2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following paper : -
Copy of correspondence with the Government of India relative to the relaxing of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act so as to permit Indian merchants, students, andtourist travellers to visit Australia under passports granted by the Indian Government.
In Committee - (Consideration resumed from 7th December, vide page 7941) :
Postponed clause 21 -
No intoxicants or opium shall be imported into or manufactured in the Territory, except by written permission of a person duly authorized by the Lieutenant-Governor, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed. . . .
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I move -
That the blank in the clause be filled by the insertion of the following words : - “A poll of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory shall, within twelve months from the passing of this Act be taken in accordance with regulations to be made by the LieutenantGovernor tr> ascertain whether or not intoxicants may be imported into, manufactured in, and sold in the Territory for commercial purposes generally. “ Such regulations may prescribe the mode in which the poll shall be taken and the form in which the ballot-papers shall be framed, and may define the powers and duties of the officer and his deputies conducting such poll, and may provide generally for all matters whatsoeverrelating to the taking of the poll. “ No vote shall be disallowed by the officer ap- pointed to conduct such poll for informality so l ong as the intention of the voter is expressed actually or by reasonable intendment. Provided that at any election one-third of the white inhabitants shall record their votes in order to constitute a poll. Before the taking of such poll a notice shall be inserted in the official Gazette by the Lieutenant-Governor, stating as correctly as possible the number of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory, and such number shall be taken as the number of the adult white inhabitants of the Territory for the purposes of the poll.”
An honorable senator has said that my proposal for taking a local-option poll is impracticable. But I observe that he has given notice of a series of clauses to provide for the election of three members to the Legislative
Council. If it be possible to take a poll for that purpose surely it is possible to take a local-option poll?
– I understood the honorable senator to point out yesterday that my proposal would be unworkable. Surely no one will contend that in the course of twelve months the Lieutenant-Governor could not ascertain the wishes of the people on the liquor question? No hard and fast conditions are laid down in the amendment. We do not, for instance, impose upon the settlers the conditions of our Electoral Act ; but we give them free scope to make their own regulations for carrying out the poll. It could easily be done through the agency of the post office. The population, although separated by long distances, is grouped in small communities, namely at Louisade, 15; at Gibarra, 50; at Kevin, 20 ; at Gira, 65 ; at Yodda, 50 ; and at Woodlark, 90. Although one community may be situated at a long distance from another, still the people in each are grouped together. Wherever there is a large population a Government official is stationed. Therewould be no difficulty in taking a poll at Samarai and Port Moresby. It would not benecessary to appoint a returning officer. The local officers are left by the amendment to make their own arrangements. It is said by some honorable senators that the people are all in favour of having liquor in the Territory. But we know that a large number of persons are opposed to its importation and sale. Why should we not give the settlers this easy and inexpensive opportunity of declaring their wish upon the subject? It ‘has been said that the amendment is a negation, of the principle of the Bill, namely, to grant a certain measure of self-government to the people in the Territory. The nominated Legislative Council will, to a certain extent, be a representative institution.
– It will be a legislative body amenable to public opinion.
– Certainly, and therefore we are quite in accord with that principle.
– Let the Legislative Council legislate. It ought to know more about the subject than we do.
– We propose to consult the people of the Territory on the subject. It has been said that the local option clauses are objectionable because they consult the residents. It is urged by some honorable senators that we should declare the law on this subject without consulting the people.
– What is the good of consulting the people when we already know their mind ?
– What right have we to assume that we know their mind? Unlike the honorable senator, I think that the residents are against prohibition, but that is only my opinion. At the expenditure of a few shillings on postage stamps they would be able to register their view. There are less than 600 persons to be consulted, and most of them are located in two or three of the largest settlements. A list of the people could be made up, ballotpapers could be printed and distributed, and a certain time allowed for their return.
– I am not immediately following Senator Pearce from the point of view of the Government, but simply to add to what I . said last evening. I am afraid that I am unable to support the first proposal in his amendment. The principle which my honorable friend advocates is a very large step in the direction in which we should all wish to go, namely, that of not interfering with the personal wishes and the powers of self-government of the white residents. The objection which I have is to a large extent the same as that which I had to the clause regarding prohibition. I do not think that we ought to interfere as to the mode in which these people are to regulate their liquor traffic. This is a Bill to establish a system of government. We are giving to the Possession a Legislative Council which, within its own limits is., to a certain extent, a representative tody; because the provisions with regard to the establishment of the Legislative Council enable it to be amenable, more or less, to public opinion. It will be very much better to leave the Council to legislate on a matter of such intimate local interest as this is. That has already been done under a more modified constitution, and without the direct and close control which will be established under the Commonwealth. We are near at hand. We are in constant communication with British New
Guinea. The interests of the Possession are very close and dear to us in the Commonwealth. We are anxious to make it a pattern of administration. All these considerations involve a degree of strict supervision on the part of the Commonwealth, which does not exist where there is a Crown Colony 12,000 or 13,000 miles or more away from the Home country. Our supervision is that of persons practically looking over the wall, so to speak, into the arena that is under the control which we define. Therefore, we have an opportunity of exercising a beneficent influence and a directing power in relation to the affairs of the Possession. So that if any exception were to be taken, or if we were disatisfied with the wisdom of the local administration in dealing with these matters, there are restrictive provisions in the Constitution which enable us to intervene. I also want to point out that while the proposal is an interference with the self-governing powers of this new Dependency, of which, we are assuming the direction, in matters which intimately concern its own local affairs, there are difficulties in the way of exercising and bringing about this local option, some of which my honorable friend Senator Pearce has combated. It is a scattered community. It would be very difficult to obtain a poll. If the proceedings were conducted in the ordinary way it would involve great expense. Possibly that point may be met by taking the poll by post, but we know how unsatisfactory that might be in a place like British New Guinea, where a powerful personal influence in a particular locality might secure the whole of the votes being given in a particular way. The people there would not have the benefit which we, in a more favoured country, have, of holding public discussions and meetings to debate the question. There would be an absence of enlightening discussion, so that the whole of the voting might be in a particular direction. The poll might be a farce one way or the other. There certainly is that contingency.
– A very remote contingencv.
– We should have to get over it if it were decided to have a local option poll. Then there is no provision as to what the majority is to be. Is it to be a majority of those voting, or a majority of the whole of the white population ?
– A majority of those voting.
– With the small white population, it might be impossible . to get a representative vote if a majority of those voting is to decide.
– If it is a burning question with them they will vote.
– The fundamental objection that I am not able to get over is that under this Bill we are giving a system of government to the people of British New Guinea, and we ought not to tie their hands as to the regulation of their own internal affairs. We may abstain from doing so the more readily, because we have the feeling that we should be doing complete justice, owing to the fact that their proceedings and the exercise of their powers will be under the supervision of the Commonwealth and within the limits of the Constitution.
– Why not give them representative government at once if that is the case?
– There is to be an amendment to that effect later on, but I think honorable senators will pause before voting for any proposal to confer representative government upon British New Guinea.
– But the honorable and learned senator’s argument goes as far as that.
– We should be foolish to depart from the lines upon which dependencies of this character are usually governed for the purpose of imposing, I will not say a fad, but some particular nostrum of our own in relation to what intimately concerns the internal affairs of the people. There would be more reason for imposing upon them absolute prohibition, and saying, “ You shall not allow a drop of liquor within the borders of British New Guinea,” than there is in saying that it shall be regulated by the people themselves by means of a poll which it would be very difficult to take. These are the views which I submit to my honorable friend for his consideration. I think it would be unwise for us at this stage to introduce into this Constitution restrictions upon the powers of the Government in relation to so important a question.
– I think we ought to call things by their right name. We are dealing with this matter as if it were a question of local option as generally understood. As a matter of fact, it is nothing of the kind. It is a question of prohibition which may indeed be part of the principle of local option, though certainly a great many people who are strong local optionists, as I am, do not believe in prohibition. We are asked to give the right to 2oi> people out of 400 to dictate to the other 199 as ,to what they shall or shall not drink. That is totally opposed to my ideas of true liberty. I would never consent to permit any one to dictate ,to me as to my right 10 have a glass of whisky or brandy, if I needed it, and thought fit to have it and could get it in any way. But, apart from that, the question is whether it is wise to do what Senator Pearce proposes ? There seems to be a strong consensus of opinion that prohibition cannot be carried out in British New Guinea. As a matter of fact, I do not think it has ever .been carried out in any country. I.t has been legislated for, but I doubt whether the legislation has been successful, even where the conditions were much more favorable than they are in the Possession. The preponderance of opinion on the part of the white residents of British New Guinea shows that it will be absolutely impossible to carry out prohibition at all. What does the proposal mean? It means that a small number of whites, if they were so inclined, might work together and secure a small majority at the poll, which would enable them to impose their will upon the actual majority of the white residents. Because the majority are too scattered to exercise the right to vote, which it is proposed’ to give them. There is the less justification for the proposal, because the evidence shows that at the present time the administration of the liquor traffic, in relation to the coloured people, is as nearly perfect as it is possible for it to be. We are legislating for a far off country, of which very few of us know anything. Indeed, we have to thank one honorable senator for having taken the trouble to inform the Senate, from personal inquiry, as to what the conditions in British New Guinea really are. We are providing a Constitution for this country, giving it power to legislate for itself within certain limits. But we are asked to give that power with the one hand, and to take it away with the other. The questions which were p,ut ,to inhabitants of all classes at the instance of the late Prime Minister revealed the fact that opinion is unanimously opposed to prohibition. We have the opinions of leading missionaries, resident magistrates, miners, traders, and people of all descriptions, who tell us that, after nineteen years of British occupation, the natives have not acquired a taste for alcoholic drinks. That seems to me to indicate either that they do not care for our liquors, or that the law restricting the supply to them is effective. The laws have been very carefully carried out under such ordinances as have been imposed.
– Does the honorable senator think that that state of affairs will remain for long?
– I do not see why it should not. We have had that experience, and why should we not follow the advice of those who have administered the Dependency so. satisfactorily up to the present? We are asked to do what every one, who speaks with authority, declares to be impracticable. We are also asked to put into a Constitution details concerning a matter that can very much more easily be carried out by those on the spot by other means.
– It is proposed to leave it to those on the spot to carry out the proposal.
– No, it is proposed to leave it to 201 persons to do a certain thing although it is against the will of the other 199. I was astonished to hear my colleague from Tasmania, Senator Dobson, ask that . the 400 white people of British New Guinea should be allowed representative government.
– I do not believe in any such thing ; I simply said that if Senator Symon’s argument were sound”, we might as well concede representative government at once.
– I trust that we shall make our legislation as practical as possible, and leave the administration of it to those who have exercised their authority so admirably in the past. We have decided to trust them to administer matters of greater importance, and we may as well trust them in this.
– Having fought to the best of my ability for prohibition, and having been fairly and squarely beaten, I shall trouble the Committee no further on the point. I’ ask Senator Pearce, however, if he cannot see his way to withdraw the local option proposal, which, I feel sure, places us in a false position. We are asked to leave the matter to the vote of people who, we may be sure, will be unanimously against prohibition. Those who believe in prohibition should have voted in favour of that principle, and not have relied on a clause which simply has the effect of passing the responsibility over to the white men of New Guinea. I suppose that each of the twenty odd licensed sellers of drink in New Guinea could command four or five votes, representing nearly 100 of the total population of 400. The living of the traders depends on exchange and barter with the natives, and those traders are, to a certain extent, indirectly interested in the liquor traffic. Then there are about fifty Government officials, whose comfort, to a large extent, depends on the character of the hotels in the various districts ; and they, as we probably should ourselves under the circumstances, will doubtless come under the influence of the hotelkeepers, and vote almost to a man against prohibition. Judging from the quantity of drink imported into the Possession, I should conclude that the only teetotallers are to be found amongst the missionaries - that there are very few abstainers in the general population. Last year there were imported 1,600 gallons of whisky, 800 gallons of brandy, 141 gallons of gin, 600 gallons of rum, 300 gallons of bottled ale, 4,200 gallons of draught ale, 1,018 gallons of wine, including 64 gallons of sparkling wine, and 290 gallons of other liquors. This represents an average of 30 gallons for every man of the white population; and, under the circumstances, what hope could there be of a vote in favour of prohibition ? The residents of New Guinea cannot be regarded as ordinary colonists. I question whether there are five white men in the whole of the island who look upon New Guinea as their permanent home. Those men are simply there to make money, and they all hope to return to their homes in Australia or elsewhere. Indeed, the white residents there have not yet been given citizen rights, and yet we are asked to allow them to exercise local option. The proposal before us would, in my opinion, drag the great principle of local option through the mud. I know that Senator Pearce has as great a regard as has any honorable senator for the welfare of the people of New Guinea, and I hope that he will see the advisableness of withdrawing the amendment.
– I intend to vote against the amendment. I was very much impressed with the arguments addressed to the Committee last night and tq-day by the Attorney-General. We are now conferring on the people of New Guinea a means of governing their own territory ; we are simply providing a Constitution, and, as far as possible, leaving the white residents, subject to the surveillance of the Commonwealth, to work out their own destiny, according to their requirements. The white settlers of New Guinea are more conversant with the conditions and requirements of the Possession than we can hope to be unless we visit those shores more frequently than has so far been the case. .We can safely leave the white settlers to determine this question for themselves. Senator Gray infers, from the extraordinary amount of liquor imported into the territory last year, that there must be no total abstainers there.
– I said there must be very few.
– The honorable senator said that practically the only teetotallers must be amongst the missionaries. It has, however, been suggested to me by an honorable senator that Senator Gray has not considered the fact that for some time past the question of taking over the administration of New Guinea has been -before the Commonwealth Parliament. Throughout the Commonwealth there have been murmurs that it is desirable to introduce the principle of prohibition ; and it is quite possible that, following the example of people in New South Wales, in anticipation of a protective Tariff for the Commonwealth, many of the New Guinea residents have provided themselves with liquor for a few years, at any rate.
– Two years ago the importations were larger still.
– The importation should be shown over a period of years, during which the people were unaware of any intention on the part of the Commonwealth to take over the administration of the Territory. I quite agree with the AttorneyGeneral that this Bill is intended to confer on the local people some measure of selfgovernment, and not to tie their hands. Last night it was intimated that we had the example of a people to whom a Constitution was given being prevented from imposing anything in the way of differentia] duties. But differential duties imposed in a Territory, Colony, or Possession affect not only the residents, but other people outside, whereas the question now under discussion is entirely domestic. Just as I should object to undue interference by the Commonwealth in the domestic affairs of any of the States, or by the Imperial authorities in the domestic affairs of the Commonwealth, so I object - and I think the people of New Guinea might rightly resent any interference - to such as that now proposed. For those reasons I favour leaving the matter entirely to the people of New Guinea under the measure of self-government now before us. The people ought to be left to take this” poll on their own initiative - they should be left, if they please, to establish prohibition or leave matters as they are, or to adopt a policy similar to that followed in the Australian States or in New Zealand.
– I hope the Committee will support the amendment moved by Senator Pearce. The fact is that we are not giving the people of Papua self-government j and those who take the view that we are extending self government to them are deceiving themselves, or trying to deceive others. In view of the fact that in a population of a little over 400, there are seven licensed hotelkeepers and thirteen licensed storekeepers, we can easily realize the influence which would be exercised in deciding the question of prohibition or the regulation of the drink traffic. It is wise, I think, that for the present we should give the settlers in New Guinea some indication of the direction in which we should like the administration of the liquor traffic to go. I do not agree with Senator Gray, who wishes us to believe that the white people of New Guinea axe wine bibbers. I do not take the view which Senator Gray does as to the quantity of liquor imported last year, nor do I. on the other hand, accept Senator Keating’s explanation of the facts. Further, I do not agree with Senator Smith, that men who are the flotsam and jetsam of other countries have made their way into New Guinea. We know how the Australian States were peopled in the past, and yet parliamentary candidates assure similar classes to those who now inhabit New Guinea that thev are the “ hardy pioneers “ who have “borne the heat and burden of the day” - that they are the finest people on the face of the earth ! I have no doubt that at some future day parliamentary candidates will be saying the same sort of thing to the people of Papua. We have an opportunity, not only to act in the interests of the white residents of New Guinea, but to afford an object lesson to the rest of Australia. Whether the amendment in connexion with local option’ be carried or not,
I hope Senator Pearce will submit the subsequent amendment, which I regard’ as even of more importance. Whether, in New Guinea, or elsewhere, the people are generally in communities, however small, and there should be no difficulty in taking a vote. When the people of Papua are given self-government will be the time to leave these matters entirely to them. We do not pass this legislation in the pessimistic belief that the white population is going to remain at 400. Our desire is that this shall be a successful Dependency, and’ ultimately become a part of the Commonwealth. If we establish proper laws dealing with the liquor traffic, the result will not only be beneficial from a State point of view, but will secure to the individual drink that cannot be described as “chain lightning.”
– Would the honorable senator apply that principle to Victoria or to South Australia?
– I should be prepared to apply that principle anywhere.
– I have listened to the debate with considerable interest, and with a desire to obtain information. Up to the present time I have not heard any honorable senator contend that the existing system in force in New Guinea for the regulation of the liquor traffic has been a failure, that it has produced evil results, or that an alteration is desirable. We are all very much indebted to Senator Smith, who has visited New Guinea, and has given us the benefit of his experience ; but even that honorable senator has not pointed out any ill effects attending the present system. There may be abuses here and there, as there always will be in. connexion with the conduct of such a business; but I think that on all hands it is admitted that the present system in operation in New Guinea is working admirably. It is stated that the native population have not been injured by its operation ; they have not acquired a taste for drink, and they are an exceedingly sober race. All this goes to prove that no one can fairly say a word against the present system, and I therefore ask why we should attempt to alter it? Where is the necessity to interfere with a system which has been in operation for many years with very good results? I have had an opportunity to speak to a gentleman who has had immense experience in New Guinea as an official, and he has informed me that one of the worst things we could do would be to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors in the Territory. I am happy to say that we have prevented that. Senator Pearce is proposing to give the white population an opportunity to exercise local option, and decide whether the sale of intoxicating liquors should be allowed in British New Guinea. But the honorable senator also proposes to impose certain conditions. If the white population decide that the sale of intoxicating liquors shall be allowed in the Territory, the honorable senator proposes that it shall be only upon the condition that the sale shall be through the Government and through Government officials. It would be one of the greatest mistakes we could commit to provide for the sale of intoxicating liquor by Government officials throughout such a Territory as British New Guinea. Those men would be placed in a most improper position, because they would be given an incentive to make money in a very improper way. In my opinion, it would be very . dangerous to place in the hands of Government officials, without let or hindrance, the sale of intoxicating liquor throughout such a Territory. Their interest might be to secure the sale of as much intoxicating liquor as they could possibly sell, and it might be also that if they had not that interest they would take very little trouble in the matter, and injury to the public would follow in either case. In my opinion, the safest and best thing for us to do is to leave this matter entirely in the hands of the Legislative Council and the Executive of the Territory. It will thus be dealt with by people who are on the spot, who will understand the local conditions, and who will be acquainted with the working of the present system. They will know how the present system may be altered with advantage to the community, and they will be far more likely to take the right course in the interests of all concerned than we can possibly be. I believe that it will be found most injurious to give the sale of intoxicating liquors into the hands of Government officials. I am, therefore, prepared to vote against the proposal, and in support of leaving the matter to be dealt with bv those who will be in charge of the Territory.
– I have heard several arguments on this question to-day, but only one which is in any way likely to affect my vote. Senator Mulcahy has reproached’ Senator Pearce for not calling the right thing by the right name.
The honorable senator objects to Senator Pearce’s proposal on the ground that it is local option by name, and not in reality.
– What I said was that prohibition is always understood to be a very different thing from local option as we understand it.
– I entirely disagree with Senator Mulcahy’s argument. What is proposed ‘ is local option, because it will give the white residents of New Guinea the option of saying whether intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured in or imported into the Territory. I am prepared to admit, if that will satisfy Senator Mulcahy, that as we understand it, local option is usually applied to the closing of public houses.
– Under local option, as we know it, there are Several alternatives.
– That is what I said.
– The form in which it is ordinarily presented to us is that of a poll taken to decide whether certain public houses shall be closed, but the object is the same as the intention is to interfere with the sale of intoxicants.
– There is a difference between that and prohibition?
– Under this proposal the white residents of New Guinea will have the option of saying whether intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured or imported into the Territory; but Senator Pearce frankly admits that if the result of their poll be a decision that intoxicants may be imported and manufactured, the importation and manufacture will be placed under State control. The only difference between the proposal and local option, as we understand it, is that in New Guinea, as a result of the exercise of local option in a certain direction, it is proposed that the manufacture and sale of intoxicants shall be under State control, whereas, in the Commonwealth it is usually merely a question of the number of publichouses that shall be licensed to sell liquor. I do not pose as a teetotaller as I am not one, but I hope that I am not a fanatic on this question. I must disagree with Senator Playford, when he says, with an air of extreme confidence, that we cannot possibly improve upon the present system in force in New Guinea.
– I did not say that. I said that the people there might be able to improve upon it.
– The honorable senator said that the present system was working admirably in New Guinea, and could not be improved upon.
– I did not say that it could not be improved upon.
– The honorable senator referred to a very high authority - and we know that the reference was to the late Administrator ofNew Guinea, for whom we Have a very great respect - in support of his statement that the present system is working admirably. I differ with the honorable senator. I say that the present system of selling liquor throughout the world does not work admirably. I object to the licensing system, and I am disposed to take advantage of this opportunity to prevent its continuance in New Guinea. Senator Playford has referred to the extreme danger of allowing intoxicants to be sold by Government officials. I do not exclude the element of risk wherever humanity is involved, but I believe that, in the opinion of most people, there will be far less risk in handing over the sale of liquor to Government officials, who will have no personal interest in selling it, than in permitting its sale by the ordinary persons to whom licences are issued, and whose interest it is to sell it in large quantities, and of bad quality. I listened with some amazement to Senator Playford’s endeavour to emphazise the tremendous risk we should run by placing the conduct of this traffic under State control. That senator contended that that would lead to a worse state of things than exists at present. He has suggested that a Government official is a far more dangerous person to have the control of liquor than is the ordinary man who applies for a licence and looks to make his living out of the sale of liquor. The argument is preposterous, and I am astonished that Senator Playford should have used it. There is one objection which has raised a serious doubt in my mind, but I hope I shall be able to overcome it. We are giving a Constitution to British New Guinea, and it may be fairly contended that it is not desirable that by our enactment we should impose limitations upon the power of that small community to govern itself under the Constitution, such as it is. I should be more impressed with that argument if we had proposed to give a wider Constitution, and if I could not see in this Bill very many limitations which could never have been im- posed, for instance, upon any of the selfgoverning States of this Commonwealth prior to Federation. In half-a-dozen ways we have already agreed to impose limitations upon the people of New Guinea.
– Inconnexion with eleven different subjects.
– The honorable senator refers to clause 43, dealing with the matters withheld for assent?
– All their ordinances mightbe disallowed.
– Without desiring to in any way introduce that wholly forbidden topic, the Tariff, I must refer honorable senators to clause 39. In that clause we propose a limitation upon the powers of the people of the Territory to regulate their own Tariff laws. It is unnecessary for me to remind the Committee that a limitation upon the rights of the American Colonies to do what they choose with their own Tariff led to disastrous results. I admit that the limitation there was not the same as it is here. It was different in detail, but so far as the essence of limitation and interference is concerned, it was the same. It was an interference which the American Colonies resented, and which, as we know, produced the American War of Independence. We know, also, that it was an interference which the Imperial authorities subsequently avoided in giving constitutions to Crown Colonies in Australia. There was no such limitation imposed upon the Crown Colony of Western Australia by the Imperial authorities as that which had been imposed upon the American Colonies. I admit that clause 39 appeals to us, but we have here taken it upon ourselves to say that the people of this Territory shall not do certain things with regard to their Tariff. As regards the interchange of goods, this Territory will not be in the same position as a State. I understand that Parliament is determined to impose Customs duties on any imports from the Territory. Therefore, in that respect, it can never stand in the same relation towards the Commonwealth as one State stands towards another State in the Commonwealth. Although that privilege is denied to the Territory, still we have limited its power to impose Customs duties. The Bill contains innumerable limitations upon the power of the Legislative Council to be constituted, and such as have not, to my knowledge, been imposed by the British Parliament in the Constitution for any Crown Colony. If we had not imposed so many limitations in the Constitution, much as I should like to see local option established in the Territory, I should have reluctantly found myself compelled to vote against Senator Pearce. But I have given the matter grave consideration, and finding that so many limitations are imposed upon the self-governing powers of the Territory, I intend to do what is to a certain extent an unconstitutional thing, and that is to vote for the amendment.
– It strikes me that local option was a misnomer for the proposal of Senator Pearce. The idea conveyed to my mind by the phrase is that the people who live in a locality are allowed to restrict the sale of liquor without any regard to . the opinion of the people who reside in other localities. It is a matter of locality. It is the negation of a uniform system. It is adopted in order to enable a diverse policy to be carried out in different localities according to the wishes of the inhabitants. There is nothing of that kind proposed to be done in the Territory. It will be noticed that the term “ local option,” is not used in the amendments or in . the marginal notes. A more appropriate term to use would be “ referendum.” What Senator Pearce proposes is. a referendum of the white inhabitants for the purpose of deciding as to a uniform policy for the Territory, which is exactly contrary to the idea conveyed to the minds of most persons by the expression. It is not merely a matter of phrase, it is really a matter of substance, and the danger is that any honorable senator, who may be strongly in favour of local option, as I have always been in Australia, may be inclined to think that he is bound to vote for this proposal, because it is called local option.
– Is it a poll of the white inhabitants ?
– For the reason I gave it cannot be properly called a local option poll. I should say that it is a referendum.
– I withdraw the term, if it is objected to.
– Is not the honorable senator losing sight of the consideration which has been uppermost in the mind’s of honorable senators, and that is the welfare of the natives? Prohibition is chiefly opposed here on the ground that it would be injurious to the coloured race. We ought to continue to look at the question from that point of view. At the present time this Parliament is the guardian of. the natives. It is now proposed to give a sort of limited constitution to the Territory by creating a Legislative Council with power to make ordinances for its peace, order, and good government. Why should we not leave the determination of this question to the future guardian of the welfare of the natives? If Senator Pearce thinks that prohibition would be injurious to their welfare, why is he not prepared to leave the determination of the question to that body instead of requiring that a poll of the white residents shall be taken, and therefore giving a double chance of a line of policy being adopted which he considers would be injurious to the natives? The most important consideration with honorable senators should be the welfare of the natives. I am still in favour of local op..ion. but. in this case, apart from all difficulties in connexion with the practicability of the proposal, it would be inadvisable to take the settlement of this question out of the hands of the Legislative Council.
– I cannot understand how any one who believes in the first principle of democracy - that is, rule by the will of the majority in a community - can consistently oppose the amendment.
– If a majority were to rule that the honorable senator should not have salt, would he be prepared to bow to their decision?
– I do not suggest that the will of the majority should be applied to every phase of life, but in municipal and political questions I think it should be followed as closely as possible. The amendment will give the people of the Territory an opportunity to express their will. Surely when their will is ascertained it will be the duty of the Legislative Council to carry it out ?
– Why not ascertain the will of the people on other subjects as well as the liquor traffic?
– If the honorable and learned senator will submit a proposal to take a referendum on any subject on which we can legislate he will receive the heart v co-operation of honorable senators sitting on this side. But for the remarks of Senator Playford, I should not have risen to address the Committee. He seemed to entertain a doubt as to the advisability of trusting a Government official with the sale of drink.
– It is absurd to ask’ a policeman on a gold-field to retail liquor in addition to discharging his ordinary duties.
– The honorable senator is at a disadvantage in not having had any experience on the conduct of this traffic through the agency of Government officials. In Western Australia, where we have experimented in a community exactly similar to the communities in this Territory, we have solved the liquor question as far as it is capable of solution in our present state of civilization.
– But the men who are employed at the Government hotel have nothing else to do. They are not Government officials.
– I believe that the experiment could be carried out quite as satisfactorily in Papua as in Western Australia. All that is necessary is to be careful in selecting a manager, and .to pay him a reasonable salary. The manager of the State hotel at Gwalia, 700 miles from Perth, is responsible to the Government for its good management. It is conducted on such lines that the most scrupulous persons cannot find any fault with the manager. The only complaint against the State hotel is that it has not been a financial success. We all know how successfully public houses can be run on gold,-fields. The man who does not care a fig as to how his house is conducted is generally most successful, because he descends to questionable tactics which would not be tolerated in the manager of a Government institution. We may take it for granted that a Government official in Papua would do his duty. At Gwalia we have a manager who has performed his duty in such a way that no fault can be found with him. It was alleged that the establishment of a State hotel would lead to bribery and corruption, but the predictions have not been realized. So long as it is conducted as a hotel should be conducted, the manager retains his position, whether the place is paying or “ not. He has not decended to the ordinary tactics of the publican in endeavouring to make the place pay. But, notwithstanding that fact, last year the hotel paid a profit of ^588, which under the circumstances was very good. If the hotel- keeper ha-d descended to the practices” that obtain in some public-houses in the backblocks no doubt a very much greater profit would have been earned. If the State put a man into the occupation of an hotel, he would understand that the moment he misconducted it, or any questionable thing occurred in it, his occupation would be gone. He would see then that it was conducted in ,a proper manner. But in public- houses, as usually conducted, where every man is trying to make as much as he can, not necessarily for himself, but for the brewer, it is no wonder that questionable practices take place. Unfortunately, it is the brewer and the property-owner who have to a very large extent assumed control of the publichouses in Australia. In the back-blocks of Western Australia the public-houses are often kept open night and day. As long as there is a customer in the house no one is asked to depart. The publican and . his wife are little better than slaves. For almost the whole twenty-four hours of a day they are .perhaps working to get a living for themselves; but the people who reap the greater part of the benefit are the brewer and the man who has put his money into the building and has sublet. The moral effect of the establishment of State public-houses is worth thousands of pounds to the country. Any one who knows the place to which I have referred is aware that before the State public-house was established things were very different from what they are now. Crime of every kind was frequent. Brothels were everywhere. Sly-grog shops were the rule. But when the State hotel was established, these places had to give up business, because any one who wanted to get a glass of spirits or beer knew that he could get it pure at the State establishment, whereas at the other places the poison dispensed to the customers was of the kind often designated as “ chain lightning,” rather than the real liquor that any one could take with the idea of preserving his health and his palate. At the present time, the State hotel is so conducted ihat at eleven o’clock, the time fixed for closing, -no more drinks are served’ out. At five minutes past eleven every light is extinguished. But two miles and a half away, at the town of Leonore, there are six or eight public- houses that keep open till three or four o’clock in the morning, or perhaps until daylight.
– What are the police doing? I
– It would take a regiment of police to look after these establishments.
– Has the honorable senator ever been to Leonore?
– I should rather think I have.
– Why could not two policeman look after the hotels ?
– Half-a-dozen policemen could not manage them properly, and for various reasons it would’ be foolhardy for them to attempt to do so unlessthey had the assistance of the publicans. At the State hotel, there is no night drinking, and if one goes into the bar, he hears none of the bad language that, as a rule, so offends; the ear in public-houses. These facts cannot be surprising to Senator Matheson, who knows the state of affairs that prevails on the gold-field’s of Western Australia. I have been there too often not to know what takes place in a mining community. It is impossible to alter it as long as private enterprise conducts the hotels, and as long as it is to the interest of the private individual who is running a “ pub.” to take advantage of every opportunity’ to earn “an honest shilling,” as it is called. We can remedy this state of affairs by the establishment of State hotels. Senator Playford has expressed some doubt about the matter. That is pardonable in any one who has not had experience of State hotels. But the Western Australian experience is sufficient to justify any one in supporting this proposal.
– I think this debate tends to show that the system which we ought to adopt is to allow the importation of liquor so long as it is controlled by the Government, and so long as the sale is also controlled by them. Therefore, I must differ from the remarks made by Senator Playford with regard to what would be the result of allowing Government officials to control the liquor trade. It must be perfectly obvious that under the present licensing system men who sell liquor practically appoint themselves. They have to go before a magistrate, and most of them can, get a character. It is simply the waifs and strays of society who take to hotelkeeping in some quarters. In the case of Government control every hotelkeeper will be a selected man. If personal interest in the sale of drink is eliminated, a better state of things is bound to be brought about. The question before us is whether we shall adopt the referendum clauses which have been suggested by Senator Pearce. The whole contention has arisen about this matter. But honorable senators have spoken about the first principles and the spirit of democracy. Even the AttorneyGeneral spoke about interfering with the self-government of the people of British New Guinea, and of how wrong it would be not to let them work out their own destiny. That point of view would be all very fine if the Attorney-General were asking us to grant to the white people of British New Guinea a democratic Constitution. But there is nothing democratic about this Bill. It is absolutely opposed to democracy. These people are simply to be governed by us, that is, by our LieutenantGovernor, and by a Legislative Council whom the Governor-General may appoint at pleasure. I would lay down in this Bill a policy with regard to the drink traffic. I altogether deny that 500 whites have the right to say what is the best system in the interest of 500,000 natives. In this Bill we impose restrictions upon the whites in many directions. We say, for instance, that 10 per cent, of the receipts from the leaseholds of Crown lands shall be devoted to a fund for the benefit of the old, infirm, and sick natives. Why not let the people of British New Guinea say whether 5 or 50 per. cent shall be devoted to that purpose? But Ave recognise that we have a perfect right in this, the most complicated question which any Legislature can discuss, to lay down the principles upon which we think the government of the Dependency should be based. It is not only the 500 whites whom -we have to consider. It is also the black men. British New Guinea is a black man’s country, where alcohol is injurious to the human system.
– Some of the best authorities say that it is necessary.
– We have been told by Sir William MacGregor, who is a doctor, and by others who speak with authority, that those in tropical countries who take no stimulants have far better health than others. I firmly believe that that is an absolute fact, i deny altogether that we have any right to allow 500 white people, some of them miners, to have absolute control over this question. I hope the clause will be knocked out,- and that we shall- seriously consider the possibility of putting the whole liquor traffic under State control.
– I am in favour of State control, and opposed to prohibition. Senator de Largie says that he does not see how any democrat can refuse to give to the people in New Guinea the right to say whether liquor shall or shall not be imported. This amendment does not propose to give the people a choice as to what they shall or shall not do.
– It gives them an opportunity to express their will.
-It does not, except to an exceedingly limited degree. The amendment proposes to give the white people a choice between two alternatives - prohibition or State control. I do not propose to go into the question of State control at this stage, but when Senator Pearce moves his amendment, I shall give him my ardent support. In this Bill we are not dealing merely with 500, 600, or even 1,000 people who may be in New Guinea now or next year, but we are legislating for the enormous black population. We cannot relieve ourselves from the responsibility of seeing that the interests of those coloured people are looked after. The responsibility of seeing that no great evil befalls them rests upon this Parliament. I am of opinion that State control of the liquor traffic in New Guinea presents the only means of safeguarding the black population from the necessary evils of uncontrolled sale. I have lived a long time in tropical countries, and am acquainted with a great many people who are resident in New Guinea, and I have at various times discussed New Guinea matters with them. In addition, I have met large numbers who were absolute physical wrecks owing to ravages of fever ‘ contracted in the Possession. I have read all the evidence which has been placed before us, and, taking that together with what I learn privately, there seems to me to be a universal consensus of opinion - an almost absolute agreement - that the introduction of liquor is necessary for the white population. My own experience proves that, when the system is run down in tropical countries, spirits are an excellent tonic, and afford the very best preventative of fever. Fever is exceedingly prevalent in New Guinea, and its effects on the human system are sometimes disastrous.
– The effects are exaggerated.
– Excuse me, that is not so. I have seen the effects of the fever last intermittently for years. A man may be walking down the street, apparently quite well, and two minutes afterwards trembling and shaking like an ivy leaf in the wind.
– People who have lived many years in New Guinea, tell a different story.
– I have lived on the track to New Guinea, and I have seen strong men of magnificent constitution return from the Possession absolute physical wrecks. The evidence is too strong for us to come to any other conclusion than that intermittent fever is a serious drawback to settlement in New Guinea. There was exactly the same experience when the tropical ports in Northern Queensland were first opened up. The first year I lived in Cairns I had malarial fever no fewer than three times, whereas now the sickness is almost unknown. It would appear that the fever is very prevalent at first, but afterwards disappears, and now, in New Guinea, there are the same conditions - though in an intensified degree - that prevailed in northern Queensland. There is a consensus of opinion that a drop of good spirits is a very good preventative of fever; and I cannot see why, under the circumstances, we should enforce prohibition. Even if I were in favour of die local option proposed - and I am not, because it is too limited, and to that extent a mere pretence - I should still sav that we have no right to give the control pf the liquor traffic to the small white population. We have no right to let a small number of people decide how there shall be controlled a traffic which may affect the interests of nearly half-a-million of black population. Bearing in view our enormous responsibility, which we cannot remove from our shoulders, to see that the coloured population are not cursed by an uncontrolled traffic in intoxicants, as the Australian aborigines unfortunately were, we have sought to lay it down as a hard and fast rule that the trade shall be conducted in such a manner as will safeguard the interests of the natives. I have no sympathy with milk-and-water, goody-goody people, who sa.y that a man shall not be allowed to take a drop of drink. Sometimes drink is not only good, but exceedingly necessary. It is the abuse and not the use of drink which brings about all the disastrous results of which we hear. The proper use of drink never did any harm, and I have no sympathy with those who say that, because one man cannot get through life without the moral crutch of total abstinence, every one else shall be compelled to carry a crutch in order to keep him in countenance. I shall vote against this amendment of Senator Pearce, but I shall be exceedingly glad to support the subsequent amendment in favour of State control.
– I am not in favour of the amendment proposed by Senator Pearce, because I believe that liquor in such countries as New Guinea is very injurious. I admit that liquor in moderation may be beneficial to a slight extent, but my experience in Queensland, in the years 1865 to 1867. when I had malarial fever very bad, led me to the conclusion that but for my sobriety I should have suffered a great deal more.
– The honorable senator cannot say that.
– I knew heavy drinkers who were engaged on the same property, and they were made perfect wrecks by the fever. I, myself, was so bad . that, as sure as 3 o’clock in the afternoon arrived’, I had to lie up..
– Did the honorable senator find quinine any good?
– I found quinine infinitely better than brandy for the fever.
– As a fact, hard drinkers rarely suffer from malarial fever. Senator FRASER.- It is an absurd proposal that officialsshallbe ‘created to retail liquor. This is the thin edge of the. wedge towards securing State control of everything. I do not believe in State management of the liquor, or any other industry. If the liquor sold is bad, as I believe, in many cases, it is, let there be a law that all drinks shall be wholesome and sound. Indeed, that is already the law, and it ought to be enforced.
– Is that not State control to an extent?
– Has that law been a success?
– I think so; bad liquor is not allowed to be sold in Victoria.
– But some retailers do sell bad liquor.
– I think that the liquor sold is good on the whole, though I remember when much of it was poison. We have not to be so careful now as to what we drink, as we were forty or fifty years ago.
– It is comparatively easy to control the traffic in a community like that of Melbourne.
– Yes ; there would be much more difficulty in a country where the State officials would live by the trade. A large percentage of the white residents of New Guinea now live by the trade, and yet it is proposed to increase the facilities for the sale of drink. State control does not succeed, except in suchcasesas that of the Post and Telegraph Department and so forth.
– State management of the liquor traffic has been an unqualified success in Western Australia.
– That may be so. If the population be large enough, and there is a State hotel, I do not say that success may not follow, seeing that there is no inducement to push the sale.
– That is the kernel of the whole affair.
– Are we to create a number of public servants to vend liquor to a sparse population like that of New Guinea? Under clause 22, no liquor can be supplied to the natives; and that is a matter with which we are ‘more concerned than we are with its sale to the whites. The few whites may legislate for themselves, through their Council, and this Bill is not like the law of the Medes and the Persians, but can be altered if it does not work well. To some extent, I agree with Senator Playford that we might leave well alone. The present system has worked very satisfactorily, and we ought not to rush to extremes. We are taking over the whole of this country; and, in regard to land legislation, it is not too much to ask that 10 per cent, of the land revenue shall be devoted to providing, as it were, oldage pensions for the natives. I hope that Senator Pearce’s amendment will not be accepted.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I move -
That the blank in the clause be filled by the insertion of the following words: - “Intoxicants may be purchased, imported into, manufactured, and sold in the Territory only by the Lieutenant-Governor, or by officers, duly appointed in that behalf, and under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the LieutenantGovernor relating to the purchase, importation, manufacture, and sale thereof.
No person other than as provided in the immediately preceding paragraph shall import into, manufacture, or sell in the Territory any intoxicants.
Penalty : £100.
Intoxicants for the purposes of this section shall mean any wine, spirits, ale, beer, porter, cider, perry, or other spirituous or fermented liquor of an intoxicating nature.”
– This provision! would secure State control of the importation, manufacture, and sale of liquor in the Territory. I would point out in answer to Senator Playford that to be an “ officer “ of the Government, a person need not necessarily be permanently employed by the Government, or his time need not necessarily bewholly taken up by Government work. Ira the Commonwealth we have- non-official postmasters who are still referred to as officials of the Department.
– They are contractors.
– They give a portion of their time to the Government service, and! they are recognised as officials. There are also State officials who give- a portion of their time to the service of the Commonwealth, and they are considered- Commonwealth as well as State officials. I contend that if any person is appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor to conduct the- sale of liquor under this provision he will for that purpose be an “officer.”’ I am reminded by Senator Croft that officials under the electoral law are very often town clerks anrl persons following all sorts of occupations, apart from the ordinary Government service.
– I believe that this clause requires to be more clearly defined. I understand from Senator Smith, whom we all regard as the one authority on New Guinea, and, indeed, on the South Pacific generally, to whom we can refer for information, that the natives of the Territory have a playful little way of making tipple for themselves. It is probably not palatable to white men, or otherwise visitors from Australia would not require to take a couple of cases of whisky with them. I wish to know how this provision will affect the manufacture of native drink. I do not know whether these drinlij are dangerous or harmless, but it seems to me that the amendment is of so sweeping a character as to include these native manufactures. It will be quite impossible to check the manufacture, and if that be so, we shall by this provision be merely manufacturing a crime, and increasing the number of New Guinea criminals to an alarming extent by the inclusion of the making of the native beverages to which I have referred. I should like Senator Pearce to so draft the amendment as to cover the liquors which civilized people understand rather than these possible or impossible native beverages. In all good faith I suggest to the honorable senator that we shall be running a risk of creating a great difficulty if,a s a result of this provision, we penalize the manufacture of native beverages, which has been going on for an unknown number of years.
– The honorable senator will find that I havedefined “intoxicants.”
– Why should we interfere with what has been going on for centuries ?
– That is what I suggest. However desirable it may be to regulate the sale of liquors known to white people, I protest against the inclusion of the little odds and ends of drinks which the natives of New Guinea have been accustomed to manufacture since before we had anv knowledge of the Territory.
– There are one or two difficulties connected with this provision to which I think attention should be directed. There is a great deal of force in Senator Playford’s suggestion with respect to the use of the word “officer.” Senator Pearce proposes to provide that intoxicants may be purchased, imported into, manufactured, and sold in the Territory only by the LieutenantGovernor, or by officers duly appointed in that behalf. But, as Senator Neild has said, the manufacturer might be a native,’ and why should the distiller of a native liquor be a Government officer? Why should the distiller of any liquor be a Government officer ?
– Because we are proposing a Government monopoly of the business in New Guinea.
– Captain Barton says that the native liquors are not of an intoxicating character.
– I do not wish to go into that. Many good people used to contend that cider was not intoxicating, but that idea has been exploded for a very long time. I have no personal knowledge of the effects of these native beverages. We know that spirits may be distilled from a very great variety of materials, and surely it is not contemplated that persons engaged in distillation in every part of New Guinea shall be Government officers. Difficulties at once arise when we attempt to deal, in a comprehensive way with what are really matters for internal regulation. Honorable senators should pause before they consent to adopt this method of introducing in New Guinea a system akin to the Gothenburg system. These proposals should not be dealt with in a hurried way. They require very careful consideration as to details before they can be satisfactorily carried out.
– The New Guinea Government will carry out the details.
– Yes, but it is proposed to shackle them in a certain way. I assume that it is intended that revenue shall be derived, and I remind honorable senators that under the proposal the importation of intoxicants is to be the duty of the Lieutenant-Governor, or of officers authorized by him. It is intended to have no licensed persons but Government officers.
– The Government will get a profit instead of the duty.
– Thereis a broad principle that the Crown is’ not liable for Customs duties, and the first consideration which strikes me is that, if the Crown is to be the sole importer of liquor, there will be no revenue for the Territory.
– The Crown could sell liquor at a profit.
– The profit would be an entirelv speculative amount-
– It is not sold at a profit in Western Australia, w’here the system is at work.
– A profit is made on the sale of the liquor.
– I am not prepared to go into that question. We have to consider a great variety of things before we can say that the profit will be equal to the duty. For instance, we have to consider the climate. The Government officers who are dispensing the liquor may suffer from sickness occasionally, perhaps frequently, and they may-
– They may drink it themselves.
– I would not make that suggestion. Are we to set a posse of Government police to watch the sellers of Government liquor?
– The Government will know the quantity of liquor to be sold, and the selling price.
– How do we know what the selling price will be?
– It will be fixed bv ordinance or regulation.
– It maybe fixed by ordinance or by regulation. Are we prepared to do away with a portion - and I suppose a substantial portion - of the revenue without being assured that there will be some compensating return ? All this business has to be carried out under regulations and conditions to be prescribed by the Lieutenant-Governor, and the Legislative Council is not to have any say in the matter. Personally, I am in favour of some system of Government control, like the Gothenberg system, but there are two systems of Government control. If this system is to be introduced in British New Guinea it will have to be the subject of very exhaustive and careful legislation. We are asked by means of one clause practically to provide for the Government being liquor monopolists in a country which requires revenue. The Government should’ not make a large revenue if they take control of the trade; they should supply liquor at the highest quality at the lowest possible price. But all these are questions which we are not in a position to deal effectively with in this amendment. We shall be wise in viewing this amendment from that stand-point, as we viewed the other amendment, and if the Legislative Council likes to adopt this system it can. It must be remembered, too, that the Territory has very excellent ordinances on this subject, and that the Commonwealth Parliament may at any time change the law. The enactment of thisclause is not absolutely final.
– If it is a good thing, why delay its adoption?
– If it is a good thing, and we have all the necessary details to- enable it to be effectively carried out in a new country, with a small, scattered population, I quite agree with my honorable friend; but I do not think we have the material at our command, and it will be quite competent for us to deal with the subject on another occasion.
– The Attorney-General says that Papua is a new country with a very scattered population, that we have not the requisite data to enable us to legislate, and that therefore we ought not to make this experiment at this moment. I understand that in Western Australia the State hotel is conducted in a back block township named Gwalia, where the population is somewhat scattered. Private control has been responsible for 99 per cent, of the evils which are associated with the drink traffic. The State would have no interest in encouraging citizens to ruin their constitution by, and waste their substance in, a wholesale consumption of liquor. It would have no interest in making an illegitimate profit by palming off the vilest compound’s upon its citizens.
– The retention of their billets may depend upon , the officers making a trade.
– I believe that the billets would be far safer if the officers allowed no evils . to creep in. There are about twentv licensed premises in the Territory. There is nothing to prevent its Legislature from making an ordinance to take over the hotels on equitable conditions or starting State hotels.
– I thought ‘that they were chiefly licensed stores.
– They are premises licensed for the sale of liquor. In thousands of cases a hotel is combined with a store. I have been in hundreds of such places in the back-blocks. It would be entirely against the interest of the State to encourage the excessive use of intoxicating liquor. The State would be mainly interested in seeing that only good liquor was supplied, and that no person was allowed to take too much of that good liquor. Although there are good men engaged in the hotel trade, still there are many hotel-keepers who offer every possible inducement to men to spend their money and drink liquor to excess. In many cases dancing saloons are carried on in connexion with hotels, for that very purpose. I have known hotels which were little better than gambling houses. Any one who has travelled through Australia with his eyes open must have witnessed the hundred and one evils which are associated with private hotel -keeping. I admit that the majority of hotel -keepers desire to conduct the trade in a fair and legitimate way, but we all know that nine-tenths of the evils connected with the excessive use of liquor have arisen from the desire of unscrupulous hotel-keepers to make as big a profit as possible. The only remedy for this condition of things is State control. It must be acknowledged that the State would have no interest in making an inordinate profit. Its duty would be to see that the citizens did not indulge in the excessive use of liquor, and that they were supplied with good liquor. I believe that State control is the only effective means to protect the natives in Papua from the curse of the liquor traffic. We know that in a new country the health of the white population is very often ruined by the vile concoctions which are palmed off by private enterprise as good, wholesome liquors. In nine cases out of ten the vilest possible concoctions have been sold in a back-blocks town or a new place in order that the vendors might reap an inordinate profit It is so to-day ; and so long as liquor is sold for private gain, so long will these vile adulterated compounds be passed off as good drink. The only effective remedy is for the State to take control. This is not an original experiment. It has already been tried in Australia, and for many years in other countries. It has proved a success, and I believe it will prove to be equally successful in British New Guinea. In the interests both of the white and of the coloured population, we should agree to this proposal. It will have the effect of protecting the coloured population to a very large extent indeed, and incidentally of protecting the white population from the inroads made upon their health by vile concoctions sold as good liquor.
– There seems to be some confusion of thought as to the working out of the details of this proposal. But, as I have previously pointed out, there has been an experiment in Western Australia where a State public-house, has been a working concern for over twelve months. Surely we can benefit from the experience thus gained. It has to be remembered that the revenue cannot suffer from the adoption of this proposal. In Western Australia the keeper of the State hotel has to pay the ordinary duty on his liquors, and the ordinary licence-fee. He pays ,£70 per annum for his licence, and no concession is made to him in the way of duty. . I am speaking as one who for some days lived in the Gwalia hotel, and while there took advantage of the opportunity to learn how it was worked. Before the establishment of the Gwalia hotel the place was a source of considerable expense, owing to the police force that had to be maintained. There were sly grogshops in all directions, from which the Government derived no profit, except, perhaps, in the way of revenue duties on liquors. Indeed, my own opinion is that the liquor consumed paid scarcely any duty whatever, because it was made on the premises. Surely in the face of this experience it cannot be doubted that a State experiment in British New Guinea will be a success. Let me give some account of the financial results of the Gwalia hotel for the first year. The total profit was .£588. It would have been considerably more, except that there was a loss on the domestic part of the establishment, due, I believe, to the .fact that the requirements were not quite as great as the hotel manager thought they would be. A very lavish building was erected, and the furnishing of the place was on a scale not equalled in any hotel out of Perth. Indeed, very few hotels in Perth are furnished on the same lavish scale as is this hotel. Consequently a staff of servants has to be maintained to look after the establishment. The .following paragraph shows the financial results for the first year: -
On the profit side the total receipts from the sales of wines, beers, &c, amounted to ,£5,416 is. id. Deducting from this amount - Expenditure, £4,369 15s. 3d. ; less stock on hand, ,£360, us. id., and there remains a balance profit of £1,415 16s. 11d. The total profits on billiards amounted to £24. 3s. 8d., making a total profit on the sale of wines, beers, spirits, and billiards of £1,440 os. jd. Deducting from this the loss on the house account, £851 4s. 3d., and there remains, as previously stated, a balance of profit, exclusive of depreciation, of£588 16s. 4d.
– Do they pay rent?
– They pay interest on capital. The same price for drinks is charged to customers as is charged in other hotels. There is no unfair competition in that respect. But there is another aspect of the question to be considered apart from£ s. d. We must remember that the moral effect upon the community has been of far more value than is represented by the profit. There has been a great saving to the Government in respect of maintaining “men in blue” to keep order in the town. We need have no doubt as to the wisdom of carrying out this experiment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had disagreed to the Senate’s amendments in clauses 4 and 40, and agreed to the Senate’s amendment in clause 55, wilh an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders ‘be suspended to enable the House of Representatives’ message to be considered and all consequent action taken.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 4 -
In this Act, except where otherwise clearly intended …” Industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters . . . but it does not include a dispute relating to employmentin any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit. “ Industry “ means business, trade …. excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits;
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out - “but it does not include a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit.”
House of Representatives’ Message - Amendment disagreed to, because -
Rules which could be applied by an Arbitration Court in the case of organized trades working under similar conditions, though in different parts of the Commonwealth, could not be applied to rural industries, whose conditions vary widely, not only in the same branches of rural industry, but also in different localities throughout the Commonwealth.
The likelihood of industrial disputes extend ing beyond the limits of any one State in the case of such industries is remote.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia - Attorney-General).- I feel sure I may take it that we shall approach the consideration of this message with the earnest desire, which I think prevails on all sides, to see this Bill, if possible, placed on the statute-book this year. If we do approach the matter from that stand-point, there will not be any very great obstacle to- the course which I intend to suggest to the Senate. Nor do I think it will be necessary for me to make a long speech, because, so* far as regards the amendments which were made by the Senate, and as regards the provisions; of the Bill with which they are associated,, the subject was fully and exhaustively debated by us with an earnestness, and, I think I may say, an absence of passion or heat, worthy of the subject and of the Chamber. It would serve no good purpose, to my mind, to re-open those questions which: were then so thoroughly dealt with; and, therefore, I propose to confine myself toone or two short reasons for the course T propose to commend to the Senate. In the first place, I may shortly remind honorable, senators of the position. The Senate made, four amendments in the Bill, the first of which is the one immediately under consideration. For shortness, we may refer to that amendment as that which excludes employes in rural industries from the operation of the Bill.
And provided further that no such preferenceshall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
The fourth amendment was in clause 55, and had reference to the proviso that no preference should be given to any organization which permitted its funds to be used for political purposes, or which required its members to “ do anything “ - I think those were the words - of a political character. The amendment which was moved by Senator Pearce, was to insert the following proviso : -
And further provided that no organization shall be entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by any organization, so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
That amendment was accepted by the House of Representatives, which, however, attached a further amendment dealing with the definition of “ political purposes.” The amendment made by the House of Representatives in the form of an addition to the Senate’s amendment, was the insertion of the following: - “Political purposes” in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions applying to all persons in any particular industry, whether discrimination as between those who are and those who are not members of an organization, with respect to the regulation of the following matters : -
Preservation of life and limb.
Compensation for injuries or death.
The sex and age of employes.
The hours of labour.
The remuneration of labour.
Protection of salaries and wages.
Other conditions similarly affecting employment.
That is a very large concession.
That the amendment be not insisted on.
– I desire to make a few remarks on the message from the other House. I agree with the Attorney-General that there has been a very effective debate here on the principles embodied in the Bill. But I d’o not share his opinion with regard to the concessions which he says have been given to this side of the House. We made four amendments in the Bill, and failed to make two others. We thought it was a verygood concession we made in connexion with the legal profession, and also in regard to an amendment of very vital importance which Senator Pearce moved. I am always willing to listen to any arguments which may be advanced, but . the Attorney-General is making the position too strong, so far as he is concerned, when he says that this question has been decided three times in another place. We have no knowledge of what has been done there. We only know that the Bill has come twice to the Senate. Does the Attorney-General think that we have exhausted all the possibilities in connexion with the Bill ?
– Hear, hear.
– We have a perfect right -to insist upon any amendment, and then, if the other House will rot yield, it can request a conference.
– A conference is only a substitution for a message.
– But they can also drop the Bill.
– After the concession which was made yesterday, does my honorable friend think that the Government are likely to drop the Bill? Does not that incident show that they are just as anxious to see the Bill placed on the Statute-book as we are?
– We have gone to the limit of concession.
– The honorable senator has made that statement a great many times, and yet he has consented to concession after concession, as his leader’ in another place will continue to do. We do not need to thank the Attorney-General for this concession. So far as he is concerned, it cuts against the grain, and is only adopted by him because it has been agreed to by the Government. I am sure that he will not expect the Labour Party to be grateful to a smaller section of the Government in the Senate for what has been granted by the larger section of the Government in another place.
– There is only one Government.
– Yes ; but it is a coalition Government, and we do not know which half has made the biggest concession. I propose to state the position which we are prepared to take up, and I trust that we shall be supported by those who have already given us that reasonable support which we had a right to expect from liberal democrats. With respect to amendments Nos. 1 and 2, we fought a good fight, so that no. invidious distinction should be made in respect to . any section of the labouring or employing classes.
– But the honorable senator did not stick consistently to that principle.
– We stuck to the principle as consistently as we could. It is urged by their friends that the farm labourers and the dairymen are not fit to take their place with the other industrial classes, and that, like the Papuans, they are to be regarded as children who should receive special consideration. I do not think that the farm labourers and dairymen expect or desire any consideration. ‘ The AttorneyGeneral has stated that in different parts of the country resolutions have been carried against the inclusion of this class of industrial workers in the Bill. I have heard of a good many cases where gentlemen belonging to a district council called a meeting, consisting of a couple of men and a dog. I am not going to say whether the men or the dog had the more sense. This meeting came to a certain conclusion, and it was sent out to the world as the opinion of the dairy farmers of Australia. Probably they had the dog there to keep the sensible portion of the community out of the meeting.
– Or to add tone to the proceedings.
– Very likely. We refused to exclude those engaged in the dairying and farming industries from this Bill, for the same reason that we did not exclude the chimney-sweeps. They are not organized in a great association, but we did not think it necessary to leave them outside the scope of the Arbitration Court. We did not think there was going to be a strike amongst the lawyers and the doctors, but we did not exclude them. There are a thousand and one industries in the Commonwealth which will never be affected by legislation of this description, but which are not exempt from its operations. Yet we are told that we should exempt those engaged in the agricultural and dairying industries, because there is no possibility of this legislation affecting them. If that is so, where is the reason for alarm? We have always contended that if there is danger of a strike amongst such classes, this legislation should apply to them. If there is no danger, there can be no reason why it should not apply to them. The party with which I am associated are prepared to let the first two amendments go on the voices. Then we shall be in the same position as the “ fair politicians “ who are to be found in every Parliament of the world - men who say, “ You know I am fair; I give twenty-two votes for the Government, and twenty-two for the Opposition.” We are going to act a fair part by giving way on the first two -amendments, and accepting the fourth. I have- already intimated to the Attorney-
General what our position is on the amendment of clause 40. We have not yet exhausted the machinery of Parliament, and it is unreasonable to ask us to give way until we have exhausted that machinery on a point which we consider to be so vital to the Bill. The Attorney-General tells us that the amendment agreed to by another place in connexion with clause 55 concedes so much to our side that we ought to be able to take anything else that is put in the Bill. That is like telling fifty hungry men on the far side of a great chasm that if they cross over they will find plenty to eat, when there are no means by which they can cross. That is our position. Clause 55, as amended, goes a long way in the direction at which we have been aiming, but we want to secure full political liberty in connexion with all matters. The Attorney-General must recognise that every Arbitration Act in existence in these States embodies the principle of preference. No one attempts to deny that organizations not only benefit the men who organize, but the community to which they belong. It must also be admitted that those who strive for their betterment by means of organizations should not be penalized, as they would be by those who have always been their enemies. If the Senate does not insist upon its amendment that will be the position in which unionists will find themselves, because this is a direction to the Court. The Court is bound to satisfy itself that there is a majority in favour of preference. It is asking the Court to do a thing which is far more difficult than to take a poll in Papua, in connexion with local option. If the Attorney-General and the Government were prepared to assist us in giving’ more power to the Court, it would be satisfactory. We do not want unconditional preference. We want the Court to be seized of all the facts. If the Court sees that some of those belonging to an organization may be prejudiced by the refusal of preference, it will be granted. If the Court sees that the’ granting of preference to a section of the workers will be injurious to any other section, it will be refused. That is the kind of preference we want. We wish to leave the determination to the Court. If the AttorneyGeneral could assist us by proposing an amendment that would have that effect, we should not’ need to insist upon the amendment which the Senate made in the Bill. Otherwise there is no other course open to us. The Senate is in the peculiar position that this Bill was introduced in another place. It was sent up to us. It has been returned to us. According to our rules, usages, and Standing Orders, we have no right to ask for a conference in connexion with a Bill introduced in another place. Let us send back the amendment on clause 40, seeing that we have backed down on two amendments, and accepted a third. Let another place ask for a conference, and give us an opportunity to put something into clause 40 that will make the Bill workable. It will never be of any use to the industrial classes or the community otherwise. For these reasons, I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will not oppose us in our insistence on the amendment submitted by the Senate in clause 40.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out - “ excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to, because -
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the amendment be not insisted on.
– I do not propose to call for a division, but I wish to say a few words on behalf of a class of people against whom there seems to be an inclination to make injurious distinctions by withholding from them the benefits of this legislation. We have no right to withhold it, and I believe that in the last resort we have no legal power to make distinctions between one class of the community and another. Why should we say to the domestic servants, “ You shall not get .the benefit of any legislation passed in behalf of other people in the Commonwealth”? When I moved the amendment which it is not proposed to insist upon, I admitted that domestic servants are in many instances much better off than girls employed in factories. Yet we must notice that from one end of the Commonwealth to the other young women seem to be disinclined to ‘accept engagements as domestic servants- They prefer almost any other occupation. I ventured the opinion, and I adhere to it, that that is because of the injurious distinctions that are made against domestic servants as compared with other classes. They are looked down upon bv the majority of the people, because they fulfil what are called menial duties. It is for that reason that domestic service has become so unpopular amongst our young women. My opinion has been fortified by what I have since learned. I can adduce a fact, which I know to be true from my own inquiries and observations, in Melbourne. I know that young women are prepared to go and perform exactly the same duties as domestic servants perform, for 3s. a week, if they are called “lady-helps,” whilst they could earn 10s. a week if they were called domestic servants. I have been told of young women who have engaged themselves as lady-helps for 3s. or 3s. 6d. a week, but who have refused to accept engagements as domestic servants at 13s. a week.
– One case in ten hundred millions !
– No, it is not. It 5s a fact for which I can vouch. Honorable senators can go to any registry office in Melbourne, and will find on inquiry that there are dozens of young women who will not accept appointments as domestic servants, but will engage themselves as ladyhelps for lower wages.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken; I know better.
– I know from my own knowledge of a highly respectable family, who. because they had four or five children, found it absolutely impossible to obtain a domestic servant, but they could get as many lady-helps as they liked.
– Is that in Queensland or in Victoria?
– In Melbourne.
– Nonsense; it is perfect rubbish.
– I am speaking of what I know.
– The honorable senator does not know anything of the kind. He may think he knows.
– It is a good ‘thing that I can think. I can assure honorable senators that, to my personal knowledge, there are lady-helps performing for 3s. 6d. per week work which is, at least, as hard as that done by domestic servants for 10s. per week.
– What does the honorable senator propose to do?
– Unfortunately, 1 cannot help myself; but’ I desire, if possible, to remove those invidious distinctions from which domestic servants suffer.
– This legislation will not assist lady-helps.
– Lady-helps are domestic servants, no matter what the former may call themselves. There is a very false idea that the manual duties of domestic life are undignified; but if Lady Northcote could not get domestic servants she would have to do her own work, and there would be all honour to her for doing so. Why should mistresses and society as a whole look down on domestic servants?
– They do not.
– “Undoubtedly they do all the time.
– I think mistresses appreciate too much the value of domestic servants to look down on them.
– They are appreciated as useful servants, and as useful servants only.
– Nonsense !
– The very senators who say that there are no injurious distinctions, are in favour of a provision which imposes yet another. It is scarcely possible to conceive of a time when domestic servants will require an Arbitration Bill ; and yet honorable senators opposite support a special provision to exclude such employes from the operation of the measure.
– Who has asked for the inclusion of domestic servants ?
– A more pertinent question would be, who has asked for their exclusion? We, on this side of the House, did not desire domestic servants to be mentioned, so that they might be included.
– The honorable senator ought to ask Mrs, Givens what she thinks about the matter.
– I know what Mrs. Givens thinks without asking her, because she is as good a democrat as myself. We have no right to declare that any section of the community shall remain beyond the operation of any legislation we pass. If I had my way, not a single industry would be mentioned, either by way of inclusion or exclusion.
– If it has been determined that we shall not insist on the amendments, why continue the discussion ?
– I wish to enter my last protest. It is only by continual preaching that we are likely to ultimately induce people to agree to a particular course; and I live in hopes that all those invidious and injurious distinctions, to which I have referred, will be removed before I die. If the Bill is a good one it should apply to every individual.
– Is it a good Bill?
– It undoubtedly would be a good Bill if it were made effective.
– Is it not effective ?
– Not at the present time, but I hope that before we have finished the Bill will be effective. In its peregrinations between the Chambers the Bill may ultimately assume the form we desire. If the Bill be a bad one, it should be abandoned. My hope is that in a very short time we shall be able to remove the invidious distinctions which press on domestic service and other classes of labour at the present time.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 40 (Minimum wage and preference for members of organizations).
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out - “And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to, because questions of preference in employment are of such vital importance to the people of the Commonwealth that they demand some such safeguard as that contained in the provision removed from the Bill.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the amendment be not insisted on.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I have no intention to repeat the arguments which have been used here so many times. I hope, however, that honorable senators will insist on this amendment, and thus afford another place an opportunity to reconsider a question which for the last six or eight months has been before another place, and there discussed in what, I am afraid, was an unreasonable way. In my opinion, too much heat and party feeling were exhibited in another place for there to be any hope of a reasonable conclusion. There are honorable senators who hesitate about insisting on this amendment, there being a fear on their part that the Bill may be thrown aside. But I do not anticipate the slightest danger from that quarter. I believe that if the Bill be sent back our amendment will be reconsidered’, and that if an agreement is not come to, another place will ask for a conference of the two Chambers. Those of us who have had parliamentary experience know that Bills are sent backwards and forwards repeatedly, and that conclusions are arrived at which give satisfaction to both sides. We remember what was done in this Chamber in connexion with the Tariff.
– And at the instigation of the present Attorney-General.
– That is so. I am sure that if the Attorney-General were in my position, he would do all he could to have this Bill reconsidered by another place ; and it is to that end that I ask those who have hitherto supported the Labour Party in this matter to continue their support. I am sure that if they do so the final decision will prove satisfactory. I move as an amendment -
That the word “not” be left out.
– I hope the Committee will adopt the amendment. I feel sure that uppermost in the minds of all friends of the Bill there is a feeling that the Senate should take such action as will result in the measure being placed upon the Statute-book. The only reason which can influence honorable senators to vote against the amendment is a fear that the Bill may be lost, and we ought to direct our inquiry to the question whether such an assumption is reasonable. If we send this Bill back to the House of Representatives, we shall be only taking a course well sanctioned by usage in this Chamber. No member of the Senate has had more experience in this connexion than the Attorney-General. When the Tariff was before us, the honorable and learned senator was leader of the Opposition ‘Freetrade Party. Our requests for amendment were sent to another place, where some were rejected, and others accepted, either in their entirety or with modification. The honorable and learned senator acknowledged that there was need for a Tariff: but he did not then take the view that if the requests were insisted upon, the Bill might be rejected by another place. It was said -in the lobbies that if the Senate did not bow tj the House of Representatives the Bill would be rejected, and the responsibility would rest on us.
– The question of rejecting the Bill did not arise; it war. only a matter of the details of the schedule.
– The question of rejecting or dropping the Bill was also discussed, but right throughout the honorable and learned senator urged the Senate to adhere to their requests, and it was only when he found that his majority was beginning to dwindle away that he was compelled to “climb down.” There was another measure in which a similar course was followed. In that case messages passed more than once between the two Houses. Again, in connexion with the Commonwealth Electoral Bill, messages were passed four times between the two Houses on the provision allowing voters to vote at more than one pollingplace, although the threats were then made that the Bill would be “hung up.” What is the position now? “Under our Standing Orders we cannot, at this stage, ask for a conference with the House of Representatives on this question. But the House of Representatives can ask for a conference with us, and I am told that there is a ‘ considerable number of honorable members on both sides in that House who favour a conference, to discover whether some via media cannot be arranged in connexion with this particular clause. Why should we wholly abandon our position; for that is what is proposed ? If it be possible, why should we not endeavour to bring about a compromise on this question ? The AttorneyGeneral says that we should spike our guns and surrender unconditionally. There is a distinct majority of the members of the Senate in favour of preference without this qualification at all, and there is a still greater majority in favour of preference with some modification of this qualification. I am certain that the result of our insistence upon our amendment will be that the House of Representatives will admit the necessity of meeting us in conference on this question. As Senator Symon has said, the other House has met us in connexion with clause 55, in a spirit of compromise, and I venture to think that that House will meet us in this matter in the same spirit of a compromise, if we show that we are prepared to go half way.
– The honorable senator desires that the compromise should be all on one side. The compromise on clause 55 is all in favour of honorable senators opposite.
– I am pointing out that, in order to secure any compromise, we must insist upon our amendment. If we abandon it there will be nothing on which to compromise. Will the AttorneyGeneral say that the Government, without having exhausted all parliamentary forms, is prepared to abandon this Bill, if the Senate insists upon its amendment ? I am sure the honorable and learned senator will say no such thing. He is aware, from what has been said on this side, that we are prepared to compromise on this question. Honorable members in another place are also aware of that.
– What kind of compromise are honorable senators opposite prepared to accept ?
– They are prepared to go half way between their present position and the clause as it stands in the Bill.
– What does the honorable senator mean by half way ?
– “ Substantially represents.”
– That has been defeated twice in another place.
– I did not say that. That is put into my mouth. I say that we are prepared, as a compromise, to accept some qualification of this provision with respect to a majority. What that qualification will be it should be for the conference to arrange.
– Let us have a. new Bill next year.
– Why should the majority in the Senate abandon the position altogether while there is a legislative way by which we can further deal with the question? Are the Government in earnest? Do they desire that this Bill shall be passed ?
– Hear, hear.
– Then, if they do, let me remind the Attorney-General that they have not yet reached the last ditch. When our amendment is returned to the House of Representatives the Government can suggest a conference, and can still hold to their position.
– The hon.orable senator desires to re-open all the fighting in another place.
– Certainly not.
– Unfortunately foi us, the Bill would then be in the other. House, and we should have no command of it.
– I agree with that, but I remind Senator Playford that the members of the Government have said that they are anxious to put this Bill on the Statute-book. If they are in earnest, and if by securing a conference with the Senate on this question, they can put this Bill on the Statute-book, they will take steps to do so.
– They can do that without a conference.
– Not unless the majority in the Senate is prepared to stultify itself, and go back upon its previous decision. I ask why we should go back while there is another resource, and when the members of .the Government who profess to be in earnest can do something else ?
– Does the honorable senator believe that a conference would change a single vote?
– I think that it would. Instead of asking the Senate to go back upon what it has done, the Government might ask .the Senate to go half way back, and might ask the House of Representatives to come half way to meet the Senate.
– How can the Government do that when they took office on this amendment?
– Thev did not.
– The Watson Government went out on this proviso.
– Thev did not. They went out because the business of the House was taken out of their hands.
– That was on this matter.
– The Watson Government went out on the refusal to agree to a motion submitted by Mr. Watson that the House of Representatives should recommit the Bill for the purpose of re-‘ considering this and other clauses.
– That refusal was on account of this proviso.
– The House of Representatives went into Committee on all the other amendments.
– They did not go into Committee on this, and the Watson Government did not go. out on this. The Government might just as well say that they have abandoned their position by agreeing to the amendment on clause. 55 as say that they would abandon their position by accepting a modification of this proviso.
– The Government is charged with abandoning its position on clause 55.
– Not by me, at any rate.
– Has the honorable senator not heard the abuse we have received for it?
– I have not heard of any.
-Col. Gould. - We have had no opportunity to talk about it yet. [
– Does Senator Gould propose to abuse the Government for its action in connexion with clause 55.
-Col. Gould. - I take exception to what the Government has done in the matter.
– If .Senator Gould abuses the Government on that account, he is a very hard follower to please, because the Government have given very little in connexion with clause 55. They have not conceded what the Labour Party asked for. We asked for the elimination of clause 55 so far as it relates to politics, and the amendment submitted by Senator Matheson later on, was merely a compromise which we were prepared to accept in order to make the best of a bad bargain. The compromise in that case is in the direction for which honorable senators opposite were, fighting. Why should we be asked to give up everything on clause 40? Why should not the Government give us an opportunity to arrive at a compromise on this question ? It has been said here- and I reiterate the statement - that without a workable provision for preference this Bill is but a possible instrument of tyranny. This majority provision is as objectionable as was the political qualification in clause 55.
– Fancy majority rule being considered tyranny by honorable senators opposite !
– The difficulty is that a majority must’ be proved, and it is impossible to prove it.
– Surely those who ask for preference should prove something.
– When we proposed to give Senator Fraser the opportunity to prove that there was a majority opposed to preference he got into a fog very quickly.
He made it clear that he regarded it as impossible. He asked how we could prove a majority. I have no doubt that the historical speech made by the honorable senator still rings in the ears of honorable senators who heard it.
– I apologize for it.
– We can remember the consternation exhibited on the faces of Government supporters who listened to that speech. We can remember the consternation with which the Attorney-General listened to it. We know that Senator Fraser’s coat-tails were pulled in order to induce him to stop, and we know how relieved honorable senators opposite were when he was induced to sit down, and leave honorable senators on this side to argue the question. I trust that the Committee will not allow this murderous qualification, for I can describe it by no other term, to pass. There can be “no doubt that this qualification murders preference. I trust that honorable senators will give the Government an opportunity to take another step, which is permitted by the Standing Orders of another place, that is, to see whether it is not possible, by means of a conference, to arrive at a compromise on this question. I ask the Committee not to be led away by the threat that the Bill will be dropped. The AttorneyGeneral claims that the Government and their supporters are anxious that this Bill shall be placed on the statute-book. I believe that they are, because I imagine they “ have no desire to fight the next election on this Bill. I do not think that they wish the question of conciliation and arbitration to continue to disturb the political atmosphere of Australia. I believe there is every incentive for the Government and their supporters to refuse to allow this Bill to be dropped, on account of what is such a small matter, from their point of view, though it is a vital matter from the point of view of honorable senators on this side. I have no doubt they will be prepared to exhaust every constitutional means to secure an agreement between the two Houses. I am confident that neither the Government nor their supporters desire to fight an election upon this Bill.
– Nor do honorable senators opposite.
– We are perfectly willing to do so. Mr. Watson asked for a dissolution upon this question, and it is, therefore, idle to say that we are not prepared to fight an election on this Bill. When we wished to do so, we were prevented.
– Is the honorable senator prepared for a double dissolution ?
– I am perfectly willing that there should be a double dissolution on this matter.
– The honorable senator is making a terrible mountain out of a very little mole-hill.
– I do not think so. Senator Playford voted for preference, and I ask the honorable senator if he is prepared to have an impossible qualification attached to it? I ask him to say how it is possible to prove that there is a majority affected by an award in favour of an application for preference ?
– Surely, those who wish for preference should show that they are entitled to it.
– Senator Fraser found that impossible when he was given the opportunity. I ask the honorable senator to refer to his previous speech, and he will admit the necessity for some amendment of this qualification.
– Unionists have organizations, by which they could prove a majority, whilst non-unionists are disorganized.
– The employers organizations could keep a tally of nonunionists to prove that there was a majority against an application for preference to unionists. Unionists are by this proviso asked not only to prove that there is a majority of unionists in favour of an application for preference, but to make up a list which will show that a majority of all those affected are in favour of preference.
– They must have some idea of the number of non-unionists who will be affected. c
– A mathematical proposition is not the same thing as a rough idea. This Bill does not allow of any latitude for rough ideas.
– It. does. Let the honorable senator look at clause 25.
– I am dealing now with clause 40, which provides that those who ask for preference shall prove to the Court that there is a majority in favour of the application.
– The Judge may satisfy himself on the point in any way he sees fit.
– The Court in dealing with the matter, will be guided by mathematical rule. If it is shown that 1,000 persons would be affected by anaward of preference, 501 will be accepted as a majority, and no less number.
– Let the honorable senator read clause 25. The Judge may inform his mind in any way he sees fit.
– I am aware that that clause provides that the Court shall be guided by good sense, but I. repeat that it will be held that not less than 501 is a majority out of 1,000. The task set to the union is first to ascertain how many men will be affected by the award, and, secondly’, to prove that it has a majority in favour of preference. But, on the showing of Senator Fraser, it is impossible to carry out that task. Those who insist upon departing from our previous vote are prepared to make preference an impossibility. I ask them to recognise that this is not the last stage in connexion with this measure, and that something may still be done by a Government and a Parliament which profess to be in favour of compulsory arbitration. I appeal to them to exhaust every possible means before they give their consent to the passing of a Bill which will not allow preference to unionists.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia).In the last division on this question I voted to strike out these words, because I believed that it would be wiser to allow the Judge to say where he would grant preference and where he would not. I think it would be far better not to retain the words, but I am faced with the position that the other House insists upon their retention. I am astounded to hear Senator Pearce say that if the words be retained, it will be a “ murderous “ provision, because it will destroy the unions. He is merely making a big mountain out of a. very small mole-hill. If is admitted on all hands that in New South Wales and New Zealand the Court has given preference where it Kas been satisfied that the claimant union represented a majority of the persons engaged in the particular trade. Within the last few weeks in New South Wales there have been several cases in which the number of persons likely to be affected by the award, and the number of persons in the trade union were given, and because the claimant union represented a majority of the persons employed in the trade the Court gave preference to unionists.
– Not in one case has the number of persons to be affected by the award been given.
– During the last few days two cases were decided in New South Wales. We are practically leaving the determination of this question to the Court when we adopt a form of words under which a rule favorable to unionists was laid down elsewhere and applied. How can it be said to be a “murderous” provision. If I thought that it was of very vital importance, I should be willing to insist upon our amendment.
– The Bill will be no good without the amendment.
– That is exaggerating the position. I believe that the unionswill practically be no worse off under this provision than they would if the determination of the question were expressly left to the Judge. I cannot see where the difference comes in, and is it worth my while to run the risk of losing the Bill? It is all very well for honorable members to point to what was done in connexion with the Customs Tariff Bill, but that was a vital measure which no Ministry would have dared to drop. Under the terms of the Constitution it had to be passed within a given time, and therefore we could safely send back our requests for amendments as often as we liked. There is no such condition attached to this Bill. We have to consider what position the other House has taken up in regard to this amendment. When we find that it has been affirmed by that House practically three times - and once since the Bill was sent back from the Senate - how can we adhere to our view?
– Let us affirm our position three times.
– The Government are in a position to drop the Bill.
– Let them drop it.
– I have to consider whether it would be to the interests of the community for the Government to drop the Bill.
– Does not the honorable senator admit that the Government have an alternative?
– Undoubtedly the Government have ; but what right have we to expect that they will give way after the trouble which they took with this special clause? This is an eminently contentious question, which has wrecked one Government. I advise my honorable friends to be reasonable. They have given up two points, but they have won an immense concession, against which I voted. Onno less than three or four occasions the Senate would have nothing to do with the concession, but it has been made, I think, mistakenly.
SenatorGivens. - We do not know yet that it has been obtained.
– It is pretty safe to predict that a concession which- has been granted by the other House to my honorable friends will be carried here, where my fourteen friends in the Labour Party will have the support of the Attorney-General, Senator Drake, and Senator Clemons. As a rule, I am pretty obstinate in fighting for my views, but I fail to see that any vital question is involved here. Otherwise I should certainly stick to my original view. Having gained so much on the question of preference so far as political unions are concerned, my honorable friends might well give way, and let us get rid of this miserable contentious measure. As I said the other day, it can only be availed of once in a blue moon. I hope that it will never be. availed of, but if any trouble should occur it will be there ready for use. The fact that it is upon the Statute-book will minimize the trouble. After such a wonderful “climb down” on the part of the Government in another place my honorable friends in the Labour Party should give way. When I read this morning what had been done in the other House I very nearly used profane language.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).It is really amusing to me to hear Senator Playford speak so lightly on this question. He may be a good judge as to whether the Bill is applicable to agricultural labourers or gardeners, but it has always been recognised that this measure was brought forward primarily in the interests of the maritime societies.
– They are almost all unionists.
– That is just where the honorable senator exhibits his unfitness to express an opinion.
– How did they manage to get up the big strike a few years ago unless they were unionists?
– The honorable senator tried to quell that strike by loading the guns of the Protector to fire on the people.
– No, no. That order was given by Charles Cameron Kingston.
– He was not in the Ministry ; but the Honorable Thomas Playford and the Honorable John Bray were.
– I never loaded the guns ; I never went near the Protector.
– The honorable senator gave an order to that effect. As regards seafaring men, what has been done ? Those men who are domiciled in Australia have been brought under the Bill, but those who come from foreign countries and compete against our seafaring population for a living are excluded from its operation.
– Foreign seamen would not be persons affected by the award.
– Of course they would be whilst they were engaged in the coastal trade. There is a shipmaster in this building to-day, who is prepared to state that in certain contingencies shipmasters will get orders in England to discharge their men when they come here. Is it not ridiculous to expect Australian seamen to prove that they constitute a majority of the seamen who are engaged in Australian waters? When the secretary of the Melbourne Wharf Labourers’ Society was examined before the Navigation Commission he said that his union comprised a certain number, but that in a time of dispute every unemployed blacksmith, joiner, bricklayer, and mason was a wharf labourer. Therefore, every unskilled labourer who was out of work would have to be counted amongst those who would be affected bv the award of the Court. We on this side took up a fair position when we said that it should devolve upon the employers to show that they had a grievance against the unionists. I appeal to Senator Playford to adhere to his original idea. No doubt, it was not arrived at without considerable thought on his part, and is only now being abandoned for fear of losing the Bill. Far better that the Bill should be lost than that an injustice of this kind should be perpetrated.
– That is where I do not agree with the honorable senator.
– Does the honorable senator voice the opinion of his own union in saving that?
– The Bill, so far as concerns the engineers, firemen, seamen, masters, cooks, and others engaged on board ship, will work absolute injury. Men employed at one-tenth of the wages which are received by those engaged in our coastal trade are brought into competition with them.
– One-tenth ?
– Yes ; the firemen on our coastal vessels receive 10s. per month, whilst those engaged on the Peninsular and Oriental steamers receive 13s. 4d. per month.
– They are lascars.
– But they are working in competition with our seamen. They need to be brought under the provisions of this Bill in order that justice may be done.
– That is not a fair argument. White men should be compared with white men.
– To compare white men with white men, while the firemen on our coasts are paid 10s. per month, those engaged on tramp steamers doing the same trade are paid£3 10s. That is only about one-third. On the French steamers firemen are paid £2 5s. per month ; and on the German boats a little more.
– Those men are not domiciled here.
– But they are engaged in carrying cargo and passengers along our coasts from port to port.
– Only to a limited extent; they are not under-cutting.
– Does not£3 10s. per month undercut 10s. ? The employers complain of this competition just as much as the men do. At the late conference the argument put forward from the employers’ stand-point was, “ We do not fear the Arbitration Bill, because we can go to Court ; all that we ask, as far as wages are concerned, is to be put on the same level as those who are competing against us.” Is not that fair? If Senator Playford were the Judge of the Arbitration Court, and an appeal were made to him by employers, who asked to be put on the same level as those who were competing with them, would he not agree that that was a reasonable request? What has his argument been when asked to impose Customs duties to encourage the establishment of local industries? He has said, “We must give encouragement to our own people against the foreigner, who is flooding our markets with goods.” Yet he would give a concession to firms who come to our ports and compete against our own people. The tendency of this Bill, as far as concerns the maritime societies, is to reduce their status and their pay. It is absolutely useless to them. I have no hesitation in saying that I should prefer to vote against the Bill unless the amendment of the Senate is insisted on.
– I feel, in connexion with this proposition, a very keen sense of responsibility. There is a great deal in the contention that we are in danger of losing the Bill, but I do not intend to be overawed by that consideration when there is a principle of great importance involved. My view as to the prospect of losing the Bill have been largely changed by the argument of Senator Playford. He pointed out with very great force that what happens now is that Arbitration Courts only grant preference where, in their opinion, there is a majority of the employes in an industry in favour of it. That fact removes the necessity, for any statutory stipulation that there shall be a majority. As the honorable senator puts it, and as every one now recognises, we are perfectly safe in trusting the Court. If we insist on our amendment, Members of Parliament who think that the Court will in any case require a majority will be in a position to say, if they are at all rational, “ While we should like to see the clause amended, after all, we know that there will have to be a majority, and therefore we will not fight for the proviso.” Consequently, upon the showing of Senator Playford, with which I agree, there is no danger of the Bill being lost if we insist on our amendment. The matter from the point of view of the supporters of the clause is so unimportant, in view of the fact that all precedent teaches us that the Judges will be sure to ascertain whether there is a majority before they grant preference, that I have decided to vote for insisting on our amendment. I do so, first, on account of the argument which I have just stated, which unfortunately led Senator Playford to an entirely opposite conclusion ; and, further, from the consideration that in an important matter of this sort we have no right to consider that we have reached the last stage when we send back this amendment. It is quite possible - indeed, it is reasonable to think - that if another place emphatically dissents from our view, it will make another effort to induce us to adopt its view. It may make that effort in one of two ways.. Ir may send back the Bill with a declaration that it still insists upon its amendment, or it may take the not unusual and the reasonable course - a course eminently appropriate in connexion with this Bill - of asking for a conference. This is a Bill for conciliation and arbitration. Nothing could be more appropriate than that, when there appears to be a deadlock on an issue that both sides consider to be important, an effort should be made between the two Chambers to conciliate. I feel that we ought not to discuss the merits of the question again. Therefore, .1 shall adduce no arguments to show the impracticability of the clause. But I thought it necessary and due to the importance of the subject that I should say these few words as to the reasons which actuate me in coming to a conclusion in a difficult position.
– Perhaps the fact that my own State has an Arbitration Act, and that there is very little chance of this measure affecting Western Australia, makes the Bill less important in my eyes than it would otherwise be. I do not think it likely that any trade union in Western Australia will register under this Bill, and that State is not likely to be affected by it unless a maritime strike” occurs. From the tone of the speeches of some honorable senators opposite, I gather that it will require something in the nature of a maritime strike to awaken the public conscience as to the danger that faces society. It has been said that the Bill will be of little use when it is placed upon the Statute-book. Apparently honorable senators who use that argument have forgotten the events that were hinted at by Senator Guthrie a few moments ago. They were the most regrettable incidents in the history of Australia. We now have an opportunity to legislate so that such things may never occur again. But we are taking the right course to defeat legislation which might prevent them from happening. We know perfectly well that what is called preference to unionists is nothing more nor less than a sham as this Bill stands. Victimization of unionists is going on. Since this subject was last discussed I have received a letter from an old work -mate of mine, who has suffered victimization under an Act of Parliament which apparently gives much more security to unionists than will this Bill. Simply because he was president of a union on the gold-fields at Menzies, and took a prominent part in bringing a case before the Arbitration Court, he finds himself in this position - that he has had to leave his wife and family behind him and to start to look for work in other places, afraid to make his name known, lest he should be further victimized. If such victimization can be practised under an Act that safeguards the interests of the workers much more effectually than this measure does, it is impossible for us to expect that unions will by registering risk the position of their prominent members under such a Bill. If they do not register, what will the position be? If they strike they will be in danger from the Court, and if they register they will be in danger of victimization. The Bill will be of no practical use whatever unless the amendment in reference to preference is insisted on. It is better that it should go into the wastepaper basket than upon the Statute-book in this form. Perhaps I undervalue it more than others do, because we have a superior Act in Western Australia. But certainly our people are not likely to be attracted by it. If I represented a State in which there was no Arbitration Act, I might look upon it more favorably ; but I think it will be more of a menace than a benefit, and I should prefer to see it put in the wastepaper basket than become law unless a reasonable amendment is made, with the object of giving protection to unionists. That is the proper term to apply to what is desired.
– My opinion is that if the measure, passes with the clause with which we are now dealing in it, we shall, instead of promoting conciliation and arbitration, throw the apple of discord right into the heart of our industrial life Honorable senators opposite have entirely overlooked the purpose of the Bill. Inspired by the Employers’ Association, they have inserted a provision which will deprive the working classes of any advantage that might reasonably have been expected. Further, the provision will emasculate, in a great measure, the principle of arbitration and conciliation. I wonder if honorable senators opposite have ever thought of the great difficulties unionists have always had to contend with in forming and maintaining their organizations. Hitherto employers have looked on unionists as men who ought to be black-listed at every opportunity. In many districts of Australia to be a unionist is practically to be altogether outside the pale of employment. Unless there is a very great demand for labour a prominent unionist cannot earn his living. We are called upon here to settle matters according to facts, and not according to fine-spun theories of our own. In considering a measure of this kind we must have regard to the man ner in which it will operate. Let us suppose that in some particular industry theunion takes a case before the Court, and let us further suppose that only a very small minority of the men engaged in the industry are members of the union. If an award be given in favour of the members of the union, and they apply for preference, they, will, under the Bill as it stands, undoubtedly be refused. Every man employed in the industry may have benefited by the application to the Court, but the men who set the Court in motion will, instead of receiving an award, actually be penalized. Are honorable senators opposite in earnest in their desire to promote industrial conciliation and arbitration ? If they are, they must wish to reward, rather than penalize, members of unions; and; the only reward for men who have been the means of doing away with industrial unrest is to secure them employment - to prevent them from being black-listed and driven from place to place in search of work. If that security is not afforded the whole edifice of industrial conciliation and arbitration is no more than a castle in the air - a delusion, a fraud, and a snare. I say deliberately that if the clause under discussion remains the Bill will be of no use whatever to industrial organizations. It is desirable we should speak plainly, and I think that honorable senators opposite are perfectly well aware of the truth of my statements.
– That is not fair !
– It is perfectly fair.
– The honorable senator should not make such statements.
– I- am entitled to judge men by their actions, and not by their words. A great authority has told us that language is given to men to conceal their thoughts. Do honorable senators opposite think they can deceive us on this side by making fine speeches ?
– The honorable senator should apply his remarks to himself.
- Senator Zeal may apply any language he likes to me. I am entitled to come to my own conclusion.
– The honorable senator must not make that sort of statement publicly.
– I shall take every opportunity to make such a statement publicly.
– What a lop-sided world it is ! All the sincerity and truth on one side of the Chamber !
- Senator Mulcahy is as sincere in maintaining his own side of the question as I am in maintaining mine.
– The honorable senator said just now that we were not sincere.
– I said that honorable senators opposite wish to carry out their own ideas. They profess to be in favour of conciliation and arbitration, but that is simply because they know perfectly well they dare not, otherwise,’ face their constituents. But, while professing to be in favour of the principle, they take good care to insert a provision which will have the effect of making the Bill of no use. What can be thought of honorable senators who take up such an attitude ? It has been shown over and over again how this measure wil 1 operate if passed as at present drawn ; and still honorable senators opposite adhere to this clause. I would rather see the Bill thrown into the waste-paper basket than passed in its present form; indeed, I would rather see the former than the latter. The Government are apparently extremely anxious that the Bill shall become law, and I can easily understand that attitude. The Government are, no doubt, desirous to have all the kudos for having passed’ a Conciliation and- Arbitration Bill. The Prime Minister will say, “ Did I not pass a (Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ? How can you call me a Conservative?” And I have no doubt that with a large number of people throughout Australia such a claim would prove of advantage to the Government. But I think I may say without egotism that we on this side of the House see into these industrial matters a little more clearly than perhaps people outside do, and we know perfectly well that the present measure will be worse than useless to the great body of unionists throughout Australia.
– They could use the States laws.
– State law would be of no use in Inter-State disputes.
– Surely if we place on the Statute-book a measure which professes to do certain things, we ought to use every endeavour to effect our purpose’. What is the purpose of the Bill? To promote conciliation and arbitration.
– Not compulsory conciliation and arbitration.
– I thank the honorable senator for having exposed the cloven hoof. The honorable senator does not want compulsory arbitration ; but if he must have it, he will take it with the proviso we are now discussing. The -whole case of honorable senators on the other side has been given away.
– I am speaking for myself only.
– Yes; and I can quite understand the honorable senator’s position. He is a hot-headed Highlander, or at least his forefathers were Highlanders, and, with their hot blood still streaming through his veins, he cannot cover up his intentions so well as can other honorable senators who sit with him.
– I must be honest. I thank the honorable senator for the compliment.
– I respect the honorable senator all the more because of this trait in his character. A number of honorable senators opposite do not wish compulsory arbitration, but they are prepared to swallow the bane, because the antidote, in the shape of the proviso we are discussing, goes with it. The Bill as it stands will not promote conciliation and arbitration, and, while it will break up our organizations, it will not give us industrial peace. It will be found that to be a member of an organization, and to bring a case before the Court, will lead, not to reward, but to penalty in the shape of want of employment and poverty. I do not know whether that is desired by honorable senators opposite, but there is not the slightest doubt that that will be the result. Senator Playford said that we on this side are making a mountain out of a molehill, but that gentleman evidently does not see the importance of the point for which we are contending. He apparently regards the matter as of very little consequence, or otherwise he would repeat his previous vote. We have a duty to perform apart altogether from what may happen to the Bill in another place. A great deal of bad legislation has been brought about by the idea that measures must be passed anyhow - that such and such legislation must be placed on the Statute-book. We ought not to be governed by motives of that kind, but should regard it as our duty to make the Bill as perfect as possible. We ought to keep continually before our mind’s eye the principle and the object of the Bill. The principle of the Bill is peace, and the object is to promote peace; and that is what I wish to impress on honorable senators opposite. Their votes will tell us whether they are in earnest, and if they are they will give preference to unionists. They will say to members of industrial organizations, “ You are the men on whom we depend to maintain industrial peace, and, that being so, we shall see that you get preference under the law.” If they are merely opposed, as Senator Fraser is, to compulsory arbitration of any kind, they will accept the Bill, knowing that it will be valueless, so far as our organizations are concerned.
– On the second reading of this Bill, I made the statement, in dealing with this question, that, if this proviso were retained, I should be prepared to vole against the measure. I have not receded in any way from that position. I recognise that the retention of this provision is calculated to do a very great deal of harm, not only if any attempt is made to bring it into operation in the settlement of a dispute, but in quite another way. It will do harm where the working classes in the States are asking for industrial conciliation and arbitration. Senator de Largie has said that the Arbitration Act in force in Western Australia is a better measure than this Bill, with this proviso in it. The honorable senator realizes that on that account this measure, if passed in its present form, will not seriously affect the workers of Western Australia. But I point out that in some of the States no Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has yet been passed. If labour organizations in those States induce the States Parliaments to undertake the passing of a Conciliation and Arbitration BIll, there can be no doubt that an attempt will be made to base that State legislation on the Federal Bill, and efforts will be made to have inserted in the State measures the provisions we are being asked to accept in this Bill. J have no hesitation in saying that, in such a case, none of the workers’, organizations will bc prepared to accept State legislation of that description. I would ask honorable senators representing New South Wales whether, if an attempt were made to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of that State, by the introduction of such a proviso as this, there would not be a commotion in industrial circles throughout the
State? There would be appeals to Parliament on the subject, because the organizations would realize that, so far from improving the present State Act, such an amendment would render it a very much worse measure than it is at the present time. That should be sufficient to induce every member of the Committee who agrees that Federal legislation should be as advanced as State legislation, to vote for the omission of this proviso. It may be said that some honorable senators believe that the measure will work equitably, and since they desire to have it placed on the Statutebook, they are prepared to swallow this proviso. In common with other members of the Labour Party, I have received communications from the organizations throughout Australia that will be most affected by this measure if passed. Senator Guthrie has stated that, so far as the Seamen’s Union is concerned, its members, if this proviso is retained, would prefer that this Bill should be thrown under the table. I am satisfied that the organizations of men working in the back-country, who are likely to bc seriously affected by this legislation, will not accept a measure containing this proviso, unless under absolute compulsion. It is not proposed that a majority of the members of an organization shall be favorable to an award of preference. This proviso goes far .beyond that, and as has been pointed out by Senator Guthrie, it would be absolutely impossible for the waterside workers to satisfy the Court that there was a majority of those affected by an award of preference on their application in favour of that award, for the simple reason that there are so many persons casually engaged in waterside employment who leave that work when they can find employment at their own trades, but who would be as much affected by an award of preference in that industry as the men continuously engaged in it. The very same thing applies to men engaged in the industries of the back country. There are men who follow regularly the occupations of shearers and rouseabouts ; but if we consider the number of men in the Shearers’ and Rouseabouts’ Unions, we shall find that they do not include half the total number of persons employed in any given year in the shearing industry. Thousands of men come out from the towns to seek casual employment in the industry. Other men who are settled on small areas of land of their own, take part in the shearing, and this is done to a greater extent in Victoria than perhaps in any of the other States. It must not be forgotten that this measure deals with Inter-State disputes., and that all these men must be reckoned with. It will be of no use for the shearers’ organization to assure the Court that throughout Australia during shearing time, so many thousand men belonging to the organization have been engaged in the industry. They must under this proviso, satisfy the Court that all who would be affected by an award of preference in the industry, are in favour of the grant of such an award. With all their organization it is impossible for the organized workers in this industry to state that a majority of those affected are in favour of an award of preference. Men working on the coast in Queensland, men working in the sugar districts yearly, and men employed along the coast in the fruit season ; from Brisbane, as far north as Rockhampton, may be affected by an award of preference in the shearing industry, because they are often compelled to go into the pastoral districts to seek employment, when none is to be had on the coast, and under this proviso, all persons who may be affected by the award must be accounted for. Under the Bill as it stands, before an award of preference can be given, the whole of the conditions surrounding the industry must be put before the Court. This Bill is professedly given to the workers of Australia in good faith, with the object of securing industrial peace, and yet some honorable senators desire to retain a proviso which will have the effect of . preventing labour organizations securing the benefits for which they have worked for so many years. And more than that, if at any time they should be compelled to come under this legislation, this proviso will have the effect of breaking up those organizations altogether.
– Still, the intention of the Bill is to foster organizations.
– That is the professed intention of the Bill. Honorable senators opposite admit that trade unions have done good work, that they have improved the condition of the workers engaged in the various industries. They say, “ We believe it is necessary to enact legislation which will prevent strikes such as the shearers’ strike and the maritime strike, which extended from one end of Australia to the other. ‘ ‘ At the same time, by insisting upon the retention of this proviso, they are not only taking away from the -workers of Australia the opportunity to secure industrial peace ; but they are placing them in such a position that they must resort to subterfuge to obtain any benefit from this legislation, or run the risk of having their organizations broken up. Some honorable senators opposite have admitted that they are absolutely opposed to the principle of compulsory arbitration, and, so far as I represent labour organizations in Queensland, I am prepared, if I am unable to secure the passage of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, without a proviso of this sort, to give honorable senators opposite a hand when the opportunity presents itself, in throwing the Bill under the table. They have said that in their opinion, the Bill is bad, and they are prepared to vote against it on any consideration.
– We did vote against it.
– I am almost forced to say that I am sorry that I did not vote with Senator Gray to throw the Bill out, when the attempt is made to carry such provisions as the one to which I have referred. If this proviso is retained, and honorable senators opposite are prepared at the report stage to vote for the rejection of the measure, I shall vote with them.
Question - That the word “ not ‘ ‘ proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majoritv…… … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added : - “ but that the Senate’s amendment be amended by inserting after the word’ given.’ the following words : - ‘ if in the opinion of the Court the members of the organization applying for preference are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice the interest of the majority,’ “
– I venture to submit, sir, that my honorable friend cannot move his amendment. According to standing order 227, the first question to be decided is whether the Committee does or does not insist on the Senate’s amendment. If it is decided to insist on the amendment my honorable friend may move any further amendment to the Bill consequent upon its rejection.
– Suppose that we donot insist on our amendment?
– We cannot amend our amendment, but if it is insisted on by the Committee my honorable friend can move a further amendment to the Bill consequent upon the rejection of our amendment.
– Not if this motion is carried.
– Certainly my honorable friend can. In the first place, we must either agree or disagree to the amendment made by the. other House.
– Or we may make further amendments.
– Under certain conditions we may make further amendments to the Bill, but we cannot amend this amendment. If we insist on our amendment there is an end of the matter for the time being. But if we do not insist on our amendment, then comes the question of a further amendment to the Bill, consequent upon the rejection of our amendment. Our amendment has been rejected by the other House.
– And now we must try another amendment.
– That case is provided for. But in the first place we have to insist or not insist upon our amendment, as it was submitted to the other House.
– There are several alternatives to that course.
– Yes -
The Senate may - I. Insist or not insist on its amendments ; or may make further amendments to the Bill consequent upon the rejection of ito amendments ; or propose new amendments as alternative to the amendments to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
The last provision clearly means that, in the first instance, the amendment to which the other House has disagreed has been disposed of.
– Does not the word “or “ show that that is an alternative?
– It is an alternative on the assumption that the other House has disagreed to the amendment, and that it remains.
– I cannot move to alter that which we have rejected.
– I confess that there is no meaning to be given to the words “ consequent upon the rejection of its amendments,” unless they mean that the further amendment to the Bill is conditional.
– I am not moving an amendment to the Bill, but an amendment to the amendment to which the other House has disagreed.
– I submit that it cannot be done.
– Ours was a negative amendment.
– Our amendment took the form of a proviso. We chose our amendment, and now that it has been disagreed to by the. other House, it cannot be amended. Otherwise there would be no finality. If we insist on our amendment, a message will be sent to the other House. But if we give way, the proviso will remain in the Bill. In other words, the amendment of the Senate will be rejected. Consequent upon that rejection my honorable friend may move another amendment, but the condition of another amendment being moved to the Bill is the rejection of our previous amendment by the other House, and our affirmance of that position. The effect of our not insisting will be that the other House’s rejection of our amendment will be final. But when that decision has been come to, my honorable friend may move a further amendment consequent upon the rejection of that amendment.
– Does the honorable and learned senator hold that I could move to amend that particular paragraph ?
– I do not know whether my honorable friend can move to amend that particular paragraph.
It seems to me that he can only move an amendment consequential upon the rejection of the Senate amendment.
– There are other alternative!.
– Besides the alternative I mentioned, ‘ the Senate may -
When we come to amendment No. 4, Senator Pearce may move an amendment to that proviso, allowing the unions to be political on a certain programme. But, under the first paragraph of the standing order I quoted, the Committee can only make an amendment consequent upon its assent to the rejection of the Senate’s amendment by the other House. All we can do is to insist or not insist on that amendment. We cannot amend it. When we have declared whether we will accept it or not, if any consequential amendments are required in the Bill, we can make them-. Otherwise the position would be that when an amendment is made in the House of Representatives, and it comes up to the Senate, we could make a verbal amendment simply for the purpose of securing further consideration of the matter in the House of Representatives. That would be contrary to all parliamentary usage. All we should have to do would be to keep on making amendments in the amendment of the House of Representatives to enable us to send the Bill back. If my honorable friend will read the two paragraphs of the standing order he will see the difference. What he proposes to do is to amend our own amendment. There is nothing in paragraph 1 of the standing order following the words, “ the Senate may,” to enable that to be done. But in paragraph 2 there is a provision enabling us to amend an amendment of the House of Representa tives. That would enable us to amend amendment No. 3. As regards our own amendment, all we can do is this : When it is dealt with, and we do not insist upon it, and when the House of Representatives’ amendment remains in the Bill, further amendments may be made consequent upon the rejection of the amendment that is under discussion. I venture to submit that no amendment can be made at this moment ; but when the rejection of our amendment by the House of Representatives is dealt with by its not being insisted upon, then our amendment is finally rejected, and consequential amendments or new amendments may be moved as alternatives to the amendment with which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
– The Attorney-General seems to me to take the position that amendment No. 3 is practically not before the Committee.. Either the amendment which we made in the Bill is before the Committee, or it is not. I take it that it is.
– What is before the Committee is the message from the House of Representatives.
– But that message contains the amendment ; and the motion of the Attorney-General is that we do not insist on our amendment. My proposal is that we do not insist on the amendment, but that we amend the amendment by inserting certain words. Let me direct attention to standing order 227. It will be seen that the second’ part of the standing order, commencing “ The Senate may,” provides for two alternatives. We may or may not insist on our amendment. The Attorney-General proposes the alternative that we do not insist on it. But we have another alternative. That is, that we may make further amendment in the Bill, consequent upon the rejection of our own amendment. If we adopt the Attorney-General’s suggestion, then on his own showing the provision with which we are dealing is done with. It is in the Bill.
– A consequential amendment can be moved.
– We can propose something to follow, but the proviso will have been dealt with. By saying thatwe do not insist. and by striking it out altogether, we shall have done all we can do. I take it that that is not the meaning of the standing order. I take it that the meaning is that we may take the course proposed, or we may take another course. We may amend our amendment by saying, “ We will not strike the provision out altogether, but we will strike out a portion of it, and put in other words.” What is the meaning of the word “ or “ ? It means that we may make further amendments in the Bill.
– That is if we do not insist upon our amendment; but we must carrv that motion first.
– I have got past that point in my argument. I ask the Committee to take one alternative - the AttorneyGeneral asks us to take another.
– The fact that Senator Pearce asks us to amend our amendment shows that we do not insist on it as it stands.
– We may make a further amendment of the Bill consequent upon the rejection of our amendment by the House of Representatives.
– But that must be done by separate motion.
– I contend that it is perfectly competent to have two questions before this Committee - one a motion by the Attorney-General proposing not to insist on the Senate’s amendment; , the other a proposal that we do not insist on our amendment, but make a further amendment consequent upon the rejection of our previous amendment. That is in exact accordance with the standing order, and it is an exact statement of the facts. Our amendment has been rejected by the House of Representatives. Consequent upon that rejection, while not insisting on the amendment, we propose to make a further amendment. I do not think we need go further than those two alternatives to show that it is perfectly competent, according to the standing order, for me to’ submit this , proposal. Of course, as the Attorney-General points out, I have another alternative. I may propose a new amendment. But I do not wish to do that. I wish to amend the existing amendment. The Attorney-General knows very well that if his proposal is carried, the principle of not insisting on our previous amendment will have been affirmed. If I allowed that to be done, he would afterwards confine me to proposing a consequential amendment. Why should I be debarred from accepting the alternative, which allows me to propose a further amendment to- the Bill, consequent on the rejection of the Senate’s amendment by the House of Representatives? There is nothing in the standing order to debar me. Why should I be compelled to fall back upon the other alternative, which does not accomplish what I wish to accomplish ?
– It will be impossible to move anything inconsistent with the motion not insisting on our amendment, if that is carried.
– I agree -with that. But whether my proposal is consistent with the motion that our amendment be not insisted on is another point. I submit that it is perfectly consistent, because it allows the I Court to decide on the question of the I majority ; but it lays down a compromise. I submit that I am perfectly in order in taking the second alternative allowed by the standing order, and that, consequent upon not insisting on our amendment, I have a right to move a further amendment on the Bill.
– It seems to me that the standing order is a novel one. I do not know whether it is the standing order of the House of Commons. But as it stands it appears that Senator Pearce must move his proposal at this stage or place the Committee at a disadvantage in dealing with the whole question. The Committee may be indisposed to refrain from insisting on its amendment, unless there is some satisfactory alternative. Therefore we ought to have the two questions before us - thequestion of insisting on our amendment, or of not insisting, together with an alternative. It seems to me to be desirable, and in accordance with the standing order, that while we are discussing it we should have the whole question before us. That is better than dealing with it piecemeal. If we carry the motion that the Senate does not insist on its amendment, that, it seems to me, will be final.
– But the standing order merely empowers amendments of the Bill, not of amendments at this stage.
– The greater includes the lesser. If we can amend the Bill at any point, we can amend it at this point.
– We cannot amend the clause. Paragraph 1 of standing order 227, following the words “ the Senate may “ gives no power to amend an amendment, but only to amend the Bill. The standing order is very carefully framed.
– It says that the Senate may -
Insist, or not insist, on its amendments ; or may make further amendments to the Bill.
I see there is a distinction there. The Bill before us does not contain the amendment. But it seems to me that, as a matter of expediency, if an amendment can be made at any stage, this is the stage where it can be made with the greatest wisdom.
– An amendment can be madia immediately after we have expressed our opinion as to whether our amendment shall be insisted on.
– If that is so, the point is not worth arguing about, because the Senate is in a position to know that an amendment is to be moved.
– It appears to me that the Standing Orders give us ample latitude to choose which alternative we shall take. Standing order 227 says that the Senate may -
Insist, or not insist, on its amendments ; or - Clearly showing .that there is an alternative - may make further amendments to the Bill consequent upon the rejection of its amendments; or propose new amendments as alternative to the amendments to which the House of Representatives has disagreed; or may order the Bill to be laid aside.
Senator Pearce is proposing a new amendment as an alternative to the amendment which the House of Representatives Kas refused to accept. His amendment is entirely relevant to the clause with which we are dealing, and to the Bill. No one is prepared to take exception to it on that ground. The whole fight upon this Bill has been mainly around, this principle. I claim that without some provision for preference ot protection to unionists, the Bill will be absolutely useless. I am even prepared, if we cannot get some concession in this respect, to vote for ordering the Bill to be laid aside. Much as I want to see industrial peace, and an effective measure of conciliation and arbitration, I should prefer to have no Bill rather than one that is a farce. In my opinion, the Committee has absolute power to say which of the alternatives it will proceed to vote on, and, that being so, I submit that Senator Pearce’s amendment is distinctly in order. If the amendment is not moved at (his stage, we shall not have the whole question before us, and must begin de novo, seeing that in all probability the Senate will have accepted the first alternative, and decided not to insist on the amendment. If we are to have that finality which we all desire, the best course would- be to accept a commonsense view, and allow Senator Pearce to submit his amendment.
– I ‘do not wish to interpose at all between Senator Pearce and his ability to move any further amendments in the Bill, consequent on the rejection of the amendment under discussion. An amendment was made by the Senate and rejected by the House. of Representatives, and that rejection must be made effective by our not insisting on the amendment. That being so, there may, under ‘ the standing order, be. a further amendment made, not on the amendment, but on the Bill, consequent on the rejection of our previous amendment. In the case of an amendment by the other House, such as an amendment on our amendment, another state of things prevails - that is, an amendment may be moved on an amendment, which comes from the other House. That is quite natural - it is good sense and justice. We have never had this question before us on a previous occasion; but we are entitled to amend an amendment of the other House, just as we are entitled to amend any Bill from the other House. But that does not apply to our own amendments. What Senator Pearce wishes to do is to amend the Senate’s amendment by dealing with the principle of majority in some other way. But that would be an amendment of our own amendment previously put forward, and I submit that such an amendment cannot be made, because otherwise there would be no finality. We might go on whittling away the provision by degrees, and sending it down to another place day by day ; and the standing order was never intended to permit that. Any amendment from the other House we are entitled to amend, but we must stand or fall by our own amendment, with the safeguard that when an amendment is rejected, and that rejection has been affirmed by the Senate, then any amendment consequent on that rejection - any amendment necessary in the Bill - may be made. This is a question of substance. An amendment consequent in the Bill may be moved, or, as an alternative, a new amendment may be submitted for that disagreed to, but we cannot keep on tinkering with our own amendment, which has to be either insisted on or rejected.
– I cannot agree with the Attorney-General in his view of the position. This proviso is either before the Senate, or it is not. We amended clause 40 by striking out the proviso, and the other House has insisted on the proviso »remaining ; and, therefore, I say that the amendment suggested by Senator Pearce is consequent on the rejection of our amendment.
– That is not the standing order.
– I hold that under the standing order the proviso either is or h not before the Senate. . If we carry the motion of the Attorney-General now, we can, of course, do nothing further. Before that motion is carried, I think that Senator Pearce has a right to move that the proviso, which we originally sought to omit, shall be amended as an alternative to our insisting on its being struck out. Of course, we shall be all the better for a ruling from the Chairman, and, it may be, from the President, because then we should have something to guide us. If the motion is carried that we do not insist on the amendment, then the proviso remains in clause 40, and the desire is to amend that proviso as a consequence of its rejection by another place.
– That cannot be done.
– I hold that it can, because the proviso is still in the possession of the Senate. At any rate, I should like to hear the opinion of both the Chairman of Committees and the President. What we desire to do is to agree to the proviso with a certain amendment, . and that, in my opinion, is a perfectly legitimate position.
– That is not what is desired.
– The amendment is only to amend the proviso.
– I have seen the amendment, and it strikes out all reference to majorities.
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong, and I contend that the proviso is in the possession of the Senate.
– Before vou give your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I desire to direct attention to what I think is an important part of standing order 227. There are two alternatives, one to make a further amendment of the Bill, consequent on the rejection of the Senate’s amendments, and the other to propose new amendments as alternative. I submit that there is some reason for the use in the standing order of both “ consequent “ and “ alternative.” Senator Pearce could, I think, move a new amendment as an alternative to the amendment with which the House of Representatives has disagreed. But I urge that the word “ consequent “ is put in for some reason, and has some meaning, to which you, sir, must give intent; and that meaning must be the ordinary one of consequential amendment. If that were not so, the word “consequent” would be quite unnecessary. If Senator Pearce could, under the first part of the standing order, do what he wishes to do, the word “consequent” might be left out. The standing order reads -
– Our amendment negatived a portion of the clause.
– I am sure that Senator McGregor will agree with me, that Senator Pearce is quite entitled to propose a new amendment as an alternative - though all amendments, practically, are alternative - to the amendment to which the House of Representatives has disagreed. But, in the other case, he must propose a consequential amendment - one that has become consequential because of some action of the Senate, immediately preceding the motion he desires to make. I emphasize the point, that “ consequent ‘ ‘ is inserted for some reason, because, if it be omitted, the standing order remains good English. Senator Pearce cannot proceed with his amendment unless it is purely consequent on something we have just done.
– It is consequenton the action of another place.
– That is not the point.
– It is consequent on the rejection of our amendment.
– The amendment is not rejected until we agree not to insist.
– I submit that if it be purely a. consequent amendment, Senator Pearce may move it, but if it is not consequential, he must submit a new amendment as an alternative.
– Do we reject our own amendments ?
– The AttorneyGeneral has raised what is, to me, a very interesting and somewhat intricate point. If, after my ruling, any senator disagrees with me, I shall not feel at all hurt, either on this occasion., or, indeed, I hope, on any other occasion. I shall not take any disagreement with my ruling as a personal matter, but would almost invite some honorable senator to raise the question, in order that we may have the opinion of the President. Senator Symon submitted to the Senate a motion to the effect that the Committee should not insist on amendment No. 3, which has been disagreed to by the House of Representatives. Standing order 130 is as follows: - a question having been proposed may be amended - (1) By leaving out certain words only; (jj.) By leaving out certain words in order to insert or add other words; (in.) By inserting or adding words.
Under that standing order Senator McGregor submitted an amendment to leave out the word “not,” and that amendment was negatived. Senator Pearce now desires, under this standing order, to add certain words to the motion proposed by the AttorneyGeneral.
– And to strike out the greater portion of the clause.
- Senator Pearce desires to amend the motion, by striking out certain words and by adding others. It appears to me. that that is the most convenient and proper method of dealing with the rejection of the Senate’s amendment by the House of Representatives. If Ave carry the motion proposed by.’ the Attorney-General, Ave shall, in my opinion, have disposed of that particular question, and I cannot see how, having accepted the House of Reoresentatives’ decision Avith regard to that amendment, Ave can deal Avith the question again. Standing order 277, which has been quoted, states that the Senate may -
Insist on its amendments.
Certain members of the Committee do not propose to insist on the amendment, which Avas that Ave should leave out the second paragraph. Some honorable senators say, “ We will not insist on that, provided we can insert certain words in the paragraph.” I take it that Senator Pearce, who proposes the amendment, is entitled to do so under this provision of the standing order - or may make further amendments to the Bill consequent upon the rejection of its amendments.
Consequent on the rejection by the House of Representatives of our amendment to leave cut certain words. Senator Pearce takes certain action. The honorable ‘senator proposes that Ave should not insist on our amendment for the retention of these words. except in so far ar, a portion of there is concerned, and we should’ submit to the-House of Representatives a modification of our first proposal. I. therefore, rule that Senator Pearce is in order in moving his amendment.
– I respond to your invitation, sir, and hand in an objection to your ruling in order to obtain the opinion of the President. / n the Senate :
The Chairman of Committees. - Sena tor Pearce having moved an amendment to the question -
That amendment No. 3, disagreed to by the House of Representatives, be not insisted on. and’ the honorable senator’s amendment being as follows : -
To add to the motion the words “ but that the amendment be amended by inserting after the word ‘ given ‘ in the first line, the words ‘ if in the opinion of the Court the members of the organization applying for preference are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice the interests of the majority,’ “ and leaving out the rest of the words Senator Symon raised the point that the amendment is not in order. I gave a ruling that Senator Pearce Avas in order, because under standing order 227 the Senate might insist on its amendment, might not insist on its amendment, or might make further amendments to the Bill, consequent upon the rejection of its amendment. It appeared to me that if Ave disposed of the question proposed by Senator Symon, honorable senators would not have an opportunity of moving an amendment.
– I am aware sir, that you have fortunately been in the Chamber during the discussion, and I do not therefore propose to deal with the point of order at length. I point out that there are two questions, one more or less of form, and the other of substance. As to the substance, I invite your attention to what the amend-, ment is. It is a direct negative of the Senate’s amendment to which the House of Representatives has disagreed. The amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives Avas the omission by the Senate of the words -
No such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
That is the principle of the majority - that no preference shall be granted unless it is approved by the majority.
– Those are the words
AAre struck out.
– Yes, and those words have been re-instated bv the House of Representatives.
– I rise to a point of order. The question Ave are now discussing is whether Senator Pearce has the right to move an amendment at this stage, not whether he has the right to move this particular amendment.
– It is this particular amendment with which we are dealing.
– So far as the report of , the Chairman of Committees is concerned, I think the amendment was not mentionecl.
– The Chairman of Committees read the amendment.
– I overlooked that. If the Chairman of Committees read the amendment. Senator Givens cannot raise the point of order he has taken.
– The question was not whether this amendment was in order. The point of order raised against Senator Pearce was . that he had no right to move any amendment at this stage.
- Senator Givens must see that I cannot permit any discussion of what took place in Committee. All I have to deal with is the report of the Chairman of Committees. The Chairman has made a report, and I am asked to give a ruling on a certain point.
– I objected to the decision of the Chairman that the amendment moved by Senator Pearce was in order, and that it might be moved upon the Senate’s amendment, with which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
– That is not what the honorable and learned senator objected to at first.
– Of course I argued the point at large.
– The honorable and learned senator objected before Senator Pearce had stated his amendment.
– That is so ; but Senator Pearce would not have that. He insisted upon readinghis amendment, and upon moving it. Iam very much obliged to the honorable senator, because we do not desire that there should be halfadozen discussions about it. The amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives was the striking out of the proviso which I have read. The amendment moved by Senator Pearce is in direct conflict with that. The honorable senator proposes to insert after the word “ given “ these words - “ if, in the opinion of the Court, the members of the organization applying for preference are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice the interests of the majority.”
That is a direct negative.
– No; it is a modification.
– I contend that it is a direct negative.
– Why should the honorable and learned senator be afraid of the discussion of the amendment?
– Why should we discuss it? The matter might go on to all eternity if this can be done. The proposal we make now is to send down to the other House, not an alternative, but a direct negative of our own amendment, which, when previously sent down, was rejected. I point out that if Senator Pearce’s amendment is agreed to, the words appearing in the proviso - unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interest in common with the applicants, must be struck out as a consequential amendment. My honorable friend’s amendment, which begins by using the words of my motion, “ that the Senate does not insist on its amendment,” repeats the later matter in another form of words, that we do not insist, but substitutes something which is a direct negative.
– We are asked to strike out the provision that preference is not to be given unless, in the opinion of the Court, it is approved by a majority, and to substitute a new rule that, unless in the opinion of the Court the members of the organization applying for preference are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice the interests of the majority. It is a very ingenious contrivance to negative what we have already sent down to the House of Representatives, and what the House of Representatives has disapproved. That is the matter of substance. I venture to submit that the proposed amendment cannot be put. The other point is that if the amendment were otherwise in order, it is hopelessly in antagonism with the provisions of standing order 227, the first paragraph of which provides for amendments by the Senate, which come back to us disagreed with, and the second paragraph, which provides for amendments by the House of Representatives on our amendments. As to the latter, we may make any amendment we please on the amendment of the House of Representatives; but, as to the former, there is no provision for our making any such amendment on our amendment, but we may make an amendment consequent upon the rejection of our amendment.
– We may make further amendments to the Bill.
– That is so ; consequent, not upon our amendment, but upon the rejection of our amendment.
– Any amendment is consequent on rejection.
– No. If some subsequent clause which was associated with the amendment required to be altered in some way- to make the Bill consistent, that alteration could be made, because it would be consequential. That is what the standing order provides for. I venture to submit, with great respect to the Chairman of Committees that, first of all, on the matter of form, if we could amend our amendments in this way, there would be no finality at all. And secondly, on the question of substance that this is not an amendment which can be moved at this stage.
– The Attorney-General has seen fit to strengthen his position by taking up new ground. Evidently it is a clear indication that he has found his first premises to be wrong. In Committee, he was content with the one point, namely, that the amendment was inconsistent with standing order 227 ; but he now finds that a further point is necessary in order to strengthen his weak position, and, therefore, he submits that the amendment if any amendment is permissible, is out of order because of its substance. The first amendment, which was rejected by the other House, provided that a union applying for preference must prove to the Court that it had a majority. That precaution was taken, it was said, to safeguard the interests of the majority. My amendment does hot go so far as that, but it is in the same direction, in that it gives a certain instruction to the Court. The same prinTciple is involved in each amendment; but my amendment is not so drastic as the previous one. If the Attorney-General’s statement is correct, what is the meaning of these words in standing order 227 - or propose new amendments as alternative to the amendments to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
If the earlier portion of the standing order means what the Attorney-General has said, the portion I have just quoted is not required. If the second alternative means that having disposed of the motion of the Attorney-General, I should have to propose my proposition as a new amendment, the latter words of the standing order are not required. I take it that the second paragraph is meant to fit such a case as this, and that the third paragraph allows a new amendment to be moved as an alternative to the amendment to which the other House has disagreed.
– Before giving a decision, I wish to call the attention of the Senate to the theory which underlies Bills in their passage through the two Houses, and particularly to the theory with reference to amendments. It is a well understood law of every Parliament that any clause, or part thereof, which has not been agreed to by both Houses, is open for discussion. We should construe our standing order with that theory in our mind. In this case, the Senate left out a proviso > the other House disagreed to our amendment, and, therefore, the proviso is still open for discussion. The AttorneyGeneral moved that the amendment be not insisted on, and referred to standing order 227, to show that on that motion Senator Pearce cannot move an amendment which would in effect substitute for the proviso which the Senate struck out, another proviso. If we look at standing order 227, we shall see that it applies to this case -
The Senate may -
Insist or not insist on its amendments;
So far that is quite clear. or may make further amendments to the Bill consequent upon the rejection of its amendments. from that second clause, it seems quite clear that if the Senate is to make further amendments to the Bill, consequent on the rejection of its amendment by the other House, it has first of all not to insist on its amendment, otherwise it would not be consequent upon the rejection of the amendment. I take it that the words “ consequent upon the rejection “ mean a further amendment pari materia, that is, any relative amendment which will flow from the rejection of our amendment. Then we come to the third clause” of the standing order - or propose new amendments as alternative to the amendments to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
Lt is quite clear that if the Senate is to propose an alternative amendment, it will have to dispose in some way of its original amendment. The Senate cannot say that it adheres to the original amendment, and at the same time propose an alternative amendment. Now we come to the procedure. I take it that the procedure ought, if possible to be fitted in to the theory I mentioned, and the standing order. I think that Senator Pearce ought to have an opportunity of moving this alternative proposal, and that therefore it is in order, provided that in substance it is not objectionable. So far as the procedure is concerned, it does not appear to me to be! a matter of very much importance, because I think that the Chairman will be able to devise a proper procedure by which this alternative amendment can be moved by Senator Pearce, and if carried, sent down to the other House.
The Chairman of Committees. - Supposing that it be decided not to insist on leaving out these words, how will it be possible for Senator Pearce to carry his proposal to insist on the amendment with an amendment ?
– I understood that Senator Pearce moved to add certain words to the motion not to insist on the amendment made by the Senate. I think that the honorable senator can do that.
– Your ruling, sir, is that my motion to insist on the amendment shall be first disposed of.
– The motion can be amended.
– But if it be decided not to insist on the amendment, then Senator Pearce can move his amendment by way of an alternative.
– What I said was that on that motion it is competent for Senator Pearce to move that certain words be added thereto.
– His proposal involves not merely adding words, but also striking out words from the amendment on which he pledges himself not to insist. He begins by saying that he does not insist, and ends by proposing to insert certain words in the amendment. If the Senate decides to insist on its amendment there will be no need for a further motion. If, on the other hand, it does not insist on its amendment, then Senator Pearce can move any amendment which is regular and within the standing order.
– I think I can see an easy’ way out of that difficulty. If Senator Pearce would move to add to the present motion the words “ but proposes an alternative amendment to the following effect “ it would not be a contradiction in terms of the motion, and at the same time it would have exactly the same effect.
– That would depend, first, upon whether the alternative he proposed was in order.
– Yes. .
– And, secondly, upon whether it was consistent with the motion not to insist on the amendment.
– It seems to me to be quite consistent. Practically, the Senate would say to the other House, “ We sent you an amendment, to which you did not agree. We have decided not to insist on our amendment, but to send you an alternative amendment, which we should like you to discuss.” That seems to me to be perfect common sense, and in accordance with the standing order. The second point taken by the Attorney-General is that the alternative amendment which Senator Pearce wishes to propose is contrary to the original amendment. I do not see that the standing order prevents that course being taken. If an alternative amendment can be moved concerning that subject-matter, as I think it can, then an alternative amendment can be moved, which is necessarily different from the original amendment, to which the other House has disagreed I agree with the Chairman of Committees that if Senator Pearce puts his amendment in proper form it can be moved.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the following words be added - “ but, as an alternative, proposes to insert after the word given ‘ in line 1 the words - ‘ if, in the opinion of the Court, the members of the organization applying for preference are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice thn interest of the majority,’ and that the remainder of the clause be left out.”
This amendment will get overthe objection that this course may lead to the rejection of the Bill, because if it is carried there must be an interchange of messages.
– Senator Pearce’s proposal is absolutely contradictory, and I must ask for the ruling of the Chairman upon it on a point of order.. The motion is that the Committee do not insist on its amendment. That means that the proviso stands in the Bill. To that
Senator Pearce proposes to add : “ But that there be inserted, as an alternative, ‘”’ another and totally different provision.
– Is Senator Symon warranted in raising another point of order on the point which has just been decided? I have adopted the exact phraseology which the President indicated, and surely the AttorneyGeneral cannot be in order in again raising the same point as the President and the Chairman of Committees have given decisions upon.
– This is not the same point. The President expressly said that there was no objection to Senator Pearce submitting, his proposal so long as he put himself in order. My point is that he has not put himself in order, and that it is impossible for him to submit this proposal, because the first part of it declares that the proviso shall stand in the Bill, and then goes on to provide as an alternative something quite different. I wash my hands of all responsibility for making the Senate ridiculous if we carry this proposal.
– Why not accept the ruling, of the President?
– I do accept it, but I protect myself against the possibility of the Senate making itself ridiculous by agreeing to leave in the Bill a proviso, and then suggesting an alternative of a contradictory character.
– I am sure that Senator Pearce would not like to be the author of an amendment which would read in such an extraordinary way as would the one under consideration. It would be impossible for the Senate with any respect for itself to transmit such a message, as it would render necessary to the other place. Really, it would be a disgrace to us if the Bill went down in that condition.
– I hope the Senate will not be led away by the legal subtleties of -the Attorney-General and Senator Clemons. The attempt on their part can be termed nothing else than that. Senator Symon’s motion is that we inform the House of Representatives that we do not insist on our amendment. My amendment adds that we propose, after the word “ given,” that certain words be inserted. We do not propose to strike out anything, or to add anything. We merely suggest an alternative. Our message sent to the House of
Representatives would intimate that the Senate does not insist on its amendment to strike out the sub-clause, but proposes an alternative that certain words be inserted after the word “ given.” in that sub-clause, and that the remaining words be struck out. The meaning of that is that the two sub-clauses would come before the House of Representatives together. Nothing would be struck out. An alternative would be offered. In the face of the clear ruling of the President, it comes with very bad grace for the Attorney-General to wind these legal subtleties around the subject. I trust that the better feelings of the honorable and learned senator will prompt him to withdraw his objection.
– I think we shall be covering ourselves with ridicule.
– I am really very sorry that Senator Pearce should think that my attitude is due to a desire to obscure the subject with legal subtleties. We have either to insist on our amendment leaving out the proviso or not to insist. We have decided that it shall remain in. How, then, can we add the words that Senator Pearce proposes, and make any sense of the position ? It is impossible. I have no concern,,- except that our message shall be intelligible. The message would not be intelligible if Senator Pearce’s proposal were carried, for the simple reason that we have decided that the proviso shall remain in, and Senator Pearce asks us to add a contradictory proviso. I am sorry that he should think that I am trying to interfere with him- unfairly when. I am simply speaking in the interests of the whole Committee.
– I desire to show that Senator Pearce is merely acting in the interests of the Bill. If business is being delayed, it is due to the want of judgment of the Attorney-General. When the President was giving his ruling, the Attorney-General was on his feet three or four times when he had no right to be speaking. I am showing the unreasonableness of his opposition to what is proposed. I also wish to show that we have a right to carry such a proposal as Senator Pearce has made. The Bill came up from the House of Representatives, and we amended it by striking out the proviso which is the subject of this trouble. The Bill went back to another place. Another place says, “ We want this proviso in the Bill.” The Attorney-General moves that the Committee does not insist upon its amendment, striking out the proviso. Senator Pearce is endeavouring to persuade the Committee to say that we shall not insist upon the proviso being struck out, but that we wish the House of Representatives to consider an alternative. Is there anything unreasonable in that? Is it contrary to the Standing Orders? It is the best thing we can do. We know that ‘we cannot carry what we should like; therefore we propose to ask another place to consider this alternative.
– But it is proposed to strike out an essential part of this proviso.
– We are not proposing to strike out anything. We simply offer another place an alternative, and suggest that they should be good enough to accept it.
– The proposal asks the members of the House of Representatives to swallow their own decision.
– That is their business, not ours.
– But they will tell us that they have already decided.
– I see very little difference between this point of order and the point of order raised previously. Senator Pearce, in response to an invitation from the President, asked leave to withdraw his amendment, with a view to an alteration. The amendment was altered by the addition of the words “ as an alternative proposal to,” and by the omission of the words “the amendment.” Personally, I think it would have been better to leave in the words “ the amendment,” because there would then have been a clear indication of what is proposed. But, as I say, there is little difference between the amendment before us and the amendment which ‘Senator Pearce withdrew. Senator Pearce proposed to add to the motion of the AttorneyGeneral the words - but, as an alternative, proposes to insert after the word “ given,” in line 1, the words, “ if in the opinion of the Court the members of the organization applying for preference are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice the interests of the majority.”
Senator Pearce then proposes to omit the remainder of the proviso. The alteration may possibly affect the vote which may be cast either way, but I must say that I think the amendment is in order.
– The words “ proposes to insert” are objectionable; we do insert.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - The amendment is governed by the first words, in which it is declared that we propose an alternative, and we must indicate to the other House what the alternative is. We say that we do not insist on the amendment to omit the proviso, but propose, as an alternative, that after the word “ given,” certain words should be inserted, and the remainder of the clause struck out.
– We do not propose to insert, but do insert.
– I cannot see the meaning could be differently expressed.
– If we use the word “proposes,” we practically ask the other House if we may insert the words.
– The other House might send back the message, “ As you propose to do this, you had better do it.”
– I have learnt to be wary of lawyers’ advice, and thought it best to listen to Senator Playford; and, perhaps, the amendment to the motion may be altered in the way suggested. By leave, I will amend the amendment, so that it will read - “ but that there be inserted as an alternative “ -
Amendment amended accordingly.
– It was argued that the proposal to. insist on the amendment might mean the loss of the Bill, but that argument cannot be used in regard to the present proposal, for the reason that it will have to be debated by another place, and a message sent to the Senate.
– The effect would be exactly the same.
– The new proposal deals with a phase of the question which has not been before the House of Representatives, and there is no doubt th-aE an opinion will be expressed as to its merits. We, as the sister branch of the Legislature, ask the House of Representatives to express an opinion, and, surely, we are not to assume that that Chamber will give us such a “ slap in the face” as to refuse to comply with the request? That being so, what are the merits of the motion? The argument was that we do not desire to give preference to less than a majority, because injustice might then be done to those who are outside the union. I now propose to empower preference to be given to a minority, provided the granting of it does not do injustice to the majority ; and I think that is a proposition the other House will accept. At any rate, it is a proposition which should be accepted by those who are in favour of striking out the whole of the proviso. I hope we shall arrive at a satisfactory settlement in connexion with this clause. I should have preferred a conference of the two Chambers; but, in regard to a proposal to that effect, the fear of losing the Bill operated. We have now an opportunity to approach the other House by way of message.
– I join with Senator Pearce in the hope that we shall put an end to trifling with the subject, and arrive at a settlement at once. The substantial matter in conflict between the two Chambers is the principle of giving preference only where the application, in the opinion of the Court, is approved by the majority of those affected by the award, who have interests in common with the applicant.
– That it is impossible to prove.
– We are not dealing with that matter now. The issue between the two Houses is as I have stated. The House of Representatives, after three opportunities for debate, has reinstated this proviso, and we have had a motion before us declaring that we do not insist on its omission. _ That is to say, the proviso will remain in the Bill, if we give way to the House of Representatives in this respect.
– We have not decided that matter yet.
– We have ; the honorable senator asked for a definite vote of the Senate on a proposal to omit the word “ not.”
– But the AttorneyGeneral’s motion has not been carried.
– The honorable senator moved the omission of “not,” and on that amendment we voted to determine whether or not we should insist on the amendment.
– What is the use of wasting time in this way ?
– But the AttorneyGeneral’s motion has yet to be put.
– That is a mere matter of formality. What did the honorable senator mean by moving the omission of the word “ not “ ? He desired that the motion should stand that Ave do insist on our amendment; but the Senate has determined, by the rejection of the honorable senator’s amendment, that Ave shall give way to the House of Representatives, and that the proviso shall stand. Now, Senator Pearce moves the same proposal in another form - a proposal to strike out the proviso ; that is, the honorable senator moves to strike out the only essential part of the proviso which, as honorable senators know, comes after the word “given.” Senator Pearce is simply asking the Committee to reverse its decision that Ave do not insist on the amendment. The honorable senator cannot carry his own proposal, because it begins Avith the declaration that the Committee do not insist on the amendment.
– Why worry, if the amendment cannot be carried?
– If the honorable senator is satisfied, I should be glad if he were to withdraw his amendment, which merely says in another way that we insist on our original amendment. The Committee will stultify itself if it votes for the present amendment, after deciding that the word “not” shall be retained. The object is to sweep the proviso away, not by the omission of the word “not” in the motion, but by declaring the intention in st many words. Senator Pearce proposes to insert the words - “….. if in the opinion of” the Court the members of the organizations applying for preference are in such a minority….. “
That is a totally different basis - one which, so far as I know, has never been laid down by any Arbitration Court in Australia. The proposed amendment proceeds - - are in such a minority of those affected by the award that the granting of such preference would prejudice the interests of the majority.
That is a new and complicated proposal which, if at all, should have been submitted some weeks ago, or in the other House. It is surely an indirect way of seeking to accomplish what Senator McGregor declares to be the underlying object, namely, to re-open the whole question in another place on a motion, for a conference. Such a motion, however, would have been perfectly futile. The proposal would have been in the hands of another place without any control by us; and our duty now is to either agree or disagree to the amendment. Senator Pearce says that his proposal does not involve the loss of the Bill, but, in my opinion, there is just as much danger from that point of view as- there was in regard to the previous proposal, because it is sought to reject what the House of Representatives insists on.
– I propose an alternative.
– The proposal rejects what the House of Representatives insists on.
– Clearly ; the subsequent words are to be struck out, and we ask the House of Representatives to adopt something which is not majority rule at all. Exactly the same question in substance is involved as in the amendment on which the Senate has divided, and I hope that we shall at once arrive at a determination.
– The Attorney-General, though not intentionally, is scarcely putting the position fairly to the Committee. The honorable and learned senator knows very well that his motion has not yet been put. He is old enough as a politician to know that I moved my motion in the form I did so as not to deprive any honorable senator of the opportunity to move a subsequent amendment. Had I not afforded this opportunity to the Committee to adhere to its previous decision, the Attorney-General’s motion would have been put- and carried, and there would have been no chance to move an amendment. My amendment was defeated, but the motion has not yet been put, and we have the right to amend the latter in any way we choose. Honorable members in another place have not been given an opportunity to consider Senator Pearce’s amendment. As the Bill came to us it did not matter what happened, “if there were not a majority in favour of preference it could not be granted. But that is not all that is required. It has been pointed out many times that if the members of an organization which has taken steps to secure an improvement of conditions are not protected, they will be dismissed by their employers. We have known that to be done, and many of us have had personal experience of it. We desire now that the Court shall have power, not only to say that, where a majority is proved to be in favour of preference, it shall be granted, but that if there is not a majority in favour of preference, and the circumstances are such that even a minorityis likely to suffer injustice as the result of an endeavour to secure improved conditions, that minority shall be protected. The amendment would give the Court power to say, “ There is only a minority applying for preference; but, seeing that those who compose it might be seriously prejudiced on account of their action in this industrial matter, that they might be discharged, penalized, or put on the black list by employers, the granting of preference to them will protect them, while it will in no way injure the majority engaged in the industry. We shall therefore grant the award of preference applied for as an act of justice, and for the protection of the applicants, because if it is not granted they will be penalized.” That is the true position. I know that honorable senators do not desire that injustice should be done to any one. What we do desire is such an amendment of the proviso already contained in the Bill as will give power to the Court to protect applicants for preference. Honorable members in another place should have an opportunity to consider whether this is a fair proposal, and to suggest, if they should think it wise to do so, some further alteration. The object is to give protection to the minority, without injuring the majority, and to give another place a further opportunity to do justice to those who are praying for justice. I am quite sure that if the majority of honorable senators, fair-minded men as most of them are, knew as much about unionism and the working of organizations as do honorable senators on this side, they would not refuse consideration for unionists in connexion with a Bill of this description. Senator Pearce, and those who are acting with him, would be amongst the last in the world to do an injustice either to the majority or the minority, and” what we desire is that a minority of unionists may not be penalized by an Act of Parliament.
– I do not see how any objection can be urged against the amendment. The Committee should be prepared to give honorable members in another place an opportunity to consider the proposal which is now made by
Senator Pearce. It has been contended all along that it is necessary that there should be a majority in favour of preference before an award of preference is made. We have pointed out that that is a provision with which it is impossible to comply. We have shown that it would be impossible for organizations to submit evidence which would convince the Court that a majority of those likely to be affected by an award are in favour of preference. The AttorneyGeneral has urged, by way of interjection, that this is only “ in the opinion of the Court.” That argument has also been used in another place. It is natural to suppose that under the provision in the Bill the Court would require to be satisfied by evidence that a majority of those who are likely to be affected by the award are in favour of the grant of preference. I am convinced that honorable senators who have read the report of cases tried in the New Zealand and New South Wales Arbitration Courts will admit that awards have been given in numbers of cases where it would have been absolutely impossible for the organizations applying for them to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that a majority of the persons interested in those awards were in favour of preference. Yet that has not prevented the New Zealand and New South Wales Courts from granting awards of preference to unionists where it has been shown that unionist workmen as competent as persons outside their organizations are available for employment. The amendment now proposed will give the Court greater scope to decide in favour of the men who all along have had to bear the brunt of the battle in forming organizations sufficiently strong to secure registration under this’ Bill. They would under this amendment be able to secure preference for the work they have done, without prejudice to the interests of those outside their organizations. When any award is given to an organization connected with an industry, it must be remembered that persons engaged in subsidiary industries will be affected by that award. For instance, if the members of the Seamen’s Union were to take part in such a strike as the maritime strike, and the dispute were brought before the Arbitration Court, every honorable senator must admit that the award given in such a case would affect to some extent the interests of men employed in all kinds of work along the water-side.
– Whether in the union or out of it.
– Every award of the kind must affect in some way the interests of men engaged in subsidiary industries. Senator McGregor has forcibly reminded the Committee that the amendment is intended to protect unionists from being victimized. Every member of the Committee is aware that on many occasions men who have taken the trouble to organize their fellowworkmen, and who have been charged with the responsibility for causing disputes - though in my experience the men at the head of trade organizations have endeavoured at all times to prevent disputes - have been victimized. When the great maritime strike was brought to a conclusion,, some of the best workmen in Sydney, who had been working along the . waterside for years, had to go to the offices of the Shipowners’ Association, in Kent-street, and declare that they were not members of the water-side organizations, and that they had left the unions, and on that declaration they received a ticket which enabled them to secure employment. I am glad to say that there were numbers of men who had been members’ of trade organizations for years who refused to declare that they were not unionists, and to my own knowledge they were victimized by being refused employment for months.
– Our desire to include some system of protection or preference to unionists has reached a stage when I think that the objections urged by honorable senators on the other side have been fully met. In the early stages of the Bill they pointed out that we were trying to secure a particular preference for a minority of workers in an industry. Even if that were so - and I do not admit that it is - they must now admit that the amendment of Senator Pearce does away with their argument. They must recognise that what we are aiming at is to protect unionists from being victimized by unscrupulous employers. Although there are good employers, still there are a number of employers who are prepared to victimize any men who have taken part in a strike or action in the Arbitration Court. From my knowledge of the Western Australian Act, I hold that even with the amendment of Senator Pearce, and I intend to vote for it, this would not be a good measure. Without that provision the law would be absolutely worthless. If I may not vote against the return of the Bil! unless it be amended in this direction, certainly I shall be found using < my voice with the unions in my State not ] to register. I believe that my recommendation will have considerable weight with : unionists. It is unlikely that I could appreciate this measure when I know that the State Act is a better one. Both in Western Australia and in New South Wales the Arbitration Act is effective in securing the settlement of disputes and preventing unscrupulous employers from victimizing certain unionists. I know that some honorable senators will urge that, even if the Bill be not a good one, it should) be placed upon the statute-book in order to establish a principle. I submit that the principle is already established in the minds of the people of ^ the Commonwealth, and that we are not justified in placing upon the statute-book a bad law in order to establish a good principle. In Western Australia public opinion favours the Arbitration Act. When some amendments were recently made in the Legislative Assembly no attempt was made by the tory element in the State Parliament to make tha Act less effective than it has proved to be. Notwithstanding that fact, one of its representatives here, Senator Smith, without offering any reasons, seeks to prevent a portion of this measure from giving protection to the very men whom he knows so well and who worked so hard to secure his election. He is well acquainted with the trend of public opinion in the State. He knows that the people favour an Arbitration Act which gives preference to unionists, not merely because they are unionists, but because they have done so much to secure better conditions and higher wages for non-unionists and unionists alike. He is not correctly representing the public opinion of the State in the vote which he recorded to-night, and the vote which I understand he intends to give against this amendment. I appeal to honorable senators on the other side to consent to send this amendment down to the other House, and thus give our friends there aT opportunity to meet our views on this great principle.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - I hope that before a final vote is taken on this question honorable senators will reconsider the position. All along, in our humble way, we have endeavoured to present the situation in its truest light, but they have always seemed to think that we desire to get our own way with the Bill. That is not the case. It seems to be thought that because we have obtained a concession in connexion with the political rights of organizations we ought to be quite satisfied. That is only a very insignificant necessity in connexion with arbitration, compared with the position in which a union would be placed if it were small in numbers. Let me give a concrete instance. Suppose that a particular trade in Australia employed 2,000 men, of whom 400 were organized and 1,600 were not . organized. Only a minority of those engaged in the trade could bring a question before the Arbitration Court, although it might concern both non-unionists and unionists, and unless the Court was assured that a majority was in favour of preference being granted it could not be given. What would the result be if an award were given against the employers ? The good employers might take no notice, but the employers who were bitterly opposed to the working man would presently find an excuse for discharging first the secretary of the union, then the president, and next other prominent members. In a very short time there would be no union, and the whole object of the Bill would be entirely defeated. What have we sought all along to secure? We wish the Bill to provide that even if a minority engaged in an industry brought a case before the Court, and a decision were given, that minority should not be prejudiced because of its action, and that the Judge could give preference, even to the minority, so long as it did not prejudicially affect the majority of those who were engaged in the trade. Could anything be. fairer than to intrust that power to the Court? We all desire to show some result for our labours, and to bring this session to a close as harmoniously and as quickly as possible. I am assured that if a provision of that description were adopted by the Senate it would receive consideration in another place, and that the two Houses might be able to come to a compromise. I wish honorable senators to dissociate clause 55 from clause 40, because the concession granted in the former has nothing to do with the preference asked for in the latter. I believe that if we were able to present our proposal with such ability as the AttorneyGeneral has displayed in his endeavour to thwart our intentions it -would be carried here by a large majority. I would point out to the Attorney-General - and I do not use these words as a threat, because we have : no intention to do anything which is unfair i -that the session would be brought to a : close much sooner if we could only arrive 1 I at a compromise.
– It appears to me to be obvious that a few inconsistencies are being imported into the discussion, even at this late stage. The; Bill went down to another place in a certain form. Certain amendments were embodied in it. Those amendments have, in some cases, been rejected by another place. The Bill is sent back to the same House as previously considered it. But strange to say, while we cannot recognise any combination of events which should cause a change of principles on the part of honorable senators, yet, on what may be called the vital principle of the measure, some of .those who original I v cast their votes in one direction, have sufficient elasticity of conscience to vote on the other ‘side now.
– That is what every legislator has to do, and does wisely, in his life-time.
– I have heard it said that a politician neve has a principle, and that if he has one, he is of very little use as a politician. That interjection leads me to remark that the suspicion which I expressed at an earlier stage of the debate was fairly well’ founded, namely, that the cry for arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes is merely formal, and has not genuinely entered into the minds of all those who use it. For the life of me, I cannot see that anything has taken place that ought to alter the attitude of honorable senators. But some of them appear to reason in this way : “ If we do not pass the Bill as it stands, probably another place will cast it on one side.” If there is any logic in such reasoning, I fail to find it. A bad Bill ought never to be placed upon the Statutebook. A Bill that is useless ought to be thrown aside. It should be allowed to remain out of the road until such time as the country sends to Parliament men who are prepared honestly to express the convictions of the people in connexion with the question. Some honorable senators are prepared to place upon the Statute-book a Bill which is utterly worthless. It is not worth the time that has been occupied in considering it, and’ will never be worth the expense of printing and circulating copies of it. Yet those honorable senators are prepared to allow to pass by the opportunity to make it a worthy Bill, lest some dire calamity should befall what is at present a useless piece of projected legislation. I sincerely hope that either honorable senators will be prepared to stand by their principles, or will honestly declare that they really have no principle in connexion with compulsory arbitration. Senator Pearce’s amendment clearly embodies the view that we wish to convey to another place, and I am satisfied that it represents the views of a large majority of the people who are exercising their energies in hard manual labour. Much has been said with regard to the non-unionist side of the question. It is said that the intention of the Bill is that trade unionists, by means of obtaining preference, may be able to prevent non-unionists from working at their trades. But there is not an honorable senator who does not know that every non-unionist in Australia to-day is absolutely living in the hope that the unions will continue the good work that they have been doing, and continue to exercise their influence in .the direction of establishing industrial laws, and promoting conditions such as are compatible with civilization, in order that the non-unionists without paving their few coppers per week into the associations may reap all the benefits that selfsecrificing men have conferred upon them. This cry about the interests of non-unionists is the merest clap-trap. There is not a man who uses it who has ever taken sufficient interest in the question to find out what are the relationships between unionists and nonunionists in industrial life. To support Senator Pearce’s amendment will be to show to the other Chamber, and to the multitude of workers outside, what our real intentions are. Possibly we may be able, after some kind of a conclave with the members of the other House, to place upon the Statute-book a Bill that will be regarded as at least a measure that attempts on commonsense grounds to reach that condition iri industrial life which most men profess that they are anxious to reach, namely, a day when under no circumstances will it be possible to still the wheels of our industrial operations, either by the action of employes on the one side, or of employers on the other. I trust that honorable senators will support the amendment in order that we may bring about that good time.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Before a division is taken. I am impelled to Speak on a subject to which, in other circumstances, I would rather not refer. But honorable senators must have heard and read of the very contemptuous terms in which the amendments made by this Senate were referred to by the leader of the Government in another place. I ask those honorable senators who are aware of the language used by thePrime Minister - I suppose I ought to call him the right honorable gentleman - whether they are prepared by their votes to indorse his estimate of this Chamber?
– I have not seen any remarks disparaging to the Senate.
– Perhaps Senator Drake has not read what the Prime Minister said ; but I consider that it was disparaging to us to say that . the amendments passed” by the Senate did not merit the consideration of another branch of the Legislature, because, Mr. Reid said, “ It is not another branch of the Legislature that is speaking, but merely another branch of the Labour Party with a few unattached individuals.”
– That was not disrespectful to the Senate.
– Certainly, it was most disrespectful to the Senate, because the . amendments having been passed by a majority of the Committee were the amendments of the Senate. It ill -becomes the leader of the Government to refer in such terms to an important branch of the Legislature. The Senate is practically told that because an amendment originated with a certain party, it must not have the force of a declaration by a legislative chamber. Honorable members of another place are asked to put party bias before their judgment. They are not asked to judge the legislation by its beneficial effects; but are appealed to on the grounds of party, hatred.
– There is no party hatred.
– Then why is an appeal made to party hatred?
– Is the honorable senator not appealing to party bias?
– I am appealing to honorable senators to rely on their own judgment.
– Why not deal with the amendment, and allow us to get to work?
– I presume the honorable senator does not object to a little discussion, and he is at liberty to speak.
– Yes, on the amendment.
– I am asking the Senate to vindicate its position by refusing to go the length to which they are invited by another place. The considerations on which a decision was arrived at in another place, are an insult to the Senate.
– I am afraid I must draw the honorable senator’s attention to standing order 402 -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives, or to any measure impending therein.
– I may have transgressed the Standing Orders, but, at any rate, honorable senators are well aware of what took place in the House of Representatives. I ask honorable senators whether they will take care to satisfy their own minds, or whether they are prepared to let party bias decide the question. I ask honorable senators whether they will allow the fact that this amendment originated with the Labour Party,’ to weigh with’ them in their opposition to it. Have they considered whether the proposal means a satisfactory solution of the question? There are same honorable senators fond of prating that there are no parties in this Chamber. One honorable senator, on every occasion which suits him, declares that there are no party lines in the Senate; and yet I venture to say that on this amendment, he will give a vote dictated by party reasons only. There can be no other reasons, seeing that the honorable senator., when in Committee, previously voted to eliminate any qualification whatever from this clause. I refer to Senator Smith ; and if he is not going to give a party vote, I ask him to tell us on the floor of the chamber, what his reasons are for reversing his decision.” He cannot say that he is influenced by a fear that he may lose the Bill, because heknows that at the worst, there can only be a rejection of this portion of our message - only a reply that the House of Representatives does not agree to our amendment. When we find an honorable senator, after due deliberation, and a long debate, voting to strike out the qualification-
– Senator Smith advised at the start that the Bill ought to be accepted as it was.
– After giving that
I advice, and saying he would vote against any amendment, he voted for the amendment with which we are now dealing. Furthermore, his vote determined the division.
– Perhaps he did not know which side he was on.
– Of course, the honorable senator may have made some mistake ; but I ‘am very much interested in the matter, and I ask him to tell us the reasons which actuate him even now, in refusing to compromise on the question.
– “ Will you walk into my parlour, said the spider to the fly “ ?
– From being a free and unfettered friend of preference, Senator Smith has become an uncompromising foe of the principle, except under impossible conditions.
– Those personal accusations are not in good taste.
– Senator Smith wants to see the Bill become law.
– Voting for the amendment will not interfere with the Bill becoming law.
– Will it not?
– It only means that there will be a message sent to another place, proposing an alternative.
– And we shall receive nothing back.
– We may get a refusal to agree to the alternative, but that does not mean the loss of the Bill, because it will be still left in our power to say whether we do or do not insist on the amendment.
– We shall get back a notice of prorogation.
– My opinion is that the other House will accept a modification, though perhaps not the modification pro-, posed ; and it cannot be said that we have done our duty until we attempt some conpromise. I appeal to honorable senators to’ give us a practical illustration of the fact that there is no party bias in this Chamber. I make that appeal, especially to honorable senators who say that preference is necessary, and that it should not be hedged about by improbable conditions. If they are not actuated by party bias, why should they now follow the leader of the Government blindly in refusing to vote for an amendment which offers an opportunity for compromise? I know there is a conspiracy of silence on the Government benches. Government supporters were most vigorous, even on the third reading of the Bill, in their denunciations of compulsory arbitration, and they declared they were prepared to vote against the measure at every stage. Yet when such a point as the present is raised, honorable senators opposite (are silent - T mean those honorable senators who follow the party whip and speak only when they are told. I am intensely anxious to know why our offer of the olive-branch is refused?
– Where is the offer of the olive-branch?
– In our compromise.
– There is no compromise ; the honorable senator’s amendment is simply the same thing over again.
– I know it is useless to appeal to the Attorney-General, who typifies the cold iceberg - ‘his only idea of compromise is the crossing of a “ t “ or the dotting of an “ i,” all beyond being rank heresy. With the Attorney-General it is “ the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill ; “ and that has been his attitude throughout. When the measure was first introduced, not a single amendment from beginning to end was to receive his assent. Even when I proposed an amendment which had simple justice for its object, the Attorney-General, .although connected with the profession which has to do with justice, opposed the proposal, and it was only when his followers melted away, that we were able to carry it in the face of his opposition.
– The honorable senator ought to be content.
– From the past experience of the Attorney-General, we do not expect him to concede anything - he is-hot open to argument or reason on those questions. But there are other honorable senators who have taken up a certain position on the clause, and to those we should be able to appeal for an opportunity to compromise. With a compromise, while the Labour Party would not get all they want, and neither would the Conservative Party, a sort of via media would be arrived at, which would prove satisfactory to all parties for the time being. Do honorable senators think that if this amendment is not accepted we shall sit idly by and allow union officials to be victimized, and unions broken up? Ons of two effects must follow - either unions will not register, because of the absence of protection, and- the Bill will become a dead letter, or, if they do register, union officials will be victimized by unscrupulous employers.
– Why should they not form other organizations?
– Cannot the honorable senator see that those other organizations would require preference? Suppose the seamen organized for t’he purposes of this Bill.
– The great majority of seamen employed now are unionists, and. there would be no trouble in getting preference.
– 1 am not discussing that point. Let us suppose that a separate organization of seamen was formed, and applied for preference. It would have to be proved that applicants were a majority of those affected by the award. Senator Mulcahy seems to think that, only seamen would be affected ;” but is that so? Would not wharf labourers be affected ?
– Unless wharf la:bourers applied to the Court, they would not be affected.
– The Seamen’s Union would not apply for preference for wharf labourers ?
– But a shipping dispute and an award would affect the wharf labourers.
– In South Australia I do not believe there are half-a-dozen wharf labourers not connected with the unions, and only five minutes ago- a Sydney gentleman told me that a similar state of things prevails in New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is not fully informed in regard to the Commonwealth. In this very city of Melbourne, the members of the Wharf Labourers’ Union are in a hopeless minority.
– Possibly; but throughout Australia the unionists may be in a majority.
– The point is who would be affected by an award in the case of the Seamen’s Union? In my opinion the wharf labourers would be affected.
– Only indirectly.
– The Bill does not say that men must be directly affected.
– But that necessarily must bs the case.
– I have had to deal with wharf ‘ labourers in union circles, and I know that quite 25 per cent, of the men in Australia are seamen who are out of work for the time being, or, for some reason or other, desire to be on land for a time. Those men remain members of the Seamen’s Union, and many of them do not join the Wharf Labourers’ Union. But every one would be affected by an award, seeing that in a week or two they may desire to go to sea again.
– They are only affected when they are working as seamen, and not when they are labouring as wharf labourers.
– That is to say, only those persons who happen to be working at the time have to be counted?
– It is what I said.
– That just shows the difficulty in which the honorable and learned senator places himself. Even the Senate, apparently, cannot define who would be affected, and yet we ask the Court to decide in a hard and fast way. The unions have to prove that they represent a majority, not of those working, but of those affected by the award. I proposed to remind honorable senators of the great maritime - strike. It originated in the desire of the members of the Officers’ Union to be affiliated with the Trades Hall Council. The ship-owners objected to that, and believed that the officers should not affiliate with associations representing the men. From that trifling difference the maritime strike resulted, and it’ affected not merely the officers and seamen, but all engaged in maritime occupations.
– Including coal.miners
– It also affected coal-miners. Assume another maritime strike, and what are the questions which the Court would be called upon to settle?
– There could not be a strike under this Bill.
– Then assume a dispute on similar grounds to those which led to the maritime strike.
– It would be dealt with by the Court.
– And the question would be one between the two bodies interested.
– They would not be the only persons affected by an award given in connexion with such a dispute. I invite honorable senators to consider the position where two trades are connected. Some ships unload cargo by means of shore labour, whilst others unload cargo by means of their crews. This is a fine point which has been brought before the Arbitration Court in Western Australia. Let us assume that a dispute in such a case’ is brought before the Federal Arbitration Court under this Bill. We might have the labourers engaged in unloading cargo demanding the wages paid to the crew of a ship engaged in the same work, or we might have the crew of a ship engaged in unloading cargo demanding the wages awarded by the Court to wharf labourers.
– They would not be wharf labourers.
– They would be for the time during which they were engaged doing wharf labourers’ work.
– They would merely be seamen discharging their ship.
– If the master of a ship ‘ employed his crew in discharging cargo, they might claim to receive so much per hour, in accordance with an award dealing with the wages paid to wharf labourers. The employer would say, “ No, I agreed to pay you so much a month,” and the answer would be,” Yes, as seamen, but we are now doing wharf labourers’ work.”
– The honorable senator is arguing against any meddling in the matter of these. disputes by law.
– I am endeavouring to show the difficulties which might arise as the result of the sweeping provision inserted by the House of Representatives.
– The honorable senator should connect the matter to which he refers with preference.
– I have pointed out that under the Bill it is necessary to prove that a majority of those affected by an award are in favour of preference, and I am showing that persons other than seamen are affected by an award dealing with the seafaring industry. The various maritime industries are so interwoven that all would be affected by an award in the case of one. The Court might very well argue that inasmuch as all these wharf labourers are at times seamen, they should be taken into account, and the Seamen’s Union, in the case of a dispute, and an application for preference, would have to prove not merely that a majority of seamen, but a majority of all persons affected by the award, was in favour of the application. I
– I do not think that any Judge would demand that.
– We should take it for granted that the Judges would be sensible men.
– The employers would expect them to be sensible on their side.
– We are giving the Court specific instructions.
– We are, and we must assume that the Court will, obey them. The Court will not ask what was the intention of the Legislature, but what the Act says. The time will come when the members of this Parliament will be forgotten, but this Bill may remain on the Statute-book for a century. The Court will read the printed word, and will put its own construction upon it. With all the earnestness of which I am capable, I again appeal to the Committee to at least afford us an opportunity of mitigating the severity of this proviso. I have pointed out that there is not the slightest danger of losing the Bill. We should be given an opportunity to approach the other House in a spirit of compromise. If a compromise on this matter were arranged, no need for an amendment of the measure would arise for some time, this subject would be removed from the arena of Federal politics, and we might devote our attention to other matters of importance. On the other hand, if this proviso is allowed to remain as it stands, this difficulty will remain as a festering sore in Federal politics, and political battles will rage round it for years to come. I ask honorable senators if they regard the . Senate as a non-party Chamber, to use their judgment in this matter, and to refuse to allow the party whip to be cracked over their heads, to secure their vote against this proposal, not on its merits, but merely because it emanates from honorable senators on this side. I trust that the amendment will be carried, not because we have very much to hope for from it, but because it may serve as the basis of a compromise with the other House.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Before this question is finally decided, it is as well that the Committee should understand exactly what it is doing. Without some effective provision for preference to unionists, this Bill is a mere sham. It is absolutely certain that unless some effective means are provided for the protection of unionists by some such provision as we have endeavoured to insert, this Bill, if it becomes law, will be a most effective means for the victimizing of unionists, if at any time they attempt to better their conditions and those of their fellow employes. In many cases personal instances have been given by members of the Committee to prove that unionists who have taken an interest in trade organizations, and have assisted to better their conditions, have been victimized at various times. We have that on the evidence of Senator Trenwith and - other honorable senators, whose word cannot toe doubted. Honorable senators who have taken part in agitations in connexion with the Wages Board provisions of the Victorian Factories Act have informed the Senate that men who have been the means, before these boards, of endeavouring to improve their conditions and those of their fellow employes have been victimized and compelled to roam the street vainly looking for work. I do not suppose that any honorable senator desires to assist in passing a law which will have that effect, but it appears to me that we shall not be treating unions fairly if we refuse to give them protection when they go to te trouble and expense of working up organizations which only can make this Bill effective, and insure that industrial peace for which we all profess to be so earnestly striving.
– “ Virtue is its own reward,” the honorable senator should remember.
– And it is but a very poor reward on many occasions. If virtue were its own reward, it might toe contended that that would be a sufficient justification, for all the martyrdoms that have ever taken place. We might view them with the utmost equanimity, while we consoled our selves with the idea that the men who suffered martyrdom were sufficiently rewarded by their own virtue, fi is admitted that the Bill,’ as well as its effectiveness, is entirely based upon organization. Without the organization of workers and employers, there can be no reference to the Court, and, therefore, the main object of the Bill cannot be achieved. We have been engaged in trying to enact a law in the interest of, not workers or employers, but the whole community-, so as to secure the much desired boon of industrial peace. Without industrial peace, the whole community will suffer ; production will cease, perhaps at the most critical time; wealth will be lost in very large sums, and untold suffering will be inflicted. It behoves us, therefore, to see that the Bill has some reasonable prospect of being effective. I hold that, as it stands, it will not be effective. Those who say that they are in favour of compulsory arbitration and at the same time are striving to render its provisions nugatory, are attempting to deceive the people of Australia, when they offer them a law which they know will be absolutely useless, and profess that they desire to see ‘a fair deal all round. What will be the result if we refuse to give some reasonable amount of protection to the men who alone can make the Bill operative? Unless disputes are brought before the Court, the Act cannot be operative. Take the case of half-a-dozen men in an organization, perhaps a new one, who take the most prominent part in its proceedings. When a case is brought before the Court by the organization, an award will be given, and those very men will be robbed of the fruits of the verdict they have won. From past experience, we know that employers, as a class, do not like men who force their hands, cause them trouble or bother, bring them before the Court, or compel them to forego a portion of their. profits, or to give a slight increase in wages. Employers do not like to be compelled to do anything. What, they do like is to be allowed to work out their own will, to do what1 they are so fond of talking about, when they say, “We want to manage our business in our own way.” It is only natural to suppose that employers will have a feeling of resentment against the men who made them “toe the mark” before the Arbitration Court. The Bill provides that these men cannot be victimized by being directly discharged, because of any action they have taken under its provisions. In other words, it provides that they may not be victimized, because they are unionists. But there are one thousand and one different ways ot choking a dog besides ramming a little butter down his throat. Employers will give effect to this feeling of resentment, by discharging the men on the first opportunity, not because they were unionists, not because they brought the case before the Court, not because they worked up the case, but for some other reason. And they will say, as they have said in hundreds of cases, “ You have not been victimized.” They will stand up, and in virtuous tones deny that they have been guilty of such a thing as victimizing their workmen. They will say the men were only discharged in the ordinary course of business. If it only ended there it might not be very serious, but the probability is that other employers, acting in sympathy, would refuse to employ the men, with the result that they w’ould starve. That is what happened in my case, and in the case of Senator Trenwith, as well as hundreds of other persons. Honorable senators on the other side, who profess that they are humane, will allow this cruel wrong to be done to men who are acting in the best interests of the community in trying to insure the maintenance of industrial peace. It is manifestly unjust that the litigants should be the only men not to get any reward as the result of the verdict of the Court. Instead of being made a measure for victimizing unions, it should be made one to encourage unionism and organization. The effect of the action proposed to be taken by honorable senators on the other side is to discourage men from trying to organize unionists and to bring cases before the Court. My honorable friends “ lay the flattering unction to their soul “ that they are acting on behalf of the poor helpless nonunionists. How much have they done for them in the past?
– How much has the honorable senator done for them ?
– I have done all I possibly could.
– And that is precious little.
– I have never fought for an advantage which I was not prepared to give every other workman in the same employment. Unionists have never striven to get a single advantage for themselves exclusively. Every non-unionist has shared fully in all the advantages which the unionists have won in any trade, calling, or occupation.
– In some cases more so than the unionist, because he has obtained preference of employment.
– After the unionist has obtained improved conditions the nonunionist comes along, and is preferred, and therefore he gets a greater advantage than the unionist. If this Bill be passed in the form desired by the Government, it will perpetuate that evil condition of things in an accentuated form.
– When all the employment is killed or destroyed there will be no labour for either tlie unionist or nonunionist, just as we see to-day in the coal industry of New South Wales.
– I like to hear a great authority on economic questions like Senator” Fraser give utterance to such a lucid remark. When it will not be necessary to produce any more clothes, boots, or food, no more employment will be necessary. No Arbitration Act or anything else will be needed.
– Six hours a day and five days a week, according to Mann.
– What about the gospel according to Walpole?
– What about the clock?
– Walpole is the secretary of the Employers’ Federation, who says that it is no part of the business of employers to provide a sufficient wage to enable a man to support a wife or children.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know if the honorable senator is adhering to the terms of standing order 196, relating to relevancy of discussion. I do not know what Mr. Walpole has to do with tHe question before the Chair. I contend that it is an abuse of the forms of the Senate to have this prolonged discussion on a matter which has been thoroughly and continuously threshed’ out during the last fortnight.
– Senator Zeal has raised a point of order.
– I asked the Chairman, not the honorable senator, tortile.
– A point of order canbe discussed. We have to consider whatthe subject under consideration is before thepoint of order can be settled. The question is that the Senate does not insist on one of its amendments. Senator Zeal objects to there being a general discussion, on the ground that the question has been previously debated. But, no matter whether it has been debated for six months, so long as any honorablesenator has anything fresh to say, he has a right to be heard. I submit that not only was Senator Givens relevant in expressing his opinion, but that his argument was a perfectly proper one. The question admits of very wide debate indeed, and it would be impossible to discuss it unless an honorable senator were allowed to point out what decisions would probably toe given under such a provision. Therefore, I submit, with all deference, that Senator Givens’ remarks were strictly within the standing order.
– I am sure that Senator Zeal, with his usual courtesy, would never have raised this point of order if he had known what the result would be. It is not fair that the whole of the blame should rest on his shoulders. Senator Dobson was not in order in referring to Tom Mann, if Senator Givens was not in order in referring to Mr. Walpole. I wish to make it clear, both to Senator Zeal and to Senator Dobson that neither Tom Mann nor Mr. Walpole have anything to do with the motion before the Chamber ; but if we had any intention to toe obstructive in the slightest degree, the utterances of. both those gentlemen in the country would furnish us with a topic for discussion for the next three or four weeks.
– I am sure that the Chairman, with his usual fairness, will, before passing judgment, allow me, as the person who will benefit or suffer from his decisidn, to say a word on my own behalf. It “will be admitted by those who listened to my remarks that I was drawn off the course of my argument by unseemly and irrelevant interjections, and that before that time I was adhering strictly to the question. It comes with ill grace indeed from Senator Zeal to raise a point of order, seeing that at his own request, when he wailed for mercy, I let him off, after he had interjected in an irrelevant manner in the course of my speech. Even if Senator Dobson had not referred to Tom Mann, and had not thereby caused me to retaliate by referring to Mr. Walpole, I had a perfect right to allude to that gentleman as being the paid organizer of the Employers’ Union, and to his doctrines, in order to show wha t is the ultimate intention of the employers who will be affected by this Bill. I intend, unless I am prevented, to refer further to Mr. Walpole, in order to show the ulterior motives of the employers who pay him, and to prove that it is necessary, in dealing with this question, that we should pay the fullest consideration to what the employers really mean to do. Senator Zeal says that the matter has been fully discussed, and that no further light can be thrown upon it; but it must be remembered that one of the functions of an Upper House is to retard hasty legislation. It comes with ill grace from Senator Zeal, who has always been in favour of that view, that he should try to stop discussion, and should ‘wish to rush into hasty legislation on this track. Senator Zeal said that no more discussion was necessary.
– I said that the honorable senator’s remarks were irrelevant.
– The Chairman wishes to rule on the point of order.
– But the Chairman has not yet had the benefit of my views, and surely the Attorney-General, as a leading member of the legal professeion, will admit that I have a right to defend myself. If Senator Zeal requires no more argument, or is inaccessible to reason, it does not follow that other honorable senators are in the same position. I am entitled to state my case, and I hope the ruling of the Chair will permit me to do so.
– The motion seems to me to admit of considerable scope for discussion, and I am not prepared to say that Senator Givens is not strictly relevant. But his observation in reference to Mr. Walpole was drawn from him by a remark made by Senator Dobson that “ six hours a day and five days a week “ was the doctrine of Tom Mann.
– We were both out of order, and irrelevant.
– I propose to continue my remarks in reference to Walpole. I shall not do so on the plea that I intend to connect my remarks about that gentleman with the subject under discussion, and so obtain an indulgence by false pretences; but I intend at the start to show that my observations are perfectly relevant. It is admitted, as a matter of common knowledge, that Walpole, who is the paid organizer and secretary of the Employers’ Federation, stated at Lilydale, when attending a public meeting there, that it was no part of the business of employers to pay sufficient wages to enable a man to keep a wife or maintain a family - that marriage is a luxury.
– Like “ long beers.”
– That shows the ulterior and ultimate objects of the employers. Walpole has not been “ game “ to deny that he made that statement; indeed, he has practically admitted in the columns of the metropolitan newspapers that he expressed the opinion. What would be the result to Australia if the aim of the employers, as enunciated by Walpole, were carried out?
– Will the honorable senator pardon me for a moment? I do not think that what he is discussing is quite the question before us. The question of preference, as dealt with in the proviso, allows considerable scope for discussion; but I think that, as a matter of fact, honorable senators should confine themselves to that part of the proposal which provides for the application being approved by a majority of those affected. With all due deference to Senator Givens, I think that his present remarks would be more strictly relevant in a second-reading speech on the Bill.
– With all respect, I may say that if the Chairman had been a little patient, he would have observed a distinct’ connexion between my remarks and the question before the Committee. What I desire to point out is that if the employers succeed in blocking an effective Arbitration Bill, by emasculating the preference clause, the result will be unrestricted competition, and the workers will be ground down to conditions such as those foreshadowed in Walpole’s remarks. I should like to show the absurdity of the arguments used by the employers.- In opposing preference to unionists, there is no doubt that the desire is to kill trade unions. If Walpole is right, what will become of the Commonwealth? Let us look at this matter from the higher stand-point of national policy; and in this connexion I ask the serious attention of the AttorneyGeneral. If wages are not sufficient to maintain the worker, and enable him to support a wife and bring up a family, in accordance with the recognised standard of comfort, he will not be able to marry, and when he dies the supply of labourers will run out. The highest writers on political economy hold that there must be a scale of wages sufficient to enable a man to attain the recognised standard of comfort, and to produce more labourers. But what does Walpole desire? He either wishes the supply of labourers to run out, and the whole Commonwealth to come to a state of stagnation and ruin, or he wants people to reproduce more labourers under conditions of absolute immorality. I have now finished with Walpole, and I should not have mentioned him but for the fact that I was drawn away by an irrelevant interjection. It seems a fair argument to show that those opposed to preference desire to bring about a disorganized condition of things, leading to dreadful catastrophe, which Walpole has not the sense to foresee. There is no country in which trade unions have obtained better remuneration and conditions of labour, where non-unionists have not, to the full, shared in the benefits, although they contributed nothing to the achievement. It has been plausibly argued that preference should be given only to the majority. The object of the motion of the Attorney-General is that there must be a majority, of the union affected “ before preference can be granted.
– Not a majority of the union, but a majority of those affected by the award.
– I thank the honorable senator for the correction. But a majority has no more right to preference than has a minority. If it is right to give litigants who are in a majority a preference, it is equally right to extend the privilege to the minority. A majority is a very arbitrary number. If there were 1,000 men affected by an award, 501 of them could get preference from the Court, whereas 499 could not. As a matter of fact, I am inclined to think that a minority is more entitled than a majority to preference, seeing that the -former need it the more. What would be the result in the case of a union, the members of which were in a minority, if they asked for preference ? If there were 150 men in the union, and 250 out of it, the Court would, according to the motion of the Attorney-General, be unable to grant preference to the unionists. And experience teaches us that there could be no other result than that the 150 unionists who had fought the case for the general good of employes, would be victimized.
– There could not be an Inter-State dispute in the case of a union with only 150 men.
– We can imagine a dispute occurring on the borders, where people do not recognise arbitrary boundary lines. On the northern rivers of New South Wales, one-half the people may be working in Queensland, and the other half in the former State. On those rivers there are seafaring men, wharf labourers, and others, and it would be quite possible to have an Inter-State strike, with only 400 men affected. Where the members of a union were in the minority, it might be even more necessary, in order to insure fair dealing, to give them preference, than in a case where they were in a majority. If there is something sacred about a majority, still we ought to afford some protection to the minority, and not allow them to be victimized in a wholesale fashion. The more men there are outside the unions, the greater opportunity there is for employers to get labour and victimize the unionists. The men outside will reap the benefit of all the self-sacrifice on the part of the unionists, while the latter will be made to suffer. T’he object for which we are striving in this Bill is industrial peace, for the benefit of the whole community. That cannot be secured without the assistance of industrial organizations, and I would remind honorable senators that if the motion moved by the Attorney-General is carried, instead of encouraging men to join organizations, we shall encourage them to leave them, and we shall prevent men from joining them because, under this proviso, they will run the risk of being victimized in a wholesale fashion. Pictures have been drawn for us of the non-unionist seeking for work for the wife and children dependent upon him, and being told that there is no work for him because preference to unionists bars the way. It must be admitted that even if preference to unionists is granted, each industry can provide employment for only a certain number of men. From the humanitarian stand-point, we have nothing to choose in this matter. It is equally objectionable and repugnant to our minds that the children of unionist parents or of non-unionist parents should suffer because they cannot find employment. If it is a good argument against preference to say that the children of the non-unionist may have to suffer because he is unable to secure employment, it is an equally good argument in favour of preference to point out that if there is no preference to unionists, the non-unionists will get the preference, and the unionist will have to trudge from one part of the Commonwealth to another, vainly seeking for work, whilst his little children are calling out for the bread which he can no longer earn for them. I have known hundreds of such cases, and they will continue to occur unless we devise some means of giving effective protection to unionists. If preference is given to unionists, I remind honorable senators that the non-unionist has a very effective remedy at hand if any hardship should be imposed upon him as the result. He can join the union straight away. The Court, under this Bill, has power to see that the rules of the union will freely admit non-unionists who desire to join it, and that no hardship shall be inflicted upon them by any of the union rules if they choose to join it. That being so, the non-unionist is perfectly safeguarded. But what remedy will the unionist ‘have if the Court does not grant preference? He will have absolutely none. He will be a marked man if he takes part in the agitation to bring a case before the Court, and he will ‘have no remedy. He cannot escape being victimized. If he is discharged by one employer upon one flimsy pretext or another, he will not be able to secure employment from another.
– He would be on the black-mark list of the Employers’ Federation.
– I proposed to point out that even now the majority of the employers are banded together in a federation, and a unionist without preference might vainly search from one end of Australia to the other looking for work from any member of the Employers’ Federation, whilst I have shown that a non-unionist, where preference to unionists is granted, has an absolutely effective remedy which would immediately place him on a footing of equality with the unionist. I remind honorable senators that the Court might not make a common rule applicable from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. It might make a common rule applicable to a particular place, -and to the particular parties concerned in the dispute brought before it. In such a case a non-unionist might be placed at a disadvantage in that particular industry at that particular place, but he would be under no disadvantage in seeking employment in another industry, or in the same industry in another place. But, on the other hand, the unionist who takes part in a dispute, and whose organization has failed to secure an award of preference, is placed at a disadvantage, not only in his own employment and in the place where he resides, but from one end of the Commonwealth” to the other, and in every employment, because the members of the Employers’ Federation throughout the Commonwealth might refuse him employment. What is here proposed is grossly unfair and unjust. I have shown that, whilst honorable senators who approve of this proviso are prepared to inflict an outrage upon unionists, their plea on behalf of the nonunionists is a sham, a delusion, and a snare. If, in spite of all our efforts, and in spite of all that has been urged against this proviso, the Committee persists in accepting it, for my part I would not give a solitary straw for this Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It will only be the means of victimizing unionists, who are the best workers and the best citizens in the Commonwealth, and the men who have accomplished more for the masses of the people, both in the old country and in the Commonwealth, than any other class in the community. The reward proposed under this Bill to be held out to them for all their self-sacrifice, is the right to be victimized or to leave the ranks of unionism. Speaking as calmly as I can, with a sense of the great wrong which I believe is about to be inflicted, I say in all honesty and fairness that we should give some little encouragement to the men who will make it possible for this Bill to be effective, for the great boon of industrial peace to be secured, and for equitable conditions to be imposed in the interests of employers and employes, and for the great advantage of the Commonwealth. We should not altogether deprive them of the benefit of the verdict of the Court when it has been arrived at after full and fair consideration.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - Before the adjournment for dinner, I referred to the experience I have had in connexion with this matter to show what would be the effect of a provision such as this in a_ Bill dealing with industrial matters. I pointed out that after the maritime strike was brought to a close in Sydnev, men who had taken a part in organizing the Wharf Labourers’ Union, and who were held to be responsible to some extent for bringing about the strike, were compelled before they could secure any employment at all to make application at half-past five in the morning, at an office established by the Ship-owners’ Association in Kent-street, when they were given a blue ticket if they declared that they had left the union. For a time some of these men were unable to secure any employment at all, and later on, when the shipping companies were short of hands, these men were compelled to leave their work. To secure employment again they had to make another application to the office, when they were given a ticket of a different colour, and although having been engaged in the work for years, they were fully competent, and more competent than many of those who were dragged in during the dispute to take the place of unionists, they had to accept work at a reduced rate of wages. They were compelled to accept iod. an hour,” when is. an hour was paid to men who were not nearly so competent, but who had been taken on during the strike. I remind honorable senators that this is an experience which we have been through. They will say that all employers are not built that way, and do not endeavour to take a mean advantage of a workman when they get the opportunity. We are aware that there is a very large number of fair-minded employers. There are some who would pay better wages and grant better conditions than those in force at the present time, but it is the unfair employer who compels the Legislature to adopt ‘ legislation for the regulation of industrial ‘ matters. An employer once said to me, “ It does not matter to me what wages are paid, or what hours are worked, so long as all the employers in this occupation are subjected to the same conditions as I am.” He was one of the fairest men I have known, and he would have done more for the men but for the competition to which he was subjected by men not nearly so fair-minded as he was.
– I draw your attention, sir, to the state of the Committee. (Quorum formed.)
– If the motion of the Attorney-General be carried, the men who are employed u> other occupations will suffer to a far greater extent than the men who are employed on the coast. When we realize that preference is only to be given when it is desired by a majority, of those who may be affected by the award, and when we recall the extent to which people in Queensland were affected by the disturbance in one industry, we wish to know what interpretation is likely to be placed on this proviso. It is of no use for honorable senators to try to shirk their obligation by saying that they are prepared to leave the determination of the question to the Court. We have proved that they are not prepared to trust the Court. I contend that a distinct direction is here given to the Court. In 1899 a dispute occurred in connexion with a station called Jondaryan, not very far from Brisbane. The shearers had been interferred with by the manager, and a strike occurred when the shearing was only half done. As the organizations were pretty well affiliated then, not only did the shearers come out, but the men who were engaged in the transportation of the product from the station to the ship were forced out of employment for a considerable time.
– I draw your attention, sir, to the state of the Committee. (Quorum formed.)
– Not only ‘did the dispute entail a considerable amount of loss upon the shearers, but, after it was settled by mutual agreement, those men realizing that it might not have been altogether due to the fault of their employers, paid the cost of sending the product along the coast for a distance of about 2,000 miles. Let me point out how it may affect not only those who were directly employed on a station, but a number of other persons. Take the case of a station which is situated at a distance of 200 or 300 miles from a railway, and suppose that an award is given in connexion with shearing from one end of Australia to the other. We know that it need not be made a common rule throughout the Commonwealth. Shearing rates vary in different places. In some places men get £1 per 100; in other places the rate is 17s. 6d. per 100; and I believe that in certain places it is as low as 15s. per 100. In Victoria, where the stations are situated close to railway communication, the article can be produced more cheaply than it can in a State where the producer has not only to pay a higher rate for labour, and a freight of £4 or £5 per ton to the railway station, but also has to send the product over a considerable railway mileage. Suppose that a dispute arises, and the Court decides not to make a common rule, but to base its award on the conditions of the employment, as they are known to exist. If by the award the rate of wages is increased, or the hours of labour are decreased, in some places it must interfere with the cost of producing the article, and the difference must be made up in some way. If in one State the article can be produced at a certain rate, and in another State it has to be carried 400 or 500 miles to the railway, in the latter, the carriers are affected by the award just as much as the men belonging to the claimant union. I think that, according to a liberal interpretation of the amendment, the carriers would be entitled to ask that they should be consulted when their carrying rates are being interfered with. I wish to know whether the interpretation of the provision is to end with the carriers. I contend that not only the carriers, but all the other men engaged in .taking the article from the railway ‘ station to the ship, are concerned. There is hardly a State in which the Government has not had to interfere during the last few years with the wages of its railway servants because the lines were not paying. When a difference has to be made up in some way owing to an award of the Court, the men who are engaged in the transportation of the product from the station to the ship are entitled to be considered just as much as the men who are members of the claimant union, or are directly engaged in the occupation. Rather than be a party to the enactment of a provision of this kind, I should prefer to see the Bill kicked under the table. It will make not for industrial peace, but for industrial strife. It will be an engine of oppression rather than a provision for the just settlement of industrial disputes. There is no provision in the Bill to prevent the victimizing of men who have taken part in industrial troubles. The unions have always endeavoured to protect their- members against being victimized because of heir actions as trade unionists. Under the old style of unionism, which Senator Gray and’ some of hi.3 colleagues say they were so much infatuated with, it was a rare thing for a workman to’ give his services to an organization, and be paid for them. The work he did was voluntary. He was engaged at his trade during the day, and in the evenings attended meetings, conducted the correspondence, kept the books, and looked after the routine work of the society. At the end of the year he was paid a gratuity of perhaps £20 or ^25 - an amount not by any means commensurate with the work he had done - as an acknowledgment of his services. It was because of victimizing by employers that the organizations were compelled as they grew in strength to pay their secretaries. Of late years they have always had to have permanent officers.
Formerly there were many employers who, though a man might take a prominent part in a trade union, would recognise him as a good workman, and would have no objection to employ him. But when the relations between capital and labour became more acute, many employers resorted to practices which compelled the unions to adopt different tactics. After the shearers’ strike in 1891, the practice adopted by the employers was at the end of the shearing to give their men references on a certain coloured piece of paper. Wherever a man wanted to go to work he had to produce his reference before there was a possibility of obtaining employment. I know some men who were as good workmen as ever stood in the back country, but who had to alter their names before they were able to obtain employment, because they were known amongst the employers as men who had taken a prominent part in unionism. There is one man who now occupies a ministerial position in Queensland, who was on the black-lists of the employers for some years. Other men who were similarly treated are now in the Queensland and New South Wales Parliaments. Indeed, they were elected because their constituents recognised the valuable work they had done. After 1 89 1, it was impossible for them to get ,a stand in any .big shearing shed, because of the system of victimizing. Wherever a prominent unionist travelled in Queensland, New South Wales, or Victoria, his name was known, and employment was refused to him. Some of the best men who formerly worked in the central district of Queensland are now to be found down on the Warrego and the Barcoo, others are to be found in ,the north-western district, others on the Flinders and Cloncurry rivers, and even as far north as the Gulf country. They were driven to these districts, because they could not secure employment where they used to live, unless they changed their names, or “ratted” on the organizations with which they had’ been connected for many years. I know of prominent unionists who, since the strike, have never followed their occupation, because they would not accept the references offered to them by stationowners. Some honorable senators opposite tell us that the old unionism did good, but that the new unionism its mischievous. I am convinced that in a few 3’ears time the same class of people will be telling us that the unionism of to-day was good, but .that the unionism of that time is mischievous. It is only while the work is being done that people who have interests on the other side condemn it. lt is urged that we must have regard to the interests of minorities. Honorable senators opposite were elected by majorities of a few hundred, or a few thousand, over the candidates below them on the poll. But do they not give the same consideration to .the wants and wishes of the minorities in their constituencies as to the majorities that sent them into Parliament? There cannot be the slightest doubt that if the amendments which we require were made in the Bill, the wishes of minorities would be fully considered. If honorable senators opposite had given ample consideration to this question thev would recognise the justice of the claim we put forward on behalf of the organized workers of Australia. They would recognise that whilst the organizations may be able to bring cases before the Court, the employers would practically be able to defeat the award, or to prevent preference being given by the fact that the men would have to make out a good case in showing that there was an absolute’ majority of those affected by the award who were in favour of preference. That is why I have endeavoured to put as clearly as I can the opinions which I hold relating to the matter. I am not offering opposition simply because of sentiment ; but because I know what has taken place in the past. It is all very well to say that in the future there will be no strikes; but unless this Bill is made an engine of oppression and the Government proclaim organizations as organizations under it, there will be nothing to prevent strikes. It will then be realized that the present position is not grounded on sentiment, but on our hearty approval of the principles of compulsory arbitration. We desire an effective measure which will make for industrial peace, but which, at the same time, will not be used by unscrupulous employers for the purposes of victimizing men whose efforts have built up unions* ‘and have tended to settle industrial disputes without resort to strikes. If this provision be retained, I am prepared to vote against the Bill becoming law under any conditions whatever.
Question - That the amendment be not insisted on - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 55 (Registration of organizations).
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert “And further provided that no organization shall be entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by any organization, so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amend-, ment agreed to with the addition of the following words, viz. : - “ Political purposes’ in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions applying to all persons in any particular industry, without discrimination as between those who are and those who are not members of an organization, with respect to the . regulation of the following matters : -
Motion (by Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the amendment of the House of Representatives be agreed to.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland). - I think there might be some improvement made in this provision. I remember Senator Play ford stating that when he read the newspaper containing the report of this clause, he nearly fell down on realizing the concession which had been given to the Labour Party.
Senator Playford. - No ! No !
– I must admit that when I read the amendment, I thought it a considerable concession, until I hap pened to look over the speeches of those who had supported it. One strong supporter of the amendment stated that he realized that it clipped the wings of the organizations, and that the clipping was being done by those who promoted the unions. I fancy there must be something in that view; and, in any case, I do not regard the amendment as a great concession one way or the other. Trade union organizations would undoubtedly have to deal with the matters which are specifically mentioned here, but beyond that, I do not see that any opportunity would be afforded for dealing with political matters as in the past. Trade unions have not only done great work in connexion with industrial matters, but they have used an influence in politics which has given them the standing they have to- day in the Parliaments of Australia - a standing which is recognised even by men who have been distinctly opposed to them for years. This amendment has been characterized as a great concession, and it was urged that a quid pro quo should be given in connexion with the amendment last before us. In spite of all, however, I am satisfied that the present amendment does not compensate us for the concession we have been asked to make. I hope that when we reach the report stage, senators opposite, who have declared themselves against the principle of the Bill, will be found voting with members on this side, with the object of throwing the measure into the waste-paper basket.
– When this matter was previously before us, Senator de Largie moved an amendment, which had for its object the bestowal on labour organizations of the full right to use their funds for political purposes. That amendment was defeated by three votes. With a great desire which I naturally felt to suggest some compromise, and bring about, as I hoped, a peaceful solution of this very troublesome question, I moved an amendment to the effect -
That no action in reference to hours, conditions, or remuneration of labour shall be deemed to be a political purpose.
That amendment, which to all intents and purposes, is the motion now before us, was received with the greatest possible ridicule and objection by the Attorney-General. No words were considered by him as too strong or too scathing to apply to the amendment.
-And deservedly so. Does the honorable senator oppose the present amendment?
– I do not. The Attorney-General on that occasion said that 1 was attempting to “ undermine the whole scheme “ of the Bill - that I was driving “ a mine of the most deadly character under the whole scheme,” and that the amendment was more “mischievous than any which had yet been suggested.”
– I quite agree with that now.
– I know that the Attorney-General is quite frank - that he believes what he stated. I have no quarrel with him for what he then said, because I know that he expressed his honest convictions. I am obliged, however, to allude to t60se matters in connexion with others with which I propose to deal on the amendment before us. The AttorneyGeneral said that if we put in any words covering political action, there would be no checking the political action which might take place under them, and so on. The result of those criticisms was that my amendment was de’ffeated by two votes - the votes of Senator Keating and Senator Smith. I want to lay some stress on that fact, because it was undoubtedly the eloquence of the Attorney-General which induced those two gentlemen to vote in the way they did. The matter is more remarkable in connexion with Senator Keating, because that honorable senator had, as will be found by reference to the records, voted for Senator de Largie’s amendment, which would have given to these organizations the fullest right to use’ their funds for political purposes. Yet, when my amendment was proposed - the very amendment which is now before the Committee - to give these organizations the power to use their funds in a much more limited way, we found Senator Keating yielding to the persuasive eloquence of the Attorney-General - because the honorable senator never spoke on the subject - and voting against my amendment. It will be most interesting when we come to a division now, to see in what way Senator Keating will vote on this motion. I appeal to the honorable senator to come down to the floor of the Chamber and let us know why he votes in one way one day and completely reverses that vote on the next day.
– What about the honorable senator’s colleague, Senator Smith?
- Senator Smith has also failed to deliver himself of any opinion upon this amendment. He holds some most liberal views, and is always prepared to support democratic principles, when he recognises them. He is another honorable senator who was - unwittingly, I feel sure. - led astray by the eloquence of the Attorney-General to deliberately vote against my amendment. I shall not elaborate that matter any further, but I propose to refer briefly to the proposal now before the Committee. What is it that this amendment wishes to separate from the prohibition of the Bill ? First we have legislation for the preservation of life and limb.
Is there any one who objects to legitimate agitation for the improvement of the laws relating to the preservation of life and limb? If so I am not with him. I say to the trade unionists and the working men of Australia, so long as your object is the general good of the workers without claiming any right of privilege to yourselves which is denied to your fellows, I have no objection to your agitation for the improvement of your conditions.
The next thing provided for is compensation for injuries or death -
There is no country where such la’/s are not in existence. I have no objection to any agitation for the improvement of such laws. The right to express opinions on these subjects, with a view to securing reform, is one which I deny to no man and to no body of men.
The third object is sanitation -
Does any human being object to agitation for the improvement of the sanitary laws of the country? I do not.
The fourth matter dealt with is the age and sex of employes -
Who objects to agitation for the improvement of such laws so long as, not only the unionist boy and the unionist girl, but all boys and girls are legislated for?
The fifth object is the regulation of the hours of labour -
I have no objection to any man or any number of men banded together in trade unions taking political action to bring about better legislation upon such subjects.
I would remind the Committee that hours of labour was one of the specific topics with which my amendment dealt, in so many words. The sixth object is the remuneration of labour -
That is another legitimate subject for political agitation by the workers of the Commonwealth. I should be very sorry to think that any member of the Committee wished to impede such activity.
The next object is the protection of wages. That, I understand, has been provided for in New South Wales.
Is there any one who does not sympathize with the desire of the workers to secure the payment of the wages which they have earned ?
I have quoted the words of the Right Honorable George Houston Reid, the Prime Minister of this Commonwealth. I would ask Senator Smith, who has listened to these observations, whether, now that he has heard his leader’s opinions upon these subjects, he is satisfied to have been led astray in the way in which he foolishly allowed himself to be, by the eloquence of the Attorney-General? I would ask the Committee whether anything more ludicrous has ever been heard of in Commonwealth politics than this divergence of opinion between the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General? It is to me a matter of the greatest possible satisfaction and pride that honorable membars in another place should have seen fit to adopt the amendment which I moved in this Chamber, and I am most anxious to impress upon the Committee and upon the public the remarkable change of opinion that has taken place on the part of the Government on what I supposed, at the time I moved it, to be a most innocuous and innocent amendment.
– The curtain appears to be about to be rung down upon a very old friend, and one might be pardoned for saying a few valedictory words. I was one of those who voted against the very small gnat which Senator Matheson introduced, and which the Government not only found a difficulty in swallowing, but actually refused to allow anywhere near them. My objection to it is only in degree to be compared with my objection to the camel which t’hey have swallowed. If I saw any chance of giving practical effect to a vote for the elimination of this amendment, I should certainly take advantage of it.
– We shall give the honorable senator an opportunity in a moment.
– I do not know that the honorable senator will. He might give me an opportunity to vote against the Bill which I might not care to take. The Bill is now about to be placed in the shape in which it will probably become the law of the land, and I frankly say that the action of the Government in this matter has not raised them in my estimation. I do not know that the Attorney-General is likely to take that very much to heart, but the honorable and learned senator introduced this Bill in the Senate, and, on behalf of his Government, stood by a clause which he does not believe in.
– What clause is that ?
– The clause which specifically includes State railway servants. Now we have here a distinct climb-down on the part of the Government respecting the application of the Bill to political organizations, which I am very sorry to see. But I totally disagree with honorable senators on the other side who think that the Bill cannot be made effective, simply on account of the absence of a provision for absolute preference. I hope that the measure will be placed on the Statute-book. It is a very large experiment, and I trust that my honorable friends on the other side will use their influence, which is very large, to induce the men whom it is intended to benefit to take advantage of its provisions. This is legislation which might very well have been postponed until other purposes for which the Commonwealth was established had been passed. I believe that it will be a very good thing for the Commonwealth when this very contentious question has been disposed of, because it will prepare the way for more useful and necessary legislation to be passed. Even if I had the opportunity by my vote to throw out the Bill because I disagreed with some clauses, I should not take that course, because I believe that it is better for Australia that it should be placed on the statutebook, even if it should be inoperative and ineffective, for the time being, in order that we may get more necessary legislation passed.
– I feel that this is the most extraordinary discussion we have ever had.
– Who is taking part in it?
– I intend to show how stupid and maladroit it is. We have had Senator Matheson, who some days ago moved an amendment, which he declares corresponds exactly with the one that the Government have adopted, reflecting upon them most scathingly for having been persuaded by him to do what he thought should lie done. It is very unwise to adopt that attitude because the business of the Chamber does not end with to-night. There may be other occasions on which Senator Matheson and others may strive, for a time unsuccessfully, to give effect to their views. But if they are wise they, may hope in the end to succeed. If they make it a political offence, if they treat it as a matter for reprobation that the Government, having once opposed them, should by-and-by come round to their views-
– They are not allowed to accept amendments in the Senate”.’
– I do not agree with my honorable friend. I differ most strongly from the members of the Government on some questions, but I cannot help saying that, from their stand-point, this discussion has been carried on in a courteous way, and with reasonable consideration for their opponents.
– Has the honorable senator ever known the Government to accept an amendment to a Bill in the Senate?
– I am not discussing that question, but the impropriety of an honorable senator endeavouring to cover persons who have come round to his view with ridicule and contempt. Unlike Senator Mulcahy, the action of the Government in this connexion, if it were possible to raise them in my estimation, has done so. I think it is a most extraordinary thing - I would almost say childish querulousness - for an honorable senator who has been unsuccessful in carrying an amendment off his own bat to display quite inconceivable anger and irritation because the same end has been achieved by another course.
– I have some sympathy with Senator Matheson in the attitude he took up with regard to the amendment which he moved a few nights ago, and which was sneered at and voted down. While agreeing very largely with the sentiments uttered by Senator Trenwith, I think it would be unwise to examine the motives which have governed honorable senators on the other side in so completely somersaulting on this very important question within a very few days. “ Are they creditable or otherwise “ is a question which might very well engage the’ attention of not only the Senate, but all the people of the Commonwealth.
– What is discussion for but to change men’s opinions ?
– If honorable sena tors opposite had admitted that they had changed their opinion because of the force of argument on this side, no one would have welcomed that change more than myself, but when the Attorney-General says that he is still opposed to the amendment, and yet, for party reasons, is prepared to accept it-
– I said nothing of the kind; I said I accepted the amendment in order to save the Bill, which, apparently, the honorable senator wishes to wreck.
– Most undoubtedly I wish to wreck the Bill. It reminds me of the position of a ‘man when he is building a house. If he can afford the expense, let him build a good house at once.
– And if he cannot afford a good house, let him live in the bush.
– The honorable senator implies that because we cannot get all we want, in the meantime we ought to take anything we can get.
– We ought to take as much as we can get, if it is in the right direction.
– That is very true, but I feel that if this measure be defeated, within a very short time we shall be able to get one which will do some measure of juslice to the people of Australia.
– Is a party never to make a compromise?
– I do not object to compromises. If this amendment from the other House is worthy of the honorable senator’s support, surely Senator Matheson ‘s amendment, which meant exactly the same thing, was also worthy of his support. What pains me in this connexion is the complete want of principle in our legislation. Apparently a number of honorable senators are not guided by principle in the legislation which they support; they are merely the creatures of expediency. If they think it desirable to support a proposition to-day, they support it no matter how great the issues involved may be, and apparently without any regard to the principles which should govern them.
– Apparently all the principle is on the other side.
– I do not wish to be pharasaical ; but I cannot refrain from saying that we on this side never abandon our principles. In that respect, we have a very great advantage over honorable senators on the other side. In my opinion, legislation ought to be governed by principle, and a party which throws principle to the wind for the sake of remaining in power, is a menace to the community.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon), proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I hope that the report will not be adopted, for with a number of honorable senators, I believe that the Bill is now of such a character that it will defeat the very object for which it was designed. There are certain honorable senators on the other side who have declared, during the passage ofthe Bill through its various stages, that under any circumstances they would vote against the final motion. It is to give them an opportunity of carrying out their expressed intention that I oppose the adoption of the report. If, however, they intend to back down like the Government, and vote to place upon the Statute-book what to my mind is nothing less than a political fraud, their action will not be ,very creditable. Senator Gould has gone away. I am assured that he intended to vote for the adoption of the report. I do not think that this side will be so mean or arbitrary as to refuse him a pair in the circumstances; but, in my opinion, it should not be asked for. Senator Gray and Senator Dobson are in a similar position. They have declared that they would vote against the passing of the Bill, in fact, do anything they could to prevent its passing on to the Statute-book.
– But they are not going to do so now, so that the honorable senator need not rely on them.
– Now they are going to .vote for it. But they have not said so to the Senate, and I think!, they ought to ‘declare themselves. Senator Trenwith has declared that if we cannot get the house which we desire to live in, we should go and live in the bush. But if this Bill is not better than the conditions that have been existing for the last thirty years, why hurry into a house of this description? The trade unions of Australia are not in the bush. They came out of the bush many years ago. They helped to send Senator Trenwith and others of us to Parliament. If we have an opportunity to defeat legislation that will be of an abortive character and antagonistic to the interests of the unions, it seems to be our duty to do . so. If we refuse to adopt the report of the Committee, the Bill will be defeated. The Government may, if they like, cause it to be sent up again in the same form next year. The same events may follow. Then there will probably be a double dissolution, and the people will have an opportunity to send to Parliament representatives who are prepared, not to vote in one direction on one day, and in another direction on another day, but who will pass legislation in accordance with their desires. I agree that we have no right to complain of an honest change of opinions if honorable senators opposite are convinced that they were wrong previously. But we have every right to inquire as to their motives for their changes of opinion. On this occasion it is fair to assume that those motives are verypeculiar, inasmuch as some of them are voting for legislation of which they have stated they do not approve. I invite them to vote against this Bill at this stage. It is because the Bill is not what it ought to be that I also ask those who are not in favour of putting on the Statute-book legislation which will have the effect of trammelling the operations of the organizations of labour in the future, and of putting them in a worse position than they have been in the past, to vote against it. I hope that a vote will soon be taken.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria).- I am astonished at the speech which I have just heard from Senator McGregor. The Bill as it stands does not meet with’ my approval by a long way in many particulars, but I have no hesitation in saying that the industrial organizations of Australia will be very much better with the Bill than without it. Therefore it is absurd to speak of it as abortive legislation. It is not by any means like leaving them in the house which they have been occupying for so many years, in preference to going into a better house. The alternative is between leaving them in the house they have been occupying for many years, and putting them in a very much better house. I am anxious to see the industrial organizations better housed than they have been, and I hail this Bill, with all its imperfections, as an improvement on the conditions that now prevail. I take the opportunity to say to those who think it is easier to amend an imperfect piece of legislation than -to make it completely perfect from the start, that that view is contradicted by the history .of industrial legislation all the world over. I remember .the history of our Victorian factories legislation, which, until two years ago, when it was slightly damaged by amendments upon it, was properly described as the most advanced piece of industrial legislation in the world. I remember that twenty-three years ago it began with a mere .act of registration, merely for the purpose of obtaining information. I and others held at that time that that was not nearly what we ought to have. But it was all we were able to get ; and I was one of those who thought it was better to have that little than nothing at all. We accepted it, with’ the result that, session after session in the State Parliament, one amendment after another was made in tha original Bill, until we got the extremely advanced legislation to which I have referred.- I have no hesitation in saying that the adoption of this Bill, imperfect as. it is in many respects, will be a distinct advance, and will place us in a position to strive for something better in the very near future. To refuse to accept it will be to leave us where we are now. The result will be th’at next year we shall have to begin again where we commenced two years ago. It would be an immense advantage to have this Bill made law, and it would be suicidal and extremely prejudicial to the well-being of the persons whom Senator McGregor especially professes to represent if he seriously sought to frustrate the carrying of the measure into law. I do not think he was quite in earnest, because he said that his only object was to give Government supporters who previously said they were opposed to the Bill an opportunity to vote against it.
– That was one object.
– Then I take the liberty to say that when we have been fighting with people and endeavouring to convince them, and when we have succeeded in inducing them to vote with us, it is an extremely stupid thing to object because we succeed.
– We must do stupid things with stupid people.
– I have .heard that it is intended by some honorable senators to refuse, if they can, to take this Bill through the present stage. If that is so, I am prepared to stay here all night if necessary to frustrate them. .
– There is no justification whatever, for that statement.
– I say without hesitation that I have justification for saying that it is within my knowledge that some honorable senators intend to vote against the report.
– Let it pass, for God’s, sake !
– If there are a number of honorable senators who hold that view, it is a serious menace to people in whom I take a deep interest, and for whose welfare I have a high regard. I have followed honorable senators opposite in many respects when I thought they were not quite wise, but as they were in earnest and appeared to think that there was some wisdom in what they proposed, I allowed myself to be overruled. But I shall be deeply disappointed if after the efforts that have been made, we throw over the advantages that will be gained by placing upon the Statute-book a Bill of this character. I join with my honorable friends in regretting that the Bill has not been improved, and perhaps I share to some extent their anger that some amendments have not been made. But a feeling of regret or of anger should not make us so unwise as to cut off our noses to spite our faces.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland).- Senator Trenwith says he is astonished. I do not know that there is anything to be astonished at. I have said at every stage of the Bill that I should vote against it finally if certain provisions which it contained were not altered. Other honorable senators have said the same thing. We are simply backing up our statements now. I intend, therefore, to vote against the adoption of the report. I am sorry that I did not vote with Senator Gray and others against the third reading. I think it is a greater menace to have bad legislation on the Statute-book than to inaugurate new legislation, even if to do so takes longer. Senator Trenwith mentioned the history of the Victorian factory legislation, which has been built up from a small beginning.
– That is the type of all industrial legislation.
– That I deny. In Queensland we have had an Employers’ Liability Act for years, which has been described by the Chief Justice of the State as a delusion and a snare. While other English-speaking countries, such as New
Zealand, could get a Workmen’s Compensation Act without great trouble, we have worked to that end in Queensland for years, but have always been met with the ‘statement that there is an Employers’ Liability Act, which can be availed of. But for that ‘fact we should have had a compensation measure years ago, which would have been of more benefit than a dozen of the former. I should be very glad . to see the Senate refuse to adopt this report. I do not believe that the Bill will forward the interests of the organizations, but that it will be found to be defective in its working. There will be years of trouble before we get the amendments that are considered necessary. I can understand cases of factories regulations gradually developing into legislation as experience is gained and public opinion is influenced, but I can give quite a number of cases where the existence of pernicious lawshas prevented the passing of good laws. It is possible that we made a mistake to-day in agreeing to the exclusion of agricultural . labourers and domestic servants. I agreed to their exclusion, because I thought that after such a compromise the Government would be prepared to meet us fairly on the third amendment.On that ground I, to some extent, sacrificed the interests of those engaged in domestic service and agriculture. I have never been able to draw the line between agricultural and other workers. One day a man may be working as an employé, and come under the Act, whereas the next week he may be an agricultural employer and able to deny his men the benefits of the legislation. I am sorry that we did not’ divide the Senate on that question in ‘order that we might see -whether honorable senators have altered their minds on that as completely as on other matters. A number of honorable senators have declared their opposition to the principle of this Bill. I regret that I did not assist them to defeat the measure before, but there should still be no difficulty in dealing with it, because, if they vote with me on this side, they will be able to throw out the Bill now.
. -I wish to say a few words without any heat, sense of pique, or irritation of any sort. I rejoice that the Bill has. reached this stage. It is a Bill, which in some respects - in this I am like Senator Trenwith, but from a different point of view- does not meet with, my entire approval, and I think I have expressed that opinion very freely. Some remarks have been made by ah honorable senator whose vanity is perhaps a little wounded by the course taken in regard to one particular amendment. I am perfectly willing to remain under’ a criticism of that kind, and do not . wish to resent it. I do not object to a division on the adoption of the report,, because an opportunity will be afforded, of seeing who are” genuinely in favour . of the principle of compulsory conciliation and arbitration, and who are in favour only of some measure which is entirely of their own making. There are some honorable senators who are not satisfied unless they get all they want - who have no spirit of compromise or conciliation. Therefore, I welcome a division which will enable the two sets of honorable senators to be separated one from the” other, and placed on record who are and who are not in favour of a genuine attempt to settle the question. 1 regret to say that Senator McGregor expressed the hope that the report would not be adopted, and that is interpreted to mean that he hoped the Bill would be defeated. It will go forth to the country that the honorable senator is not desirous that the Bill should be passed - a Bill Which has been fought over for two years, which nearly wrecked one Ministry, led to the retirement of a most valuable member of that Ministry, and wrecked two other Ministries, one of which the honorable senator himself was a member. The honorable senator will take up a lamentable position in which he will be pilloried in the face of his countrymen if he seeks to wreck a Bill which at least will be an instalment of conciliation and arbitration, susceptible if necessary of amendment in the future. I do not envy the feelings of any honorable senator who can contemplate such a termination of our prolonged labours with equanimity.
Question - That the report be adopted - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first, time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Givens) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19041208_senate_2_24/>.