If the excise is £6 per ton, and the Customs duty is £6 per ton, the grower will certainly not be placed in a better position. At present .the grower of sugar by white labour has a protection °f £3 per ton against the world’, and a bonus of ‘ £2 whereas under Senator Givens’ proposal, he would have no protection whatever against the world, and a bonus of £5 per ton. It comes to exactly the same thing.
– Does not the sugar grown by white labour now pay £3 per ton excise ?
– I am speaking of the margin of £3. The men who grow sugar by white or by black labour both have that margin at the present time. But the man who grows by white labour has a still further advantage of £2 per ton. The honorable senator proposes to raise the excise to £6 per ton, which equalizes the import duty and the excise, and leaves no margin against the foreign producer. But he proposes to give the Australian grower of sugar by white labour a bonus of £5 per ton, which com’es to exactly the same as the advantage given at the present time, except that it means that instead of competing with the man who is now growing sugar with, coloured labour in Australia he would have to compete on worse terms with the man who grows sugar with coloured labour in foreign countries. His position naturally would be worse than it is now. I think the honorable senator is making a mistake in his proposal which wall not be nearly so beneficial to the sugar industry as a whole, as is the present system. I believe that the measure passed by the last Parliament for the gradual abolition of kanaka labour is having a very beneficial effect. The progress may not perhaps be very rapid - certainly not rapid enough to suit Senator Givens - but there is progress. The honorable senator has quoted all the figures bearing upon the subject, but I may be permitted to quote one or two to emphasize my point, and to show the operation of the existing law. The quantity of sugar produced in 1902 by white labour in Queensland - and I deal with Queensland only, because I do not think it is necessary to complicate matters by bringing in New South Wales - was 12,254 tons. The quantity grown by white labour in 1903 was 24.406 tons; and in 1904 31,190 tons. If honorable senators take into consideration the fact that the abolition of kanakas is going on very slowly, and that under our law planters were allowed to continue their importation until March of this year, and we have only just arrived at the point at which their actual importation has ceased, it will be seen that under the operation of that law, and of the bonus of £2 per ton, very reasonable progress has been made. I have shown that in the sugar produced by white labour very good progress has been made in giving effect to the views of the Parliament for the substitution of white for coloured labour. I have here a report of a tour of inspection which has been made by Mr. Irving, the Collector of Customs at Brisbane, through some of the sugar districts. I hope that Senator Givens will give me his attention for a moment, lest he might think later on that I am trying to mislead the Senate. This reports refers to a recent inspection made in No. 3 sugar district of Queensland, that is the Bundaberg district. I understand that it is Mr. Irving’s intention to go through all the dis- tricts, but this is the only report we have from him up to the present time. I am not endeavouring to show that the success of the substitution of white for black labour has been as great in the other districts as it has been in No. 3 district.
– We all expected that it would be a success in the Bundaberg district.
– That is so, and Mr. Irving’s report will show what is going on in that district. He says -
I visited Bauple Mill, and found crushing operations in full swing. The mill is expected to crush 12,000 tons of cane, from which it is estimated that about 1,300 tons of sugar will be produced. This is one of the mills erected under the State Sugar Guarantee Act. The weather had been dry for some time prior to my visit, but it was not expected that this would affect the crop then being cut, but tend rather to raise the density of the cane ; however, it was retarding the growth of the young cane, and preventing fresh areas of land from being planted by white labour. The tendency is to increase the white-grown sugar areas. Notice had been given for several days prior to my visiting the mill, and was posted on the premises, inviting growers to meet me if they had any differences which they wish to clear up. But only three or four attended, and I was informed that the others had stated that they were quite satisfied with lie Act, and the way in which the regulations were working. Those I did see had no complaint to make, but requested information on minor points, which I gave. . . . On the following morning I visited a number of farms in the Pialba district, and also Nikenbah and Kawungan railway stations, where the cane is weighed and delivered for transmission to the Maryborough Sugar Mills ; I also visited Bunya Creek, where the cane is delivered into punts and taken by water to the same mill. The want of rain is being felt in this district severely. The cane crop now being cut is, however, fairly good, and is expected to yield on the average twenty tons to the acre. The want of rain is, however, retarding the growth of young cane. The number of white growers in this district largely preponderates; and should rain fall additional areas will be grown by white labour. All the farmers seen by me express themselves as satisfied with the conditions and working of the Bounty Act and Regulations. These farmers are mostly small holders, and the labour supply is mainly drawn from the families of the white growers themselves. . . . In the afternoon I proceeded by train to Childers, forty-three miles distant, and on the following day visited three large mills situated in this centre, viz., Isis Central, Doolbi, and Childers. The estimated output of sugar of these three mills during the present season is 13,000 tons. The mill books, kept in accordance with the Sugar Regulations, were found to.be written up. The crop of cane now being cut in this centre is good, and the density is high. No difficulty is found in engaging suitable white labour, and I am informed that the whole of the southern portion of number three district, including Childers, Bauple, .and Pialba, will shortly be cultivating with white labour. The. white growers who delivered their cane to the Childers Factory are supplied by the Colonial Sugar Company with gangs of white labourers, the cost of harvesting varying from 2s. od. to 4s. per ton, according to the yield per acre. I was informed that, in some instances farmers realized .is high as 21s. per ton for their cane, including the bounty.
– How do those wages compare with the cost of harvesting by kanakas ?
– In the northern district the cost of harvesting by kanakas is 3s. gd. per ton.
– I believe that white labourers get 4s. 5d. per ton for harvesting cane in the north.
– They get 5s. per ton in North Queensland.
– Mr. Irving further says -
I left Childers for Bundaberg on the 21st ult., and on the same afternoon visited the following mills in Woongarra scrub, viz., Ashgrove, Ashfield, Annesley, Pemberton Grange, Spring Hill, and Windermere. The cane in this district was reported to be suffering from drought, but fairly good results were being obtained in most cases. The dry weather, however, prevented the growth and cultivation of the cane and the cultivation of the land. The white growers expressed themselves to be satisfied with the working of the Act and the Regulations. There was no difficulty in obtaining white labour of a better class than could be obtained in past seasons. . . . I left on the following morning for Kolan River cane areas, visiting the Invicta Central Mill, where a large number of white growers sent their cane to be crushed.
He speaks of the frost having been severe in this locality.
– They are now acknowledging that the Bundaberg district is all right for white labour, and they are advocating ¥i coloured lule for the north, above which they must have the kanaka.
– Mr. Irving also says -
On the following morning I proceeded by Tail to Gin Gin, and from thence to Gin Gin Central Mill. A large number of white growers sent cane to this mill, and the tendency is -for the number to increase, and for the black growers to adopt white labour where they are in a position to claim bounty. The farmers state that there is plenty of good white labour available,’ and the growers are satisfied with the way the cane is cut. It is expected that this mill will crush 24,000 tons of cane and produce 2,100 tons of sugar.
So far as .that sugar district is .concerned, the report must be considered very satisfactory indeed. It shows a continual pro- gress in the substitution of white labour for black. The general figures which I have already quoted show that, taking the State of Queensland as a whole, and the results have been the same in New South Wales, the process of substituting white for black labour is being carried out satisfactorily. This is also shown by the amount which it is estimated will be required for sugar rebates this year.
– The area under cultivation is not increasing very much.
– I have noticed that also, but the honorable senator must remember that the period during which we permit the employment of kanaka labour under the settlement of this question agreed to in 1 90 1 has not yet expired. The continued cultivation of sugar by coloured labour is therefore quite in accordance with the law. It was contemplated that the industry would be able to carry on in the circumstances, and that white labour would be gradually substituted for coloured labour. If honorable senators will look at page 9 of the Treasurer’s statement, and 29 of the tables, they will find the amounts which have been paid and the amount which it is estimated will be required this year for the sugar bonus to growers of cane by white labour. In 1902-3, the amount was ,£60,827 ; in I9°3-4, ,£9h°45’> and for this year, 1904-5, it is estimated that the amount required will be £104,862. I may mention incidentally ‘that last year we passed a Bill, providing that this sugar bonus should not fall on the particular State in which the excise had been paid, but should be borne by the whole of the States on a population basis. It was, I think, a fair thing that the Commonwealth, by its Parliament, should agree that the bonus should be borne by the whole of the States. The figures which I have just quoted indicate that the growth of sugar by white labour is extending fairly quickly, “and they give reason to hope that if the arrangements which were arrived at in 1891, and last session, are not interfered with, the question will be solved eventually in a very satisfactory manner. I may point out that up to the present time the number of kanakas in the Commonwealth has not been substantially reduced. ,The number in Australia in IQ03 was 8,454; but it must be borne in mind that our legislation has provided for the absolute cessation of their importation from March last, and for the return of the whole of them after 1906.
– Did it not contemplate that the number of kanakas should be gradually reduced during the transition stage?
– We provided, by our legislation, that the number introduced each year should not be more than two-thirds of the number returned to the islands in each year ; and that has been carried out. It must bs seen that up to March, 1904, it could only have been expected that there would be a small diminution in the numbers in the Commonwealth, under the terms of the Act we passed. I have noticed that a number of shiploads are now going back, whilst none can be brought from the islands to Australia, and at the end of 1906 they are all to go. I think we ought to be very well satisfied with having achieved these results, and it is the bounden duty of the Parliament now to keep faith with those who were employing kanakas at the time the Commonwealth was established.
– How is it proposed to deal with the Chinese who are now in the industry ?
– The honorable senator has told us about land being leased to Chinese. That has been going on, to a certain extent, in the north as long as I can remember. I know that when I was in the Cedar Scrub, inland from Cairns, in 1884 or 1885, it was going on to a certain extent, and it then had no reference to the sugar industry.
– The Chinese are in the sugar industry now.
– With regard to what has been said about the Chinese being employed in the industry, I may point out that when Mr. Cowley came down from the north recently, he stated, with regard to that’ question, that the Chinese who are now employed growing sugar are the Chinese who were previously growing bananas in the same district, and that it did not indicate an influx of Chinese from any other part of Australia.
– But they are increasing in number.
– I think the honorable senator will admit that when Mr. Cowley rnakes a statement of that kind he is not likely to speak with any bias. What the honorable senator told us with regard to the effect on the revenue can hardly be said1 to be satisfactory. His statement was altogether too vague. Broadly speaking, what he said was quite right, but if we go on importing our sugar it is a very good thing. According to the Treasurer’s tables, we import 42,000 tons ; in fact, the production has very nearly overtaken the consumption.
In 1898 - a record year - Queensland alone produced 163,734 tons of sugar, and the estimated consumption in Australia in that year was 179,000 tons. Probably with some help from New South Wales, the production in Australia was in that year equal to the consumption. In considering this question of revenue, it would be unreasonable to use two contradictory arguments at the same time. We cannot get very much revenue for the States from a duty of £6 a ton on imported sugar, and, at the same time, derive a great benefit by having our sugar grown by white labour.
– What I say is that if men persist in growing sugar with black labour, they should lose the protection they now enjoy.
– I wish to show that, whereas the proposal of the honorable senator would produce, as things are, more revenue than is obtained, the tendency, supposing that sugar were grown here by white labour, would be for that revenue to fall off more and more.
– And then we should accomplish our main object.
– It would be accomplished at a cost. Because when we had overtaken the consumption, and were competing with the world - and the price in the London market will rule here - we should then be raising revenue by an Excise duty of £6 a ton, every penny of which would be paid by the consumer, and giving nearly the whole of the money to persons growing sugar by white labour, when we should have practically no revenue. The duty would be practically ‘non-produCtive. Taking the Treasurer’s estimate for 1904-5 as a basis, he anticipates that we shall import 42,000 tons, and produce 145,000 tons of sugar. Taking the total requirements of Australia for this year at 187,000 tons, 42,000 tons of imported sugar at £6 a ton give £252,000, while 145,000 tons of Australian sugar at £3 a ton give £435,000. So that the revenue raised from sugar for the Commonwealth would be £687,000. From that sum we deduct the £100,000 which is paid as bonus, leaving a balance of £587,000. Senator Givens proposes that the Excise duty should, in future, be the same as the import duty, and that £5 a ton should be given to the grower. Of course, if that has the effect of largely increasing the quantity from abroad, as it mav do - and I do not think it will be a result to rejoice over very much-
– I should sooner see the sugar grown by coloured labour abroad than produced by coloured labour in Australia.
– I should sooner have the coloured labour here, where it could be controlled in some measure, if it must be had.
– Senator Givens would destroy the sugar industry in his own country, in order to give a preference to an industry which is carried on under similar conditions in a foreign country. I do not think that the people of Australia will agree with him.
– I do not want the race to be contaminated.
– What the honorable senator has now said has entirely justified the criticism with which I opened my remarks. It looks as if he were actuated by a spirit of revenge, when he wants to wipe out the sugar industry conducted by white labour, by flooding the Commonwealth with sugar grown outside by coloured labour.
– Nothing of the kind.
– That is the effect which the proposal must have.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The honorable senator tells us that it will improve the revenue. The only way in which it can improve the revenue will be in that manner.
– If sugar is produced by coloured labour, it will increase the revenue.
– The honorable senator said that his proposal is made in the interests of the white population. Apparently his remarks would lead to the supposition that what he desires is that all sugar in Australia shall be grown by white labour. We are now producing nearly enough to supply our own requirements. If his proposal is effective, and he is successful in getting sugar grown by white labour, the revenue which the States will derive will decrease to the vanishing point.
– But then we should accomplish our object.
– The total annual requirement of Australia is 187,000 tons. An excise duty of £6 per ton on that quantity gives a revenue of £1,122,000. Of course, we know that the people would have to pay on their sugar consumption something more than that. It is admitted that dealers add something by way of interest to-
– ls the honorable and learned senator arguing from a free-trade stand-point ?
– The question of freetrade or protection is not involved, because it is generally admitted that an excise duty has to be paid by the consumer.
– And something for interest as well.
– The consumer pays something more, though I do not say how m’uch it is. Supposing that this sugar be grown here by white labour, out of that payment by the consumer £935,000 would have to be given to the growers of sugar by white labour. If the honorable senator intends to submit that proposal to the people of Australia, he will have to use some very strong arguments to induce them to submit to such a burden. The amount left, supposing that collection cost nothing, would be £187,000.
– The people are now submitting to a great burden without accomplishing their object.
– On their sugar, the people of Australia are bearing a burden approaching £1,250,000, and from that sum we should be paying , to the growers of sugar by white labour an amount in excess of the total cost of defending the Commonwealth by the Auxiliary Squadron, as well as the Commonwealth Naval and Military Forces.
– If the legislation which was passed did not aim at accomplishing that object, it was a sham.
– What the legislation aims at appears to be in the way of accomplishment, and why the honorable senator should not let well alone, I cannot understand. We are in a period of transition. There is an import duty of £3 per ton, which accounts for a great deal of the results, but if the production overtakes the consumption, then the revenue is gone. We have to make it clear that the honorable senator proposes to put an excise duty of £6 per ton on sugar, and to give nearly the whole amount back to the persons growing sugar by white labour. When that proposal is thoroughly understood it will be regarded in a very different light from that which was made by the Barton Government in 1901, and approved of.
– The present law is exactly the same, but it is not effective.
– In my opinion it is not the same.
– What attitude are the Government going to assume towards the coloured labour question?
– I have obtained the press report of the conference which was recently held in Townsville. What the sugar-growers ask for is disclosed in this resolution which, I believe, the honorable senator did not read -
That, in view of the feeling of great doubt and the unrest which exists as to the continuance of the bounty, the Federal Ministry be requested to introduce immediately a Bill to extend the provisions of the Sugar Bounty Act 1903 for a further period of ten years at least.
That coincides exactly with the opinions I have heard expressed in Queensland. I have heard a great number of sugar-growers express the hope that the Federal Parliament will continue the bounty, but I have never met any one who asked for more than that.
– Let the honorable and learned senator read the report which he has in his hand, and he will find that they do.
– I know, of course, that they are asking for more in other matters. I am speaking of the settlement made in regard to the import duty, excise duty, and bonus. My experience in Queensland leads me to the belief that the anxiety was as to whether Parliament would take some action to withdraw from the industry the advantages given to it up to the present time. What those who spoke on the subject desired was that Parliament should allow the bonus to be continued for some period longer.
– I could understand the grower by black labour desiring a discontinuance of the bonus.
– I am speaking of growers by white labour only. Occasionally we have heard suggestions in the other direction. Only recently the Treasurer, in another place, speaking on the Budget, referred to the matter as one which will soon have to be considered, in consequence of the falling revenue from this particular item. So far as I know, people who are interested in Queensland are only asking for a continuation of the settlement arrived at in 1901 ; and it appears to me. to be most unfortunate that Senator Givens should come forward at this time with a proposal of such a startling character.
– When Parliament fixed the limit, was it not considered a fair limit and one which should be permanent ?
– I am not aware that that was so. The Act provides for finality in regard to the employment of kanaka labour in 1906, and deals with the excise and bounty up to a certain date.
– I remember proposing to extend the period, but was told at the time that Parliament would see to that matter.
– There was no understanding or undertaking beyond the point I have indicated. I am inclined to think that the legislation of 1901 has worked fairly well considering all things, and that the prospect of the sugar industry, under present circumstances, is reasonably good. At all events, it must be admitted that it was our legislation which practically saved the sugar industry from destruction during the year before last. Under the circumstances, we shall, I think, do very well, indeed, if we are able to get the present bounty continued. It is unfortunate that the honorable senator has submitted this motion, which seems calculated to give a handle to those who may be inclined to say that the sugar industry is costing too much.
– I want an authoritative statement from the Minister before he sits down. Some growers in the north have an idea that the present Government will have a friendly disposition towards the continuation of kanaka labour.
– There is nothing in that suggestion. The leader of the Labour Party, in another place, only yesterday was expressing his entire confidence in the present Prime Minister, and I have not heard one word to the contrary, so far as the policy of a White Australia is concerned.
– The traffic could not be continued without an Act of Parliament.
– The matter must come before Parliament.
– Nobody is desirous to change the legislation.
– What I think those most interested in the industry in New South Wales and Queensland hope is that Parliament will continue the kindly consideration that has been extended in the past; and it is for that reason that I regard it as unfortunate that Senator Givens should seek to amend the law, at all events before 1906; and that it will be more unfortunate still if the Senate agrees to the motion.
– I concur almost entirely with what has been said by the Minister. It will be remembered that when this legislation was under consideration I did not support it. It is true, as Senator Givens has stated, that the sugar of Queensland and the smaller quantity of sugar grown in New South Wales, competed on even terms with the whole world. The production of sugar in Queensland was overtaking the consumption in enormous strides, and the wisest course would have been for the Federal Parliament not to interfere with State matters.
– The honorable senator is a fine protectionist !
– Does the honorable senator by that interjection mean that there is any necessity to protect an industry which has assumed the proportions of the Queensland sugar industry in 1898, when the production was nearly equal to the consumption in the Commonwealth?
– I do not think we can ever do without a duty.
– In 1898 Queensland sugar was, as I say, in competition with the sugar of the world.
– There was a duty of £3 per ton.
– Of course Queensland had an import duty just as had other States; but what is the good of a duty when the production has overtaken the consumption? There was a duty on wheat in Victoria, but considering that this State exported millions of bushels, the impost was inoperative..
– It was a protection against dumping.
-And” the duty on sugar prior to Federation in Queensland was as inoperative as the duty on wheat in Victoria
– The duty on sugar is not inoperative now.
– It is, and has been ever since the production overtook the consumption. Sugar to the value of something like £1,500,000 annually was produced in Queensland prior to Federation, and. as I say, the Commonwealth would1 have acted wisely to allow the State’ legislation to work out its own salvation for a dime. Now, however, that the state of things has been altered, I am in favour of allowing the Federal legislation, which we have passed for better or worse, to remain until the time expires. Any other course would not be fair to the sugar growers. I quite realize that the growers have leaped an advantage by the legislation, and that, consequently, growers can raise the price by £3 a ton all over the Commonwealth. There is no doubt that when money is put into the pockets of a section of the community, whether they be growers or manufacturers, they are very anxious to hold it, and they cannot be blamed for doing so.
– The consumer is getting sugar cheaper now than he did before Federation.
– I say that but for the import duty sugar would be cheaper than it has ever been, seeing that prices have fallen in other parts of the world.
– It is true that prices have fallen in other parts of the world, but at the same time sugar is cheaper here now than it was before Federation.
– I am a large consumer of sugar, purchasing 10 tons at a time, and I know that the price has gone up in consequence of the duty. ‘
– -The price may have gone up in the case of wholesale buyers, but it has not gone up in the case of the man who buys 4 lbs. weight in a shop; on the contrary, sugar is cheaper.
– It is all a question of relative prices. If flour is dear by the ton, it is dear by the pound, and if land commands a higher price bv the thousand acres, so does the single acre. It would be decidedly wrong to interfere with the legislation we have passed. I am just as much in favour of a White Australia as the honorable senator who submitted this motion. I do not in the least wish to impugn the honorable senator’s good intentions, but while we are all in favour of a White Australia, many of us are not in favour of a White Australia run mad.
– The honorable senator believes in a White Australia with a “ but.”
– I believe in a White Australia. Does Senator Dawson think that the employment of kanakas interferes with a White Australia? I have said before, and I say again, that the time lis coming, and quickly, when sugargrowing in Cairns will be entirely in the hands of Chinese and Japanese. I have always said that while sugar-growing south of Rockhampton can hold its own without protection, and more than hold its own when there is a duty, such as not the case with the Cairns grower. A report of a meeting held at Townsville a day or two ago has been read, and from that we gather that the sugar-growers are unanimously in favour of legislation. The present Act has only a year or two to run, and at the end of that time we shall be in a better position to say whether there shall be legislation, and, if so, of what kind? We shall do a terrible injustice to Australia if we saythat the whole of the country must be worked by white labour. Surely there is ample room in the cooler and better parts of the Commonwealth for white people, without driving them into tropical and practically uninhabitable parts. I cannot understand honorable senators trying to drive white beings into such country.
– Then where is the White Australia of which the honorable senator says he is in favour ?
– I repeat that I still believe that kanaka labour should have been left alone by the Commonwealth Government, because that labour does not interfere with a White Australia. The honorable senator referred to the danger of a piebald population, but he did not say -that the kanakas interfered in any way with the white population. Therefore. I was in favour of leaving the kanaka business alone for a few years. It was a State matter. Queensland, after considerable trial and heartburning, had passed wise laws which were suddenly altered at the dictation of the Labour Party.
– At the dictation of the people of Australia.
– I. deny that. Now some of the members of the Labour Party wish to alter those very laws. We are sometimes told that it is possible for work in the tropical parts of Australia to be done by white men ; but Senator Givens has proved that such is not the case. He has complained bitterly that the place of the kanakas is being taken by Chinese. I believe that before two years have expired, sugar growing in North Queensland will be almost absolutely in the hands of Chinese growers. I do not desire that that should be so. But we cannot help ourselves. If we will not allow the kanakas to work there, what else can happen ? Probably it is best that the Chinese should go and work” there. The sugar industry is almost indigenous to the soil of queensland. It will grow, and in a few years, the production of sugar in Australia will overtake the consumption. Then of course it will have to compete with the sugar of the world in outside markets. t5ut Queensland sugar had to compete with the sugar of the world prior to the Commonwealth Tariff being passed.
– But the honorable senator prophesied that under the present law, the sugar industry would be killed.
– I never said that, and the honorable senator cannot find such a statement in my speeches. T. said that sugar could not be grown at Cairns without coloured labour, and I say so still. My contention is borne out by what is now taking place. The. Chinese would do no harm by engaging in the sugar industry. Their numbers in Australia are. not increasing, and if those who remain go into North Queensland it will be a good riddance.
– The honorable senator would like to get them out of Little Bourkestreet ?
– I should.
– Why try to force them on to us ?
– I want to force them into the hot parts of Australia, which are not fit for a white man to travel, let alone work in.
– We are not a bit grateful. .
– The honorable senator will be grateful by-and-by when he understands more about the subject. Cheap sugar is of very great advantage to any country. If we have cheap sugar, our jammaking and confectionery industries can prosper. They cannot succeed if hampered by high-priced sugar. I hope that the honorable senator will withdraw his motion. I am not particularly fond of the bonus system. I do not know why people should get a bonus for producing an article which they formerly produced in competition with the whole world. But still, I am not against the continuation of the present bonus to the white growers, and a small bonus to the black growers for the currency of the existing Act. As we have passed this legislation, it . would not be proper suddenly to turn round and destroy vast investments. No country can prosper in face of sudden changes in the Tariff, which are always disastrous. It is better to leave a bad Tariff alone than to make continuous and sudden changes. People get accustomed to working under a Tariff, and if changes are made every two or three years, the progress of the country is hampered. That is another argument why we should not make a change in the direction proposed by Senator Givens.
– I do not agree in any one particular with the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat. I think he is wrong in the deduction he has drawn with reference to the protective duty that existed in connexion with the sugar industry before Federation. He holds what I believe to be a free-trade fallacy - that whenever a country has reached the limit of its own requirements in production, protective duties become absolutely inoperative. I do not think any American would agree with that view. It is true that under those circumstances protective duties do not operate in exactly the same way.
– Is the duty on wheat of any use to the wheat-grower?
– Most decidedly. It gives the grower absolute certainty in the home market ; and when the production of wheat only reaches the limit of consumption, as often happens in this Commonwealth, the grower knows that all his wheat will be required, and that he will not have to compete with persons outside. That assurance of a perfect continuance of his own market enables him to produce with confidence, and to reach out to other markets.
– We export millions of bushels of wheat.
– Sometimes we do not export at all, and on one occasion recently we had even to import wheat.
– Would the honorable senator say that an import duty against wool would benefit the wool-growers?
– It happens that in this Commonwealth, partly through the stupid policy which has prevailed, we have not any real cloth-producing industry to speak of. Therefore Senator Millen has picked out the particular industry that is not largely affected by importations from abroad. Wool is of no use except for the purpose of being made up into cloth, and we use so little in that respect that it is practically unworthy of consideration in an argument of this character. What I particularly desire to call attention to in connexion with this motion is that it is unwise from an altogether different point of view from any which has yet been advanced. I do not think that it is necessary that we should have in Australia a black continent, or a yellow continent, or a kanaka continent. We do not re.7 lil re coloured labour at all. Therefore I do not agree with my honorable friend Senator Fraser. But I do think that any agreement which has been entered into should be kept, and that any action tending to break faith in any respect is a mistake. It is extremely important to the party .to which my honorable friend Senator Givens belongs that it should develop a reputation and character for keeping faith.
– It would take some time to agitate and work this matter up, and some time lo pass a Bill. Therefore, what I propose would- only be about ready to come into operation as soon as the existing arrangement expired.
– I had not overlooked that point, and intended to refer to it. But it is in the interests of the views which my honorable friend and myself hold, and in the interests of the party to which he belongs, that nothing should be done to shock public opinion. This change could not come into effect at once, because the passing of a motion is of no use unless it is followed up by legislation.
– I propose that it should.
– The passing of a motion merely will be of no advantage at all. What I point out is that this motion, as it will strike the citizen outside, will give evidence of a desire on the part of my honorable friend and those associated with him to take immediate action if possible at once. It might not be possible, but that is how it will strike the outside elector, and it will give an impression, which I do not think Senator Givens desires to convey, that he is prepared to break faith. What has been done may have been wrong. I think that if I had been in the Federal Parliament at the time, I should have done whatever I could to’ restrict, as much as possible, the period during which kanakas should be permitted to work on the sugar plantations of the Commonwealth, and I should have tried to terminate their employment in Australia earlier than 1906.
– Then I should have had one supporter for my ill-fated motion.
– That is so. I should have tried to terminate the employment of kanakas in Australia before 1906. But Parliament deliberately made what was practically an agreement with those engaged in sugar growing, that they should be permitted to import kanakas in certain numbers up to March’ of this vear. The agreement was not merely that the kanakas here should be sent away, but that others might be brought here up to March of this year, and that at the end of 1906 the kanakas should go altogether. That is to say, for two years longer we have to endure this evil. I call it an evil, because it is a very pronounced and distinct evil. But it has prevailed for a time without any restriction at all. For some time, we had it under restrictions, not nearly so great as now exist. The’ Federal Parliament, believing that it was acting in the interests of the Commonwealth, and embodying in legislation the wishes of the electors, made certain restrictions in connexion with the employment of kanakas which are to come into force gradually. Whether the action taken was right or not, it was probably extremely wise, because it might frequently happen that the removal of an acknowledged, pronounced, and unmistakable abuse by a sudden swoop might create evil greater than the evil sought to be removed. There, therefore, seems to have been some wisdom in arranging that this evil, which had grown up under the law, should be removed in such a manner as to create as little disturbance and revulsion of feeling as possible. Wisely or unwisely, it was agreed that it should be done in a certain way. I am not one of those who argue that an Act of Parliament, if it proves to be wrong, should never be altered. I do not say that if this evil were of such enormous magnitude as to warrant an alteration of the Federal Act, it should not be altered, but I would urge that the evil is diminishing, and that the period during which it must continue by law is but a short one. The circumstances are not, therefore, such as would, in my opinion, justify a breach of faith. On that ground I urge that it would’ be wise if Senator Givens did not persist with this motion. I suggest to the honorable senator that it would be judicious and politic on his part to withdraw it. Perhaps a discussion of the question may do some good, whilst I feel that to carry the motion would do harm.
– I point out that it was not contemplated that the Chinamen would take the place of the kanaka in the industry. That is a new phase of the question.
– There might be a motion dealing with the Chinese, which would not have the appearance that this motion at present has. I speak with the greatest possible diffidence, because I am almost entirely ignorant of the sugar industry and the circumstances surrounding it. But I do fear anything in the nature of repudiation in any respect. Whenever it can be avoided it seems to me that it should be avoided. I have dealt with that aspect of the case, and there is another which presents itself to me as being of extreme importance. I refer to the protectionist aspect of the case. Senator Givens’ proposal would sweep away entirely the protection in connexion with the sugar industry, and it would1 leave us for the maintenance of that industry to the extremely objectionable - when it can be avoided - but sometimes necessary method of developing and maintaining an industry by means of a bonus. Bonuses are often excusable, but whenever they are adopted, there is the very great objection to them - though the advantages might far outweigh the objectionthat a bonus must be paid by the people, whilst a protective duty, which would more effectively achieve the end for which bonuses are given, is very frequently paid largely, and sometimes entirely, by the foreign producer, who is sending his goods to our .market. Therefore, when we are considering the development and maintenance of industries, and we have the choice between a bonus and a protective duty, I say that every protectionist ought to do all in his power to maintain that barrier against being flooded by labour, which is worked under improper conditions, which a protective Tariff furnishes. Senator Givens has said that he would very much sooner have the product of black labour sent to us from abroad than have the black labour here. I think that is a very questionable position to take up. I object as strongly as any person can to black labour, but if it were demonstrated beyond all possibility of doubt that there was some requirement of this Commonwealth that we must have every day of our ‘ lives-
– Tea, for instance.
– Yes, tea. If there was something which we must have every day of our lives, that could only be produced by black labour, no matter what the character of the soil, then I should say, let us have the’ blackfellows here so that we might prescribe the conditions under which they should work, and know that we were using an article which, at any rate, was produced under conditions that are humane.
– What about considerations of race deterioration?
– My opinion is, and I have never concealed it, that there is very little danger of race deterioration. The blending of the races we have in mind is so practically impossible, that we need not fear race deterioration. I see at once that there is a danger, which I frankly admit, of the domination of an inferior race, if we allowed it to grow to a sufficient magnitude. We might import here an inferior race with which we could not mix, and with which our people would not blend, in such numbers, that in the near or distant future, they would become more numerous and more powerful than the race to which we belong, and might dominate them. That would be a very serious danger I admit.
– That is just the argument which the mine-owner in South Africa is now using.
– I do not care who uses an argument which I conceive to be good. That would not prevent my using it. The argument I have just referred to is merely incidental, because I do not think it properly applies. I do not think it is a fact that anything can be done with a blackfellow anywhere that could not be done with a European,
– I do not think so. My experience is that wherever the European and Asiatic work together, the European has all the hardest work to do, and it not unfrequently happens that one European does as much as two Asiatics at work at which they are commonly engaged. No difficulty exists about any kind of work being done by white labour, if those who employ it are prepared to maintain the standard of living which European labourers ought to enjoy. The principal reason for the employment of coloured labour of every kind, black and yellow,- is not that Europeans cannot do the work, but that Europeans will not work for the wages for which coloured labour can be obtained.
– Some persons would rather pay two coolies than one white man.
– Sometimes three coolies are required to do the work which one white man could do, and the three can be got cheaper than the one white man.
– Does not the honorable senator think that white men should be asked to work under natural conditions?
– I do not know what the honorable senator would call natural conditions. My opinion is that very few men work anywhere under natural conditions. Our conditions are all extremely artificial, and some of them depart from nature, and from what ought to be proper conditions, without very much regard to the interests of the persons who have to work, and with very much greater regard for the interests of the shareholder or the investor employing them. All this, it seems to me, is somewhat apart from the main issue that I have presented : that Senator Givens’ motion, if carried, would have the effect of sweeping away entirely the protection that sugar-growing now enjoys on this continent. That in itself is a sufficient condemnation of the motion. As a protectionist, and as a member of the party which properly calls, itself the advanced party in Australian politics, I would urge Senator Givens to withdraw the motion, not because he has in mind any breach of faith, but because the motion conveys the impression that a breach of faith is intended. As a protectionist, I would urge the honorable senator to withdraw the motion, because it is directly antagonistic to protectionist views.
– I believe it will give the most effective protection to the industry.
– I differ from my honorable friend on that po:nt. What I think would happen under the motion would be, not that white labour would be employed to a greater extent than it is at t present, but that the struggle to produce sugar at all, in competition with the utterly unrestricted labour conditions in other parts of the world, would be so keen, that both white and coloured labour in the Commonwealth would have to endure very much worse conditions in connexion with sugargrowing than they have to endure now.
– Under my motion, the growing of sugar by white labour would give a protection of £5 per ton in the form of a bounty.
– If this motion were carried into effect to-morrow, I believe that the immediate result would be that sugar which has been grown without any restrictions at all,, and under conditions of labour that are appalling, and which is now waiting outside our ports, would be sent in here within a very few hours. Bad as kanaka labour is, it is at any rate regulated by legislation which is controlled by men with European ideas of a proper standard of living and European aspirations. Therefore kanaka labour, bad as it is, is not nearly so bad as some of the labour by which sugar is produced; and if we were to adopt this proposal to-morrow, we should be flooded immediately with sugar grown under conditions worse than the worst conditions we know of in Australia, bad as some of them are. I would urge the honorable senator not to press for a division, but to withdraw the motion, because to carry it, I think, would be baneful, and injurious to him and his associates, while to lose it would give the appearance of weakness which does not attach to him and his friends.
Debate (on motion by Senator Higgs) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26th October (vide page 6088), on motion by Senator Sir Josiah Symon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales).Although I think the Bill is in every respect a great improvement on the Act now in operation in New South Wales, it may be useful to consider for a few moments how the latter has resulted in active operation. When the Honorable B. R. Wise’ moved the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, there was, not a single expression which would lead any one to suppose that the measure would, in its working, prove so pernicious in many respects. Mr. Wise, perhaps from lack of business knowledge, did not realize what the Bill really meant; but, whatever the cause, we may be sure that the Bill would never have passed the New South Wales Parliament had it been imagined that in its practical operation it would prove so injurious.
– I shall give my reason for the opinions I express, and I believe that my honorable friends opposite will, to a certain extent, agree with me. (The Bill introduced into New South Wales was intended for the prevention of strikes, but it has proved more a measure for the creation of disputes, for the regulation of businesses, and for giving preference to unionists in the most arbitrary manner. The learned Judge who presides over the Court finds himself in a position analogous to that of a police magistrate. Every week unionists are called upon to pay fines incurred in consequence of their having left their unions, and not, within three months, having paid their subscriptions. Such cases are not isolated, but come before the Court in considerable numbers every week. In fact, the Court is occupied in deciding matters which have nothing in common with the objects of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– In Western Australia such cases are dealt with by the ordinary local courts.
– A case which occurred three weeks ago will assist honorable senators in understanding exactly how the New South Wales Act works. A man was sent to Toohey’s Brewery, where he disclosed to men employed there some secrets connected with the union. For this offence the union inflicted a fine of 10s., and when the man refused to pay he was taken before the Arbitration Court, which, for a considerable time, was occupied in deciding whether the rules of the union permitted such a fine. Thus this Court administered by Judges and assessors, and costing . thousands of pounds a year, is occupied with such trivialwork, while a large number of cases of great importance to both employers and employed are held in abeyance.
– Let such cases be brought before the local courts. The Arbitration Court- is no place for them.
– I am only endeavouring to show the difference between what it was understood the Bill would achieve and the actual results of the legislation.
– Such cases do not necessarily follow from the Arbitration Act.
– I have already stated that I regard this Bill as a considerable improvement on the New South Wales Act, but it is just as well that we should know how the latter operates. Personally, if I were a Judge of the Supreme Court, I should think twice before I accepted an appointment to the Bench of the Arbitration Court. The Judge of the New South Wales Arbitration Court deserves every credit for the energy and care which he has bestowed on the cases brought before him, and, if he had business expert knowledge, I am sure he would, had he to consider some of the disputes again, arrive ‘ at very different conclusions. That remark applies to cases brought not only on behalf of the employers, but on behalf of the employed; and the reason is found in the fact that there is no man living who can grasp the thousands of details in connexion with the various businesses in which disputes arise. As I have already indicated, many of the cases have nothing whatever to do with the prevention of strikes, but have reference to details of management which only a commercial man could appreciate. Of course, there is much to be said in favour of having a Judge as President, because we are thankful to say that our Judges are without bias, and, as far as they can, give their decisions according to the evidence. We must consider, however, that the Judge has along with him not assessors but advocates, and an advocate who has a strong commercial grasp may have weight with the Judge. Although the latter may decide, as he believes, according to the evidence, the award may be detrimental to the interests of the industry concerned. I do not oppose the Bill as it stands, but I fear that hereafter it may be found necessary to introduce factories legislation such as we find in operation in Victoria. As to New Zealand, I think little weight can be attached to the success which is claimed for the working of the arbitration system there. New Zealand, under any circumstances, would have gone ahead. It is a longitudinal country, 1,500 miles long and only 200 miles wide, as a maximum, while it has four or five ports within easy distance of the producers; and the consequence is that it is the paradise of the Pacific Islands for those who live and work there, because they get the full value of their products. Then, again, I may say without offence that in New Zealand, owing to climatic or other conditions, the workers are a little superior to those in Australia generally. It has been said that there is now a diminution in the unions of New Zealand. The manager of the Manchester Cooperative Society, which is the largest association of its kind in the world, has just visited New Zealand, and although his sympathies are entirely with the unionists, he told me a week ago that he was sorry there was a feeling of uneasiness amongst both employers and men in regard to the Arbitration Act. The fact is that there is a certain depression in New Zealand - it scarcely amounts to what we in Australia would call a depression - as compared with the prosperity enjoyed during the last four or five vears, owing to the drought in Australia and the war in South Africa. The men appear to believe that they have obtained all they can from the Arbitration Court, and that any further judgments may be against their interests. I do not state this as a fact, but merely as information supplied to me by a gentleman of large experience, who holds favorable views of the Labour Party and the arbitration system. I am sure that gentleman would not make those statementsunless they were absolute facts.
– Unless he believed them to represent facts.
– Does the honorable senator say that there has been no diminution in unionism in New Zealand ? It is acknowledged officially that such is the case ; and I have letters on the subject from four gentlemen, but as they do not wish their names to be published I can only say that thatis the impression they left on my mind. I ought to say, however, that those gentlemen do not approve of the arbitration system, and their views may be a little coloured, but that is the opinion that they expressed. I believe that a fight, which Socialist members of the Labour Party believe to be in the best interests of the community, is before us. Senator McGregor in his speech showed us why he gives such a prominent place to organization under this Bill. The fact is that the fight is going to be not for arbitration for the sake of preventing strikes - though that is a part of the obiect with which we all sympathize - but a fight in order to bring about-
– Industrial peace.
– No; industrial warfare. The hope in some quarters is that the fight will bring into action a crusade in favour of the Collectivism advocated by Tom Mann. If any one reads Mr. Tom Mann’s speeches it will be seen that he says he does not care what the Labour Party in this Parliament may advocate, he is going in for Collectivism. It must be remembered that Mr. Tom Mann is the accredited and paid agent of the trade unionists. He advocates placing all industries in the hands of the State. Therefore, the present fight is one of private enterprise against State enterprise. We have reached the parting of the ways between the old unionism and the new. The old unionism, which recognised combination for self-defence, was largely responsible for building up the magnificent co-operative institutions which exist in the old country. The old unionism took a part in establishing friendly societies and encouraged the spirit of self-help and pure ambition, which leads a man to do his best for himself and his children. It is that old unionism which some of us - no matter what is said to the contrary - have been favorable to, and have endeavoured to induce workmen who were brought into contact with us to assist. But the new unionism is altogether distinct. It aims at ends which are distinctly personal. What some of the old unionists prophesied has come about. They said that this new unionism would be dangerous to their fellow-workers.
– Holyoake never advanced such a prophesy.
– If I read him aright he did. The new unionism gives no details as to how it intends to bring about the reforms at which it professes to aim. It says, “ You must trust us as to the consequences ; we are going as far as we can to establish a revolution in industrial affairs.” We have now reached a time in the affairs of this Commonwealth which is, I venture to say, most critical. The figures quoted by Senator de Largie yesterday are an absolute evidence of a want of elasticity in our affairs. I have no doubt that Senator Pulsford when he takes those figures in hand will be able to prove from them that the inferences which Senator de Largie sought to draw are quite unjustified. They are not really a reflection of the prosperity of Australia.
– They showed increases of 50 and 100 per cent.
– I understood that the increases shown were much smaller than that. The largest increase that-I remember hearing the honorable senator read was 25 per cent. But if I am wrong I shall be glad to be corrected, because I certainly do not wish to imagine that the prosperity of Australia is not all that we could desire. I shall leave the subject to Senator Pulsford, because whatever figures he brings before us will be such that we cannot cavil at. In New South Wales Free-traders and Protectionists alike accept his statistics, and recognise him as an authority. So far as I know, his figures have never been successfully criticised. He is always careful to minimize rather than to over-state them, so as always to be on the right side. A more cruel platform was never placed on record than that of the Labour Party. It means nothing short of absolute Collectivism. Every thoughtful man must know that what we are suffering from in Australia at present is a want of confidence. Those who control the finances of the old country do not regard Australia as a profitable field of investment for their capital. I venture to say that there is not a man in this State who does not realize the advantages of capital in a new and undeveloped country like Australia. I sincerely hope that my honorable friends opposite will, at all events for the present, endeavour to minimize their efforts, so that the feeling of want of confidence may not be prolonged. It is doing serious harm to our industries.
– Was the Labour Party responsible for the failure of the banks ?
– The banking crash occurred about nine years ago, and the conditions of Australia since that time have been such that we have recovered from its effects. I am not prepared to say whether the labour problem was one of the causes of the bank failures. There were many causes. The extraordinary boom which took place, during which men seemed to disregard the very a, b, c of sound business, being afflicted with an epidemic of financial madness, was the principal cause. But the bank failures are not the cause of the present depression.
– What is the cause?
– I have no hesitation in saying that the lack of confidence has been largely caused by the socialistic tendencies of the Labour Party.
– Senator de Largie says that there is no depression.
– I venture to say that the honorable senator dare not address a large body of working men in Sydney - many of whom are half starving through lack of employment - and tell them that there is no depression.
– I stand by every word that I said.
– Assuming Coghlan to be correct, the honorable senator must stand by his figures, but they do not disprove the fact that a depression exists.
– The figures show that we have more wealth, but that that wealth is not fairly distributed.
– That may be all very well in theory, but it does not give a crust to any working man who is in want of food. I am sorry to say that the unions are, in many respects, acting very cruelly towards those who, through circumstances over which they have no control, happen to be non-unionists. They are not showing that practical sympathy which they ought to display for those who are without employment. Only last week a gentleman came to me and said, “ I advertised for a boy, and an old man of sixty years of age came and begged me to employ him. I said that I sympathized with him, but that I only wanted aboy, and that in any case I could nottake him on because if I did I might suffer in. my business.” I give that example to show the effects of the action of unions. I feel sure that it would be well if in Sydney, at all events, they were to give a little more free-play to those who are in distress. I do not propose to say more upon the question at this stage, because I shall have an opportunity to discuss the Bill in Committee. I would ask my honorable friends opposite to consider the present circumstances of the country. We, at all events, are prepared to take up the challenge which the Labour Party has given us, and to fight our battle upon the issue which has been raised by Senator McGregor - that is, for liberty and State rights as against tyranny and class domination.
– I wonder at the heat and fearful excitement that has been displayed in the discussion of this Bill. I wonder at the dragging in of the name of Tom Mann. Why not bring in the name of Tom Paine on the religious side?
– Because he is not the paid organizer of the Labour Party.
– Mr. Tom Mann may hold his own peculiar views, but that does not prove that the Labour Party are willing to go to the same lengths in the advocacy of Collectivism. The views of the members of the Labour Party are just as divergent as are the views of other honorable senators. 1 have had many talks with them, and am familiar with their opinions, and I find that they differ just as much amongst themselves as do the members of other parties. The Labour Party in this Parliament cannot be held responsible for what is saic by persons outside. The amusing, part of it is that the opponents of the Labour Party bringup the words “Socialism” and “Socialist” on every occasion, as though a man who called himself a Socialist must necessarily be a bad lot. I remember that when I was in England Lord Salisbury said, on one occasion, “We are all Socialists now.” Does not Senator Gray know that every piece of legislation is socialistic? The ten commandments are socialistic. The commandment “ Thou shalt not kill “ takes away a man’s liberty to murder another man. The commandment “ Thou shalt not steal “ deprives a man of his liberty to appropriate the property of another. The peculiar part of it is that, although the term “ Socialist “ is so freely used, those who endeavour to fix the word upon the Labour Party have no definite ideas as to what Socialism means. It is a term that never ought to be used. If a man comes to me and says, “Iam a Communist,” I know what he means. If he says, “I am an Anarchist,” I know what he means. But if he says “I am a Socialist,” I do. not know what he means. I am a Socialist. We are all more or less Socialists. Whenever we pass any law which restricts the liberty of the subject, we pass a socialistic law. The word is a bad one to use, and I regret that it should have been bandied about all over the Commonwealth. We find it in all the newspapers; it is used in the Argus in Victoria, and in the Register in South Australia. The other day I saw a copy of. the Register in which there was a paragraph with the heading, “A Socialistic Programme.” Under that heading a programme was given, and the name attached to it was that of the leader of ‘the Labour Party in the State Parliament of South Australia. I think there were seven or eight planks in the programme. I called the attention of a gentleman who was sitting by me at the time to these planks, and I said, “We shall read down these planks and see where the Socialism comes in.” This gentleman was a minister of the gospel, and a well-known and highly intelligent man. He admitted that, with the exception of one plank, he could indorse the whole of that platform. I think that the plank to which he objected was the abolition of the State Legislative Council. There are a number of people in all the States who, in consequence of the establishment of the Federal Parliament to make laws for the whole Commonwealth, are of opinion that they could get along exceedingly well in the various States with but one State House, as many of the provinces of the Dominion of Canada do. My friend and I could agree with the whole of the planks of that socialistic platform, with the one exception. To call people “ Socialists “ is meaningless, and the sooner the habit is dropped the better. If a man says that he is a “ Collectivist “ or an “ Anarchist,” I know what that means.
– Would it not simplify matters very much if the Labour Party were to tell us what they do really mean?
– If there is any party in the Commonwealth who have a distinct platform which they put before the public, so that every word of ,it may be read, it is the Labour Party. Their platform i,s widely published and is well known. It is certainly as well known as is the platform submitted by Mr. Deakin, when he addressed the electors some time ago at Ballarat. I listened with a very great deal of pleasure to the speech of the AttorneyGeneral. It was a long speech, but as the honorable and learned senator had to explain the Bill, it was not too long. It was certainly an excellent speech, and one of the best f have ever heard the honorable and learned senator make, and I am able to say that on most of the points to which the honorable and learned senator alluded, I could agree with Him. When the whole question is boiled down, we find that every member of the Senate is in favour of arbitration.
– Senator Walker is not.
– I am in favour of voluntary arbitration.
– Every member of the Senate is in favour of arbitration. The only question is whether it should bt voluntary or compulsory. I understood Senator Walker 10 say that he was in favour of voluntary arbitration only. I have had some Little experience in this matter, because the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, as Attorney-General in my Government, had’ the honour to be the first to draft a Bill dealing, with the subject on such lines as brought it within the region of practical politics. I had studied the question and considered the Bill along with that right honorable gentleman, and the leader of the Senate, as he has told us, was shown the measure, and gave his advice in connexion with it. The New Zealand and other Arbitration Acts in force in the Commonwealth were founded on that measure, so that the little State of South Australia has the honour of having been the first State in the Commonwealth to introduce such legislation, and the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston can claim to have been the first to put legislation of the kind before the public in such a way’ as to make its principles well known throughout this community. What did we do with that Bill ? We made it a non -compulsory measure. We made it exactly the same in that respect as the legislation in France and in the “United States to-day.
– Was it the Legislative Council of South Australia that did that?
– No, the measure never prohibited strikes. That was its cardinal defect.
– That measure has been the law of the land for many years in South Australia, and it has been a failure. I contend that if we do not make the measure before us compulsory it also will be a failure. Senator Dobson said the other night that the fact that the South Australian Act has been a failure was due to the labour organizations of the States. I can tell the honorable and learned senator that the fault does not lie with the labour organizations. The first strike that took place in that State after the passing of the Act occurred in the boot trade at Dowie’s Factory. The labour organizations wished to take the matter to arbitration, but Dowie would not consent. So far as I can remember, in every instance it has been the masters in that State who have refused arbitration, and not the men, and therefore Senator Dobson was altogether wrong in his statement.
– The mas- ters and men were equally before the Court, but the difficulty arose in connexion with the production of the employers’ books.
– I know that the fault lay with the masters, and not with the men.
– Did not the masters refuse to- accept the recommendations that were subsequently made?
– I could not say. It is clear to me that, unless we make it compulsory, our legislation will fail. In the olden times, before we had done anything in the way of legislation of this kind, and depended upon mutual consent, public opinion used to exercise an immense influence when’ large strikes took place. Honorable senators will recollect, for instance, the great dock strike in London, and the way in which public opinion in England was aroused in favour of the men in consequence of the very low wages which they were paid, the long hours which they were asked to work, and other injurious conditions imposed upon them. They will recollect, also, the feeling that went through Australia, and the fact that we subscribed largely to help the men during the time the strike continued. We know that public opinion in that case won a victory for the men. I was in England when another big strike took place. I refer to the strike of engineers for an eight hours day. That strike was started in London, the engineers intending, if they were successful in compelling the London masters to agree to their terms, to extend the strike from place to place. When they saw what was coming, the masters organized, and said that if the strike was not stopped in London, they would lock-out their men all over the United Kingdom. They did so. They locked out the men in Glasgow, on the Tyne, in Belfast, and all over the United Kingdom, with the result that hundreds of thousands of men were thrown out of work. It will be recollected that the engineers’ organization was the most powerful labour organization in the world, and had the largest amount of funds ever held by any labour organization. The case was put fairly before the public. Colonel Bligh acted, on behalf of the masters, and Richard Barnes on behalf of the men. In that case public opinion undoubtedly went with the masters, because they proved to demonstration that if the concession of one hour a day, which was asked for, was given - and meant the concession of ene hour a day not only to the engineers, but to all the other employes dependent upon their work - they could not compete with foreign importers and manufacturers. The result was that public opinion decided that strike in favour of the masters. We introduced some provisions into our Act in South Australia which have been of some little use. We provided, for instance, that when- a strike takes place, some one shall be appointed to make inquiries, and make a statement of the facts connected with the strike for the benefit of the public. In this way the public are informed of the real facts of the dispute. These provisions have been made use of on two or three occasions with fairly good results. Where such provisions are not in force, the masters make their statement and the men make theirs, and both are coloured. It is necessary that some one should be appointed to make impartial inquiries and give the public the real facts, and when that is done the chances are that they will speak with no uncertain sound, and that their influence will settle the strike. But in the meantime there may be immense loss and suffering by people who may have no connexion whatever with the strike. In the case of the great engineering strike to which I have referred, many thousands of men who had nothing whatever to do with the strike were thrown out of employment. They were men working, in various factories, and their work depended upon the factory engines being kept going. Tens of thousands of men, with their wives and families, suffered from that strike, though they had no direct connexion with it. I contend that arbitration which is not compulsory has been proved to be an absolute failure all over the world. That has been proved in France recently in the case of the shipping strike at Marseilles. In that country they have arbitration without compulsion, and it is a failure. Numbers of cases might be quoted in proof of the statement that voluntary arbitration fails to prevent strikes.
– It has absolutely broken down in New South Wales.
– I am arguing in that way. Voluntary arbitration has broken down, as we know, in America. Honorable senators will recollect the anthracite coal strike, which occurred not long ago, and which affected tens of .thousands of men, and the strike of the dressers of meat in Chicago, which has only just been settled by some means or another. It was not settled by arbitration, but possibly by some mutual arrangement . between masters and men. In every country voluntary arbitration has been a failure. Honorable senators are all agreed that arbitration in itself is good, and that it is a proper system for the settlement of industrial disputes, as compared with the arbitrament of strikes, which are really a form of war. They admit that in many cases it is resorted to with most beneficial results. Some industrial disputes have been settled by voluntary arbitration, but there are a great many which cannot he so settled. It must be admitted that strikes which are most far-reaching cannot be settled by that means, and if it is agreed that arbitration is beneficial, honorable senators should, I think also agree that it should be compulsory. Let us make those who refuse to come in participate in this very good thing. I think the evidence is clear that it promotes the general welfare. It is admitted that arbitration is good, and that it has worked beneficially in cases in which it is not compulsory. There are only a few cases, which are not settled, where it is not compulsory. Therefore, why not say to masters and men, that in consequence of the injury which is done to the public at large by strikes, we shall compel them all to resort to this excellent method of settling disputes ?
– Does the honorable senator know that the trade unionists of England, by three to one, declined to have compulsory arbitration ?
– I do not care what trade unionists in England have done or have declined to do. I only know that very often men are very foolish. Large bodies, like small bodies, of men make great mistakes, and in the instance which Senator Walker has cited a mistake was made. I believe that the object-lessons which the various Colonies are showing them will prove before very long that after all compulsory arbitration is the best for the men and the masters.
– In the old country they are twenty-five years behind us.
– There is no doubt that they are behind us in very many things. Take their free-trade principles, and see how dreadfully they are behind us. Why do they not jump at Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals? If they were wise they would, but thev are not wise. It takes a long time to educate them.
– -Why does not the honorable senator confine himself to the consideration of conciliation and arbitration ?
– Perhaps I may be excused for being drawn off ‘the track for a minute or two by the interjection of Senator Walker, who would ask me! to remember that trade unionists in the old country would not have anything to do with arbitration.
– No, with compulsory arbitration.
– Compulsory arbitration is not a new principle. It has been in force in New Zealand and New South Wales for a number of years, and in Western Australia for a few years. Has it worked disastrously in those countries? Has all the injury which was prophesied taken place there in consequence of its enactment ? Let us take the strike which occurred at Broken Hill, in New South Wales, many years before its Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed. I was greatly interested, because some of my friends were advising the miners not to strike. We in South Australia were largely interested in the trade of Broken Hill. The stoppage of work at the mines meant a considerable loss to our railway revenue, and, of course, a loss in the sale of produce. Actuated by self-interest, we tried to prevent the men from striking, but they refused to listen to our good advice. Look at the suffering which the strike occasioned for a consider* able time. I cannot recollect how long it lasted, or how it was settled, but I know that it was not settled by arbitration, or without leaving a feeling of soreness between the masters and men. Then New South Wales, very wisely, and at the instance of Mr. B. R. Wise, passed a Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When some trouble occurred at Broken Hill the other day, Mr. Justice Cohen quietly proceeded by train from Sydney, via Melbourne, and Adelaide, to Broken Hill, heard what the men and masters had to say, and without delay settled a dispute in which were involved many others, and everything is now going on quietly and comfortably. When that dispute occurred there was no strike ; no injury was done ; the men continued at work, and it was wisely settled by a Judge, who, I think, has succeeded in doing to a very considerable extent that which is regarded as being almost impossible, and that is to please both parties to a dispute. I do not know that he has actually accomplished that feat, and I do not suppose that it is possible for any one to do so, but I think that both parties are fairly satisfied with his decision. Do not my honorable friends on the other side see how well compulsory arbitration has worked in that case? It did not concern a few. men and women engaged in a particular trade, but it concerned thousands of men and women. I am convinced that in that instance compulsory arbitration on the lines of the New South Wales Act worked wisely and well. Arbitration is admitted by all of us to be a good thing. It has been admitted by some honorable senators that, -even when it is not compulsory, arbitration is a good thing, because it settles a great many disputes in a most satisfactory manner, saves a lot of trouble, and averts great loss and injury to individuals, as well as the general public. All we contend is that if it be made compulsory the results will be just as satisfactory as they have been in New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia. A dispute on the gold-fields of Western Australia has been settled without any friction, and without any one going out on strike. Having come to the conclusion that if we are to have arbitration it must be compulsory if it is to be effective, there are two or three points which are deserving of some little notice. The first point on which honorable senators on the other side have seized is the question of preference to unionists. That is very strongly objected to. I can well understand that something can be said on each side of the question. There may be some evils if preference to unionists is given in all cases, and there may also be some evils where no preference to unionists is given. Senator Pearce has pointed out that unless a little preference be given, those men who took a prominent part in bringing a dispute before the Arbitration Court would be liable to be boycotted and injured. I contend that when a body of men who have subscribed to a common fund and worked together for the purpose of improving the conditions in their trade bring a dispute before the Arbitration Court and get a decision which improves the lot of every man engaged in that trade, if any preference is given to anybody it certainly should be given to those men who- took the initiative and did the hard work.
– The honorable senator thinks that masters should not be able to choose their own workmen ?
– In many cases the question is not whether the masters should be able to choose- their workmen, but whether, when a unionist and a nonunionist of equal capacity apply for a job, the’ unionist should get a preference over the non-unionist.
– Who is to determine the point?
– This Bill creates a tribunal for” that purpose. I do not believe in giving preference to unionists in all cases. I think that in that regard a discretion should be left to the Judge.
– Does the honorable senator think that every master who wishes to engage a man should go to a Judge ?
– No; he will not need to go to a Judge. This legislation has been working in New Zealand for many years. Of all the reports I have lately read on the working of Arbitration Acts I have not read a more able and apparently a more fair report than the one which was made to the Government of New South Wales by Judge Backhouse, who was commissioned to inquire into the working of the New Zealand Act. From his exceedingly valuable report I propose to read only one quotation, because as a rule I do not care to make long, quotations. It will convince honorable senators who have got into a terrible state of excitement, and denounced this measure as un-English and unfair* that it is not, after all, such a fearfully bad thing as they imagine. The paragraph which I propose to read is headed -
The claims of members of industrial unions of workers, provided they are equally qualified to be employed in preference to non-members.
After some preliminary observations, Judge Backhouse says -
The claim is usually made when there is a reference, and it is frequently accorded by the Court, but each case is considered specially, the conditions of the industry, the number of unionists as compared with non-unionists, and other matters being taken into account. In the case of the seamen it was refused - one of the reasons being that it might interfere with the discipline of the ship. In the case of the Christchurch engineers it was refused, as the number of unionists was proportionately small ; but in many cases it has been granted, and, judging from recent utterances, it may be assumed that in time it will be the general rule. But when the privilege is given, care is taken that it shall not be abused, that’ it shall not be in the power of any close corporation to dictate terms to the employers. It is invariably accompanied by a condition that any competent workman of good character, without ballot or other election, upon the payment of an entrance fee not exceeding 5s., and of subsequent contribution of not more than 6d. per week, must be admitted a member of the union. The union is required also to keep a book showing the number of members out of employment, and such book is open to inspection. Further, it has been ruled. “ The question of whether a man should be employed or not rested with the employers. Under no award was a man ever forced into a position whereby the employer was compelled to discharge him. Where the unionist got the advantage was when fresh hands were taken on.
A master is never allowed to discharge a non-unionist.
– That will not satisfy honorable senators opposite.
– It will satisfy them, and it is provided for in the Bill.
– Senator Pearce has said that he would sooner see the Bill thrown into the waste-paper basket than passed in its present form.
– The Judge will grant a preference under certain conditions to be laid down, and the conditions laid down in New Zealand are eminently fair and satisfactory.
– But. honorable senators opposite object to having them put in the Bill.
– We do not object to reasonable safeguards.
– Judge Backhouse goes on to say -
In a case of pressure, where an employer took on a non-unionist, he was not subsequently compelled, in the face of the preference claims, to discharge the man to make room for a unionist. If two men presented themselves for employment - a first class non-unionist and a competent unionist - the employer might give them both a temporary trial, and retain the services of the better man.” (Mr. Martin, when President of the Court.) These dicta are modified in part of the award given in April this year in the bootmakers’ case. The following is the passage : - “ When a nonunion workman is engaged by an employer in consequence of the union being unable to supply a workman of equal ability willing to undertake the work, at any time within twelve weeks thereafter, the union shall have the right to supply a man capable of performing the work, provided the workman first engaged declines to become a member of the union. This provision shall also apply to those non-union workmen already employed.” Provision is usually made for the employment of old or incompetent workmen at a rate lower than that fixed for the trade generally. This rate is fixed by the employer and the union, and if no agreement can be come to it is settled usually by the chairman of the local board. Permits in proper cases have to be given by the union, and. in April last Mr. Justice Cooper spoke most strongly about the withholding of one. This advantage is used by old men, and, in some cases, by improvers and others; but it does not appear to be largely availed of, and there is a disposition on the part of the unions to narrow its application as much as possible. An ordinary workman hesitates, moreover, to make an application which marks him as incompetent. It is always provided in awards that where unionists and non-unionists are employed they shall work in harmony.
– But they do not work in harmony.
– As a rule,- they do, although of course exceptional cases may be cited.
– I can speak from practical experience, and I know places where, if a non-unionist were employed, the unionists would go out on strike.
– But the Bill does not allow strikes, and those who do strike are liable to punishment.
– But they do strike.
– If we take away the liberty of the men on the one hand, we must take away the liberty of the employers on the other - we must have give and take in this matter.
– But the men do not give and take.
– I am showing what Judge Backhouse reported, and he absolutely proves the contrary.
– I say that an expert business man, and not a Judge, should have been sent to report.
– It is not fair to say that exceptional cases are the rule. There are black sheep even amongst clergymen, but it would not do to hold them up as samples of ministers of religion. Judge Backhouse goes on to say -
Safeguarded in these ways, the granting of preference, it may be said, can only be objected to, as one of the Judges put it to me, on sentimental grounds. Mr. Clarke, a large employer of labour in Auckland, told me that, with these limitations, the difficulty was practically non-existent. Some of the employers claim that the unions of workers on their side, should undertake to supply labour, and that the union should be legally liable for damage done by incompetent members.
Here we have what is unmistakably the correct statement of a Judge as to the working of the New Zealand Act.
– The honorable senator ought to have read the last clause or two.
– I think I have read the whole.
– Judge Backhouse said that but for two facts his confidence in the success of the Act would be far greater, and the honorable senator has not given us those two facts.
– It is a wonder the honorable and learned senator himself did not lay the facts before the Senate. Under the Acts of New Zealand, New South Wales, and, I believe, Western Australia, preference to unionists is left to the discretion of the Judge. I was a member of the Government who introduced this Bill at the commencement of the session, and the measure did not then contain the preference clause as it now appears, that matter being left entirely to the Judge. The other branch of the Legislature, in limiting the power of the Judge to give preference only where a majority of a union happens to be in favour of such a course, made a mistake, and I think that the suggestion by the then leader of the Government, Mr. Watson, that preference should, before being granted, be desired by a “ substantial majority,” was equally vicious. The best thing we can do is to restore the Bill ,to the form it presented when first introduced. We have given such immense powers to the Judge, in other directions, that it would be perfectly safe to allow him to have full discretion in the matter of giving preference. Indeed, the powers given to the Judge are tremendous. We have given him the power to destroy industries right and left, or to injure workmen all over the Commonwealth. Although we have not entrusted him with the power, as it is called, of “ life and death,” we have given him a similar power in regard to manufactures; indeed, we might almost say we have given him that power in regard to men. Surely under the circumstances we may go a little further, and allow the Judge full discretion in regard to preference, altogether irrespective of majorities or “ substantial” majorities. If we insert the word “majority,” the Judge will .take it to mean that if desired by a majority he must grant it, right or wrong - he will probably regard that as the will of the Legislature.
– The Judge could not do that under the words of the clause.
– I know that the clause is permissive, but Judges always endeavour to find out what was the meaning of the Legislature in passing particular clauses. When it is provided that preference shall not be granted, unless under a certain condition, the Judge will argue, and trade unions will argue, that when that condition is complied with, preference must be given. It might be wise in some circumstances to give preference, even where a majority is not in favour; and it would be a great deal wiser for us to revert to the clause originally in the Bill. There was one statement made by Senator Smith to which I should like to- call attention. The honorable senator argued that because another place has wasted time, I will not say in a disgraceful, but certainly in a not very creditable manner, the Senate, which is absolutely innocent of wasting time, and has done its work expeditiously, and I hope well, should give up the right to deal with one of the most important measures introduced during ;the session.
– Senator Smith did not say that.
– That was, I think, the effect of Senator Smith’s words.
– I asked the Opposition not to make any drastic alterations in the Bill.
– If we make amendments which are not drastic, but which do not matter one way or the other, we practically do nothing. The drastic amendments are those which require consideration, and it will ‘certainly be a drastic amendment if we strike out the preference clause as it now appears. We are sent here for the purpose of perfecting, so far as we are able, the measure brought before us, and we have no right, at this time, to consider what has been done in another place ; we have no right to consider that in another place time has been wasted, that the session is drawing to a close, and that there is a strong desire on the part of Ministers to get into the sweet haven of recess. We have to consider what is our duty, and to do our duty like men. We have to consider what is best for the community, and if we pass measures, to pass them in the best possible form1. Another point to be considered is that the time will come when this Bill will have to be sent back to another place, where, I have no doubt, every amendment we make will receive courteous consideration. The Bill will be returned to us, and we shall then know precisely the mind of honorable members in another place, and reasons will be given for any disagreement they may have with our amendments. The time may come for us to consider whether the Bill shall be allowed to drop, or a compromise shall be arrived at ; but that time has certainly not yet come. No matter how drastic our amendments may be, we ought to make then: if we regard them as improvements; and the time will very possibly come when we shall have to consider whether it will be wiser to insist on those amendments, or whether we ought to compromise.
– It is not my desire to detain the Senate at any length, and I shall content myself with dealing with the position of the Commonwealth at the present time, as compared with its position a few years ago. This has been the subject of debate, and some sort of challenge in reference to it has been thrown out to rr.e. I am in the happy position of being able to give the Senate something which is very clear on the point, but which has not been expressly prepared in connexion with this debate. On the 2nd May, 1902, when the Tariff was before this Chamber, I made a speech, and introduced my remarks by a reference to the present position of affairs in Australia, as compared with the position ten years before. I shall briefly repeat my remarks as follows: -
It is a reasonable thing, at the outset of the life of the Commonwealth, to take a bird:s-eye view of the general position in Australia, and of the progress that has been made during recent years, or rather, the want of progress that is shown by the records. Taking the ten-year period ending with the last census, I find - first, that immigration to Australia had absolutely stopped ; secondly, that the private wealth of Australia is very largely reduced; and, thirdly, that the public debts of Australia have been very largely increased. To look at these matters in a little more detail, I shall refer to the figures of population. During the preceding ten-year periods beginning with 1831-41, immigration into Australia was as follows : - 110,000, 156,000, 551,000, 176,000, 195,000.. 387,000, and, during the ten year period just ended, the total is given as 3,000. Within the last ten years 5,500 immigrants were assisted, so that, apart from assisted immigrants, there has been some decrease by emigration. And in the last figures a good many thousands of aboriginals were included, so that even the increase shown in the statistics did not take place. The birth rate of Australia has materially fallen off, so that, from the point of view of population, the position has deteriorated. The only one bright spot during the past ten years has been the rise of Western Australia. . .
With regard to the wealth of the community Coghlan in his Seven Colonies estimated the wealth of Australia in 1890 at £1,019,000,000; in 1899 a’ £879,000,000, or a decrease of £140,000,000; and this, allowing for an increase of £26,000,000 in Western Australia. Apart from that increase there was a decrease in the other States now forming the Commonwealth, of £166,000,000. Taking the per head wealth, the figures fell in New South Wales from £368 to £265, in Victoria from £304 to £233, in Queensland from £301 to £231, in South Australia from £310 to £183, and in Tasmania from £236 to £212. . . . With regard to (the public debts, Coghlan, at page 427 of his book, says that the public debts of the colonies amounted in 1891 to £155,000,000, and in 1901 to £207,000,000, showing an increase of £52,000,000, or a growth per head of from £47 14s. id. to £54 16s. 8d. £15,000,000 must be added for municipal debts, and these, with other borrowings up to date, bring the approximate indebtedness of the colonies, at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth, to about £230,000,000, an amount exceeding £60 per head. As the result of this increased indebtedness, the interest that has to be paid by Australia has increased by £2,000,000 during the ten years. . . . Taking these figures as a whole, I find that during the last ten years the increase of population from the outside has been nil. The increase by excess of births has only totalled 17 per cent. The private wealth of Australia has decreased by a total of 14 per cent, or per head 22 per cent. ; whilst the public debts have increased 35 per cent.
That is a statement which I prepared when a totally different matter was under consideration. The position has altered very little since that time. The most important factor in any country in the world is that of population. In the American union, there is an increase through immigration from the va:ious countries of Europe, of something like half a million of people every year. The influx pf these people keeps business affairs on a continual upward grade. There is more work to do, there is more money in circulation, there are- more houses to be built, there are more boots and shoes, and all sorts of other commodities to be manufactured. But in Australia, all this has absolutely come to an end. If anything, the population is showing a decrease. The figures which I have given with regard to the decrease of wealth, exist in spite of the fact that in the interval of ten years, many millions - now many millions I do not know - have been spent in erecting houses and buildings, and the opening of new businesses. So that the position is not of such a rosy character that some of our friends would have us believe. It is fair that I should refer to some figures quoted last night by Senator de Largie. It will be remembered that during to-day’s debate, Senator de Largie interjected that the wealth of the community had increased. I have shown what the facts are. One- of Senator de Largie’s statements was that there had been a large increase in the shipping tonnage. That is quite correct. I do not dispute the fact. I dispute the -deductions taken from it. With regard to the fact, I will take the liberty of quoting from myself again. In a work of mine, Commerce and the Empire, which was published a little while ago, I refer to the shipping figures of the Empire, and I make this statement -
These figures must be taken with a grain of salt, or, perhaps, it would be better to say, with an explanation: . . . There is a great deal of duplicating. Thus, when a 10,000 ton steamer comes to Sydney, the port of New South Wales’, she calls, as a rule, first at Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, and on her return from Sydney again visits the other three ports - so that she enters port seven times and leaves port seven times - a total of fourteen entries and clearances, equal to an addition of 140,000 tons to the tonnage returns by reason of one trip of a big steamer to Australia. It is needful- to refer to this point, because by the help of this rather Munchausen like method of recording tonnage, it is possible to paint a vivid picture of the “ encroachments “ of the foreigner, if half a dozen extra foreign steamers visit Australia.
– The same system was adopted ten years ago.
– The big steamers of to-day were not running ten years ago. The White Star boats have started running during the last ten years, and there has been a large addition to the tonnage in this way.
– The French and German boats were all running then.
– -The addition of a single steamer of 10,000 adds 140,000 tons to the statistics of tonnage. Surely one can see that these statistics are not to be relied upon to prove that we have increased our prosperity. I do not care to dispute the fact any further. With regard to the figures of imports and exports, on page 865 of Coghlan, the following facts are given. He gives the whole of the imports and exports, and their value per inhabitant in 1 89 1. The amount was £40 3s. per inhabitant. In 1902, the amount was £35 12s. 7d. per inhabitant. Again there is a decrease. With regard to the external trade of the Commonwealth, on page 880 of Coghlan, the aggregate figures are given. There are no figures per head of population, so that I cannot quote them. The total in 189X was £74,000,000. In 1902 the total was £85,000,000 - an increase of £11,000,000 If honorable senators will refer to the same book a few pages further on, they will find that nearly the whole of that increase of £ri, 000,000 was due to exports of gold.
– That does not matter; there was an increase.
– I am stating what the increase was. In 1902, or about that time, we had to make large imports of grain, because our crops had failed. It does not follow, because there is a certain amount of imports, or a certain amount of exports of gold, that we are richer. But when a decrease in our population is shown, and when the wealth of the country is falling off by tens of millions, the figures are such that we ought to take careful notice of them. It is of no use to call attention to imports and exports alone, because they do not help lis in any way. Nor do figures as to shipping help us, considering that they are subject to such extraordinary multiplications as that the trip of one vessel of 10,000 tons works out at a tonnage of 140,000. I am reminded also by the presence of Senator Macfarlane that if that steamer in the apple season happened to call at Hobart, the tonnage would be further increased by 20,000 tons.
– Does not the honorable senator think that in fairness, he ought to mention the falling off of the exports of wool, owing to drought?
– If I were to go into the whole range of the facts, I should detain the Senate for a considerable time. But there is no occasion for me to do so. Whenever I have written or spoken with regard to statistics, I have always argued that we require to look at aggregates, and not to spend our time in looking at small details. Looking at the great aggregate facts concerning Australia, we see that her position to-day is worse that it was ten years ago, and that the general position of Australia from the point of view of popu lation and wealth, is worse than that of any other portion of the British Empire.
– What about the increases in manufactures and in agriculture?
– Of course, there are increases in some directions, but what do those increases matter if on the aggregate we are worse off? In regard to employment, I will say a word or two. In Coghlan, page 919, there is a statement as to hands employed. I look at the figures since the establishment of Federation. I compare the total numbers of hands employed in works and manufactures in Australasia for 1900 and 1902. The return shows that there has been an increase of 7,123 males and 8,734 females.
– Why does not the honorable senator deal with the period with which I deal?
– I am dealing with the last two years to which Coghlan’s figures apply, because they are years which have elapsed since Federation was brought about. Senator de Largie is anxious that I should go back. I did not. desire to waste the time of the Senate, but I will go back to oblige the honorable senator. The one State which has gone in most for the legislation which the honorable senator desires is the State of Victoria, and I find that in 1889 - and surely that is going far enough back - the number! of males employed in manufactories was 49,105, whilst in 1902 the ^number had increased to 49,658, an increase of a hundred or two in fifteen years.
– That is going back too far.
– The honorable senator will not take the years I quoted.
– I have no wish to occupy further time ih speaking of those matters. I have said sufficient to convince all reasonable men that the position of affairs in Australia is very serious. I wish to be fair all round. The question was asked whether the bank failures of 1893 were due to unionism? I say at once that they were not. Unionism had nothing whatever to do with them. Those failures were but the reaction from the excessive speculation and booming of the preceding years. There can be no doubt about that. I say further that the losses which have occurred in Australia by reason of drought since the time of the bank failures have been not merely great, but appalling, and in all the circumstances I often wonder that Australia should be as sound and as solid as she is to-day. I have put the case fairly, giving no blame where none is deserved, and giving a warning where I think a warning ought to be heeded. The condition of Australia to-day is a rather serious one. We have stopped people from coming here, and we have stopped capital from coming here, and we know that both are pouring rapidly into Canada and into the United States.
– Why does not the honorable senator also say that we have locked up our land ?
– I think that it is very desirable that we should watch our legislation carefully, to see that we shall not create still further distrust in Australian affairs ifr the minds of the people of the old country. We should remember that it is easy for people to play with their own. When they have plenty of capital and means it is all very well, but when a country is so largely dependent as Australia is on the mother country for *new capital, and has to send home every year such a huge sum to meet interest on debts already contracted, it behoves us to be very careful as to the legislation we pass.
– I have no desire to say very much on this Bill, but there have bee;n statements made during the debate which, unless they are controverted, may be held to be correct by numbers of people outside. Senator Gray, in dealing with this measure, has said that unionists in New South Wales have endeavoured in every way to obstruct industries, and to use the Arbitration Court in that State in a way in which it was never intended that it should be used. We are not dealing with the measure which is in force in New South Wales, and Senator Gray admits that the Bill with which we are dealing is a great improvement on the New South Wales Act. If that be the case, of what use is it for the honorable senator to bring forward instances to show the way in which a different measure is being administered in the neighbouring State? Even in New South Wales it is admitted by employers and employed alike that the Act in force there has done a considerable amount of good by preventing disputes, culminating in strikes. That is the object of the Bill before us. It is not so much our object in passing this measure to provide for the settlement of strikes when they occur, as to prevent disputes culminating in strikes. We are endeavour ing, if possible, to establish some sort of industrial peace, which shall take the place, of industrial warfare. Senator Gray, in. giving one of his illustrations, told us that. Mort’s Dock in Sydney is not now doing-, the business which it- has done previously, but the honorable senator gave us no reason for that.
– I gave Mr. Franki’s reason.
– The facts in this case are that two or three years ago Mort’s Dock had an absolute monopoly of shipping work. It was the one dock in Sydney which was used by the mercantile marine for docking and repairs. But a couple of years ago another large dock was established in Sydney, and Mort’s Dock is now in competition with this other dock, which is getting more than half the shipping work of the port. It should further be stated that New South Wales formerly made use- of Mort’s Dock for a very great deal of the Government work, and that at the present time none of that work is going to Mort’s Dock. Honorable senators must see that this explains, to some extent, the falling off in the amount of work being done at Mort’s Dock. Again, some time ago a very large amou’nt of money was being spent by those engaged in mining and various other industries on machinery and plant, ana* Mort’s Dock, as a concern engaged in the manufacture of machinery, secured a great deal of that work. Honorable senators are aware .that during the last two or three years there has been no great boom in these industries. The mining industry has fallen off to some extent ; mining plant has been for sale, and hasbeen applied to new mines, and consequently there has not been the same demand for machinery, and Mort’s Dock has suffered considerably in that respect. Senator Gray did not give any reasons for hisstatement ; but the fact is that competitors have taken away a considerable amount of the work of which Mort’s Dock previously enjoyed a monopoly. I was interested by some of the remarks which Senator Gray made upon this measure. Hetold us that the people of New SouthWale’s were under the impression that thisBill was only intended to apply to oneor two industries. The honorable senator said that he was under that impression himself, and that there was no necessity for an Arbitration Court which would apply to more than the shipping and shearing industries. I point but that the men engaged in those industries had no right to a monopoly of the protection of the law. There is no reason why the men engaged on the coast - who, by the way, are to a very great extent excluded from the operation of this Bill - should have any right to a monopoly of the protection of the law, and there is no reason why those engaged in the shearing industry should be given such a right.
– No class should have a monopoly of the protection of the law - not even unionists.
– That is so, and I remind the honorable senator that we are not contending, that unionists should have a right to any monopoly. . We contend merely that the Judge of the Arbitration Court should have power vested in him to say that unionists should in certain circumstances be given a preference. We do not, as Senator Millen would make out, claim that unionists should have an absolute right to preference, whether the Court thinks it should be given to them or not.
– The honorable senator does not know what I am contending.
– That is what the honorable senator meant, because no other question has been raised with respect to the rights claimed by unionists to a monopoly of the protection of the law.
– Honorable senators opposite desire to force the Court to give a preference to unionists.
– We have not asked for that in any case. What we have asked for is that the Judge of the Arbitration Court shouldbe allowed liberty of action in the matter in accordance with his own judgment. We ask merely that if the Court thinks it right that a preference should be given to those who are responsible for bringing a particular matter before it, it should have the power to award that preference.
– To minorities.
– That is not the question at all.
– The amendment suggested bv Mr. Watson did not leave the matter to the Tudge.
– That amendment does not affect the question. It proposed that preference should begiven only where a substantial majority of those engaged in an industry support the claim.
But we have asked only that the Judge of the Arbitration Court should have absolute freedom in such cases to give preference if he should think fit.
– I was not aware of this change of front.
– There has been no change of front. I have described merely the action which has been taken by organized labour in every State in which legislation of this description has been passed. There is another point on which I am not able to agree, even with some of my colleagues, and that is with respect to the registration of organizations under the Bill. Senator McGregor gave the Senate to understand that it is only unions, that are federated throughout Australia that can be registered under the Bill.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– I have read the honorable senator’s speech as it appears in Hansard, and that is the only interpretation I can put on what he said. As a matter of fact, when the honorable senator was speaking, I said that so far as I understood the Bill, that contention was altogether wrong, because in a schedule to the Bill it is provided that an organization in each of the States can be registered, under the Bill, but that not more than one organization in each State shall be recognised.
– To what Bill does the honorable senator refer ?
– That will be found in the second schedule to. this Bill. There seems to be an impression in the minds of some honorable senators that this is a Bill framed in the interests of one class in the community. I deny that entirely. This Bill is not framed in the interests of the workers of the community, or in the interests of the employers, but in. the interests of the community as a whole.
– Of the general peace.
– Of the general peace of the community. For instance, if we consider industries at a time when there is depression in a State, as Senator Grav tells us is at present the case in New Zealand, it is possible that awards mav be given against organizations which mav appeal to the Court. It may be that the case is brought to the Court by the employer, and the award is against the men. It has been suggested that so far as the awards are given in their favour the men will be prepared to abide by them, but that so soon as there is a depression and the awards are given against them they will not. I am quite satisfied that wherever there has been the opportunity the great majority of the leaders of the unionists have used their influence to prevent strikes. I have been connected with more than ohe strike, and I can honestly say that in seven cases out of ten the men at the head of organizations have done their best to prevent unions from going on strike. There have been many cases in which if it had been possible for the disputes to be sent to a tribunal in which the men would receive a fair hearing, and a decision would be given on the evidence they were prepared to submit, they would have been satisfied to accept the award for a certain time, knowing that at its expiration they could again appeal to the Court, and obtain redress if the circumstances warranted their getting an increase of wages. This legislation gives a great deal of stability to all sorts of employment. On the one hand, employers are able to take on contracts, because they know that for a certain time thev will have stability as far as their work is concerned. On the other hand, the men know that there is no possibility of a strike being entered upon within a week or two of starting work, and therefore they feel that they can safely enter into any engagement and carry out its terms. It is in the general interests of the community as a whole, from the point of view of industrial peace, that the organized Labour Party have advocated the introduction of compulsory arbitration throughout Australia. We have been told that English trade unionists have objected to this system ‘of arbitration. But when we make an inquiry, what do we find? We find that thev have no knowledge of the way in which it has worked in Australia. Let us take the proceeding’s in the last Congress which was held. Mr. Ben Tillett was converted to the principle of industrial arbitration while he was in Australia. When he arrived he was quite opposed to the idea. He preached against its acceptance all the time he was in New Zealand. When he came across to Australia he studied its operation, and1 finding that organized labour here was in favour of it, he took it up and afterwards introduced it to the Trades Union Congress. While he was in England. Mr. Tom Mann was also opposed to compulsory arbitration, but now he is strongly in favour of it, be- lieving that it will lead to industrial peace. In England trade unionists, not knowing what the effects of industrial arbitration has been in Australia, are a long way behind us in that respect, as well as many others. It has been stated here that the Congress which decided not to have anything to do with compulsory arbitration, also decided that it was injudicious on the part of organized bodies in Great Britain to establish a newspaper to represent their views. In Australia we found that it was an absolute necessity to establish^ half a dozen newspapers in order to give the people an opportunity of knowing exactly what is meant by the labour movement here. It is owing to the good work which those newspapers have done that the organized Labour Party have been able to obtain a footing in the legislative halls. In the old country to-day trade unionists are prepared to trust to journals which misrepresent their aims and objects. They do not see the necessity for establishing journals which would give the public a fair idea of the reform which they seek to obtain. If they are very far behind Australia in one matter, we can easily understand that they are far behind us in another. Will it be believed1 that the last Congress passed a resolution affirming that the establishment of a. Tribunal of Arbitration in international affairs is one of the best things which has been done of late years? I contend that if there is anything which justifies people flying at one another’s throats it is a racial movement. When the trade unionists of England are prepared to uphold arbitration for the settlement of international . disputes, surely they are a long way wide of the mark when they, reject a proposition for the settlement of disputes which occur in their own community. Senator Smith does not believe that any drastic amendments should be made in this Bill, and contends that if any amendment leads to the Bill being dropped the onus will rest with honorable senators on this side. He holds that the amendments which were accepted by the leader of the Labour Party in another place should be respected by the members of the Senate. If that is the case, there is no necessity for this Chamber. Whatever amendments may have been accepted by the leader of the Labour Party in another place, I am not prepared to accept a provision which practically say’s that a considerable number of the people of this country shall not receive the benefits of this legislation. I refer to the exclusion of agricultural labourers.
– The Labour Party did not insist upon that when they occupied the Treasury bench, and why should they insist upon it now ?
– That amendment was moved, and accepted in the other House.
– It was forced upon them.
– It was not regarded as vital then.
– It is urged that the provisions of the Bill should apply to pastoral employes, but not to agricultural employes. What will be the result of such discrimination? If we take the shearing industry in any State, we find that a number of small settlers, who are members of a shearers’ union, put in their time every year at two or three sheds, and then return to carry out their own work. When the selector goes into a shearing shed, he will come under the Act as an employe, but when he is carrying out his own work in his busy season his employes will be exempt from its operation. I think it is beyond all reason to contend that a selector shall get the benefits of this legislation, when he is a labourer, but not the man whom he employs on his selection.
– Would the honorable senator include domestic servants as well as agricultural employes?
– I should like domestic servants to get the benefit of the Act, because I consider that they could be organized as well as any other class of labour. I do not see why we should leave out of its operation any person who is earning a wage in the community.
– These are the drastic amendments which I said the Government would not accept, and which would wreck the Bill.
– I do not think so.
– The Labour Party did not consider them vital when they were in power.
– I contend that it is far better, in the first instance, to legislate for every branch of industry than to find out when a dispute has arisen that the Act has broken down and must be amended. A number of statements have been made regarding matters of moment to unionists. The methods which they have adopted to preserve close corporations, I am satisfied, do not meet with any sympathy from any honorable senator on this side. For years as a member of an organization I had to fight against the tendency to make organizations exclusive. I admit that many attempts have been made by organizations to raise their fees so high that it was absolutely impossible for men to join.
– Not in many organizations.
– In quite a number.
– In only a few.
– Senator Guthrie knows well the great fight which he and others of us have had to keep down the barriers so as to afford an opportunity to every one to come in and obtain employment if he wished as a unionist.
– Have any but the wharf labourers done that?
– The wharf labourers’ union raised their fee to£5.
– Have any others done that ?
– The Sydney coal lumpers.
– Practically the same body.
– The Seamen’s Union, of which I am a member, raised the fee to such an extent that it was almost prohibitive.
– Some of them imposed a residence condition.
– I have always fcught against this tendency in the unions of which I have been a member, because I recognised that if there was one thing which would tend to break them down it would be the attempt to make them exclusive bodies. For that reason I think that no exception will be taken by any honorable senators on this side to making it possible for a person to have almost free admission to a union. It would really be a source of strength to the unions j it would deprive persons of the opportunity to say that organizations wished to be exclusive, and have a monopoly of the work.
– The best way to do that is to make it absolutely necessary for a union to secure a majority.
– I do not see any necessity for that. All we ask is that the matter of preference shall be left to the Judge, and that no one shall be required to prove that a majority is in favour of a certain course. When the honorable member takes a case to Court, he does not try to ascertain- if a majority of the jury are in favour of a certain verdict, but he places the evidence before the jury, and whatever their finding is it is the Judge who delivers judgment All we ask is that the Judge shall have an .absolutely free hand If he thinks it is in the interests of an organization or of the community either to give preference, or to withhold it, he ought to be free to take that course.
– Will that be the nature of the amendment submitted? It is quite new to me.
– That was the provision in the Bill when it was first introduced.
– It was not the last amendment, suggested by. Mr. Watson.
– All we ask is that the Bill shall be placed in exactly the same form as when introduced in another place, and I do not think that Senator Millen would have any objection to accept such a measure.
– I say at once, that if the unions adopt the liberal policy outlined as to the admission of new members, my chief objection will disappear at once.
– It is not a question of whether the unions will adopt the policy - they must adopt such a policy, because the Bill declares that unionists shall not place obstacles in the way of people who want to become members.
– How came the cases before the Court?
– There was only one case-
– We have had several cases in New South Wales.
– In one case, the hooks were closed, but when application was made to the Court, the books were ordered to be opened, and the man allowed to become a member. In another case, which was instanced by Senator Gray last night, an organization was compelled to admit a man who was shown to be competent to do the work. All such cases are provided for in the Bill.
– Those cases would never have come before the Court but for the fact that the unions had thrown obstacles in the way.
– But when power is given to the Court in this matter, organizations will be chary of placing obstacles in the way. of intending members. A number of statements have been made which cast reflections on people associated with trade unions. Senator Dobson stated that not only in America, but in Australia, unionists are addicted to lawlessness. He added that in the great strike going on in America the unionists had poisoned the water, had blown up railway platforms, and things of that sort. But we in Australia know the value of such statements. During the great shearers’ strike of 1891, the Brisbane newspapers, under “scare” head lines, announced that the strikers in the west of Queensland had poisoned the water tank on one of the runs. Such a deed, if committed, would have been dastardly. The population- were alarmed, and those of us who took a prominent part in unionism, were asked what sort of people we associated with when such deeds could be committed by them. An inquiry was instituted, and a sample of the poisoned water was sent to the Government Analyst at Brisbane. That official reported that there was more strychnine in the bottle than the water was able to dissolve; and, thereupon, the tank in question was measured, and it was ascertained that, in order to poison the water therein to the extent disclosed in the sample, It would have taken tons of strychnine - in fact, more strychnine, possibly, than there was in Australia. Every representative of Queensland will testify that what I have said is the absolute truth ; and such an incident is enough to justify us in disbelieving statements which are made about similar outrages by trade unionists elsewhere. I hope that honorable senators, when they feel inclined to indulge in allegations of the kind, will pause, and take care to ascertain their truth or otherwise. Senator Dobson desired to knew whether it would not be better for the organized bodies of Australia to adopt a system of co-operation, and he stated that efforts in this direction had met with success, and with the approval of the whole of the people in the old country. As a matter of fact, the co-operative societies have- always received the most strenuous opposition in the. United Kingdom from those same classes of people who are opposed to trade unionism. When the twenty-eight men started their little co-operative arrangement in Rochdale many years ago, they were violently opposed by the people living in thelocality, as, indeed, they were wherever they attempted to establish their stores. Until a few years ago the. co-operative system had not been able to get the slightest hold in the biggest towns in England, and I doubt whether there are any established in London now.
– Oh yes, as can be shown by the Y ear-Book.
– I know that, until a few years ago, they found it impossible to obtain a foothold in London, although established in provincial towns. The cooperative stores are always held up to us as examples of a system we ought to adopt. But time and again it has been shown that these stores do not rank amongst the best class of employers in the country. I have known instances where the wages and conditions of the employes have been considerably worse than those in private employment, the stores being owned by large numbers of shareholders, whose only object was to get large dividends at the end of the year on their purchases. And the only reason why latterly there has been better treatment of the employes is that a large number of people, mostly members of trade unions, have sought to permeate them with ideas of organization. I am in favour of the principle of arbitration, but, with Senator Pearce, I can say that if I thought the Bil) was going to pass in its present form, T should prefer to cast my vote against its second reading. I have always been a member of a trade union ; and if the Bill were to pass unamended I should certainly recommend those with whom I am associated not to register under it, because it would not be of the slightest use in the case of a dispute.
Motion (by Senator Givens) proposed -
That the debate bc now adjourned.
– I think we ought to proceed with the debate Honorable senators have expressed themselves as being desirous to expedite the measure.
– I have tony reasons for asking for an adjournment.
– If Senator Givens desires an adjournment on personal grounds, as I understand he does, I shall offer no further opposition.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at10 o’clock.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 October 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041027_senate_2_22/>.