2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
-I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, without notice, if he is yet in a position to reply to the question which I asked last week relative to the Wages of the men on the Pocahontas, andwhich he then said had been referred to the AttorneyGeneral, but would at a later date be answered.
– I have not yet received a reply to the question.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the Government have yet received from New Zealand any further communication about the provisional agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and that Colony in regard to their Tariffs.
– I believe that we have received a communication, but I do not know its contents. I shall make inquiry and give the information.-
– Will the honorable senator do so later on in the day ?
– I am quite willing to lay the communication upon the table if it is asked for.
Postponement of Business
– Under standing order 93, sir, I desire to ask Senator Neild a question. ‘
– It must relate to some business of which he has charge.
– It does. In view of the congested state of the notice-paper, what course does Senator Neild propose to take in regard to the Order of the Day standing in his name and relating to the site for the Federal Capital ?
– I have already intimated to Senator Playford, the leader of the Senate, that, as evidence of. my sincerity to see public ‘business transacted, I was prepared to agree to a postponement of the business standing in my name. In pursuance of that promise, I wish to inform Senator Millen that at the proper time I shall ask the Senate to agree to its postponement.
Motion (by Senator Col. Neild) put -
That the consideration of Older of the Day No. 1, private business, be postponed until this day week.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Keating) agreed to-
That the’ message be printed and taken into consideration at a later hour of the day.
Message reported from the House of Representatives stating that it had agreed to the amendments madeby the Senate in the Bill.
Conduct of Business.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
– I had perhaps better move -
That the message be printed and taken into consideration at a later hour of theday.
– This is a new Bill.
– Then I will move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– May I ask, sir, if this is a new Bill ?
– It is a new Bill, but it is very confusing that we should have so many Bills with the same title or of the same description. This is the fourth or fifth, I think.
– Cannot you, sir, tell us what the Bill is?
– No. I have not seen it, and I know nothing more than that it is called an Excise Bill.
– We are entitled to know whether the Bill is one which we can amend. If it is not, it can be debated at this stage.
– I propose to debate the motion, in order to determine the character of the Bill. If I proceed to discuss it upon the motion for the first reading, it will become necessary for Ministers to disclose its contents.
– From a casual look at the Bill, I should think that it is one that we cannot amend.It is a Bill to amend the Excise Tariff, 1905. It consists only of two clauses, onecontainingthe short title, and the other providing for certain amendments of Excise duties.
– I wish to direct attention to the unsatisfactory way in which this Bill has been placed before the House. If measures introduced here bear titles which in no sense conveyany information as to their purpose, it is incumbent on Ministers to inform us as to their contents. As a matter of fact, the Minister indicated that he did not know whether this was a new Bill, or one that had previously been before us, and I think that it is only due to honorable senators that they should be informed as to the nature of any measure to which they are being asked to assent.
– Before the secondreading stage is reached honorable senators will have an opportunity to see the Bill.
– That may be an excellent argument in favour of abolishing the present method of taking a Bill through successive stages, but so long as our Standing Orders remain as at present, we must see that the privileges of honorable senators are not disregarded. I am speaking in the interests of the good conduct of business. I am sorry to say that the Minister treats these matters cavalierly. The title of the Bill conveys nothing, and the Minister cannot tell us whether the measure is one which we can discuss at the firstreading stage. I admit that the motion for the first reading of a Bill is, as a rule, assented to without question ; but there might be circumstances in connexion with this, or any other measure of a similar character, which might render it desirable for us to arrest itsprogress in the earlier stages. Unless we have some idea of what we are doing, the Senate will entirely lose its character as an intelligent deliberative assembly, and become a mere machine. We are not being treated properly, and we are not treating ourselves properly. After all, the Senate will attain such a height as it chooses, or fall to such a depth as it permits itself to descend to. We cannot escape our share of the responsibilityby saying that Ministers are failing in their duty.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Senate can fall much further than it has already done?
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in reflecting on the Senate.
– If anything I have said has reflected on the Senate, I withdraw it.
– I am the culprit to whom the remarks of the President were addressed.
– I know that. But I wish it to be understood that when I referred to the fall of the Senate I merely meant that, under the Constitution, the Senate was assigned a certain place in the parliamentary machine, and that if it allowed itself to slip from that position it would exercise a lower measure of power than it ought to possess. It is becoming increasingly apparent to me, and I say it with regret, that it is regarded as a mere matter of form to introduce measures into the Senate. I express the earnest hope that this is the last Bill to the first reading of which we shall be asked to assent without being informed as to its character. I trust that Ministers will pay a little more attention to their duty to the Senate and to the rights of honorable senators to know what they are being asked to assent to. It is utterly Impossible to know whether we should say “ aye “ or “ no “ to the motion for the first reading of this measure, and apparently the Minister wishes us to record our votes like so .many automata. I have made these remarks by way of protest against the procedure adopted,, and not with, any wish to delay the business.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11.22]. - I am anxious to assist the Government in transacting the public business as speedily as possible, but I feel bound to enter my protest against the way in which the Senate is being treated. Yesterday I had occasion to express my very strong disapprobation of the way in which important measures were being thrust upon us in the latest hours of the session. This present method of procedure would, if persisted in, deprive the Senate of one of its most valued privileges. After a great struggle we established our position in regard to Money Bills, and strengthened it by adopting standing order 182, which was framed deliberately with a view to place the Senate in the same position with regard to the redress of grievances as that occupied by the House of Representatives. It was felt that the Senate was at a disadvantage, and that it was very difficult to formulate a method by which honorable senators might bring forward grievances and debate questions of great public interest or emergency at a stage similar to that of tha motion for going into Committee of Supply in the House of Representatives. We had no such thing as a Committee of Supply, and, therefore, the solution of the difficulty was arrived at. after much deliberation and careful regard for the interests of the Senate, by the for mulation of the standing order referred to. If the Minister, with a word or nod, moves the first reading of a Money Bill, not one of us can know anything as to the character of the measure, and we may be absolutely deprived of the opportunity which would otherwise be afforded for bringing forward grievances relating to matters of high public importance. - If the method the Minister has adopted - I am sure unintentionally - were to prevail, the privilege which was intended to be secured to us by the standing order referred to would be taken away from us. None of us would know whether the Bill was one which could be discussed upon the first reading.
– But surely every honorable sen.ator knows that an Excise Bill must necessarily be a Money Bill, and one that could be discussed on the first reading.
– But my honorable friend indicated that he did not himself know what this Bill was. He was under the impression that it was not a new Bill, but one which had previously been before us and had been returned by the House of Representatives. I am not blaming the Minister for his lack of knowledge, because I recognise that he, like the rest of us, is placed at a disadvantage owing to the congestion of the public business. At the same time, we look to him, as the leader of the Senate, to protect our privileges, and to keep us fully informed as to the opportunities which are presented for the ventilation of grievances. I hope that nothing of the kind will occur again.
– I do not wish to add anything to what has been said as to our rights under the standing order 182 to enter upon a general debate on the motion for the first reading of a Money Bill. I merely wish” to emphasize the fact that even the Minister himself does not know how much business we are to be asked to transact this session. He could not say whether this was a new Bill, or one that had previously been dealt with by us. The fact is, that it is an entirely new .Bill which has been added to the very long list before us. It is a new measure of which none of us had the slightest idea. I begin to wonder whether it is not the duty of* honorable senators who know nothing about the measure to oppose the motion for the first reading. It may be that in this short and sharp way we can do something to clear the business-paper. In view of the way in which the measure has been brought before us, and the number of important Bills that we are being asked to discuss, it might be desirable to at once throw out this measure.
– I wish to enter my protest against the methods of conducting business adopted by the Government. Under the circumstances, I think it is absolutely necessary that every member of the Senate should say what he thinks about those methods. I am supporting the Government - or am supposed to be supporting it - but it appears to me that the Government is so weak-kneed that it is staggering all over the place, and needs a great deal more support than any reasonable individual would be inclined to give to it. If I were a member of the Opposition, I would exhaust the resources of the Standing Orders to prevent the Government from passing a single measure at this period of the session.
– The honorable senator has been doing that pretty well.
– I have not been doing anything of the kind. I have only shown a. sample of the goods that are in stock, if it were necessary to bring them out. The Government has either been guilty of the grossest negligence with regard to the business of the country, or it has deliberately, and of set purpose, flouted the Senate. ‘ It can choose which horn of the dilemma it pleases. If the Government has been guilty of deliberately flouting the Senate, it is the duty of every senator to resent such conduct. If it has been grossly negligent of the country’s business, it ought not to remain in power. When one carries his memory back three months, and recollects the dawdling, easy-going fashion in which the business of the Senate was conducted then, one really wonders whether the Government is worthy of support
– One wonders more when one looks at the daily press, and sees the number of Bills we are expected to pass.
-The number of Bills is perfectly scandalous ! We know that a general election must take place this year, and that honorable senators are naturally anxious to go to their constituents.
– Let us postpone the election until next year.
– Possibly, if things go on as they are, it will have to be postponed. The most important Bills come up to us, and we are invited to pass them with the very shortest time for consideration. I object to that sort of thing. I look upon legislation as a serious and important matter. I do not think it is sufficient that a Government should hatch its measures in Cabinet, instruct its draftsman to draw Bills, and afterwards send them to the Senate, expecting them to be passed without comment or- scrutiny. Each member of the Senate has just as much responsibility for legislation as the Government has. For that reason, I insist on the Senate having the fullest and freest opportunity to discuss every measure that comes before us. We have the Appropriation Bill to consider. What time is left for discussing it?
– There is plenty of time before Christmas !
– There is not a member of the Senate who is in a greater hurry to get away than Senator McGregor. We shall be expected to pass the Appropriation Bill without any scrutiny.
– Let us get on with it.
– If my honorable friend were doing his duty to his constituents, he would resent, as forcibly as I am doing, the methods by which the Government carries on the business of the country. I think we ought to teach it a lesson.
– The honorable senator means that we ought to stone-wall .protectionist measures.
– I am not stonewalling any protectionist measures, and, if I were, my honorable friend ought to be the last to complain.
– He is voting for them.
– At any rate, my honorable friend, whether voting- for protectionist measures or not, professes not to believe in a protectionist policy. Therefore, he ought not to complain. But I am talking about something very much more serious than either protection or free-trade. I am talking about the method by which the Government seeks to conduct its business. Surely the proceedings of this Senate are of as great importance as the proceedings of any Court of Justice. If a public prosecutor, or a Judge, tried to rush cases through, without the defendant being given a fair opportunity to state his case, would not a public scandal be created ?
– Oh, let us get on with business !
– I want the Government to get on.
– Let me say a word or two.
– I assure the Minister of Defence that it is exceedingly painful for me to get up and kick my own joss; that, unfortunately, is exactly what I am doing. But, if the joss deserves to be kicked, it ought to be kicked. I must protest againstthe ineffectiveness of the methods of the Government. Either it does not know its own policy, or it has brought out its policy at the last moment, and expects us to swallow it without lookingat it.
– The honorable senator will vote for this Bill right enough.
– I do not know what it is.
– It concerns Queensland.
– Unless I am told what it is, I shall vote against the first reading, because I consider that it is of the greatest importance that, not only should we have an ample opportunity to discuss every measure that comes before us, but that we should be told what the measures are when they are introduced. It is not a pleasant thing for me to criticise the Government in this fashion. I can assure the Senate that I do so with the very greatest reluctance. But I feel compelled to speak as I doby the absolute lack of capacity which the Government has shown in carrying on the business of the country.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [11.40]. - I am not in the position of the last speaker, in being in a difficulty about kicking my joss. I have no joss to kick. But I quite concur with what he has said as to the desirableness of teaching the Government a lesson with regard to the way in which it is treating the Senate. I am prepared to accept his suggestion, and to vote against the first reading of any Bill which the Government may see fit to bring before us at this late period. The Government hassimply dilly-dallied with business throughout the session. It has not submitted measures to us in such a way that we could discuss them properly, but has brought forward important proposals in a lump at the very last moment. The Senate cannot be blamed for refusing to abrogate its functions, so far as debate is concerned. I can think of no parallel to the treatment which the Senate has received from Ministers. The idea in their minds appears to be that the position of the Senate in relation to the other House is that of a Legislative Council in relation to a Legislative Assembly. We know that the idea of a Legislative Assembly, under the old Stateplan, is to keep business in its own hands as long as possible, and to look upon the Legislative Council as merely a body that will make a few amendments in the grammatical construction of Bills, or a few alterations in detail, and then pass them. But it has been pointed out over and. over again that the Senate is in anentirely different position. It is elected on the same franchise as the other House, and is, in fact, more capable of representing public opinion in, the States.
– Much more.
– No; in the Senate six men represent as many people as are represented by over twenty in the other House.
.- In the Senate six men represent a State, and if that State, as a whole, entertains a certain opinion with regard to a certain policy, that opinion is better represented in the Senate than elsewhere.
– Not in proportion to numbers.
.- We represent the people because we are elected by the people, and I hold that the senators sent to this Chamber by the States represent each individual State more perfectly than does an aggregate of members who represent portions of a State. But how have we been treated in regard to public business? When a Bill is sent up from another place we are not even told whether it is a new measure or whether it is a Bill that has been returned with amendments. Of course, I accept the explanation that the Minister has made. I should be very sorry to doubt the Minister’s word on this or any other subject. But I am forced to the conclusion that he is not made acquainted by his colleagues with the measures which come up for consideration, from time to time. Senators have a right to expect that, in moving the first reading of a Bill, the Minister should tell them whether we can or cannot amend it—
– No Minister has vet done that in introducing an Excise Bill to the notice of this Chamber.
-Col. GOULD. - The Minister ought to have informed us in this instance. He must recollect that honorable senators do not see the Bills till they have been laid upon the table. He himself does, and therefore he should afford us an opportunity to take advantage of the privileges which are conferred upon us under our Standing Orders. The President would give us the necessary notification df he were acquainted with the nature of the measures which come up from the other House from time to time.
– The very title of the Bill is sufficient to indicate its character.
– Then why did not the Minister tell us that it could be debated upon the motion for its first reading? There is no denying the fact that, but for the quickness of an honorable senator upon this side of the Chamber, we should have been tricked, or jockeyed, into agreeing to drs first reading as a formal matter. I claim that the Senate has been placed in a very unfair position during the past few weeks. Bills of vital importance have been pouring in upon us - measures dealing with the granting of bounties, and Bills extending an increased measure of protection to certain industries. Are not such measures of paramount importance, from a protectionist or free-trade standpoint? Certainly they should not be rushed through the Senate at the last moment of the session.
– They are not being rushed through.
.- They are. The Minister knew of one Bill, which would be fought most strenuously, and yet he permitted a month, to elapse between its submission to this Chamber and the resumption of the debate upon dts second reading. He was perfectly aware that its consideration would occupy a great deal of time - which it did. to the detriment of more important business. Whatever honorable senators may think of the proposal to construct a line of railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, thev certainly cannot regard it as of equal importance with Bills imposing Duties of Customs and Excise, and measures providing for the payment of bounties. This is not the only new Bill with which we shall be asked to deal. I find that, in the House of Representatives, the Orders of the Day include the following measures: - Post and Telegraph Bill, Patents Bill, Public Service (Telegraph Messengers’) Bill, Electoral (Advertisement) Bill, Copyright Bill, Life Assurance (Foreign Companies) Bill, Postal Rates Bill, and Preferential Ballot Bill, not one of which has yet seen the light of this Chamber. In addition, there are private measures awaiting consideration. Do the Government intend to pass all these measures ?
– Downright nonsense..
.- I accept the interjection of the honorable senator as being applicable to the action of the Government in respect of these Bills, r ask honorable senators whether they understand the way in which business is conducted in the other branch of the Legislature? The process very much resembles that of putting meat into a machine and turning out sausages.
– The honorable and learned senator ought not to reflect upon the other branch of the Legislature. There is a special standing order to that effect.
.- I regret that I have transgressed. I recognise that it is desirable that the members of both Houses should speak of one another with bated breath, or even with an assumption of admiration. I cannot look with pride upon the manner in which business is conducted in this Chamber, or upon the way in which votes are recorded. I believe that the legislation of the past six years has done more than has anything else to decrease the public esteem in which Federal politicians are held. We were assured prior to the consummation of the union that in the Commonwealth Parliament we should live in a rarer atmosphere. That hope has been woefully disappointed. I protest most earnestly against the way in which business is being piled upon us. Of course, we may be told that the present Government are not the first that have been guilty of such conduct. But I venture to say that they have improved upon their predecessors by simply overwhelming us with business during the closing days of the session. A few days ago we were informed that the session would close last week, and that honorable senators were to be afforded -the inordinate time of three days in which to discuss the
Appropriation Bill. Since then we have been assured that the session would close this week. What prospect is there of that prediction being fulfilled if the Government are determined to proceed with the business which is before this Chamber, to say nothing of that which is at present claiming the attention of the House of Representatives ?
An Honorable Senator. - There is plenty of time between now and Christmas.
.- Do the Government expect that they will be able to keep a House till Christmas? Already they experience the greatest difficulty in keeping a quorum, and next week that difficulty will be accentuated.
– The honorable and learned senator seems to be determined that the session shall not close this week.
.- We are determined that the Government shall know the opinion of honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber regarding the way in which they conduct the business of the country, lt is only a stern sense of duty which compels many honorable senators to 1 remain in this Parliament. They are here to safeguard the best interests of the Commonwealth. Only a few days ago the Prime Minister delivered a long speech in the House of Representatives, in the course of which he outlined the defence policy of the Government. I presume that when the Estimates are under consideration, the Minister of Defence will tell us what he proposes to do in regard to the deplorable condition of our defences.
– Deplorable ?
.- The defences of the Commonwealth are in a far worse condition’ now than they were prior to Federation. The entire force is simply honeycombed with discontent. A few years ago we had more than 30,000 men in our defence force, but to-day we have only about 21,000. In his speech the other day, the Prime Minister outlined probably the most important policy in relation to defence matters that has ever been put before the country. But that policy will cost the country double what we are paying at present for our defence, and even then we snail have to starve our land forces. The defence policv of the country is one of the most important matters that can claim our attention, and, therefore, it should receive the fullest consideration - not at the hands of a few members who choose to remain in Melbourne till the close of the session - but by a ma- jority of the Parliament. Yet the discussion of that question is to be deferred till the las’t moment. When it is entered upon, we shall be under considerable disadvantages, owing to the suppression of reports relating to the administration of our Defence Department. The last report submitted to the Minister bv a conference of officers from the various States contained references to other reports which we have never seen, and which will probably never be placed before us. I hope that in the interval between now and the date when the Defence Estimates come up for consideration the Minister will get those reports printed, in order that we may see the nature of the criticism which has been passed upon the defences of the Commonwealth general I v.
– ‘Some of the reports are absolutely secret. We have documents in connexion with the Imperial Council of Defence which are marked “Secret.”
– Will the Minister promise to table every report that is not marked “ Secret “ ?
– I think I have given every such report.
.- Will the Minister give us all the reports which came from the late Inspector-General?
– Yes, every one.
– They all have been made public, I think.
.- Not all.
– A great number of them have.
– All the reports are here, but it would be throwing away money to lay them on the table and have them printed.
.- The Minister could do as he has done in other cases, namely, lav the reports on the table of the Senate, or the Library table, with ari intimation that thev will not be printed unless by the special desire of the Senate.
– So I would, if anyhonorable senators wished to see the reports ; but I do not think there is much importance attached to reports which simply say that an officer went, ‘ for instance, to Armidale, saw five men, and inspected their boots, and so forth.
– The reports deal with very different matters.
– I have produced all the important reports,
.- The Minister, in laying the reports on the table of the
House, or of the Library, might intimate that some are of little or no importance, but that his desire is to hold none of them back.
– I have no desire to withhold any.
-Col. GOULD.- The Minister may, of course, have his own views on the question of defence, but he ought to show a willingness to accept the assistance of honorable senators in evolving a system which will commend itself to Parliament, and, therefore, to the public generally, as one which has been fully and fairly considered. We have before us legislative work sufficient to occupy a month or six weeks, but the fact is that the Senate is belittled by the Government, and expected to pass all these measures at once, simply because there is a desire to prorogue. If that is the way the business is to be conducted, God help thecountry and Parliament ! Senator Trenwith, I know, is an ardent and faithful supporter of the Government, but I dare say that, as soon as Mr. Watson’s manifesto is issued, the honorable senator will be prepared to politically cut the throats of every member of the Government, just as he would politically cut the throats of any other persons opposed to the policy which he upholds.
– That is no reason why we should not legislate now.
.- The honorable senator isalways “barracking” for the Government, but immediately the Government has served the turn of those with whom he is associated it may go to - where it pleases-
-I think I ought to call attention to the fact that Senator McGregor’s behaviour is not respectful to the Senate. No honorable senator ought to behave in a manner insulting to the Senate.
– I could not help it.
– I ask that Senator McGregor be requested to apologize to the Senate.
– Apologize for a yawn !
-I did ask Senator McGregor to apologize, but he said that he could not help yawning, and, therefore, I am obliged to take his, word.
– That is the unfortunate position you are in, Mr. President.
– I do not think it would be wise to vote against the first reading of this Bill. Honorable senators generally have not yet had an opportunity to ascertain what is contained in the measure, and to refuse to read it a first time would be a very heroic remedy for the distresses under which we are now labouring. A copy of the Bill came into my possession a few days ago, and, in my opinion, it is one that will require an explanation from the Minister. Whatever may be the subject-matter, the Bill, on the face of it, does not bear an intelligible meaning. Personally, I have some idea of what is meant ; but the Senate generally will be very much in the dark until we hear, whatI hope will be, a full explanation from the representatives of the Government. The time has come when the Government should give us a plain statement as to the relative importance,they attach to the Bills, which constitute the mass of legislation now blocking the business of the Senate. There may be different ideas in regard to those Bills. Some honorable senators may look with more or less favour on a Bill, according to the State he represents, or his own idiosyncrasies. As to the relative importance which the Government attach to the measures, we can only judgeby the actions of Ministers; and I should say that’ their ideas do not accord with mine. I regard the Bounties Bill as of the greatest importance, and, either by speaking or remaining silent, I should be prepared to help the Government to pass it into law.
– Of course, that Bill isvery important to the honorable senator’s own State.
– The honorable senator will remember that there was a tie; and if I worried about the measure I should be accused of wasting time.
– The Bounties Bill was introduced carelessly, and it was only when in Committee that the Government discovered that their supporters were not present. Compare the treatment of the Bounties Bill with the treatment accorded to the Bills dealing with the distilling and harvester industries of Victoria, or with the treatment given to the Railway Survey Bill, of which I was a supporter. In the case of none of these latter measures did the Government go to a division without a careful “ whip.”
– The Government had a majority of two, as I ascertained after I myself made a “ whip “ ; but those two honorable senators voted contrary to what they told me.
– Was such a mistake made in regard to any of the other Bills I have mentioned?
– The honorable senator cannot blame me. I went round the House myself ; and then Senator Neild declared that it was derogatory for the representative of the Government to make a “ whip.”
– I do not attach any blame whatever to either of the Ministers in the Senate. I know perfectly well, however, that during the forthcoming elections the position in regard to these measures will be misrepresented. It will be said that the Bounties Bill failed to pass because honorable senators discussed other measures at too great a length. But any student of Hansard may see that the Bounties Bill never received that attention and care which the Government bestowed on the measures dealing with the distilling and harvester industries.
– The Bill passed another place, and I did the best I could with it here.
– The Anti-Trust Bill, and the other Bills I have mentioned were carefully nursed by the Government, and it is evident to any one who can read between the lines that these are the particular Bills to which, for some reason or other, the Government attach first importance.
– We had majorities in regard to those other Bills.
– The Bounties Bill, which may be used for electioneering purposes, is quietly allowed to be swamped by other legislation.
– Is this not one of the Bills which the honorable senator regards as of such importance that it should not be rushed through at the end of the session?
– The Bounties Bill ought to be passed if it is a good Bill.
– Would it not take as much time to properly consider the Bounties Bill as to properly consider any of the other Bills?
– I very much doubt it. Up to the present the Bounties Bill has not taken up a tithe of the time that has been occupied by the other Bills I have mentioned.
– Tt would have taken as much time, if it had been gone on with.
– How can the honorable senator say that? The honorable senator, as in the case of the other Bills, could have ascertained what support he had.
– I had not a majority. ‘
– Honorable senators were not pressed in regard to this Bill, as they were in regard to the other Bills. The numbers on the division were ten to ten, so that there was really a thin House. The measures relating to preferential trade arrangements are also of first-class importance.
– Those measures will be brought on in due course; but if the honorable senator keeps on talking as he is doing now, they cannot be brought on.
– A month might be profitably spent in discussing those measures. Let me direct the attention of honorable senators to the position of the Bounties Bill on the notice-paper - below the Appropriation Bill.
– Hear, hear.
– What does that mean? It looks very much as though the Bill had been abandoned already. Are the Government going to abandon certain Bills in order to pass other legislation? Preferential trade is distinctly a part of the policy of the Government.
– Hear, hear.
– At the last general election it was part of the policy of the Government; and they are more particularly identified with it than with any other question. At the present time we do not know when the session will end; and yet no attempt is made to have the preferential trade proposals discussed. Every day Bills are being steadily introduced in another place. Surely preferential trade within the Empire is of more importance than additional protection ito Melbourne distillers or Victorian manufacturers of harvesters? Yet. for some reason or other, which, perhaps, the Ministers or their supporters can explain, everything this session has been subordinated to the interests of those distillers and manufacturers.
– And the people may well ask why
– It is an open secret that the Government are to lose the support of their Labour allies. What position will they occupy when they go to the country ? To what extent will they be able to point to the work of the session as proving a desire on their part to carry out the policy to which they were pledged. They will have to admit that they smothered preferential trade and other important measures in order to pass a couple of Bills relating to two industries, and practically to only two Firms. They have devoted weeks to an effort to secure increased protection for two industries that are least deserving of -it. We are now in the last days of the session, and T appeal to the Minister to tell us with what measures the Government propose to deal. If thev place the Bounties Bill and the preferential trade proposals at the head of their programme, I shall certainly help them all I can. I, and those who think with me, are not being fairly treated by the Government. We desire to help them to deal with preferential trade and the Bounties Bill, but we find them day after day leaving these matters in the background and introducing new Bills. ‘
– The incident under discussion may lead to a definite rule being laid down with regard to our procedure in these matters. It is the duty of the Government, when introducing a Bill, to outline its provisions and to announce whether it is one that is open to debate on the motion for the first reading. There are so many Customs and Excise Bills awaiting consideration that we almost allowed this Bill to slip through. In one sense, the Minister of Defence is to blame for what has happened, but in another he is not. There is so much business to be done, and so little time to deal with it, that the Minister may be forgiven for failing to be familiar with the contents of every measure that is brought forward. I enter my emphatic protest against Monday sittings. When we have morning sittings, and meet every day in the week, it is impossible to prepare ourselves to deal with the business submitted to the Senate. The admission made by the Minister shows that he has not time under present conditions to grasp the details of the work before him. We certainly ought to have from- him a- statement as to when the session will close.
– How can I tell when it will close?
– The Minister’s interjection only serves to emphasize my contention that our business is in a chaotic condition. The greater part of the last few weeks has been devoted to the discussion of measures affecting only one or two individuals. The policy of protection is being run mad, and we find that we have no time to deal with measures of far greater importance. The Government anticipated that the session would close last Friday. I certainly thought that it would close to-morrow, but I see no chance of its doing so. Honorable senators who do not reside in Melbourne are anxious to know when the prorogation will take place in order that they make arrangements for their departure. The Minister ought certainly to tell us what business he proposes to ask us to deal with. Many of the Bills introduced recently are mere electioneering placards. The Government evidently wish the Parliament to continue sitting as long as thev can keep a bare quorum, and to “ bullock “ through measures which thev think will help them at the elections. Is it reasonable to assume that we can do justice to the many measures remaining on the business-paper ? The whole conduct of business in this House is disgraceful. I have never seen anything like it before, and do not suppose we ever shall see anything like it again. The British preferential trade proposals, and the reciprocity agreements with New Zealand and South Africa, overshadow in importance every other Government proposal. But these are being held back, while the Government are displaying electioneering placards and raising party cries for the next campaign. They are making use of the Senate to secure increased popularity.
– If they are popular in the country, then they must be’ doing the right thing.
– I take a very’ deep interest in the question of preferential trade, and say, without hesitation, that, in this regard, I am a follower of Mr. Chamberlain. I am willing to support any preferential scheme which is worthy of the name; but whilst I arn anxious to see a beginning made, I cannot vote for tha abortion submitted to us.
– The honorable and learned senator must not. on this motion, discuss the question of British preferential trade, as the consideration of the Bill relating to it is an Order of the Day for today.
– The Minister should inform us when he proposes to deal with the preferential trade proposals, and what measures on the business-paper are to be sacrificed. I desire now to refer briefly to the question of defence. Important reports have been furnished by the Imperial Council of Defence, the Naval Committee, and the Military Officers Committee. Those reports are before us, but we have not had time to thoroughly examine them. I wish to know whether the reports are going to be considered by the Cabinet during the recess?
– The honorable and learned senator is “ stone- wal ling.”
– I am not. Is not the .Minister interested in the remodelling of our Defence- system ? Are the Government ‘going to deal with the reports during the recess?
– The honorable and learned senator 1V111 be told in due course.
– Shall we have an opportunity to discuss this very important question on the Appropriation Bill? The Minister will launch his scheme, and give us no opportunity to discuss it?
– The honorable and learned senator will have an opportunity to discuss all these matters..
– The expenditure which these schemes involve is so great that honorable senators must be keenly interested in them. There can be no starting of an Australian Navy without consultation with Parliament, and I wish to know whether the Government propose to alter the fundamental plans of our defence system without giving honorable senators an opportunity to discuss the whole question.
– Honorable senators will have the Appropriation Bill tomorrow.
– But is the Minister of Defence going to give us time to discuss it? I notice that he has not cut out all private .members’ business, and I should be very glad to be given an opportunity, after a speech of not more than about ten minutes, to take a division on my motion with respect to cadets. I should like now to be given a definite answer to the question whether positions as cadet officers are to be confined to school teachers. The Minister has already informed me that they are not, but I learn that some regulations have been framed bv the Department, and an advertisement has appeared calling upon head-teachers to submit themselves for examination as staff and commissioned officers of the cadet force. I had a conversation with a young man in Hobart recently, in which he expressed bitter disappointment at the regulations issued. He stated that he had been studying hard for two or three weeks, and when, at the time appointed, he presented himself for examination for a position as a cadet officer, he was told that those positions were to be limited to teachers. In. the circumstances, 1 ask the Minister to say whether the answer he previously gave to my question is correct?
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [12.33]. - I do not know that I should have risen to speak were it not that an interjection I made has been to some extent misrepresented. When I asked whether it was possible for’ the Senate “ to fall any lower,” what I intended was an inquiry as to whether it is possible for the Senate to more completely abrogate its functions as a deliberative assembly and as a co-ordinate branch of the Commonwealth Legislature. I ask now whether it is possible for the Senate to more completely consent to be made the tool and plaything of persons in another place ? I sympathize with my honorable friend, Senator Playford, in this matter. He is placed in. the very unfortunate position of being compelled bv the pressure of persons who do not sit in this Chamber to ask the Senate practically to degrade itself, whilst we know that the records disclose the fact that there has been no more consistent and persistent defender of the position of the Senate under the Constitution than the present Minister of Defence. It has been justly urged that the Prime Minister has in another place announced the defence policy of the Government to persons other than the members of the Chamber in which the Minister of Defence has a seat. The Minister at tlie-head of the Department has been unable to attend to the business owing to the pressure of measures which have been thrust forward in the interests of a Minister who spends all his time in going about to cow shows in the Riverina, and in the interests of the re-election of the Treasurer. We do not know whether the Bill which we are being asked to read a first time has any reference to the interesting agricultural institutions to which the Minister of Trade and Customs devotes so much time - far more than he does to the duties of the office hs is supposed to fill. The Minister of Defence is unable to tell us anything about defence, and we are treated with leSs than -*cant courtesy ‘when we are asked during the closing hours of a dying
Parliament to deal with these important questions. I am not prepared to say that defence matters are in the position of chaos which is alleged, but I do saythat there are matters connected with the administration of the Defence Department which are of very much more importance than is the reading a first time of this Bill, about which we know nothing. Honorable senators will find that’ in an official document which is before the Chamber, it is stated that we have a fully paid permanent staff of five persons to manage four persons in rifle clubs. These are matters of greater importance than is a measure to regulate cow shows and pig pens. The Minister of Defence does not know what the Bill is for, and certain official persons elsewhere do not care twopence for these measures so long as they can be put forward as electioneering placards, or may be used to form the subject of selfcongratulatory post-prandial oratory by the cowshow Minister.
– Are cows the only animals exhibited at these shows?
– No, the Minister himself is the most interesting exhibit ; only he is so damnably loquacious that, at the cow-show dinners, they pass resolutions prohibiting the toast of the Federal Parliament, because they are afraid he will make a speech.
– The honorable senator is making a fine exhibition of himself. He is like an over-grown boy.
– Senator Findley might be a little more modest in his extravagant interjections on behalf of Ministers whose political throats he is ready to cut outside.
– “Damnably loquacious.” That is nice language for a senator.
– If. the honorable gentleman added a little wattle bark to his political ‘ equipment, the leather-making process would be complete. Why are we not dealing with the preferential trade proposals of the Government instead of with this Bill? I do not say that it is the result of those proposals, but it is a coincidence that Germany is at the present time adding to her artillery in an unprecedented manner, while Japan also is increasing her warlike preparations. It is true that defence proposals of considerable magnitude have been - if we may believe the newspapers - mentioned’ in an other place, but the Minister of Defence from whom we are entitled to information of the kind, sits eloquently dumb. Is it because he is satisfied with the 21,000 more or less trained young people in the Defence Forces, or is it because he has not had the time that he has not made any statement on the subject? The only newspaper in Melbourne to report the proceedings of the Federal Parliament is the Herald. The others are content to paragraph alleged “scenes.” According to the Age, which I think is the name of the Ministerial organ - and its doddering statements often justify its title - the courteous gentleman at the head of the Administration has made an announcement of its intentions in regard to Defence, although admitting that he knows nothing about the subject. It is, however, difficult to know what to believe, and what not to believe of the reports furnished by the newspapers. When we were opposing the desert railway proposal, we were the white-headed boys of the Age, but when we* objected to the increase in the duty on harvesters we were painted bv its writers in the blackest of colours. If it is a fact, as the newspapers allege, that the Minister of Defence has authorized drilling in double rank in the infantry force, instead of the horse-marine exercises with which our late military authority. Major-General Hutton, afflicted them for several years, I congratulate him upon having effected a reform. But we are entitled to know, from his own lips, what he is doing. Although I. believe it to be a fact that improvements are being effected by the officers charged with administrative duties at the Victoria Barracks. Melbourne, it is undoubtedly the case that the New South Wales Defence Force is not as strong numerically, and is not as well organized, as it was prior to Federation. Striplings have had to be enlisted in place of the stalwart men who at one time formed our Defence Force, the standard height for infantry have been reduced from 5 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 4 in., the height of the British “tommies,” because stalwart men will not present themselves. No doubt things are improving again ; but we should know exactly what the Minister is doing. That seems to .be impossible, while he is acting as a wood-and-water-joey for a number of gentlemen in another place, who treat him as a sort of post-office for the transmission to us of documents, which are shot into this. Chamber with abso- lute disregard of proper constitutional methods.
– Thehonorable senator seems to think that a Minister of Defence should not have parliamentary duties to attend to.
– He should have time to do at least part of the Ministerial work for which he is paid.
– My work is not the least in arrear.
– At all events, the honorable gentleman has not had time to take us into his confidence in regard to Defence matters, and we have to be content with the information which leaks out through the press. At present all his energies seem to be devoted to assisting the “ bul locking through” - to use a phrase which promises to become historical - of measures in respect of which I say “ God help the country !” Fully two months ago I urged that, for the expedition of Government business, the time usually set aside for private members should be taken ; but Ministers themselves opposed that suggestion, and demanded that Senator Pearce should go on with his Bill for the nationalization of industries, although there was no chance of it becoming law. To show my bona fides in the matter, I have postponed, until next week, business which I had on the notice-paper. No fewer than twelve afternoons have been deliberately wasted by the Government during the last three months in connexion with a proposal which all who knew anything of parliamentary procedure were aware could not be passed, and one of the results is that at the end of the session we find men who have recently been marching in procession,bedlight with coloured ribbons, and speaking at a banquet, in glorification of the Eight Hours God. working the officials and attendants of Parliament for, on some ocasions. as long asthirty-six or forty hours at a stretch. Is not that the apotheosis of humbug?
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
Debate resumed from 27th September (vide page 5621), on motion by Senator Pearce,
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- When my speech was interrupted last Thursday, because the time allotted to the consideration of private business had expired, I was endeavouring to point out the peculiar position in which the manufacturers of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes are circumstanced to-day as contrasted with their position prior to the creation of the monopolistic institution known as the combine. When, towards the end of 1903, those persons operated as separate firms, the workmen and workwomen, if they felt dissatisfied with the conditions of work, had an opportunity of obtaining employment in other independent factories. But that state of things has been completely changed, and the position to-day is that the great bulk of the operatives are confined to one employer, and that is the combine. When workmen and workwomen are circumstanced in that way, we know what follows. We know what has happened in the United States, where the tobacco combine has set its face against all industrial organizations, and will not employ any man or woman connected with a trade union, and where the employes who are nonunionists are paid about half the wages that are paid in places where combines do not exist and trade unionists are employed. They are not only notorious in regard to their opposition to industrial organization, but they extensively employ child labour. Further than that, when a workman in the employ of the tobacco or otherhuge combinations in America arouses the hostility of his employers, he has little or no hope of obtaining employment, unless he adopts a different name and absolutely disguises himself. Instances are on record where men, although they had disguised themselves and adopted different names, have been forced to leave that country. In Australia we do not want to see those evils multiplied. It is true that they do not exist to the extent that is noticeable in the United States. But the men connected with the tobacco combine here are no different from the men connected with similar combinesin the United States and Great Britain. We know the hostility of the tobacco trust, even in Great Britain, tounionistic organization. Fortunately, the women folk in the tobacco and. cigar factories in Great Britain were well organized two years ago. Prior to becoming strong trade unionists, the women were considered to be thoroughly competent employes, but with their growing power as a trade organization, the manager of the trust found fault with their work, and so exasperated the women that they had no alternative but to resent such treatment. They were immediately locked out, and a notice was posted on the factory that no longer would trade unionism be recognised on the part of either males or females. In Australia, we have had instances of men who have taken a prominent part in focussing public attention on the manifold evils in connexion with the huge tobacco monopoly. It is a fact that the men who have been most prominent in their desire to right wrongs in connexion with working conditions have been “ marked,” and if they have not been sacked the time is not far distant when their services will be dispensed with if the industry is not nationalized. But there are on record cases of men who have been sacked. What can be said in regard to male and female employes of the combine can also be said with equal force in regard to the growers, of tobacco leaf. Both here and outside the combine have exercised a very strong influence. We know the influence they exercised in connexion with the growers by handing them about , £400 after they had said that they had been sufficiently paid for the quality of leaf produced. Because of the agitation, and the discontent amongst the growers, owing to unfair treatment, the combine, in order to save their skin, and placate the growers, distributed . £400 amongst them. Not only did they do that, but this, year they gave the growers11/2d. more per lb. for the leaf than they did previously. Last Thursday a letter in regard to the combine appeared in both the Age and the Argus.
– It appeared in every daily newspaper in Australia.
– And in Tasmania.
– I know something about daily newspaperdom. I know that no daily newspaper of any importance in any part of Australia would gratuitously devote one and a half or two columns of its space tothe publication of a letter of the kind which appeared in the daily morning papers throughout Australia last Thursday.
– It was well paid for, no doubt.
– Men conversant with the ways of newspaperdom know that letters addressed to the editor appear invariably with small headlines, and not with bold sensational headlines. In the Age and the Argus - in all the daily newspapers - last Thursday appeared this very large star heading -
with these sub-headings -
THE NATIONALIZATION QUESTION.
REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION.
COUNSEL’S OPINION TAKEN.
It was paid for, I suppose, at the rate of 10s. per inch, because usually double price is charged for advertisements when they appear in the ordinary news column. (To the. Editor of the Age.)
Sir, - You are aware that in December last a
Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into and report upon certain questions affecting the tobacco industry, including the questions of the existence, and, if it existed, the effect, of a combine in the tobacco trade, and also the larger question as to the advisability of nationalizing the industry. A majority of the Commissioners, consisting of Senators Pearce, Findley, Stewart, and Story, signed a report recommending generally that steps be taken to alter the Constitution, so as to enable the industry to be nationalized. Senator Cray, upon the other hand, signed a report unfavorable to the proposed nationalization.
At the request of the tobacco companies affected by the above report, we send you herewith for your information several documents, specified below, in the hope that you will find room for some of them in the Age.
The Age would have found room for three times that space if it had been paid for at the price which no doubt the combine paid its proprietor for the insertion of not a letter to the editor, but an advertisement. But that is not all. Since the publication of the letter I have made inquiries in regard to the other companies that are affected by the existence of the combine. Dudgeon and Arnell is the only independent company outside the combine that is engaged in the manufacture of tobacco in Victoria. Naturally one would think that if the combine had been interested on behalf of all the companies engaged in the industry they would have asked Dudgeon and Arnell their opinion in regard to the Commission’s report and sought their advice in regard to getting legal opinion on what they considered its unfairness. But the combine did not interview or consult that firm, whose employes to-day - the first time during a considerable period of years - are working only half-time. I venture to say that if it had not been for the attention which has been given to this matter both here and outside Dudgeon and Arnell, and other independent firms which are existing only on sufferance, would have been wiped out. So far as the manufacture of cigarettes is concerned, the firm of Snider and Abrahams ds the only serious competitor. The combine have practically no competitors in regard to the manufacture of tobacco, and with their machines they have virtually a monopoly of the locallymade cigars. One would naturally have thought that Snider and Abrahams, an independent firm, would have been consulted by the combine, especially as Mr. Schuch - who I understand is the firm’s manager - gave evidence before the Commission, in opposition to the nationalization of the industry. These facts are significant : that the combine, not the companies, paid legal gentlemen for their opinion in regard to the report, and that they emphasized the minority report of Senator Gray. I make bold to say that it was not his minority report, but the combine’s. Owing to illhealth, Senator Gray found it impossible to frame a minority report, but he, and probably a number of the persons interested in the combine, helped to frame a report which has gone forth as the minority report of Senator Gray. There is another very significant thing in connexion with the so-called letter from the combine in the daily press. It is dated 24th September, and appeared in all the daily morning newspapers throughout Australia on the 27th September - the day on which the question was to te discussed here - probably with a view to trying to affect people’s minds. The combine is not merely exercising a baneful influence on growers, employes, and consumers, but is also exercising an influence in this Chamber. It is said, and I believe it is true, that the combine is spending large sums” of money to assist organizations in opposition to the Labour Party. We know that in New South Wales certain men who have not been too prominent hitherto in connexion with politics have been making pilgrimages to various parts of the State denouncing the Labour Party. Amongst the pilgrims was Senator Neild, who on various occasions has drawn attention to the demand of the Labour Party for the nationalization of monopolies. He went further, and said in regard to land values taxation that the Labour Party wanted to impose a tax of is. in the £1 on all estates, and when challenged to produce proof of his statement said, “ I do not go about with copies of the Labour Party’s programme in my pocket.”
– I rise to order.
– If the honorable senator has been misrepresented he can explain when Senator Findley sits down.
– I take it that the question of land taxation has nothing to do with the matter before the Senate.
– Of course it has not.
– But the pilgrimages of the gentlemen to whom I refer have verv much to do with the Labour Party, and with the nationalization of monopolies ; and Senator Neild, intentionally - or if not intentionally, through ignorance - has been trving to work up the people of New South Wales on this question.
– What has that to do with this business?
– The honorable senator called attention to the visits of Sir William Lyne to various parts of New South Wales when engaged in electioneering work.
– The Bill has nothing to do with Sir William Lyne.
– I think what I have stated has as much to do with* the question before the Senate as Senator Neld’s reference to Sir William Lyne had to do with matters that were before us this morning. I have said that the tobacco combine has been exercising an influence in this Chamber as well as outside. When I saw the bulky brief of typewritten matter in Senator Neild’s hands when he made his speech on this subject, and saw him afterwards in . serious consultation with members of the combine, I at once came to the conclusion that he and thev were verv friendly indeed. It was evident that he was extremely anxious to do all that he possibly could to defend them, and to weaken the Labour Party in the advocacy of its principles. And when I saw another bulky volume in the possession of another honorable senator - a volume which, by the way. accidentally got into the possession of one into whose hands it should nol have come- I at once learnt to mv own satisfaction how the wires were being pulled, and what influences were being exerted in order to bolster up this monopolistic monster known as the tobacco combine.. The very fact that the combine has lengthy advertisements in the daily newspapers, which must cost thousands of pounds, and that a number of its members have made their appearance in connexion with organizations hostile to the Labour Party, convinces me that they realize that the only hope they have of preventing that party from accomplishing its object is by the spending of large sums of money, and by sending out agents to place false issues before the people. A number of these agents are like Oliver Twist ; they are always calling for “more.” The tobacco combine has been very friendly to them and has aided them very much. It has helped them to go round the country getting fresh air, and talking a lot of flapdoodle - not at their own expense, but at the expense of the tobacco combine and other monopolistic institutions. I hold in my hand a copy of the Tocsin of 14th October, 1904. This newspaper is published in Melbourne, and is the organ of the Labour Party. The article which I shall quote is headed ‘‘Tobacco Trust Active.” This was as far back as 1904. It will continue to be active until the Labour Party takes the activity out of it by nationalizing the industry.
The tobacco monopoly is leaving nothing to chance. It has a really good thing on, so is determined to at least maintain, and, if possible, improve its position. Politically, it makes common cause with the Tory and cautious Liberal parties, whose terror of Socialism is being worked to the best advantage. One would suppose that the trust itself furnished the best evidence in favour of collectivism, and the most emphatic contradiction of those slanderers who say public industrial officers would neglect their duties. The representatives of the smoke combine are, or pretend to be, the servants of the amalgamated companies ; and whether mere employes or not, they are certainly acting for a body which can only act through managers and supervisors. Suppose we let the managerial staff ‘ remain, and for the companies substitute the State, would the conduct of the business be any less efficient? Would not the same men, for the same remuneration, do the same work for the State as for the combine? The funds of the trust mav not be available for political purposes, and its local chief may not distribute any <coin to the Tory organizations, but the fact remains that the several anti-Labour associations are being heavily subsidized by persons directly interested in the trust. As we say, these moneys mav not be trust funds in the sense that they pass through its account, they certainly are so in the sense that the cash is subscribed by trust members for the advancement of its objects. We shall have to fmd. Mr. Justice Hood another Royal Commission, requiring him to inquire into the relations existing between - not the trust, oh, no - but certain of its participa tors, on the one hand, and certain politicians, both in and out of Parliament, on the other. Keeping one’s eye on the trust affords some amusement and much food for reflection. For instance, on Friday last ifr. Jacobs, of the trust, met a member of Cranbourncites and prominent supporters of the Federal Government in Prell’s Buildings.
– What Federal Government was. that?
– The Government that was in power in 1904.
– Neild. - The Watson Government ?
– Oh no, the Reid Government.
– The Reid Government did not come into power until the next year.
– The honorable senator can rest assured that no supporter of the Watson Government was at that meeting. The people who were there were members of the monopolistic brigade, to which the gallant or ungallant colonel belongs.
These gentlemen, who abhor the caucus, held one on their own account in the board-room, where they sat with closed doors for some considerable time.
– Just like the caucus !
– The honorable senator seems to know all about it. Perhaps he was at the meeting.
– No, I was not.
– The article goes on -
The meeting was of the most satisfactory character, if one may judge by the jubilation of the ordinarily dour Cranbourneites and the self-complacent smile of Mr. Jacobs’ acute commercial countenance as they returned to the lift. “Election,” “sinews of war,” and “necessary funds,” interspersed their conversation, until one gentleman summed up the position with, “Well, thank God, we are a match for them, now we understand each other.”
When Mr. Louis Jacobs appeared before the Tobacco Monopoly Commission Senator Stewart put him on the gridiron in regard to the meeting referred tol in the Tocsin article. I will quote a part of his examination -
You are opposed to the nationalization of the manufacture and sale of tobacco? - I am opposed on principle to the nationalization of any industry.
You are aware, I presume, that before thenationalization can take place an Act of Parliament authorizing it must be passed? - My information goes to show that the Constitution of the Commonwealth would have to be amended before it could be done.
Presuming that the Commonwealth had the right to establish a national monopoly, an Act of Parliament would have to be passed to give effect to the proposal? - I understand that that is so.
Has it occurred to you that it would be to the advantage of the tobacco combine to influence Parliament and the Government against nationalization ? - It occurred to us that we should bring arguments to bearby every legitimate means to show the mistake that such a venture would be.
Were you present at a conference of political bodies held on 13th ultimo in Melbourne? - Before I answer I must ask whether this is really a legitimate question within the scope of the inquiry?
By the Chairman. - Have the political bodies had anything to do with the monopoly? - Certainly not.
By Senator Stewart. - I propose to bring that out. There was a conference of political bodies on the date named ? - There was.
Were you present? - I was.
Did you call the conference? - I have already said that it had nothing to do with tobacco, and therefore I must appeal to the Chairman to protect me.
By the Chairman. - It seems to me that it does not prejudice you? - But it is going into other matters.
Senator Stewart has promised to connect it with the subject of our inquiry? - I have a lot of information to giveyou on matters which I am sure will deeply interest the Committee if you will only give me the opportunity.
He had a number of other things to tell the Commission, but evidently was not prepared to tell it what he was doing at that caucus, meeting, as Senator Neild called it.
– I did not call it anything.
– The evidence goes on -
By Senator Stewart. - Can you tell us what political bodies were represented at that meeting? - I decline to say.
Was the Farmers’ League represented? - I decline to say.
Was the Reform League represented? - I do not think that is a fair question.
Was the Women’s League represented ? - I decline to say anything about it. I refer you to the Tocsin.
Did you make any proposal at that conference? - I have already said that I do not think it is fair to discuss that matter here.
Did you offer those organizations a certain sum of money to assist them in their organizations? - If I did not answer that question you would rather unfairly assume that I did, so that I had better say very positively that I did not. Would you mind telling me how these questions will show the Committee what are the best means of taking over the tobacco industry in order to provide money for an old-age pension system ?
It makes one smile ! Mr. Jacobs wanted to know what these questions had to do with the Commonwealth taking over the tobacco industry to establish a fund for old-age pensions, but he had shown -the caucus meeting at Prell’s buildings what in his, opinion was the best way to prevent the nationalization of the industry for such a. purpose. The examination continued -
What 1 want to show you is that the tobacco combine is using certain political organizations in Victoria for the purpose of defeatingany attempt at nationalizing the industry.
- By the* Chairman. - The witness must use his own judgment in determining whether he should refuse to answerany questions. If, in the opinion of Senator Stewart, these questions lead up to something connected with the tobaccomonopoly, I must accept his assurance, but if the witness does not think he ought to answer the question and refuses to do so, he has to trust to the Committee to accept his assurance that they are not connected with the matter of the monopoly? - Quite so.
By Senator Stewart. - You take a keen interest in politics? - I always have done so.
Did you ever summons a conference before this one? - I cannot remember for the moment.
He had always taken a very deep interest in the politics of this country ! But when a direct question was submitted to him, whether he had , ever summoned a conference before he could not remember ! That was a very neat way of dodging a very pertinent question ! I do not remember Mr. Jacobsor any other member of the combine having interested himself to any extent in the politics of this country until the Labour Party set to work to influence public opinion on the evils of the combine, and to bring about the nationalization of the industry. But they had good reason to fear that the bulk of the people of this country are in favour of that principle. This question is beyond the experimental stage. This nationalization of the tobacco industry has been a success ; and in countries where it has been tried there is no desire to revert to the individualistic system.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I know from my perusal of the various publications throughout the world in favour of advanced legislation. We members of the Labour Party are in communication with men of similar ideas in every part of the world ; and, further, there are official documents which absolutely confirm my statement. The tobacco combine has said, is saying, and’ probably will continue to say, that the Tobacco Commission was composed of men with preconceived ideas. But we cannot ignore the fact that many years ago a Royal Commission, with) a similar object, composed almost entirely of. men with individualistic ideas, was appointed by the Government of Victoria; and we know what the findings of that Commission were. Senator Millen and other monopolistic advocates try to weaken the report of the Tobacco Monopoly Commission by saying that The members who favour the nationalization of the industry over-estimate the profits likely to be returned. My own opinion is that Senator Pearce , underestimated the return when he placed it at £400,000; because all the indications are that it would be more like double that amount. There is no other industry in Australia, so far as I know, in which fewer hands are employed in comparison with the profits earned. If that were not so, is it likely that the combine would be spending, not hundreds, but thousands, of pounds in trying to placate newspaperd’om by paying high prices for advertisements, and by subsidizing, as they are alleged to do, organizations antagonistic to the Labour Party? When a committee of inquiry was, appointed by .the State Government of Victoria some years ago the manufacturers, who are now members of the combine, were in competition so keen that amongst them there was a disposition to favour the nationalization of the industry. They found, to use a colloquialism, that the “ game was not what it was cracked up to be “ ; and, therefore, they cried a halt with regard to competition and brought about combination. To refer once more to the question just asked bv Senator Gould, I may point to the report of the Victorian Committee, in which there is the following: -
According to the evidence, the result, in some, if not all, of the countries where the tobacco trade is a State” monopoly, has been that the consumers have obtained a better article than before, and, in some countries, at a lower price.
The working conditions in the State-owned industry are better than those under private enterprise, and the growers are much better circumstanced. What is the position of the growers in the United States to-day ? As I said last week, those growers are endeavouring to start independent factories on co-operative lines; but I am afraid they will have no tetter success than had the operatives who were driven to resort to a similar plan, and whose efforts were rendered futile by the combine forming a corner in tobacco leaf. The combine in Australia will, no doubt, in .the course of years, exercise .a. similar baneful influence; and it is because of this danger that the members of the Labour Party urge nationalization, under which the profits will go to the whole people. We have heard honorable senators on the other side pleading for the aged and indigent, but, nevertheless, those honorable senators are against the proposal to appeal to the people for an expression of opinion as to whether special duties should or should not be imposed in order to create an old-age pension fund, and they are also opposed to the people having an opportunity! of expressing an opinion on the Bill now before the Chamber. Those honorable senators say, in effect, that their opinion is superior to the united wisdom .of the whole of the citizens of the Commonwealth ; and under die circumstances we cannot but regard their pleading for the aged poor as so much sophistry. At the time of a general election it is impossible to obtain a clear and definite opinion on an issue of this kind ; and the desire of the Labour Party is to have a straight-out vote. We invite those who deny that the opinions of the Labour Party would meet with tha approbation of the public to put the question to the test. We are not afraid of public opinion - we are not afraid to trust the people. I feel that I have beer: justified in detaining honorable senators as long as I have. I have not spoken merely for the purpose of speaking; and I have not been briefed by any monopolistic institution. I feel earnestly in regard to this matter of private monopolies. The nationalization of such monopolies is a plank irc the platform of the Labour Party, and I should be lacking in my duty if I did not avail myself of every moment at my disposal tol express opinions which I feel so strongly. A certain newspaper said last week,” evidently in reference to myself, that there was an honorable senator who demanded his “ pound of flesh “ in the way of the time at the disposal of the Senate for the transaction of public business. But I know of no matter of greater or more vital importance to the community than that we are now discussing. When men desire in a conscientious, earnest way, to give the bestthat is in them for the advancement of a principle which is sacred to them, it illbecomes a public journal to complain of their taking up a small portion of the time at the disposal of the Senate in their advocacy of that principle. The complaint is especi- ally ill-timed when we remember that an honorable senator monopolized four hours on one afternoon, and the whole time at the disposal of the honorable senator in the next afternoon, in violently and vigorously opposing the nationalization of this monopoly.
– Not a word was said in the newspapers about the honorable senator.
– On the contrary, the newspapers gave prominence to his remarks, as they did to the letter of the combine. We who advocate nationalization have no money to spend ; but so long as we do not infringe the rules of debate, we are perfectly justified in devoting all the time at our disposal to the expression of our views. We shall not be subdued by any newspaper criticism, no matter how violent. Honorable senators opposite know as well as I do that there is no more important question to be discussed, if not now, in the near future, than that of the nationalization of monopolies. It is a question to be decided by the people, who are determined that there shall not grow up in this young nation of ours conditions similar to those to be found in older lands. We know what evils this combination has worked, and is working, in the United States. It was because of the dreadful pictures placed before us day by day of the doings of this monopoly in the United States that the Government were moved to introduce an Anti-Trust Bill. Personally,I have little, or no faith in anti-trust legislation, because the people in Australia are not different from the people in the United States, where, to use a hackneyed phrase, a coach and four has been driven through, the anti-trust laws. In my opinion, the anti-trust legislation in Australia will prove inoperative ; and that the combine do not expect it to be operative, is shown by the energy they are displaying, the influence they are using, and the money they arc spending in opposing this Bill, and in supporting candidates with anti-socialistic ideas. I. hope the Bill before us will receive the consideration it deserves, and that it will meet with the approval of the Senate.
– I do not agree that those who vote against this Bill will, when they go before their constituents, be liable to the charge of being opposed to the nationalization of monopolies in jurious to the public. The Bill proposes thathe Constitution shall be altered by adding the following paragraph to section
51 : -
The first question to be decided is :. What is a monopoly ? How would the High Court interpret the word monopoly?I think I shall be able to show that if this measure were passed it would not have the effect desired, because the High Court would put a strict construction on the word “ monopoly.”
SenatorFindley. - The honorable senator said that of the amendment I carried in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill.
– And we have yet to learn what will be the effect of that amendment. In my opinion the High Court would not allow the loose construction commonly put upon the word “ monopoly “ to govern it in the slightest degree. The High Court would go to the best authorities on the subject to discover the strict meaning of the word, and would apply that meaning. It will be admitted that the best authorities are our dictionary authorities.
– We should fix that up in the Bill introduced to take over any particular monopoly.
– Honorable senators might put what they pleased in the Bill, and the High Court might decide that it was unconstitutional. I take for instance the so-called tobacco monopoly, which has been chiefly discussed, though there has been a slight reference to the sugar monopoly, and I say that it is not a monopoly in the strict meaning of the word. Honorable senators who have read the history of the past will know something of the granting by the Crown of monopolies for a consideration in money. These monopolies were for the exclusive right to do something. If we take the instance of the monopoly secured by the East India Company we shall find that they had under it an exclusive right to trade with the East Indies. If we consider the monopolies granted by Elizabeth to trade in any particular article, such as the salt monopoly,’ we shall find thatthey were always grants of an exclusive right to trade in some article. ‘ That will, I think, be found to be in accord with the meaning of the word “ monopoly.” as defined in any reliable dictionary. I refer honorable senators to the Century Dictionary, one of the latest and best published, and they will find in that work lengthy definitions of the words “ monopolist,” “monopolistic,” “monopolize,” and “monopoly.” We shall get the leading idea from the definition of the word “ monopolist,” and this is the definition given -
One who monopolizes or possesses a monopoly. One who has exclusive command or control of any branch of trade or article of commerce.
It will not be contended that the so-called tobacco monopoly comes within that definition, and should this measure become law it would be impossible under it to take over the so-called tobacco monopoly.
– Will the honorable senator suggest a better word?
– No; but I can suggest a better, fairer, and straighter way in which to accomplish the object aimed at in the Bill - a way in which it will be possible to let the people know what they are being asked to vote upon.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that this is not a straight method?
– It is a straight method from the point of view of honorable senators who support the measure, but it will not accomplish their ‘ object. I do not pretend for a moment to say that it is not straight, but I say that one man voting at a referendum on this measure would vote in one way,according to his idea of what a monopoly was, and another, holding a different idea, would vote in another way. There is a general complaint in America, as well as amongst ourselves, and especially amongst writers on matters connected with so-called monopolies, as to the loose manner in which the word “monopoly” is applied. In this connexion Iquote from Eddv on Combinations. . This” is a well-known American authority on monopolies, trusts, combinations, conspiracy, and contracts in restraint of trade. At page 28, paragraph 29, of this work, the writer sets out certain elements., which he considers essential to a monopoly. and he says -
From a review of the authorities cited, it is apparent that the following elements are essential to a monopoly : -
A grant commission or franchise from the sovereign authority :
To a certain definite grantee - which may be a person or persons or. a corporation ;
Of an exclusive privilege - usually for the sole buying, selling, making, working, or using of some thing. (d) Whereby the public in general is re strained from freedom or liberty enjoyed before - that is, restrained from following trades, pursuits, or callings theretofore free.
Shortly, it must be agrant to a person of the exclusive right to do something. In paragraph 30, on the same page, the writer deals with the indiscriminate use of the term “monopoly,” and he says -
By long and indiscriminate usage the term “monopoly” has come to be applied to any control of any product, industry, or enterprise, whether the control be absolute or not.
Unless the exercise of the control is absolute, the word “ monopoly” cannot be properly applied to it -
An agent having exclusive sale of any commodity in any given locality is spoken of as having a monopoly. A railroad between two points is referred to as a monopoly, notwithstanding the fact that its franchise does not grant exclusive privileges, and the field is open to capital to construct a parallel and competing line.
Solong as the opportunity is given to somebody else to compete with the Individual in possession of the so-called, monopoly, the trade, calling, or business carried on by that person cannot be correctly described as an absolute monopoly.
– Does not the Quotation the honorable senator has madeshow that the meaning of the term has altered, and that in the’ general acceptation of the term to-day absolute control is not involved ?
– No; the changed meaning isonly in the loose phraseology of the people. In America, England, and the British Colonies, the word is used indiscriminately, and not in the strict sense, as meaning an exclusive right to do a certain thing. I therefore emphasize my first statement that if Senator Pearce is successful in securing the alteration of the Constitutionwhich he has proposed, he will not have got any further towards the achievement of his object than he is to-day. I now come to the Question of the referendum. I have been in favour of the referendum for many years, and was one of the first to advocate it in the South Australian Parliament. I was at the same time strongly in favour of a reform which I should” like to see established here, and that is the substitution of elective Ministries, as in Switzerland, for the existing system of what is called responsible government by Cabinet Ministers. Much of the trouble with which we are now afflicted is due to the existence of rival parties in Parliament who are concerned not so much with the question whether any measure submitted to their consideration . is deserving of their support, as with its effect upon their political position. Under this system members opposed to the Government are anxious to pick holes in Government measures, and to oppose any measure which they think is likely to add to the popularity of the Ministry bringing it forward, and especially before elections they are accustomed to declare that such measures have been introduced with the object of currying favour with the electors, and of discrediting those opposed to the Government.
– Does “the honorable senator think that these observations have anything to do with the matter contained in the Bill?
– I connect them with the referendum. I point out to Senator Pearce that a clear-cut issue should always be submitted to the people at a referendum. The question put before them should be one which they will thoroughly understand. They will not be able to understand this proposal. One will read it in one way, and another in another way There is. however, a way in which the honorable senator might put before the electors a clean-cut issue on this subject. He might propose an alteration of the Constitution, giving the Commonwealth power to manufacture tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes. He might put to the people the Question : Will you give the Commonwealth Parliament power to manufacture tobacco, cigars,, and cigarettes, and the control of the imports of those articles? The control of all imports would be necessary. In all countries in which the manufacture of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes is a State monopoly, the State retains control over imports. I have here suggested to the honorable senator a clearcut issue, and a question to which the people could say “yea” or “nay,” with a thorough understanding of what they were doing. In all these matters I am willing to trust the people. If there was strong feeling on the subject, and good reasons could be shown why the Commonwealth should take over the conduct of any trade or manufacture, I should t>e prepared to let the people decide whether what was proposed should be done. Wherever the opinion of the people has been sought by means of a referendum the decision has been mostly given on the conservative side. lt is very singular that, as a rule, the people are more conservative than they are represented to be. When I last referred to the figures, I found that in Switzerland the people had said “ no “ in fifteen cases, and “yes” in only live cases. Politicians are very apt to go ahead of public opinion, honestly believing that it is with them. There is nothing like- appealing to the whole body of the people, and ascertaining their view on a particular proposition. The position which the Government take up in regard to monopolies is plain. We believe that we can prevent persons engaged in trade. from injuriously affecting the public weal, from entering into combinations in restraint of trade, and inflicting hardship upon the public bv making them pay more for goods than otherwise they would be called upon to pay.
– The honorable senator had better try to define a monopoly.
– I have defined the term. There is a monopoly which is beneficial to the public ; there is a monopoly which is neither good, bad, nor indifferent; and there is a monopoly which fleeces the public, and of which we have many examples in the United Slates. We hold that under the Australian Industries Preservation Act we can prevent the injurious effects of combines. The Labour Party say-, “ We will give you the right to tr. if you can; but we believe that you will fail.” WV reply, “ We do not think that we will fail.” The Labour Party say, “Look at what is taking place in America. The chances are that you will fail here.” We reply, “Give the system a trial. If you want to take over any particular business, then submit that issue to the electors, and say what you want them to do. Do not take the power to deal with any monopoly ; but submit to the electors a clean-cut issue, such as the manufacture of tobacco or the refining of sugar. We, as a Government, believe that we can stop the injurious effects of monopolies, and that, therefore, there is no necessity for the Commonwealth to take over any business. But if we should fail to prevent monopolies which gain such enormous power bv combination that they practically,, control the output of a product, and by that means are able to fix their prices to the detriment of the public, then we shall be prepared to help you to nationalize them.” That is the position which the Government take up. We believe that our legislation will produce the effect desired, and prevent any monopoly or combination from doing harm to the people as a whole, and to the consumers in particular. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the motion.
– - I quite agree with Senator Playford that from their stand-point the attitude of the Government - to keep- an open mind on the question - is very fair. We cannot expect them to go the whole way with us ; but if they will abide by his declaration - that if they find that their legislation is a failure, they will be prepared to assist in the nationalization of monopolies - then I, for one, will hail with satisfaction any. assistance from that quarter.’ At the present time, however, I do not think that such a promise would jus.tify the advocates of this Bill in receding from their attitude.
– How long would it take the Government to determine whether the legislation had been a failure or not?
– I am afraid that the patience of the people would be greatly overtaxed before the question was determined. The Minister has, I think, laboured the definition of “monopoly” rather unduly. We have to take the general acceptance of a word, in order to discover its true meaning. The general definition of a monopoly is, I hold, a gigantic corporation which, is practically monopolizing, or is able to control, anabranch cf industry. If, however, we were to abide by Senator Playford’s definition, it would be necessary to have a complete monopoly in every sense of the word, and I agree with him that it would be almost impossible to apply the term to any industry. We all agree that States railways are States monopolies, but, according to his definition of the word, thev are not monopolies, for I believe that there is no State in which private railways do not exist. In my opinion, the Minister’s definition is unreasonable and unworkable. As a rule, when we rise to discuss this subject, our time is mostly occupied in clearing away a lot of error, ‘ and removing a quantity of rubbish which has been introduced by its opponents. But I cannot complain of the way in which the present discussion has been carried on. So far, the opponents of the principle of the nationalization of monopolies have not indulged in any of those silly arguments which have become so familiar to the readers of the daily press. The advocates of the principle have practically been charged with every crime in the calendar. We have had trotted out against us, time and again, the “ freelove “ atrocity, “the equal divide” nonsense, and the confiscation lie. I am glad that the opponents of the Labour Party here have not resorted to such silly arguments, but have dealt with the Bill as involving a- question of economics pure and simple. I am sure that I have only to point out these things for any reasonable person who thinks before he speaks to see that there is nothing in the charges I. have referred to. Senator Millen hurled at us a mass of figures dealing with pauperism and the distribution of wealth in the United Kingdom and the United States, and also .in Australia, but I must confess that, after listening very carefully to his speech, and considering the report of it from various stand-points, I failed to grasp what he was really driving at. If his arguments were intended to prove that, as civilization had advanced, poverty had decreased, I think that he has failed to understand the statistics which have been so carefully compiled by the greatest men who have closely investigated the problem of poverty. Take modern statisticians; like Booth and Rountree, of England, who do not claim to be socialists. I am sure that any one who studies the subject of poverty in the old country, as it is presented bv those modern statisticians, must come to the conclusion that the figures quoted by Senator Millen from Mulhall do not convey the meaning which he put upon them. As the result of the careful investigations of Booth and Rountree, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the Prime Minister nf England, stated in public - and his statement has been repeated at various times by other public men - that there are 13,000,000 people in the United Kingdom who are constantly on the verge of starvation. I think that any figures which are quoted as to the poverty or progress and wealth of the old country are misunderstood when it is, said that it is in a more progressive state, so far as wealth is concerned, than it was in by -gone generations. I admit that the aggregate wealth is greater there to-day than it - has been at any previous period.
– And so is the aggregate poverty.
– I think it will also be admitted that there is a larger number of wealthy men there to-day than in past times, and more 1111lionaries than there were, perhaps, in the whole world 100 years ago. But to quote facts of this kind does not probe the- question to the bottom. There is another side to it. Whilst the rich are undoubtedly becoming richer the poor are becoming poorer. The chasm between the rich and the poor is becoming wider ; and is wider to-day in the United Kingdom than at any other time in our history. We therefore have to concentrate our attention on the question - how can we prevent the increase of such an evil in Australia? It is because the Labour Party think that this concentration of capital in the hands of individuals at the expense’ of society as a whole can only be lessened by the means, of wealth production being in the hands of the public instead of being privately owned that we favour this policy. Senator Millen referred to municipalization in the United Kingdom. I have no fault to find with him or with any one else who helps us to prove the case for Socialism. In every civilized country the growth of Socialism is one of the features of modern life. There are movements for the public ownership or control of monopolies either through the municipalities or through, the central Government all over’ the world. That to me is a sure sign of the progress of socialistic thought. It is safe to say that the growth of Socialism is the main feature of the public life ofthe world. I have no fear of the success of the movement’. It may not be making as much headway as some of us would like to see, but still its progress is steady, and its success, is inevitable. The question is simply one of who is to own the means of production- whether they are to be in the hands of a few people or are to be controlled for the benefit of society as a whole. I do not see that there is an need to introduce personalities. I suppose that if any member of the Labour Party were in possession of a great monopoly by which he was securing enormous wealth he would hold on to it just as do those people who control monopolies at the present time. It is not a question of men.
It is far deeper than personalities. It is a question of great principles; and believing as I do that if an opportunity were given to the people of this country to express their opinion by referendum, they would give us the power under the Constitution to take over monopolies, which would be better in the hands of the Government than in private control, I support the Bill.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [3.49]. - I have only a few words to say about the question before the Senate, apart from such remarks as I may have to offer about the extraordinary manner in which it has been mixed up with questions of a personal character, and of an alleged political character. I deprecate the consideration of this Bill upon the basis of a report dealing with a single industry, and I also strongly deprecate improperly endeavouring to drag in all kinds of side issues even to the extent of implicating women’s political associations. It appears to me that not only is the Bill which we are asked to read a second time based upon the alleged investigation of a single industry, but that investigation seems to have been conducted with one object in view - not to inquire but to prove; not to investigate what the public interests were, and what the real issues involved were, but to lead up to a certain conclusion. As a result, we have got a lopsided report as to which not unexpectedly the members of the Commission have arranged themselves in opposition to each other. The serious feature of the majority report is that, ‘ according to the keen and critical investigation not only of two of the brightest legal ornaments of the Victorian Bar, but also of three or four independent actuaries, it is quite unreliable. Whether these expert opinions have been published as advertisements or not does not seem to be important, nor does it matter that thev have appeared in the press. I took the trouble when thev appeared, as the matter was of considerable interest, to cut them out and paste them on sheets of foolscap for more ready reference. It may, of course, be said that these men were paid for the opinions they expressed. But if we are going to say that nothing is valuable that is paid for, it is evident that the services of honorable senators are not valuable. There must be some qualification of honour, some qualification of ability, that stands higher than the mere emoluments of professional men ; and we are not to suppose that members of the Bar and chartered accountants would deliberately falsify their own reputations, which they would not have earned unless their abilities had been of the highest - for the sake of a fee. I do not believe anything of the kind, and I do not think that any honest man in the community will say so. I do not know one of the lawyers to whom I refer. I have never met them, to the best of my knowledge, though I have known them by reputation for many years. Apparently, after a critical examination, the whole community is assured - not in a holeandcorner manner, because it is to the credit of all concerned that this information should have been published in the press, so that there should be nothing suspicious connected with such proceedings - that the evidence does not support the conclusions in the report, and that, so far as the figures are concerned, the most heartbreaking mistakes have been made in simple calculations. Consequently the value of the report upon which it is proposed to base legislation is unreliable, and we are asked to legislate on false premises. But is it reasonable, or within, the bounds of common sense that a Parliament should proceed to legislate on matters connected with production and manufacture on the strength of one faulty - or perfect, I care not which, - report relating to one combination of manufacturers ? But there are other tobacco manufacturers in the community, and there cannot be monopoly so long as there is option. The honorable senator who moved, the second reading of this Bill spoke of a sugar monopoly more than once. We know, however, that there is no such thing as a sugar monopoly in Australia, but that, on the other hand, there are twelve or fourteen Government mills in Queensland, not connected in any way with the organization referred to. How can we on such false premises proceed with legislation? How can we, on such meagre information from a single source, form any conclusion as to the desirability or necessity of nationalizing, not only manufacture, but production, trade and commerce? What does that mean? The wording would involve the shipping and every other industry. A little while ago this Parliament passed a Bill to regulate trusts, and crush them out of existence; but the other day, at the instance of the Government, we passed a
Bill the object of which clearly showed the lack of belief in the efficacy of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. Apparently no reliance is placed on the success of that measure; and we first had the authors practically denying its utility from one stand-point, and now we have the supporters of the authors denying its utility from another stand-point. Are we to spend weeks and months in achieving legislative efforts the futility of which is admitted in the course of a few weeks? I very much deplore the utterly needless personalities and vulgarities introduced into this debate. I should have been glad if I could, with Senator de Largie, feel that the discussion had been conducted without personalities ; but unhappily that is not the case. I certainly shall not follow the example of indulging in personal abuse, but prefer to devote a little time to discussing some of the mischievous inaccuracies to be found in the report of the Royal Commission - the fallacies on which, practically, this Bill is founded. I agree entirely with Senator Playford in the expression of a desire that monopolistic efforts of the trust character, which affect the well-being of workers and consumers, may never be found flourishing in Australia. Their evil effects in America are so well known that no more than a passing reference is required on the present occasion. It appears, however, that, in connexion with the tobacco industry, I have earned the hatred of certain honorable senators, because the other day I deemed it necessary to bring before the Senate an incident in connexion with the inquiry by the Royal Commission. I do not desire to say more on that point. I wish to say, however, that, , as to the tobacco combine, I know no one connected with it except Mr. Shaw, the managing director, who has been a personal friend of mv own since the early seventies, when he was employed in the same branch of business as that in which I was a manager. I entertain of Mr. Shaw a very high opinion as a man of unimpeachable reputation and character, and of the most kindly disposition any one could possess. An effort has been made to extract some capital out of the fact that I committed the awful enormity of meeting and talking in this building with the Melbourne manager for the tobacco combine, whom I met for the first time a few days ago. when he handed to me certain papers, sent bv Mr. Shaw for me. On that incident is founded an accusation that
I have some ulterior, purpose to serve, and an attempt is made to discount the few words which I thought it my duty to utter against this Bill. The chief members of the combine, so far as I have any knowledge of them, are Messrs. Dixson, of Sydney, but I do not know any members of that firm, even by sight. That is the sum of my connexion with the combine; and yet, because I was seen speaking to the Melbourne manager, I am made the subject of personal abuse, and of accusations of improper motives. I think it detestable that such conduct should be indulged in by any honorable senator. I should like to refer, first of all, to the accountants’ certificate. The Bill proposes a process of Government interference with an industry, and holds forth a splendid expectation of national advantageon theshape of profits. I find, however, that there has been a most serious misapprehension as to the value of figures; and I can only suppose that, as in the “ Charge of the Six Hundred,” some one has “ blundered.” I find, however, that the certificate before me is signed by such well-known accountants as Mr. Brentall, and Messrs. Watton. Fuller, and King. The certificate is dated so long ago as 3rd August last, and it reads -
Melbourne, 3rd August, 1906.
We, the undersigned, hereby certify : - 1. That we have carefully read and considered the calculation set forth on pages xii to xv of the report renderedbya majority of the Tobacco Commission, which calculations result in the estimate of a profit of£402,572 in excess of present revenue, to be derived from a Federal monopoly of the tobacco industry.
When a Royal Commission asserts that by the nationalization of an industry the community will benefit to the tune of£400,000 a year, a large inducement is offered to people to vote for nationalization. The certificate proceeds -
That we have found : -
I have no doubt it was nothing more ;because I entirely acquit every one connected with the business of any intentional misrepresentation.
– Suppose the honorable senator were told that the calculations referred toby the Commission were made by another firm of accountants,equally well known, what would hesay? Which accountants have “ blundered “ ?
– I say that some one has “blundered.”
– The calculations referred to by the Commission were checked by a firm of accountants whose name and address I can give.
– Possibly the two sets of accountants investigated the matter from different stand-Points - one set with full information, and the other with information supplied. The certificate from which I am quoting was given after the evidence had been examined, and is not based on information supplied, to use Senator Pearce’s own word, to be “ checked.” No doubt a set of accountants checking figures submitted to them would arrive at different results. But the accountants whose certificate I am quoting had nothing submitted to them in the way of a statement to check. I could show that the instructions given by ‘Messrs. Blake and Riggall - who, I understand, are a firm of solicitors ofhigh reputation in Melbourne - to these accountants was to investigate the matter, and arrive at their own conclusions. The accountants were not asked to check a few figures submitted, in all good faith, no doubt, but still based . on false premises. The certificate proceeds -
That the principle or method observed in making these calculations is misleading, and that their results, even if properly calculated, should not be a guide to the profit which might be derived from this industry, either in its present, hands or in the hands of the Government.
These people are doing very much more than a mere checking of accounts. They have gone into the policy involved, and the prospects that lie before the industry, either in its present hands or in the hands of Government officials. The fourth paragraph reads -
That apart from the adoption of a misleading method, the evidence clearly shows that the calculations set forth on pages xii to xv of the majority report are disfigured by certain errors as to facts which materially affect the estimate of profit based upon these calculations by the Commissioners.
An over-estimate of more than , £200,000 in certain calculations appearing in the report of the Commission is serious enough.
– Where is the evidence of an over-estimate? That is only an expression of opinion.
– But that is not all. That wipes out one-half of the prospective profit. Senator Pearce interjects, and I suppose that if I had been Chairman of a Commission, or the author of a report taken so seriously to task as this has been, I should not feel in the best of humour.
– Does not the honorable senator see that these are assertions, without evidence to back them up?
– Senator Pearce will doubtless recognise that these are the statements of business men, who in the course of their daily labour have continuously to deal with values. The valuation of goods and the calculation of profits is a part of their business.
– Why do they not show wherethey get their figures from?
– They do show it.
– They do not show it ; they merely state them.
– This is intolerable : but I do not wonder at Senator Pearce feeling annoyed at this exposure; it isonly natural. When counsel give an opinion they do not set out the processes of reasoning by which they have arrived at it. A lawyer’s opinion is valued according to the professional reputation he bears, and so also with an accountant.
– When one accountant is criticising a statement of another, the mere assertion that the estimates of the first are wrong is hardly enough.
– The explanation is that this is a statement which I cut from the Melbourne Age of the 27th September, and it professes to be only a summary. If I had applied for all the details, and produced them here. I. should have had a very pleasant reception from- supporters of the Bill, who would have alleged all’ sorts of things, even worse than those already alleged, relating to my imaginary connexion with the tobacco trust. When men of high standing in their profession attach their name to a certificate, it has much more value in . my eyes than have the calculations of amateur accountants, even thoughthey should be gentlemen holding such high positions as do the members of the Senate. That is saying nothing to the detriment of those gentlemen. Although I have spent my life amongst figures, I should expect the certificate of a chartered accountant to be accepted in preference to a certificate of mine. These gentlemen show briefly that there is an over-estimate of profit of £299,637. Then, in paragraph 6, they say -
So that three-fourths of the anticipated loot has gone by the board, and there is a possible one-fourth left.
– Has the honorable senator read the report of the Commission?
– God forbidthat I should read all that matter.
– If. he had, he would have known that we give the number and page of the questions on which we based our estimates, and we took the evidence in each case of the trust’s witnesses themselves.
– I am sure that the honorable senator will acquit me of any desire to misrepresent him or his colleagues.
-I was not referringto the honorable senator, but to the report from which he is quoting.
– The accountants say, further -
Neither the majority report, nor the above calculations, takes account of interest on purchase money, sinking fund, repairs and renewals, nor of the increase in wages necessitated by the Federal Public Service Act and Regulations.
Very little reliance can be placed upon an estimate in this matter which does not take into consideration the question of interest on goods purchased, lying in store, or in process of manufacture. The value of such goods must amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. We can quite understand that the Commissioners, not. being too well instructed in mercantile matters, might, in the most innocent way in the world, overlook such a point, but we who are asked to legislate on the subject cannot overlook it. There must also be an account taken of the expense involved in the maintenance of a sinking fund. Unhappily, some years ago I was a shareholder in a tobacco factory, which was very profitable up to a certain date. It was suddenly found that the machinery was antiquated, and I think that the most we got out of each £1 share was 2s.71/2d. A sinking fund must be provided to secure new machinery to cope with new requirements, or there must be a continual increase of capital to buy it. Then, again, if repairs and renewals are not accounted for in the estimates contained in the report, what in theworld is the value of them, and what can we imagine will be the prospect of advantage to the public from the prospective £400,000 of profit that is dangled before them as a bunch of carrots is dangled before the nose of a donkey ? Then there must be some consideration givento a possible increase of wages necessitated by the Public Service Act if the industry became a Government monopoly. The accountants finally say -
If allowances be made for these items, the apparent profits would be converted into a heavy loss.
I have used no extravagant diction in referring to these matters, and the accountants I have quoted Have written with a great deal of scrupulous care. They have not made any rash or bald assertions. They have suggested that if accurate methods have been employed, the facts adequately considered, and if, indeed, the premises upon which the report is based are correct, then, as chartered accountants, they pledge their reputation - for that is what it comes to - in support of the figures I have read. We know that if accountants in the position of these gentlemen were guilty of the blunders that it is, apparently, sought to charge them with, they could not get a job next week in the city. Therefore, when they attach their signatures publicly to such a statement, they are imperilling their reputations, their means of livelihood, and their membership of an honorable association. We have a perfect right to assume that such men have given figures which are more reliable than the statements of another firm, no matter how highly placed, who have merely checked certain figures which have been supplied to them to see whether the additions,, the multiplications, and the subtractions have been properly carried out. I did contemplate speaking at some length on the opinions of Mr. Mitchell, who; I under stand, is a King’s counsel, and Mr. Weigall, two leading barristers of the Victorian Bar, who have analyzed the report of the Royal Commission paragraph by paragraph, and shown most clearly as highclass lawyers,, that most erroneous opinions have been expressed as to the evidence which was tendered to, or received by, the Commission.
– They showed in many cases that they had not read the evidence.
– They spent ten days in reading the evidence and collating it.
– I can prove that in many cases they never read the evidence.
– I had that statement from Mr. Mitchell.
– I can prove thatin many cases they have not seen, or, if they have, ‘have deliberately ignored, the evidence. If they had seen it, they could not have ignored it.
– I am not prepared to accept the proposition that two gentlemen of high standing, who attach their names for publication, andsay that they have carefully perused the evidence referred to, are, as Senator Pearce indicates, deliberate liars. How can he prove a negative in that way?
-By circumstantial evidence. If they did read the evidence, then they ignored it.
– That is a very much more qualified statement, and does the honorable senator more credit than that which he unhappily made.
– I assumed that if they had read the evidence, they would have been honest enough to state it; but since they did not state it, it looks as if they had not read it.
– These two professional gentlemen actually quote the very words to which they take exception. Therefore, how can the honorable senator say thatthey have not read, or, if they have read, that they have ignored the evidence? How can they ignore that which they have read, or quote that which they have not read? The honorable senator does not do credit to his own reputation, in speaking in that way.
– If the honorable senator had read these opinions, he would know that what the lawyers quote are the words of the report, not the evidence.They do not quote the evidence in any case.
– They state most conclusively that they have read the evidence, and I am going to believe them. I do not see that it is open to any reasonable minded man to do otherwise. Certainly they have not cavilled over the miscellaneous evidence as to whether some person called a meeting, or whether some person called a meeting before, and all that clap-trap which was read to us this afternoon. But they have done their business as lawyers always do it when a document is submitted for their consideration. They were asked to investigate the report of the Commission, and not all the evidence. But, in the course of investigating the report, they also investigated the evidence, and showed* that the statements in the report are not sustained by the evidence. It is useless for me or any one else to discuss whether these gentlemen are to be believed or not. I choose to believe them, and I think that the majority of the people of Australia will choose to believe them, if it is for no other reason than that a professional man lives by his reputation. Loss of reputation to him means not only loss of status, but of living, I am not going to suppose that, for the sake of a paltry fee, or, if my honorable friend pleases, a big fee. two well-known barristers will falsify their record, and ruin all their prospects in life. I think it would be much better to admit that the keen analytical minds of trained lawyers axe quite likely to discover a lack of concinnity in the report which would not be apparent to gentlemen of less experience, hut of no doubt equal moral worth. It is not a question of moral worth that is involved, but a question of capacity to understand the value of evidence.
– It is a question of making out a case for their clients.
– Does the honorable senator think that there would not be an attempt made to prove a foregone conclusion ? r
– The honorable senator may think so j I do not.
– The honorable senator’s speech was very strong indeed before the appointment of the Royal Commission.
– I was not paid for my opinion, though.
– I have stated my reasons for taking strong exception to the Bill which it is sought to induce the Senate to pass on such very meagre and unsatisfactory foundation as a single report on a single industry which was signed by four Commissioners, and not signed by two others, one of whom submitted a minority report.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [4.38]. - lt is rather unfortunate that, in dealing with this Bill, we have not had the advantage of hearing the views of Senator Gray, who signed the minority report, because then we should have known the reasons which actuated the members of the Commission in arriving at different conclusions. In the debate, more attention has been given to the position of the tobacco industry than to the wider and larger question which is involved in the proposed amendment of the Constitution. It may be urged that there was a full inquiry into the state of- the tobacco industry, and that, on the evidence thus obtained, much force can be given to the contention that monopolies should not only be regulated bv legislation, but should be nationalized. Under the Bill, it is proposed to nationalize what are termed monopolies.
Section 51 of the Constitution is altered by adding at the end thereof the following paragraph :-
Under those words, although few, it is contemplated to make an absolute departure from the principles which have hitherto governed legislation in all English-speak. ing communities. I think that, before the Senate is called upon to express its opinion on so revolutionary a proposal, its subjectmatter ought to be submitted by the Government in a Bill. They ought to make themselves responsible for the advocacy of a measure with such far-reaching provisions. Of course, I know that every honorable senator has the right to submit a Bill ; but, at the same time, a Bill which proposes to revolutionize the principles upon which, hitherto, British Legislatures have proceeded, ought to bear the imprimatur of the Government. The present Bill has really no authority at its back. On the contrary, Senator Playford has distinctly stated that he and his colleagues are entirely opposed to a measure with such far-reaching provisions. He has suggested that it .would be very much better to submit to the people an amendment of the Constitution, which, if adopted, would enable the Government to take over the tobacco industry solely, than to have it associated or mixed up with other industries. If this Bill were submitted to the people, apart from the definition of the word “ monopoly “ given by Senator Playford, their attention would be directed to the fact that it would be possible under the proposed alteration to practically do away with individual effort, and to place every organization under the control of the Government. It may be that some honorable senators would be prepared to submit that issue to the electors ; but I feel convinced that the adoption of that policy would be disastrous to the best interests of the community. Under the Bill as it stands, it would be possible for the Commonwealth not only to take over the tobacco industry, but also the sugar industry and the shipping industry ; in fact, any industry. Whenever discontent was expressed with the conduct of a great enterprise, the cry would be raised that it ought to be nationalized. Do honorable senators consider that it would be productive of advantage to this country if this or any other alleged monopoly were controlled by the Commonwealth ? What are the objections to monopolies? The first objection seems to be that a monopoly has absorbed smaller industries into one large firm. But it is proposed by the supporters of this Bill not to put an end to a monopoly, but to transfer it from private ownership to the control of the Commonwealth, where it would be subject to the baneful effects of political influence. The so-called combine has grown from ; a number of smaller firms. Combination was probably necessitated by the manufacturers having to resist larger organizations in America and elsewhere. The history of combines has always shown that, by this means, immense savings are made in the cost of producing goods’ for general consumption. The combines have, by means of superior organization, been enabled to pay large bodies of workmen fair and reasonable wages. I think honorable senators will admit that the rates paid by these large industries are not unfair. We may lay it down as a proposition that where there is a great increase of prosperity in any industry there is a proportionate increase in the prosperity of those who are dependent upon it for their livelihood. One honorable senator complained that bymeans of combination the manufacturers were enabled to reduce expenditure, and to apportion their work in such a way that they got the advantage of labour at a modicum of expense. But who derives the benefit from that saving? Have not- the consumers always benefited from every saving effected in the cost of manufacture? Although it had been feared at first that the introduction of modern machinery would be the means of displacing labour, it has been shown that the labour has derived advantage from such machinery through increased production, and therefore increased opportunity to earn wages. My attention has been directed to an instance in the cotton-spinning trade. I will quote a passage from an address delivered in England on this subject in which it was said -
The hand loom cotton spinners in Lancashire declared that machinery was throwing them out of employment, destroying their labour, and lowering their wages. Before the inventions of Crompton and Arkwright there were only 8,000 cotton operatives in England, and no associated trades to speak of going with them. Twentysevenyears after these machines had come into operation there were 300,000 workmen engaged, and wages had advanced. Eighty years later wages had still further advanced, and there were 800,000 men engaged in England in the cotton industry, and to-day wages are higher than ever, and including the associated trades that go with cotton spinning, it is estimated that not less than two and a half” millions of people are engaged in the cotton industry in this kingdom.
That passage shows distinctly the advantages which the masses of the people have derived from the introduction of laboursaving machines. Honorable senators may reply : “ That is quite true, but we want to get rid of the capitalists who are coining money out of the industries that they are conducting.” But it mustalways be borne in mind that, before the capitalist can get anything out of an industry, he has three or four great charges to sustain. He has to make provision for the workmen whose wages he has to pay. He has in the next place - unless he is in the position of having been able to buy all his machinery and appliances out of his own funds - to provide interest on the capital he has borrowed. He has to provide a sinking fund in order ultimately to liquidate his liability.
– It is the working classes who provide the capital.
.- The working classes are not more able to conduct an industry without capital thanthe capitalist is to conduct his industry without workmen. Both ‘ parties are dependent upon each other.
– Large co-operative societies are carrying on successfully in Great Britain.
– How can any industry be conducted without capital? I do not care where it comes from ; whether it comes from the saving of fifty men or from the accumulated funds of one, there must be capital, or there will be no industry.
– The labour of working men is their capital.
– Does the honorable senator know that one of the greatest cooperative concerns in Great Britain was started with about 28s., and is now so large as to be a State within a State?
.- That is quite possible. But the success of the concern is due to the fact that it has accumulated capital. Working men can accumulate capital just as well as any one else, but anindustry cannot be conducted without it.
– Capital is necessary, but the capitalist is not.
– Every man who has saved anything is a capitalist to some extent. But what do honorable senators who support this Bill want to do? They say to people who are conducting industries, “ We will not interfere with you until you become successful, and prove that you have the grip and the stamina to carry on a great concern, but when you have clone that, we will nationalize your business.”
– Does the honorable senator think that all the credit for success is due to the manwho is at the head of a combine?
.- I give credit to the man who uses muscle, skill, and intelligence as much as to the man who uses ability, brains, and money in the conduct of an industry. There must be a community of interest between the two. Even if an industry were controlled by the Government, there would still have to be managers and heads of branches, and there would have to be capital to enable the concern to purchase the stock required to produce the article manufactured.
– Bill Sikes was a private enterpriser.
.- Bill Sikes was a man who interfered with other people’s industries. The tobacco combine has sprung from small beginnings. Not one senator who supports this Bill would have attempted to interfere with any of the smaller companies; but, because they have been amalgamated owing to the ability, energy, and intelligence of the men connected with them, it is alleged that there is ground for nationalization.
– When the smaller companies existed, the Victorian Tobacco Committee recommended the nationalization of theindustry.
.- It is, of course, a question of which system is the better. It has not been shown that the tobacco industry, if it were in the hands of the Government, would be one bit better from the point of view of the country generally than it is now. It has not been shown that the workmen, the consumer, or the grower of tobacco leaf would be advantaged. Possibly, some of the protectionist senators would say that if the industry were nationalized, the grower of leaf would be benefited because more Australian tobacco would be used, and very little would be imported. But the consumer might not approve of that arrangement. It is very instructive to read the evidence taken by the Commission as to the results of nationalization in other countries. Take the question of revenue. In 1903 the revenue derived from tobacco in Australia amounted to 2s. 8d. 3-10d. per lb., and the revenue per head of the population was 6s.113/4d. The evidence shows that in France, which, of the countries where the tobacco industry is nationalized, derives the greatest revenue therefrom, the revenue per head of population in 1902 was 6s. 9d.
.- At any rate there was a difference per head in the years I have mentioned ofonly 23/4d. between the revenue derived in France and in Australia. I admit that the revenue per lb. is 4d. or 5d.greater in France than in Australia; but wehave to consider whether we can materially increase the revenue by interfering with this industry. I find that the average wages in France are 15s. 6d. a week, as compared: with 27s. 42-10d. in Australia.
– If the honorable senator looks at page 72 of the report of the Royal Commission, he will find that his figures are altogether astray.
.- If they are astray, it is not to any great extent.
– They are very much astray.
– At any rate, the figures disclose a most material difference in the average wages. In Austria and Italy the average rate of wages is only 7s. 8jd. and 5s. 6d. per week respectively. However faulty these calculations may be - though I do not admit they are faulty - they show most conclusively that the rate of wages in Australia is immeasurably in advance of the rate paid in other parts of the world.
– Admitting your figures to be correct, they show that the wages paid bv the French Government are higher ‘than “those paid bv private employers in France.
– But even so, the honorable senator finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. If the rate of wages be) .higher in Government employ than in private employ , as I have no doubt they would be in Australia, there would not be the profit which the honorable senator contemplates.
– Yes, there would, because, under a Government monopoly, advertising expenses, importers’ profits, and so forth, would be eliminated.
.- One of the reasons why the price of tobacco can be kept down so low in countries where the industry is nationalized is the large proportion of females employed. In France the- proportion of females to male operatives is 8.56, and in Austria 8.23, while in Italy it is much greater than either. In the Commonwealth the proportion, of female operatives is 0.82 less than one. This affords a reason for the reduction in the cost of labour abroad. I am sure we do not desire to see here an undue proportion of female labour.
– It will occur here unless we look after the industry.
.- I should be with the honorable senator in preventing, if possible, such a state of things. What I am pointing out is that, with a system of nationalization, we have all these evils to face. I do not object to women earning their own livelihood in any suitable occupation, but it is undesirable that an undue proportion of women should be driven into the factories ; it is far better to see the men employed earning a living for their wives and families. We are told that under nationalization tobacco growers would get higher prices.
– The growers themselves say that they could not be in a worse position than they are in to-day.
– I have recently seen in some’ newspapers statements which show that the men employed in the cultivation of tobacco regard their present position as reasonably satisfactory. 1 recollect the time when growers received is. per lb., or perhaps a little more, if they had a particularly good leaf : but ten or twelve years ago, in the early days of the Excise, I believe, the price declined owing to the competition of Chinamen at Tumut and elsewhere. The Australian grower is not being- paid at a lower rate than the American grower for leaf of light quality. In France the average price for local leaf is 3 5-iod., while in the Commonwealth it is 5 8-10d., or 60 to 70 per cent, higher. We must not forget that in France, owing to the Government monopoly, the grower is restricted in his area, and the quantity he is, allowed to produce. We find that the average cost of leaf used in the manufacture of tobacco’ is 5 i-tod. in France, and 15 9-iod. in Australia. No doubt that higher price is due to the duty which has to be paid on the introduction of leaf into the Commonwealth ;. but we can readily understand why there should be a marked difference between the price charged to the consumer in Australia, and the price charged to the consumer in France. I have not alluded much to the production in Austria or Italy, because the case of France is more favorable to the contention of honorable senators who support nationalization. I ask honorable senators to realize that once this industry is handed over to the State, all the small companies and manufacturers will be crushed out.
– They will get reasonable compensation.
– No doubt there will be compensation, but whether reasonable or not remains to be seen. When big companies take over small businesses with a view to amalgamation, they also axe prepared to pay reasonable compensation; and I admit, of course, that in a case of competition, some of the smaller people may not get very much return. Unless the Government were to adopt a policy of confiscation, they would, even in the case of this one industry, find themselves faced with the necessity of raiding a large sum of money, which in all probability would have to be borrowed, and would bear interest. There is very little difference whether the Government pay the interest to foreign or local bondholders, or allow the men engaged in the industry to earn the profit arising from their industry. We have been told that the number of hands employed in the industry has been reduced ;. but from a return I find that, as a matter of fact, there were in 1904 some 15 or 20 per cent, more hands employed by the combine than in 1902.
– But factories! have been closed down in Western Australia and Queensland.
.- That I admit. I recognise also that the factories in existence now produce all the tobacco required by those people in the Commonwealth who desire the locally manufactured article, and that there has been a material decrease in the tobacco and cigars imported. That position has no doubt been brought about by improved methods and machinery which enable the combine to turn out a better article than was possible when the trade was in a disunited condition. Further, there has been introduced a finer class of leaf from America, which is manufactured in reasonable proportion - though I do not know what those proportions are - with the Australian leaf. In the Monthly Review, there is an article by Ernest E. Williams, under the title, “After Capitalism.” The writer, after discussing the question, says the collectivists claim that -
Expediency demands that the era of commercialism and private profit-making out of capital shall be destroyed, and superseded by the socialisation of capital, and its direction by the community in the interests of the community, for the manufacture of wealth for the use of all, and not for commercial exploitation by a class.
I assume that here the writer sets forth in terse language the object of the nationalization of great industries which honorable senators opposite contemplate. He considers that if there is a large amount of profit it had much better go to the State or the Commonwealth,’ when it can be applied to useful purposes of great advantage to the community as a whole. I am entirely opposed to everything which is calculated to take from men the incentive to better their position, and by that means better the community as a whole. Honorable senators must not forget that, whilst a number of people have comparatively large interests involved in the great industries of the country, there is also a very large number who hold a small interest in those industries. It is difficult to say what is the number of shareholders in any great company doing business in Australia at the present time. On Iv ‘ recently, I saw a statement of the number of ‘shareholders, with the value of their shares, in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which is another of the businesses into which honorable senators opposite would like to put the knife. I am aware that a few persons in that company hold a very large number of shares, but I was astonished to find how small was the interest which quite a number of persons have in that company. People who have made a few pounds are glad of the opportunity now afforded to invest them in a business which is known to be prosperous. They, know that in this way their savings are profitably employed, and that thev will get a reasonable return from them without undue risk. The nationalization of industries would take from these people the opportunity they how have. Is it not desirable that avenues should be provided for the employment of small as well as large sume of money? Big business companies, with large capital and a great output, loom large in the eyes of the public, but if their share-lists are examined, it will be found that hundreds of people of comparatively small means have invested their savings in these companies, which thev look upon as safe and reliable. We hear sometimes attacks being made upon the banks, and we know that a section of the community propose the nationalization of banks. They would establish a State bank, and if thev had their way, it would transact the whole of the banking business of the community. It is well known that many of the poorer people hold five, ten, or twenty shares in wellestablished banks, and they have invested their hard earnings in this way for the sake of a certain regular dividend with a minimum of risk. It is of the greatest benefit - to the community that such oppor- tunities for investment by the poorer people should continue to be afforded. Another most important matter in this connexion is that businesses in the hands of private companies are more carefully and economically managed than they would be in the hands of a Government dependent for its existence on the support of. those who would be, at the same time, its employes and its masters. These employe’s might, by combination, dictate any terms they pleased as to conditions of labour and rates of wages. Wherever a Government has charge of industries, there is great waste of power and extravagant expenditure.
– Is that the case with the Post-Office?
.- The PostOffice is in an entirely different category. I would ask Senator Stewart whether he thinks it would be possible for halfadozen different private companies tocarry on the business of the Post Office.
– A good strong trust could run it nicely.
.- The writer of the article to which I have already referred, says -
Apart from the fact that in all probability men would not work such long hours in a Collectivist State as they do atpresent, thereby diminishing the output of wealth, there is the further circumstance to be regarded, that they would not work so hard during the hours in which they were employed. This is not mere surmise. The instalments of Collectivism already to hand in our new municipal trading show clearly enough how already men work slackly where their employer is a democratic municipal body, of which the workmen themselves are electors. Thebricklaying performance of LondonCounty Council servants is a notorious case which will serve for illustration.
– How many bricks do they lay now?
.- I think these men were. prepared to lay one brick for every twelve that would be laid by the average American workman.
With all industry socialised, this slackness would become enormously intensified, and the greatest possible difficulty would be found in getting men to work at all in the more disagreeable pursuits.
Once private enterprise has shown that an industry is a valuable one, honorable senators supporting the nationalization of industries will be prepared to take it away from those who built it up. But if men carry on a business undertaking at a loss, or so as to make merely a bare livelihood, those who advocate this system will generously say to them, “ You may retain your industry. It is not a great one that we think ought to be nationalized.” The system which honorable senators advocate is calculated to take the heart out of every man in the community. They desire that all men shall work for the Government.
– Some do not wish to work at all.
.- That is so, but work is the lot of man, and unless some one will do the work which must be done, the country must go down.
– Men will work if there is a reward for their work.
– The difficulty is that many who work get no reward.
– What we desire is that men shall be assured of a reward if they work, and that if they have determination, energy, and perseverance they will succeed in life.. In a young country like Australia, where only recently there has been any inherited wealth, most of the wealth possessedby the people has been gained by hard work. Why should we say now that we will have no more of the men who have shown their willingness to work, and will have every one employed by the Government.?
– Many men have to work as long as they are able, and there is the poor-house for them in the end.
.- It is unfortunately true that many men are obliged to work continuously without being able to improve their position, and it is certainly one of theduties of members of this Parliament to do all they possibly can to ameliorate the conditions of such people. I hope that we are all animated by a desire to do that. But we know that many men in this country who started as manual labourers have, by their industry and enterprise, been enabled toacquire property and money. and I ask whether it is reasonable that we should take it away from them.
– Nobody proposes to do that.
-No; but honorable senators propose to place every industry in the hands of the Government, and aman may enter the employ of the Government as a labourer, and remain in it as a labourer to the end of his days. I admit that some businesses, such as that of the Post Office, can be well conducted by a
Government, but even in the case of the Post Office I ask honorable senators to look at t;he salaries which are being paid to men who have been working for twenty-five and thirty years, and to say whether they do not think that, if those men had devoted their ability to the conduct of a business of their own, they would to-day -have been in a very much better position than they are. I am very sorry that the remuneration paid should be so small as it is in many instances in the postal service. I would prefer that any one belonging to me should endeavour to make his own way in the world than that he should take a Government billet in the belief that he would be in a comfortable position, and in receipt of a reasonable salary all his life.
– I would not put a boy of mine into the Government service.
– The honorable senator has no need to do so.
– Senator Fraser says that, because he thinks that if his boy had to earn his own livelihood, he would by grit and energy obtain better results from his efforts than he would be likely to secure in Government employ. I urge upon honorable senators the view that the nationalization of industries is calculated to take the grit and stamina out of the people of the country, and to discourage them from bending their energies to the improvement of their position.
– It is going to give them three meals a day all the time, and that will be some advantage.
.- I am sure the honorable senator knows plenty of men who are not worth their three meals a day. We know that the greatness of the mother country has not been due to any mollycoddling of her people. Senator Trenwith might say that if. it had adopted a protective system it would have been a more prosperous country than it is to-day.
– I ask Senator Gould not to discuss the question of protection, and honorable senators not to interject, as it only leads the speaker off the track.
.- Perhaps I am to blame, sir, for eliciting the interjection about protection. I regret that Senator Findley is not here, because I wish to tell him that I do not hold a brief for the tobacco combine, or any other company in connexion with this Bill. I do not think that Senator Neild was quite right when he assumed that any one had asserted that he did. The report which has been quoted by Senator Neild has been described as a report which was paid for as regards, not only its preparation, but also its publication in the press. It should be borne in mind that great attention has been directed to the tobacco industry, and that over and over again charges have been laid against different men engaged therein. Surely those gentlemen had a perfect right to vindicate their position as best they could. They have had no opportunity of being heard on the floor here. Possibly they might have asked for leave to be heard if it had suited their purpose. In any case, the adoption of the Commission’s report has not been moved, and therefore they have had no locus standi, but in order to protect themselves, and disabuse the public mind in regard to certain charges, they adopted the plain and straightforward course of asking that the report, and the evidence on which it was based, should be submitted to counsel with a view to making a critical examination, and giving an opinion. Surely there was no harm in their taking that course ! I feel quite satisfied that the standing of Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Weigall is such that no one would attempt to say that they would wilfully falsify any statement or opinion.
– What was the issue which was submitted to counsel ? It is not a legal question.
– It is a question of the application of evidence.
– Of making up a case against us.
– Counsel were asked to review the whole report, and to give their opinion about the evidence, and not to allow themselves to-be influenced in any way. They were told that df, in their opinion, the evidence bore out the finding of the Commission they were to say so, and vice versa.
– -In what better position are they in to give a. decision on that point than the Senate or the House of Representatives? It is not a question of law.
– It is a question of the application of evidence, and of what conclusions ought to be drawn therefrom. It ds far better- that the report should have been submitted to men in whose integrity and ability the people of the coun- try have full confidence. How many persons in the community will wade through the voluminous evidence which was taken by the Commission?
– When the case was submitted to counsel, the solicitors said, “ Our clients consider that the report furnished by the majority of the Royal Commission is one-sided, unfair, and misleading.”
– Will the honorable senator read on? Is he trying to make anything out of the expression “ our clients “ ?
– No; except that they are not judges, but advocates.
D- If the honorable senator finds that he is likely to be involved in litigation, he does not “tell his professional adviser that he wants him to carry the thing right through, but he probably asks him to obtain the best possible advice as to whether he should proceed, and when he is furnished with counsel’s opinion, he exercises his own judgment. We are quite entitled to consider the opinion of Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Weigall. Do honorable senators wish to see the shipping industry nationalized? A number of local shipping firms are running steamers along the coast. We have been told that recently they formed a combine, and we have passed legislation to prevent a combine from doing anything which may be regarded as injurious to the public generally. Hundreds, I believe several thousands, of persons in the community are directly interested in the success of these shipping enterprises. Why ? Because it is with their money that the services are run. lt is the man with his small capital of £10 or- £15 or £20 who is helping to run them. Is it intended to deprive a man of the opportunity to invest his small capital in that way, and to say that all the coastal ships shall pass into the hands of the Government, so that they shall be the sole employers of seamen on the coast?
– Many shareholders in the shipping companies were working sailors thirty years ago.
– I can well understand that. Do the members of the Labour Party desire to place all the shipping enterprises in shackles ? Do they wish to take away from a man every incentive to do any good to the country, to tell every man who is possessed of brains or a little capital that the place for him is not Australia, but in some other part of the world, where he would have an opportunity of employing his intelligence, energy, and capital in doing something good for himself and for his family, without becoming a Government drudge? Most earnestly do I appeal to honorable senators to deal with this question as one which is not within the range of practical politics at the present time. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Senator Pearce could carry the Bill up to the third-reading stage. How could he possibly get an absolute majority, as required by the Constitution ? We are. engaged in possibly a very interesting, but certainly a very unprofitable discussion, because it cannot lead to any result.
– Will the honorable senator give me a chance to reply ?
.- For the reasons I have given, I intend, if we get to that point, to record my vote against the motion.
– I understand that Senator Pearce wishes to exercise his right of reply, and I intend to do all in my power, as I have been trying to do during the afternoon, to secure to him that opportunity. It will noi be any news to honorable senators to hear that I intend to oppose the Bill. I wish to see a division taken, and I hope that Senator Pearce will see that the Senate shall get an opportunity of dividing on the Bill today.
– Hear, hear.
– This comprehensive Bill is generally regarded as being practically the outcome pf the Tobacco Monopoly Commission. It is a significant thing that one member of that body, Senator Keating, declined to sign either the majority or the minority report. So far as I can ascertain, there was _ no power, oral, postal, or telegraphic, which would induce Senator Keating to say “Yes” or “No” on the important question as to whether or not he was in favour of the nationalization of such a monopoly as the tobacco industry. I hope that Senator Pearce will take every precaution to insure that Senator Keating shall now be able to give to him, as well as to the rest of the Senate, the answer which he declined to give when he was a member of the Commission. That is. a special) reason why I want a division to be taken. It will also enable honorable senators to sort themselves into two camps, namely,, the earnt) of those who do not believe in the nationalization of industries, and the camp of those who hold that belief. That is. all I have to say on the matter.
.- I recognise that after the searching criticism to which Senator Pearce has been subjected, he ought to have a fair opportunity to reply. He asked me just now whether, if I was the last speaker, I would allow htm half-an-hour in which to reply. I intend to curtail my remarks, so that he mav have more than that time, because I think that it is due to him. I have not collated the voluminous evidence which is attached to the report of the Commission, and therefore I propose to speak only on general principles. I regard this as a most important occasion, because if the Bill were to become law the Labour Party would have placed upon the statute-book the very foundation of1 their policy. I suppose that sooner or later the issue will have to be put to the ‘ Commonwealth, whether it is to be governed on the principles of individualism or collectivism. We all approve of mild doses of Socialism, but we do not approve of “ going the whole hog,” and asking the Commonwealth Administration to become collectivism to take over monopolies one after another, and to govern on socialistic lines. It appears to me that in indulging in ultraSocialism the Labour Party are unmindful of their own history, and forgetting the very character of human nature. I have read in scores of books that, with human nature as it is constituted, and with our present degree of knowledge and education. it would be absolutely impossible, to run the Commonwealth on collectivist lines. Ever since the world began there has been a struggle for existence. Without such competition the progress of the world would not .come to a standstill, but would be greatly impaired. The members of the Labour Party seem to forget that there is a remedy for almost all the ills of which thev complain. It is not to be found in the passing of an Act of Parliament to do an impossibility, nor in a neglect to take cog”nizance of human nature, or the desire of men to go on. It is ethical. If we cannot educate ourselves into regarding men as our brothers, helping them, and passing proper laws, which would ameliorate their condition ; if we have not the courage or unselfishness to do that, then it -is of no use for us to fall back upon an Act of Parliament, and imagine that by taking over industries, and using a grand word like “ nationalization,” we shall do that good for human nature which we all desire to do. If we wish the State to flourish, individualism, and not collectivism, must be the foundation on which we build. A very clever aphorism was made about the Socialists by Bagehot, who said that they were a class of people who desired that no one should go barefooted, but that every one should have one boot. That is what it would come to if some of the schemes of my honorable friends opposite were carried out. If’ this Bill were submitted to the electors, the result would be disaster. I defy any member of this Parliament to make people understand it when submitted to them mixed up with a number of other questions. Senator Pearce and his supporters desire to nationalize the tobacco industry. If they were successful in their efforts, the moment the Commonwealth, commenced to manufacture tobacco, it would come face to face with the “ government stroke.” Only a few hours ago, I read in a back number of the Times the report of the Royal Commission appointed in England to inquire into the War Office scandals regarding mismanagement in the supply of fodder and other army material during the South African campaign. The Commission reported that about .£750,000 was absolutely wasted, but that there was no actual corruption amongst the commissioned officers who had control. There .was a slight amount of corruption amongst a few junior non-commisioned officers ; but the £750,000 was absolutely lost in consequence of the “ government stroke.” The men who had charge were excited during the war about Mafeking, and Ladysmith, and did not trouble to adopt the right methods of administering the affairs committed to their charge. They simply pitched away the country’s money, drawing their salaries regularly, and not troubling themselves about the interests of the taxpayer. If we were to nationalize this industry, we should have exactly the same sort of thing in connexion with it. Politicians who wish to keep abreast of the times must read the writings, not of the political economists of the old school, but those of modern thinkers. These men recognise that it is necessary to pass manysocalled socialistic laws: but, at the same time, thev point out that there cannot be any sudden change in the methods of in- dustrial life, and in the structure of human society. There has been more bloodshed over attempts to introduce sudden changes than over anything else in the history of the world. It takes a long time for the results of political changes to manifest themselves. We shall not see the consequences of the degeneracy of the Labour Party all at once. They are degenerating now in consequence of their machine politics. . 1 have no sympathy with public men ornewspapers who accuse the members of the Labour Party of being ignorant. SinceI have had the pleasure - and it has been a pleasure - to have personal relations with them,I have found that many of them are far better informed on some subjects than I am. But, so long as they are subject to machine politics, so long as they are governed by outside bodies to whom they are not, properly speaking, responsible, so long, as they go in for nationalizing monopolies for all they are worth, they must be a degenerating party. We may not see the evil consequences of their machine politics fully developed for a generation or two, but I maintain that men who stick to their machine politics, regardless of ‘-heir own consciences, their own judgment, their own knowledge, and their own experience, are degenerating, and cannot be otherwise described.
– Does the honorable senator really believe what he is saying?
– I believe every word of it. I was astonished that Senator Trenwith - a man of great intelligence and ability and of considerable experience - should have made an interjection such as he has done in the course of the debate. Hesaid that if we nationalized the tobacco industry we could give people three meals a day. Is that the only argument he can furnish us with?
– I made a speech on a proposal to nationalize the sugar industry, in which the honorable senator might be interested if he took the trouble to read it. He will find more arguments in that speech.
– I shall be glad to read it, but I expected from a man of my honorable friend’s experience something better than the argument to which I have alluded.I should never doubt the honesty and integrity ofmy honorable friend Senator Pearce, but there is no doubt that he. too, is degenerating by submitting to the politicalmachine. wehaveabsolute evidence in this case that he entered into the inquiry not only with his mind made up, but positively pledged. Hewent into it with a determination in favour of the nationalization of the tobacco industry rammed down his throat and written on his conscience. As Mr. Deakin pointed out at Ballarat, this system of machine-politics, if not checked, will drag us all over the precipice. It will drop the Labour Party over the precipice too, before its members are many years older. As a consequence of Senator Pearce entering the inquiry with preconceived convictions his report is not a fair and impartial summing up of the evidence, but a prejudiced document. Allusion has been made to the two learned counsel who have furnished an opinion with regard to the report. I happen to know both of them, and I know also that they took great care in the preparation of their opinion. They went into the country for ten days, reading every line of the evidence, analyzing it, making schedules of it, and thoroughly mastering every portion of it. Is it to’ be supposed thatcounsel likethesewould take their 100 guineas., or whatevertheir fees were, for furnishing an opinion upon a document without reading it? It is the life work of such men to sum up evidence. Every brief that they read has to be studied from the point of view of whether a case can be made out. These men express, the opinion that many of the statements made by Senator Pearce in his report are not borne out by the evidence, and that the report itself is not justified. Therefore I think that my honest and honorable friend has made a mistake. He has allowed machine politics and his own prejudices to get the better of his judgment. I hope that if this question goes before the electors, and the whole matter has. to be explained to them, Senator Pearce will come to Tasmania. If he does, I will hire a hall for him, pay the expense of it myself, meet him fairly in debate on the question, and give him a good time while he is there.
– I am sorry that the time at my disposal is insufficient to enable me to go through the very able speech made by Senator Millen. But I point out that that speech was not devoted to a criticism of the report itself. Not a single sentence of his speech dealt with it. He did not attempt to argue against the conclusion at which the Commission arrived, but devoted himself entirely to criticising and analyzing what I said in initiating this debate. But I should like to deal with Senator Millen’s address. I think I shall be better advised if I devote my attention to the case which has been put before the people of Australia, per the medium of the press, by a Melbourne firm of solicitors. It was published in the Argus of the 27 th September. I invite honorable senators to listen to the paragraph in which the instruction of the solicitors to counsel is set forth-
Our clients consider that the report furnished by the majority of the Royal Commission is onesided, unfair and misleading, but as this can only be conclusively exposed bv a detailed study of the voluminous “minutes of evidence,” which would perhaps be too great a tax upon the time of members of Parliament, or of the public, they requested us to obtain the opinion of two leading counsel as to whether, specifically and generally, the conclusions of the majority report were justified by the evidence upon which they purported to be based.
Accordingly, we submitted the matter to two leading counsel here, Mr. E. I’”. Mitchell, K.C., and Mr. T. a’B. Weigall, as per our letter of 10th August, 1906.
It will be noticed that the two counsel were simply invited to support the opinion of their clients - who were paying for this ten days’ trip to the country. The case was already prejudged. Any finding bv the gentlemen who were being paid for tlie opinion that the report of the Commission was not misleading, would not have been very palatable to those who were finding the money. But I intend, in the short time that is available to me, to analyze this criticism of the Commission’s report, and I think I shall be able to show that if the two gentlemen who have furnished an opinion upon it, read the evidence, they were verv careful to put it on one side in formulating their opinion.. Here is their first statement -
First “ the combine “ or “ combination “ generally referred to by witnesses and Commissioners is that which was effected by an arrangement made in February, 1904, and described by Mr. L. P. Jacobs at Q. 555. Any amalgamated body which preceded it was always opposed by some other body or bodies powerful and active in a fierce war of competition. Not _ until February, 1904, was there anything in the nature of a “combine” of the principal firms nr companies carrying on the tobacco business in Australia.
Now, Senator Gray, who certainly was nor hostile to the combine, has submitted a minority report, and if honorable senators will turn to that document, they will see that he says (page 17) -
In March, 1903, the firms of Dixson and Cameron, realizing the formidable nature of the competition of the Wills ‘Company, agreed to merge their interests in a new company to be called the British Australasian Tobacco Company.
At that time, the Wil/ls Company had only commenced operations in Australia. That Company, I may say, was the pioneer of the British American Trust. Therefore, according to Senator Gray’s conclusion, based upon the evidence, in March, 1903, the principal Australian firms formed a combine to meet a possible competition which was only then commencing ; because the Wills Company had only then established itself in one or two of the capital cities of Australia. On page 56 of the evidence (question 542), we have a statement of the origin of the local combination which preceded the international combination. The statement is that of Mr. L. P. Jacobs. 542. I was asking you with regard to your connexion with tobacco manufacturing in 1806, and whether you took Mr. Gross into partnership? - I will explain. About the year 1895 or 1896 Mr. Alfred Gross, and his partner, who did business in Brisbane .under the name of Messrs. A. Gross and Co., came to Melbourne and opened a tobacco factory under the name of Alfred Gross and Co. Proprietary Limited. After he had been in business for about two years . the firm of which I was a partner, Messrs. Jacobs, Hart, and Co., secured an interest in Alfred Gross and Co. Proprietary Limited, whilst Mr. Gross acquired an interest in the firm of Jacobs, Hart, and Co. That arrangement continued for about two years, when Mr. Gross retired from (he firm of Jacobs, Hart, and Co., and remained connected only , V, tl, A. Gross and Co. Proprietary Limited. We retained our interest in Alfred Gross and Co. Proprietary Limited. Some time after that Messrs. Dixson and Sons, of Sydney, and Robert Dixson and Co., of Adelaide and Fremantle, joined me in purchasing the business of Alfred Gross and Co. Proprietary Limited, and starting a tobacco company in Melbourne under the name of the Dixson Tobacco Co. Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne. 543. Can you tell us why Messrs. Jacobs, Hart, and Co. went into, liquidation ? - We did not go into liquidation. We amalgamated our business with the distributing portion of the businesses of Dixson and Sons, Brisbane, Robert Dixson and Co., Adelaide and Fremantle, and Sutton and Co., Sydney, under the title of the States Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne and Sydney. 544. That was just about the time of the estab lishment of Inter-State free-trade? - Yes.
Inter-State free-trade was established in 1 901, and, according to Mr. Jacobs’ evidence, the principal “tobacco firms had then already commenced their work of combination, and many of them were combined. At a later date the Cameron firm came in, and in 1903 the very large majority of the firms were in close combination. Now we come to the statement as to the humidity of the atmosphere, and the conditions under which the operatives worked - “2nd. Par. 17 states that four representatives of operatives employed in making twist and plug tobacco ‘were in agreement’ that conditions generally were worse than before the combination, and that these complaints refer to - “ (a) Inadequate and reduced wages. “ (b) The substitution of female labour for male labour at lower rates of pay than male labour. “(d) Power of combine to dictate terms and conditions, owing to the absence of competitors. “‘These four witnesses did not each of them corroborate each other of them upon each of these four heads of complaint. One of them, Mr. Blundell, expressed satisfaction with existing conditions in his State (South Australia). Only one of them. Mr. Stanley, referred to complaint c. Complaint d seems to have been pressed more by certain Commissioners than by the witnesses themselves.”
It is said that nobody backed up the evidence of Mr. Stanley, but here is the evidence of Mr. Forest Irwin -
Three or four times last summer I have, under instructions from the union, reported to the Factory and Shops Act Department the necessity of reducing the decree of heat existing in the press-room, owing to the employes not being allowed sufficient fresh air, and also in regard to the quantity of tobacco dust and particles flying through the air, which were naturally inhaled.
That is the statement of a witness from Sydney, and he practically makes the same charge as that made by Mr. Stanley. This shows that these impartial judges have not read the evidence, or they could not have made the ‘ statement that only one of the witnesses called on behalf of the operatives complained about the atmosphere. I now come to the following paragraph in the letter: - “ The contradictions given by the inspectors (public officers) were not confined to the question of humidity of atmosphere, and cannot be fairly described as ‘qualified.They appear to us to be unqualified contradictions of any assertions that there were any such ill-effects as alleged from any preventable humidity.”
The Commission stated in their report that the contradictions by the officials were only qualified ; and I shall read a statement to honorable senators, who will be able to judge as to the correctness of that view. Amongst the witnesses examined was Mr. William John Rubin Pearce, Inspector of Nuisances, Melbourne. His evidence was as follows : - 6994. You have no knowledge that any such state of affairs existed, as statedby Mr. Stanley ?- No. 6995. Assuming that the ventilators, at a certain time, had all been closed, and therefore the atmosphere had become unhealthy by reason of that fact, would you have any knowledge of it? -Really, I do not think I would. As regards the ventilation itself, that comes more under the supervision of the factory inspector.
As a matter of fact, this gentleman, who was brought to contradict Mr. Stanley’s evidence, had nothing to do with the ventilation. Mr. Edward Charles Martin, Inspector of Factories and Shops, whose duty it was to look after these matters, was examined,’ and the following is an extract from his evidence: - 7002. Do you supervise the ventilation ? - No, I have nothing whatever to do with that. 7037. By Senator Stewart. - You say you never found the ventilators shut? - Had I done so, I would have ordered them to be opened. 7038. If they were kept ‘shut, would the atmosphere be detrimental to the health of the people working inside? -I would like to sayin reply,to that, that that matter is beyond my province.
The statement made by Mr. Stanley was that the factory was supplied with ventilators, but that these ventilators were kept closed - 7039. But the purpose of having ventilators is to purify the atmosphere? - Exactly. If the ventilators were closed the men would not be able to work in the factories, and theywould take care of that themselves. 7040. The allegation made is that owing to the ventilators being closed, the factory is extremely unhealthy to work in ? - I have never seen the ventilators closed. 7041. You visit the place three times a year officially, and although you did not find the ventilators shut, it is finite possible that they may have been shut during the greater portion of the year ? - Exactly.
It will be remembered that Mr. Forest Irwin’s statements were in regard to the Sydney factory ; and the following is an extract from the evidence of Mr.William George Armstrong, Medical Officer of the Board of Health, who was called at the request of the combine to disprove Mr. Irwin’s statements - 4939. Have you ever had occasion to visit the
British and Australian Tobacco Company’s factory to inquire into the question of the humidity of the air? - If that is the factory formerly known as Dixson’s, I made a visit there on 26th May,in company with one of the inspectors of the Department of Labour and Industry. I suggested one or two slight alterations in the way of ventilation, but nothing further. 4940. What caused you to make any suggestions? - . I thought it might be improved slightly in one or two directions. But, generally speaking, I considered it fair. 4941. Were any of your suggestions based on the quantity of dust arising in the factory ? - No. 4942. Can you give the Committee an idea of what alterations you suggested ? - I think I suggested putting in one or two ventilating openings in one of the walls; that is as far as I can recollect. It is a considerable time ago, and my memory is not very clear about it. 4971- How long have you been in the Government employ ? - Eight years. 4972. During that period you often visited that factory ? - No ; I have only visited it once, in 1905. 4973. You were instructed to make the visit by the Minister for Labour and Industry? - No; I was not instructed, but at the request of that Department,’ who said they would like my advice in connexion with the ventilation at a certain factory. 4974. What time did you spend at the factory? - About one and a half hours. 4975. And by whom were you shown over it? - By one of the officials of the factory ; I could not say who. 4076. During the eight years you have been in the Department you visited that factory but once ; therefore, speaking as an expert, one visit in that period of time could not be taken as a serious opinion on a matter affecting the health of operatives engaged in that factory? - In general terms. No, I do not think so. I should prefer, before giving mv opinion, to visit the plan at various seasons of the year.
In view of that evidence, I ask any reasonable man if the Commission were not justified in saying that the contradictions given by officials to the. statements made by the witnesses for the operatives, were only qualified? As to wages, there is the following paragraph in the letter: - “ (a) Is a finding ‘that wages have been in some instances reduced.’ Except in the isolated, and (we think) immaterial, instances referred to by Mr. Irwin affecting only five or six operatives, we think that no finding that there has been any reduction of wages by the combine is or would be justified by the evidence.”
The statements made by Mr. Irwin are admitted; and, therefore,I need not follow that point further. Twist tobacco is very largely used in Adelaide, and is sold at so many sticks to thepound. After the combination was formed, the number of sticks to the pound was increased, but the operatives, who were paid 4d. to the pound, were not given an increase of wages. Where they had been making sixteen sticks for 4d..they had to make eighteen sticks, and where they had been making fourteen sticks they had to make sixteen. My contention is that that constitutes a practical reduction of wages, because more labour was required to earn the same amount of money. The following is an extract from the evidence of Mr. Reginald Blundell, of Adelaide: - 6028. By the Chairman. - In answer to Senator Gray, you stated you were getting thesame. wages now as you were before the combine came, into existence. You were making fourteen sticks for 4d., and nowyou are making sixteen sticks for the same price. How can you be getting the same wage? - I meant per lb. Some lines are worse than others, but taking it all round, our price is 4d. per lb. 6029. Take any particular line. You were making fourteen* sticks for 4d. for several years. Now you are making sixteen sticks in that particular line for 4d. Do you say youget as well paid? - In that light we are not. We get the sameper lb., but not the same per stick.
The same thing happened in the case of plug tobacco. The size of the plug was reduced, and the operatives who made the covers were paid so much per lb. ; and the result was that they had to cover a greater number for the same price as formerly. It will be seen that Mr. Irwin’s statement was not an isolated one. but that, in the case of the plug covers also, there had been a practical reduction of wages. Then we come to the following paragraph in the letter: - “ (b) Is a finding ‘that the number of females employed has increased,’ and that in some cases they receive less than men for similar work?’ In so far as this finding means that women areemployed to do the work which men formerly did, and at a less wage than men received for such work, we think that it is in noway justified by the evidence.”
Honorable senators will notice the twisting of the report, which stated simply that the number of female operatives had been increased. That statement is so twisted as to convey the impression that women are now employed at a lower rate of wage, to do work formerly undertaken by men. Now let us see what witnesses proved this.I direct honorable senators to page 59 of the evidence. They will find that the witness under examination was Mr. Louis Phillips Jacobs, one of the heads of the trust, and he submitted a table showing the average weekly wages paid in tobacco and cigar factories for the first week in June, in the years 1902, 1903, and 1904. The table gives particulars for all the factories, but I refer only to those of the Sydney factories under the initial “B.” It will be seen, from this table that the num- ber of hands employed in 1902 was 307 males; in 1903, 320 males; and in 1904, 328 males, and 43 females. In 1903 the trust came into operation. A summary of the whole position by Mr. Hugh R. Dixson will be found at page 327 of the report, and these are the figures which he gives - For 1903, women and girls, 523 ; youths and boys, 326 ; and men, 598. For 1905, women and girls, 609 ; youths and boys, 330 ; and men, 649. These figures show an increase of seventyseven women and girls, four youths and boys, and fifty -one men, or an increase of twenty-six more women and girls than of men.
– Do those figures include all the factories?
– They include all the trust’s factories. Mr. Coghlan’s figures for 1902 give the total number of employes at 2,979, and the number given by Mr. D. Ferguson, Inspector of Excise for Victoria for 1904, was 2,816, so that over the whole of Australia there had been a decrease of 163 in the number of employes engaged in tobacco factories. Here is another statement made -
That the atmosphere in two of the principal tobacco factories is kept at a high state of humidity, and a return handed in in reply to
This is the answer to that -
In our opinion the evidence as to this matter does not support any finding that there have been in any factory any humidity which was excessive, or which could or should have been avoided. There is no evidence on which we can express an opinion as to whether the percentage of sickness in one of the factories, as shown in the return handed in, was unusual.
I turn again to the evidence of one of the witnesses supplied by the trust - Mr. Wicks, one of their foremen - and I direct the attention especially of honorable senators who have any acquaintance with the business of friendly societies to the evidence which he gave. It will be found at page 231 of the report -
Nearly one-third of those subscribing to the sick and accident fund had become at one time or another a charge upon the funds. In all my experience of friendly society work. I have never come across a record approaching anything like that. I think that evidence abundantly justified the statement we made on that point. Here is another paragraph -
The lessening of the number of competing employers has placed the employes more completely under the control of the dominant employer.
Their answer to that is -
However true this may be as an abstract general proposition, we think that there is no evidence to show that there has hitherto been any use by the combine as a dominant employer of any supposed power of more complete control.
We did not say that there had been, but we did say that they had the power. I pass over the rest of their report, for the very, good reason that I have not time to deal with it all, and I desire to deal particularly with a question arising out of the statement of the accountant. We are told that the tables submitted in our report were submitted by them to a firm of accountants. I may inform honorable senators that our tables were submitted to a firm of accountants by the Commission before they were embodied in the evidence. They were submitted to Mr. S. J. Warnock, incorporated accountant and managing trustee, of 375 Collins-street - a gentlemanwho, I am told, stands very high in his profession in Melbourne. He checked our figures before they were published in the report. Now, as to the sources to whichthey say they attribute errors, whichthey deal with in paragraph 5. I take the first line -
Under-estimate of retail of profit on imported cigars, £184,242.
If honorable senators will turn to page 12 of the majority report, they will find a table headed -
Cigars - Jacobs’ estimated retail prices and numbers, p. 465.
The meaning of that is that we took the estimates supplied by Mr. L. P. Jacobs, the head of the cigar branch of the tobacco trust. We give in the table the weight and number of cigars of local manufacture and of imported manufacture, according to his estimate, and then we go on to say–
Mr. L. Benjamin (pp. 71) estimates 50 per cent. of imported cigars are sold at 6d. each retail; 20,000 at1s.; 100,000 at9d. Imported, 120,000 at1s., £6,000; 100,000 at9d., £3,700; equals £9,750. Imported,9,551,115 at 6d., £238,778; 9,551,116 at average 3d., £119,389; equals £358,167. Total retail value, 19,322,231 imported cigars, £367,917.
If this is an error, then it is based on the sworn evidence of Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Benjamin, members of the trust, and the heads respectively of thecigar manufacturing and cigar importing branch of the business. Wherever we have been able to do so. we have given the page and question at which the evidence supporting the statements we have made are to be found, and why did not this firm of chartered accountants seize this splendid chance to expose the error? This is their next line -
Over-estimate of retail value, £100,681 ; less over estimate oftheir cost value, £51,604; £49,00;.
The estimated retail value is based again on the evidence of Messrs. Jacobs and Benjamin. What tetter authorities could we get? We might have taken the evidence of Mr. Carter, a cigar-manufacturer outside the trust, and if we had done so, instead of showing a profit of , £400,000, we might have shown a profit of £800,000. But anticipating this criticism, we carefully based all our estimates, whenever we were able to get the information, on the evidence of representatives of the trust. That is the reason why there was no detailed criticism of the accounts. These accountants knew that if they analyzed and attempted to destroy our figures “they would have to destroy the credibility of the trust’s own witnesses, and they were not likely to do that. I have material before me with which I could answer the whole of the criticism suppliedby these, persons, and on the sworn evidence submitted to the Commission. I regret that I have not time to do so, because I desire to have a division on the Bill taken, and I must perforce conclude.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
Consideration resumed (vide page 6031:). Question - That the Bill be now read a first time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message, stating that it had agreed to some of the Senate’s requested amendments, disagreed to others, agreed to part of one amendment’, and made a consequential amendment.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the message be printed and taken into consideration at a later hour on motion.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message stating that it had made certain of the Senate’ s requested amendments, made, another with a modification, and had not made the remainder.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the message be printed and taken into consideration to-morrow.
Debate resumed from and October (vide page 5789),, on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is the complement of the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill.It will be noticed that many of its provisions must necessarily be read in conjunction with the Customs duties on stripperharvesters, which are sought to be imposed in the other Bill. I wish to direct my criticism, first, to its contents, and, secondly.’ to the effort to produce legislation of a character which would be extraordinary in any session except the present. The provisos to clause 2 bring up in an aggravated form the question of tacking. If there is any honorable senator who has a doubt or misgiving as to whether tacking could be discovered in the other Bill, it must be entirely dispelled when he carefully considers all that follows on clause 2 of this Bill. I do not think it is possible for any one to say that the Bill does not attach conditions which have no reference to the imposition of Excise duties. If we want to search for the conditions we have the opportunity of analyzing and considering at least six paragraphs, which do not represent the imposition of a duty, but an attempt to enact conditions which might properly form the subjectmatter of a special Bill. In spite of all that transpired in connexion with the other Bill, I shall be bound, when the opportunity arises, to raise the question as briefly as I can. because I recognise that no one can say that tacking is not discernible at the first glance at this Bill. If it is adopted as it stands, we shall certainly begin a procedure, which would be wholly novel in my session except the present. When I raise the point I shall have to consider the extraordinary position in which the Senate finds itself, and which, I believe, is largely due to the honest efforts of some honorable senators to see that the Senate asserts its rights. This is a Bill which will probably provoke strong party feeling. If, in pursuance of theruling which has been given on the subject of amendments and requests, an amendment is moved upon thisBill, and carried, the whole Bill will be in danger. It seems to me to be utterly wrong that weshould be put in the position of being unable to effect improvements in the Bill except by way of request.
– That is the constitutional position.
– I suppose I may allude to what took place yesterday upon the Bill with which we were then dealing?
– The two Bills would have been one had it not been for the provisions of the Constitution, and, therefore, I have treated them as one Bill for the purposes of debate.
– What took place was that Senator Symon, in Committee, moved an amendment. The Temporary Chairman said that he could not accept an amendment, but that Senator Symon must move what he desired in the form of a request. I dissented from the Temporary Chairman’s ruling, which was referred to the President, who did not uphold it. The President supported my contention that an amendment might be moved. Of course if it could be assumed that the measure had come up to us in such a state of perfection that it would be almost impious forus to try to improve it, I do not suppose that any one would think about either requests or amendments. But such is not the case. . What are we to do? We all know what will happen if an amendment is carried.
– Ought we to consider what will happen?
– Well, I try to be occasionally - at rare intervals, perhaps - a practical man in matters of legislation.
– The honorable senator does not seem to be successful in his efforts.
– Let me submit a point for the consideration of Senator Playford. The Bill provides that it is not to come into operation until the 1st January, 1907. Why has that date been fixed ?
– It is to come into operation after certain facts relating to manufacture have been obtained.
– I am afraid that the date is not fair to all concerned. If it is desirable to impose Excise duties, and to restrain their operation for nearly three months,why would it not be fair in imposing Customs duties to do the same?
-But look at the difference in the effect. If Customs duties were not to be imposed at once, the importers would clear their goods, and revenue would be lost.
– Surely that argument applies equally to Excise duties.
– No; the Excise in this Bill refers to fair wages.
– That is precisely the point I am going to make. I challenge Senator Playford to produce any Excise Tariff Bill the operation of which has been postponed in this way.
– I challenge the honorable senator to produce an Excise Tariff Bill on the same lines.
- Senator Playford is quite safe there. If it is intended, by this Bill, to impose Excise duties as a means of revenue, and of doing a number of other things, it is unfair to postpone its operation.
– We are not doing this for the purpose of obtaining revenue.
– Then it is a most extraordinary Excise Bill. It is not intended to produce revenue, and is not to come into operation until some future time. Are these goods to be taken out of bond freely from the 7th or 8th October until the 1st January, 1907 ?
– The goods are not in bond ; they have to be dealt with under certain conditions.
– This Bill is either illusory, or it is based on unfair conditions. There was no postponement in the case of the Customs duties, which 1 suppose were imposed before we saw the Bill. This Bill does not provide for fair treatment, or it is a sham, or, as another alternative, it is not expected that the Minister will ever discover that the conditions are not reasonable. What is the connexion between the 1st day of January and the 31st March ?
– Is the latter date not intended to apply to machines partly constructed now?
– We are told that the 1st January refers to such machines. I earnestly urge Senator Playford to clear up this point. As the result of a hard day’s search, I have been able to discover what happened after the 31st day of March. I suppose that some one will be able to give the definition of “ standard conditions at the place of manufacture,” but no words could have been selected which would more successfully conceal the real meaning. Such extremely vague words ought not- to be in a serious Bil! purporting to affect the whole conditions of an industry. Various alternatives are suggested as proper and safe means of ascertaining the conditions of labour, with which this Bill, though an Excise Bill, is almost exclusively concerned ; and I find that the real determination is left entirely to the discretion of the Minister. If there are alternatives, as in this Bill, for ascertaining whether conditions are fair and reasonable, those alternatives should be regarded as all that are necessary; and in a case where the profits of an enormous industry mav largely depend on the conditions of labour, we ought to join unanimously in an effort to remove from any Minister in an Department such an extraordinary power as this Bill purports to give. Translate it into money, and what dees it mean? Do we consider it right to place in the hands of a Minister of the Crown such an enormous power over the financial concerns of any industry in the Commonwealth? The decision of the Minister that wages in a factory, which may not be in existence at the present time, are not fair and reasonable would have the immediate effect under this Bill of imposing an Excise duty of £6 per machine on every stripper-harvester which it turned out. We know that one manufacturer in the Commonwealth turns out 2,000 of these machines a year. I hope the day will come when we shall have more than one factory turning out 10,000 machines if there is a demand for them. But let us take the case of a factory turning out 5,000 machines, and then remember that the ipse dixit of the Minister will be sufficient to impose upon the proprietor of that factory an Excise duty of £fi per machine. It is essentially wrong to give any such power to a Minister, and I intend to test the opinion of the Senate on the question. I can do so without injury to the Bill, because the decision of the Minister is only one of many, alternatives provided for. We are dealing With conditions as to the remuneration of labour, and under paragraph a, a provision is made for a declaration that they are fair and reasonable by resolution of both Houses of Parliament. When the reference is made to it Parliament may not be in session, and so other alternatives are provided. Under paragraph b the Bill is not to apply if the conditions are in accordance with an industrial award under the Conciliation and . Arbitration Act. I admit that to give effect to that alternative the Commonwealth Arbitration. Court must be moved, but we do not consider that a serious obstacle in ordinary cases.
– Who does the honorable senator think will be the complainant?
– Some person who has the interest of the employes at heart.
– To whom would he be most likely to apply?
-I should say to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
-So should I.
– Then why make provision for a reference to the Minister?
– There is: no harm in having that alternative, and there is no fear that workmen will resort to it.
– It is a question of freedom of contract.
– It is. a question of preserving the purity of our political institutions and of preventing the American example from finding followers here.
– The honorable senator knows that a man belonging to an organization can always appeal to it, but who is to help the man who belongs to no organization ?
– Will Senator Guthrie contend that any man should in the circumstances be invited to go to the Minister of Trade and Customs?
– A unionist would not do so, but a non-unionist might be compelled to do so.
– Does Senator Henderson approve of a provision in our legislation which would induce any man to go to the Minister of Trade and Customs with a complaint that his employer was not treating him fairly? The alternative in paragraph c is on the same lines as. that in paragraph b.
– These alternatives enable the worker to appeal from the Arbitration Court to the Minister or to Parliament.
– Of course they do. I am pointing out that there are alternatives provided which, are far preferable to that contained in paragraph d, and it is on that account that I propose to move an amendment to leave out the refer ence to the Minister. The alternative in paragraph e is that the conditions -
Are, on an application made for the purpose to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared to be fair and reasonable by him -
That is a reasonable reference, to which no one could object. The paragraph continues - or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State industrial authority to whom he may refer the matter.
– That is an absolutelynew tribunal.
– No, it is not a new tribunal, but a tribunal which is established on firm grounds, and has my hearty approval. I am trying to show that these alternatives render any reference to the Minister unnecessary. The alternative in paragraphf has reference to the date, about which there is some difference of opinion, and continues - are either as advantageous to the workers as the standard conditions at the place of manufacture or are declared by the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of the State in which the goods are manufactured - and then follow the words which damn the whole value of this Bill, and which constitutes a blemish and blot upon it which, in my opinion, ought to be removed - or by the Minister to be fair and reasonable.
Apparently, we are going to train up workmen to go to the Minister with an appeal if they think they have any grievance in connexion with their industry. We all object to lobbying, but I think there is nothing to which weobjectmorethantofind persons going to a Minister to induce him to do something to their advantage. The Ministermay be sought in secret, and - I hesitate to say it - may be sought with some kind of consideration, hardly disguised, affecting his political position.
– Could the Minister remedy the case of a man who came to him in secret, in the way suggested, when he would have to administer the Act publicly ?
– Undoubtedly he could. I do not think that the honorable senator quite recognises the position. What is proposed is that some workmen, or some half-dozen workmen, may approach the Minister if they think that the conditions under which, they are working are not up to the standard conditions at the place of manufacture, or are not fair and reasonable. If such workmen satisfy the Minister that the conditions of labour are not fair and reasonable, a verv heavy penalty - an Excise duty of £6 per machine - will be inflicted upon their employer.
– Can the honorable senator conceive of a Minister who would take the word of half-a-dozen men and inflict a penalty, without having made an independent investigation ?
– If in a Customs matter we have had a Minister who has taken the word of one man, why not also in an Excise matter?
– I have had too much experience of industrial matters to entertain such a view.
– But the honorable senator has not had much experience of Ministers.
– The Bill simply provides that the conditions of labour shall be determined there and then, if in the opinion of the Minister they are not fair and reasonable. There is nothing which indicates what he is to do in order to inform his mind or what evidence it will be necessary for him to take.
– He will not give a judgment on a one-sided statement.
– Is it not possible that, under ordinary circumstances, the Minister, having given, an attentive hearing to the representations made, may say, in an absolutely honest way, “ I am convinced that the men have- established a good case, and I shall tell the employer that, inasmuch as he has failed to observe proper conditions, the Excise duty must be collected on his harvesters.” I am satisfied that Senator Henderson has met with a Minister who would be prepared to take up that position, and bold enough to give practcal effect to his opinion. Is it extraordinary to conceive that such a thing is likely to happen ?
– Most extraordinary.
– If I have failed to convince Senator Henderson on that point, I ought not to fail to convince any reasonable man.
– After the Minister has formed that opinion, he will have to make minutes and be responsible to Parliament.
– Surely Senator Guthrie must see that the power placed in the Minister is absolute ! Can he not recollect a Minister whom we both admired, but for different reasons, and who, right or wrong, had the strength of his convictions, and did what an honorable man ought to do. even if, unfortunately, he happened to be wrong? That gentleman stands out in the history of the Commonwealth as a signal example of a high-minded and courageous Minister. It is a pity that Senator Henderson, in the course of his political wanderings, has not come across a man whom we could all join in admiring. If he had, he would know that if Mr. Kingston were intrusted with the administration of this Bill, there would te no question as to what’ he would do if half-a-dozen men waited upon him and satisfied him that their conditions of labour were not fair and reasonable. He would say to the manufacturer straight away, “ £6 on every one of your machines.”
– The test of the honorable senator’s argument is, whether the supporters of the Bill would have as much confidence in the administration of one Minister as in that of another.
– Precisely. I recognise what will happen if the Bill should pass. I pity any Minister who may te. called upon to. administer its provisions. He will occupy a. most invidious position. Whether he decides to intervene or not, it is quite certain that he will be applied to, unless, of course, we are to assume that for ever and ever the conditions of labour in this industry are going to be fair and reasonable, and that there will be no question of a manufacturer trying to increase his profits, as one has teen known to do, by reducing the wages of his men. Undoubtedly, at some time or other, the Minister will te pressed by men to put the law into active operation. I have endeavoured to discharge my duty in criticising a Bill which, for different reasons, we seem powerless to improve.
– I think that we may very well commiserate ourselves upon the position in which we are placed. There can be no question that this Bill is a sham. It has been brought in entirely for the purpose of making us swallow duties proposed to be imposed in order to exclude the Masssy-Harris harvester. The Bill, as it stands, is, if not an absurdity, a disgrace. 1 feel that the Senate is humiliated by having such a Bill presented to it. I cannot but indorse very strongly every word which has been uttered by Senator Clemons as to the gross indecency of putting in the hands of the most honest Minister who ever existed such powers as the Bill would vest in him. Unless I am mistaken in regard to the measure, it might be that workers, whilst appealing to the Supreme Court or the High Court, would find themselves overruled by a decision of the Minister, who. in the meantime, had been approached by the manufacturer. I see no provision about a Court of Appeal or any arrangement to check the Minister. The workers mav appeal to the High Court, and, in the meantime, the manufacturer may approach the Minister and say, “ Look here, I am making 1,000 machines. Under the Excise Tariff Act I am liable to penalties aggregating ^6.000, and I want you to clear me of the liability.” Do not honorable senators see the gravity of the position? Would any Minister who was entirely honest and wanted to be fair and square with the community, and always above suspicion, be willing to have such power thrust upon him when, however honestly he carried out his work, he might be liable to the charge of having done what was unfair? I feel that we must take some drastic steps with the measure. The least we can do is to eliminate in each instance the words in which the power is given to the Minister; but even if omitted. T feel that the Bill would still remain for all time a disgrace to the Parliament.
– The excellent speeches which have been made so far have been directed against the details of the Bill, and the great importance of the new principle which it seeks to enact has not been sufficiently dealt with. We are asked to pass a Bill for the imposition of Excise duties, not for the purpose of collecting revenue, but for a totally distinct purpose, and one which, I venture to say, is unconstitutional. That purpose is to enable the Government of the day, by such machinery as it can direct, to decide matters which have not been intrusted to the Commonwealth to decide. It is proposed to tell the people of the world that we in this agricultural country are going to put an embargo upon the manufacturers of agricultural machinery.
– No; we are only going to ask each manufacturer to pay a fair wage.
– The Minister is candid. Why does he not bring in a Bill for the purpose of compelling the manufacturer to pay a fair wage, and call it by its proper name? He knows, very well that he has no right to do that. The Government in nearly everything that it has brought forward this session has been trying to encroach upon the rights of the States. I repudiate such legislation. I can hardly speak of it without a feeling of disgust. If this, Parliament has the right by imposing an Excise duty on agricultural implements to dictate what wages shall be paid in that particular industryit has an equal right to impose Excise duties upon the manufacture of boots and shoes, clothing, jams, and other commodities. It has a right to go to the people who are mining copper or tin in Tasmania and tell them that it will impose an Excise duty upon their products, not for the purpose of collecting revenue to carry on the functions of the Commonwealth, but in order, by indirect means, to impose industrial conditions, which, under the Constitution were left to the States. This is the sort of measure that we have thrust upon us in the last hours of the session - . forced down our throats by. what professes to be ai protectionist Government, which, I venture to say, is proposing these measures against its will. That is perfectly well known.
– That is a statement which the honorable senator has no justification for making, and he knows it.
– My feelings, towards Senator Guthrie are too friendly to allow anything which he says to disturb me. But if any one ventures to tell the people of Australia that this Ministry is not governed by a power behind itself, and is not actuated by principles which are not its own, he will say what is not true.
– It does not look very much like it when we voted against Senator Pearce’s Bill this afternoon.
– Assuming that this Bill is constitutional - and I believe it is not - it is to be applied to manufactures to a very limited extent. It singles out one kind of manufacture and lays down conditions, in regard to it. See how it will operate. Take the case of an engineer who is carrying on a general business making steam engines, boilers, and similar things. Suppose that he takes up the manufacture of agricultural implements. Immediately the Minister of Trade and Customs comes, down upon him and says “ Before I will allow you to make these machines I must be satisfied that your conditions of labour are such as I approve of.”
– That is not what the Bill says.
– The Bill simply says, “ If you are going to get an advantage from extra duty you must conform to certain conditions.”
– The proviso, which is the effective part of the Bill, lays it down that the Excise duty is not to apply to goods manufactured under certain conditions as to remuneration of labour. Unless, therefore, the manufacturer pays certain wages he is, to be penalized.
– We do not interfere with his business at all, but we do not allow him to get an advantage unless he shares it with his workmen.
– Has the Minister really any idea of what he is talking about? Suppose that an engineering firm employed half its staff in manufacturing a particular article mentioned in the schedule to this Bill. Does not the Minister see that the proprietor of that establishment could not continue to manufacture that article unless he complied with the conditions laid down regarding the other half of his employes?
– He could by paying the Excise.
– That is, by suffering a penalty. A neighbouring engineer in the same line of business, but not manufacturing an article mentioned in the schedule, and not governed by any law imposed by the State in which he carried on his business, could continue to pay his men according to a lower scale of remuneration. I view this kind of legislation with much alarm. We should standby the agreement made with the States, and protect their sovereign rights. We should be loyal to the first principle of Federation, which is. “ Thus farshalt thou go, and no farther.” We should rot be continually encroachingupon the functions and (privileges of the States. It is their business to pass industrial laws ifthey please to do so. Some States may be more progressive than others. The conditions of life differin different States. What right have we to place in the hands of the Minister power to dictate conditions of employment to any State. Some reference has been made to Mr. Kingston by way of parallel. I have always been an admirer of one action of his whilst he was Minister of Trade and Customs. He separated himself as a politician from work, which he regarded as the proper function of a judicial tribunal. He recognised that it was not fair for him as a politician to be called upon to decide upon the merits of a case which should be dealt with judicially. But under this Bill we are going to enable the Minister of Trade and Customs to issue his decree arbitrarily.
– There are such provisions in the Customs Act, and in the Defence Act.
– I am well aware that it is sometimes necessary to give arbitrary power to a Minister, though it may occasionally be abused. But this is a power whichcertainly ought not to be given. I shall not hesitate in Committee to assist in every constitutionalway to prevent this Bill being passed.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [9.12]. - If we were asked to consider a Bill in which was plainly laid down the rates of wages to be paid . by the harvester manufacturers to their employes, the point would at once be raised that the proposal was unconstitutional. If honorable senators will take the trouble to consider the powers conferred upon this Parliament by the Constitution, they will find that there is no power whatever under which we can fix rates of wages in any industry. It is true that there is a section which enables us to constitute a Conciliation and Arbitration Court to deal with disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. But beyond that I venture to say that no honorable senator can indicate any provision giving us the right to legislate respecting rates of wages or conditions of labour. If this had been introduced as a Bill to regulate wages and conditions of labour, the point could successfully have been taken that such legislation wasbeyond our powers : and if the President or Speaker had declined to interpret the Constitution, the High Court, if invoked, would undoubtedly have declared the Bill to be uncon- stitutional. If I am right in that contention, then the Bill before us, is equally unconstitutional, because we have no right to do indirectly what we have no right to do directly. We are proposing by this Bill to mould and change our powers, under the pretence that we are legislating for the purposes of Excise, but the measure might well be described as one to provide for the imposition of Excise duties which it is never intended to collect. This is a monstrous attempt to interfere with the rights and privileges of the States, and I am glad that Senator Mulcahy recognised its importance from that point of view. Some honorable senators may desire to magnify the power of the Commonwealth, and reduce the States to mere nonentities ; but we should be sadly neglecting our duty if we allowed any infringements of the rights of the States, which are specially intrusted to us. If we forget our duty in this respect, the sooner we receive the punishment we merit the better it will be for the States and the Commonwealth at large. Such a breach of engagement would be regarded as absolutely dishonest in private life, and how much greater is the obligation imposed when the parties are the trustees for the people ? I venture to say that it has never been the intention of the promoters of the Bill that any one of the provisions shall be exercised. An exorbitant price has been fixed for stripper-harvesters, so that there will be little incentive to manufacturers to go beyond it. The Commonwealth is actually stepping into Victoria and South Australia, and saving that the manufacturers of stripper-harvesters shall be fined £6 on each machine, if they do not observe certain conditions.
– There are twentyother articles which are made in other States.
.- That only makes my argument stronger, and shows how eager the Commonwealth is to entrench on the rights of the States. This Bill is for the express purpose of protecting and assisting manufacturers who are making good profits at the present time. Some honorable senators have talked of “ boodle,” and certainly this legislation is calculated to enable men to obtain that which might very fairly be so described. It would have been very much more straightforward to provide that persons engaged in manufacturing the goods men tioned in the schedule, shall, unless they observe certain conditions, which are declared, bv resolution of both Houses of Parliament, to be fair and reasonable, be liable to a penalty of £6; because that is really what the Bill means. If a man chooses to sweat his employes, Tie could do so; but that is not likely to occur, for the simple reason that the labour in a machine manufactured at ^38 or £40, amounts to something like £12 or £l3- However, if we passed such a law as I have suggested, it would certainly be declared to be absolutely beyond our powers, as I venture to say this Bill is.
– Then the evils of which the honorable senator speaks will not result.
.- Would it not be sufficiently degrading and dangerous for this Parliament to be told that this Bill was only a trick to get behind the Constitution? It is unjust to force the States and individuals into the High Court to vindicate their rights and privileges, when those rights and privileges ought to be defended in this Parliament, more especially the Senate. I am sorry that the President did not consider it his duty to interfere in connexion with the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill when the point of order was raised - a point of order which applies even more strongly to the present Bill - but the President afterwards, in his capacity as senator, pointed to the great infringement of the Constitution which’ was proposed, and implored the Senate, in defence of its own rights and privileges, to cast aside the clause which another place attempted to foist on us by means of a tack. If honorable senators are not prepared to resent such attempts the Senate will be regarded with the contempt it deserves. It seems to me that the Senate has no more regard for iti rights than an ordinary Legislative Council.
– What rights have we got?
– That interjection shows the contempt with which the honorable senator regards the Senate. If we have no rights and privileges, the sooner we are abolished the better; because such a Chamber is a farce and a menace to the interests of the country. While the Senate exists, some people will regard it as a Chamber where measures brought from another place will be intelligently considered. I do not believe in single Chambers, but if a second Chamber is to be merely a farce, then let it be abolished. I urge honorable senators, even at this late hour, to consider the fact that this is not a Bill simply to impose duties of Excise, but is a Bill to also impose conditions, of labour which it is quite beyond our power to do. If the desire be to regard this as an Excise Tariff Bill, let us get rid of all the unconstitutional conditions which are imposed, either by casting the Bill out bodily, or, if we have not the courage to vindicate our ‘ rights, by amending the proviso to clause 2. Whilst such amendment would not remove th<= objection which I have to the measure, it would reduce some of its undesirable features. If the Bill were constitutional, it -would require drastic^ amendment te make it suitable for our present requirements. What manufacturer or body of employes desires that their interests should be left solely in the hands of a Minister? The object of Arbitration Acts and Wages Boards is to insure that questions of this kind shall be settled by a judicial tribunal which will not be influenced by political passion or party feeling. Even in the Senate, which is attempting to sink so low, we recognise-
– Is the honorable senator in order in saying that the- Senate is attempting to sink low?
– Can you, sir, determine a point of order in the absence of a quorum ? - [Quorum formed’].
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Higgs). - I have been asked to rule whether Senator Gould is in order in saying that the Senate is “ attempting to sink low.” I do not think the honorable senator is strictly in order, and I hope that he will withdraw the expression.
.- I. withdraw it j but I wish honorable senators would realize the danger of the Senate putting itself into such a position as to lead people outside to believe that it is sinking low or has sunk low. If, by a very great stretch of imagination we assume, for the sake of argument, that this is a constitutional measure, it will be admitted that it is unwise to require Parliament to decide what are fair conditions of labour. A decision by a resolution of both Houses would involve a discussion of the question in each House, and as there would be no evidence before either House to enable its members to come to a decision, all the persons concerned would have to be brought to the bar, and would be liable to be examined- by every member of the House who chose to take part in the discussion.
– A Royal Commission might be appointed.
.- The Bill makes no provision for the appointment of a Royal Commission. The provision for a reference to Parliament is an absurdity, and should never have appeared in the Bill. Paragraphs b and c are, in my opinion, reasonable provisions, but I remind honorable senators that they are open to the objection that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court can take cognisance only of disputes which extend beyond the boundaries of a State. Under paragraph d the reference is to the Minister, and I ask whether this is not a monstrous power to place in the hands of any Minister. He is to be the sole judge, and there is to be no appeal from him. If the Government for the time being are under the domination of any section in Parliament, the Minister will be a mere puppet in the hands of irresponsible persons outside. They will pull the strings, and he will jump, and if any one finds fault they will stand behind him, to vindicate his action and maintain his position. The provision might give rise to all sorts of charges of corruption and malfeasance against the Minister. He might be immaculate, and yet he would still be open to suspicion in connexion with his decisions on these questions. Paragraph e provides a reasonable way of having such questions settled, and I assume that the industrial authority referred to would include the Wages Boards established in Victoria. I do. not realize at present the intention of the Government in making the provision with respect to goods manufactured, before the 31st day of March. 1907, and I think we should get some explanation of it. I should much prefer, however, to see the Bill thrown aside, because it is a farce and a fraud from beginning to end. I hope honorable senators will realize that this measure is not an honest attempt to deal with what is a difficult subject, but is an attempt by a side wind to assume a power which is not conferred upon us by the Constitution, and that, if we submit to it, we shall be false to the trust reposed in us as representatives of the States. Assum- ing for argument’s sake that the power sought is constitutional, then, in agreeing to this measure we shall be allowing honorable members in another place to do what certain provisions of the Constitution were expressly designed to prevent, and that is to attach a tack to a taxation Bill sent, up to the Senate. The provisions of the Constitution to which I refer were designed for the protection of a weak Senate from imposition by another Chamber, which a strong and independent Senate would not countenance for a moment.
– - This is not an important measure regarded as an Excise Tariff Bill. The peculiarity is that though it has been ruled by the President - and technically no doubt he is quite correct - to be a taxation and Excise Tariff Bill, still on examination it found that really it is not an Excise Tariff Bill, because its object is not to raise revenue by means of Excise duties. The Minister has told us that he does not expect to raise revenue by means of the Bill, as that is not its object.
– Revenue may be raised under the Bill, though.
– Revenue may be raised incidentally, but that is not the object of the Bill, because the operative clause tells us that it is, not to apply in any case in which certain conditions are fulfilled, and is not to come into operation until1st January, 1907. Perhaps, if there are any harvesters being made, the manufacturers will comply with the labour conditions, and there will be no duty levied. The Bill introduces for the first time quite a novel kind of legislation.
– No, the honorable senator, when he was, in the Barton Government, was the first to introduce this kind of legislation in an Excise Tariff Bill.
– I suppose that the honorable senator refers to the rebate on sugar ?
– Grown by white labour only.
SenatorDRAKE. - That was a slip which was corrected next year.
– Not because it was. unconstitutional, but merelybecause it was more convenient.
– No objection was taken to the provision on the ground that it was unconstitutional. Certainly it was not the proper way of proceeding.
– Was an objection taken at any time to that provision being unconstitutional?
– I do not say that it was ; but even if it was not that would not make it constitutional. That, however, is not on all fours with this case. The other day, when Senator Findley moved to insert an amendment in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill, some doubt, was raised as to its constitutionality, and both Ministers took the objection that it was unconstitutional. I expressed the opinion that the last paragraph of the amendment - not the conditions - was not in violation of section 55 of the Constitution, because it simply provided that the GovernorGeneral in Council might, on the receipt of a joint address from both Houses, raise the Excise duty all round. But this measure is of a different character. It contains a schedule of what are called Excise duties, but when it is examined it is found to be simply a penalty which is to be inflicted upon certain manufacturers if they do not conform to certain labour conditions. This is another attempt to evade the Constitution, which lays down the strict limits within which we are to exercise our powers, and which clearly throughout says that we must not interfere with the internal concerns of the States. The question first arose in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act providing for the settlement of disputes which extend beyond the limits of a State. Is. it not generally admitted that a great number of persons were dissatisfied with that measure on the ground that it did not extend to State servants. After an extraordinary career in Parliament a provision to bring them within its operation was inserted, and the question of its constitutionality is now before the High Court for decision. We had another instance of such legislation! in a measure which was introduced as the Merchandise Marks Bill, but which was changed to the Fraudulent MarksBill, with a view to bringing it within the Constitution, and empowering the Commonwealth Government to interfere with the internal trade concerns of the States. We had another illustration in the case of the trade union label, which was run in as ‘a. trade mark in order to bring it within the Constitution. Then in the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, we had two clauses in which the Government claimed the power to interfere with trading concerns within a State, if they were carried on by a corporation. All these were clear attempts to get round the Constitution. If this, proposed legislation is held to be good, and trading concerns within a State may be interfered with by the Commonwealth Government under the guise of an Excise Tariff Bill, there will be hardly any limit to the interference which may take place. The Government may under Federal laws obtain absolute control over a very large part of the trading operations carried on in the States. Nearly every kind of occupation that is carried on in .onnexion with goods which are either imported, or may be liable to Excise duty, may be almost controlled by this power. I cannot help wondering who was the genius in the Government who devised this extraordinary means of getting round the Constitution. If we can see clearly the result which mav flow from the operation of this kind of legislation in the manufacture of one article, we shall get a clearer idea of what may be the result when it is applied to other trades. With regard to stripper-harvesters, honorable senators will notice a fault which cannot be alleged in the case of the amendment to the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill. The Bill clearly provides that the penalty or Excise duty may be payable by one person, and not by another. In a State, we mav have two manufacturers of harvesters, and if one chooses for his own purposes to comply with the conditions, he is to be exempted from the duty, but the other is not. That indicates at once that it is not an Excise duty, which honorable senators know is payable bv the makers of an article, irrespective ofl their1; position or means. Is it desirable that in the trading concerns of as State, the Minister should have the power to say that one manufacturer shall pay an Excise duty, and that n rival trader, perhaps in the next street or town, shall pay no Excise duty? Is not that an absolute violation of the spirit of the Constitution? The political complications become greater when we consider the possibility of the operation of the measure in adjoining States. Suppose that there is a large manufacturer of harvesters in Victoria, and another in New South Wales, and that the former chooses to comply with the conditions, then the latter will suffer the penalty of having to pay the Excise duty.. Is it desirable that the Minister, who may or may not be a citizen of one of those States, should have the right to say t that one or the other of the manufacturers shall pay a duty of £6 on his harvesters ? In trade competition, that might mean everything. Certainly the Bill does not discriminate ; but it would enable the Executive to discriminate between State and State. So far, I have dealt only with harvesters, but on the principle which is sought to be established in this case, the Executive operating under Federal laws would be able to interfere with nearly all the trading concerns in the States. Take, for instance, an industry which is connected with the sale of intoxicaing liquors. I should think that if it were proposed to the States that the Federal Government should step in and control that trade, they would be exceedingly annoyed, and would object most strongly. If this kind of legislation is correct and valid, what is to prevent the Government from bringing down an Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill, with the provision that it shall not apply to licensed victuallers who comply with the prescribed conditions ? I believe that in Western Australia an hotel is being run by the State Government. Suppose that the rules of the hotel are that it shall be opened at a certain hour, shall be kept open for so many hours, shall supply meals at a certain rate, shall be closed at a certain hour, and shall offer no improper inducements to persons to drink. Is there anything to prevent the Federal Government, if this legislation is correct, from bringing in a Bill imposing duties, and saying that it shall not apply to persons who carry on their business under certain specified conditions? It could then discriminate by applying the duties to those who conducted a certain class of hotel, and conducted their business on particular lines. But would such legislation be within the Constitution? Do honorable senators consider that the High Court would hold that such a measure was a legitimate Excise Bill? Then take the tobacco industry. It depends upon leaf, either imported or grown in Australia, which in the one case is liable to import dutv and in the other to Excise duty. The local manufacturers who pay Excise duties have to sell their goods in competition with imported tobacco, which pays Customs duties. Would the Fe’deral Parliament have power to pass a Bill im-. posing duties of Customs and Excise, and inserting in it a. provision to the effect that those duties should not apply to persons who conformed to certain labour conditions? If this Bill be good, Parliament could interfere not only with the tobacco manufacturer, but also with the distributer and the retail seller, laying down conditions, under which persons should be employed, what wages they should receive, and what the factory conditions should be. If that ‘Cannot be done in the case of tobacco it cannot be done in the case of harvesters. The same principle applies. Then again, suppose there is a tramway company carrying on business, in Australia, and suppose that the Federal Government imposes an Excise duty on tramway rolling-stock manufactured in this country, with a proviso that the duty shall not apply in the case of a tramway company which employs men under certain labour conditions, and charges certain fares. Can it be claimed that the Federal Government could interfere in that way with trading concerns within the States? That is what is claimed under this Bill. The idea is good enough - to try to secure proper wages and conditions of labour - but what I object to is that, as we are living under a Federal Constitution, we should abide by the law,, and where the Constitution clearly preserves to the States certain rights we have no power to infringe them. I know that there are certain persons who believe in unification, who think that we should sweep away the States Governments altogether, and have one Parliament to make laws for the whole country. I hold a different view. But even those who favour unification should, at all events, agree that we ought to abide by the spirit of the Constitution while it remains, what it is, and not try to get round it. I can scarcely call this honest legislation. What I have said with regard to the tobacco industry would apply equally well to breweries. If this can be done, what is to prevent the Federal Parliament from practically running the breweries of Australia by passing an Act imposing an Excise duty, and saying that it shall be reduced if certain labour conditions are complied with ? Another point to consider is - how is the Excise on harvesters going to be levied? The idea of an Excise duty is as the word implies, that it is something clipped from an article at some stage as near to the source of manu facture as possible. The business of the Customs officer is to see that so much Excise is deducted before the article goes into use. But how can that be done in the case of harvesters? A harvester manufacturer, we will suppose, distributes his machines all over Australia. Some go to Argentina. Suppose that after hundreds of machines have been distributed some of the workmen come along to the Minister and say, “ We are not enjoying the conditions laid down in the Act.” Suppose that the Minister makes an inquiry and finds that for the past six months the manufacturer has not complied with the labour conditions. What is, going to happen ? How can . the Government recover Excise on machines that have been sold, and have gone into use in all parts of the country? The fact is that this is not an Excise Tariff Bill at all. It is simply a Bill to provide that manufacturers of implements shall comply with certain labour conditions. If they do not they are to be liable to a penalty. The matter is one which belongs exclusively to the States. It is sought to take away from the States that right or power in a most unfair, improper, illegal, and unconstitutional way bv means of this tricky dodge.
– Does the honorable senator not take the point that the subjectmatter or substance of the Bill does not come within the scope of the title?
– We had the ruling of the President on the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill which no doubt would apply to this Bill, and the Senate has acquiesced in that ruling. In the Bill before us last night, the first three clauses were held to be part of a Money Bill, while the fourth clause, which dealt with something else, was held to be not .part of a Money Bill. That anomaly is emphasized in the Bill before us, because the first part of clause 2 is a Money Bill, or part of a . Money Bill, while the rest of the clause is foreign matter. According to the ruling given last night, if we wish to make an alteration in. the first part of this clause we must do it by request, whereas we may make amendments in the second part. Does not that bring us to the very brink of absurdity ? Some action must be taken to relieve the Senate from such, a position, because it is not possible to legislate under the circumstances. According to the President’s ruling, this is partly a “Money Bill, and partly not a Money Bill, and in regard. to that part which is not a Money Bill, we may make amendments. If we do move amendments, the Government will be almost bound to oppose them, from fear of a constitutional difficulty arising as between the two Houses. I do not know how we are to get out of the position, but the result will be that a Government, with a majority in both Houses - and every Government may be regarded as in that position - may send to this Chamber a ‘Money Bill containing a number of extraneous provisions, and by the action we have taken we shall be debarred from making any alterations in that Bill. We will not make alterations by request - and I do not know whether we could after the ruling - and the Government will not let us make alterations by way of amendment.
– How could the Government prevent any honorable senator moving an amendment if he wished to do so?
– Simply because the leader of the Senate, I presume, has followers. Senator Pearce will remember that last night, on another Bill, the Minister had given notice of a verbal amendment which was absolutely necessary, but that, in fear of the contingency I have indicated, he did not submit it,’ and allowed the Bill to go without blemish. That was merely an amendment to change “and” to “or.”
– There was nothing to . prevent an honorable senator moving an amendment.
– The honorable senator did not move the amendment.
– I did not believe in it.
– Did the honorable senator not think that the proper word was “or”?
– I was not concerned in it : I had not looked1 into the matter.
– I knew that it would be perfectly useless to move an amendment, in view of the ruling in which we had acquiesced. The President was prepare’- to rule that that was a Money Bill in which we could make requests : but we desired to test the question by moving an amendment. I think that section of the Constitution has an important bearing on the present Bill. The labour conditions it is sought to impose are entirely outside the object of an Excise Bill.. I do not think the position now is analogous with the position when Senator Findley moved’ the amendment in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill. I expressly said on that occasion that I limited my opinion in regard to the constitutionality of that amendment to the last paragraph, which simply provided that on a joint address being presented by both Houses, the Governor-General might raise the Excise duty. I did not commit myself to that part of the amendment which dealt with labour conditions, because I thought it unnecessary, and that there was a danger of overstepping the border-line. Whether a particular provision relates to the subject of taxation must be determined by the .application of section 55 of the Constitution. We have your ruling, Mr. President, that the matter contained in clause 4 of the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill does not relate to the subject of taxation, although the Bill itself is a Money Bill. The first part of clause 2 of the Bill under discussion is a provision in regard to which we may request an amendment, but may not make one, while the remaining portion is foreign to the subject proper of a Money Bill, and such as we can amend. We cannot make a request in regard to it because of the ruling that it is foreign to the subject-matter of a Money Bill, and our procedure in regard to it should therefore be by way of amendment, and we cannot move an amendment because the Government have a majority behind them, and will not allow an amendment to be made lest a constitutional question should arise between the two Houses. Both the Minister of Defence and Senator Trenwith had given notice of the intention to move to request the amendment of the Customs Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill ; but thev would not move them after your ruling.
– Is the position different from that which always arises when a majority is determined upon a certain course?
– If we had not raised the question, the requests for amendments would have been moved. But you, having ruled that amendments must be moved, the Government refused to propose alterations which it thought necessary. There should be some means whereby the Senate can assert its rights.
– It was because I wished to enable the Senate to assert its rights that I ruled yesterday that an amendment should be moved; and not requested. I consider that when a Bill contains a clause which it ought not to contain, we should resent the fact by amending that clause. However, if the Senate wish me to reconsider the question, 1 am willing to do so.
– I think that you should do so.
– I feel sure that I voice the feelings of the Senate when I say that I should be glad if you would again bring your long constitutional experience to bear upon this point.
– I know of no other way out of the difficulty than to say that, although I think that the proper course to take is to move an amendment, either an amendment or a request, as the Senate thinks fit, may be moved.
– I say, frankly and openly, that if this Bill were not certain to become law, I should not vote for the companion Customs Tariff Bill.
– It is not through yet.
– I shall take care that this Bill is safe before recording .my final vote for the other.
– Suppose that it is held to be unconstitutional.
– I am surprised at the honorable senator’s new-born zeal for the Constitution. He inaugurated the practice of laying down labour conditions in regard to the granting of rebates of Excise.
– There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ten just men who need no repentance.
– The repentent sinner acknowledges that he has repented, whereas Senator Drake has not the grace to make that admission, and I object to be lectured bv the man who inaugurated the practice of tacking labour conditions on to Excise legislation. In the first Excise Bill with which the Senate dealt, he differentiated between white and coloured labour, and, though he subsequently brought in an amending Bill to provide for bounties, instead of for rebates, he did not refer to it as a validating Bill. Senators Neild, Millen, Dobson, and Sir John Downer criticised the Bill verv severely, but not one of them expressed a doubt as to its constitution.ality.
– Was the point raised ?
– No. I am surprised that it was not. The Bill came to us from the House of Representatives on the days when, as we have so often been reminded recently, the Senate stood firm on its rights, and was proud of its position as a branch of the Federal Legislature. In those days honorable senators were silent, and consented to a most distinct tack if this be a tack. Half the schedule of the measure to which I refer is devoted to laying down a principle to which some honorable senators opposite were strongly opposed, that of giving an advantage to persons engaged in the sugar industry who employ white labour. Had they doubted the constitutionality of that measure, would they have hesitated to express their doubt ?
– The tack was not detected.
– The honorable senator has never been accused of want of keenness, and he was as keen in those days as he is now. Several cases have arisen in the Law Courts under the Act to which I arn referring; but the point has never been taken that any of its provisions are unconstitutional. Will honorable senators saythat the lawyers engaged iri the Sugar Excise cases were not able to interpret the Constitution? I am surprised that Senator Drake should raise this point and support it as he has done by an endeavour to suggest some difference between that Act and the Bill before the Senate. There is no practical difference. In the one case provision was made for a rebate, and in the other the Excise duty is not to be imposed except in certain circumstances. If one is, illegal the other was illegal. If one is a tack the other was a tack, and the previous legislation to which I have referred went so far as to erect a distinct bar against the employment of a certain class of labour. I am regretfully forced to the conclusion that some honorable senators, opposite are in this matter animated not so much by a desire to defend the rights of the States and of the Senate as by a desire to attack the rights of the workers. They are concerned because an attempt is being made for the first time in the history of protectionist legislation to pass a little of the advantage of protection on to the man with the hoe; that when privileges are to be conferred by a protective duty the man who creates the wealth is to get a little better share of it; that when the legislative wall of protection is raised it is not to be merely on behalf of the manufacturer and the capitalist, but on behalf of the worker also. I am inclined to think that some of the anger displayed this evening has been due as much to that as to any consideration for the rights of the Senate.
– Who wasangry ?
– Senator Mulcahy dealt with this matter in a most intemperate fashion, and in a way which distinctly reflected upon thehonour of Ministers. His. objection to the measure was that he could not rely upon the integrity of Ministers, and even of certain Ministers who hold office now. He suggested that if they had the administration of this law they would withhold the imposition of the Excise duty, not because of labour conditions, but because of some benefit they would themselves derive.
– What he said was that the measure might lead to bribes being offered.
– He said that not only would there be possibilities of corruption under the measure, but that he would not trust the present Minister of Trade and Customs with the administration of the law. The plain inference was that in the honorable senator’s opinion the present Minister of Trade and Customs is corrupt. I have sat in opposition to and behind Ministers in this Parliament, and I say that I would not make that statement against any ‘ Ministers who have held office in the Commonwealth. I have never seen a sign of corruption associated with any of them. Honorable, senators should not make such insinuations unless, they are prepared to submit to criticism the grounds on which they make them.
– I did not understand Senator Mulcahy to make those charges.
– Then I do not understand the meaning of words. We have precedent upon precedent in this matter. When the Sugar Bounty Bill which was. introduced and taken charge of by Senator Drake wasbeing considered in Committee, I moved an amendment to the effect that the Minister might withhold the payment of thebounty unless he was satisfied that the planter who employed white labour paid his men fair rates of wages, and worked them under fair conditions. Did Senator Drake, on that occasion, raise the point that we had no power to impose industrial conditions in a taxation measure?
– I probably supported the amendment.
– The amendment involved a condition, and if it could be made a condition of a Bounties Bill, then it is competent for us in our legislation to make industrial conditions precedent to or subsidiary to taxation proposals. Senator Drake was not only responsible for the presence of labour conditions in an Excise Bill, but also responsible as Minister in charge of the measure for accepting an amendment in a Bounties Bill, which constituted the first declaration of the Federal Parliament on the question of industrial conditions. Those were the initial steps taken by the Commonwealth Legislature in imposing industrial conditions as the price of benefits to be derived from Federal legislation. Senator Drake has been responsible for, or a party to, all of them, and now he desires that we should follow his lead, in rejecting similar provisions in this Bill on the ground that they constitute an invasion of the rights of the Senate. I do not regard this Bill as something sacred. I am prepared to support requests for its amendment if I am convinced thatthey will not be used as a means of hanging it up. I welcome the decision of the President. I understand that you, sir, will accept requests, and that you have decided that the Senate should make requests instead of amendments in the Bill.
– No. This point, as every one knows, was sprung upon me last night,and I am quite willing to confess, after hearing Senator Drake, that I did not grasp the whole possibilities of the ruling.
– If you will not consider it discourteous of me, sir. I should like to ask if you propose now to give another ruling?
-No; I am not going to give any ruling now, but I say that I shall be quite prepared if the opportunity arises to reconsider the question.
– Then if when we get into Committee a request is moved, any honorable senator will be at liberty to object to the matter being put in that form, and if the Chairman of Committees thinks fit to give a ruling the question can again come before the President. I certainly am not prepared, at this stage of the session, to test our constitutional rights by moving an amendment in this Bill, if thereby it is probable that I would be hanging up the whole question of this legislation. Although I am not a protec- tionist, I look upon this as so important a departure in fiscal legislation that I am prepared to waive many of my fiscal objections in order to get it upon the statutebook. Honorable senators opposite are welcome to make as much capital of that as they please.
– It is to be a precedent.
– Yes. Senator Drake created one precedent as between black and white labour, and another of taxation legislation imposing industrial conditions. This will be a third or an extension of the first in which we shall make provision, not only for the employment of. white labour, but as to the rates of wages and hours of that labour. These are the grounds on which I value this legislation, and am prepared to support it. Coming tb the Bill itself, I believe that paragra”ph d of clause 2 is quite unnecessary. If honorable senators will look at paragraph c they will see that it reads - are, on an application made for the purpose to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared to be fair and reasonable by him, or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial Authority to whom he may refer the matter.
In some States there may be no State industrial authority, but there is a Judge of the Supreme Court in every State, and under the Constitution he is charged with the administration of Federal law. This will be a Federal law, and if a Judge of the Supreme Court in any State is asked to adjudicate under that paragraph, if there is no State industrial authority to whom the matter can be referred, I believe that he will have to do so. There is therefore no necessity for an application to the Minister;
– We might strike out paragraph /.
– That is not of much consequence. If the amendment I suggest could be made without its being used as a means of hanging up the whole of this legislation, I should be prepared to support it.
– A great deal of the criticism which has been directed against the Bill has come from those who have made no secret of the fact that they are opposed to it. I wish to criticise it as one who strongly believes in the principle which it sets forth. As honorable senators are aware, I claim to be a straight-out free-trader, but I recognise that if protection is to be the policy of the Commonwealth we should devise some means by which the benefit of the protection afforded would not be annexed entirely by the manufacturers, but be passed on in some proportion to those whom they employ. Taking that view of the Bill, and as a friend of the object it seeks to attain, I shall submit some points for the consideration of honorable senators who are members of the Labour Party. I can quite understand the irritation which they have sometimes displayed when it hats been suggested that the course which they proposed to follow, although it appeared to them to be the shortest, would in the end be likely to prove the longest. I suggest to them now that they will not achieve their object as rapidly by faulty methods and wrong roads as they will by following sound constitutional ways. Has it occurred to Senator Pearce to consider what the position would be if the Court should ultimately decide that the provision regarding conditions of labour was in contravention of section 55 of the Constitution ? The provision as to the conditions of labour would disappear, and the provision for Excise duties would remain in full force and effect. It has been said by Senator Pearce that the Courts have never dealt with certain Acts which it has been alleged contained extraneous matter. That is true, simply because the Courts have not been asked to give a decision. But in this case there is every reason why an appeal should be made, because there are actively interested parties who would immediately feel the necessity of asking for a legal interpretation. In clause 2 several sets of conditions of labour are laid down. We know, unfortunately, that employers and employes do not always see eye to eye, and are not always in agreement as to what constitutes fair conditions of labour. As I read the Bill, it seems to me possible for varying decisions to be given. Take, for instance, paragraph a -
Are declared by resolution by both Houses to bc fair and reasonable.
Suppose that the Parliament declared that certain conditions were not fair and reasonable, and that an Arbitration Court had declared them to be fair and reasonable. Which authority is to prevail?
– Parliament, of course.
– The interjection shows at once the possibilities of there being two distinct declarations as to what constitutes fair conditions of employment.
– That is not likely to eventuate where Arbitration Courts are in existence.
– Probably the honorable senator may be right. But we ought to so perfect our legislation as to prevent the possibility, or even the probability, of that danger arising. Under paragraph d the Minister would havethe power to determine what were fair and reasonable conditions.; Suppose, as has happened, that an Arbitration Court had given an award lengthening the hours of labour and reducing the rate of wages. The Minister could say. “ It is true that the Arbitration Court has decided that the reduced wages ought to apply to the industry, but I do not think they should, and therefore I decide that the conditions are not fair.” Is not that probable? Of course, in each case thedecision would depend to some extent . upon the nature of the evidence presented, and the manner of its presentment. It is clear that where there were two tribunals there would always be the possibility of a conflict arising.
– Suppose that there are no Arbitration Courts in existence. Must they not appeal to the Minister or the Court?
– The correct course is to leave the decision absolutely with the Minister, and to strike out the other bodies. To provide for alternative bodies seems to me to open the door to, say, the employer going to the Minister and the employes to the Court.
– So far, all the objections from the other side have been against the power being vested in the Minister.
– I am not now arguing as to which course should be followed, but merely pointing out that there ought to be some provision to prevent the possibility of a conflict of opinion arising, otherwise the legislation must break down and bring the principle we all seek to further into general contempt. I am favorable to the principle of giving the workmen a share of the protection, but do not wish to see the Bill rendered a nullity and laughingstock by what appears to me to be obvious defects. I should like, if the opportunity werefavourable,toaddressmyselftoother points, but in view of the lateness of the hour I content myself with suggesting two points which I think invite, not merely criticism, but serious Ministerial consideration.
.- I have listened with great attention, and much interest, to the criticism which has been levelled against the Bill, The action of some honorable senators who have vigorously, and at times violently, opposed its principles, is somewhat paradoxical. Senator Drake, for instance, went to a lot of pains to point out the unconstitutionality of clause 2. Evidently he is unmindful of the position which he took up when a similar Bill was under consideration a week or two ago.
– No; I referred to that at some length.
– I did not hear the honorable senator. On that occasion I succeeded in getting embodied in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill a principle giving to the employes in the distilling industry fair working conditions, and stipulating that an undue proportion of youths should not be employed. On that occasion every constitutional authority in the Senate, including the members of the Government, pointed out that the proposal was unconstitutional, and that, if carried, it would be ultra vires. Senator Drake himself pointed out that, in his opinion,my amendment was unfair, because he said that, in the event of only one distiller not observing the conditions specified, all the other distillers would be penalized. I recognised that there was something, in that objection, but the difficulty was to get over it ; because I was under the impression that taxation of that kind had to be uniform. But I am now of opinion that while we cannot discriminate between State and State in regard to taxation, there is no doubt that we can discriminatebetween persons within States. On that occasion my amendment was carried by fifteen votes to eight. The Bill was sent to another place, and the points argued in the Senate on the occasion referred to were brought to bear on the measure in the House of Representatives last night. According to the reports that I have been enabled to peruse in the newspapers,all the constitutional authorities to whom the points were submitted are agreed that the amendment embodied at mv instance in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill are consti- tutional, and will have full force and effect.
– That is one score to us !
– It proves to me that all the constitutional authorities in the Senate at that time were wrong; and I am inclined to think that they are wrong on the present occasion also. I have endeavoured to ascertain the true constitutional position concerning the point now in dispute. Last night the issue was raised whether a clause in the Bill with which, we were dealing was constitutional. The President, consistently with his ruling on previous occasions, held that it was not for him to interpret the Constitution, but that it was for theHigh Court to discharge that function. But, subsequently, after vacating the chair, and speaking as a senator, he implored us not to pass the clause on the ground that it was a tack. According to the highest constitutional authorities, however, it is not a tack. It merely stipulates conditions.
– According to whom?
– The highest constitutional authorities in another place - gentlemen who helped to frame the Federal Constitution, and who, in my opinion, are most competent to interpret it. They say that it is quite competent for this Parliament to impose any conditions it likes in regard to duties of Excise. I am inclined to think that the objection raised to this measure by honorable senators opposite is not so much becauseof its. unconstitutionality, but because they are opposed to the principle of protection to the workers being applied to the makers of stripperharvesters.
– The objection is not to the principle on its merits. Not one senator on this side of theChamber has taken such an objection.
– They object to it because they say it is unconstitutional.
– That is another matter.
– The constitutional authorities, however, are against the honorable senator.
– Who are the “ constitutional authorities “ ?
- Mr. Isaacs, the Attorney-General, is one.
– I would not give twopence for him !
– I regard Mr. Isaacs as a gentleman whose opinion on such a point is extremely valuable. He stands high amongst lawyers in this country on account of his legal knowledge and capacity.
– His opinion generally costs more than twopence !
– In all probability, if rumour be correct, he will be one of the High Court Judges.
– Senator Dobson attached great importance this afternoon to Mr. Mitchell’s opinion in regard to the tobacco monopoly.
– That is politics !
– Yes, combine politics ! Mr. Isaacs has expressed an opinion, as I have said, favorable to the constitutionality of the provision. So also have Mr. Higgins and Mr. Deakin.
– Were they speaking of the provision in the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill or the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill ? ‘
– In regard to both. I have had a conversation with Mr. Higgins in reference to the Bill now before us. We also know that Mr. Isaacs was mainly responsible for drafting it, and naturally he knows exactly what he is doing regarding it. Mr. Deakin also necessarily considered the measure when it came before his own Cabinet.
– The unfortunate thing is that all the gentlemen the honorable senator has mentioned are prejudiced against the constitutional rights of the Senate.
– I do not believe that.
– Let the honorable senator read Mr. Isaacs’ opinion on section 55 of the Constitution, as expressed in the Convention.
– But the section having been inserted in the Constitution, does Senator Millen believe that Mr. Isaacs would use his position to bring the Senate into disrepute?
– Section 55 of the Constitution has been quoted several times during the debate, but I shall quote it again in order to ask honorable senators oppositeto tell meexactly how it conflicts with this Bill -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.
Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of Customs or of Excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only ; but laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs only, and laws imposing duties of Excise shall deal with’ duties of Excise only.
In my opinion we are not dealing with any other matter ; we are simply imposing conditions.. According to better minds than my own, we can impose any conditions we like in such measures as we have beforeus. Having established, as we did in connexion with the Spirits Bill, the principle that we can include in an Excise Tariff Bill conditions affecting the working classes, what have honorable senators to lose by supporting this Bill? Honorable senators opposite point out, in vague and ambiguous terms, that there are other ways by which the working men may be advantaged. But we have an opportunity here and now ; and, no matter how long a time it may take, the members of the Labour Party are prepared to stand by the Government. The working classes, have for years been trying to find a way to obtain that measure of protection to which they are entitled. We believe the Opposition is not so much against any fancied unconstitutionality, as against the principle which we have established, and the operation of which we think will be further extended in connexion with other industries throughout theCommonwealth.
Motion (by Senator Dobson) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret that the Minister will not consent to an adjournment of the debate, because I feel sure that honorable senators are not able, under the circumstances, to devote that attention to the business which it deserves. Without doubt, we are faced with the most important question ever placed before the Senate, from the point of view of the Constitution, and of States rights. Of course, if the Minister of Defence, chooses to rival a Minister in another place, and endeavour to “ bullock “ this Bill through, we must see the matter out.
– There has been a fair opportunity for discussion.
– I have some notes on the question before us, but I am anxious first to say something in reply to the remarks of ‘ Senators Pearce and Findley. The latter gentleman seemed to imply that some honorable senators on this side - he did not seem to know which - were opposed to workmen getting a fairshare of the benefits of protective duties. If we protect industries, it is not solely for the benefit of the factory owner, but in order that good wages may be paid, and the benefitsfairly distributed. But. in regard to giving the workers a fair share of the benefits, I think a majority of honorable senators are on the wrong tack. While I do not dissent from it, I say that the method is wrong. What is the meaning of our factories legislation - our Wages Boards and our Arbitration Courts? Are they to be put aside? Should we not rather set to work to make our industrial legislation as perfect as we can, in order that the workers may obtain fair treatment ?
– The honorable senator is not in favour of compulsory arbitration.
– I am, under certain circumstances. But what are we to think of honorable senators who, having devoted years to the creation of tribunals to do justice between employers and employes, are prepared to set aside all that they have done by substituting an unconstitutional provision in an Excise Bill ? According to Mr. Ord’s report, the forty Wages Boards in Victoria are giving satisfaction, and everything is going on smoothly. In New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia there are Arbitration Courts for the settlement of industrial disputes, and, although similar bodies do not exist in Queensland and Tasmania, I know that in the latter State the workers are fairly content, and that we rarely hear of a strike, except on the mining fields.
– Has this to do with the Bill?
– I am pointing out that the tribunals to whichI have referred have been created to see that the workmen get fair treatment, and that it is, therefore, unnecessary to provide in our Excise legislation that they shall get their share of the benefits given to the harvester industry by the imposition of a duty of £12 on imported machines. Would not an Arbitration Court, when hearing a dispute, take into account the existence of a duty, and the absence of competition ? No doubt the constitutional point that has been raised is of great interest and importance. I am still of the opinion that the provision in the Customs Tariff Bill relating to the prices of stripper-harvesters is not a tack, but is necessary to carry out the intention of certain legislators in regard to the adjustment of the duties. But the case is different when we come to the Bill now before us. There is no direct relation between the rates of Excise duties in the schedule, and the so-called extraneous provisions, which, in my opinion, are wholly and absolutely unconstitutional. For instance, are not the provisions of paragraph d quite foreign to the purposes of the Bill ? Up to within the last few days, the members of the Labour Party, and of other parties, have recognised that the settlement of industrial disputes within the States is entirely a matter for State legislation, and, one after another, have advocated fromthe public platform the amendment of the Constitution to empower this Parliament to pass industrial laws. It has never been contended that we have that power, though the point has been raised that particular amendments, such as that of bringing the railway servants within the scope of the Commonwealth Arbitration Bill, violated the constitutional provision that industrial legislation is a matter for the States. Tonight, however, Senator Pearce, in an excited, speech, said that he welcomes this new method of taking advantage of fiscal legislation to interfere in industrial matters.I think that the point raisedby Senator Mulcahy. and clearly and lucidly dealt withby Senator Drake, is an admirable one. If it is right topass legislation of this kind, what is to prevent the Federal Parliament from attaching similar provisions to every item in the Tariff? Next year we can propose higher duties on boots, hats, articles of apparel, and everything else, not with the intention that they shall be collected, but in order to make certain provisions as to the wages to be paid and the conditions to be observed in their manufacture. No honorable senator who honestly desires to carry out the provisions of the Consti-. tution will contend that that can be done. I noticed the language and tone in which Senator Pearce said that he would welcome this new departure, but I believe that the honorable senator knew and felt that it was more than a departure; that it was a gross violation of the Constitution. The honorable senator welcomes the measure because he thinks it will bring about what we all believe can not be brought about by any legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament. It appears to me that we are confronted with the most important question we have ever had to face, as if we have the power to pass a Bill to levy duties of Excise that we have no desire to collect, and merely in order to bring about something which has no relation whatever to Excise duties, we can apply the same principle to every item in the Tariff. I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether the term “ industrial authority “ in paragraph e of clause 2 includes Wages Boards ?
– Undoubtedly it does. An industrial authority includes any special Board constituted under any State Act relating to factories.
– Then the Bill will place the Wages Boards of Victoria in an inferior position, because, whilst the Commonwealth Arbitration Court can act in this matter on its own initiative, these questions can only go to the industrial authority through theMinister, and he might not refer any dispute to a Victorian Wages Board.
– The reference to the industrial authority will not be through the Minister.
SenatorDOBSON.- I take it that the reference in paragraphf to goods manufactured before 31st March, 1907, will apply to goods being manufactured at that time. I do not know any other reason for the provision, but it has not been sufficiently explained. It appears to me that this Bill will allow of an appeal from the Arbitration Court to Parliament or to the Minister. Is that wise? I can quite understand that in a Parliament in which the members of a certain party preponderated, applicants would prefer to run the gauntlet of both Houses to going before an Arbitration Court where they would get a judicial decision according to the weight of evidence. Parliament is the worst tribunal that could be constituted a court of appeal. Very few members would take the trouble to make themselves fully acquainted with the facts. They would be subject to be earwigged by the persons specially interested, and could not be expected to arrive at anything in the nature of a judicial decision. Suppose that the harvester manufacturing industry were established in Tasmania, and that the machines were sold at prices slightly lower than those ruling in other States. If our manufacturers applied for a certificate to the effect that they were paying reasonable rates of remuneration and were observing fair conditions, of labour, some of the manufacturers in the other States who desired to put an end to their competition, might allege behind their backs that the conditions under which their operations were carried on were unfair. It might, for instance, be urged that the wages in Tasmania were lower than elsewhere. But taking into consideration the lower rentals, and cheaper living expenses, the rate of remuneration might be relatively higher than that prevailing in other States. Therefore, the greatest confusion might arise. An absolutely new tribunal, for which there is no constitutional authority, is being set up by this, Bill. A Judge of the Supreme Court could toe authorised to inquire into the conditions under which the harvester manufacturing industry was carried on in Tasmania, and might go to the length of refusing to grant the certificate necessary to entitle the manufacturers to the full measure of the protection provided for under the Bill. He might decide that the wages were not fair and reasonable. Suppose that such an inquiry were made, and such a decision were given after the Legislature of Tasmania had refused to pass an Arbitration Bill for the settlement of disputes. Would it not then become clear that we were going far beyond the powers granted to us under the Constitution, and that under cover of an Excise Bill Ave were endeavouring to interfere with industrial matters which were strictly within the domain of the State.
– I do not intend to traverse the constitutional arguments advanced by other honorable senators. Like Senator Pearce, I gladly welcome the provision made in this Bill for the protection of the workers. This, is a new departure which I think marks a distinct stage in the progress of protectionist legislation. I do not anticipate that the administration will be attended by the difficulties predicted by Senators Clemons and Dobson. Protectionist legislation has hitherto failed to provide for the protection of the workers. Capitalists ate always well able to look after themselves, and our special object should be not to protect the employer but to confer as much benefit as possible upon the workers. I recognise that an attempt is now being made to protect our industries in a scientific and legitimate manner, and I trust that further measures will be adopted to improve the unsatisfactory conditions under which workers are employed in some highly-protected industries. I do not see that any danger can arise from adopting the provisions which are intended to impose special conditions upon the manufacturers of harvesters. Senator Dobson must know that one thousand and one industrial cases are likely to arise in the States to which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act cannot possibly be applied. That Act cannot, as he contends, override the States laws dealing with industrial difficulties. It would be absolutely impossible for the employés in many industries throughout the Commonwealth to approach the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. It may be said that the Minister is really the medium through whom any application to those sources must be made : in fact, Senator Dobson said that the Minister must refer any cases to one of those authorities. It may be that I am dense, and, if so, probably that is the reason why I have not been able to discover that such a provision is made in the Bill.
– Senator Dobson withdrew that almost as soon as he mentioned it.
– I did not hear the withdrawal, but I am willing to accept the honorable senator’s assurance.
– So far as I understood Senator Dobson, lie certainly did withdraw it.
– That disposes of the argument which I was about to develop. I see no danger in allowing the Minister to exercise the function which is to be assigned to him in the clause. I have had a good deal to do with industrial disputes of one kind and another. I suppose I have been connected with as many voluntary conciliation cases in the States as have most persons, and I have not yet met an organized body of men who would for a moment attempt to do the acts which Senator Clemons assumed might be committed under this measure. He spoke of the possibility of a number of men, five or six, resorting to lobbying, and getting the Minister, probably in an unguarded moment, to take action on the strength of their evidence which would practically ruin an industry. I am convinced that for the welfare of industrial operatives it is necessary to retain intact the provision as ta the Minister. I can conceive of a position when it would be a very useful power for him to possess. Five or six, or more, employes in a factory, might be in a place where it would be quite impossible for them by the power or force of organization to do anything to assist themselves, or the employers of a small number of men might terrorize them, and prevent combinations within their works. I admit candidly that the evidence which came out before the Tariff Commission in respect of the position of the men at the Sunshine Harvester Works was such as would undoubtedly have made me consider very carefully what I should do had it not been for my knowledge of the provisions in this Bill. It is easy to conceive of organized bodies of .men approaching an Arbitration Court, and also of organized labour having a case heard and decided before a Wages Board. But it is just as easy to conceive of a small number of men or women engaged in a factory who dare not, except at the risk of losing their means of livelihood, attempt to organize. In these circumstances, I think that the provision to allow such, persons ‘ to approach the Minister is a very wise one. I believe that in its operation it would be conducive to the welfare of some of our industrial operatives. I sin cerely trust that the Senate will see its way to pass the Bill as it stands.
Sitting suspended from -12.10 to 12.45 a.m. (Friday).
– I am not in love with late sittings, but, at the same time, I do not like to allow the second reading of this Bill to be passed without replying to some of the statements that have been made. I welcome the Bill because it entirely accords with my own idea of protection. 1 shall not deal with the constitutional aspect of the question. I admit that there are good grounds for a difference of opinion as to ihe constitutionality of the Bill. Excellent constitutional authorities have expressed views on both sides. Eminent lawyers who helped to frame the Constitution have expressed the opinion that the Bill is decidedly within its four corners. On the other hand, Senator Drake, Senator Clemons, and Senator Symon take the opposite view. A layman’s opinion might be of very little value. But I welcome the Bill on its merits, because it embodies what I call the principle of the new protection. It has often been urged against members of the party to which I belong that some of them are illogical and inconsistent because, whilst advocating freetrade doctrines, thev talk protection for the workers. But the reason why those gentlemen are free-traders is that they know that many workers in Australia and America have to put up with conditions as miserable and as inhumane as can be found in afv free-trade country. They argue therefore that neither free-trade nor protection is a panacea for the grievances and evils which the working classes often have to endure. The term “ new protection “ has come into use in Australia within the last few years. Many of those who called themselves protectionists in the common meaning of the term have adopted the new designation. I subscribe to that doctrine myself, because I believe in giving protection, first, to the manufacturer in Australia against the competition of goods produced under miserable conditions of employment abroad, and, secondly, to the workers in insuring to them fewer hours of labour, better remuneration, and more reasonable conditions. This Bill complies with the requirements of the new protection. About eighteen months ago, when a conference of Inter- State delegates, representing the various labour organizations of Australia, was held in Melbourne, I moved a resolution to the effect that the new protection should obecome portion of the Labour Party’s programme. The motion was defeated. I am pleased, however, that some protectionists, who hitherto. have not been much in accord with the ideas of the Labour Party, but who have shown their sincere desire for better conditions for the workers, are now inclining, to the new protection. I welcome this Bill as an instalment of a principle which may be extended almost indefinitely. I have no fear, in spite of the warning about State rights, that such a measure will do harm to any individual in any State. Some exception has been taken to the provision which makes the Minister of Trade and Customs one of the authorities to decide whether reasonable conditions of labour are observed; and I am not particular whether that provision be retained or not. Tt may be that it would be better if this clause were struck out, but I do not think it would do much harm if it were, allowed to remain. Much has been said about the tremendous powers which this provision places in the hands of the Minister : but those powers are not much greater than those bestowed by other measures on the political heads of Departments.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has much greater power under the Customs Act.
– That is so. The Ministerial head of every Department, whether of the Commonwealth or of a State, exercises powers quite as far-reaching as those proposed to be bestowed bv this Bill. I wish Senator Dobson were in the Chamber, because I desire to refer to some remarks he made.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– I regret that the “call to arms “ has not been answered by Senator Dobson, who laid before us a number of imaginary evils which, in his opinion, Tasmania will, under the Bill, suffer, owing to the fact that in that State there is no industrial authority to deal with such disputes as might arise over the question of what are reasonable wages conditions. Senator Dobson pictured the extremely peaceful relations between employers and employes in Tasmania. On other occasions the honorable senator has drawn attention to the fact that the absence of any industrial authority has never caused any inconvenience to the workers, or resulted in any injustice to the industrial classes. As one who has been brought intimately into touch with the industrial classes in that State, and who, probably. knows more of their inner lives than Senator Dobson does, i say that it would have been a good thing had there been such an industrial authority as a compulsory Arbitration Court. If, as Senator Dobson contemplates, the manufacture of stripper-harvesters, and other agricultural implements, is carried on in Tasmania in the future, and the establishment of that industry brings in its train a compulsory Arbitration Court or Wages Boards to compel fair conditions of labour, I, and thousands of others, will be highly gratified. At the present moment a Select Committee, appointed bv the Government of the State, is inquiring into alleged sweating in connexion with the general industrial life of the State. That Select ‘Committee was appointed only a few weeks ago at the instigation of a member of the Labour Part - it usually is a member of the Labour Party - who failed about twelve months ago to have such an inquiry instituted, but who has succeeded on the present occasion. Some 400 witnesses have been examined by the Royal Commission, and, although the evidence has not yet been published, I feel satisfied that it will result in some rather startling revelations.
– That is a matter for the State.
– I believe that Senator Mulcahy has, equally with me, an ardent and sincere desire to alter the present conditions; but we differ in our ideas as to the best method. I believe in the passing of a measure like this by the Federal Government, because I am perfectly satisfied that many years will elapse before it will be possible to induce the Parliament of cur State to institute an Arbitration Court or appoint Wages Boards on the lines which have been adopted in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia.
– I do not think there would be so much trouble in regard to Wages Boards.
– I can only judge of the future by experience of the past.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the people of Tasmania are opposed to such tribunals?
– I mean that, owing to the absurdly restricted franchise for the State Upper House-
– Surely that has nothing to do with the Bill now before us.
– I think I can connect my remarks with the Bill, because Senator Dobson, in his speech, contemplated a time in the near future when the manufacture of stripper-harvesters would be carried on in Tasmania. This is a Bill to impose Excise duties on stripperharvesters. Senator Dobson has spoken of the possibility of the future manufacture of harvesters in Tasmania, and has suggested that he would then be in favour of passing an Industrial Arbitration Act, though he appears to wish to surround it with impossible conditions. There are at present a number of small factories in Tasmania, although agricultural machinery such as that made by. Mr. McKay is not turned out by them. 1 hope, however, that Tasmania will in the future become a manufacturing State of more importance, and. as a. believer in the new protection, I think that, while assisting the manufacturers, we should also have regard to the interests of their employes. If, owing to the peculiar constitution of its Parliament, any State is not in a position to compel reasonable wages and conditions, the Federal Parliament will do well to step in, and, by legislation of this kind, supposing the provision to be constitutional, do what it can to improve the conditions of labour.
– Has the honorable senator any doubts as to its constitutionality?
– Since the best legal talent is divided on the question, a layman can hardly speak with confidence in regard to it. But I am quite willing to allow it to be decided bv the High Court. Still, as the free-traders say that they welcome the principle, if they have the slightest doubt on the constitutional point, they should give the benefit of it to those who are fighting in the interests of humanity. During the discussions on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, those who supported the measure were told that their object was to compel the workers to join unions, and to starve those who would not.
We heard a great deal about doing justice to the non-union worker. This measure will specially benefit the non-union worker in small factories, where there are too few to join a union, because it will compel ali employers in an industry to pay failrates of wages, and to observe reasonable hours and conditions of labour. Therefore I appeal to honorable members opposite to vote for the Bill for the sake of the non-union worker. I know of no other measure which has come before the Senate which is of equal importance to workmen who for one reason or another are not members of a union. As an instalment of the new protection which I hope is going to be extended indefinitely throughout Australia by means of our Federal legislation I welcome this Bill, and will vote for it.
– At this very late stage of the session, it is difficult for honorable senators to deal with measures submitted to them in a manner which- will reflect credit on the Senate as a legislative body. But we can scarcely avoid that. Every session must come to an end some time, and in every Parliament there is always a rush of work at the end of a session. 1 have had great sympathy for honorable senators opposite in their endeavours to point out the merits and demerits of this Bill. I always, had a very high opinion of the judgment of Senator Millen, but it has not been strengthened by what has taken place this evening. In his very eloquent address on the second reading the honorable senator stated that if the Bill became law it might at some future time be brought before the High Court on a question as to its validity. The honorable senator contended that although the High Court might in such a case declare a certain portion of the measure to be of no effect, the Excise duties would still go on. I do not think that is correct as a statement of fact, or even of probability, because the Excise duties are conditional on something else, and it is not something else that is conditional on the Excise duties. We could not destroy the conditions without doing away with the Excise duties, though we might destroy the Excise duties .without doing away with the conditions. The Bill imposes Excise duties, only on certain conditions, and if they are to be of no effect the Excise duties cannot be imposed. Without going into the constitutional question in any way, this Bill can have a very great effect on the industries .of Australia, because if it becomes law manufacturers will be so careful in their treatment of their workers that there will never be any occasion for trouble. I consider that the measure in its deterrent effect will be more useful than in any other way. That is why I say we should pass this measure, as quickly as we can, because, when it becomes law, those who will get the benefit of the protection embodied in another measure before the Senate will treat their men fairly, lest they should be subjected to the Excise duties we are conditionally imposing in this Bill. I am sure that honorable senators opposite will rejoice with us if that should be the effect of the measure. I could give many other reasons for supporting the second reading of the Bill, but I shall content myself now with the expression of a hope that those who may speak after me will be as brief as I have been, and so allow the Senate to get to business quickly.
– It is a pity that, having, sat so late, we are, by reason of a certain standing order, prevented from going on with useful business which has, been waiting settlement for a considerable time. The country expects this Parliament to finish the business before it, but, unless the Government take action to suspend that standing order, thev will be unable to bring the session to a close without the loss of some Bills which they consider it desirable to pass. A great deal of time has been taken up, in connexion with this measure, in this discussion of a constitutional point.
– That constitutional point has never been settled.
– It has been settled as far as Ave can settle it. If there had been any real doubt about it, I am quite sure that it would have been referred to the High Court by the sugar-planters of Queensland.
– The case is not an analogous one.
– In one case the Government are giving something, and therefore no one objects ; whereas in the other instance they are taking something.
– Strong opposition has been manifested in several quarters to the granting of the- bounties.
– But no objection has been raised by those who are receiving the bounties.
– The honorable senator loses sight of the fact that the rich planters of. Queensland are strongly in favour of employing black labour, and would naturally do their best to upset a law which is intended to operate to their disadvantage. I have no doubt that they would have submitted a case to the High Court if in their opinion the validity of the law had been open to question. The principle which underlies this Bill is the distinguishing feature of what has been referred to as the new protection. In the past one of the strongest arguments against protection Avas that only the employer derived any benefit from the duties imposed at the Customs House. But under the new system, the protection of the worker as well as of the employer is aimed at. in connexion with this measure, Ave can accomplish the desired end without violating any principle of justice, or interfering with the conditions which should regulate fair dealing as between man and man. The principle of threshing out the merits of a dispute in a Court has been applied in several States and found to be eminently satisfactory to all parties concerned. We know that in Victoria the Wages Board system has achieved great benefits for the factory workers. I regret that it has not been extended to all the workers in the State. We can realize the defect of the law when Ave consider the condition of the workers in the goldmining industry. We are all acquainted with the sweating conditions which obtain on the gold-fields at Bendigo, Ballarat, and elsewhere. Men are obliged to work there at a rate of wages which is scarcely sufficient to enable (hem to keep body and soul together. They have no possible means of improving their position unless they resort to the barbarous method of a strike. “ That is a great blemish on the Wages Board system of the State. In Western Australia we have had a very satisfactory state of -affairs indeed since Ave adopted the principle of conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of wages disputes. It has operated beneficially not only to miners, but to others.
– I would ask the honorable senator to speak to the Bill. T make a, personal appeal to him, because I am getting very tired.
– I have not been speaking, I think, for more than five minutes, and I should like to develop that argument, because it relates to a subject in which I am very much interested.
– I would ask the honorable senator to discuss the Bill before the Senate, and not to discuss the question of Wages Boards and Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration in the various States,.
– I cannot resist the appeal which has been made to me. J. am afraid that it is notonly you, sir, but the poor fellows at the table who have had to graft so hard all day, who deserve some consideration at our hands. I shall conclude my remarks by saying that I hope that the proposed method of settling disputes whichmay arise under the operation of the Bill will prove equally as satisfactory all round as has the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in Western Australia. On those grounds, I. give the Bill my hearty approval.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … …11.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Duties of Excise shall on and from the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seven, be imposed on the dutiable goods specified in the Schedule at the rates specified in the said Schedule.
Provided that this Act shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
are declaredby resolution of both Houses of the Parliament to be fair and reasonable.: or
are in accordance with an industrial award under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 ; or
are in accordance with the terms of an industrial agreement filed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904; or
are in accordance with terms which in the opinion of the Minister are fair and reasonable ; or
are, on an application made for the purpose to the President of the Commonwealth Court of) Conciliation and Arbitration, declared to be fair andreasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial Authority to whom he may refer the matter ; or
in the case of goods manufactured before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and seven, are cither as advantageous to the workersas the standard conditions at the place of manufacture, or are declared by the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by aJudge of the Supreme Court of the State in which the goods are manufactured, or by the Minister, to be fair and reasonable.
– I move, as an amendment -
That the words “January, One thousand nine hundred and seven,” lines 2 and 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “November, One thousand nine hundred and six.”
The intention of my amendment is to make the Bill come into operation at a reasonable time after it has received the GovernorGeneral’s assent.
– Should not that be a request ?
– I am extremely obliged to Senator Pearce for the assistance that he is proffering me, but I am going to be bold enough to move the amendment in my own way.
– I rule that the honorable senator is not in order in submitting his proposal as an amendment. I think it should be submitted as a request.
– I must dissent from your ruling, sir. I submit my dissent in writing in the following terms : -
I dissent from the Chairman’s ruling that it is out of order to move an amendment to clause 2 of the Excise Mill No. 37, and that such motion must be put in the form of a request.
In the Senate :
The Chairman of Committees. - I beg to report that when the Committee was considering the Bill relating to duties of Excise, Senator Clemons, on clause 2, submitted an amendment toleave out the words “ January, One thousand nine hundred and seven,” with a view to insert, in lieu . thereof, the words “November, One thousand nine hundred and six.” I ruled that he was not in order in submitting an amendment, and he has dissented from my ruling. The Constitution states, in section
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation.
Standing order 244, dealing with procedure on Bills which the Senate may not amend, states -
The proceedings in Committee shall be as follow : - The Chairman shall (unless otherwise ordered) call on each clause or item, ‘and ask if any senator has any request to move thereon. If no motion for a request is moved, or moved and negatived, the Chairman shall declare the clause or motion passed. If motions for requests are moved and passed, the Chairman shall declare the clause or item passed, subject to the requests being complied with.
I did not give my reasons for ruling Sena.tor Clemons out of order in Committee, because I thought I might save time by delaying my remarks until I reported the matter to you. I regret that I had not an opportunity last evening to hear your ruling on a similar point, but I have hurriedly glanced at the report of the ruling, and find that you said, on a point of order, upon a Bill relating to Customs duties -
This Bill is undoubtedly one to impose duties of Customs. The fact, if it be a fact, that it contains a clause that it ought not to contain does not alter the character of the Bill.
I submit that the Bill with which the Committee has been dealing is a Money Bill, and the fact that it contains a clause which should not be in it, does not alter the character of the Bill. . If any amendment is proposed that amendment must, in my view, be put in the form of a request. Although I understand that you ruled last night that any amendment to a particular clause in a Bill such as that under consideration must be made in the form of an amendment-
– I did not say “must.” I said that I thought it ought to be within the power of the Senate to make an amendment in a clause in a Bill imposing duties or taxation, if the clause was of such a character that it ought not to be in the Bill.
The Chairman of Committees. - Holding as I do that the Bill before the Committee is a Money Bill, and that any amendment must be in the form of a request, I felt compelled to rule Senator
Clemons out of order. But, this evening, you said in reply to Senator Pearce -
I am quite willing to confess, after hearing Senator Drake, that I did not grasp the whole possibilities of the ruling.
Further, in reply to Senator Millen, you said -
I am not going to give any ruling now, but I am quite prepared, if an opportunity should arise, to reconsider the question.
– Has this anything to do’ with the point? The point is whether a senator ought to move an amendment or a request in the part of the Bill referred to. That is all.
The Chairman of Committees. - Then I will say no more, but simply refer the matter for your decision.
– May I say a few words by way of explanation? I admit at once that there is a distinction between moving a request and an amendment on the clause that was before the Committee, I may say, out of courtesy to the Senate, that I deliberately moved my amendment when I did, with the intention of moving another amendment in a subsequent part of the same clause, and I hope we shall arrive at some final clearing up of the point. Possibly, I am not right in assuming that there is a difference between moving an amendment in this clause and moving, an amendment elsewhere, a course which I propose to adopt in a few minutes. If I am right in this matter, I think it is only proper to afford you the opportunity to intimate whether or not an amendment is out of order here, even though it mav be in order elsewhere.
– This is a Bill to impose duties of- Excise. The first part of clause 2, in general terms, imposes duties of Excise on all the particular goods mentioned in the schedule. Then there is a proviso which says that certain people who obtain certificates - 1 presume there will be certificates - from various bodies, commencing with Parliament, and ending up with the Minister of the Crown, shall be exempt from those duties. This clause undoubtedly divides itself into two parts. The first part is the general imposition of Excise duties ; and to alter the date from which those duties are to be collected undoubtedly mav alter the “amount to be collected; and, therefore. I think that that alteration should be made by request. It has been intimated to me that this affords me an opportunity to say something about my ruling last night. I may state that I had a kind ofidea at the back ofmy mind that I did not then say that there must be an amendment if an alteration was sought to be made in the part of the Bill which, in my opinion, ought not to be there and I think that idea is correct. I, first of all, referred to the practice in South. Australia, and pointed out that in the Parliament of that State requests and amendments were made in the same Bill, and that it was left to the Committee to decide in which parts of the Bill requests should be made, and in whichparts amendments should be made.
– Is that the result of the South Australian Constitution, or the result of practice?
– It is, the result of a written compact between the two Houses.
– Not a result of the Constitution ?
– No. In my ruling last night I first of all pointed out that under the practice in South Australia the Committee were the judges as to whether they would make requests or amendments in the different parts of the same” Bill, and then I said. “The paragraphs I have just read throw a light on the subject.” Continuing my ruling, I said, “ I think we ought to be able to amend it in the ordinary manner.” That is all I said. I think that the Senate ought to be able to amend in the ordinary manner a clause which isnot a money clause, and which ought not, in my opinion, to be in the Bill. I did not bind down the Committee so tightly as I originally thought I had done. But so far as the point before me is concerned, Ihave no hesitation in saying that I agree with the Chairman, and that there ought to be a request in regard to this part of the Bill.
In Committee :
– In pursuance of the ruling now given I shall put the amendment in the form of a request. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the words “ January, One thousand nine hundred and seven,” and insert the words “ November, One thousand nine hundred and six.”
Question - put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I again move as an amendment -
That paragraph d be left out.
– As I consider this a Money Bill, which the Senate may not amend, I rule that the honorable senator can only submit a request.
– I dissent from your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and, in conformity with our rules of procedure, put my dissent in writing.
In the Senate :
The Chairman of Committees. - I beg to report that, in Committee, Senator Clemons wished to move, as an amendment, the omission of paragraph d from clause 2 of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill. I ruled that, this being a Money Bill, only a request could be submitted, and he dissentedfrom that ruling. I thought that a previous point was taken for the purpose of having this question re-opened, and I was encouraged to believe thatyou, sir, were perhaps under the impression that we had taken a wrong course, and that it would, therefore, be well for us to seek an early opportunity to retrace our steps. I was led to that opinion by the following remarks: - Senator Pearce, having stated that he understood you to rule that it was competent for the Committee to request amendments in the Bill, the following discussion took place: -
- No. Thispoint,as every one knows, was sprung upon me last night. I am quite willing to confess, after hearing Senator Drake, that I did not grasp the whole possibilities of the ruling.
– If you will not think it discourteous of me, sir, I should like to ask whether you are going to give another ruling now.
– I am not going to give any ruling now, but I am quite prepared, if the opportunity should arise, to reconsider the question.
I would also bring to your mind the following discussion : -
– There should be some means whereby the Senate could assert its rights.
– It was because I wished to enable the Senate to assert its rights that I ruled yesterday that an amendment should be moved. I consider that when a Bill contains a clause which it should not contain, we ought to resent that fact by amending it. If the Senate wish me to reconsider the question, I am willing to do so.
– I think, sir, that you should.
– I feel sure that I am voicing the opinion of the Senate when I say . that I hope you will bring your long constitutional experience to bear again on the point.
– I see no other way out of the difficulty than to say that although I think the proper course is to move an amendment, either an amendment or a request, as the Senate thinks fit, may be moved.
My personal opinion is that, this being a Money Bill, we cannot amend it. There is nothing in the Standing Orders relating to Bills which we may not amend, to the effect that in respect to some provisions we may make either a request or an amendment. As no provision is made for the amendment of a Bill such as this, I hold that we may deal with it only by way of request. I take the view that the Bill is very much on the lines of the Excise Tariff Bill of 1902, which related to a number of subjects, including sugar, and provided that sugar should bear an Excise of 3s. per cwt., less a rebate to those employing white labour of 4s. per ton on sugar-cane. If the Government had framed the presentBill in the same form, it would have provided that the Excise duty on stripper-harvesters should be£6 each, less a rebate of £,6 where such harvesters had been made by manufacturers paying certain rates of wages, and employing their men a certain number of hours. I take it that the provision regarding payment and hours of labour are conditions in connexion with the imposition of the Excise, and that if the alteration of these conditions is desired, we must request the House of Representatives to amend them. I submit that ruling for your consideration, sir.
SenatorClemons. - To some of us, it seems that a clear distinction can be drawn between an amendment in the operative part of clause 2, which you have ruled would be out of order, and an amendment in that part of the clause which in no way provides for the imposition of any tax or burden, but merely enumerates conditions. I wished to move the omission of the words “ are in accordance with terms which, in the opinion of the Minister, are fairand reasonable,” from a provision whichdoes not relate to the rates of duty, but merely to the terms and conditions of labour. Such an amendment ought, I contend, to be well within the powersof the Senate, inasmuch as this proviso has no relation to the imposition of a tax or burden. So far as I am capable of making an analogy or of instituting what I venture to say is a close parallel, I discern no difference between the effect of the clause I now propose to amend and the effect, intent, and purpose of clause 4 of the Customs Tariff Bill, which we are considering in conjunction with this measure, and in which case it was. decided by you, sir, that the correct course was not to request, but to amend.
– It seems to me that in dealing with this question we should not consider this Bill merely, but what would be the position of the Senate if a Bill somewhat analogous to this were to be sent up to us in the future. This is a Bill which first of all imposes Excise duties, and allows certain people to get exemption from the payment of those duties under certain conditions. They must get a certificate, and that certificate will depend on the rate of wages. Has the rate of wages necessarily anything to do with the imposition of Customs or Excise duties? Is this’ not a. Bill by which under the plea of imposing Excise duties it is sought merely to fix rates of wages? If it is, ought such a Bill to he sent to the Senate underthe provisions of section 55 of the Constitution ? I know there is great difference of opinion on that point. I do not think that these provisions should be in the Bill. Others take a different view, and no doubt there is room for difference of opinion. Suppose this practice is established, and we get another Bill by-and-by. in which Customs or Excise duties are imposed, and there is a. clause, in it proposing the diminution of the remuneration of members of the Senate from£400 to , £100 a year. I do not think that we ought then to request the House of Representatives to strike out such a provision. I think we should have power;to strike it out ourselves. We. ought to say to the House of Representatives, “ You have infringed the Constitution, and we resent it, and will strike out the provision which infringes the Constitution.” I admit that, under the wording of the Constitution, this being a Bill to impose duties, perhaps my ruling is wrong ; but I do not think it is wrong, according to the spirit of the Constitution, and what I say now is that the Chairman of Committees can put either a request or an amendment in reference to this part of the Bill. I point out that that is not my ruling; it is the ruling of the Senate. I gave a ruling last night, and the Senate adopted it, and, having adopted it, it has become the ruling of the Senate.
– Might I respectfully ask to which ruling you refer?
– The ruling I gave last night that an amendment could be moved in that part of the Customs Tariff Bill which, in my opinion, had no reference tothe imposition of taxation. That has become the ruling of the Senate. I think the Chairman is not justified in refusing to take the amendment.
– Before you leave the Chair, sir, I should like, with great respect to you, and with very considerable regret, because I feel that the matter is of very great importance, to dissent fromyour ruling.
– I donot think this is my ruling, and the honorable senator cannot dissent from a ruling of the Senate unless he takes the necessary steps.
– I wish to explain what I propose to do.
– I point out that in the case of a resolution, of the Senate, notice must be given of a motion for its repeal.
– But, sir, you have just given a ruling.
– No. I only stated the ruling which was adopted last night.
– Have you not given a ruling on the specific point taken by Senator Clemons?
– Is not that the same ruling which was given last night, and adopted by the Senate?
– But we are dealing with a specific ruling.
– I only elaborated the ruling given last night, and I do not think it is competent for any honorable
Senator now to dissent from that ruling, which has become the ruling of the Senate, unless he takes the necessary steps.
– You gave a ruling last night, and no further action was taken by the Senate. Can it therefore be said that the Senate adopted that ruling?
– Can it be said that to allow a ruling to pass unchallenged is to adopt it?
– I have always allowed the greatest latitude in the discussion of my rulings, but I certainly think the Senate adopted the ruling to which I refer.
– Suppose a case is before the Court, and a decision of one of the lower Courts is not appealed against. A subsequent case on all-fours with the other is brought, and is it to be said that because the first decision was not appealed against there can be no appeal against the second? Certainly no appeal was made againstyour decision last night, but I submit, with all respect to you, sir, that that does not prevent advantage being taken of the opportunity to appeal in this case.
– I think so.
– Does that mean that once the Senate has passed a ruling from the Chair, it is for all time to be bound by it? ‘
– Certainly not. The Senate can take the proper steps to annul that ruling.
– How ?
– By giving notice to rescind the ruling of the Senate.
– There has been no resolution.
– If a ruling is given and is not dissented from, is not that equivalent to a resolution of the Senate? Has not that been the practice ever since it has been a Senate?
– There has been no ruling given on this Bill.
– No; but a ruling has been given on the same point.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [2.23]. - I think the question with which we are confronted now is that if a ruling of the President is acted upon, the Senate is bound to accept that as the decision of the Senate, and if it wishes to do otherwise, must take the course of giving seven days’ notice of dissent - from what? A resolution? A resolution must surely involve the putting of some motion and its acceptance. I realize that if last night a motion had been made to dissent from your ruling had been debated, and a decision arrived at to sustain the ruling, it would unquestionably have become a resolution of the Senate. But I submit that in the circumstances it has not become .a resolution of the Senate, and merely stands as an unchallenged ruling, which, when followed up on the second occasion, is .as open to challenge as it was on the first occasion. Lastnight I not was prepared . to take the course of. dissenting from your ruling, because the state of feeling in the Senate was such that it would not have been fair to put such’ a question to the test.
– I admit that Senator Millen has a perfect right to take the course suggested, but I cannot help saying - and I say it with a good deal of feeling - that when I try to devise means by which the Senate can assert its powers, the very honorable senators who urge me to adopt that course are the first to object to my ruling.
– That does not apply to me.
– Nor to me.
– I move -
That the ruling of the President be disagreed to.
I have put my dissent in writing. I desire to say at once that I fully recognise your desire to maintain the status of the Senate. My desire is the same, and if I take a course which appears to you undesirable, I can only assure you that, although my methods mav be at fault, my aim is to maintain the full rights and privileges granted to the Senate under the Constitution. I merely desire to direct attention to the second paragraph of section 53 of the Constitution, upon which I base the whole case that I now present to you. The paragraph reads -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
It is not possible to divide a Bill into two portions. Under that section the Senate has to determine whether or not a measure is a money Bill - not merely whether every line can be covered by that term, but whether an instrument is or is not’ a Money Bill. If it is a Money Bill, then the Senate must proceed by way of re quest, and if it is not a Money Bill, by way of amendment. There is nothing in section 53 which gives, us any right or power to deal, by way of direct amendment, with a Bill which you, sir, declared to be a Money Bill. It may be possible that the practice in South Australia which has arisen under an agreement between the two Houses may have been present to your mind, and may have caused you to attach undue importance to the point to which you have given prominence.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That as the matter requires immediate determination, the debate on the motion to dissent from the President’s ruling be now proceeded with.
– According to the terms of the. Constitution, we cannot amend Bills proposing to impose duties of Customs or Excise. The Bill now before us is submitted as one for the imposition of duties of Excise. The Constitution lays it down that Bills imposing duties of Excise shall deal with duties of Excise only. If this Bill relates to anything but such duties, it is not pro.perly before us, and the only way in which we can express our dissent is by returning the Bill with a declaration that we consider that it is not properly before us, or b’- refusing to proceed with it. If we undertake to discuss it as a Bill for the purpose of imposing duties of Excise, we shall practically admit that it is properly before us. But the opinion of the Senate is expressed by its corporate act. We are now asked to fix,- by resolution, a practice which is to bind the Senate on one of the most important questions in connexion with its powers and privileges. I submit that this can only be either a Money Bill, which is in accordance with the Constitution, or an alleged Money Bill.
– How is that question to be decided - by a vote ?
– That seems to me to be the only way in which it can be decided. If it is a Bill to impose duties of Excise it cannot deal with any other question. Under the Constitution or the Standing Orders we cannot deal with a single Bill as a composite Bill. ‘ We cannot deal with a Bill which deals partly with duties of Excise and partly with other matters, when the Constitution says that a Bill dealing with’ duties of Customs must not deal with any other question.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [2.36]. - I think that Senator Trenwith touched the core of the question when he said that we cannot treat this as a composite Bill, and amend it in one respect and not in another. The Constitution is perfectly clear that the Senate cannot amend a Bill dealing with the imposition of Excise duties. If the Bill cannot be amended in one respect it cannot be amended in another. I felt sorry last night, sir, when you did not see your way to give a ruling on the constitutional point. The proper course, I think, to adopt was to move, as an amendment to the motion for the second reading, that the Bill be laid aside, because it contained a tack, and was not in accordance with the Constitution. By that means we would have avoided the necessity of asking you to interpret the Constitution,- and averted the present difficulty. I have always expressed a desire to uphold the position of the Senate under the Constitution, and it is with very deep regret, sir, that I feel myself compelled to dissent from your ruling. If we accept the Bill as an Excise Tariff Bill it must be accepted with all the restrictions which are placed upon a Bill of that character by the Constitution.
– I recognise the gravity of the situation so far as the Senate is concerned. I regret that the question is going to be put to a Senate which is comparatively thin for reasons which I think are very justifiable. I regret, too, sir, that it is about to be put at a time when we are all fagged, and almost worn out, and that remark, of course, applies with still more force to yourself.
Question - That the ruling of the President be disagreed to - resolved in the affirmative.
– - Will the Minister of Defence tell me how I am to move my amendment to the clause, or will the Chairman tell me how to proceed?
– In the form of a request.
– At this late hour, sir. and with every reservation which, may be necessary as regards the procedure, I cheerfully accept your statement that I must move a request. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out paragraph d.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to the request, because if we can keep this class of cases away from the Minister, and yet effectively administer the Bill, it will be much better for everybody. There will still be an appeal to a Court of Arbitration, or to a Supreme Court. Judge, and I do not think it is likely that any injustice will arise.
– Personally, if I were Minister of Trade and Customs, I would rather be relieved of the responsibility of deciding in cases such as would arise under this Bill. Therefore, I shall not oppose the request. I think it is a good deal better for the Minister to keep clear of industrial disputes, which would probably be a source of annoyance to him. It is a great deal better to leave them to the other tribunals mentioned in the Bill. In some States there are Arbitration Courts, in others there are other industrial tribunals, and in all there are Supreme Court Judges, before whom matters could be brought.
– I regret that there appears to be a disposition to leave out paragraph d. I fear that there might arise cases in which it would be convenient .for all concerned to be able to appeal to the Minister. I do not approve of the request.
– Is the Minister satisfied that a Judge of the Supreme Court of a Statewould have jurisdiction in a matter of this kind?
– There are many alternatives provided for in the Bill.
– I am not quite so sure on that point. If an appeal is made to a Judge, the members of the legal profession are at once introduced. I think it would be just as well to leave some power in the hands of the Minister. It is merely a question of ascertaining, facts.
– I regret to hear the Minister announce his willingness practically to accept the request to omit paragraph d. I think it will be found in the end to be a serious mistake to do so. There are conditions which may surround operations under this Bill in certain States that do not exist in other States. In Tasmania, for instance, there could be no appeal to a Wages Board or an Arbitration Court.
Queensland is practically in the same position. If we cut off a possible approach to the Minister, there is just a possibility that people living in States which are behind the times in respect of industrial legislationmaysuffer some injustice.
– After studying the clause further, I am more satisfied than ever that it will be a mistake to request the omission of paragraph d. It is quite a reasonable thing that there should bea power of approaching the Minister. It is true that there are other tribunals to which an appeal may be made. But in these matters it might be desirable that immediate action should be taken. The methods of appeal left in the clause would not conduce to a prompt settlement. I can well understand that if Senator Playford were Minister of Trade and Customs he might be anxious to be rid of a responsibility of this character. But, after all, the only thing to be determined would be a question of fact, which could be ascertained more cheaply and rapidly by the Minister than in any other possible way. Some persons might suspect the Minister of partizanship, but I do not think that any Minister would, in a matter of this kind, attempt to act otherwise than impartially.
– If he did he would have to “ walk the plank.”
– If he did, he would have to run the gantlet of parliamentary criticism. He will be criticised by the press,and by every one interested, and I think we might fairly well depend on his decision. It might be months before the president of the Court would be in a position to hear the case, and then a whole army of lawyers would have to be engaged. Such procedure would have the effect, not of facilitating the administration of the Act, but of the reverse. The only other alternative which I consider feasible is the reference to the Judge of the Supreme Court of a State ; but that would mean the calling of witnesses, and the engaging of lawyers on both sides, with the inevitable result of waste of time, and, probably, not a very satisfactory decision. On the whole, I think the Committee would be well advised to adopt the Bill as it stands.
– As a supporter of the Bill, I trust the Committee will accept the proposed request. This is a new class of legislation, and it is desirable to give it a fair trial, free from any possibility of prejudice on the part of the public. Laws can only continue if they are buttressed up by a belief on the part of the community that they are just in themselves, and make for the good of those who come under them. A Minister is the creature of political circumstances, who can be made or unmade by . 1 parliamentary majority. He may, indeed, represent a constituency seriously disturbed by some industrial trouble-
– He then might refuse to act.
– He might, but I am trying to show that, even if the Minister be absolutely fair and impartial, he will still be open to suspicion of bias, and the Act would be prejudiced by that suspicion. It has been well said that it is better to have corrupt laws, which the people believe to be honestly administered, than the best of laws which the people believe to be corruptly administered. A Minister would, rightly or wrongly, create a feeling that there was partisanship in any decision he gave. If there were a Parliament with a strong feeling in one direction, and probably moved by some industrial trouble, a Minister might give a decision which he thought right, but he would do it with the knowledge that Parliament might disapprove, and. as Senator Trenwith has said, make him “ walk the plank.”
– This is the equivalent of one of the alternatives presented by the honorable senator - a resolution of Parliament.
– I discussed that possibility, but I did notsubmit arequest which had no chance of finding a favorable reception. A resolution of Parliament is open to the objection I have mentioned ; but we must remember that Parliament works in the open, and the minority have at least some opportunity to make themselves heard, if not felt; whereas, in the case of a Minister working in his office, there is no publicity whatever.
– I am sorry that the Minister has consented to make any alteration in the paragraph. It is well known that in certain quarters there is an inclination to cast suspicion on politicians. But if there are any public men who cannot possibly go wrong without discovery, they are politicians, especially Ministers of the Crown, on whom the fierce light of criticism can be brought to bear with much effect. So far as the present Minister of Trade and Customs is concerned, if anything could have been trumped up against him, it would have been brought forward before now. I am sorry that Senator Playford has become a party to this amendment.
– I have no strong feeling in the matter.
SenatorDE LARGIE. - But there has been strong feeling manifested from time to time. Whyshould we have such implicit faith in lawyers and so much suspicion in politicians? Have lawyers been so very successful in the settlement of disputes of this kind? I speak with some experience, and I unhesitatingly say that lawyers have been no more successful than have politicians. In Western Australia there is a feeling in certain quarters that, instead of a Judge as President in the Arbitration Court, there should be some one popularly elected. A Member of Parliament, who has first been returned by the people, and then appointed to the position of Minister, would approach nearest to that qualification. In my opinion, the alteration proposed is a very foolish one at the present time. If a division is taken, I shall vote for the retention of the paragraph.
Question - That the House of Representatives. be requested to leave out paragraph d - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
question so resolved in theaffirmative
Request agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out paragraph f.
Senator PLAYFORD (South. Australia to move this motion. I have made inquiries and find that the paragraph was inserted to meet possible cases of small manufacturers, but it is now considered that it would be as well to leave it out. In any case, it could operate only between the 1st January and the 31st March.
Request agreed to.
Schedule, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported with requests.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow (Friday).
Senate adjourned at 3.13 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 October 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19061004_senate_2_35/>.