2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether, in view of the importance of obtaining a uniform system of wireless telegraphy throughout the Empire, the Government will defer committing the Commonwealth to any system until after the Imperial Conference has been held, in April next, when the subject could be fully discussed in London, and a fuller knowledge of the various systems obtained?
– The question of wireless telegraphy is being dealt with by the Postmaster-General, though, of course, it has incidentally come under my notice. I believe that my honorable colleague is making the necessary inquiries into the different systems in operation, with a view to adopting one in connexion with the Post Office, and which would also help so far as defence was concerned. . He has not, I understand, arrived at any conclusion ; at’ all events, he has not yet brought the subject before the Cabinet. If the honorable senator will give notice of a question, I shall ascertain exactly how the matter stands.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution relating ta the election of senators.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Keating) read a first time.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia-
Minister of Defence) [10.34]. - I move -
That, unless otherwise ordered, in addition to the days of meetings set forth in the sessional order of the 14th June, Tuesday of each week be a meeting day of the Senate during the present session at the hour of half-past two in the afternoon, and that on such day Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, excepting questions and formal motions.
It is extremely advisable - in fact, it is necessary - that, if possible, Parliament should be prorogued early in October, at the very latest. There is a large quantity of work to be transacted, and I am anxious to se cure sufficient time for the Senate to deal with the many measures which appear on its notice-paper, and those which will come up from another place. At the present time our notice-paper includes the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, which I hope will be read a second time to-day, the Judiciary Bill, the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, the Audit Bill, and a Constitution Alteration Bill, and I have obtained leave to bring in a Quarantine Bill. From the House of Representatives there will come up a Parliamentary Elections Bill, a Bounties Bill, a Postal Rates Bill, a Copyright Act Amendment Bill, and Tariff Bills, one of which- that relating to spirits - is expected to he here next week. Then we have to consider the Estimates of Expenditure. The Estimates relating to new works are embodied in a separate Bill, which we can amend ; but the Estimates in chief are embodied in a Bill in which we can only request amendments. It will be seen that there is a great quantity of business to be transacted. Unless we sit four days a week, I doubt whether we shall be able to close the session as early as is desirable. I therefore ask the Senate to agree to meet on Tuesday whenever it is necessary. On account of a number of honorable senators visiting certain proposed Capital sites, I do not propose to ask the Senate to meet on Tuesday next until 3.30 o’clock.
– The honorable senator will not be in any worse condition than the members of another place, who took a similar journey last week-end, and yet met on Tuesday last at that hour. ‘ I think I have given sufficient reasons to justify the Senate in passing the motion. If I shouldfind that the work progresses at a rate which will enable me to get the paper cleared within the time I mentioned without meeting on Tuesdays, I shall certainly not ask the Senate to meet on that day, but I have my doubts on the subject. When it is recollected that, although the second reading of the Eminent Domain. Bill was moved on the 18th July, its last stage was not reached until the 9th August, it will be seen how long it takes to deal with important Bills.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [10.41]. - I rise to oppose the motion, because the Minister does not propose to take for the consideration of Government business the time which is allotted to so-called private business, though he must know, in view of what has happened in another place, that it would be perfectly useless for the Senate to deal with private business, inasmuch as it could not be dealt with there. All that could be done in that regard would be simply a sort of electioneering placard.
– - The honorable senator uses plenty of them.
– I do not require any placards as I am not going up for reelection, and those who are might just as well recognise their position.
– - The honorable senator has more notices on the business-paper than all the other senators put together.
– I have riot a single notice on the notice-paper, so that the honorable senator is talking, as the phrase goes, “ through his neck.” As the other House has done away with private members’ day, so far as this session is concerned, it will be of no use to the Senate to spend any time in simply beating the air in relation to private business which could not possibly come to any fruition.
– There is the Canteen Bill, which was passed by the other House.
– It has been put on the notice-paper in a position which suggests that it is not going to be heard of any more. There is enough business in front of that measure - in the names of Senators Dobson and Pearce - to prevent it from being reached on Thursday next.
– That is not certain.
– And it does not matter whether it is or not.
– It does not matter whether the Canteen Bill is reached or not. because it will not get any “ forrader.”
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that Bill.
– I was led away by an interjection, sir. It would be very much better for Senator Playford to secure for the consideration of Government business the time which is reserved for the consideration of private business, as his colleagues have done elsewhere, than to ask honorable senators to make the sacrifice of attending on an additional day. Perhaps my objection does not apply to those who live in Melbourne, and have rio engagements here, but I take it that it applies to Victorian senators who have engage ments on Tuesdays. Certainly it applies to the senators from South Australia and New South Wales ; therefore one-half of the Senate is materially interested in this demand for an additional day. If we are simply to debate propositions on Thursday afternoons, when we are actually alleging that the urgency of public business requires the giving up of a further day, I do not think that it augurs very much for the commonsense of the Senate. The other House, with double our membership, and certainly with ari equal power of oratory, can get through with its business in four days a week, but we, with less than half its membership, were asked to devote as much time to legislative work.
– The other House has been sitting on four days a week throughout the session ; we have not.
– If the Minister were to adopt my suggestion, it would be very much more to the public interest as it would provide for the .continuity of Government business on three days a week, and avoid having a paltry attendance on the Tuesday, and an interruption in the middle of the week for the discussion of academical propositions. For those reasons, I oppose the motion*.
– I move -
That the words “ unless otherwise ordered,” line 1, be left out.
The intention of my amendment is to make compulsory the holding of four sittings per week. I believe that it is absolutely necessary, if the business of this Parliament is to be done, that we should sit as often as the other House. I was extremely surprised to hear Senator Neild’s remarks with reference to private business. There is no member of the Senate who monopolizes so much of the business-paper as he does. I “have now come to the deliberate conclusion that he has merely been guided by advertising motives. But there are some honorable senators who are anxious to pass Bills and take in hand matters which the Government has refused to deal with. Why should any obstruction be placed in their path? It appears to me that the attitude of Senator Neild and other honorable senators in this respect is not only belittling to themselves, but to the Senate. We ought not to hand over our responsibilities to a select section of members of this Parliament. We are responsible to the public, and, if we believe that certain measures are necessary in the public interest, it is our duty to bring them forward. If we do not sit four days a week, the Government will at the first opportunity snip away the whole of the time allotted for private business. There is a vast amount of business to be done before the session closes. Senator Playford has enumerated a number of measures, ini addito which, I suppose, we shall have the Tariff amendments before us soon. Of course, I am aware that a number of senators go home to New South Wales and South Australia every week-end, and probably only the most insignificant members will be left to do the work on Tuesdays. The big guns will not come alonguntil Wednesday. But they should not on that account prevent the little pistols from being fired off.
– The honorable senator should not be so modest.
– I think that I ought to be modest in the presence of such great luminaries. I feel very modest, anyhow. If our friends will only give us the opportunity to sit four days a week, I shall be extremely grateful.
– Is the amendment seconded? There being no seconder, the amendment falls to the ground.
– - If we adopt the motion of the Minister, we shall merely be following a precedent which has been set on former occasions. It appears to me to be absurd for some honorable senators to have so much regard for their own interests, as opposed to the interests of the public, when we remember that throughout the session the members of another place have been sitting four days a week, whilst we have sat only three, and have had an adjournment for three weeks. There seems to be not the slightest doubt that we shall have sufficient business to keep us occupied four days a week until the end of the session. In addition to the business already on the notice-paper, several measures are in an advanced stage in another place, and will soon be ready to be dealt with by us. I trust that Senator Neild’s suggestion that private business should be abandoned will not be entertained at present. No doubt, as the session advances, the time for private business will have to be absorbed by the Government ; but I hope that for a short time longer that will not be necessary. As to Senator Stewart’s amendment-
– It has not been seconded, and is not therefore before the Senate.
– S - Senator Stewart’s proposal was unnecessary, in any case.
– The honorable senator ought not to discuss a proposal that is not before the Senate.
– T - The motion of the Minister is that the Senate shall sit four days a week “ unless otherwise ordered.” No matter what motion was carried, the vote of the Senate could at any time alter the number of sitting days.
– If the words, “ unless otherwise ordered,” were not inserted, it would be necessary to rescind the resolution before the sitting days could be again altered.
– I t I think that it would be competent for the leader of the Government at any time to move that the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
– No ; that would not be competent if the words, “ unless otherwise ordered,” were not inserted.
– The The ruling of the President prevents me from continuing that phase of the discussion, but I may remark that there is no power on earth which could make us sit four days a week if the majority of the Senate were determined not to sit more than three.
– The Standing Orders distinctly provide that if a resolution has been carried a certain procedure shall be observed in order to rescind it.
– H - However, the point does not matter very much. I am in favour of the motion as moved, because I am satisfied that it is necessary for us to sit four days a week.
SenatorMILLEN (New South Wales) [10. 56]. - I do not intend to oppose the motion. The responsibility is upon the Government to proceed with business, and to ask the Senate for such time as is considered necessary to enable that business to be dealt with satisfactorily. But I wish to ask honorable senators to consent to alter the motion so as to provide that we shall not sit until 3 o’clock on Tuesday. I am satisfied that there is no desire on the part of any one to inconvenience those who take advantage of the week-end to return home. Meeting at half -past 2 on Tuesdays will be inconvenient to a number of us. We arrive at the railway station at about half- past 1, and it will be recognised that the hour which elapses between that time and the hour of meeting is insufficient to enable one to attend to the little personal comforts which, of course, suggest themselves. I therefore ask the Minister to agree to an alteration to the effect that we shall pot meet until 3 o’clock on Tuesdays. Halfanhour will not make a material difference, whilst the convenience to honorable senators will be considerable.
– I do not object to the suggestion of the honorable senator.
– I move-
That the words “ half-past two “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ three.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [10.58]. - I second the amendment. I am glad that the Minister has agreed to it. We are all anxious that no unnecessary inconvenience or discomfort shall be imposed upon each other. The business of the Senate is, of course, in the hands of the Government. They know what business is coming forward, and if they think it is necessary to extend the time devoted to the business of the country we may fairly well be guided by them as to whether we shall meet an extra day or abolish the usual time for the consideration of private business. The Government in this instance has proposed that there shall be an extra sitting day, and I, for one, shall not object to it.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia-
Minister of Defence) [11.0]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until half-past three o’clock on Tuesday next.
– I desire to continue so long as a quorum can be kept. I understand, however, that owing to the visit to the proposed Capital sites, there will not be sufficient members here in the afternoon. Under the circumstances, I do not propose that the Senate shall sit after 1 o’clock.
– Say 12 o ‘clock
– Very well.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16th August (vide page 2945), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Minister of Defence, in moving the second reading, dealt with the prevalence of trusts, pools, and combines in the United States, laid before us the dictionary definitions of the various terms applied to this large-scale business, and added the definitions supplied by Mr. Tregear, the Secretary of Labour in New Zealand. The Minister’s speech dealt largely with generalities, and, so far as I was able to follow him, there was an entire absence of any reference to the existence of trusts or combines within the Commonwealth. It was only towards the conclusion of his speech, when he referred, to dumping, that his remarks had any local application. “ Dumping “ is a word that conveys many meanings. During my stay in the East last year, I visited Hong Kong, and there I heard and read a good deal about “ dumping.” A few years ago, it appears, plague, in a very serious form, took possession of a portion of the city ; not that Hong Kong is ever free from plague; but, on that occasion, hundreds of Chinese and many whites lost their lives. The British authorities, in their extreme anxiety to get the plague under control, resorted to drastic measures. A number of Chinese habitations were destroyed, and those that were left, together with the goods and chattels, were fumigated in a way they had never been fumigated before. This, of course, meant a serious loss to the Chinese merchants, and the result was that, if the death of a Chinaman was attributed to plague, the owner of the house where it occurred, threw, or what was called in the East “ dumped,” the body into the street. It was no uncommon thing, when I was in Hong Kong, to find the morning newspapers contain startling headlines, such as “ More Dumping,” “ Two More Cases of Dumping,” and so forth.
– That is a new style of dumping.
– Did that appear in the Chinesse newspapers?
– No, in the English newspapers; and very creditable productions they are. Then we have heard of “ wool dumping,” which I understand to’ mean a process of compressing and binding bales of wool for export. I do not suppose that such “ dumping “ would come within the meaning of the Bill. Another illustration of “dumping” was afforded by Mr. Kirwan, the representative of the Cigarmakers’ Union, who, in giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, strongly and justly complained about what is called the “ dumping “ of inferior machine-made cigars by a local octopus, the tentacles of which are stretching throughout the world. This dumping, Mr. Kirwan pointed out, is a detriment to the local trade and a serious injury to cigar operatives, who were fully employed before the introduction of the monopolistic machine. The Minister, in introducing the Bill, had nothing to say in regard to .this machine, or the evils created here by the monopoly I have indicated. Is this Bill intended to defeat the object the Labour Party has in view, namely, the nationalization of such industries ? Or is the Bill a sop to those gigantic trusts? The promoters of the Tobacco Trust have no doubt been laughing up their sleeves at the possibility of the passing of this measure, because they know, by experience of similar legislation in America, that they can ride the proverbial coach and four through such, enactments. The Tobacco Trust is a menace to the operatives engaged in the manufacture of cigars. The monopolistic machine turns . out cigars at a cost of 66. per 100, whereas the cost by hand labour is 2s. 6d. per 100.’ There a.te now a few small manufacturers! by hand who conduct business on a £5 licencefee, and they find it almost impossible to make a living, owing to the competition of the machine. Further, the Tobacco Trust has the consumers within its grip, and the growers of tobacco are at its mercy, owing to there being only one buyer for, leaf. To this trust, it is a matter of indifference whether there be a high Tariff or a low Tariff.
– W - Would the Bill not deal with this combine?
– Not at all. The trust has an almost entire monopoly of locally-produced tobaccoes and cigars ; and if the Tariff were altered to-morrow, the trust, with its additional monopoly of importation, would be able to charge consumers whatever prices it liked. True, the Tobacco Trust has made no move up to the present time; and th’e reason is that public attention has been so focussed on this subject by the proceedings of the Tobacco Commission, and by the numerous addresses delivered bv advocates of collectivism, that any procedure likely to raise the* opposition or hostility of the general public, would create a demand for nationalization forthwith. When this trust began to feel its way in New Zealand it did so rather gingerly. Eventually, however, it got possession of about 95 per cent, of the trade, and then it proposed to increase the price of tobacco by 2d. per lb. At this point, however, the late Mr. Seddon said, “ I am watching the operation of the tobacco combine, and if there is to be a monopoly the State is most entitled to it.”
– Hear, hear !
– I only wish the Minister of Defence would give practical effect to the approval he expresses by his. “ hear, hears “ when reference is made to any action of the late Mr. Seddon.
– We desire to prevent the injury to the public by means of regulation. If we cannot do so by regulation, we shall have to adopt the other course.
– How can regulation prevent cigar operatives being thrown out of employment because of the existence of this huge combine?
– Would there not be as many unemployed cigar operativeswalking about the streets under a State monopoly ?
– Not at all. I am satisfied that if the industry were nationalized to-morrow, every operative whois now walking about the streets would not only be full v employed, but would enjoy more reasonable hours and better pay thant now prevails.
– The honorable senator would not abolish machines?
– Certainly not. But all the profits which the members of the trust are now making for themselves and their particular friends would be enjoyed by the whole community, and the conditions of employment would be improved.
– The question is whether there would necessarily be more men employed under a State monopoly.
– The monopolistic machine would continue to keep men out of employment.
– It could not throw any more out of employment than there are at present. This machine is enabling certain people to make an immense fortune in a short period; and, under a well-regulated system of society, the hours of the employes could be reduced, and employment afforded for those who are at present idle.
– But the men employed are under State laws which govern hours.
– That is perfectly true ; but we have the power to nationalize the industry, and make the conditions of the men and women employed even better than under Wages Boards. It is a notorious fact that, notwithstanding the considerable diminution in the importation of tobacco and cigars in recent years, there are fewer men employed than at any normal period in the history of any of the States.
– That, I suppose, is the result of the employment of machinery.
– The production of cigars has been materially increased bymeans of this machine, and the workmen have suffered in consequence. When Mr. Seddon made the statement that I have just quoted, it was said to run “ like a stream of ice water down the spinal marrow of those interested in the Australian tobacco combine.”
– Did the combine drop the proposal to increase the price?
– They dropped that proposal, and several others, because they knew they were dealing with a man who meant what he said, and who would act in accordance with his words. The kind of legislation before us is not likely to run like iced water down the backs of the Tobacco Trust.
– Mr. Seddon was prepared to do things, and not talk.
– He was both a doer and a talker.
– Mr. Shaw, one of the directors of the Tobacco Trust, said he would welcome this kind of legislation.
– No doubt, because the trust would be able to dodge it.
– No fear !
– How optimistic our Minister of Defence is ! He can foresee that the Bill is going to bring about all the results which its framers anticipate ! I am quite of the contrary opinion, because, if we are to be guided by evidence, similar legislation has proved an absolute failure in. the United States.
– Oh, no.
– Oh, yes. If that legislation has not been a failure, how does the Minister explain the continued existence of huge combines and trusts in the United States ?
– But American legislation has not finished with trusts yet.
-And never will. We cannot stop the march of trusts under a competitive system of society ; they can be stopped only by a system of collectivism.
– Matters would be worse then.
– Not at all. The Minister said that this kind of legislation would, in all probability, secure some of the evils I have incidentally mentioned in connexion with one particular monopoly ; but we who were members of the Tobacco Commissiondo not believe that it would If it is to have the effect of breaking up a monopoly which has systematised the methods of carrying on abusiness-
– We do not wish to break up a monopoly if it is not injurious to the public.
– I maintain that there is no privately-owned monopoly in anv country on the face of the earth that is beneficial to the whole community.
– Can the honorable senator mention a single monopoly in Australia at the present moment?
– I donot know whether the honorable senator from sunny New South Wales has been listening, but I have been for some time endeavouring to direct attention to the existence of the tobacco monopoly.
– The so-called tobacco monopoly is not a monopoly.
– I should like to see the honorable senator and some of his friends put up£300,000 or£400,000 in an endeavour to fight the monopoly. They would probably meet with the same disaster as certain people in Great Britain met with, if they did.
– It must be proved that a monopoly is injurious to the public before it can be dealt with under this Bill, and I do not believe that that could be proved with respect to the tobacco combination.
– I can prove that it has brought serious suffering upon many who served years of apprenticeship to the business.
– That happens wherever labour-saving machinery is introduced.
– I know that it does, and the honorable senator says that because of the introduction of labour-saving machinery nobody suffers.
– I say that they do suffer, and I am sorry that they do.
– Then, what is the Minister’s remedy for that?
– I cannot remedy it.
– This Bill is no remedy for it.
– The honorable senator cannot remedy it.
– Put me in the position occupied by the Minister, and I will remedy it in a fortnight. I undertake to say that I could find a remedy for the tobacco combine. I am sure that Senator Pearce, who was Chairman of the Tobacco Commission, who has the whole of the facts connected with the combine at his fingers’ ends, and could probably put the case better than I can, would, if he were in a position to nationalize the industry, do so in a fortnight.
– The Labour Government were in power for more than a fortnight, and did not attempt it.
– How were they in power ?
– I am taking the honorable senator’s own estimate of a fortnight.
– They were in office, but they were in a minority.
– They were in office without power.
– That is not constitutional.
– A great many things are done in the Commonwealth and in the various States that are not constitutional. I do not believe that any labour man desires to do what is unconstitutional. We recognise that there are difficulties in the way of the nationalization of industries without some alteration of the Constitution, and we favour the introduction of a Bill which would enable us to make the alteration of the Constitution which is required.
– In the meantime the honorable senator might extend his estimate of the time ina which he would nationalize the tobacco industry to more than a fortnight.
– I d.o not say that we could do it in a fortnight without an alteration of the Constitution.
– Or with an alteration.
– I think that we could.
– The honorable senator had better make it a month.
– I am not to be led astray in connexion with this matter. When the Tobacco Commission submitted their report, the majority favorable to the nationalization of the industry, in view of the condition of the industry when conducted on the acute competitive .lines that existed prior to the formation of the combine, said -
Neither in our opinions would it be to the advantage of the Commonwealth for Parliament by legislation to break up the existing organization to revert to the wasteful and unorganized method that existed prior to the formation of the combine.
And they said further -
Your Commissioners are of opinion that it would be utterly useless to attempt to regulate it by an alteration of the Tariff.
The mention of the recommendations of the Commission reminds me that a certain weekly paper, which had in various issues vigorously denounced the . combine, and strongly advocated the nationalization of the tobacco industry, has for a considerable period been silent on the subject. For some time past .illustrated pages of the tobacco combine’s advertisements have appeared in its columns, and some folk think this, had something to do with the short colourless paragraph which it devoted to the Commission’s recommendations.
– To what paper . does the honorable /senator refer?
– A newspaper with’ a certain influence, a certain atmosphere, and a certain cover. I will now leave the tobacco business for a few moments in order to say something with respect to dumping. I am inclined to believe, from what I have heard and read, that there is no doubt whatever that this Bill would never have seen the light of day if it had not been for the agitation conducted .by certain people interested in the manufacture of a certain kind of harvester. Senator Trenwith, perhaps deservedly, paid a high compliment to the energy, push, and perseverance of Mr. McKay as an inventor. I think that we can also compliment Mr. McKay on being a persevering, pushful man, alive to the advantages of a full measure of protection for one section of the community, and on being a patriotic protectionist in his own interests. He would, as I would if I had the power, build a big wall round the Commonwealth to prevent the importation of goods which can be made in this country ; but, side by side with that protection, I should insist on the fullest measure of protection to all employed in the protected industries. Mr. McKay would not do anything of the kind. He believes in free-trade in labour. In this respect he is not unlike other men, some of whom are parading around the Commonwealth now as patriotic protectionists, and one of whom is touring abroad on behalf of the Commonwealth. Mr. Charles Atkins, who, according to newspaper reports, is announced as a candidate for the Senate at the ensuing elections as a protectionist Liberal, said last year, as F resident of the Chamber of Manufactures, in delivering his annual address: “Our cryshould be: Fight for the Tariff and freedom of contract.” What he advocates is a high Tariff, and all the protection possible for the so-called captains of industry ; but for the men who are asked to help in securing that measure of protection he asks freedom of contract- the non-recognition of trade unionism. That is a fine doctrine to be preached in this enlightened day - freedom of contract, and the nonrecognition of the principles of trade unionism, the minimum wage, Conciliation and Arbitration Acts, and so on. He is not likely to secure the support of any working man with a policy of that kind. Then there is Mr. Beale, the ex-President of the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures, who has, I understand, a commission from the Commonwealth, and has been sending long reports more or less interesting for publication in our newspapers. When President of the Chamber of Manufactures he said in Sydney something to this effect - “ Fight all you know how for high protection, but we must not have it at the expense of labour legislation.” The members of the party to which I belong, free-traders and protectionists alike, will be no party to secure for manufacturers high protection, unless the workers get a share of the benefits derived from it. Then we have Mr. Hugh McKay and his brother. Honorable senators who have followed the history of factories legislation in Victoria are aware that it is a notorious fact that for a long period of time the most sweated trades in this State were the most’ highly protected trades. I was a member of the Trades Hall Council of Victoria at the time the agitation in .. support of factories legislation and Wages Boards was at its height, and at considerable expense and effort that council endeavoured to rivet the attention of the community on the damnable sweating conditions existing in many trades that were highly protected. There was bitter opposition to the reform we advocated, namely, the establishment of Wages Boards. After a time we were successful in securing the recognition of our principles by legislative enactment. In order to extend that measure of beneficial reform in the interests of the masses in Victoria, we desired that the agricultural implement making industry should be brought under the provisions of the factories law. In 1 901 Mr. Laidlaw, a representative of the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Union, visited Ballarat, and talked to the men in the Sunshine Harvester works, of which Mr. H. V. McKay and Mr. G. McKay are the principals. It was decided, after an informal chat, that the employes, together with Mr. Laidlaw, as representative of the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Union, Mr. H. V. McKay, and Mr. G. McKay, should meet to discuss the matter. They met in the Trades Hall at Ballarat, to consider the advisability of the industry being brought under the Wages Board provisions of the Factoies Act of Victoria. After Mr. Laidlaw had addressed the men in terms of high commendation of factories legislation and Wages Boards, Mr. H. V. McKay said -
He thought the existence of Boards would be detrimental to the trade. ,
– Who said that ?
- Mr. H. V “ McKay, the man with the wonderful inventive genius.
– That proves it.
– He had genius enough to circumvent the attempt to apply the Wages ‘Board provisions to his industry, and to defeat legislation intended for the betterment of the conditions of the men in his employ. He went on to say -
He wanted to impress upon them the necessity of being allowed to conduct his own business as he pleased.
– Freedom of contract.
– Yes, freedom to conduct his business* as he pleased. That kind of argument is as old as the flood. “ If you do not like what I offer you, -lo the other thing.” What hope has the worker in such circumstances as that? He « went on to say -
The employes should weigh well any action they might take so as not to clog the wheels of what was now a thriving business.
So that in 1901 it was a thriving business, according to his own admission, and he wanted his employes to weigh well any action they might take with the object of obtaining an extra shilling or two in wages. At that time, or in 1900, I understand that McKay got from ^90 to ,£100 spot cash for his harvesters.
– There was no other in the market.
– If there was no other in the market he was doing all right. I do not blame him for that. Senator Playford or I would probably have done the same thing in the circumstances, but I think we should have been prepared, if making big profits, to recognise the just claims of our employes to better conditions. Mr. McKay further said -
He trusted that the men. would return the confidence he had always placed in them.
That was a nice appeal to a number of his employes, who were urged to take a ballot as to whether they were favorable to the application .to the industry of the Wages Board provisions. Then the meeting was addressed by Mr. G. McKay, who I notice in to-day’s newspaper writes on behalf of his brother to call upon Mr. Lemmon, of the State Labour Party, to prove certain statements with respect to the employment of boy labour in that industry. With that phase of boy labour I shall deal later on, in the light of Mr. McKay’s evidence before the Tariff Commission.
– That is quite correct, I think.
Mr. G. McKay said he was paymaster of the firm. One effect of the trade being brought under the Act would be that improved laboursaving machinery would have to be obtained, and this would mean the displacement of many hands. “ Be careful of what you do, men,” said Mr. G. “McKay, in effect. “ If you vote for factories legislation, many of you will be put out, because I shall introduce labour-saving machinery. “
– Does the honorable senator think that the manufacturers would not get it if they could?
– Absolutely, they have no consideration for their men in regard to labour-saving, appliances. It is the same in every line of business. The object of trade is to make profit, and the object pf making, profit, according to commercial philosophy, is to effect savings. Mr. Hugh McKay is not in this ‘business for philanthropic reasons. He is there to make as much as he can, and I do not blame him. Whether the men were favorable to the resolution or not, labour-saving machinery, if he wanted to keep pace with the march of progress, would be introduced by him; otherwise, he would be hopelessly left. He is wide enough awake to know what to do. Last year, I understand, he toured the world - probably for the sake of his health, and also to see the latest and most scientific implements of production in his line of business. Mr. G. McKay went on to say -
He was of opinion that with the creation of Wages Boards trade would be discouraged.
If we cannot get satisfactory working conditions - reasonable rates of pay and hours of labour - I shall not be a party to encouraging protected industries under sweating conditions.
– We all agree with that.
– I do not know that all do. Listen to the final appeal -
They should seriously consider what they did as it would affect their own as well as the firm’s interest. ‘
When the men were sheltered by the secrecy of the ballot what was the result? Notwithstanding the special pleading of the( members of the firm, by a vote of 110 to 15 they decided that, in the interests of themselves and those engaged in similar in. dustry, it would be wise to be brought under the Wages Board provisions of the Shops and Factories Act. What happened? The agitation for Wages Boards continued, and shortly afterwards there was established an Ironmoulders Board, affecting only a small proportion of the industry conducted by Mr. McKay. Employers and employes were equally represented on that Board, with an independent chairman. After sitting, for a considerable time, it concluded its labours, and its determinations were gazetted.
– In October, 1904. I do not propose to quote the whole of the Board’s findings, but merely sufficient to show that the wages which it fixed were not excessive for men engaged in very hard and very difficult work.
– As far as I know, the Wages Boards are all reasonable.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator admit that the determinations of the Boards which have sat in connexion with factories legislation have been reasonable.
– He is as good as a labour man.
- Senator Fraser cannot be as good as a labour man whilst he holds foolish competitive ideas. When he conies over to the collectivist school, he will be all right.
– In my time, I have worked a great deal harder than either Senator McGregor or Senator Findley.
– I am not making any reference to that. I am only referring to the views which the honorable senator holds in regard to the competitive system of society, as against those which we hold in favour of a. collectivist system. I have had to work very hard. I began very early.
– And I hope that the honorable senator will continue late.
– The maximum wage fixed by the Board for the best class of ironmoulders was 60s., while the lowest wage was fixed at 40s. For moulders’ labourers, the-“ extravagant “ wage of 38s. was fixed -
One improver to every two journeymen or fraction thereof employed in the process, trade, or business of an ironmoulder, receiving not less than8s. per day employed on work other than pipe moulding, or on work incidental thereto. Where pipe moulding is carried on either alone or in conjunction with other work, one improver, or one additional improver, as the case may be, to every twelve journeymen or fraction thereof, exclusively employed on pipe moulding work receiving not less than 8s. per day.
Under the finding, improvers were to receive, for the first year, 5s. per week of 48 hours; for the second year, 7s. 6d. ; for the third year, 10s. ; for the fourth year, 12s. 6d. ; for the fifth year, 15s. ; for the sixth year, 20s. ; and for the seventh year, 25s.
– Did the boys get a week’s wage if they had worked only three days ?
– In all probability, they did not. There are some employers who in case of sickness or distress - so far as youths are concerned, at any rate - paya full week’s wage. There are other kinds of employers, who, in such cases, are known to make small deductions from boys’ wages. They even go into fractions in order to ascertain the exact amount to be deducted. In the seventh year, the boys were to get 25s. a week, and thereafter the minimum wage.
– After serving for seven years they would be men, I should say.
– Yes. Almost as soon as the decision was gazetted, apparently to overawe the men, the Sunshine Harvester Works in Ballarat were closed down, and articles with very startling head-lines appeared in the Argus and the Age. The latter came out with an article headed - “The Strangling Tariff: Sunshine Harvester Works.” The article in the Argus was headed “ Ironmoulders’ Wages Board : TheBallarat Incident.” Mr. McKay not only said, but complained bitterly, that no intimation had been given to him of the intention of the Parliament of the day to enforce the Wages Beard provisions in regard to his works at Ballarat. How singular on his part to imagine that he was to be favoured by the Government with a special communication to this effect : “ At a certain period we intend to do this or that. Look out for the consequences.” When that statement was made, Mr. Ord was seen by a reporter, and the following report appeared in the Argus of 8th October : -
No complaint, Mr. Ord says, reached the Minister; no concession in the way of extension of time was asked for, and no protest was lodged against the enforcement of the determination. Mr. Ord says further, that the Department is at a loss to understand why a leading manufacturer, who has always been credited with having paid a fair rate of wage, could possibly be injured by a determination, which, as a fact, has merely adopted the rates previously generally paid in the trade.
– Was there any difference in procedure in applying the provisions of the law to this industry?
– Not atall.
– Then Mr. McKay could have no cause for complaint.
- Mr. McKay said that he had always paid reasonable wages. He could not see what benefit’ the Wages Board provisions would be to his employes; but, since they were made applicable to him, he was going to be ruined. Mr. Ord said that he could not understand Mr. McKay’s complaint, if what he had previously said was correct.
If the determination was so injurious then, Mr. Ord thinks, the Minister might have been approached or the Industrial Appeal Court invoked to remedy the wrong. Country firms were represented on the Ironmoulders’ Board.
Evidently the complaint of Mr. McKay was that the manufacturers of agricultural implements in the country were not represented on the Board ; but that is not correct. According to the Age of 12th October, 1904, a large deputation1 of employes affected by the Wages Board provisions waited upon, the Minister for Labour on the previous day. It was stated that 450 men were affected by the closing of the works. The following extract from the report is interesting: -
The Minister. - How many adults are affected ?
Mr. Kerr. I am not prepared to say. It affects about twenty ironmoulders
The Minister. - And how many are there in Victoria?
Mr. Harrison Ord. About 900.
Mr. Kerr. Even supposing that myself and others do go to work at the Braybrook establishment, it means that thirty or forty of us have to break up our homes in Ballarat.
– Mr. Kerr was an employ^ of “McKay.
– Mr. Kerr was an employe of McKay at Ballarat. According to his statement, only twenty men were affected by the Wages Board provisions, and, as Mr. McKay had not infrequently said that the men were getting good wages, and he could not see that they were to be advantaged by a special Board, he closed up his establishment, and thus affected the working conditions of 450 men.
– Although only twenty out of the 450 men were affected by the determination.
– That cannot be correct.
– Surely this man ought to have known what he was .talking about. Did I not say a few moments ago that the determination of the Ironmoulders’ Board affected only a portion of the employes in McKay’s works? There are many kinds of artisans and tradesmen employed there. What followed ? When Mr. Mckay could not get redress from the Minister by way of a deputation, what did he do? On the 13th October, 1904, he addressed the following letter to the Chief Secretary : - . q
With reference to the application of the Wages Board ‘ conditions to the iron moulding, steel moulding, and malleable iron departments of the “Sunshine” Harvest ct works, I would respectfully point out that in consequence of the Act I am prevented from mokine; any use of this very costly part of my Ballarat factory.
At considerable expense I have arranged for a temporary supply of castings from my factory in Braybrook.
I would respectfully request that something be promptly due to remove the embargo of Wages Board conditions from the implement and harvester business.
He went on further -
I further request that if this cannot be done at once you will give me an assurance that the Wages Board conditions will not come into operation at the factory in Braybrook. If you will do that I am prepared to considerably extend the factory, and will instal some more costly machinery, while if there is any chance of the Wages Board conditions being applied there I do not feel justified in spending the money.
As this whole matter involves a most serious question, I would respectfully urge that it receive your early and earnest consideration.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully, (Sgd.) H. V. McKay.
What that came to was this - “ If you will exempt me from reasonable working conditions I am prepared to considerably extend my factory, and by doing so will absorb more men or more boys - boys by preference.” There are probably hundreds pf manufacturers in this State who would gladly avail themselves of such an opportunity if they could be exempt from factories legislator, lt is remarkable what unanimity exists, between employer and employes in Mr. McKay’s works. Here capital and labour are united. The lion and the lamb are lying down together. All this has taken place since the ballot, too ! What occult influence has been at work? Some of the men would seem to have been hypnotized. They say, in effect, “ Do not give us better conditions of labour.. We do not want them. We do not want increased wages. We are all right as we are.” By the Lord Harry ! this Commonwealth would be a beautiful place to live in if all men engaged in protected industries were of that mind ! We should not want any Acts of Parliament. We should all be happy without them. These men appear to say, “ Mr. McKay is our boss and our joss. If lie should go to Argentina, as he threatened to do some time ago, because; he was irritated, whatever would happen, to us ?” In to-day’s newspaper Mr. McKay denies that boys in knickerbockers are employed in his workshop. There would be no offence if out of 450 employes he did employ a boy in knickerbockers.
– When is the honorable senator going to talk about the Bill ?
– I think the harvester matter has much to do with the Bill. I do not know why Senator Dobson should be so anxious to jump away to-day. Surely lie had quite enough bare-back riding last week.
– I want to get on with the business.
– I think that I am confining myself to the Bill as closely as most honorable senators have done. I am endeavouring, as a representative of labour, to state the facts of the case as regards the harvester business, in the interests of a section of the community that does not, as a rule, get justice from some senators.
– Senator Dobson is not President, anyhow.
– We know that he is an aspirant for the presidential chair, but to reach that position a man requires some experience.
– I ask the honorable senator not to deal with that matter, which is not before the Senate.
– When before the Tariff Commission Mr. McKay’s attention was drawn by Mr. F’owler to the trouble that had occurred at Ballarat. He said in the course of his examination, when referring to the determination of the Ironmasters’ Board -
The condition they made, and of which we complained, was there should be one improver to every two journeymen. We had four improvers to one journeyman, and to carry out their condition we should have had to sack seven out of eight of very deserving young men, who were helping to develop our business.
So that his consideration was not for the men who ought to have been employed doing the work that youths were doing at youths’ wages, but for what is extremely profitable to himself- The question is often asked “ What shall we do with our boys “? If all employers were like Mr. McKay, we should not have much difficulty in solving that problem, but a more serious problem would arise : ‘ ‘ What shall we do with our men”? Senator Higgs asked Mr. McKay his opinion about Wages Boards, and the minimum wage. He made matters sufficiently ambiguous to satisfy nobody on the Commission. He would not commit him. self. As a matter of fact, to speak correctly, he fenced a direct question that ought to have received a direct answer. Then he complained that the International Harvester Trust with its immense capital was going to ruin the business with which he was connected. Mr. McKay’s own connexion with that combination is worthy of recital. Some .one has said that there is charm in a twice-told tale. It may be said that what I am going to state has been said before, but it cannot be too much emphasized. Mr. McKay, together with other manufacturers, in 1903, entered into an agreement with the International Harvester Company, and the MasseyHarris Company, that in no part of Victoria, and in no part of the Commonwealth, should machines be sold for less than £81 spot cash. That agreement was binding during 1903-4. While it continued, all was sunshine for the local manufacturers, and probably also for the importing firms. At that time, however, the International Harvester Company had not a great number of machines in Australia. It went into business to make money out of it, just as the local makers did. After the expiration of twelve months, the agreement was renewed. But during its currency, Mr. McKay, and some of the other local manufacturers commenced knocking loudly at the legislative door.
– They were asked to “ Come in,” were they not?
– They complained about what they called the unfair competition of the importers at a time when they were parties to an agreement with the importers ; and they asked for a fixed duty of ^25 on each harvester imported. They received a sympathetic reply. ‘ The International people then said in effect, “ These manufacturers have broken away from the agreement they have made with us.” It appears that the local manufacturers promised that if they could get the measure of protection that they asked for, they would, in the first year, reduce the price of their harvesters by £5, and in the second year, would make a reduction of £10. Immediately that decision was made known, the International Harvester Company decided’ to reduce the price of its machines. Senator Trenwith last night endeavoured to show that the price at which the Internationa^ Company was now selling was below that at which harvesters could be manufactured and sold in Australia. Strange to say, however, I am credibly informed that one of the local manufacturers, a party to the agreement, is to-day selling a machine at £68 5s., which, while the agreement was in operation, he was selling for £81 The International Company is selling »t ,£70.
It is said that its machines at one time came in invoiced at £26. I have been searching, and cannot verify that statement. It is true, however, that -the International Company imported harvesters invoiced at £31 5s., while the Massey-Harris Company imported them at ^38. But at that time, the machines of the International Company were of a lighter make and of a different type from those which the Massey-Harris Company were importing. After the Minister decided to increase the valuation of the International Company’s machines to the invoice price of the Massey-Harris machines, £38, trie International people commenced to make a heavier machine. I am informed, and I think correctly, that those machines can be made for between .£30 and £35. If there is any truth in the contention that a huge company with a large capital can afford to manufacture cheaper than a small man, it stands to reason that the International Company can make harvesters cheaper than the local manufacturers.
– I doubt whether they can import them as cheaply as the local men can manufacture.
– On what does the honorable senator base his doubts?
– Freights and charges have to be taken into consideration.
– If packing charges and freight are taken into consideration, the honorable senator’s view is correct, but I cannot believe that a man in a small way, as Mr. McKay is in comparison with the International Company, can manufacture as cheaply as they can.
– The honorable senator means the cost of the factory?
– Yes. Senator Trenwith laid very great stress on what is known as the ‘ ‘ apple tree ‘ ‘ circular ; but that circular was issued immediately after the deputation of local manufacturers, and it will be seen that it is nm, admitted that the cost of manufacture is ,£38. The first three items quoted by Senator Trenwith are admitted; and those are £9 is. 5d. for casing, packing, ocean freight, and exchange; £3 2s. id. for wharfage, packing inward, cartage, &c. ; and £5 4»- 7d- as duty prior to the present increase. It is not admitted, however, that it costs /I21 17s. 5d. for cartage, delivery, travellers’ salaries and expenses, and so forth, or 27 per cent, of the retail price. Personally, I do not think that it could cost £21 to dispose of a machine after it had ‘been landed. However, I do not desire to pursue a line of reasoning which might be construed into a plea for the importing firm.
– Is it not a fact that other local manufacturers in Victoria are subject to the Wages Board provisions?
– Yes. When Mr. McKay moved from Ballarat to Braybrook he got within a mile of other manufacturers in the same business, who were bound by an Act of Parliament to observe the conditions to which I have alluded. Braybrook is about ten miles from Melbourne. At places like Spotswood, Newport, and Footscray, although these are, so to speak, within a stone’s throw of Braybrook, manufacturers have to observe conditions from which Mr. McKay is exempt. As a matter of fact, I have very little consideration for or approval of the importation of goods which can be manufactured in Australia, and I desire that to be clearly understood. But, as a protectionist who wishes to see the establishment of industries, I “Have no desire for the perpetuation of an evil introduced by Mr. McKay in connexion with an important industry. If an industry cannot extend reasonable conditions to those it employs, it ought not to survive.
– The industry ought to be subject to the State law.
– I - Is it not the fault of the State Parliament that Mr. McKay has not been brought under the operation of the State Act-?
– It is not the fault of the State Parliament that Mr. McKaydodged the law.
– S - Surely the State Parliament is powerful enough to follow Mr. McKay, or anybody else.
– The Chief Secretary and his departmental officers, while no doubt desirous that Mr. McKay’s works should be carried on under the conditions imposed by the. Factories’ Act and the Wages Boards, were probably influenced to a considerable extent by the petition of the men to be exempt. But there is not the shadow of doubt in the minds of those capable of judging that, to use a colloquialism, the petition was hawked round. I cannot think for a moment that any body of workmen, of their own volition, without the exercise of influence in a certain way,’ would sign a petition to be exempt from conditions beneficial to themselves. Senator Play- ford, in introducing the Bill, said that we were told that the United States is cursed with trusts because it is a protectionist country. But I assert that fiscalism has little, if anything, to do with the creation of trusts and combinations, which are the inevitable result of the capitalisticcompetitive system. The old theory that competition is the life of trade has long since been exploded. If competition is the life of trade, it is the death of businesses. Trusts are an economic development ; they exist in every country throughout the world. There are some trusts that are perfect typhoons in the sea of competition. They absorb everything that comes within their influence; and as the result of typhoonic trusts, human wrecks can be seen in almost every part of the world. The capitalisticcompetitive system is just about a century old, but I venture to say that it is doomed not to see another hundredth birthday. Condemn these trusts as we. may, we must recognise them as an economic development, which may, after all, prove only a blessing in disguise. They demonstrate as clearly as the noonday sun that the position taken up by the advocates of collectivism is indisputable. By complete organization, and with the aid of immense capital, trusts are able to introduce the latest and most scientific methods of production, and to effect immense economies. With these concrete examples before us in the form of privatelyowned trusts, we can readily see what a manifold advantage it would be if industries of the kind were under the control of the State - if they were not conducted on a system which creates a few millionaires on the one hand and countless mendicants on the other. I hold that all privately-owned trusts are inimical to a nation’s progress. I hold further that, notwithstanding what anti- Socialists may say, competition has succeeded only by what I call a process of commercial cannibalism - that is, the eating up of small businesses by large ones, and large businesses by still larger. Let us view the position of working men in America in regard to these trusts. When there is a combination of firms, the workmen or workwomen have only one employer ; and that is the case in many lines of industry in America.
– But in America a man may be a worker to-day and an employer to-morrow.
– That is not at all possible in this enlightened day - it is abso lutely impossible in America, and well-nigh impossible in Great Britain. There were periods, prior to the expansion of the competitive system, when a man with small capital, and endowed with energy and intelligence, could start on his own account, and probably become very successful in business. But in the United States of America to-day what hope has a small man of starting successfully in any line of business in opposition to the huge trusts ?
– Ninety per cent, of the successful men in Australia are selfmade men.
– I neverknew a self-made man in any country on earth. No man can, by his individual efforts or enterprise, become wealthy, but men may, and frequently do, become wealthy by the united efforts and industry of those who work on their behalf. Very often those who pass as self-made men owe little or nothing to their own ability, their wealth having been won for them by subordinates, who, in some cases, have received very small remuneration for their services. What is the position of the working men under some of the combines in America ? We often hear people talk about the tyranny of trades unionism, when some trades unionists conscientiously refuse to work with non-unionists, who have done nothing to advance the. interests of the working classes, or of human kind. That is said to be tyranny of the worst description; but it is nothing of the kind. On the other hand, what is the tyranny exercised over the workers employed by the huge combines of the United States ? According to the report of Mr. Tregear -
In regard to the black-list, it is asserted that it is often vindictively and almost always heartlessly used. Under the oid regime it was possible, on discharge, to find another employer, but under combination, the employing body is a solid block of resistance, and in case of a worker offending his boss and being discharged, his name is blacklisted in every department of the vast combination. If he does not change his name and disguise himself, there is no remedy but leaving that part of the country for ever. Governor Thomas, of Colorado, speaking on the subject of veto for repeal of an anti-boycott clause in a Bill, said- “ The most serious fact urged on behalfof this Bill is that some of the great companies in the State disregard and violate the black-list section with impunity. . . . The strong syndicate, entrenched in power and authority, overrides prohibition and penalties, snaps its fingers in the faces of the people, and sets at naught the limitations of Statutes and Constitution.”
What does the Sherman Act - and I understand the Bill is a twin brother of that Act - do for the unfortunate workmen of the United States, who are the victims of such tyranny as this? I fake the following also from Mr. Tregear’s report : -
According to Mr. Lawson’s survey of “ American Industrial Problems,” newly published by the Messrs. Blackwood, American workmen are compelled by their employers to obey certain rules of life. They must be teetotallers; they must live in villages which the employer establishes for them ; they are subject to a continued occult surveillance.
Confidential reports are made periodically to the management on every employed The careless maxim of some British masters, that their men can do what they like with their own time, is never heard in the United States.
In the workshops private detectives are introduced to find out what the men are saying and doing : - “ The great Pinkerton has a detective service for this express purpose. One of his men may be hired as a fitter or mechanic, and he may be in the shop for months without exciting the least suspicion of his character. Every night he will send in a report of all he has seen or heard during the day.”
– And a great deal that he has not heard.
– Probably. I do not think that the Bill will in any way minimize the evils of trusts, so far as the working classes are concerned. I have said that all privately-owned combines and trusts are inimical to a nation’s progress; because they, so to speak, have the community in the hollow of their hand. Some of these trusts in America silence newspaper criticism. I can quote a case in point, and I think I shall be able to show, after quoting it, that it has some local application. There is .in America a patent medicine trust with a capital of £50,000,000. The retail price of the curealls sold by this patent medicine trust in the United States in one year is estimated, according to a writer in The World’s Work and Play, at £20,000,000, of which sum £8,000.000 is spent in newspaper advertising, with the object of silencing any agitation which may be got up to condemn these quack medicines. I have here the issue of The World’s Work and Play, for June, 1906, in which I find the statement made that the President of the Patent Medicine Association, in addressing the members of that Association quite recently, said - “ The twenty thousand newspapers of the United States make more money from advertising the proprietary medicines than do the pro prietors of the medicines themselves. Of their receipts, one-third to one-half goes for advertising.”
The writer of the article from which this quotation is taken, says -
But in return for this the patent medicine men have cunningly succeeded in obtaining something more than the mere advertising space in the papers ; they have brought about a conspiracy of silence ; seduced the newspapers into captivity. Religious papers seem to be the most accommodating.
He goes on to give an absolute case, and he says -
In March, 1905, there was a debate in the Lower - House of the Massachusetts Legislature on a Bill providing that every bottle of patent medicine sold in the State should bear a label stating the contents of the bottle.
When the Trade Marks Bill was before the Senate, I endeavoured to secure the insertion of a provision requiring that all these nostrums should be properly labelled, but some one said that it would ruin the medicine business, and that it was an interference with the liberty of the subject. If the formulae of these cure-alls - these cures for every disease, from mumps to consumption - were made known, instead of paying 5s. a bottle for, them, people would find that they could make them for 5d. a bottle, and perhaps they would also find that it would be better for their health if they never used them at all. The writer of the article referred to continues -
Some twenty speakers engaged in it, and more was told concerning patent medicines that afternoon than often comes to light in a single day. But the speakers searched in vain in next day’s newspapers for their speeches; the legislative reporters failed to find their work in print.
This has some local application.
– Surely not?
– I am referring now only to the advertising of patent medicines. There is a certain patent medicine called “Peruna.” Honorable senators will have noticed in various newspapers published throughout the Commonwealth that it is very extensively advertised, in quarterpage and half-page advertisements. It ishighly recommended by an ex-senator of the United States of America, and it appeals, to everybody with any kind of complaint. Thev will sell you a bottle for 5s., and if” that does not cure you, they advise you to> buy six bottles for 25s., and you will beall right. This Peruna contains as much alcohol as does whisky, brandy, or rum. It contains from 40 to 50 per cent, of alcohol, as has been proved by analysismade by the Customs Department here.
– The proprietors were fined in Brisbane.
– I was going to deal with that. It is a remarkable thing that, although a certain firm was fined in Brisbane for selling this “ disguised booze,” only one newspaper in Australia published the detailsof the case. That is not my statement, but a statement appearing in the Journal of Pharmacy, and this is attributed to the fact that the newspapers throughout Australia received large sums of money for advertisements of this patent medicine.
– We shall see whether they will publish what the honorable senator is saying to-day.
– I do not care whether they do or not. I have the greatest respect Tor and confidence in the men who do the work of journalism in the Commonwealth, but I am aware that there are literary surgeons in the editorial sanctums who use the knife freely. I worked as a compositor for many years, and if there was one thing more than another that hurried on my desire for democracy and fair play, it was my knowledge of the unfairness of the proprietors of newspapers that howled for democracy and fair play but did not practise what they preached. The article to which I have been referring says with respect to Peruna: -
Any one wishing to make Peruna for home consumption may do so by mixing half-a-pint of cologne spirits, ninety proof, with a pint and a half of water, adding thereto a little cubebs for flavour, and a little burnt sugar for colour. It will cost in small quantities perhaps 3½d. or 4d. a quart. Manufactured in bulk its cost, including bottle and wrapper, is about 4½d. . . . “A compound of seven drugs with cologne spirits “ is the authenticated formulae of Peruna, but the total of the seven drugs is less than one-half of one per cent, of the product, and cologne spirits is the commercial term for alcohol. What makes it a curse to the community is the fact that the minimum dose first ceases to satisfy, then the moderate dose, and finally the maximum dose; and the unsuspecting patron who began it as a medicine goes on to use it as a beverage, and finally to be enslaved by it as a habit. The American Government forbids the sale of this “ medicine “ to Indians, because, says the Treasury department, “ it leads to intoxication.” A druggist in a southern “nolicence “ town remarks upon the large sale of Peruna there.
I have seen persons thoroughly intoxicated from taking Peruna. The common remark in this place when a drunken party is particularly obstreperous is that he is on a “ Peruna drunk.” It is a notorious fact that a great many do use Peruna to get the alcoholic effects, and they do get it good and strong.
That should be interesting to prohibitionists.
– It might have been useful in the canteen debate.
– I thought I would keep it for the Anti-Trust Bill. I had it up my sleeve.
– The sales of Peruna will go up after this.
– Yes. I am going to tell honorable senators how thev go for it in Maine, which is a prohibition State. There are evidently a lot of “ dead marines” to be found there. The article continues -
So well recognised is this use of the nostrum that a number of the southern newspapers advertise a cure for the Peruna habit.
So that the effects of this panacea for every malady under the sun. and every evil to which flesh is heir, have afterwards to be cured by another cure-all.
It may be asked, why should any one who wants to get drunk drink a patent medicine - . or, as the picturesque American writer puts it, “ disguised booze “ instead of, say, whisky ? One reason is that in many places the “ medicine “ can be obtained and the liquor cannot. For instance, prohibitionists at home will have to confess with regret that some al least of the credit which has been awarded to Maine as a prohibition State must be withdrawn when the significance of the big business which this State does in patent medicines is realized.
I shall not quote a special case which is given, but it was that of a clergyman who was very seriously ill. He called in a physician who, after examining him, said, “ You are suffering from alcohol poisoning.” He said, “Nonsense; I have never taken liquor in my life.” The physician said, “ You have been poisoned bv drinking alcohol. What patent medicine do vou take”? The reply was, “I take Peruna,” and the physician said, “ You have got the Peruna habit vervbad. Give it up’ or you will only go from bad toworse.”
– - What has the Peruna business to do with the Bill?
– I am referring to some of the operations of the patent medicine trust of the United States who are introducing this nostrum to Australia to the serious injury of the health of the people. It is recommended as a cure-all for ‘adults, and also strongly recommended as a cure-all for infantile complaints. An infant is supposed to take a spoonful of Peruna before each meal, and if that is continued for a week or two there will probably be very little of the infant left. I know that there is extreme anxiety that the debate should close, and I desire to say in conclusion that this measure has been enthusiastically approved by a number of Government supporters, whilst it has been severely condemned by other honorable senators. Speaking personally, it is not a Bill over which I can enthuse. T will admit that it has been framed bv a skilful mind. Perhaps it is the very embodiment of the wisdom of the wise, but I cannot bring myself’ to believe that it will realize the expectations formed of it by the framers. I _am satisfied that no system other than ‘that of collectivism will be a cure-all for trusts. The anti-socialistic - individualistic - capitalistic system has had a long and varied trial. It is going to decay. I hope the time will soon arrive when there will be substituted for it some more scientific system. Like Senator Pearce, I am extremely desirous- to hasten that -time, but I am prepared to give this Bill a trial, and if it realizes the anticipations of its framers, no one will be more surprised than those who think with me ii» regard to the present system of society.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Largie) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 12.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060817_senate_2_33/>.