7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Widows of Deceased Soldiers.
– An amendment to include widows in certain circumstances has been circulated in the other House.
.- I congratulate the Government.
Relief of the 1st Division: Age of Enlistment.
– I desire to know from the Minister for Defence, if he cares to give the information to the Senate, whether it is intended to give practical effect to the suggestion which has been frequently made for the relief of the 1st Division, who have been fighting since the outbreak of the war? Is it the intention of the Department to relieve the Division so that the men may visit their relatives in Australia during the coming European winter ?
– It was pointed out at the time that the only way to give practical effect to the suggestion is that sufficient recruits should come forward in Australia to take the place of the men. Up to the present I very much regret tosay there has not been an indication of an intention by those who are fit to undertake that duty to come forward in sufficient numbers.
– Arising out of the reply, I ask the Minister for De fence whether he has considered the idea of enlisting men under 50 years of age, for the purpose of taking the places of those who are now well behind the lines, and might easily be shifted to the Front?
– Consideration has been given to that idea, and on one occasion it was given effect to in Egypt in the case ofaremount unit, but the results were so unsatisfactory as not to encourage the Government to repeat the experiment.
– That was a different matter.
SenatorFOLL. - Arising out of the question, is the Minister for Defence aware that when it was first announced in the press that if sufficient reinforcements were forthcoming the 1st Division would be relieved, certain men stated that they wished to take the place of certain men at the Front? Will the men who had others to enlist to relieve them bo relieved.
– The statement re ferred to by the honorable senator was made by a recruiting officer without authority. I, as Minister, accept no authority for the statement as made, and corrected it on the first opportunity. Men must enlist without any conditions.
– Is it the intention of the Government to take any steps at all to try to effect a just settlement of the present industrial trouble?
Senator MILLEN. I think that the honorable senator had a sufficient an- swer yesterday, both here and elsewhere, as to the attitude which the Government takes up on this question.
– Arising out of the reply, I ask whether, in view of what has happened since yesterday, the Government intends to take any steps whatever to try to bring about a settlement of this trouble?
– Nothing that I know of has happened since yesterday to render necessary at the present juncture any other statement than the one which was made here, and by the Prime Minister yesterday.
– Except the sticking up of a hospital ship.
Railway Strike in North Queensland.
– I have received the following notice: -
Melbourne, 7th September, 1917.
Dear Mr. President,
I desire to inform you that to-day I intend to move that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 a.m. on Monday next for the purpose of discussinga matter of urgent public importance, viz. : - “ The refusal of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to consent to Mr. Justice Higgins acting as Arbitrator on the questions still in abeyance following the recent railway strike in North Queensland.” Yours faithfully,
.- I move-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 a.m. on Monday next.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– My reason for taking this action is that very few people can understand the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in refusing to allow Mr. Justice Higgins to arbitrate. As most honorable senators are aware, there has been a railway dispute in Northern Queensland. Whether it was a legal dispute or not it was certainly an actual dispute. The railway employees throughout the northern part of the State went on strike some time ago, and were out for several weeks.-
– Do you mind telling us the reason for the strike?
– The Minister has anticipated me.
The railway employees struck against an award of the Arbitration Court. I admit that, candidly, just as the friends and supporters of Senator Millen have been striking against arbitration awards’ ever since the inception of arbitration in Australia. Let me instance a few cases which occur to my mind. The firstl body to violate an arbitration award under the Federal jurisdiction was the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, which locked its men out. We had Mr. Badger not abiding by the result of an award in appealing to the High Court and threatening that if he did not get satisfaction there he would take the appeal to the Privy Council. The employing builders, who termed themselves master builders - a title which I do not apply to them be cause I do not think -that they are entitled to it - not only threatened, but actually did take their . appeal to the Privy Council against an award given to the builders’ labourers. Is that not evidence of a system of the breaking of awards on the other side? Let me make a sweeping and yet definite assertion. Since the outbreak of the war the employing sections and the commercial community generally have been breaking every industrial award given by a tribunal by inflating the cost of living to aeroplane heights. TJn’til this Government tackles the question of food prices-
– Order! The honorable senator is going outside the subject-matter of his motion.
– I am just going to say, sir, that the Government will be supporting a system of violating the arbitration awards by their inaction in this regard.
I was one of those who never looked upon arbitration as a panacea for all industrial ills, and I do not think that anybody did. All that was aimed at, I bebelieve, by the introduction of conciliation and arbitration was the prevention of strikes. But I am not going, at a distance of 2,000 miles or more, to pronounce a judgment on the issues which Brought these men out in Northern Queensland. I am not going to sum up the position through the spectacles of Conservative newspapers in Melbourne. But when I see it recorded, as it has been recorded, that railway employees of all grades by ballot decided by a majority of ten to one to go on strike, then I am satisfied, realizing, as they all do, what a strike means, and all the consequences which follow,that the men must have had a grievance. And when I read that in a large city like Townsville all the employees ofthe Railway Department, from the stationmaster down to the lad-porter, went out on strike, then I am not going to accept the judgment of the Conservative press that they went out for nothing, because no strike has ever been brought about without good grounds.
– You know what the men went out for.
– I do, exactly; and I say, further, that there was a grave anomaly, to use no harsher word, in the arbitration award. A mechanical union - I think it was the boilermakers or engineers union - actually did go on strike long before, and, following upon their action, the award in their case was made retrospective to the 1st January, but, in the case of the general employees who did not go on strike, their retrospective pay was dated from the 1st July only.
– Will you tell us why the southern employees did not support the northern employees?
– I am dealing with this question in relation to the strike in Northern Queensland, and my honorable friend at any time can deal with the southern aspect ofit. Everybody will agree that that was an anomaly. But whether it was a justification for a strike or not I am not going to say.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - Were they penalized by applying for arbitration ?
– That was the actual result, and, of course, one which would cause grave dissension.
I realized as fully as. anybody could the seriousness of this trouble when it was in operation. I think that the Prime Minister himself must have realized it, because be received from the Farmers Association on the Atherton tableland a telegram saying that the trains were not running, and asking for military protection to the farmers themselves or bodies of citizens who would forcibly take possession of the trains and run them. In these circumstances, it will be agreed that the position was serious. Those of us who know the vast territory of Northern Queensland, and are familiar with the hinterland of Cairns and Townsville, must realize how a stoppage of railway communication must have affected the people. Let me say, in passing, that a majority of these people are in unison with bhe political and industrial principles of the men on strike. So that the men did not go out on strike for nothing, and penalize all these people, including a large section of the community who agreed with them in every detail.
When Mr. Hughes received the request for military aid he sent it on to the Premier of Queensland, informing that gentleman that he should supply police protection. Mr. Ryan promptly wired back to Mr. Hughes telling Kim that the railways of Queensland were under the jurisdiction of its Government. He said he would not give police protection to anybody who committed an unlawful act by forcibly taking over the railways. We did not hear anything further on that score from Mr. Marnane or Mr. Hughes. The Queensland Government dealt with this strike and, with the exception of one or two questions, eventually settled it on conciliatory terms in what, I contend, was a masterly fashion.
– It is not settled yet.
– The Government got the men to go back to work and re-started the wheels of industry. I ask the honorable senator who interjects if that was noil a very importanb resulb at a time like this? I emphasize the statement that it was important “at a time like this,” when, as we have been assured, industrial peace is essential to the welfare and protection of Australia and Great Britain in this war. Were honorable senators opposite disappointed when the railway workers of North Queensland went back to work? Evidence is not wanting that their Brisbane confreres, the National party in Opposition, showed palpable chagrin that the strike had been settled on conciliatory lines, so much so that the day after the Leader of the Nationalist Opposition moved a vote of no-confidence in the Government, condemning them for the basis on which the strike had been settled.
– Hear, hear!
– They were howling untilthe strike was settled, and then they started a howl over the basis of settlement.
It will probably be said, as has already been stated in the press, that! the Ryan Government of Queensland took up an anomalous position when they asked ‘for the services of Mr. Justice Higgins to adjudicate in view of the fact that the men had come out on strike against an arbitration award, and the press had asked what guarantee the people would have that any award given by Mr. Justice Higgins would be observed.
– Hear, hear !
– The very fact that the men came out on a strike, following a ballot of ten to one in favour of that action, and then, after negotiation with the Government, decided by a ballot, again in the proportion of ten to one, to go back is evidence that they would abide by an award.
– Do you not think that actions speak louder than words?
– Yes ; and their action in going back is a proof of that1.
– No; their action in breaking an arbitration award.
– Well, the Minister’s belief in the system of arbitration has only become pronounced of late. I am afraid that if the inactivity of the Government continues the principle of arbitration will not survive much longer.
– The action of Mie unionists has killed it.
– When the Premier of Queensland made his statement in the House with regard to Mr. Justice Higgins, the Leader of Mie Opposition Mr. Tolmie, said, “ I do not think Mr. Higgins will act.” That remark was published in the Melbourne press, and I wai to know’ if Mr. Hughes took his cue from that?
– No. Mr. Ryan probably thought Mae same as Mr. Tolmie when he made the request.
– But Mr. Justice Higgins has since consented to act, and both sides agree to accept his decision, and he has intimated that his ordinary Court, work will not be interfered with.
If the Government indorse the action taken by the Prime Minister in this connexion they will furnish the strongest confirmation possible that this industrial dispute in North Queensland, as well as the more recent disturbances in New South Wales and elsewhere, are the result of a well-directed and deep-laid scheme to attack unionism.
– If the Prime Minister acted as you suggested you would be the first to cry out against interference with Stat© rights.
– Are the Government desirous of keeping this industrial ferment going ? We were told so recently as yesterday by quite a number of speakers that the present industrial unrest was not an ordinary strike but an industrial upheaval, a mutiny, a rebellion, and a revolt, due to the presence of disloyal persons and pro-Germanism. If that be so, do the Government desire it to continue? The merits of the strike are not involved in this side request for Mr. Justice Higgins’ services. The point at issue is, Does the Government condone the refusal by the Prime Minister to consent to Mr. Justice Higgins acting as arbitrator?
– Is that the purport of this motion to adjourn the Senate?
– It is an important matter, because we have been told that “ at a time like this “ anything in the nature of industrial unrest is a revolt and rebellion.
Now, what is behind this vendetta against Queensland? I could show in relation to other subjects, such as wool, sugar and metal, which you, Mr. President, were good enough to inform me I could not discuss under this motion, that a state of vendetta exists against Queensland. I am of the opinion that Mr. Hughes has never forgiven the people of Australia, for the defeat of the conscription referendum. We know that that gentleman’s name is now’ “ mud “ in Imperial circles owing to the defeat of the conscription referendum in Australia, the success of which he had guaranteed to the Imperial Government when he was in England.
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss that matter on this motion.
– Very well, Mr. President. As a result of the defeat of the. referendum, Mr. Hughes has no love for the Queensland Labour Government, because that was the only Government which, stood out against his, but not the Australian, policy of conscripting the eligible men in Australia for war service.
– But the people of Queensland were not so bad as the people of New South Wales and Victoria in that respect.
– But there is not a Labour Government in New South Wales to-day, as is the case in Queensland, and so we have pigmy statesmen of Mr. Hughes’ calibre pursuing a vendetta against the northern State, and poodle statesmen of the calibre of Mr. Fuller in New South Wales trying to foment trouble in the southern part of Queensland.
We are entitled to know, from the representatives of the Government in the Senate, if they desire a renewal of the industrial unrest which had such a serious effect upon mining and other occupations in the northern part of Queensland, the -position being so serious at one time that military protection was sought. It cannot be said, from the workers’ standpoint at all events, that the industrial dispute referred to had any political significance, in view of the fact that the men came out on strike immediately after an election. The contention is absurd. If the Government indorse the obstinate refusal by the Prime Minister to allow Mr. Justice Higgins to act, they will confirm the belief that they are out to make the most of any unrest in Northern Queensland or elsewhere. In this morning’s papers there’ appeared a report of a resolution condemning the Ryan Government for refusing to maintain industrial peace. Fancy that, in the face of the refusal by Mr. Hughes to allow the matter to be settled !
– In Queensland there are plenty of Judges who could be appointed.
– But what objection can there be to a Judge agreed upon by both sides ?
– He would settle the dispute satisfactorily.
– Probably that is what the Government do not want. This resolution condemning the Queensland Government was passed by a body known as the Returned Soldiers and Patriots’ National Political League.
– Of which Senator Foll was once secretary.
– Yes, and Senator Foll will know that anybody can be- come a member so long as he styles himself a patriot, whether he has been to the Front or not, and I think the subscription fee is ls. a year.
– That is quite right.
– Can any fairminded senator opposite say that this resolution is not a political move, especially when we know that some of the largest commercial men in Brisbane and the most hide-bound Tories of Queensland, are members of this Returned Soldiers and Patriots’ National Political League? These are the men responsible for the resolution condemning the Ryan Government, and I say that if the Commonwealth Government indorse the Prime Minister’s action, all their vapourings and mouthings about the flag and the Empire will be subverted to their desire to gain political and industrial- control of the
Commonwealth. The Government have prostituted the war for political purposes since its outbreak, and are going to continue that policy even at the expense of renewing revolt, mutiny, and tyranny in one of the most important States of the Commonwealth, and in perhaps the most important part of that State.
I sincerely trust that the Government, even though they have all. been afflicted by the dominating personality of Mr. Hughes, and have contracted Hughesitis, will endeavour to be fair, and support the Ryan Government in bringing a very serious industrial position to a successful termination, by making a genuine attempt to clean up any outhangins from that settlement. This can be done by having, them decided by a tribunal presided over by a gentleman agreed to by both sides, and whose decision both sides have decided to abide by loyally. A refusal by the Government, to allow this will simply be the continuation of the vendetta which Mr. Hughes has launched against the Queensland Government ever since the defeat of the conscription referendum.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales- Vice-President of the Executive Council’ [11.32]. - I am somewhat under a disability in referring to this matter owing to the terms of the letter in which Senator Ferricks notified me of his intention to move the adjournment of the Senate. Certainly the honorable senator acted in all innocence, and I feel a great deal of pleasure in referring to it in that way because it is a pleasure to me to recognise that on occasions the honorable senator can be innocent. However, in his notification Ee was not very specific as to the purpose for which he intended to move. He supplemented his first letter by another, in which he said that he proposed to confine himself to what he referred to as “ the J Justice Higgins question.”
– Would you mind reading that first letter, in fairness to me?
– Certainly. It runs - *
I desire to inform you that I intend to move the adjournment of the Senate to-day for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the discriminating and hostile attitude adopted by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth towards the legislation and administration of the Queensland Government. My remarks will centre round the refusal of the Prime Minister to consent to M>.
Justice Higgins deciding matters still in abeyance from the recent North Queensland railway strike, as well as Dalgety and Company’s sole agency for the export of metals, and a passing reference to sugar and wool.
The honorable senator followed that up by a notification to me that in order to comply with the Standing Order9 his remarks would be confined to ‘ ‘ the Justice Higgins question.”
– Is that not explicit enough, following on the other letter?
– I am not quarrelling with the honorable senator. No doubt he wrote in good faith thinking that was sufficiently indicative of the matter with which he proposed to deal, but it was not very indicative to me.
I am in this matter under another disability arising from our own Standing Orders. Whilst the honorable senator is perfectly free to say what he likes about the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I am not free in this chamber in discussing this motion to say what I am in a position to say regarding Mr. Justice Higgins. Nobody short of a W. S. Gilbert could do anything like justice to the position. The services of Mr. Justice Higgins, the President of the Arbitration Court, are required in order to say whether the men out on strike shall or shall not obey can award of an Arbitration Court already given ! The Judge against whose award the men are striking, whose legal decision they are defying, and to that extent making themselves law-breakers, is Mr. Justice McCawley. I know nothing of him other than his public record, but” I believe he was appointed by Mr.. Ryan and his friends to the position. He is certainly no nominee of the hated capitalist. He is the nominee of the “capitalist” Ryan, and was the Secretary or Under-Secretary of one of the p”ublic Departments of Queensland. There were Judges there carrying on this work, but Mr. Ryan’s nominee was selected out of that Department to be put into this position over the heads of other Judges. Do any of us, who are all practical politicians, suppose that Mr. Ryan followed such an unusual course in order to put into the position a man who was not regarded as being acceptable to the workers whose case would come before him ? It is a fair assumption that the Ryan Government appointed a man whose record justified them in believing that he would be an acceptable
Judge to the men themselves. This Judge gave a decision, which was apparently accepted by the men, with one exception, but because in the exercise of his authority and the redemption of his responsibility he gave in his decision one item which the men would not accept, they claimed the right not only to break the law, and cast his decision to the winds, but also to bring the whole of the railway system of that portion of Queensland to a standstill. And now Senator Ferricks and Mr. Ryan demand that because these lawbreakers will npt accept the decision of one Judge they should have the right to appeal to another. The thing seems utterly absurd. The men who ask for arbitration must first show a willingness to abide by its results. These men have had arbitration, and have practically said by their acts, which speak louder than words, “ The only arbitration we will accept is that which gives us what we want.”
– That is exactly what the other side has done.
– Then the honorable senator -does not dispute that the men have done it on this occasion ?
– Why do you condemn one side and not the other ?
– If there have been breaches of the law on the part of the employers, my honorable friend’s organizations have been quick enough to put the law in operation against them.
– And it has been noneffective.
– Then they did not break the law. No matter what other people may have done, all these interjections are an admission that my statement is correct, that the men are not prepared to accept any arbitration award, even given by the Angel Gabriel himself, unless it concedes all they want.
– - Neither will the other side.
– Then what is the good of asking for more arbitration? If no one will recognise an arbitration award, is it not time we recognised the fact? Should we not say, “ We are not going to pass a law until we know that somebody will obey the decision of the - Court “ ?
– The Boilermakers Union worked under an award for three years for the New South Wales
Railways Commissioners for 3s. less per day than they could get outside.
– The fact that certain unions have at times obeyed the award of the Court does not get away from the fact that to-day everywhere throughout Australia men are showing an utter contempt for the decisions of the Arbitration Court by ignoring them.
This request means that the services of a Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court should be made available every time a body of workers refuses the decision of a State Judge. It cannot apply only in one case. Do my. honorable friends urge that because Mr. Justice McCawley’s decision is not acceptable to the men they are to have a sort of right to ask for Mr. Justice Higgins’ services? Does not the same thing apply when the workers object to a decision of Mr. Justice Heydon in New South Wales? Will not a union in any State that finds fault with the decision given by its own tribunal have an equal right to ask that Mr. Justice Higgins should go there? Has it come to this, that arbitration depends solely on the decision of one Judge? Is it not well to recognise the fact that behind all this is the absolute refusal of the men to accept any verdict with which they do not agree ? . If that is the position, it is idle for Senator Ferricks to say that all the workers want is the sweet reasonableness of arbitration. They will have to learn somehow or other, either by the action of the public or by force of circumstances, that there can be no arbitration worth a rap unless they loyally abide by the decisions which that arbitration brings.
– Have any of Mr. Justice Higgins’ awards been flouted ?
– Yes. Only yesterday Mr. Justice Higgins, as a punishment for men who broke his award, withdrew the preference he had given them.
– That is the only case in seven years
– No. On more than one occasion Mr. Justice Higgins has had to go down and pet the men to get them to obey his decision. Even his awards are not regarded in any better light than the ten commandments. Why did Mr.Ryan put in the request for Mr. Justice Higgins’ services ?
– Because both sides agreed to it at the conference.
– Is it at all unreasonable to assume, knowing what we do, that before this request was put in there were some negotiations between Mr. Ryan and his friends on the railways, that those negotiations brought Mr. Ryan and the workers to an understanding, and that they want Mr. Justice Higgins to pull the chestnuts out of the fire and save the faces of both contestants?
– Then you include Mr. Justice Higgins in the conspiracy ?
– No; he is to be used as a cat’s-paw, to give an award upon which I am assuming that Mr. Ryan and the strikers have already come to an agreement.
Mr. Ryan himself can pay the back money if he wants to. That is the point in dispute. The men who have been on strike are claiming that they shall be paid for the time they were on strike. It would be humorous if it were not tragic. If Mr. Ryan thinks they should be paid, let him put the item on the Estimates, . and pay them. He can do it. But Mr. Ryan, seeing, not only the shadow of an election, but the shadow of his doom in the course of the next few months, is making this request for political purposes.
– Do you agree with the refusal of the Prime Minister ?
– Absolutely. I do not know any question upon which the Government is more united.
The honorable senator referred to the fact that some time ago, when these men refused to work the railways, and, apparently, were nob prepared to allow any one else to workthem, but were content to see the settlers out back and their wives and ohildren starve, a number of the settlers offered to run the railways themselves. If I had been a settler there I should have been with them. I would not stand by and see my wife and children starve when the railway facilities were there, because Senator Ferricks and his friends would nob work them. I would say to my neighbours : “ If these men will not bring the food out to those near and dear to us, let us do ib ourselves.”
– It is different with other women and children ; they can be left to starve.
– They are not. starving except as a result of the action of their own breadwinners.
– And, therefore, you can chuckle over it.
– My honorable friend has no justification for saying that there is any. chuckling over it.
– I have heard it.
– The honorable senator must not address that remark to me.
– Do nob associate with bad company.
– I am glad I am not associated with the company the honorable senator keeps. .
– Everybody is glad about that. When these farmers offered to get supplies so badly needed out there, Mr.- Ryan became indignant ‘and condemned “this threatened illegal act.” He had not a word to say about the illegal action of the men who were breaking the award of the Court, and who would not allow anybody else to run the railways. He stood by those men who were in revolt. It was only when, the farmers and settlers said, “ We will take steps to get the food out there, which is necessary for those who are nearest and dearest to us “ that he became horrorstricken.
– Did the VicePresident of the Executive Council see any reference to the contemplated action of the settlers in regard to running the railways 1
– Yes. Does my honorable friend think that it would have been ari altogether peaceful act for the farmers and settlers to endeavour to take on the running of the railways there 1
– It is peaceful enough in Sydney.
– Because your strike is breaking down. When the farmers asked Mr. Hughes to take over these railways in order to supply them with food, Mr. Ryan immediately became indignant and exclaimed, “Keep your hands off. This is a State matter. Don’t you dare touch anything connected with our railways.” So I say that this strike is a State matter, too. It is a matter concerning the State Government of Queensland and its own employees, and if the Commonwealth Government would have committed an impropriety, as it was alleged it would, by attempting to keep the wheels moving on that line for the purpose of carrying food to the settlers, because it was a State rail way, let Mr. Ryan apply the same doctrine to the strike on that railway, and proceed to deal with it through the State Judiciary which he has established.
There is another matter which is worth referring to. Mr. Ryan invited the Prime Minister to take some steps in connexion with waterside labour in order to get supplies u,p there. He pointed out the position in which the settlers were placed on account of the stoppage of supplies. In other words, he wanted the Commonwealth Government to step in, and, by keeping supplies going by water, to break his strike for him. If the Commonwealth Government had been in a position to restore the Inter-State trade along the coast, the effect would have been to break the strike.
– But the men are back at work long ago.
– Then why are the services of Mr. Justice Higgins desired ! What Mr. Ryan wanted was clear enough. He invited the Commonwealth to get this coastal trade going, in order that supplies might be got through to the settlers. The effect of such action would have been that the Commonwealth Government would have been used to break the strike for Mr. Ryan.
– The railway men were back at work at the time of which the Vice-President of the Executive Council is speaking.
– They were not back at work at the time the application from Mr. Ryan reached the Commonwealth Government. If they are back at work now there is no need for these heroics about continuing the struggle.
– There are only two matters which require to be adjusted.
– Then surely it is not necessary to take from Melbourne a Federal Judge, whose services are wanted every day, and may be required at any moment. If there is responsibility attaching to the strike on the North Queensland railways there are bigger responsibilities here.
There are just one or two other aspects of this matter upon which I wish to touch. Let me remind the Senate of where the strike has taken place. We have heard something about the. hated capitalist. But what is the strike against? It is a strike against, not only a Government - a public activity - but against the Labour party’s own Labour Government. There is Mr. Ryan standing to-day as the very embodiment of all that the strikers profess to want. Yet he is the man against whom they are waging war.
– He thinks that he has given enough, and they think that he has not:
– Time is running along, but I wish to make two other observations. I cannot shut my *yes to the fact that, although there are associated with the present strike many men who in the past have exhibited a loyal desire to assist in the prosecution of the war there are to be found in their ranks to-day every man who has stood out prominently in opposition to recruiting. All the men who, like Senator Ferricks, were anti-recruiters, are to-day standing side by side with the strikers.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot quote one utterance of mine as an antirecruiter.
– The honorable senator has repeatedly stated that he would not ask anybody to recruit.
– I stated that I would not volunteer myself, and that I would not ask any man to do what I was unwilling to do myself. Why does not the Vice-President of the Executive N Council himself volunteer instead of taking refuge in the fact that he is over the military age, and asking everybody else to volunteer?
– The cheap gibes of Senator Ferricks pass me by as the idle wind. Why, resolutions have been passed in opposition to recruiting by the very bodies upon whose behalf he has been speaking to-day. Only the other day certain members of the Trades Hall, Sydney, were successfully prosecuted for taking up a hostile attitude towards recruiting. I do not say that every striker is an opponent of recruiting, because in the ranks of those who are voluntarily idle to-day’ there are hundreds of good, loyal men, misled though they may be. But every man whose attitude towards the war has laid him open to suspicion is to-day standing in the ranks of the strikers and behind them.
– The Trades Hall has more representatives at the war than has any other organization.
– May I ask my honorable friends the reason for the display of activity in parliamentary circles which we have witnessed during the past day or two? There are only two explanations for ib. In the first place, these gentlemen begin to sense defeat for the men they have led astray, and they are now trying to move heaven and earth to open some door through which their dupes may pass back to work.
– These men are back at work.
– I am now dealing with the question of the larger strike which had its origin in Sydney.
– I thought that our Standing Orders confined the VicePresident of the Executive Council to the discussion of one matter.
– I am glad that the honorable senator is gaining such an intimate acquaintance with our Standing Orders. The first explanation of this activity in parliamentary circles arises from the fact I have mentioned and from another one which was set out very tersely by one of my honorable friend’s friends when addressing an audience on the Yarra bank yesterday. Before quoting his remarks, may I remind honorable senators that it is a singular circumstance that the men who are leading these various strikes to-day are not the public leaders to whom the rank and file might reasonably look for guidance. The latter have been singularly silent. The individuals who are leading the strike in Sydney are not the older men of the political Labour party there-
– Order! The Vice-President of the Executive Council is now transgressing our. Standing Orders.
– Everybody knows my scrupulous efforts to confine myself within our Standing ,Orders, and I should be very loath to bre’ak away from them. But it is a singular fact that, whereas the strike has been in progress for some time, it is only now that Senator Ferricks has been moved to act. The explanation is that there is growing up in the minds of the strikers a suspicion that their political friends are not as active as they ought to be.
– How .old is the request for the services of Mr. Justice Higgins?
– More than a fortnight, to my own knowledge. It may he longer; but I am perfectly certain that it is a fortnight old.
– I can bowl that out, because the Senate was shut up for a week, and I handed the Vice-President of the Executive Council ray letter yesterday.
– These things are merely an indication of the way the wind is blowing.- This activity in political circles to-day arises from the fact that, in the minds of the strikers, there is growing a suspicion that their parliamentary leaders are not lending them the support that they ought to lend them.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council is only assuming that.
– It is not assumption. Here is proof : Mr. F. White, the organizer of the Timber Workers Union, in addressing the strikers on the Yarra bank yesterday, said -
I remember the time when we were collecting penny and threepences topay to put Labour representatives into Parliament. We have put them in now, and where are they? I want to know why they are not down here on this platform? They have become too respectable to meet with you workers nowadays. They should be here taking their places with the men who are fighting the battles of the working classes, who put them where they are. Frank Anstey writes in the LabourCall, but why is he not here ? And all the other Labour members, both of the State and Federal Parliaments, are the same.
The question asked by Mr. White is doubtless being asked by thousands of unionists throughout Australia. That is the explanation of this growing nervous activity in the Federal Parliament.
– When was that report published?
– It was published in the Argus of this morning.
– And we took action yesterday.
– And the speech which I have just quoted was delivered yesterday. I have never disputed the keen capacity of my honorable friends to detect the ground rumblings. If any man on the opposite side of the chamber is keen to know what those persons upon whom his political life depends are thinking and saying, it is Senator Needham. As a general rule, we may safely assume that, before one man has put a thought into words, that thought has been running through thousands of minds. Before Mr. White expressed himselfas he did yesterday, the thoughts which he uttered had been running through the ranks of the strikers.
– Senator Thomas used to be with us.
– And he remained with you so long as you were worth being with.
– I was with honorable senators opposite when some persons who are with them to-day were not with them.
– The honorable senator was afraid to face the miners at Broken Hill.
– I do wish that Senator McDougall would go on strike for a few minutes. But I do not desire him to leave the chamber, because this is not a lock-out.
I have said all that I wished to say. Personally, I viewed the proposal of Mr. Ryan as one lacking in bona fides. I considered that it was an effort to utilize the services of a Judge of the Arbitration Court merely for the purpose of enabling Mr. Ryan to escape from what might otherwise have - been an awkward political position. The proposition which Senator Ferricks has put forward to-day is that men who are not satisfied with the decision of one properlyconstituted arbitration tribunal shall have the right of immediate recourse to another. If he wishes to act as the friend of those on whose behalf he has submitted this motion, he should tell them that they have no right to appeal for the assistance of an arbitration tribunal unless they show that they are prepared loyally to accept the decision of such a tribunal when it is given, whether they approve of it or not.
– I wish to make a few remarks, chiefly in reply to the attitude which the Government have adopted with regard to the very reasonable request made to them by the Queensland Government, that the gentleman who, perhaps, stands highest in the estimation of the general public as an arbitrator - I refer to Mr. Justice Higgins - should be allowed, at the request of both sides, to settle an industrial trouble which arose in Queensland. We have seen the extraordinary squirming - if I may use what is, perhaps, an offensive term - of the Leader of the Government in the Senate in replying to the remarks of Senator Ferricks. He, first of all, complained that the letter which the honorable senator sent him yesterday placed him in a difficult position. No honorable member of the Senate or of another place, intending to move a motion of adjournment, has ever given the Leader of a Government a more complete indication of the course he intended to take than did Senator Ferricks in that letter. In a straightforward and courteous way he indicated exactly what he intended to do. When he found that in submitting a motion for the adjournment of the Senate he was obliged under the Standing Orders to deal with a specific subject, he again communicated with Senator Millen, and stated the subject with which he proposed to deal.
– He wrote that he would confine himself to “ the Justice Higgins question.”
– Because he found that under the Standing Orders he was obliged to deal with a specific matter. This twisting of what men say may suit Senator Millen. He thrives politically on it, and is an artist at it. There is no man in the Senate or elsewhere who is more skilful in twisting words out of their meaning, and in putting a matter in such a way as to mislead those who do not know him. The honorable senator does not mislead any member of the Senate.
– He never tries to do so.
– No; because he is too well known here.
– And, because I am well known, nothing that the honorable senator says will make any difference.
– It will not make a bit of difference to Senator Millen.
– Or to my friends.
– Let us consider the honorable senator’s attitude with regard to the strike in Queensland. He complains that because the Federal Government were asked by some persons in Queensland to take possession of certain railways in that State, the Premier, Mr.
Ryan, very properly indicated that his Government were responsible for running those railways. Because the Queensland Government would not allow the Commonwealth Government to interfere unconstitutionally with State affairs, we are invited to believe that that is to stand as a reason why the assistance of the Commonwealth Government should not be given to the Queensland Government when it is requested by that Government. In the whole of this business, the only thing which honorable senators opposite can urge against the Premier of Queensland is that he has done, with regard to the industrial trouble in his State, what should have been done by other Governments in dealing with a similar condition of affairs. He has found a settlement of the trouble.
– On what terms?
– On terms satisfactory to both parties.
– But not satisfactory to the people of Queensland.
– Then there is no necessity for the assistance of Mr. Justice Higgins.
– A condition of the terms is that Mr. Justice Higgins should be asked to arbitrate between the parties. In reply to Senator Reid, I say that the people of Queensland would have no objection to Mr. Justice Higgins acting as arbitrator.
– I am quite sure they would. I know something about the people of Queensland.
– In these industrial disturbances an arrogant attitude is adopted by Governments and individuals.
– Do not the unions assume an arrogant attitude sometimes?
– If they were as arrogant as they are said to be, the whole job would have been cleaned up long ago.
– It is remarks like that that spur them on.
– Possibly they want spurring sometimes.
– There are men who have gained their positions because of their association with unionism, but have made use of the advantage placed in their way for their own ends.
– The honorable senator cannot prove the “ dirt “ he is throwing now.
– When, for their personal advantage, they can no longer use the influence of unionists, they become the bitterest opponents that unionism ever had. I shall not use any offensive term to that section of persons who have been brought into the public life of the country by organized unionism, and whose kindest word now is more bitter than the condemnationof the bitterest Tory, but I shall refer to them as the malignants of the Labour party. That is a term that fits them well. I shall not go outside the Standing Orders to refer to Senator de Largie’s statement yesterday. It was quite in keeping with the attitude of the malignant section. He said, “ Surely the men in the unions to-day are the same type as the unionists of yesterday.”
– We are of the same type as we were when we were with them, and the same men.
– Exactly the same type, and exactly the same men; but twelve months ago the malignants to whom I refer would never have been as eager as they are to-day to join in an organized attack upon unionism.
– There is no organized attack upon unionism.
– Yes, there is an organized attack upon unionism.
– Rubbish !
– The honorable senator should be an authority upon rubbish :. it is about all that he is an authority upon.
– Because I hear so much ofit from the other side.
– Order! These personal interjections are disorderly.
– It is not rubbish to say that there is ah organized attack upon unionism. Any person possessed of ordinary intelligence must be aware that in certain circles, and among the governing bodies and those who have always been opposed to Labour, there is to-day being carried out a well-organized and well-prepared attack upon unionism in Australia. I have heard one man, a pastoralist, who I do not say is a representative man in any sense, saying that if they could win in this strike and break unionism, though it cost them a million of money, it would pay them well to do it, in the interests of the pastoral industry.
– What is the name of the honorable senator’s friend?
– I shall give the name of my friend when I think fit.
– My friends do not talk in that way.
– The honorable senator’s friends are continually talking in that way. Honorable senators have only to read the letters that appear in the press to know that what ‘they are driving at is to bring unionism to its knees. They desire that unionists should be broken; but I say that they cannot break them.
– I ask the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the specific question of the Queensland railway strike, referred to in the notice of motion for adjournment.
– I intend to do so. Before I have finished, you, sir, will recognise that my remarks are fairly connected with that question. The real difficulty with honorable senators opposite in this matter is that the Queensland Government and the Queensland strikers have found a means of amicably settling their industrial dispute. Because there is an organized and deliberately prepared attack upon unionism generally, the Federal Government takes up the attitude that they should not lift a little finger to help both parties to the Queensland dispute to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of their differences.
– There was no attack upon the Queensland railway union.
– I recognise that there was no attack on the Queensland railway union. The men came out, and the Queensland Premier induced them to go back. Senator Foll laughs at my use of the term “ induced “; but the Queensland Government, using common sense to settle the strike as early as possible, showed greater statesmanship and wisdom than do Governments who mistake stupidity and obstinacy for good government.
– I was laughing at the honorable senator’s lack of knowledge of the conditions in Queensland.
– I shall be pleased to have that knowledge increased by any remark which Senator Foll may have to make. The true position of affairs is that the Queensland Government have not only brought about a peaceful settlement of the dispute, but the basis of it is a condition that the most reputable arbitration Judge in Australia should be asked to arbitrate between the parties.
– That is an acknowledgment that their own arbitration Judge, Mr. Justice McCawley, is a failure.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Any Judge is a failure who does not give them what they want.
– Arbitration laws do not differ from other laws which we pass. It would be considered the height of absurdity for any one to say that, because there are burglars, our law against burglary is a failure. No one would contend that we should repeal our criminal law because, although for years wehave had the punishment of death as a penalty for murder, that crime still occurs.
– We do not tell a man that if he is dissatisfied with the decision of one Judge he can go to another.
– We do. Under the laws of New South Wales the man charged with a crime has a right of appeal from one Judge to another, and from that Judge to still another. A man charged with the most trivial offence before a magistrate is given the right of appeal to a Judge. The law of the country givesa man the right of appeal to a higher tribunal than the one that has condemned him.
– That is the law, and men are supposed to obey it. The men to whom we are referring to-day will not obey the law.
– We give to the most abandoned criminal a right of appeal.
– Let Mr. Ryan create an Arbitration Appeal Court.
– I have not the slightest doubt that before arbitration is the success which many of its ardent supporters hoped it would be, and of whom I claim to be one, there will be some provision for appeal. I can claim that during the last fifteen or sixteen years We have to thank arbitration for very much. If we take the pastoral industry, there have now been ten years of industrial peace in that industry as the result of arbitration.
– And high prices for wool. The honorable senator should not forget that phase of the question.
– There were strikes in Queensland in the pastoral industry last year and the year before.
– So far as the Australian Workers Union are concerned there has been no breach of an award of the Arbitration Court.
– Of course there has. There were two breaches of the award in Queensland. The men defied the Arbitration Court, and got their own way.
– The honorable senator should confine his references to New South Wales.
– Order ! Senator Gardiner’s time is limited, and interjections are, therefore, unfair to him.
– I challenge the honorable senator to deny my statement that for the last ten years the Australian Workers Union has not broken an award of the Arbitration Court.- I defy him to produce any facts to disprove the accuracy of the statement. And, in conclusion, I say that the attempt to break up and disrupt unionism to-day comes chiefly from pastoralists who are chafing under the most recent award which the Arbitration Court had to give.
– , I do not intend to participate in this discussion at any great length. From the remarks of Senator Ferricks, it is quite apparent to me that he submitted this motion for the purpose of praising the Queensland Government, and throwing a slur at the Returned Soldiers and Patriots League, a league with which I was connected for a considerable time.
– Do not forget that it is a political league.
– I am not denying that fact, and I say that, as the league’s politics, at present, are anti-Labour, they are fairly clean. It was formed about twelve months ago to protect the political rights of returned soldiers and secure direct representation for them in the State and Federal Parliaments.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to make more than a passing reference to this league.
– Do you say that it is a political movement, that it is antiLabour, and clean?
SenatorFOLL. - That is what I said.
– It would be well for the returned soldiers to know that the league is anti-Labour.
– The reason for my reference to the league is that Senator Ferricks referred to a motion which had been passed by the league, and made a statement which is absolutely untrue,
– Order ! The honorable senator must not describe any statement of another honorable senator in that way.
– Senator Ferricks made an inaccurate statement when he said that this league has in its ranks every big commercial man in Brisbane, or used words to that effect.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator certainly said that every Tory was represented in the league. Immediately after the league was formed, and before any announcement of its policy had been made - in fact, before any statement as to what the league was to be had been published - a Brisbane newspaper came out with an article under this huge headline, “ Another Anti-Labour League Formed.”It will be recognised that ever since the inception of the league the object of our honorable friends on the other side, from Queensland, has been to decry the league in every shape and form.
– You have just said that it is a political league.
– I quite admit that it is political. But what I am trying to point out is that the Labour party took an antagonistic attitude to the league long before it had either announced what its politics were or the objects of its formation.
– It was in opposition to the Returned Soldiers Association. That is why it was opposed.
– That statement is inaccurate, for the simple reason that the Returned Soldiers Association is, by its constitution, a strictly non-political league.
– And it is confined to returned soldiers.
– We consider that, in orderto protect the interests of the soldiers, it is necessary that they should have political representation. It appears to me to be quite fair and reasonable that returned soldiers should have repre sentation in Parliament, just the same as any other section of the community.
– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable senator to take up one-third of his time without mentioning the real subject-matter of this debate. He must confine himself entirely to that question.
– I apologize, sir, for getting so far off the track.
With regard to the question of the railway strike in North Queensland, I wishto remind honorable senators of a strike which took place in that State in 1912. When an urgent request was sent down to the Federal Government that they should take some action to interfere in the strike, Mr. Fisher, who was Prime Minister, pointed out that it was simply and solely a local affair, and that it was not within the province of the Federal Government to interfere.
– To his everlasting credit.
– It was not a request for arbitration, but a request for soldiers to shoot down strikers.
– To my mind it was a question of State rights. On numerous occasions the Ryan Government have squealed about the maintenance of State rights. They have frequently objected to the Commonwealth Government interfering with the State rights of Queensland just so far as it pleased them. But when it suits the Ryan Government to ask the Commonwealth Government to interfere in an affair where they are likely to gain some credit which is not due to them, they are quite ready to make a request.
– Do you not see the difference between asking for soldiers to shoot down strikers and asking for arbitration t
– He did not ask them for soldiers to shoot down anything. Do not put that in.
– Decidedly it was a request for soldiers to be sent up.
– That statement was evidently made by Senator Needham for the purpose of trying to put me in a corner, but I do not intend to be put there. Senators Needham and Ferricks, like other honorable senators, know perfectly well that when that request was made to the Commonwealth Government in 1912, it was not made for the purpose of shooting down men at all.
– Decidedly it was a request for the military to be sent up.
– They were not asked to go up without weapons, I warrant.
– I wish to point out that, in spite of all the praise which has been bestowed upon the Ryan Government by honorable senators on the other side this morning, during their term of office there has been probably four or five times as much industrial unrest in Queensland as was ever known before. And what is still more important, there has been more discontent amongst the public servants in Queensland since the Ryan Government came into power. If Senator Ferricks simply moved the adjournment of the Senate to-day to set out the good points of the Ryan Government, I think that he has failed very miserably. Again, take the statement he made regarding the vote of no-confidence which Mr. Tolmie moved against the Ryan Government, because of the action they took in connexion with the strike. The statement goes to prove that the honorable senator is, as I said, simply trying to defend the action of the State Government, and to deplore the conduct of the Leader of the Opposition in the Queensland Assembly. I have no more to say, except that as one who is interested in Queensland, and wishes to see its State rights preserved, I sincerely hope that the Commonwealth Government will take no action to interfere in the dispute between the Queensland Labour Government and its employees.
– As one who has taken a moderately active part in a number of strikes, I am glad that this discussion has taken place, if it discloses nothing more than the fact that the Returned Soldiers and Patriots National Political League is a distinctly political body.
– And anti-Labour.
– And it is anti-. Labour at the same time. That, however, is by the way.
It seems to me that the Federal Government, in conjunction withthe other antiLabour Governments throughout the Commonwealth, will not only do nothing to smooth out the existing industrial difficulties, but will throw as many obstacles in the way of a settlement as they possibly can. This request for the services of Mr. Justice Higgins is a most reasonable one. It would apparently be the means of completely smoothing out the difficulty in Queensland. It may be that, later, the men would want still better conditions than they have now. That is a most reasonable anticipation, I think.
– There is no doubt that they would.
– I do not believe that men will ever be satisfied. They will alwavs want more and more until finally they will get all that they want, and honorable senators like Senator Fairbairn will require to go and do some honest manual labour, which, of course, would be most distasteful to him.
– It would do him a lot of good.
– I believe it would.
– There is one aspect of this question t’o which I wish to invite the attention of honorable senators opposite.
During the maritime strike of 1890 a very considerable number of men were unemployed. Their earnings ceased, and certain things followed. It will be remembered that a commercial crisis was immediately followed by a very serious financial collapse. It will be remembered, too, that the banks and other financial institutions in Melbourne were unable to meet their obligations, and that depositors lost their money to the extent of between £17,000,000 and £20,000,000. To a lesser extent ‘that applied in Sydney, where probably from £5,000,000 to £6,000,000 was lost.
The Federal Government has an opportunity of doing a very great deal to bring the present industrial dispute to an end ; but, so far as I can see, it is determined to do nothing in that direction, not even to permit Mr. Justice Higgins to go to Queensland for a few days to dispose of the small differences that exist there. What is going to follow ? At the present time, we have, I suppose, quite 100,000 men out of work. The wages of those directly and indirectly concerned represent probably £500,000 per week. To that) extent, money is not being circulated.
– Will the honorable senator inform me how he proposes to connect these remarks with the North Queensland railway strike?
– In just one moment I will, sir. I propose to show honorable senators on the other side that the North Queensland strike is only part of the existing industrial trouble, and that, in view of the almost certain following of a financial crisis, they ought to leave nothing undone to settle disputes of that sort. Do they realize what it means ? Have they forgotten how the various banks in Melbourne and Sydney were rushed years ago? Why? Simply because a considerable number of union men were having a holiday for a few weeks. That is taking place now. We are losing about £500,000 per week on account cif wages not being paid. That will not continue very long before we shall have another financial crisis upon us. It will not continue very long before the banks in Melbourne and Sydney will be rushed. A financial crisis, perhaps equal to that which occurred in Australia in 1891, will probably be the result. The Government should realize what this means. I know they are anxious to win the war, but we will not even be trying to do that unless we endeavour to smooth out our own difficulties. There is no reason at all why the Government should not grant the request .from the Queensland Government in order to settle this dispute. I ask them not to forget what was the result of the 1891 strike, because, as surely as daylight follows darkness, notwithstanding the ability of this country to produce wealth in all its forms, if the men who do this work - and they are not the Fairbairns - are not dealt with justly, this country will be up against a proposition similar to that which confronted it in 1891. On that account, I urge the Government to do nothing to support the ill-advised action of the New South Wales Railways ‘ Commissioners.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in alluding to the matter which was discussed yesterday. He is endeavouring to connect the New South Wales railway dispute with the matter under discussion, and I do not think he can do so.
– Really it is all one dispute from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, and due to the effort by the various National Governments to block any settlement of industrial unrest. I was under the impression, therefore, that I was in order in referring to the action of the New South Wales Government.
I repeat it is “up to” the Commonwealth Government to get off its high perch of dignity, and to do the right thing by allowing Mr. Justice Higgins to go to Queensland for a few days, in order to settle this dispute, because, if industrial peace is thus secured, it will probably go a long way towards settling the greater dispute which is now paralyzing industry throughout the Commonwealth, and is thus preventing Australia from doing its fair share in the present European conflict.
.- I cannot understand why Senator Ferricks submitted the motion, because he has admitted that the railway men in the northern part of Queensland are wisely going back to work.
– But there are some matters in abeyance to be settled yet.
– All those matters could be . dealt with easily by the State Arbitration Court, but Senator Ferricks appears to be anxious to find out if the Commonwealth Cabinet were unanimous in declining to allow Mr. Justice Higgins to go to Queensland. As one who has lately been elected a representative of Queensland by a very fair majority, as Senator Ferricks knows, I distinctly state on behalf of the people of that State that the majority are behind the National Government in their decision not to accede to the request from the Queensland Premier. And, personally, I wish to compliment the Government on having the wisdom to take this stand.
– Then you would sooner see another strike of the railway men?
– There is no . necessity for that. The whole position is absurd, from beginning to end, and if Senator Ferricks were not blind, he would realize how ridiculous the position is. Now what are the facts? I know Mr. Justice McCawley very well. He is a personal friend of mine, and so I know his views on many matters. I am certain that his bias, or sympathy, is on the side of the workers, and, in regard to this dispute, he did his best. He gave them an award, with good conditions of work, but declined to make the award retrospective. Honorable senators . will see that this would set up a new principle in arbitration? It might suit a Government in a position to pay the award, but it would absolutely ruin private! employers. In consequence of this decision the railway men defied the Arbitration Court and the Government, which, though elected to administer the laws on “Behalf of the people of the country, failed ignobly to carry out their duties as a constituted authority, so I have nothing complimentary to say about) that Administration.
– What action could they have taken?
– They should have compelled the men to obey the law.
– Make them work?
– Yes, make them work. It was the duty of the Government to compel them to go back to their work before they considered any of their grievances one way or the other.
– Then, if you had had your way, you would have sent the military ?
– Yes, I would have sent the military, if you want to know, because this was a matter of upholding the law, and the Queensland Government failed to do that. All the people out west, at Cloncurry, were depending upon the trains to supply them with food, and even in the Burdekin district the Government did not attempt to provide motor cars to carry foodstuffs. The honorable senator must know how the people of Richmond and Cloncurry were suffering because the Queensland Government failed in their duty. Instead of asking for the services of Mr. Justice Higgins, they should have stopped the trouble and made the men go to work.
– The Government have no right to go slow.
– Of course not, when it is a matter of conserving the rights of the people, and indeed the rights of those who were foolishly defying the law.
Some time ago Judge Dickson gave an award in the sugar industry, with the result that the Queensland sugar growers were faced with a veryserious crisis, and appealed to the Government to open thedoor for an appeal against the award. In that case, however, the Government took the stand that the law must be upheld.
– They did worse than that.
– They did not allow an appeal against the Dickson award, but enforced it against the sugar-growers. How different were their tactics in regard to the northern railway dispute, because they appealed to the National Government to allow Mr. Justice Higgins to go up and, if I may use their own words, as applied to other persons, to “scab” on Judge McCawley, and on the Conciliation and Arbitration Courtof Queensland - a State which is represented by a Premier who has never done anything for Labour. I know his history, if Senator Ferricks does not.
– Whose history ?
– The history of the Premier of Queensland, that great Labour demagogue, who is now in power. In this matter I think the National Government have acted wisely, because the Ryan Ministry have been doing all they possibly could to place obstacles in the way of the Commonwealth Government. Instead of making the men go back to work, Mr. Ryan met their representatives in selcret conclave to discuss the situation.
– Then you do not believe in conciliation ?
– I say that the Premier of Queensland has no right to go to the Trades Hall to settle that dispute.
– But Lloyd George, the PrimeMinister of Great Britain, has met trade unionists engaged in an industrial dispute, in order to arrive at a settlement.
– The leader of any constituted authority in a country has no right to meet any other body that is defying the law, in secret conclave.
– Well, that is a nasty one forthe present Prime Minister.
– These men were defying the law, and the Queensland Premier, instead of upholding the law, met them in secret conference. The men wanted to get paid for the whole of the time that they had been out on strike and starving their fellow citizens, and the Premier agreed to ask for the services of Mr. Justice Higgins, to decide whether the men should be paid for what Senator Grant saidwas a holiday.
Senator Gardiner made a bold statement today when he said that the Australian Workers Union had never broken an agreement.
– In ten years.
– Yes, and I interjected that I could prove the contrary to be the case. I now remind him that the shearers and labourers of Queensland broke an award, and even defied the executive of the Australian Workers Union.
– Hear, hear! You are corroborating what I said, not disputing it.
– My point is that these men defied the Australian Workers Union officials.
– Yet you are always saying that the leaders pull the men out.
– I never said that. I know men who live on it, but the big majority of the leaders, do not. I know from experience that they do not, but there are * any number of them at the present time living on it, and there is a degenerate class coming into the movement that are leading the men out on strike. There are men like these in the Australian Workers Union with Industrial Workers of the World views, men full of disloyal sentiments, who are using the Labour movement for their own purposes; and the men who represent the Labour movement have not the courage to denounce those who are ruining the movement and ruining Australia.
– On a point of order, what have the honorable senator’s remarks to do with the question at issue?
– I am afraid I have been a little lax in allowing previous speakers to mention matters not strictly relevant to the question before the Chair. I have, therefore, had to allow Senator Reid a little latitude; but I hope the honorable senator will now connect his remarks with the subject of the motion.
– I was challenged by an interjection to prove what I had been saying. I set out to prove that, in a Queensland shed, the shearers defied their own executive, broke the law, and went out on strike; and that, finally, the pastoralists had to give them the rise to 27s. 6d. per 100 which they went out for. Those men broke their own agreement, as Senator Gardiner admits. It is these defyings and breakings of agreements that are making all the trouble; and every executive and governmental power, should be brought to bear to compel the men to carry out the law and obey the decision of the Court. I congratulate the National Government on refusing to allow Mr. Justice Higgins to go to Queensland to intervene, when the law has been defied in the way it has been in that State, and in view of the way the Ryan Ministry have backed down and made a farce of constitutional government. The whole business has been worse than a Gilbert and Sullivan comedy. What really made the people of Australia send the Nationalists into power in this Parliament, -as much as the desire to win the war, was their intention that the National Government should see that arbitration agreements were carried out, and constitutional government restored.
– I should not have spoken but for Senator Foil’s attempt to compare Mr. Ryan’s request on this occasion with the refusal of the Fisher Government of 1912 to intervene in the Brisbane strike. I interjected that there was a big differ^ence between a request to the Federal Government to send up armed military men and Mr. Ryan’s request for the services of a Judge of the High Court on a matter of arbitration. One was war, and the other was peace. To prove that the Queensland Government of 1912 did request the Fisher Government to send an armed force to Queensland, in connexion with the tramway strike, I have here the following State document: - ,
Commonwealth of Australia.
In consequence of general strike riot and bloodshed are imminent ‘in Brisbane. State police are not able to preserve order. Firearms have been used to prevent arrest of a man guilty of riotous conduct.
Executive Government of State request that you direct steps to be taken immediately to protect the State -against domestic violence in terms of section 119 of Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
As the situation is extremely grave my Ministers urge immediate action.
Feb. 1st, 7.5 p.m.
The Federal Government, presided over by the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, and including Senator the Honorable George Foster Pearce, and Senator Josiah Thomas, came to the following decision : -
The Government recommend Your Excellency that the following reply be sent to the Governor of Queensland : - “ That whilst the Commonwealth Government is quite prepared to fulfil its obligations to the States if ever the occasion should arise they do not admit the right of any State to call for their assistance under circumstances which are proper to be dealt with by the Police Forces of the States.
– ‘ “ The condition of affairs existing in Queensland does not, in the opinion of my Ministers, warrant the request of the Executive Government of Queensland contained in Your Excellency’s message being complied with.”
The following application for Commonwealth intervention was received from a committee of combined unions : -
Strike Combined Committee have maintained absolute order up to this morning. Peaceable processions have taken place, also peaceable public meetings this morning. Permit to hold procession refused; foot and mounted police tully armed posted all corners preventing people proceeding peaceably along streets; many serious unprovoked assaults by police. We have vigilance committee keeping perfect order, if not prevented by police. Will you assist us with your naval and military to maintain peace and order?Reply urgent.
Honorable senators opposite laugh; but he laughs best who laughs last. The following urgent telegram was sent in reply:
Wire received. Hope good sense will prevail to the end.
Senator Pearce has interjected, and his friends on the other side’ have chuckled. Senator Pearce and Senator Foll are in the same boat, and my reply to them both is that, to comply with the request of the Queensland Government in 1912 meant war; whereas, to comply with Mr. Ryan’s request in 1917, means peace.
– Not the slightest. I am only trying to convince Senators Pearce and Foll of the vast difference betweenthe request of the State Government for armed men to be sent up to terrorize the strikers^ and the request of the present Queensland Government for the services of a peaceful and judicial man. Senator Reid made the remarkable statement that it was not right for any member of a representative Government to meet any section of the community in order to determine an industrial dispute.
– I said it was not right for them to meet the delegates of men who were defying the law.
– I will confront the honorable senator with two very eminent gentlemen, to whom I believe he would take off his hat if he met them - Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain; and Mr. William Morris Hughes, the Prime Minister of Australia, both of whom have taken the very step that Senator Reid condemns. The Prime Minister of Australia met men who were defying the law in connexion with the recent coal strike in New South Wales. Mr. Lloyd George, when Minister for Munitions, met men in Glasgow who were on strike and defying the law as expressed in the Defence of the Realm Act. In each case, their object was to create a conciliatory spirit, and determine the question in dispute.
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to2.30 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was remarking that eminent men, in the persons of Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, have met men who were defying the law so far as industrial disputes were concerned. Following their example, I fail to see that it was wrong for Senator Ferricks to ask that Mr. Justice Higgins should be permitted to determine the two matters that are still in abeyance in connexion with the strike on the railways of North Queensland.
– To determine the questions of retrospective pay and pay for the period of the strike? ,
– The question of retrospective pay is not a new one. I am a member of an organization which has a case before the Arbitration Court at the present time. The different employers, and the members of that organization, are now engaged in conference, and retrospective pay has been agreed to between the parties, and was, indeed, suggested by the Judge of the Court himself. This is a question of industrial peace rather than of industrial war, and there is no analogy whatever between the trouble which occurred’ in Queensland in 1912, and which was referred to by Senator Foll, and the request which Senator Ferricks has put forward to-day.
– It is a pity that the names of the Justices who preside over our Arbitration Courts should have been dragged into the political arena. Considerations of propriety are usually sufficient to keep the names of these Justices outside of our political discussions. Anybody looking at the question soberly must admit that it is a great blunder to drag into our political controversies the names of gentlemen who occupy high judicial positions.
– Did the honorable senator hear the speech which was delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council?
– I heard Senator Ferricks’ speech, and he alone is responsible for this discussion.
– I did not mention the name of Mr. Justice Higgins in that connexion at all.
– Having initiated the debate, the honorable senator alone is responsible for anything that has since been said in that connexion. I regret to say that the principle of arbitration, and, indeed, everything connected with trade unionism, ‘ is gradually drifting into a worse position. Where things will end, it is difficult to foresee. The whole position would be comical if it were not tragic. To-day, we actually find men holding responsible positions as members of this Senate urging that one Judge should he set over the head of another Judge, simply because the award of the one has not been satisfactory. When we drag into politics that aspect pf our Arbitration Court proceedings, we are rendering the worst service that we can to that institution.
– Is not that the present law?
– No; this is a matter which is quite outside the jurisdiction of the Court. I speak as one who rendered as much service in securing the principle of arbitration in Australia as most men rendered. For quite a number of years, we battled to secure compulsory arbitration at a time when men who are now misleading the Labour movement were unheard, of. The old-time trade unionists have had a bitter experience pf industrial warfare. We had to fight for years to secure Arbitration Courts, and in those days it required a man of backbone to he a leader of trade unionism.
Having, in matters of conciliation and arbitration, devised the best machinery known to any country in! the world, action after action is now being taken to bring the principle of conciliation and arbitration into disrepute and contempt. The proposal that Judge McCawley should step down in order that another Judge might review the case,, could only be adequately reviewed by Gilbert and Sullivan. Any sane man must be prompted to ask, “ Where is it all going to end?” For years the South American Republics have been the laughingstock of the civilized world. But what a picture will Australia present to future Gilberts and Sullivans? Instead of going to the Balkans and other little States for the scenes of their comic operas, they will come to Australia. The action which has been taken here to-day is really another move in the direction, of dragging trade unionism into the mud.
– The strikers are advocates of direct action, and yet they are asking for the services of a Federal Judge.
– There are many men connected with the Labour party to-day who, in the past, have ridiculed the principle of arbitration in every shape and form; who told the old Labourites, when they, advocated arbitration, that they were merely hacks for the capitalistic class. There are men occupying prominent positions in the Labour party to-day who, in a great measure, are responsible for bringing about the existing condition of affairs. These individuals jump, quickly from one position to another. One day they are advocating the principle of compulsory arbitration, and the next they are espousing the cause of direct action. In the light of these facts, it is undeniable that the whole machinery of arbitration is being brought into the realm of absurdity. But I have no desire to occupy further time. I merely wish to say that those who do not believe in arbitration ought to take up a definite attitude by declaring that they have done with arbitration, and that, in fighting for trade union principles in the future, their weapon will be the strike. They cannot have both Arbitration Courts and the weapon of the strike left in their hands. But, at present, they are making use of both as the opportunity presents itself.
I ask these gentlemen to seriously consider where they are pushing the Labour movement and the Commonwealth. At present, they are standing on the brink of a dangerous precipice, and I appeal to them once more to determine where they are going.
– I listened very attentively to the debate which took place here yesterday, and also to the discussion which has occupied our time to-day. Honorable senators opposite know that for some time past there have been in the ranks of trade unionism, two distinct classes of thought. There has been that class which believes that the political and industrial emancipation of the workers can be achieved by constitutional and legislative methods; and there has been another class which believes that that result-can be achieved only by direct action. The latter have designated themselves the “ militant “ section of trade unionism. There has been a conflict in the Labour movement for many, years between these two classes.
– Not for many years.
– There has been a conflict for the past ten years. I wish to remind honorable senators opposite that, some time ago, the direct-action section of the Labour movement, led by Mr. Peter Bowling, came into conflict with the section led by Mr. Hughes, consequent upon the attempt of the former to bring about a general strike in the coal and shipping industries. Senator Guthrie was associated with Mr. Hughes in the efforts which he put forth then to avert such a calamity. It was eventually recognised by the great body of unionists that, if they had accepted the advice of Peter Bowling, unionism would have been destroyed. Ultimately, I repeat, the reasons put forward by Mr. Hughes, Senator Guthrie, and others who took a prominent part in the fight, triumphed; with the result that the trade .unions- of New South Wales and Australia were saved. Later, owing to the development which occurred at the time of the referendum, that section of the Labour party which believes in. constitutional and legislative methods was expelled from the movement. They left behind them that section which believes in direct action, and which has, in this Parliament, and in the State Parliaments, certain members who follow the leaders of direct action outside, but dare not open their mouths upon this question. While the direct actionists were bringing^ about disaster to unionism in Australia, my honorable friends opposite remained silent. They have remained silent until they know that defeat stares them in the face, and now they come to the Government and ask it to intervene.
– Not to intervene; we do not want intervention.
– Then I will say that they ask the Government to allow intervention on the part of somebody else. What do they mean by “ intervention “ ? They mean that action should now be taken to avert defeat, and to turn defeat” into victory for the direct-action section of the Labour movement, by enabling them to say to the followers whom they have deluded, and led into this position - “ See how we have saved you. We have obtained a victory for you after all.”
What is the argument that is used by these honorable senators? They ask us to look at the suffering that these strikes are inflicting on the community; to look at the thousands of innocent people who are being turned out of work every day, and think of the women and children who are being starved as a result. That is exactly what we who have advocated legislative action have always pointed out as the reason why arbitration should take the place of the strike. These gentlemen are against arbitration and constitutional methods, and contend that the strike is the right and proper weapon to use. Honorable senators opposite, who are tonguetied because they have not the courage to tell their followers that they are wrong, come along now’ and ask us to save the community from all this suffering. Who has inflicted the suffering upon the community? Who is responsible for it? Are not those who are preaching direct action immediately responsible for it? They are not to have their dignity offended; they are not to be asked to back down or to say, “ We made a mistake; we led you into a morass. We led you to disaster.” Oh, no, they must not be asked to say anything of the kind, but the Government must come along and surrender. We are to place the militant section and the supporters of direct action in a position to say, “ See how we dictated terms to the Government of Queensland, and told them what they must do. The Government of Queensland are prepared to give us what we demanded as a result of the strike.” But they want a catspaw. That is the plain truth, and honorable senators opposite know it. ‘
What is asked for is not merely that certain pay should be retrospective. Senator Ferricks knows that these men are asking that they should be paid for striking, for breaking the law which they had a voice in making. They are asking that they should be paid for flouting the Court which a Government of their own creation established. Honorable senators opposite, who know this as well as I do, have not the courage to get up and tell their deluded followers that they have been deluded. They have not the courage to tell them that the right thing for them to do is to obey the law which they made and the Courts which they created. They desire, forsooth, that the Federal Government should be a party to a base surrender of the rights of the people of Queensland, in order that men may be paid for having broken the law. If the Queensland Government take up that position, and expect this Government to condone it and be a party to it, they mistake altogether the purpose for which the members of this party are here, and for which the present Federal Government was formed. The members of this party are here, and this Government was formed, for the deliberate purpose of upholding responsible government, and not government by terrorism and force; not that a minority shall have the right to starve the people into submission. That is what the strike amounts to.
What really is this strike which Senator Ferricks tells us was decided upon by ten to one of those concerned in it ? The strikers told the people of North Queensland, “Unless you compel the Government to climb down and give us all that we ask we will starve you.” Senator Ferricks has talked of the brutal capitalist starving the workmen, but what difference is there between the methods of the capitalist who takes advantage of an overstocked labour market to starve labour into submission and those of the railway strikers of North Queensland, who endeavoured to starve the people of that State into submission?
Honorable senators opposite know that every word that I am saying is the naked truth.
– It is an absolute falsehood; it is only the honorable senator’s opinion.
– They know it, and had they the courage of their opinions they would be telling the .strikers in Queensland, and the strikers here, what I am telling them to-day. They have been careful not to say that the North Queensland railway strike was justified. Some honorable senators opposite were inclined to( say so, but the majority had the good sense not to claim that it was justified. Senator Ferricks said that he would pass no opinion upon it. But they all come here, and say that because’ of the effects of the strike we should do what the strikers ask. If that be so, it is a direct intimation to the party of direct action outside that they have only to take direct action, and because of its effects any Government will be forced to climb down. If we are going in for that sort of government in Australia, let us be open and aboveboard about it. Let us say plainly that we do not believe in governing the country by parliamentary institutions and by law, but that we propose deliberately to hand over the government of the country to the executives of these unions, and let them say what is to be done and it shall be done. It is far better that we should do that than- that we should carry on the farce of law-making and of government through Parliament, and, at the same time, hand over the real power of government to the union executives.
This lesson has to be burned into the minds of the great mass of the people of Australia. It is being burned into their minds to-day, not by any action of this Government or of the Government of New South Wales, but by the action of the strikers. The people are learning the lesson, and they will exact retribution from those who have taught them the lesson. Did we not learn the lesson of the maritime strike? What lesson did it teach us? It taught the trade unionists of Australia that by industrial action we could do nothing to improve the condi-tions of the mass of the people. It taught them that a strike is a boomerang, which comes back and hits those who use it. It was out of the maritime strike that there arose the political Labour movement, with the idea of achieving through political action what trade unionists had utterly failed to achieve through industrial action. Yet some honorable senators opposite, who with us learned that lesson of the maritime strike, are to-day so timid and so craven as to allow, without protest, the same spirit that led the Labour movement to disaster in the maritime strike to lead it again to disaster to-day.
– The trade unionists put the honorable senator where he is to-day.
-They did. It was the movement that originated at the time of the maritime strike, and the decision that it was only through political action that the workers of Australia could improve the conditions of the masses, that put me into Parliament. I quite recognise that, and it is that which is keeping me in Parliament to-day.
– It is a recognition of that which will put some of our honorable friends opposite out of Parliament.
– Honorable senators opposite, by their timidity and their unwillingness to. tell the plain truth, because it 13 unpleasant and disagreeable to certain persons, and carries with it a certain amount of risk, are prepared to ruin the movement which was created as the result of the maritime strike.’
I would say to Senator Ferricks, and to those’ who have been associated with him in this discussion, that their eloquence is needed very badly elsewhere. It is not needed here, because this Government1 are only doing their duty in upholding the law and endeavouring to defend responsible government in Australia, and the principle that the majority shall rule, and that a minority has no right to impose its will on the community. I suggest to honorable senators opposite that they should consider what they are doing, and where they are leading the movement which they pretend to love.
– The speech which has just been delivered by Senator Pearce is a very ^strong argument in support of the request of the Queensland Government which has been approved by honorable senators on this side, since it would mean the avoidance of the direct action which the honor able senator says is so detrimental to Australia. We desire that this matter should be settled by an arbitration tribunal. That is the purpose of the request of the Queensland Government. Senator Pearce has just delivered a direct-action speech. I wish I could take the view of the present position which is taken by some honorable senators on the Government side. They profess to see something of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera about this great industrial trouble, but it is altogether too serious a matter for such comment. The levity of honorable senators opposite is entirely misplaced at the present time.
I wish to put Senator Millen right on one point, and that is with regard to the request for the forwarding of foodstuffs to the Gulf ports. It had no application to the North Queensland railway strike, because, although a boat carrying foodstuffs would pass Townsville, the cargo would be sent round by Normanton, and at the time the request was made the men who went out on strike were back at work on the Northern railway. When a request was made to Mr. Fuller, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, to expedite the sending of flour to the Gulf ports, following the cue of Mr.- Hughes, he tried to get in a political shot, and replied to the effect that a train load of flour would be sent along if the Government of Queensland could guarantee that it would be handled on the Queensland side of the border.
– That was a fair offer surely 1
– A second-class school boy should know that flour for the relief of ports on the Gulf of Carpentaria would not be sent from Sydney vid Wallangarra over the railways of Queensland.
– It could have been sent vid Wallangarra to Brisbane, and be carried from there by a steamer to the north, when there was a refusal to send a steamer from Sydney.-
– The honorable senator knows that the flour could have been sent from Sydney, and the waterside workers of Sydney would have permitted that.
Senator Millen complained that my notice to him was not sufficiently clear. I went out of my way to send him the first letter. I had intended to move a motion for the adjournment of the
Senate yesterday, but I thought that in all fairness I should give the honorable senator notice of my intention last night, because I proposed to refer to the manipulation of metals, and as that question is somewhat complicated, I thought he would like to lookit up.
Senator Reid sought to draw an analogy between the award in the railway case and the sugar award. He said that the Government of Queensland did not interfere with the sugar award.
– They said they could not.
– It is quite right to say that the Queensland Government did not interfere with the sugar award, but Senator Reid did not mention that almost the whole of the sugar-growers of Queensland took direct action against the Dickson award.
– The honorable senator is misleading the Senate. The Government did interfere, and passed a special Act of Parliament to deal with the award.
– They did not interfere with the terms of the award. As Senator Crawford interjects, I may tell him what is the general opinion freely expressed in the sugar districts of Queensland. It is that he, as President of the Sugar Producers Association, was wiring to all the sugar districts asking the farmers to stand firm by their strike, while at the same time he was harvesting his own crop in the Mossman district.
– That is not true.
– I accept the honorable senator’s denial, but that was the statement freely circulated in the Mackay district.
– I never sent wires’ to the effect suggested to any district, and I did not harvest my own crop. The men in my district were on strike for six weeks, and it cost me £2,000.
– The honorable senator agrees that the farmers were on strike.
– Some of them were.
– As I have said, they took direct action.
The request of the Queensland Government for the services’ of Mr. Justice Higgins, during what would be his court vacation - with the concurrence of himself and with the agreement of both parties - is based on the principle of conciliation and arbitration, which honorable senators opposite approve, and Senator Pearce just now vehemently defended. Yet the Government, of which he is a member, and the party opposite, take up this attitude, “ We will not have this conciliation; even if it should mean more direct action, we will stick to it.” Honorable senators opposite say, in effect, ‘ ‘ We will not encourage conciliation. We will not have this matter settled. If settlement has to be arrived at by any assistance, or by any agreement which we as a Government can accord, we will not allow Mr. Justice Higgins to go and sit in the position of an arbitrator lest he might settle the trouble.”
– No; we will not encourage the men to defy Mr. Justice McCawley.
– Honorable senators opposite have designedly, orun-. consciously, refused to touch the main point, which is that these men have been back at work for some weeks, and that we want to keep them there. The Rvan Government does not want the men to come out again.
– Do not worry about that.
– Honorable senators may have better grounds for their belief than I have, but I have received no word from anybody, except what I have seen in the local newspapers.
– I do not think that even you could get these men out again now.
– Honorable senators opposite and the Government generally may think that this attack will defeat unionism.
– It is not an attack on unionism.
– It may temporarily have an effect on unionism. But do honorable senators think that they are going to overcome unionism by the creation of “scab” unions? No, they are not. They may temporarily succeed in their object, but the reaction that will overwhelm them afterwards will be far greater than any boomerang effect which they have sought to apply to the action of the workers.
The basic principle at stake in the action of the Government, and in condoning and supporting the Prime Minister in the unreasonable attitude he has takenup, is that of conciliation and arbitration, or in other words the calling in of a Judge to settlematters on which opposing forces cannot agree.
– The basic principle is that a contending party should accept the decision.
– Then I may take it that the natural corollary to the refusal of the Government to comply with the request of Mr. Ryan, is that they do not want industrial peace. Evidently they are out to keep this industrial ferment going. Senator Pearce almost confirmed every word I uttered this morning in that regard when he talked about retribution overtaking the Labour party and the Labour movement as a result of these strikes. He almost “blew out” in his exultation over the fact that retribution would come to the Labour party and Labour movement as a result of the industrial upheaval throughout the Commonwealth at the present time. The National party are looking for what Senator Senior described the other day as “ good stuff.” His troubles about the war, and Senator Pearce’s troubles about industrial peace so long as they can get “ good stuff “ for electioneering. That seems to be their main object.
– Why play their game then ?
– Their main object is to keep this industrial turmoil going, so that they, in the words of Senator Pearce, may see the industrial Labour movement overwhelmed with retribution.
– Why did they “ gag “ you at the time of the last Federal election, and not allow you to speak in Queensland on their behalf ?
– Who “gagged” me?
– Your own side.
– This is the first that I have heard of being ‘” gagged.” Let me tell the honorable senator that no force could “gag” me on the question of conscription long before any action was taken in that regard.
– It was splendid work; it was “good stuff.”
– That confirms me in my view that their bathos about industrial peace, patriotism, and the- welfare of Australia is all moonshine.
One reason for this vendetta is that the Labour Government in Queensland refused to fall in behind Mr. Hughes, There is a further reason, which I did not intend to mention, ‘ but which I will state now. It is that when Mr. Hughes and Mr. Ryan were in London, Mr. Hughes made what he considered most enticing approaches to Mr. Ryan to fall in behind him on the question of conscription.
– Who told you this ?
– I heard that in Sydney before either Mr. Ryan or Mr., Hughes came back to Australia. My authority for this statement was so good that at the conscription referendum in Queensland I, used it without having seen Mr. Ryan; and I ask Senator Millen, Senator Pearce, or any other senator on the opposite side, if he wants confirmation of the statement, to ask Mr. Hughes himself.
– I cannot believe that Mr. Hughes would ever think of making such an error as that.
- Mr. Hughes made any number of blunders. I think that Senator Millen will agree with me that the calling of the men into camp by proclamation was a huge blunder.
– That has nothing to do with this matter.
– Yes, it has; because, in my opinion, the industrial trouble to-day is the aftermath of that action.
– Hear, hear!
– It is not the card system.
– Mr. Hughes, I think, expected industrial trouble when he called the men into camp. If he could have got industrial trouble then, realizing that we as a party always suffer after a strike, although they accuse us of fomenting strikes for political reasons, he would have come with a sweep on the question of conscription, and I believe that, in those circumstances, he would have carried it. It was only the leaders of the industrial movement throughout Australia - the men who have been so derided, and even abused, here to-day - who were responsible for keeping the workers as a body from making any industrial demonstration at that time. Therefore, they thwarted the desires of Mr. Hughes. They did not want the workers to be brought out, on account of men being called into camp in answer to the. proclamation for home service. They tell us that we cannot have it both ways, but Mr. Hughes has it both ways. He has it by legislative means, and he has it through the WarPrecautions Act in deregistering unions, in refusing preference to unionists, and in a dozen other ways.
– The Arbitration Court cancelled preference to unionists.
– Yes, under the power to vary, awards. I will put it in that way to be 3triotly correct.
Unlimited powers were given in the War Precautions Act - foolishly given - to Mr. Hughes by this party, in the hope that he would put the Act into operation for war purposes and against the food exploiters of Australia, and not against the workers wholly, as has been done. I feel quite sure that the obstinacy of the Government in supporting Mr. Hughes’ bitter attack on the State of Queensland will confirm the widely existing impression outside that’ the Government is determined at all hazards, at the risk of losing industrial peace, or even at the risk of interfering with war preparations, to continue this well-prepared attack on unionism to the bitter end. That is the impression outside, and here is a confirmation to-day in the support and remarks given by honorable senators on the other side.
– The people og Queensland will settle Mr. Ryan at the next election : do not worry about that.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Hon orary Minister, upon notice -
– On behalf of my colleague, I desire to supply the following answers: -
Minister’s Attendance in Either House.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Is there anything in the Federal Constitution which prevents the Standing Orders of Parliament being so framed as to allow a Minister in charge of a Bill in one House to attend in the House of which he is not a member to explain and pilot his Bill through that House?
– The answer is -
It is not the practice of the Attorney-General to answer questions by honorable senators asking for an expression of opinion on matters of law.
I should like to say, with less caution than that evinced by the answer of the Attorney-General, that, personally, I do not believe that the Federal Constitution itself creates a bar to what I would regard as a very advantageous innovation.
asked the . VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Has any inquiry been made into the loss of the s.s. Cumberland and Matunga; if so, will the Government lay any report following on such inquiry upon the table of the Senate?
– The fullest and most searching inquiries are being made regarding these vessels, but it is not considered desirable at present to disclose the results.
Motion (by Senator Needham for Senator Barker) agreed to -
That the report of the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on 6th September, 1917, be adopted.
– I have had an interview with the Attorney-General’s departmental officers regarding the notice of motion standing in my name -
That the regulation issued under the War Precautions Act, Statutory Rule No. 196 of 1917, and dated 20th August, 1917 (which amends StatutoryRule No. 129 (a) of 1916, Regulation No. 10, previously issued under the Act), be disallowed.
In View of the information supplied to me, I desire, with the concurrence of the Senate, to withdraw the motion from the notice-paper. Can I do that now, sir?
– The honorable senator may move that the notice be discharged from the paper.
– Then I move-
That notice of motion No, 1 be discharged from the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Public Service Act 1902-1916 - Promotions, Department of the Treasury -
Order ofthe Day called on for the resumption of the debate from 6th September (vide page 1744), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I quite understand the desire of the honorable senator, because he intimated to me previously that, in view of the late hour at which the Bill- was introduced last night, it would meet the convenience of himself and other honorable senators if the resumption of the debate were postponed.
Order of the Day postponed until Wednesday next.
Military Service Referendum: Allo cation of Soldiers’ Votes: Erroneous Newspaper Reports - Evaporated Apples : Supply to the British Government - Mails via America.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I should like to refer to a matter which was brought up in this chamber some time ago by Senator Ferricks. It will be remembered that Senator Ferricks made a statement imputing that some manipulation of the soldiers’ votes had taken place in connexion with the military service referendum, and that he also raised some doubt as to the accuracy with which certain votes were counted and added to the totals after the result of the poll in connexion with the recent election had been announced. If those statements had any substance in them, they would have constituted an extremely grave charge, because if there is one thing upon which the people of Australia are united more than any other, irrespective of their political feelings, it is their determination that their electoral machinery shall be kept perfectly free from any manipulation of that kind. In view of the statements made, and of the suspicion thus created, I felt justified in personally making an investigation so that I might not only satisfy myself as to the facts, but also be in , a position to bring before the Senate such further evidence as might be obtainable in support of the official figures which had been given. The result of my investigations, I am sure, will be very interesting. The following facts have been placed on record by the Chief Electoral Officer with reference to the naval and military vote in connexion with the military service referendum : -
The scrutiny and counting of the votes took place at the following centres : - (a) London, (b) Rabaul, (c) capital cities of the Commonwealth. The responsible Returning Officers were respectively - London, Brigadier-General Anderson; Rabaul, Brigadier-General Pethebridge; capital cities of the Commonwealth, Messrs. J. G. McLaren, R. H. Lawson, R. H. Allars, O. H. Stephens, J. E. Cathie, and S. Irwin, Commonwealth electoral officers for the several States. The results of the count were communicated by the responsible Returning Officer at each centre to the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth, and were accepted only after verification. The attached statement accurately represents the result of the referendum in so far as these votes are concerned.
I am reading from the official minute supplied to me by Mr.’ Oldham, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the figures I am about, to read are supported by a certificate signed by the individual officers whose names I have mentioned. The figures disclose that the votes were -
In favour of the prescribed question - 72,398.
Not in’ favour of tha prescribed question - 58,894.
Mr. Oldham continues ;
There is reason to believe that the false voting results, namely, 40,000 “ Yes “ and 106,000 “ No “, said to have been published in the Dublin Freeman’s Journal and copied by the Glasgow Herald on 13th January, ‘ 1917, emanated from Victoria, inasmuch as the figures quoted were announced by an unauthorized person who could not possibly have been in possession of authentic information, at a gathering at Sale on Sunday, 29th October,’ i.e., three days prior to the receipt of any official figures, and when the counting abroad had only been partially completed, as evidenced by the fact that it was not until 1st November, namely, two clays after the announcement of the false figures in Victoria, that the Chief Electoral Officer received by cable the initial progress report from the Returning Officer in Loudon, giving the progressive results of the scrutiny up to 9 p.m. on the 31st October, at which stage only slightly more than one-half of the whole of the votes had been counted.
I am going to break off in a moment in order to give the genesis of these figures -
Senator Ferricks was in error in stating that the votes counted in South Australia subsequent to the publication of the notice in the Gazette of 23rd November, 1916, were’ in the ratio of 100 negative votes to 1 affirmative, vote. The correct ratio, as indicated by the figures quoted by Senator Ferricks, was approximately 10 to 1.
– I gave the figures.
– The honorable senator did ; but, unfortunately, his arithmetic was a little faulty, as the ratio should have been 10, and not 100, to 1. Dealing with what I regard as the main question, the Chief Electoral Officer’s minute states -
At the time of the official publication of the results of the voting on the referendum in the Gazette of 23rd November, 1916, the whole of the overseas votes had been included in the count, and the outstanding votes which were subsequently counted and embodied in the statistical returns were cast in Australia almost exclusively under the provision of section 9 of the Act under which the referendum was held. The suggestion that some wickedly-disposed person or persons “ manipulated “ the overseas naval and military voting returns, either in connexion with the referendum or the elections, .scarcely appears to call for official comment. It may, however, be stated that in the case of the voting on the referendum the scrutiny abroad was conducted by the Returning Officers, with the assistance df responsible officials (many of whom were officers of the electoral administration), in the presence of Australian citizens, who certified to the correctness of the count, and that in the case of the elections the overseas scrutiny was similarly conducted in the presence of scrutineers appointed by the political parties, who’ jointly certified to the ac7curacy of the proceedings in regard to the checking, allocation, scrutiny, and counting of the votes.
The civilian witnesses who certified to the scrutiny of the overseas vote in connexion with the military service referendum at the recent election, as counted in London, were: - Messrs. O. C. Beale, New South Wales; T. Baker, Victoria; D. P. Dickson’, New South Wales; B. Moulden, South Australia; J. A. Robertson, Queensland; and the Hon. R. B. Rees, Victoria. These were Australian gentlemen who happened to be in London, and were appointed by Brigadier-General Anderson to act as witnesses at the scrutiny. These gentlemen, therefore, were parties either to the accuracy of the counting or to the manipulation of those votes. I also find amongst the records a certificate, and in connexion with this matter I remind honorable senators that Senator Ferricks’ suggestion, indeed his statement, was that in the recent election the soldiers’ votes had not been allocated to the districts to which they belonged - in other words, that we were jerrymandering the votes, and allocating them to districts where the, were wanted. This certificate reads as follows : -
We certify that the checking, allocation, and scrutiny and counting in connexion with’ the recent Commonwealth elections has been conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act 1917 and the regulations thereunder. (Sgd.) J. Fred’. Downer (Chief Scrutineer, for Ministerialist). (Sgd.) D. C. McGrath (Chief Scrutineer for Opposition).
The original of that . document, of which I hold the copy, is available for inspection by Senator Ferricks or any other honorable,, senator who, in spite of the evidence given, might still believe that there was something crude and-, crooked about these operations. Mr. McGrath, one of the gentlemen who signed the certificate, is well known as Labour member for Ballarat. He is a member of the party to which Senator Ferricks belongs, and I would suggest to that honorable senator that, if he has any further complaints to make, he should wait until Sergeant McGrath returns, and accuse that gentleman, here, of being a party to this manipulation, as he has called it.
I come back now to the genesis of those figures relating to the military service referendum. In the official minute which I have just read it is stated that the figures were published in Australia on the day following the vote. That waa a Sunday, and my investigations have led me to the interesting” discovery that on the day mentioned a telegram, addressed to the Age newspaper, was lodged at the Sale telegraph office by Mr. Overend, who, I understand, is the local correspondent of the Melbourne Age. The telegram did not appear. It was suppressed by the censor owing to its inaccuracy, but it was worded as follows : -
At the conclusion of 11 o’clock Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral yesterday morning Dr. Phelan, after removing his vestments and stepping outside the altar, announced to the congregation that the Australian soldiers’ votes recorded in the trenches on the referendum were 106,000 “ Noes “ against 43,000 “ Yes “ - a majority of 63,000 votes for the “ Noes.” Voting passed off smoothly at Sale, considerable interest aroused, but nothing special occurred in the way of incidents. (Sgd.) Overend.
That is the first evidence that I have been able to obtain as to the publication of these figures. There is undoubted proof that they did not originate in Dublin, but that they originated here. The telegram, as I have stated, was received at the telegraph office in this city, and was brought under the notice of the censor, who declined to allow its publication because of its obvious inaccuracy, as the vote had not then been counted. As a matter of fact, it was not until the first of November following that the Chief Electoral Officer in Australia received a progress report from London, and at that time less than half the votes had been counted. I am not concerned to know how Bishop Phelan obtained his information. Iam merely concerned with my duty to bring it before the Senate, and, through the Senate, before the people of this country, so that they may know exactly where the figures originated.
We come now to the question of their publication in Dublin. Honorable senators will please remember the dates. The information was published in Freeman’s Journal in Dublin on 5th January-. The telegram lodged at the Sale telegraph office was censored, so it is quite clear that those who were concerned in giving the figures publicity knew that they would have no chance of cabling the information, because if a telegram intended for circulation within Australia was held upby the censor, obviously the same message as a cable would also fall under the ban of the censor. If honorable senators will remember the dates they will see that there was just sufficient time to get this news Home through the post. It was suppressed here in the early days of November, and was published in the Freeman’s Journal in Dublin in the early days of January as follows: -
It is a remarkable fact that the figures of the voting by the Anzac troops in the Australian referendum on conscription have never appeared in the British press, although two months have now elapsed since the referendum was taken. It will be remembered that when the early figures of the voting in Australia were published, and showed a relatively small majority against conscription, that advocates of that policy expressed the confident hops that when the votes of the men actually serving and other Australians resident abroad were counted they would be found to reverse the decision of their fellow countrymen at home. The failing to publish the voting of the troops was in itself extremely significant, but we are now -
I emphasize that word - we are now in a position to give the figures, which were -
As the total majority against conscription was only 61,000, it is then clear that it was the votes of the Anzac soldiers which really decided the. issue, those of the other Australians resident abroad having, apparently, counterbalanced the original majority of the homedwelling Australians.
I again emphasize the statement of Freeman’s Journal, “ We are now in a position to give the figures.” A Sherlock Holmes is not required to discover what had taken place. ‘Just an ordinary plain member of this Senate could discover that as easily as he could look through a ladder. There was, first of all, the infamous misstatement in Australia, this misrepresentation of results which could not have been known then.
– A deliberate lie.
– There is no other word for it. I do not know the originator of that lie, but, so far as I can find out, Bishop Phelan was the first to give publicity to it. It is quite conceivable that that gentleman was himself utilized by some designing person to give publicity to these figures.
– Has he corrected his mistake ?
– I do not know; but, according to the telegram sent by the correspondent of the Age, that statement was made at Sale the day after the polling. It was suppressed by our censor. These facts are recorded in the telegraph office and in the censor’s office. As it was censored in Australia, any persbn who was anxious to secure publicity for the figures, unless he was a fool - and the men who do this sort of thing do not come within the category of fools - would know that he would have no chance of getting it sent out by cable. If you allow for the ordinary time taken for the despatch of news by mail, you can understand the significance of the statement of Freeman’s J ournal on the 5th J anuary that “ we are now in a position to give the figures.”
When Senator Ferricks brought the matter up previously, I expressed the firm belief that he had rendered a service to Australia. In view of the stimulus he gave to my naturally inquisitive mind to find out these further facts, I am entitled to emphasize the statement I made then, and to say now that unconsciously, and possibly against his will, he has not only served Australia, but vindicated the Anzac soldiers for the vote they gave on that occasion.
– From the detailed and comprehensive statement which Senator Millen has made, thereis one omission, which I naturally expected would be referred to. Shortly after the vote was taken, Senator Gardiner moved on this side for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into all the rumours going about regarding the result of the soldiers’ vote. Various estimates were given, and various calculations made. Why was the information now given kept back for twelve months? Senator Gardiner was most explicit when moving for the appointment of a Select Committee in saying that we only wanted to know’ how the vote went. The reason given by Senator Pearce, who was then leading the Government in the Senate, for the refusal to give the information was that the result of the soldiers’ vote could not be made public because the Imperial authorities had said that, for military reasons, it was not to be divulged. If those military reasons existed then, do they exist to-day? If they do not exist to-day, did they exist then ? What object had the then Govern ment in refusing the information then asked for by Senator Gardiner per medium of a Select Committee? They refused to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the very things on which Senator Millen has made his statement this afternoon.
– I referred last night to the question of the cablegrams sent in connexion with the offer of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to communicate with the British authorities to get them to take a certain quantity of evaporated apples. The Minister, in his reply, seemed to resent the attitude I took up, and my two Tasmanian colleagues, Senators Keating and Earle, almost read me a lecture. I thought I was raising the matter in the right way and at the right time and place, and, therefore, I did not bother to ask anybody else what course I should take. I am still satisfied that I took no unfair course. I urged that there had been an unwarrantable delay in getting from the British authorities a reply to the request made on behalf of the Australian fruit-growers. I still think there was a delay occasioned either by a mistake made by the High Commissioner or in the Prime Minister’s Department. I was told that the Prime Minister communicated directly with the Secretary of State, which was the right course, and that when the Premier of Tasmania found that the reply was so long delayed he should have communicated with the Prime Minister direct instead of with his Agent-General in London. That is a matter between the Premier of Tasmania and the Prime Minister, but the fact remains that the delay occurred. My statement that this is a matter of very serious importance to many thousands of fruit-growers in Australia, and a few thousands in Tasmania - a question of very nearly ruin or otherwise to a large number - is borne out by the following statement which I received only to-day from Mr. D. E. Ryan, Chairman of the State Fruit Committee, Franklin, Tasmania : -
That comes from the southern part of Tasmania, which depends almost entirely on fruit growing.
– What is the date of the letter?
– There is no date to it.
– Mr. Ryan was one of the gentlemen who, with the Tasmanian members, waited on the Prime Minister, and to whom that reply went last week. He must have got that reply since writing that letter.
– That is not material. It is the delay that is of such grave importance, because the people concerned have to make preparations for’ evaporating the fruit that is going to be taken by the Imperial authorities. I have a rather bitter reason, personally, for being able to substantiate the statement in paragraph 5 about the 1915-16 season. I was an orchardist in a small way in Victoria, and owing to the enormous surplus prevailing in the four applegrowing States at about the same time, there was an immense surplus in Australia in the early part of 1917, and many of us lost the little cash we had invested. I know it hitme pretty hard. There is every probability in the coming season of another large crop.
– They, cannot tell yet.
– In the applegrowing districts it is possible at this time of the year to get a very fair idea of what the crop is going to be. Of course, they have to chance a number of pests striking them, but this time last year they knew pretty well what the crop was likely to be. It looks at the present moment as if there is going to be a very large crop in the apple-growing districts of Victoria and Tasmania, and growers are afraid that in the absence of shipping facilities there will be a large local surplus. If that is so, they will have to depend on some other means of disposing of their produce. With reference to paragraph 7 of Mr. Ryan’s letter, they will have to pay 3s., or perhaps 4s., per case to make up the freight and expenses.
– Probably they will. I have had to pay that.
– It is very hard luck for them. Surely that circumstance in itself justifies the representative of a fruit-growing State in bringing forward this matter, and in ‘urging the Govern- . ment to do everything in its power to assist the growers, especially in view of the fact that some weeks ago the Prime Minister promised to do what he could in that direction. Of course, it was pointed out last night that if anybody is to blame for the delay which has occurred, it is the Premier of Tasmania.
– No. It was alleged that it was the Secretary of State.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) was rather angry that the Premier of Tasmania, in cabling to the Agent-Generalof that State, had gone behind the Prime Minister.
– What he said was that the delay was due to the Secretary of State, and that that delay might have been shortened if the Premier of Tasmania had communicated direct with the Prime Minister.
– It does not matter to any Tasmanian representative where the fault lies. What does matter is that everything should be done to expedite a decision in regard to the offer which has been made to the Imperial authorities. If the delay which has occurred was unavoidable -and the VicePresident of the Executive Council last night attempted to show that it was - I do hope that there will be no more delay, and that the Government will do everything in ‘their power to induce the Imperial authorities to say promptly whether or not they intend to purchase this evaporated fruit. If they do not intend to purchase it, I trust that the Commonwealth Government will step in, and rescue the fruit-growers of Tasmania from the grave difficulty which now confronts them.
– Yesterday, on the motion for adjournment, Senator Thomas asked a question in regard to the addressing of overseas letters.. The Postmaster-General has supplied my colleague, Senator Russell, with the following reply : -
With reference to the question asked in the Senate yesterday by Senator tho Honorable JosiahThomas in regard to the overseas mail service, I am directed by the PostmasterGeneral to inform you thatbe practice is to despatch United Kingdom mails by steamers authorized, whether the route taken is via America, the Cape, or Suez. If there happens to bo a boat leaving for America at about the same timeas one for the United Kingdom, a notice is issued to the public intimating that persons desiring letters despatched vid America must indorse them to that effect. It has been ascertained that a letter postedon Saturday last addressed to the United Kingdom would be despatched vid America, whether indorsed for such despatch or not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170907_senate_7_83/>.