9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Eon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented: -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Fund Act- Fifth Annual Report, 1924-25.
Cattle Export Bounty Act - Particulars of bounty paid, &c, for period ended 30th June, 1925.
Munitions Supply Board - Annual Report for period 1st July, 1923, to 30th June, 1924, together with Annual Report of the Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory.
Report, by Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, G.C.M.G., K.C.B. (for InspectorGeneral), on the Australian Military Forces (Part I., 31st May, 1925).
Publio Service Act - Appointment - Deportment of Health- F. H. Taylor.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 106 and 107.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
National Debt Sinking Fund Bill.
Export Guarantee Bill.
High Court Procedure Bill.
States Loan Bill.
– On behalf of the Chairman of the Joint Library Committee, I lay on the table the report of the Committee for the year ended the 30th June, 1925.
Ordered to be printed.
– On the 26th June, Senator Duncan asked the following questions : -
The following are the replies : -
Senator HOARE (for Senator O’Loghlin asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Kas his attention been called to a cablegram from New York in the Age newspaper of 9th July, 1925, to the effect that the Commonwealth had asked the British Government whether, in view of the exceptionally heavy amount of maturing loans in 1925, the latter would have any objection to the Commonwealth approaching the New York market for accommodation up to a certain amount, and that the British. Government had intimated that it had no objection, as it did not consider there would be sufficient money available in London to satisfy the requirements of Austraiian Governments during the year?
Is it necessary for the Commonwealth Government to consult the British Government before borrowing money for the service of the Commonwealth ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders.
– I ask leave to move, without notice, that leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1920.
– I object.
– Objection having been taken, the Minister cannot have leave to move his motion without notice.
.- Then I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent a bill for an act to amend the Navigation Act 1912- 1920 being introduced without notice, and passed through all stages without delay.
I do not propose at this juncture to deal with the bill itself, other than to say that the matter is urgent, and that the Government desires that it be proceeded with without delay. In view of the general desire that Parliament should rise for the celebration of the arrival in Australian waters of the American Fleet, it is essential that the procedure associated with the preliminary stages laid down in the Standing Orders, by which a delay of two or three days would occur, be dispensed with in this instance. As the matter is urgent, I ask the Senate to agree to the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders.
– I certainly- will not lend any assistance in the direction of the suspension of the Standing Orders to facilitate the introduction of a bill to amend the Navigation Act. I will not countenance the habit that has been formed by the Government of asking every week or so for the suspension of the rules which ordinarily govern our procedure. This is not a coincidence. It is not an accident. The practice of asking for the suspension of the Standing Orders, for the purpose of rushing legislation through the chamber, is becoming chronic. .The Government seems to have got into a state of panic. Ministers are being stampeded themselves, and they are endeavouring to stampede the Senate. If it be necessary to amend the Navigation Act, surely the ordinary practice can be followed. The Minister could obtain leave to-day to introduce the bill, and fix the date for - the first reading, after which the clauses of the measure could be debated deliberately. Even if the matter be urgent the suspension of the Standing Orders is not justified. By following the usual pro.cedure the bill could be debated at its several stages to-morrow, on Friday, and, if necessary, on Saturday. I do not know what its provisions are. The Minister has not seen fit to vouchsafe any information as to what portion of the Navigation Act the Government desires to amend. All I know is that there has been a caucus meeting of the supporters of the Government. It was held hurriedly this afternoon, and the Leader of the Senate, after rushing down from that gathering, now endeavours to stampede us at short notice into the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable the bill to be passed at’ express speed. Are the Standing Orders not for the good conduct of the business of this chamber? Almost every week since we assembled on the 10th June we have had the Minister asking for the suspension of the Standing Orders. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber agreed to their suspension in connexion with the National Debt Sinking Fund and States Loan Bills, for we realized the urgency of those measures, but in the present case we remember that the Navigation Act was not placed on the statute-book until it had been deliberated upon for many years. From nine to ten years of almost continuous debate took place in this Parliament before the mea- ; sure was passed, and even then it did not come into operation until it received the Royal assent. Considering how important that legislation is, and the benefit it has conferred upon the people of Australia, why should the Senate now suspend the Standing Orders so that an amending bill may be rushed through this chamber, and probably also through the other? I see no vital reason why the motion should be agreed to. Had the Minister given some indication of the nature of the amending bill we should not have been left entirely in the dark, but he has calmly invited us to give him a blank cheque. Let him bring in the bill in the ordinary way, circulate it amongst honorable senators, and let the measure be debated in the ordinary course. If the Minister then found that an attempt was made to block the bill, his present request might be opportune. I hope that he will not insist on pursuing the course he is adopting, ana I urge the Senate to show by its vote that it wishes that the recognized procedure of this chamber be followed. The Minister might as well ask that the Government be given carte blanche to introduce any legislation it desires, and rush it through the chamber without observing the Standing Orders. I recognize that the numbers are up on this occasion, and that the Minister is only obeying the dictates of the caucus meeting, hot-footed from which he has just entered the chamber. I trust that the Senate will reject the motion.
– I wish to endorse the sentiment expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). If the matter is of such an urgent nature that the Standing Orders should be suspended, honorable senators are at least entitled to some information to justify them in voting for the motion. The only reason given for it is the near approach of the American Fleet. What has the visit of that fleet to do with the Navigation Act, that has occupied a place on the statutebook for so many years? When we had a visit from the Prince of Wales, the heir-apparent to the British throne, who was accompanied by a section of the British navy, the Government of the day did not consider it essential to ask for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a bill to be introduced to amend the Navigation Act. Why, in connexion with the recent visit of a. section of the Japanese navy, -was it not considered necessary to amend that measure ? We on this side are entitled to know the real reason for the Minister’s haste on this occasion. Is the haste due to the pending visit of the American Fleet, or does he desire the suspension of the Standing Orders for another purpose altogether ? I have an idea that, his action is, in some way, connected with the’ present shipping dispute. If the honorable senator’s object is to introduce a bill to amend those sections of the Navigation Act which render protection to both Australian seamen and the shipowners during normal times, we on this side desire to know what those amendments are, and for whose protection they are intended. I fear that the object of the Government is to place itsfull power behind the Steamship Owners Association in their conflict with the seamen. I can only endorse the remarks of the deputy-leader of this party (Senator Needham), that no . legislation passed by this Parliament had a more difficult passage ‘through both Houses than the present Navigation Act. A few days ago Senator Lynch, in the course of a speech in this Chamber, asked for an alteration of the Navigation. Act; and I also heard representatives of Tasmania advocating the repeal of sections of that act which in years gone by they fought for because they believed that they would be of benefit to Australian shipping and those connected with it. To say that the arrival of the American Fleet is a sufficient reason for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable this bill to be rushed through this Chamber is hypocrisy iti excelsis, and we on this side will vote against the motion.
– Every section of this Parliament should at all times jealously guard its interests. For that reason honorable senators should not permit the Standing Orders of the Senate to be contravened unless in extraordinary circumstances. The Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator Pearce) has stated that the measure to which this motion relates is a matter of urgency. I ask for whom is it urgent. Is it urgent because its quick passage through this Chamber will assist the party to which he belongs? We have been .informed that an urgent meeting of Government supporters was held to-day; and, while I do not believe all that I hear, rumour has it that the meeting was not altogether like a prayer meeting - that there were strained relations at the gathering. When at that meeting certain suggestions for dealing with the present shipping trouble were made, those who desired to go beyond what the more moderate-minded among’ them believed was necessary were told, so we are informed, “ Thus far, but no farther.” The suggestion was made I understand, that a bill to amend the Navigation Act should be introduced: If there is one honorable senator who ought to hesitate about amending that act, it is the present Leader of the Government in this Chamber. He it was who, as a member of a Labour Government a few years ago, piloted the measure through this Chamber, in spite of the vigorous opposition of men who to-day are associated with him politically. The honorable senator then stood for every provision in the bill which has since become law. He pointed out, as he would point out to-day if he were not tied up as he is, that that legislation was inthe best interests of the shipping industry and all connected with it, as well as for the benefit of the community generally. He showed them that it safeguarded and protected the White Australia policy, that it insured for the workers on the sea condi-Hons which they were unable to obtain previously. No sooner had the act been placed on the statute-book, than efforts were made to amend it. Those efforts were not made because of a desire to further assist the seamen ; they were made in the interests of- that section of the community from which the Government to-day derives strong financial support-. Reference has been made to the- speeches which have been made in this chamber, urging an amendment of the existing act. From time to time honorable senators representing Tasmania have vigorously opposed some of its provisions; I expect that their influence was exercised to-day at that meeting to which I ‘have already referred;
– I do not think so.
– We on this side hold that there should be no tinkering with the Navigation Act, which would adversely affect the seamen or endanger the White Australia policy. We are informed by the Minister that the passing of this bill is a matter of urgency. Every, thing seems to be urgent when . the GoTvernment wants to get into recess, or enjoy a short holiday. With the Government nothing succeeds like recess. It is true that the American Fleet is expected to arrive in Melbourne next week. It is true also that that will be an event of importance in the history of the Commonwealth, but I confess my inability to Bee any connexion between the arrival in our waters of vessels forming part of the American Fleet and the urgency of an amendment of the Navigation Act. This is too serious a matter to be trifled with. Not in connexion with any measure which has found a place on the statute-book of the Commonwealth have more pains been taken, nor has greater discussion taken place, than in connexion with the Navigation Act, which now the Leader of the Government in this chamber seeks permission to amend as an urgent matter. I shall not assist in passing any amendment of the Navigation Act which is not in the interests of seafaring men. If the act is to be amended, and the numbers are’ up from the Government point of view, the amendments should be made in a constitutional way. This Government, one of the characteristics of which is to go slow, seems to get into a state of panic when any alleged trouble arises. It desires then to have the Standing Orders abrogated, and to carry legislation through at express speed, and in a most unbusiness-like way. It is unbusiness-like for the Government to desire the suspension of the Standing Orders at the commencement of a session. There may be some excuse for such action when we. are approaching Christmas, as’ at that period of the year there is usually a better spirit abroad. and members are anxious to return to their respective states and to the bosom of their respective families. In such circumstances a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders would not encounter the opposition that it is meeting with to-day. Parliament reassembled on the 10th June. We had hardly commenced the business of the session when the Government found it necessary to proceed with its work in a way which no other Government would have considered prudent. It is characteristic of this combination, which is supposed to consist of business men. They may understand their respective businesses, but they do not understand the political business. A matter of urgency ! If the
Government went about ils work in a business-like way it would pass legislation in much less time than it will by introducing a motion such as the Minister has just submitted. The Minister could not bring the bill forward without moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders, and when objection was raised to such a course being adopted he endeavoured to look surprised; but he was not surprised. He would have been if the motion had been adopted without opposition. Any task the Minister has to perform in the direction of amending the Navigation Act must be a thankless one to him. His heart cannot be in his work unless the opinions he held a few years ago have completely changed. You will remember, Mr. President, how warmly the Minister supported the Navigation Bill, and how vigorously he attacked those who desired to amend it in the way they considered necessary. I believe it was one of the joys of his life when he was able to say that the Government with which he was associated had at last passed a measure which had been so’ long under discussion, and about which every preceding Government had issued promissory notes which were never redeemed. lt was a happy day for the Minister when the measure passed all its’ stages, and eventually received the royal assent. Is the Minister happy to-day ? If he is ho could be happy in any circumstances ; but I do not think he is constituted in that way. The Leader of the Government in the Senate cannot be unmindful of the past. To hear the opinions of certain honorable senators one would think that the present shipping dispute was something new to Australia. We can reasonably anticipate that the proposed amendment of the Navigation Act is in connexion with the present shipping trouble. If it is not in that connexion, what is its object ? ‘ Is it to placate those Tasmanian representatives who always seem . to have a grievance ? If they are not complaining of the Tasmanian shipping services, they are in difficulties over the disposal of their apple or hop crops, and if it is not either of those mentioned it is something incidental to that institution which is known in different parts of Australia as “ Tattersalls.”
– All genuine grievances.
– All genuine grievances! It seems to me that Tas- mania was born with grievances, and that every member from Tasmania is always brimming over with complaints.
– Or asking for cash for his state.
– Yes, but the chief concern of senators representing Tasmania just now is an amendment of the Navigation Act. The Government is moving in a certain way, of which they probably approve. They are .as quiet as mice.
– We cannot all be noisy at once.
– No ; all the noise was at the caucus meeting to-day. I desire to enter my protest against this happy - go - lucky and go-as-you-please method of doing the country’s business. The procedure adopted does not appeal to me, arid I am sure it does not meet with the approval of honorable senators opposite who believe in business methods. It is a very serious thing to amend the Navigation Act in any way which affects the conditions of the seafaring men in the Australian coastal shipping service. Before we agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders, we should have an opportunity to peruse the proposed amendments, and we cannot do that until the bill has been circulated. When that stage is reached, honorable senators on both sides of the chamber should then have the fullest opportunity to thoroughly study and understand the proposed amendments, in order to grasp their meaning and significance. It is because of the hurry-scurry way that the Government has of doing business that so many amendments of existing acts have been necessary. Bill after bill has been submitted to this Chamber by this Government, and before any time has elapsed amendments almost as comprehensive as the bills themselves have had to be introduced for our consideration. I do not think the Government is doing itself justice, and I do not ‘ think it is doing a fair thing for the community, when it asks for the suspension of the Standing Orders to carry through a measure which we have not yet seen. We have not the slightest knowledge of how far-reaching its effects may be on all sections of the community. The Government should not conduct in that manner the business of the chamber. I hope that it will recognize the wisdom of not proceeding further with the motion. Although constitutional methods arebeing observed, the present procedureshould not be followed except under extraordinary circumstances. We have not been told that such circumstances exist. Even if they did I should protest against this practice. I shall vote against the motion.
– Considering the meagre information that has been vouchsafed by the Minister (Senator Pearce) the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders should not be countenanced by honorable senators. For very many years efforts have been made to frame Standing Orders which will give to every honorable senator a fair deal. It is now suddenly proposed to sweep those to one side in order that action may be taken of which honorable senators, on this side at any rate, had no knowledge before the meeting^ of the Senate. The Government is no’t playing the game. There are no fewer than 450 Standing and Sessional Orders which honorable senators are expected to observe. An index covering 24 pages is provided to enable an honorable senator to locate promptly any Standing Order that he may desire to consult. For the further assistance of honorable senators an analysis of the various Standing Orders is embodied in another nine pages. We are all liable to err, but prompt action is always taken to keep honorable senators within the limits of the Standing Orders. Apparently, because of the visit to Australia of the American Fleet, the Government desire to pass through all its stages an amendment of the Navigation Act. Very few acts have occupied the time of the Senate for so long a period as did the Navigation Act. It must be remembered that the seamen are not the only persons who are affected by the provisions of that act. It affects also the ship-owners and the travelling public, as well as the sea-borne commerce of the Commonwealth. Any one who Has followed the endeavours by seamen in all countries to better their conditions must have been struck with the fact that at all times they have had a very strenuous existence. It has been said that the conditions of the seamen on the Australian coast, are equal to, and in some cases better than, those obtaining in any other part of the world. They should be. In the opinion of the seamen, however - and they are the best judges in the matterthose conditions are not so good as they should be. Some little while ago a powerful morning newspaper referred to one of the seamen as the leader of a revolution to secure ham and eggs for breakfast. Imagine the impudence of this well-fed, well-groomed, well-paid editor, criticizing the action of one not so well favoured, although built of the same material as he!
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– Anything which may affect the seamen can, I think, be properly reviewed in a discussion of this motion. I cannot see what urgency there can be for the introduction of an amendment of the Navigation Act. Had the Minister been able to show that there was urgency, the position would have been entirely different from what it is now. He was particularly careful not to give any indication of the nature of the urgency, excepting to say that the American Fleet was visiting Australia. I fail to see any connexion between the arrival, the departure, or the entertainment of the American Fleet and the Navigation Act.
– Did not the Minis ter distinctly state that the matter was urgent because of the adjournment that is proposed on account of the visit of the American Fleet to Australia?
– I did not hear him say that.
– The Minister said that the adjournment over the fleet festivities made the matter an urgent one.
– The Minister may have intended to say that, but he did not do so.
– He did!
– I do not deny that he said it. But what is of greater concern to me is, why the necessity to suspend the Standing and Sessional Orders? Does the Minister think that he is acting fairly in attempting, with the aid of honorable senators who support him; to force this measure through the Senate. That method of doing business may be all right in a place like Italy, and may eventually be adopted in Australia. It may have some good points in its favour, but if the tables were turned, and Labour had a majority in the Senate, those who are now supporting the Ministry would from these benches strenuously oppose a proposal to suspend the Standing Orders for the purpose of enabling the Government of the day to put the whole of the principles of the Labour platform on the statute-book in one act. If the present Government wants to force legislation through without adequate notice, and fair discussion, I can only presume that if a change of government takes place members of the present administration will raise no serious objection to their successors following the example that is now being set. I do not sav that two wrongs make a right, but there will at least be some justification if such a thing is done. Our Standing Orders are ouch that honorable senators frequently come into conflict with them, but they are framed for our guidance. I realize that Senator Pearce is perfectly in order in asking ‘ that the Standing Orders be suspended, so that his proposed amendment of the Navigation Act can be dealt with almost without discussion.
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension. The Leader of the Government is asking only for the suspension of so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay. The rest of the Standing and Sessional Orders will remain intact.
– I understand, of course, that if this motion is carried, honorable senators will not be prevented from opposing the bill to the best of their ability, but it is to be regretted that the Minister did not take us more into his confidence and point out the reasons for thealleged urgency. If he had shown us that something of an extraordinarycharacter necessitated this departure from the usual method of procedure, I am sure honorable senators would have been reasonable enough to give him a square deal. But he has not done so, and I enter my emphatic protest against the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders for this particular purpose.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) (3.54]. - I will support the Minister, Senator Pearce, in hie proposal to avail himself of what the Standing Orders already provide for, namely, their suspension in a case of urgency. Later on, 1 shall refer to the merits of the case of urgency, but, in the meantime, I direct the attention of honorable senators who have already spoken to certain facts that stick out in the history of this country in the immediate past, and which are, I think, relevant to this debate. It is quite possible that those honorable senators who advocate a policy of “ going slow “ in the matter of legislation cannot get out of the habit thev formed when this Parliament went slow with the passing of thf* Navigation Act. It went so slow that it took seven years to complete the task, just about as long as it took Noah to build his ark; and when it was completed it was found, according to some authorities, to be so imperfect that it needed immediate amendment. Applying to this legislation the test of care, scrutiny, and consumption of time in its passage, it is by no means a work of perfection. Consumption of time not having led to perfection, is there any risk in using another expedient, and in seeing what effect expedition will have? There is, however, a superadded reason why the course proposed by Senator Pearce should be adopted. I presume that Senator Findley read his newspaper this morning. He could not glance at it without seeing that the community is living on the verge of a veritable volcano, and that we are within striking distance of having thousands, if not scores of thousands, of people thrown out of work. Any one with a grain of imagination can see it. The gauntlet has been tossed clown, but it is’ evidently of no concern to Senator Findley. He will not pick up the glove, but says, “Wait and see.” I think’ we have seen enough, borne enough, and suffered enough to warrant us in saying that the time has arrived for something to be done in the nature of the proposal Senator Pearce has put before us.
– What is proposed to be done?
- Senator Findley was a prominent member of the Government that helped to pass the Navigation Bill, and if he does not see the bearing which, that most important piece of legislation has on the existing situation I am afraid I cannot enlighten him. I can only think that he has not had time to consider the situation or the serious effect it is likely to have on every well-disposed citizen. Does the honorable senator want to keep the wheels of industry running smoothly? Does he want to see the ordinary progress of the country maintained? Or, on the contrary, does he want to see hundreds of men thrown out of work and placed on the verge of starvation through the action taken by some wild and unreasonable individuals in the community? It is time these wild and unreasoning individuals were brought to their bearings and relieved of the responsibility they have too long assumed in running the affairs of this country. It is time that slow, lumbering and patient element in the community known as the majority asserted itself, and the law of the. country, and the Government now proposes that the law shall be asserted. We have not yet got back to that chaotic stage when every man by the use of a thorny club made the law as he went along. Society in this Commonwealth of ours is ruled by law. Australia is a lawabiding community.
– The Minister has not yet explained the object of the bill. The honorable senator is speaking from guess-work.
– No; he was at the caucus meeting to-day.
– All I have to guide me is what I saw in this morning’s and yesterday’s newspapers. I saw in them a declaration plainly given by a number of people who exercise a very great power in this country, so great a power that’ their actions have not been questioned. In certain circumstances they seem to have supreme control over state governments. At any rate that is so in Western Australia. But that is by the way. I am trying to uphold the action taken by the Minister for the suspension of the Standing Orders, because he proposes to do what any community would do to safeguard its interests. Has Senator Findley never heard of the Standing Orders being suspended before? Obeying my leader, as I am always in the habit of doing, I have time after time followed Senator Findley meekly and decilely across the floor of the Senate to vote for the suspension of the Standing Orders when he held office in a Labour Government. I never questioned the decision of my leaders. But now the honorable senator has stepped from the ministerial bench to another seat of authority in the chamber, not perhaps so important, but yet of considerable importance, and he takes a different view of such action. The country benefits by having a strong Opposition, watchful of every proposal and every action of the Government, because only by that means can Ministers be kept in their proper place. We are all subject to audit. Ministers are watched by other Ministers and by every honorable senator. Honorable senators are watched in turn by the electors, and the electors watched by “ old necessity ; and it is just as well that we should have an Opposition to fulfil its traditional role - but always within reasonable and rational limits - of keeping a close scrutiny upon the proposals and actions of the Government. Senator Findley thinks that the present proposal is a ninth world-wonder, but he must have read this morning’s papers. He is one of the watchdogs of democracy, one of the leaders of public opinion, one of the moulders of political thought. He must know that the country is to-day in one of the most critical industrial positions it has ever reached.
– Hear, hear !
– Senator Findley refuses to see the cloud on the horizon, but Senator Hannan knows that the position is- so threatening and so desperate for every well-affected citizen that it is time wa paused. Would it not have been better for Senator Findley to say that he believed’ the action of the Minister was thoroughly justified, that the country was in danger, and that it was on the eve of a desperate upheaval at the instance of men not actually in authority, but arming themselves with an authority, and seeking against the advice of the leaders of democracy to bring the industry and commerce of the country to a dangerous level, and to such a state of confusion that no end of distress and hardship may result? But Senator Findley will not admit this. Senator Hannan was manly enough to cheer my statement that the country was cai the eve of a most desperate condition. The suspension of Standing Orders is not a ninth world-wonder. Motions for their suspension have been moved in this chamber over and over again, and if we look farther afield we find that other bodies have resorted to the practice. Will Senator Findley say that the authorities at the Trades Hall do not suspend standing orders ? He remains silent. He knows that it has been done in the past, and that it is being done at the present moment. The fact is that the Trades Hall has under its rules the power that this Senate possesses, namely, the power when the necessity arises to brush aside the Standing Orders in order to permit of a question of paramount importance being discussed. Therefore, when Senator Findley objects to the Government doing what his party has done in the past, and which it is doing now, I ask him to allow some semblance of consistency here with what his party is -doing outside. Comparisons are said to be odious, but they serve a most useful purpose, enabling one to judge the qualities of men as one distinguishes between the diamond and the- counterfeit stone. Senator Findley regards the present’ proposal as an unusual thing, but I repeat that the Government is merely adopting a practice that is followed at the Trades Hall. Does Senator Barnes dispute it ?
– I shall tell the honorable senator later on.
– I ask the honorable senator whether we should not treat the matter as a serious one? I point out that a serious position cannot be met by ordinary means. Extraordinary means, such as the present proposal, have to be adopted. I notice in this afternoon’s issue of the Melbourne Herald a statement showing that the course the Government proposes to adopt in. this case is to be followed by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. This paper does not print anything that I say. But that does not matter. There is a freemasonry amongst the Melbourne newspapers, and if you offend one you offend them all. The old world tyranny was nothing to the tyranny of these “ rags.” I pick up this paper, and on a page which bears no number, but is stamped “ Late City,” and bears a red star, which certainly looks ominous, and on that account ought to be accepted as a standard authority.
– Order! A red star in the
Herald has nothing to do with the question under discussion.
– “What the Government now proposes to do has been done, according to this report, at the temple at which mv honorable friends opposite must kneel, almost with bared feet. The paragraph reads -
Contrary to custom, the Melbourne Trades Hall Disputes Committee has not yet summoned a conference of the unions likely to be concerned. This action is expected to-morrow or on Friday. To-morrow night the suspension of standing orders will be moved at the meeting of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, to enable the position to be discussed, and the executive of the Council is expected to submit a report on the matter.
– Due’ notice has been given.
– That quotation does not suit the honorable senator’s argument.
– It is obvious that a meeting is to be held post haste at the Trades Hall, and I advise honorable senators opposite to go there post haste and object to the suspension of the Standing Orders, just as they do in the chamber. Let them oe consistent, for they will find that consistency pays best. I ask Senator Needham to justify his attitude. The honorable senator cannot face east and west at the same time.
– I can stand up to Senator Lynch anywhere and on any subject ; make no mistake about that.
– We have all this make-believe about the objection on the part of honorable senators opposite to the suspension of the Standing Orders, but these champions of independence would not dare to assert themselves in the same way at the Trades Hall. If they did they would be shown the door, and curses would be sent after them. But because there are no penalties to be incurred for their utterances in this chamber they are prepared to have a free fling here and trifle with the best interests of this country, which has been so good to them.
– The Trade Union movement is responsible for the goodness of the country.
– I admit that some of the Labour men have contributed to it. I fail to see what good can come from objection to the motion. If it is carried honorable senators opposite will still be able to speak at as great a length as they will be if it be rejected. Their chief qualification is their willingness to speak on all occasions.
– This motion gives them an additional day to talk.
– And an additional night, too. Has there ever been such an episode in the history of this Parliament? By the time the people responsible for the impending disaster have executed their purpose, and succeeded in dragging others behind them, what will be the position of affairs in Australia? The very men and women who sent Labour members here will be the first to suffer. The Government and its supporters wish to save the Seamen’s Union from its folly. I know that it is a thankless task to remind people of their plain duty to themselves and to the society of which they form a part, but I urge honorable senators opposite to cease their by-play and believe for once that there is a large, patient element in the community watching their behaviour as well as mine. Already that element outside has suffered too long, and it is for the purpose of alleviating the position to some degree that the Government has submitted the present motion as a preliminary proceeding. Do you want this country to be plunged into misery and degradation, because of your ill-fated beliefs that nothing is wrong? Of course you know what is happening. Why do you not speak the words that are in your hearts?
– Order 1 The honorable senator will please address the Chair.
– A little plain speaking does a world of good. I have benefited from it in the past myself, and I hope to do so in the future. I have never looked in a mirror and regarded myself as a paragon of perfection. I hope that I have some claim to humility. I am at a loss to discover the origin of the opposition to this motion, for I believe that bound up with it is the solution of the trouble. I consider that as events unfold themselves a chance will be. presented of better counsels prevailing.
– Perhaps the opposition to the motion will be withdrawn in view of the extract the honorable senator has read from the Herald.
– I hope so. I should like honorable senators opposite, who are my colleagues in the political field and my fellow citizens, to take the right step. You must see the folly of your opposition to the motion. If you do not-
– Order ! The honorable senator knows that it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders to address honorable senators in the second person. He must refer to them always in the third person.
– I shall endeavour, Mr. President, to obey your ruling. I do not know whether the action of honorable senators opposite will succeed or fail, but if the Standing Orders are not suspended and the impending storm breaks on this country, who will then be responsible for it? If, as a result of the action of the Opposition in this and in the other branch of the legislature, whose members have been elected as the custodians for the time being of public peace and order, and for that purpose alone, adequate steps are not taken to safeguard the interests of. the community, the Government will be condemned for standing idly by and not applying a remedy. Unless a remedy is found, there will be an end to law in the community. I do not stand for anarchy. We should respect the law and see that its chief custodians are supported.’ ‘ I hope most earnestly that honorable senators opposite will withdraw .’their’ ‘opposition, recognizing that a frank admission that they have acted ‘ foolishly would ‘ be commendable. Nothing receives the applause of the multitude more’ than the action of a man who is prepared in time to recant and say that he has done wrong. Such a man will always rise to the top; but the man who says that he has never sinned, that he has done no wrong, will always go down; and rightly so. It requires moral courage - a quality which I believe that Senator Barnes possesses - to ‘say “I am wrong.” Duty, duty all the time, as Mazzini said. He placed duty on a high pedestal. Let me appeal to Senator Barnes’s’ sense of duty. Even at this fiftyninth minute of this eleventh hour let him say that he is mistaken in supporting the Deputy Leader of his party on this’ occasion. Let him say that, as a citizen of this country, he will raise his voice on ‘behalf of the people, and issue a warning to those misguided people who, if they fail to heed’ it, will bring disaster upon the country. The honorable senator oan do it. I. believe that he has the man liness to do so. Nothing appeals to me more than the independence of a man who invites all to array their forces against him. and is not afraid to utter the thoughts that well from his conscience. I admire the man who is prepared to say, “ These are the opinions that I hold; for them I stand, despite what the Trades Hall council or any other power on earth has decreed.” I believe that on this occasion the Standing Orders should -be suspended. I am not so simple as to imagine that by that means honorable senators opposite will be silenced ; they will’ see that their right to freedom of speech is exercised to the uttermost. I hope that honorable senators will not allow themselves to be manoeuvred into a false position. Had I not risen to offer this advice to Senator Barnes, he might at some future occasion say to me, ‘ ‘ Why did you not advise me on that occasion ? Why did you not say, ‘ Look here, Barnes, don’t you think that you are doing wrong ?’ “ It is because it is conceivable that in the days to come Senator Barnes will reproach me for not having advised him on this occasion that I have risen to appeal to him to change his mind while he has the opportunity, and thus save himself -from bitter remorse. ‘in the future. , I. have great respect- for the honorable senator personally, but not for his politics. ;
– It is nearly time that wo had from the honorable senator some argument in- support of the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, which, he says,” he favours.
– I realize that I was out of order, but I was appealing to Senator Barnes, and other senators, to change the attitude they have adopted, and to let this motion pass on the voices, so that it shall not be placed on record that they were associated with an effort to prevent the introduction of a measure to assist the country; that they were prepared to let their country be injured while they raised no hand or voice to help it. It is time that we attempted to do our duty, and to justify the great privileges which we enjoy as members of this Senate. Here, in this chamber, we have the privilege of expressing our opinions on many subjects; we should be prepared to speak what is in our minds, and nothing else. We do not employ” others to speak for us. Why has the Almighty given Senator Findley the powers with which he has endowed him, unless it be that he may express his own thoughts, and not merely do what his leader dictates. Here is the place, and now is the opportunity, for honorable senators to say what is in their minds. Let them here and now decide to act justly, call off the dogs of war, retrace their steps, and say that they are sorry. If they do that, I shall- forgive them.
– The omnipotent Lynch !
– And that is not a bad title. I shall support the motion, and hope that honorable senators who have expressed their intention of opposing it will see the folly of their way, and retrace their steps. By so doing they will show their willingness to act worthily of the great traditions of His Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber.’
.- I rise to speak against the motion. Although it is true that on many occasions it has been found necessary for the Senate to suspend the Standing Orders, as far as I can remember, the Minister moving the motion has oh every occasion taken honorable senators into his confidence, informed them of the reason for his proposed action, and given them some indication cif the nature of the amendments to be . brought forward . Honorable senators have already referred to the fact that the Navigation Act. was placed upon the statute-book only after very full consideration; and that, even after it had obtained the approval of both Houses of Parliament, several years elapsed before the royal assent was obtained, and the legislation put into operation. When we consider those circumstances, and then call to mind the circumstances existing at present in the shipping industry, we must seriously consider what should be done. Those who constitute the Parliament of a country are supposed to have special ability to deal with great issues, such . as that now agitating the minds of the people of Australia.’ If that be true, surely we should not be the first to rush in, looking for a fight. Seeing that the ship-owners and the seamen have been see-sawing, negotiating, and also, unfortunately, uttering words which radoubtedly are unwise, it is not for us to interfere before it is necessary. It is their own fight, and as yet Parliament has no place in it.
Senator Lynch read from the Herald a statement that the Melbourne Trades Hall Council to-morrow would move the suspension of its standing orders. That is a matter of importance, as the council represents 250,000 workers in Victoria.
– We, in this Senate, represent 2,000,000 electors of Australia.
– That may be so, but we are not all in touch with the forces in the industrial world. Some of us are, but Senator Lynch evidently is not. He said that certain things which are contemplated in this chamber were also contemplated by the’ Melbourne Trades Hall Council. Nothing of the kind ! Before the Melbourne Trades Hall Council adopted that course, reasons for the suspension of the standing orders would be given, as well as proper notice of the intention to move in that direction. Had the Minister given us an indication of the nature of the amending bill, and provided Opposition members with an opportunity to study it, he would have been acting in a- proper manner, and could, with reason, have asked that the measure be passed through this chamber without unnecessary delay. It was only after a long fight (hat the Navigation Act was placed on the statute-book. Among its provisions is one embodying the White Australia policy. It might be that the Government now proposes to attack that principle, and to provide that vessels employing black labour may engage in our coastal and interstate trade to the detriment not only of the seamen of this country, but of the ship-owners also.
– Are Australian ships running at the present time?
– I am sorry to say that they are not, and I am very concerned whether the action of the Government will assist to make them run. The Prime Minister in another place a short time ago remarked that we. should be careful about interfering in delicate matters. There are people in Australia who know more about this shipping dispute (ban does Senator Lynch, but they have sufficient sense not to run in with a big stick and bludgeon every one. Senator Lynch has thought fit to deliver a lecture to Senator Findley and myself and others who were in the Labour movement before he came to this country, and are in it still. We stand for white labour in Australia, while Senator Lynch advocates black labour. Yet the honorable senator presumes to lecture me. There are capable men on both sides in this dispute who, in all probability, are now cudgelling their brains to find a way out. They are prepared to go to the limit of what their respective sides can do to deal with thi3 dispute in a way that will give them a reasonable chance of settling it honorably. Seeing that I am the president of an association containing 120,000 men in this country - all good fighters when the necessity arises - I might be excused if I were presumptuous enough to say that I would be one pf the last to attempt to interfere in a coercive manner in a matter of this kind. I believe that it is the right and privilege of every prominent member of the community who is in the full possession of his senses, whether he be in this Parliament or in the industrial or shipping world, to place his services at the disposal of his country to ensure peace in industry. We want nolectures from Senator Lynch, as we know more about the position than he does. Unlike Senator Elliott, I have not had the honour of taking a part in the battles of the Empire, but I have been in almost every industrial fight in Australia during the last 30 years. I do not want any one to tell me what I should do or say ; I object to such lectures. We on this side object to the Minister’s proposal because we are fearful that the Government will try to do on this occasion what was done under the War Precautions Act, when so many in this Senate were misled. While I am a member of this Parliament I am not going to agree to anything of the kind. I seriously ask the Government to re-consider its proposal, and to give effect to its intentions in another and what I consider to be the constitutional way. If they did that, it would probably avoid the trouble that must naturally arise if action is taken in the direction indicated by the Minister. I trust that wiser counsels will prevail. We should not in this Chamber start a conflict over the shipping dispute which will extend far beyond the precincts of this Chamber; in fact, all over the Commonwealth. It should not be said that as your side is fighting ours will fight also. An earnest endeavour should be made to settle the dispute, and thus enable industry to be carried on in a manner satisfactory to all parties.
Senator GIBBS (New South Wales) mitted by the Minister (Senator Pearce) with a good deal of diffidence, as this is the first occasion on which I have spoken in this Chamber. I therefore trust honorable senators will bear with me if I do not comply in every detail with the established custom of the Senate. As the debate proceeds the more perplexed I become. The Minister indicated that the motion was submitted in consequence of the approaching visit of the American Fleet.
– No, in consequence of the adjournment proposed in connexion with the visit of the fleet.
– The Minister referred to the arrival of the fleet.
– Yes, and the proposed adjournment in consequence of its visit.
– It appears to me that the motive underlying the motion is that given to the Senate by Senator Lynch. Everyone is well aware that an industrial crisis is pending, and I am very much afraid that the amendment of the Navigation Act, as proposed, will not have the results anticipated. The Navigation Act, I understand, contains approximately 425 sections, and I should like to know which of these sections it is proposed to amend. Is it the intention of the Government to amend the act so far as it relates to the restrictions imposed upon men who go down to the sea in ships. Does it propose to interfere with the operations of ship-owners engaged in Australian costal trade, or is it intended to place employees aboard those ships who have not complied with the conditions laid down in the Navigation Act? If it is the intention to amend the act inany of these directions I shall most emphatically protest.
– Has not society some claim in the matter?
– Order ! The honorable senator should be allowed to proceed without interruption.
– We are grateful to Senator Lynch for the kindly feelings he displays towards honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Personally, I am grateful to him for pointing out the evil of our ways, but let me assure the honorable senator that we have nothing whatever to fear from the people of Australia in the opposition we are showing to the proposal to amend the Navigation Act, which was passed after strenuous discussion and lengthy debate, and which was acclaimed from one end of the country to the other when it became law. Senator Lynch said that in consequence of the pending industrial crisis the Standing Orders should be suspended to enable a bill to be introduced to amend the Navigation Act. From that I assume he believes that an amendment of that act will be the means of preventing an industrial crisis. Let me assure Senator Lynch that such will not be the case, and that the suspension of those provisions which protect the rights of seamen working on the Australian coast will bring about an even greater industrial crisis than that which is at present feared. I am firmly convinced that the whole of the trouble referred to by Senator Lynch could have been avoided if the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) had displayed a little more tact, instead of informing the members of a deputation from New South Wales that a stage had now been reached when the dispute had to be fought to a finish. The right honorable gentleman should have indicated his willingness to intervene and brim* about a conference between the parties concerned. Even at this stage I feel that it is not too late to prevent an industrial upheaval. All that is necessary is for the Prime Minister to intimate to the ship-owners throughout Australia and to the employees’ representatives that it is his intention to convene a round-table conference at which all the cards of the opposing factions can be placed on the table. If that is done I believe that the present industrial trouble will be settled in a short time. If the act is amended - I presume that such amendments can only be for the purpose of endeavouring to prevent an industrial crisis being precipitated - in the way which the Government believe is necessary to prevent a crisis, it can only be done by amending section 39 of Division VI., which provides that seamen must serve a certain time before the mast before the.y can be employed on coastal vessels. Amendments can only be made in that direction or in the manner suggested by Senator Barnes, so that overseas steamships may engage in the interstate coastal trade. That would mean the abrogation of our White Australia policy, because the ships which would engage in such trade are in most cases manned by coloured labour. That is a proposal which I, as an Australian born citizen, strongly resent, particularly in view of the strenuous efforts made prior to the introduction of the Navigation Act to protect Australian seamen from the competition of coloured labour. I earnestly trust that the Government will review the situation which has arisen in consequence of the Minister’s expressed intention to suspend the Standing Orders, and that he will permit the amending bill to come before the Senate in the customary manner. It is to be hoped that he will not regard the measure as a matter of urgency, but will allow it to be dealt with as are other bills. If that is done honorable senators will have a proper and reasonable opportunity to debate the bill clause by clause, and we shall then know that the measure has been passed after due deliberation and the utmost consideration of the importance of its provisions.
.- Practically every honorable senator who bas opposed the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders appear to be fully conversant with the provisions of the bill to be submitted. I am not officially aware of the contents of the measure- to be presented, but when we remember that during the last two years a royal commission has been inquiring into the operation of the Navigation Act as it affects Australian trade and ascertaining how existing anomalies can be rectified, apparently the time to introduce amendments to that act is overdue. As honorable senators are aware three distinct recommendations have been made, and judging by the reports of the commission there is an urgent need to amend the act. A number of questions have been asked in this chamber and in another place concerning the introduction of an amending Navigation Bill more in keeping with existing conditions, and the Government apparently realize that the time is now opportune for certain amendments to be made. During a recent visit to New Guinea of the Public Accounts Committee, the representatives of the commercial community and those responsible for the administration of that territory brought under the notice of the committee the fact that trade was considerably hampered in consequence of the operation of the Navigation Act. Prior to the visit to New Guinea of the Public Accounts Committee the Navigation Commission also took evidence from representative authorities in that territory, who forcibly stated that its trade and commerce were seriously hampered and that the whole of the shipping business of New Guinea was being forced under the control of one company. Complaints have also been made by the people of other distant parts of Australia that certain sections of the Navigation Act are affecting them adversely. They have pointed out that, without destroying those provisions which give protection to the seamen, alterations could be made with advantage in certain directions. It is surprising to hear honorable senators opposite endeavouring to forecast the contents of the proposed bill. They may be right, or they may be wrong, in their conjectures. Every honorable senator is anxious to know what the bill contains, so that he can decide whether to support or oppose it. All that the Minister (Senator Pearce) has asked is that certain obstacles should be removed to enable the work of the Senate to be expedited.
– Why is the honorable senator “ stone- walling “ the motion ?
– I strongly resent that remark, which I regard as grossly offensive, and I ask for its withdrawal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - As Senator Foll has objected to the remark, I ask Senator Hannan to withdraw it.
– I withdraw.
– Senator Hannan was for many years an honorable member of another place as the representative of an important city constituency. During that time he probably voted for the suspension of the Standing Orders on many occasions when the Leader of the Government of which he was a supporter moved in that direction. The Standing Orders of the Senate should be the servants of honorable senators. They have been framed merely for our convenience. If it is found that certain of them at times impede the progress of business, it is constitutional, sound, and logical to take act-ion to suspend them. Had the Min ister not given an explanation of his desire to have the Standing Orders suspended, or had he asked for the suspension of the whole of the Standing Orders, every honorable senator would have strongly objected.
– ‘He gave good and sufficient reasons for the action that he asked the Senate to take.
– That is so. During the time that Senator Payne was Treasurer in a Tasmanian Government he probably asked the House of Assembly in that state frequently to adopt this course to expedite business. I think that Senator Pearce gave good and sufficient reasons for the suspension of our Standing Orders. He stated that it is desired to introduce a bill to amend the Navigation Act. Several honorable senators opposite, very unfairly I think, misrepresented his remarks. He stated that the reason for the urgency is that the Government desires Parliament to rise at the end of this week to enable members to join in giving a welcome to our cousins from overseas.
– The Minister did not say that.
– I listened very carefully to what he said, and that is the impression which .his remarks left on my mind. That is not an unreasonable request. Is there one honorable senator who does not desire to extend the hand of welcome to the officers and men of the American Fleet ? Is there one who is not anxious to do his part in cementing the friendship that exists between the two countries? Honorable senators opposite have jumped to the conclusion that the proposed legislation relates to the unfortunate shipping trouble that appears to be imminent, and which I think every honorable senator desires should be avoided. I know that the proposed measure will have some bearing on that .disturbance. I was surprised to hear Senator Barnes say that he, as the president of an organization embracing 120,000’ workers, would not presume to interfere in a dispute between the Seamen’s Union and the ship-owners. Thousands of the members of the honorable senator’s organization will suffer, and many of their wives and little ones will go hungry if the dispute extends, yet the honorable senator says that he would be loth to intervene in the dispute. There is too much of the attitude of non-interference shown by men who are elected te the leadership of industrial organizations.
– Senator Barnes stated why he would not interfere.
– He forgot that others besides the seamen and the ship-owners will be affected. He loses sight of the fact that thousands of men in his own. union, and their wives and children, will probably suffer if this is allowed to go on. It was a most surprising statement for the president of the Australian Workers Union to make, that although he represents 120,000 organized workers, all likely to suffer badly as a result of the impending dispute, he would stand aside, and make no effort to bring about peace. T think that most of the trouble existing in Australia at the present time is due to. the fact that “men placed in responsible posiions by the votes of unionists do not exert their influence in the direction of bringing about industrial peace instead of turmoil. I was very pleased to notice the effort made by the transport group in New South Wales to see that the shipping of Australia was not held up, and their declaration that they would not. stand for job control, but would try to see that the seamen did not throw thousands of other unionists out of work. t Senator Grant. - What did the Prime Minister say about fighting to a finish ?
– The Prime. Minister pointed out that at that juncture the dispute lay between certain sections of the community, and the Commonwealth Government had not been brought officially into it. While I give credit to the transport group for the action taken by it, I know perfectly well that the unionists will very often listen to honorable senators opposite when they will not listen to honorable senators supporting the Government. If honorable senators opposite would only bestir themselves, get among the workers’ organizations, and help to run them, instead of allowing a few irresponsible individuals to do so - if they would only take a greater interest in the industrial side of the Labour mo’/ement. instead of concentrating on the political side - they would be a great power for good, and their efforts would tend to bring about a better condition of affairs than exists at the present time. But. with trouble looming ahead- at the present time, we do not find these honorable senators and their friends getting out among those who are likely to be affected. On the contrary, we find them busy in this Parliament seeking to make political capital out of the trouble, and using it as ammunition to fire at the Government. I venture to say that they could, if they chose, do more to prevent the impending trouble from coming to a head than could any other section of the community. And if they did so they would earn the appreciation of every person in the Commonwealth, irrespective of his political belief. Their political opponents would be the first to congratulate them on having brought the matter to a successful issue.
– Ask the Prime Minister to intervene. He has his Government behind him, and he has more power than a thousand- of us put together.
– The honorable senator takes up a peculiar attitude. Honorable senators opposite claim that they are the only sound representatives of the working class in this country, and that they alone represent the trade unionists, yet the honorable senator declares that a Nationalist Prime Minister has a thousand times more power and influence among the unionists than he- and the alleged working-class representatives possess. It bears out my contention that we on this side of the chamber more truly represent the democracy of- Australia than do honorable senators opposite. I believe the people of Australia recognize this, and I am sure they will continue to do so. more particularly after the admission by Senator Hannan.
– The honorable senator meant that the Prime Minister had much more power among the ship-owners, and that he could have settled this dispute in a very short time.
– While I thank Senator Gibbs for the interpretation he has placed on Senator Hannan’s intersection, and while it might be more common sense than the interjection itself, nevertheless I must take the interjection and not the interpretation as conveying Senator Hannan’s intention.
– Make an appeal to the Government to intervene, and you will be affording a public service.
– No one on this side of the chamber is anxious to have an industrial dispute. Every one in the community knows what it means, and it is useless for the honorable senator to put up a smoke screen in. an endeavour to throw the onus for the trouble on the present Government.
– The onus is absolutely on the Government.
– It is a smoke screen or a piece of camouflage that will have no effect. The people of this country are too wide awake to stand any nonsense of that sort. Senator Hannan and his colleagues know that the trouble in the case of the Seamen’s Onion has been brought about by the bad leadership of the union. I venture to say that not one honorable senator opposite considers that this country is gaining by having men of the type of Mr. Walsh or Mr. Johannsen in charge of this union. Were it possible to put the case fairly and squarely before the Seamen’s Union and take a plebiscite, the result would show that the views of the majority are not in accord with the policy preached by Mr. Walsh or Mr. Johannsen, who claim to represent the seamen. Generally speaking, the bulk of the members of the union are away at sea, and know very little of what is going on. When they come to port, they find that instructions and orders have been issued by the president, secretary, and executive of the union; and, of course, like good unionists, they loyally abide by them. I was very much impressed the other night by a remark made by Senator Ogden, that the Seamen’s Union, as a result of the actions of its officials, had become very unpopular among the other unions of Australia. The attitude taken tip by the wharf lumpers, the stewards, and the members of the other kindred unions in the transport group is ample proof that they are not satisfied with the way in which the affairs of the Seamen’s Union have been carried on by men of the type I have mentioned. If honorable senators opposite would only speak the truth, they would say that no one would be more pleased than themselves to see Mr. Walsh and Mr. J Johannsen deported ; because then the country would have some peace. But honorable senators opposite are not game enough to say what they think. I appeal to those who claim to be in close touch with the unions of Australia to go out among the rank and file of the unions and tell them the true position. I appeal to them to make a move -as far as they possibly can in the direction of peace. Tf they do so thev will be supported by every honorable senator on this side of the chamber. I sincerely trust that as the result of this debate they will alter their opinion in regard to the suspension of the Standing Orders, and I hope (hat when a vote is taken the motion will be agreed to.
.- Any proposal to suspend the Standing Orders should be seriously considered. It is not an uncommon practice in this or any other Parliament to suspend Standing Orders, but I think on this occasion that the Government’ have adopted the wrong attitude. To remove any doubt in the minds of honorable senators, let me say at once that I shall support the proposal of the Government for various reasons which I shall outline later, but I think it would have been better if on this occasion the Minister had taken more time, and first of all circulated the bill so that honorable senators of the Opposition would know exactly why the Government were seeking for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– The bill cannot be circulated until it has been introduced.
– As a former state minister and member of a State Parliament for many years, I know that the Standing Orders are suspended on urgent occasions only. The Minister to-day has claimed that the position is sufficiently urgent that he is justified in asking the Senate to take this course. Are the circumstances so urgent? It is useless, as Senator Foll expressed it, to camouflage the position, or put up smoke screens. We know that Australia is threatened with one of the greatest industrial upheavals that has struck it for many years. I say this with a great deal of regret. On the one hand we have a very small section of workers, in defiance of other organizations, declaring war on the community. The effects of industrial war are in some cases no less severe upon the people generally than those of real war. Undoubtedly this is an urgent matter. No honorable senator will deny industrial rights to the workers. I have been a member of a trade union most of my life, but the members of one industrial organization are not entitled to declare war against all their fellow industrialists. It is the duty of the Government and of every public man to look first to the safety of the country and the welfare of its citizens. If the impending industrial trouble comes to the worst, drastic measures may be necessary. I am particularly interested in this matter, since I am one of the representatives of Tasmania, which feels the effects of shipping upheavals much more acutely than the mainland states. Although the Seamen’s Union has generously decided that the ships plying between Tasmania and the mainland shall be run for the present, if supplies are stopped the people of Tasmania will soon be short of the necessaries of life, thousands of workers will be thrown out of employment, and industry there will be at a stand-still. It is the Government’s duty to preserve law and order, aud see that the essential services of the country are maintained. I have not the slightest hesitation in declaring that the Labour party, of which I am a member, is under an obligation to the community to speak when a Labour organization is considered to have acted in the wrong. Labour representatives in Parliament should tell industrial organizations when they are in the wrong, as well as praise them when they are in the right. The present trouble would have been settled some time ugo had it not been for the stand adopted by the Seamen’s Union. The transport group interviewed the Prime Minister and the ship-owners, but the seamen defied the other organizations, declared war, and gave notice of a strike, despite the negotiations that were proceeding. I believe that the ship-owners were prepared to negotiate for a settlement.
– The seamen not only gave notice of a strike, but also put it into operation.
– They gave seven days’ notice some time ago, and recently they gave 24 hours’ notice of their intention to leave their ships. By that act the union has become an outlaw against the industrial machinery set up by this Par.liamentmachinery for which Labour men and all sections of the community worked for years. If the seamen choose to become rebels under the leadership of Messrs. Walsh and Johannsen they must take full responsibility for their action. I want to know whether the other unions intend to support the seamen or the community, and whether they stand for law and order or for control by a small section of the community. I believe in rule by the majority. No small section should be permitted to interrupt the transport of passengers and goods, and bring distress upon the whole of the people. Is any Labour principle at stake? Has any attack been made upon the wages or other working conditions of the seamen ? Not at all. Their extreme action is merely an attempt to assert their power, and show contempt for the laws of the land. I do not know what the provisions of the bill are, but if I were in the position of the Government I should take power to suspend the ‘ coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, even if it were not immediately necessary to use it, so that in the event of certain occurrences the power would be available at a moment’s notice. In the face of the serious situation that now confronts Australia, any reasonable measures adopted by the Government should be agreed to by all honorable senators anxious to conserve the interests of the community. I do not propose to discuss the merits of the Navigation Act. Although I do not know what is contained in the bill, I intend to vote for the motion so that I shall be informed of the Government’s intention. If an attack is intended on any of the main principles of the Navigation Act I shall be found opposing it. But if it is merely proposed to suspend the coastal provisions to enable . communication to be maintained in the event of a great industrial upheaval, I am prepared to assist in giving the Government the power they need. I do not like to differ from my colleagues in the party in which I have worked for a quarter of a century, but when my conscience dictates that it is right for me to take my stand with honorable senators who support the Government I feel it incumbent upon me to do so. The repeal of the coastal provisions of the act would inflict hardship on not only the seamen, but also the shipowners whom it would hit with double force. The act provides for a greater monopoly and greater safeguards for the shipping companies than for the seamen. If there are faults on both sides in this dispute - and there may be - and the protection of the act is withdrawn, there will be a greater chance than now exists of arriving at an immediate and satisfactory solution. The suspension of the coastal provisions would cut both ways. It would allow the oversea boats to have a share in the coastal trade and it would prevent the seamen from being buttressed in their present stand by the protection which gives them a monopoly of employment in the coastal trade. As a Tasmanian I welcome the Government’s proposal to take this power. In a few months’ time there may. be a Labour Government in office, and it also would require power to protect the country’s interests in a case of emergency. I intend, therefore, to support the motion to enable me to ascertain what the Government proposes to do for the protection of the rights of the citizens. Out of consideration for the thousands of people who would be thrown out of work, and particularly for the women and children who would be caused untold hardship, I trust that wise counsels will prevail. The Government should have full authority to meet any situation that may arise.
.- Having listened attentively to the debate it seems to me that honorable senators who have opposed the motion have entirely misconstrued the object of the Minister in submitting this motion, and have failed to appreciate the need for adopting the course suggested. A Government that would not bring forward a motion of this character in a time of crisis, or when owing to an impending adjournment certain legislation requires to be enacted, would not be worthy of its position. I realize that the Standing Orders should not be suspended for trivial reasons, but, since the Minister has explained that the immediate passage of the bill is imperative owing to the proposed adjournment in honour of the visit of the American Fleet, I regard his reason for the motion . as sufficient. I assume that the bill will provide for an amendment of the Navigation Act in some important particulars in order to meet the needs of the com,munity. Even if I had no reason to believe that, I should certainly support the motion, since for a considerable period I have considered it necessary that certain important amendments should be made. Recently I had the honour of sitting at an inquiry held by a royal commission in regard to the effect of the Navigation Act on a certain portion of one of the territories over which the Commonwealth has .control, and I am well aware of the need for amendment of the act. For a considerable time Tasmanians have realized how detrimentally the act has operated. I am hopeful that this measure, which 1 feel confident will pass both Houses, will lift the cloud which has descended upon Tasmania because of the operation of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act. It has already been pointed out that Tasmania has suffered considerably because of those provisions. The last speaker . stated that, in his opinion, this bill is intended to deal with the present shipping dispute. I say that no Government is worthy to remain in . office if, when a crisis arises - as is the case to-day - it fails to take steps to deal with that crisis in the interests of the whole community. I agree with what has been said here to-day regarding the cruelty behind the contention that the interests of a small section of the community should be considered of more importance than the interests of the people as a whole. The dislocation of shipping must of necessity cause hardship to thousands of people who are not directly concerned in the dispute itself. Notwithstanding that we ‘ have, after long consideration, and the expenditure of enormous sums of money, provided machinery to deal with such a crisis as that which now confronts us, we find that these troubles occur with alarming regularity. For the last seven years similar disturbances have taken place at intervals. I have experienced some of the inconvenience and have seen the damage caused by the cessation of shipping communications. Whether or not the Government has in view a remedy for thi9 trouble I do not know, but I have had sufficient parliamentary experience to know that no Government would dare to bring forward a motion to suspend the Standing Orders in connexion with a trivial matter. It is only when it is essential, in view of the early close of the session, or because of some crisis, that such an action is justified. I have sufficient confidence in the personnel of the present Government to believe that the Minister would not bring forward this proposal without ample justification. I trust that honorable members opposite will give this matter very earnest consideration before the vote is taken. Some of them are not favorable to a dislocation of the transport services of Australia. They know from their personal experience that the members of the unions con- cerned are never consulted in these matters; that they have not been consulted in this case.
– They have been asked by the executive of the Seamen’s Union to fall in behind the seamen.
– They have not been asked by the majority of the mem- bers of the union to do so. Honorable senators know that in none of the troubles which have arisen in connexion with our shipping services between the mainland and Tasmania during the last six years, have the members of the unions been consulted. During the shipping strike of last year I conversed with many men who were unemployed as the result of it, but not one to whom I spoke believed in the strike. They went further, and said that the majority of the men in their unions were opposed to the stoppage of the shipping services. I asked them whether they did not believe in majority rule, and if they attended the meetings of their union. They replied in the affirmati ve to the first part of the question, but they said that they would not attend the union meetings because if they opposed the leaders they would be branded as “scabs” and “blacklegs.” I argued that the majority of the members who did not favour a strike should attend the meetings, and thus place the other side in a minority as the real “ scabs “ and “ blacklegs.” These troubles are forced on the people of Australia without the majority of the members of the union concerned having a voice in the matter. Yet we boast that, in this democratic land, the majority rules. The men who govern the destinies of the organization give the signal, and the men obey.
– They want to be a law unto themselves.
– I believe that the majority of the members of the union are looking for a’ leader who will distinguish between right and wrong, between democracy and autocracy. Some day that leader will arise. When he does the men who to-day are causing distress and misery in the community will find that their occupation has gone. I trust that that day may soon dawn. In the meantime I support the motion.
SenatorJ. B. HAYES (Tasmania) [5.41]. - I have pleasure in supporting the motion, as I regard the passing of legislation to amend the Navigation Act as a matter of urgency. Long before I entered this Parliament I realized that the Navigation Act needed amendment. I am, therefore, glad that the Government has thoughtfit to introduce a bill for that purpose. But why should we waste time in discussing a motion to enable the bill to be dealt with quickly? Why is it that in such an important matter honorable senators opposite areso desirous of adhering to the formal procedure ? The Government having considered the matter, decided that it was urgently necessary to amend that act; let us therefore deal with it at once. Senator Hoare asked why Government supporters “ flogged “ the motion to suspend the Standing Orders. I reply that we are hopeful that honorable senators opposite will yet be led to support it. If ever there was a time when the Navigation Act needed amending it is now. Thecrisis which has developed in the shipping industry has rendered it imperative that the existing legislation be altered. Because of an upheaval with which the majority of its people have had nothing to do, Tasmania is in danger of becoming isolated. I spent last week-end in Tasmania, and I know what even the rumours of a strike mean to the farmers there. To them stability in the shipping services means a great deal. They do not want to be dominated by the leaders of the seamen’s union, or any other union; all they ask is that the ships shall continue to ply between Tasmania and the mainland. I congratulate the Government on introducing a bill which has that as its object. In the north-west and north-east portions of Tasmania the potato growing industry provides employment for a number of people. In a good year that industry represents about £1,000,000 to the state. At the present time the potato growers of Tasmania have marketed about one half of their crop; because of this maritime dispute they are in danger of losing the balance of their crop, as they do not know whether they will be able to get it to market. I do not know what the details of the proposed bill are, but I am anxious that legislation shall be passed which will make more secure the position of these men. The farmer is a hard worker; he works harder and probably gets less for his labour than do the men now on strike. Unlike them, the farmer cannot take two or three weeks’ holiday whenever he likes, and still find himself in as satisfactory a position as before. If the farmers of Tasmania lose three or four weeks now it may mean the loss of a year’s work. This year, when a fair price is obtainable for their products, it is disheartening to find that, because of the shipping strike, their year’s work may go for practically nothing. With no cessation of the shipping services, potatoes on the coast of Tasmania will be worth £9 a ton and upwards for the rest of the season, but if the vessels cease running they will soon not be worth £5 a ton. It costs from £20 to £30 to prepare, plant, and harvest an acre of land with potatoes, and as they cannot be grown successfully in the same soil year after year, planning out the crop is necessary. Moreover, the land must be well cultivated and manured to obtain a satisfactory crop. Honorable senators surely must realize the position of these men when, because of something that Mr. Walsh, Mr. Johannsen, or some one else says, ruin faces them. If honorable senators saw the distress which even the rumour of a strike has caused, they would not hesitate to support the motion before us. The position of the fruit-growers in Tasmania is no better. As honorable senators know, Tasmania is a fruit-growing state, but to get the best results from that fruit, supplies must be forwarded to the various markets regularly during the greater part of the year. Unlike wheat, fruit cannot be hell indefinitely. A man who has reaped his wheat may either send it to market immediately, or hold it for six months. That cannot be done with fruit. It must be sold when it is ready, or it will rot. During the last six or seven years the fruit-growers of Tasmania have had a hard time. With them it has been a question, not of making profits, but of getting a sufficient return to carry on and pay the interest on their mortgages. With the threat of a strike overshadowing them, they do not know whether they will be able to pay their way, although this year, owing to the English market being rather good, they have done better than in previous years. It is necessary for them to reserve a considerable portion of their crops for the interstate market, so that the cessation of shipping communication with the mainland means the difference between success and failure for them. Yet they have had no part in causing the strike. The fruit-growing industry provides employment for a large number of persons, not only in the cultivation of the land, in the planting and protection of the trees, in the picking and packing of fruit, but also in the manufacture of spraying and other machinery used by every horticulturist. Large numbers are also engaged cutting timber in the bush for case-making and in the sawmills. Those employed in timber cutting experience conditions which would not for a moment be tolerated by the wharf labourers or seamen who, when they strike, do not pay any regard to the hardships imposed upon others who earn a living under worse conditions. This is a serious matter to the people of Tasmania, as every farmer and horticulturist in that state has already suffered considerably in consequence of the rumour of an impending maritime strike. If our shipping services are to be interfered with, and perishable produce cannot be expeditiously marketed, many of them will be faced with disaster. I congratulate the Government upon their decision to bring forward an amendment of the Navigation Act, and earnestly trust that it will be in such a form that those whose positions during recent years have been almost unbearable will be substantially relieved. I again ask honorable senators opposite to remember that there are workers who, without complaining, experience conditions which would not be tolerated” for a moment by the seamen or wharf labourers. Since they are endeavouring to prevent the introduction of an amendment of the Navigation Act, honorable senators opposite are apparently in favour of large numbers of industrious people being absolutely ruined. Tasmania, in consequence of its isolation, is in a more unfortunate position than any other state in the Commonwealth, as practically all of its produce has to be marketed on the mainland.
– Western Australia is also seriously affected.
– Yes, but the producers there are engaged principally in the growing of wheat, which is not a perishable product. Most of the Tas- manian produce is marketed in Sydney, and, consequently, if the vessels which carry it are to be tied up in the manner anticipated, a great injury will be inflicted upon defenceless people, who have absolutely no voice in such disputes. I trust the motion will be agreed to so that the Minister may have an opportunity to introduce the measure, which we trust will be a means of relieving the unfortunate position in which many people, particularly those in Tasmania, axe placed.
.- A good deal has been said at different times concerning an amendment of the Navigation Act, and only last week Senator J. D. Millen, in submitting a motion in relation to the Tasmanian shipping service, referred to the extreme inconvenience and expense experienced by the people of Tasmania in consequence of the repeated interruptions in the shipping services of that state. Senator Ogden has also had on the notice-paper for some time a motion relating to the position of Tasmania, and I understand that his proposed action in this connexion is supported by the Labour Government in that state. In view of all the circumstances, it is only right that the Senate should give the Minister an opportunity to introduce an amending bill. In common with other honorable senators, I wish to know exactly what is proposed, but I shall not have that opportunity until the motion we are now discussing is carried.
– Should not the Minister have outlined the principle provisions of the bill when he moved the suspension of the Standing Orders?
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) followed the usual procedure in asking the Senate to suspend the Standing Orders so that he could introduce an amending bill, and when he is permitted to do that he will be able to explain its provisions. Every honorable senator is aware that the impending industrial crisis will affect the welfare of the people of Australia.
– Could not the Government have met the position in some other way than by amending the Navi gation Act?
– I do not know what the Government propose. If the proposed amendments are, in my opinion, inadequate, I shall be prepared to go fur ther, and if I consider them too drastic I shall oppose them. Under existing conditions Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania are seriously affected.
– The Queensland sugar crop may be held up.
– Yes. As mentioned by Senator Greene, the Queensland sugar crop, which is at present being gathered, may be held up, and thousands of men employed on the plantations and in the sugar mills may be thrown out of employment. If our shipping services are dislocated the whole crop will have to be stored, at considerable inconvenience and at enormous cost to the growers. On one occasion when the sugar crop had to be stored damage amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds was caused in consequence of a storm. In addition the shipping services to Papua, Thursday Island, and Darwin would be affected by a strike, and the people in those places who are depending on the sea carriage of supplies would be in a most unfortunate position.. We should give the Minister an opportunity to move the second reading of the bill, and then debate the measure on its merits.
– A few days ago an honorable senator who is now supporting the motion referred to the dangers of amending the Navigation Act. That act, which was introduced in 1912, was not further considered until 1917. During the passage of the bill the members of the Labour party protected the interests of the seamen, and the act has been a benefit not only to the seamen, but, as Senator Ogden pointed out, also to shipowners engaged in the Australian trade. Prior to the passing of the Navigation Act interstate trade, which should have been handled by vessels employing Australian crews, was being carried by ships on which black labour was extensively employed. The Navigation Act has been of great benefit to the Australian people.
– Some of the people.
– Senator Ogden suggested that the suspension of certain sections of the act would facilitate interstate trade, but it would not mean anything of the kind. If certain sections were suspended and Australian produce was carried in vessels manned by coloured crews, the waterside workers would immediately cease to handle iti The whole of the transport workers would become involved and a greater upheaval would be caused than is facing Australia at the present time. The amendment of the Navigation Act will not give the Government a clear passage. It is the policy of the Government to stand behind the ship-owners and other big business interests. I do not blame it for doing so, because it relies upon the support of those interests.
– Does the honorable senator stand solidly behind the seamen?
– This is a question not of standing behind the seamen, but of standing behind the people of Australia. I can see in this’ action of the Government a danger to the White Australia policy. Honorable senators mustrealize how dangerous it would be to ‘ allow coloured crews to compete on the Australian coast with Australian seamen. Senator Lynch referred to the proposal by the Trades Hall Council to suspend the standing orders governing its procedure. He overlooked the fact that 24 hours’ notice of that intention was broadcast by the authorities at the Trades Hall. The Government did not give any notice of its intention to act in this way. It is contended by honorable senators opposite that we on this side are anxious to create further trouble. My answer to that is that the Labour party is anxious to follow the best conception of law, order and constitutional government. That is a part of its platform.
– The leaders of the Seamen’s Union do not express that opinion.
– The other day [ told the Senate where I and the Labour party stand. We hold no brief for those men. They do not belong to the Labour party, and they have always fought us.
– Why not throw them out?
– They are not a political organization and they do not belong to the political Labour party. What did certain honorable senators who now sit opposite do in 1912? In that year the Navigation Bill was before the Senate. When it became law they lauded themselves to tha trade unionists and received a pat on the back for the action they had taken. The “ glorious “ act that they then took credit for assisting to pass is now, in their eyes, very imperfect legislation. If it contains wrong principles to-day, they must have been wrong; then. If they were right then, the act should hot now be interfered with. The other day Senator Lynch said that he had found it necessary to change his opinions in order to make progress. Once a man was rewarded with 30 pieces of silver for changing his mind. Had the ‘great Robert Emmet altered his views during the progress of the fight that took place on behalf of Senator Lynch’s birthplace, the honorable senator would say that he was a traitor.
– I fought for that cause when the honorable senator was in petticoats.
– The honorable senator said that he changed because hewanted to progress.
– I did. not hide behind a bush, like some of the honorable senator’s push.
– On a point, of order, Senator Lynch has used an offensive expression, and I ask that he be made to withdraw it.
– As exception has been taken to the expression, I ask SenatorLynch to withdraw it.
– I withdraw.
– According to honorable senators opposite, the amendment of the Navigation Act will have the effect of bringing to an end the trouble that exists in the shipping world.. I do not think that it will. An amicable settlement will not be reached by actions like this. ‘ I do not see why we should fly in the face of the seamen, whether we agree or disagree with their attitude. The Navigation Act is very dear to them. It has protected them in the past, and they look to it to protect them in the future. We should seek a settlement of the dispute on lines different from those which are being followed by the Government. This will place in the hands of the seamen and others a whip with which to flog the Government.
– The honorable senator would not sue for peace to Mr. Walsh, would he?
– Mr. Walsh is the last person to whom we should look for peace. The Government is threatening Mr. Walsh with war, not offering peace. I do not contend that we should go to Mr. Walsh for anything, but I, and those who think as I do, are just as anxious as any honorable senator opposite to bring about industrial peace. Senator Ogden.has appealed for consideration to be shown to Tasmania. As is usual with him, in the one breath he claimed that it is the richest state in the Commonwealth, and in the next breath his argument meant that it is so poverty-stricken that the Commonwealth Government must go to its assistance. He emphasized the effect upon Tasmania of the amendment of the Navigation Act. I do not think that his hopes in that direction will be fulfilled. We should not allow boats that are manned by coloured crews to engage in the interstate trade of Australia. Those crews receive the “ magnificent” wage of10d. a day. We should endeavour to uphold the prestige of Australia, and maintain the high standard of living that we have reached. I intend to oppose the motion.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) - That the Senate do now divide - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1920.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I bring up the bill and move -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I point out, Mr. President, that honorable senators have not yet seen the bill.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator WILSON (South Australia-
Minister for Markets and Migration) [8.1]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a secondtime.
I shall confine myself as much as possible to the alterations of the principal act, which the Government feels to be essential in the present abnormal conditions. Only last week we had submitted in the Senate motions by Senator Ogden, of Tasmania, and Senator Lynch, of Western Australia, bearing upon the prejudicial effect of the Navigation Act upon the trade of their respective states.
– That dealt with the necessity for the Government to give an undertaking that there would be continuity of transport facilities between the mainland and Tasmania, which cannot be reached except by water. The many differences that the Seamen’s Union has had with the shipping companies culminated on the 4th June in the union being deregistered by the Arbitration Court. Many years were spent in building up our arbitration system in order that all sections of the community might have the protection of the court, and so thatthe wheels of industry might be kept running. But the seamen’s representatives now say to the ship-owners, “ We are deregistered, and our award is cancelled, but if you do not give a written undertaking that you will observe the conditions of the cancelled awards, we shall tie up all your ships.” The ship-owners on the other hand, have declared in effect, “ We are quite prepared to observe the existing conditions on board our ships, but we refuse to be bludgeoned into signing an agreement to embody in our articles the terms of a cancelled award.” There is a third party to this dispute. I refer to the people of this country.
– They are not in the picture.
– The Government feels that they ought to be. It realizes that these people have a right to expect it to prevent any section from taking the law into its own hands. Through the medium of the arbitration laws the Government will assist the seamen, but their union has refused to have anything; more to do with the awards of the Arbitration Court. In these circumstances it is veryencouraging to find, in spite of the statements made in this chamber thisafternoon, that many trade unions still hold the view that the Arbitration Court should be upheld, and that the stand adopted by the Seamen’s Union is not suited to the times in which we live. The Navigation Act confers many privilegeson those engaged in the Australian coastal trade, and I am sure that honorable senators will admit that in no other part of the world are conditions to be found equalling those enjoyed by Australian seamen. We are told now by the leaders of the Seamen’s Union that they do not want the Arbitration Court and the protection that it has given them, but that they are going to force their own terms on the community. Speaking for myself, I maintain that the stand taken by the unions in New South Wales who undertook to police the Seamen’s Union, wa9 fraught with great danger. No union has the right to police another union, except through the medium of the law. I heard the statement made this afternoon that the Prime Minister had said that this was to be a fight to a finish. The Prime Minister has never made such an assertion. He advised the union what to do, and he is willing to assist it to reorganize and brins; itself into harmony with the laws of the country.
The Government hopes, by this small but very important bill, to place itself in a position to deal with the serious situation that has arisen. It asks, under it, for the suspension of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act which are covered by Part VI. Part VI. of the act, comprising sections 284 to 293, inclusive, deals with the engagement of ships in the coasting trade of the Commonwealth and of the territories under the authority of the Commonwealth. Under the provisions of this part, no passengers or cargo can be conveyed between such ports excepting where the ship is licensed to engage in the coasting trade, or in special circumstances where the ship is granted a permit to do so. Section 288. deals with the licensing of vessels to engage in the coasting trade. Any ship, whether British or foreign, can obtain a licence on compliance with the conditions laid down in the act. These conditions are -
The foregoing are the two main provisions. There is also a third condition, of relatively little importance, which requires -
This last-mentioned provision, it may be stated, is practically a dead letter, for the simple reason that in the few cases where coasting ships provided passengers’ libraries such were discontinued. Section 286 of the act deals with the issue of permits. As provided in the section, such permits can be issued only -
The carriage of passengers or cargo under a permit does not subject the ship to any condition as to payment of coasting wages, provision of accommodation according to the Navigation Act standards, etc. The new section, 293a, now proposed, will enable the Governor-General, in times of public emergency, to suspend by proclamation the provisions of Part VI. of the act relating to the coasting trade. This will enable any ships whatever, whether engaged in the oversea or coasting trade, whether British or foreign, to participate in the carriage of passengers and cargo. Let me say here that the Government hope that many of the powers to be conferred by the bill will not be found necessary; but the time has arrived when it should take a very firm and definite stand in this matter. While I say that we should be firm, I also consider that it is equally the duty of the Government to be fair to all sections of the community. I can give an assurance, on behalf of the
Government, that the powers for which the bill provides will be used, if it is found necessary to use them, with the greatest care, and everything possible will be done to expedite a return to those happy conditions to which the people of Australia have been accustomed.
In regard to clause 4 of the bill, I may point out that there is no power under the Navigation Act as it stands to suspend or vary the requirements of the act, even in extraordinary circumstances, involving, it may be, the general welfare of the whole community. A still more serious situation is that even Parliament cannot deal with such a matter? however serious a crisis may be, without considerable delay. All shipping bills passed by the Commonwealth Parliament have, of necessity, to be reserved for the Royal assent, and such assent must be proclaimed before the act, whatever it may be, can be brought into operation. Under section 70 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1906 the Board of Trade of the United Kingdom is given power, in certain circumstances, to dispense with the observance of any requirements of the Merchant Shipping Acts. Some year or two ago the wireless operators in the United Kingdom went on strike to enforce certain of their demands on the owners, being under the impression that as the law required that operators should be carried, and as no other operators were available, the owners would be compelled either to comply with their demands or lay up their ships. In the public interests, however, the Board of Trade ‘ temporarily suspended the requirement as to the carrying of operators. This action brought the men to their senses, and the trouble disappeared. Under the New Zealand Shipping and Seamen Act, also, the Minister administering the act is given power, under certain conditions, to exempt any ship from any specific requirement contained in the act. As the suspension of any provision of the Navigation Act would be a matter of grave responsibility, it has been thought well to confer the power to do so on the Governor-General and not on the Minister. The new provision proposed will enable any specific requirement of the act to be dispensed with in regard to any ship in cases where such requirement is already substantially met, or in cases of national emergency the Governor-General may grant entire exemption from that requirement. If, for example, the whole of our licensed coasting ships were laid up, either as a result of a lockout of the seamen, or of a general strike, it would be possible to suspend wholly or in part the licensing provisions of the act, thus enabling oversea ships in the public interest to carry passengers and cargo between our ports. Sub-section 4 requires the presentation to Parliament of an annual report giving particulars of the cases in which exemptions have been granted under the section, and the grounds upon which action was taken in each case. From the debate which took place this afternoon, I think that honorable senators are fully conversant with the difficulties with which Australia is confronted to-day. For my part, . I feel that the present is the time when a man should be bold enough to say what he believes to be right, whether it be popular or otherwise. While I do not suppose that if a general’ strike were declared to-morrow any honorable senator would fail to obtain three meals a day and a bed, there are thousands in Australia who would not be able to do so. To those people we, who occupy positions of trust, owe a duty. I arn gratified to find that in my own state Mr. F. W. Birrell, who represents North Adelaide in the South Australian Parliament, and who for about a year was the president of the Trades and Labour Council for South Australia, is reported in- the Adelaide Advertiser as having referred to job control in the following terms : - “ This question of job control should receive serious consideration by .trade unionists. Under this policy apparently a few men on a job are a law unto themselves. A dispute may arise or be created, and those on the job deal witH it. This is called ‘organizing on the job.’ Tlie union s not consulted; in fact, it is helpless, these few men having the power to bring about an industrial upheaval which may possibly have a far-reaching effect. There is a danger in this system of which trade unionists should be aware, and there must be an insistent demand that those who are likely to be affected shall be consulted. Otherwise, we shall find unions financially wrecked and industrial chaos resulting.”
Mr. Birrell stated that the position in connexion with the practice of job control had been fast developing in the manner he had pictured in his address, and the unions con- nected with maritime matters had stepped in just in time to avert a most serious disaster. He understood they had acted in a very definite manner on the question. He could conceive of nothing which would eventually play into the hands of unscrupulous employers more than job control. It would break down trade unionism. It. might gain for individual members of a union some benefit, but the time was sure to come when the members of other unions, and even of the union concerned, would refuse to pay the piper unless they had a say in calling the tune. In any case, job control was . not in accordance with the principles of trade unionism. It was tyrannical and autocratic. It was the outcome of a selfish spirit that was the very antithesis of the boasted fraternity of trade unionists. “ I trust that job control,” concluded Mr. Birrell, “ has been strangled, and that the members of the provisional Interstate Disputes Committee will bend all their energies towards the creation of a permanent body which should be given sufficient power to prevent either sideshowing a disregard for the law, and to keep in view mainly the necessity for industrial expansion, thus preventing, as far as possible, unemployment.”
I point out that Mr. Birrell’s address was delivered at the Adelaide Trades Hall. I am pleased to say that is also the view of a great number of - unionists. When I ask honorable senators to support the Government on this occasion, I feel that this is a matter out of which no honorable senator should try to make political capital. Too. many homes are at stake, and there is already too much hunger and distress in our midst for us to treat the matter lightly. The Senate should rise to the occasion and give to the Government in office the power to meet the difficulties, so that the trade and commerce of the country may be continued without any friction between the parties. This bill is important to the whole of Australia, and to every industry in the country. I go further, and say that it is important to every home in Australia. I, therefore, have no hesitation in asking honorable senators to give to the Government the power to which it is rightly entitled in these difficult days.
.- The brevity of the speech just delivered by the Minister in charge of the bill is in Striking contrast to the long speeches made by Government supporters when the question of the suspension of the Standing Orders was under discussion this afternoon.
– There was a reason for that.
– The Government did not have sufficient numbers to carry the motion.
– And the honorable . senator did not know it.
– I did know it.
– That matter has been dealt with, and the Standing Orders provide that a question having been decided cannot be revived.
– I am aware of that, Mr. President, and do not intend to transgress the Standing Orders or conflict with your ruling. I point out that when Senator Pearce moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable this bill to be dealt with, he stressed the urgency of this measure. On that ground only did he ask for the suspen-sion of the Standing Orders. But what did we find ? The urgency of the measure was so great that Government supporters debated the motion at length because the Government did not have sufficient numbers present to carry it in a constitutional way. Senator Guthrie had to be sent for, and he arrived as quickly as modern means of transport made possible. The Government rushed in, without first being sure that a sufficient number of its supporters was present to ‘ carry its proposal. Pending the arrival of Senator Guthrie, honorable senators debated the motion at length; but immediately Senator Guthrie arrived in this chamber the Government became bold and moved the “gag.” However, we now have the measure before us, the abject of which is to amend certain portions of the Navigation Act. I should like to hear Senator Lynch speak on the bill which has been presented to us; I always welcome his remarks, since even if they are not educational they are at least amusing. At times the debates in this Senate become somewhat dreary, but Senator Lynch always throws some amusing shade on the subject under discussion. This afternoon the honorable senator referred to the fact that it took seven, eight or possibly nine years to place the Navigation Act on the statutebook, and he contended that that showed delay. If there was any delay, Senator Lynch was to a great extent responsible. I remember that time after time he held up the Senate while he insisted that provisions to ensure to the seamen a liveli hood were inserted in the measure. Other matters also were dealt with by him; in fact, the honorable senator’s advocacy of the bill was quite strenuous. Senator Findley pointed out this afternoon that the present Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) was also a strong supporter of the Navigation Act when the measure was before this Chamber. To-day, however, we find these two champions of proper navigation laws and satisfactory conditions for the men employed in our ships attempting in one fell swoop to rob them of that for which they themselves fought so strenuously. The reason given for their change of attitude is that Australia is to-day experiencing industrial trouble. There was another way of endeavouring to settle this industrial dispute; the Government should have intervened with a view to bringing the contending parties together to discuss the situation. Some years ago we we fu faced with an industrial dispute which was somewhat similar to that in which we are now engaged. At that time there was trouble in the coal-mining industry! What did the Government of the day do? The then Prime Minister (Mr.Hughes) got the parties together, and afterwards established a special tribunal to deal with the disputes in that industry. He did not introduce a measure of this nature, because he knew that to do so would be only to aggravate the position. Many years .before Mr. Hughes established that special coal tribunal Senators Lynch, Pearce, and I were engaged in the forefront of a big industrial upheaval in the timber industry in Western Australia. It was said then that our action would destroy that industry. The men at that time were fighting for better conditions. Their employers would not meet them. At that time Senator Pearce and Senator Lynch were supporting the cause of the men, who, according to the press, the employers, and the party with which these honorable senators are now associated, were breaking the law and interfering with the good government of the country. Senator Pearce and Senator Lynch, who were aiding and abetting these men, told them to place their funds in such a way that they could not be touched in the event of an injunction against the union.
– The honorable senator is opposed to arbitration.
- Senator Guthrie, who was rushed to this chamber to meet the convenience of the Government, should listen to what I have to say before indulging in interjections, which he knows are disorderly.
– I asked a simple question.
– Order! The honorable senator addressing the Chair is entitled to be heard in silence.
– If the Government were to give effect to the motion moved by Senator J. D. Millen, and which was passed by the Senate on Thursday last, there would be no need for the introduction of legislation such as we are now considering.
– That motion referred only to the Tasmanian shipping service.
– The Government would have been able to give effect to its intentions.
– Will the honorable senator say in what way that could have been done?
– The Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator Wilson) has been a member of the Government sufficiently long to know that in times of emergency the government of the day is all-powerful, and that it could have exercised authority by convening a conference of the parties to the dispute. I have already pointed out that, on a previous occasion when we were threatened with an industrial upheaval, the Prime Minister of the day brought the parties together. Similar action should have been taken on this occasion.
– By what means?
– By asking them to come together.
– After defying an award of the Arbitration Court?
– If the Government desire industrial peace, it should endeavour to bring the parties together.
– What is the Arbitration Court for?
– The men at present involved in this dispute are not working under an award of the Arbitration Court.
– Because they have defied its award.
– Because the ship-owners were very eager to get them beyond the power of the court, and in doing that they succeeded.
– Walsh has always defied the Arbitration Court.
– In considering this measure, I hope we shall not get down to personalities; the issue is too important.
– That is one of the issues
– The issue today is between the Seamen’s Union and the Associated Ship-owners. Why could not the Associated Ship-owners do what the Seamen’s Union have done in conference with the representatives of the Commonwealth .Shipping Board? The representatives of the Commonwealth Government Line met the representatives of the parties to the dispute, with the result that an agreement has been entered into providing that the conditions of the award under which the seamen were operating prior to deregistration shall be embodied in the ships’ articles, and so far as they are concerned the dispute is settled. Why should the associated shipowners refuse to do what the representatives of the Commonwealth Government Line have done ? As soon as an agreement was reached, the Government wanted to know why the Commonwealth Government Line had entered into such an undertaking. Questions have been asked and answered in the Senate concerning the nature of the agreement, and although the Prime Minister in another place and through the public press informed people that when the Commonwealth Shipping Board was established the Commonwealth Line would be beyond political influence, he endeavoured to criticize its action in entering into this agreement with the industrial unions. In effect, the ship-owners have said to the men, “ You work the ships and we will observe the conditions under which you have previously operated.” But when the members of the Seamen’s Union were working under an award of the Arbitration Court there were many occasions on which the ship? ping companies did not observe . the award, and consequently it had to be policed by the representatives of the union.
– Did the Seamen’s Union ever take the employers to court for non-observance of an award?
– It has cost the unions a lot of money in compelling shipowners to observe the awards of the Arbitration Court.
– What awards have been broken by the ship-owners?
– If it had not been for the vigilance of the representatives of the Seamen’s Union, awards would have been broken by the shipowners. I cannot be expected at the moment to quote specific cases, but the instances to which I refer relate principally to the interpretation of awards.
– There has been more trouble in connexion with job control than anything else.
– Under the agreement entered into between the representatives of the Commonwealth Shipping Board and the industrial organizations, job control has been abolished.
– The Seamen’s Union is not a party to that agreement.
– We shall see what transpires ; but it is understood that there will be no job control exercised in connexion with ships of the Commonwealth Government Line. Senator Lynch referred to the action of the Trades Hall Council in suspending its standing orders to discuss this question tomorrow, and it is a pity that the course to be taken by that body was not followed by the Government in this instance. The Trades Hall Council has to-day given notice to the delegates that a motion will be submitted to-morrow for the suspension of its standing orders to enable this question to be discussed. Clause 3 of the bill, which is its most important provision, provides - “ 293a. (1) The Governor-General may, if at any time he considers it expedient in the public interest to do so, by Proclamation sus pend, for such time as is specified in the Proclamation, the operation of any of the foregoing provisions of this Part, as regards any ship or class of ships, and either unconditionally or subject to such conditions (if any) as he thinks fit. to impose.
Clause 2 provides -
This Act shall commence on a date to be fixed by Proclamation after the King’s approval thereto has been proclaimed in the Commonwealth.
It will be seen that, if this measure is passed by both branches of the legislature, it will have to receive the Royal assent. We are asked to add to section 293 of the principal act clause 3, which I have just quoted. Section 293 of the act reads -
The master, owners, and agents of anyship engaging in the coasting trade, shall be jointly and severally responsible for compliance with this part of this act by or in respect of the ship, and shall be liable to any pecuniary penalty provided’ by this act for any breach or contravention of this part of this act, by or in respect of the ship, and where no penalty is provided shall be liable in respect of any such breach or contravention to a penalty of not more than one hundred pounds, and the ship in respect of which the offence is committed may be disqualified by the GovernorGeneral from engaging in the coasting trade.
During past years there have been many suspensions of that part of the act. I know that exemption from those provisions was granted in the northwest part of Western Australia, and in other places. All along the line such exemptions have meant the giving of preference to black labour against white labour.
– Did the honorable senator object to exemption being granted to certain vessels trading on the northwest coast pf Western Australia?
– I was not at that time a member of this Senate.
– Has the. honorable senator lodged an objection since he has become a member of the Senate?
– I objected, as a private citizen in Western Australia, when the exemption was granted. I make a further objection now, and I take the full responsibility for it.
– It took the honorable senator three years to think about making an objection.
– I do not desire this matter to become a personal one. I have iust told the honorable senator that I was not in the Senate when the exemptions were granted, but I made my voice heard as a private citizen in Western Australia. Therefore it did not take me three years to arrive at that conclusion.
I make no secret, of where I stand. The honorable senator chided me this afternoon and said that I was afraid to stand up to my convictions. I have always had the courage to state my convictions, and to act according to them. I say advisedly that I was opposed to those exemptions at - the time that they were granted. I deliberately say again ‘ now. that I am opposed to such exemptions in Western Australia, Tasmania, or any other part of Australia. My reason is that they constitute an attempt to bring about conditions that are derogatory to Australia, by giving preference to black labour to the injury of white- men.
– It does not matter if the people in North Queensland or other parts of Australia are starving?
– This anxiety on behalf of certain people is wonderful to behold!
– Will not any exceptional circumstances alter the honorable senator’s mind ?
– It would be impossible to alter the honorable senator’s mind, because it is already made up.
– On that question, yes.
– Nothing that I could say would alter the honorable senator’s attitude. I think that he himself is in a desperate position at the present time. Clause 3 proposes to amend part 6 of the act. The part which deals with the coastal trade of Australia refers to -
The object of that part of the act is the preservation of proper industrial conditions and the payment of proper rates of wages to Australian seamen.
– The preservation of law and order takes precedence.
– According to the dictum of Senator Ogden, the preservation of the lives and the well-being of men. who are engaged in industry must at all times be subservient to the preservation of law and order. The honorable senator would not now occupy a position in this Senate if law and order had not been, broken by him and others with whom he was associated.
– The honorable senator should speak for himself.
– I know- that if law and order had not been broken in the Eureka Stockade outbreak, Senator Ogden and I would not be here to:night. When he was actively associated with the industrial organizations of Australia he did not have such a regard for law and order as he has now.
– I think that I have a closer association than the honorable senator with the industrial bodies.
– My first duty is to see that no man or. woman in Australia is paid wages that are insufficient to enable life to be lived under proper conditions.
– No one would sanction anything of that sort.
– Because there is on the horizon-
– A rebellion.
– Because there is some prospect, of a dispute, the old bogy of “ law and order “ is trotted out for the protection of those people who usually do not pay any attention to it. When Senator Pearce, as a Minister in a Labour administration, introduced the Navigation Bill on the 31st .August, 1910, he said -
No one can say that on this question there has been any hasty legislation. I propose to confine my remarks largely to principles, and I say that this measure contains the principle that” the Australian coastal trade shall be reserved exclusively for vessels complying with Australian conditions. The Government- contend that this is in accord with the protective principle which has been adopted in regard to trade in other directions. Our mercantile is subject to competition of foreign vessels which are very often subsidized by foreign countries to enable them to successfully compete in Australian waters. The bill attempts to make the conditions of seafaring life on our Australian coast such as will induce young Australians to embark upon it as their vocation.
– I stand to that today.
-.- I do not think the honorable senator does. If he .were a member of the Labour party to-day, he would see that there is an attempt bycertain people tin Australia’ to smash, not only the Seamen’s Union, but also every trade union.
– I quite agree with that statement. The persons referred to by the honorable senator are Mr. Walsh and others who . are in accord with his ideas.
– Senator Pearce is to-day associated with the persons ‘ to whom I refer. I should be out of order if I were to anticipate, another bill that is to come before us, but I know that this measure is merely the forerunner pf another that will shortly engage our attention. The purpose of both is to attack Australian trade unionism.
– That is not so.
– The honorable senator is very ungenerous.
– Generosity does not enter . into the consideration of this matter. I have heard in this Senate to-day from honorable senators opposite many remarks that were anything but generous. They did not cause me any concern. I am here to give expression to my views, ‘ and I say that this is not the way to. bring about industrial peace, but rather is it the way to aggravate the trouble.
– We do not want peace at any price.
– The Government has not’ made any endeavour to secure peace. It has not tried to get the parties together. That is the first duty of a government. Let me compare the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) with the action that was taken by the Premier of New South Wales. Mr. Lang lost no time in bringing the contending parties together. Had the associated ship-owners looked at the matter in the same light as the Commonwealth Shipping Board, industrial trouble would possibly have been averted. There is no use in saying that we; on this side, are anxious to have an industrial upheaval.
– Is it not a fact that quite a number of the small shipping companies were prepared to. sign the agreement that was signed by the Commonwealth. Shipping Board, but the seamen’s union refused to man the ships?
– If the honorable senator would supply me with the names of those companies -I should perhaps be able to answer bini. The prin cipal parties to the dispute that is pending are th.e industrial organization, the Commonwealth Steamship Owners’ Association, the Commonwealth Shipping Line, and’ the Commonwealth Government. Before this legislation was introduced the Government should have explored every conceivable channel to bring the contending parties together If that had failed there might have been some excuse for such panic legislation. I do not desire to detain the Senate longer. I protest against the second reading of the bill because it is unnecessary, because’ it will only aggravate the trouble, because it will legalize acts ‘ such as have been taken previously by the Governor-General in Council to allow ‘ preference to be given to black labour. “ If the bill is passed hurriedly it will place in the hands of the GovernorGeneral in Council a weapon that he should not have when Parliament is in recess. I believe that Parliament is going into a short recess on Friday for the purpose of welcoming tlie American Fleet..
– A very wise thing to do,- is it not ?
– The Leader of the Senate gave that as the only reason for the urgency of this legislation. I have no objection to joining in welcoming the American Fleet, but the’ preservation of the provisions of the Navigation Act is of more importance to Australia, and Parliament would be better engaged sitting here trying to prevent an industrial upheaval. Efforts could have been made by the Government prior to the introduction of this legislation to settle the trouble. If they had failed and it was found that a bill such as this was necessary, there was nothing to prevent us from sitting not only this week, . but also next week,1 and trying in some way to save the: country from an industrial upheaval-. Therefore, while I recognize that the visit of the. American Fleet marks an important epoch in Australian history, I say that our first duty is to our own country, and I repeat that Parliament would be better engaged if necessary in an endeavour to prevent an industrial upheaval rather than adjourning as. proposed. In . saying that I make no reflection on that great country the visiting fleet will represent, or on’ the personnel of the fleet itself; but the provisions of this bill are of more importance to the people of Australia than the visit of any fleet. I oppose the second reading of the measure, and I hope that the Senate will not agree to it.
.- I also oppose the second reading of the bill. I fully realize what a serious thing it would be to Australia if we should have a tremendous industrial upheaval at the present time. No honorable senator supporting the Government realizes it more than I do; but at the same time I think that instead of bringing forward panic legislation in both Houses of the National Parliament the Government would have been rendering more valuable service to Australia by using its power and influence to bring the contending parties together. I shall not permit honorable senators opposite to place upon the shoulders of the members of the Seamen’s Union and their executive officers the whole of the responsibility for the possibility .of a great industrial upheaval. All the trouble that has taken place in. the coastal trade of Australia during the last seven or eight years has not been directly attributable to the members of this union. One dispute that hung up the vessels for a very considerable time was caused by the stewards and pantrymen. On another occasion the marine engineers hung up the coastal service. In the great strike of 1917 the seamen did not go out as a protest against the actions of the Steamship Owners Association. They simply became parties to a dispute that originated in the Ways and Works Branch of the New South Wales Railways. It was the railway men who threw down the gage of battle over the card system that was sought to be introduced by the Commissioners of Railways, and the seamen, in common with carters, drivers, and men engaged in almost every form of transport throughout Australia became involved in the dispute. I admit that since then certain occurrences may have caused some irritation to the steamship owners, but since 1917 the Seamen’s Union, as an organization, has not been responsible for tying up the whole of the shipping of Australia.
– No; its policy has been to tie up one ship at a time.
– And on the other hand, the policy of the Steamship
Owners Association is ,.to tie up all the shipping of Australia. Despite what any Minister may say to justify the attitude of the Government . in bringing forward this panic legislation,- the fact remains that the responsibility for the possibility of the shipping of Australia being tied up at the present juncture must be placed upon the shoulders of the Commonwealth Steamship Owners Association. But let me examine Senator Crawford’s statement. The Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator Wilson) called it a job-control policy. . In the industrial movement of Australia to-day there are two shades of opinion. One type of union leader despises the idea of having a general strike, or even a strike of the whole of the men and women engaged in any one industry. . He believes that the proper method of conducting a dispute is to confine it to one shop or one ship at a time. It has not been the policy of Mr. Walsh or Mr. Johannsen to tie up the shipping of Australia as a whole. They adopted a policy which, though, it may have irritated the Steamship Owner’s Association, was not at any stage likely to bring the commerce or industry of Australia into a state of chaos. I say that it may have been irritating to the owners, but one needs to understand the point of view of the seamen. The law or an award may prescribe that there shall be a certain, number of firemen, trimmers, and so forth, to work certain classes of vessel, according to the number of boilers and the horse-power of the engines, and also that there shall be a certain number of. cooks employed, according to the size of a vessel. I have been through many vessels. On one boat I would find that the work in the galleys could be done with a certain amount of comfort, but on another vessel I found that, from the moment a man entered a galley until he came out again, he was practically living in a reeking hell. The same remarks apply to. the forecastle accommodation, and to the conditions applying in . the engine-rooms and stokeholds. The trouble is that the law makes no distinction between the different types of vessels. What may properly apply to one vessel may not be suitable to another. At any rate, instead of the unions calling out every man in the whole of the industry in order to rectify a grievance in regard to the conditions of work on any particular vessel, they adopted the policy of endeavouring to get those grievances rectified in another way. They made representations to the owners’ association to try’ to have the conditions improved in regard to specified vessels. So Senator Crawford was quite correct in saying that all the seamen wanted to do was to tie up one ship at a time. But that was not done for the sake of pleasure, or in an effort to disorganize trade. If those who understand seafaring life go down to the vessels and examine them, they will find that in 99 cases out of 100 where the seamen took action to prevent vessels from leaving port because they considered they had grievances to be rectified, their grievances were perfectly legitimate. The leaders of the seamen of Australia are opposed to a general strike, so far as the shipping of the Commonwealth is concerned.
– Do they stand for arbitration?
SenatorHANNAN. - The seamen of Australia have stood for arbitration almost since the establishmentof the Arbitration Court.
– Then why do they defy the court to-day?
SenatorHANNAN. - They do not defy it.
– Their leaders are defying it.
– When the honorable senator says that the seamen are defying the Arbitration Court, he is speaking in ignorance of the facts. During the last fifteen years I, as a member of the Industrial Disputes Committee of the Trades Hall Council, have frequently interviewed representatives of the Steamship Owners Association to ask for the rectification of grievances. On many occasions we have succeeded, and on other occasions we have failed in having what we considered legitimate grievances rectified. Honorable senators speak of arbitration.. Let them take other organizations. Honorable senators opposite do not hear or read of these things. Some months ago I approached the Chamber of Manufacturers in regard to a certain matter. There are many engineering firms in Melbourne whose managers and owners stand high in the social scale. The awards under which their employees work provide that each employee shall get two weeks’ Christmas leave on full pay, provided he or she has worked for a year prior to the 24th December. In one case hundreds of men and women engaged in one factory had given a year’s loyal, and, as far as possible, devoted service to their employers, but when it came to the 24th December every employee was given notice to quit.
– We do not justify that sort of thing.
– I say without fear of contradiction that in Victoria last year some 50,000 to 60,000 men and women who were entitled to annual leave of absence were legally robbed of it through dismissal. I can give the name of a great engineering firm in this state, which immediately prior to the last Easter holidays gave some . hundreds of men a week’s notice of dismissal; but intimated that on the Tuesday following the holidays all employees were requested to make application for reinstatement.
– Does that justify job control by the seamen?
– No. The newspapers of this country condemn the unionsfor what is called job control, but they justify the great shipping companies in applying to. the Arbitration Court to put the. Seamen’s Union outside the pale of the law. Can honorable senators opposite mention one of the newspapers which has condemned those people who have taken part in legalized robbery all their lives.
– We do not stand for that.
– You people over there are the embodiment of robbery. That has to be wheeled up to you allthe way.
– That is an absolute lie.
– Is that remark in order, Mr. President?
– All interjections are disorderly. Senator Hannan is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I showed my confidence in the arbitration laws of this country by advising every union to become registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I also advised every union to take the full benefits ofthe wages board system, and I believe that I had the honour of taking into the Arbitration Court the first maritime union to get a decision from Mr. Justice Higgins. The action of one particular union in going deliberately against the arbitration laws of this country does not represent the attitude of the whole Labour movement in Australia. From the very inception of that movement the Labour party has stood for the enactment and maintenance of the arbitration laws. The presence on the federal and statestatute-books of arbitration measures and wages board legislation is due to the constant agitation and propaganda, industrially and politically, of the Labour party.
– What is the good of having those laws on the statute-books if you do not abide by them?
– Even if I admit that on this occasion the Seamen’s Union ignored the court, one swallow does not make a summer. I could mention the names of hundreds of men not connected with the Labour movement who day after day are committing breaches of the laws of this country.
– The leaders of the Seamen’s Union not only ignored the law, but also defied it.
– It is true that Mr. Walsh treated with contempt the application of the ship-owners for the deregistration of the union, but he told them that if they secured the union’s deregistration the responsibility would be theirs.
– Did he not say previously that he would’ not find a crew or advise the union to find one, when the court ordered that a crew be found?
– Walsh defied the Arbitration Court.
– In what way?
– In every way.
– By refusing to carry out the order of the court.
– That was before the. union was deregistered.
– If the shipowners who pose as upholders of the law wished to act in the interests of the community the last thing they should have done was to ask the court to deregister the union. Three blunders have been committed during this struggle. The first was the action of the ship-owners’ in applying for the deregistration; the second was the action of the Government in making the Federal Parliament the cockpit of this great struggle; and the third was the deliberate action ofthe Government in taking sides with the ship-owners from the inception of the trouble.
– That is an absolute lie.
– The Prime Minister stated that this was to be a fight to a finish.
– When did he say that?
– On the 8th of this month, at the Rotary Club.
– That is a nasty one.
– A fight to uphold the Arbitration Court.
– Other happenings are on record which do not reflect credit on . the party that honorable senators opposite represent. There was a government in power in years gone by which was the enemy of unionism. I well remember that in my younger days we had a slogan that it was no use forming unions to obtain collective bargaining ifthe workers went to the ballot-box and voted for the “ bosses’” against whom they organized. At the time of the 1890 strike all the governments of Australia took sides with the one object of crushing trade ‘unionism. Even in the State of Victoria the military was called out and a certain officer gave the now historic order to “fire low and lay em out.” A government anxious to safeguard the destinies of this country in the present dispute would have shown courage and said to the ship-owners on the one hand and to the seamen on the other, You must take into consideration the best interests of the people.”
– That is exactly what the Prime Minister said.
– No; the. Government incited the ship-owners to treat the overtures of the transport workers with contempt.
– We told them to go to the Arbitration Court.
– I know the power that a government and a Prime Minister wields. Once a governmentputs its power and authority behind the employers they can defeat any body of organized ‘ workers. In the 1917 strike a huge blunder was made. I recognized that from the outset. If a proper spirit of mediation had been shown by the government of the day that strike would have been settled in a few weeks. I resided in Sydney for fifteen or sixteen weeks and took part in the whole of the negotiations for its settlement. When I returned to Melbourne my first duty was to visit the then Prime Minister (Mr.’ Hughes). In Sydney I arranged what was probably a unique deputation that waited upon the then Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook). Prior to that meeting in the Commonwealth Bank on a Sunday morning, what was our experience ? The steamship owners said “ No “ to all our representations, and that the men were to return to work on terms which they would dictate. The outstanding feature of that dispute was that every government in Australia had placed its power and authority behind the steamship owners.
– In order to enable the transports to carry food to the hospitals overseas.
– The Government knew well that the dispute could have been settled in two weeks.
– By surrendering.
– By the spirit of reasonableness. The trouble having started, the objective of the ship-owners was that the men should be beaten to their knees. Notwithstanding the statement of Senator Pearce that the vessels were required to carry supplies to the hospitals, I say that all that mattered was’ that these men were to be defeated. I am sorry that that same bitter, vindictive spirit is again being displayed by those who to-day have the power to bring the contending parties together. Senator Guthrie at an earlier stage interjected that it was unreasonable for the Deputy Leader of the Labour party (Senator Needham) to say one word in justification of the actions of the seamen. In the course of a speech which lasted an hour and a half, or longer, Senator Guthrie said recently that, although we had a mandate from the people, nothing ofvalue had been done by this Parliament. The honorable senator said that we wanted settlement in the Northern Territory, and then sought to find an excuse for the inactivity of the Government in that direction. He, therefore, directed attention to Moscow.
– I did hot say that they wanted protection in Moscow.
– When I left this chamber, after having listened to Senator Guthrie, I felt that I should like to change my boots, because there seemed to be streams of blood rushing from where he stood through the door of the chamber, and endangering every one coming in.
– The honorable senator is defending those who are seeking a revolution, and want to see blood spilt.
– Having failed in his duty to his constituents for two years, Senator Guthrie is now trying to purify himself in the innocent blood of the-‘ martyrs ofRussia.
– Now that the honorable senator has given his views concerning the ship-owners, will he also give his candid opinion of Tom Walsh’s action and the damage that he is doing to unionism?
– I have alreadystated that he stands for job control.
– Does the honorable senator himself believe in. job control as practised by Walsh?
– I have neverworked on a job where job control could have been put into operation.
– But does the honorable senator believe in job control?
– The difficulty is that ship-owners believe that it can be carried into operation, and that they do not want it.
– Why did the transport group sign against job control?
– They did that which they thought was in the best interests of the workers of Australia.
– We commend them for their action.
– Unfortunately, they looked in vain for assistance from the Government, which refused the request of Mr. Charlton.
– How can the Government control Walsh when the honorable senator’s party cannot?
– Senator Reid has asked what can be done to control Walsh. I reply that had this party been on the Treasury bench the authority of the Government would have been used to bring the contending parties together. Every power at our disposal would have been used to preventwhat is likely to occur - a hold-up of the shipping of Australia. But rather than assist in preserving Australia from the disastrous effects of a great industrial crisis, the Government has used its power and its influence for political purposes, and has endeavoured to foment trouble. The honorable senator asked for an answer; he has now got it.
– I should like to know how we are to bind Walsh.
– He is the secretary of a powerful organization comprising 8,000 men.
– The honorable senator should have said that he is the power ful secretary of an organization.
– I repeat that he is the secretary of a powerful organization of 8,000 men.
– And for that reason the honorable senator is afraid of him.
– For honorable senators to say that one man has so much power that, whether he be right or wrong, he can sway 8,000 men, is a reflection on our race.
– Does the Labour party stand for job control?
– Mr. Walsh was elected to his present position by the votes of the men in his union. They could remove him to-morrow by their votes if they disagreed with his policy or his administration.
– Were the members of the union consulted about this strike?
– The right honorable gentleman asked me . whether the men were consulted. The 8,000 men in the union had no opportunity to decide whether or not they should be deregistered as a union, but I believe that had that opportunity been given to them, they would have voted against deregistration. I point out that those 8,000 men were scattered over the seas surrounding Australia. Honorable members will realize that it is a difficult matter to obtain the opinion of the seamen as’ a body. I believe, however, that the great majority of them are in favour of arbitration. I know that the Arbitration Act has been of great benefit to every section of the seafaring community. But the seamen have been faced in the past, even when working under the act, by condi tions which at times have brought about a general stoppage of work. Rightly or wrongly, they believe that where men have what they consider to be a wellfounded grievance on any one vessel, it should be rectified on the spot.
– Is that why two or three men at a time stay . away ?
– I am not in a position to say what methods these men have of conducting their affairs.
– Does the honorable senator think that they were instructed to stay away ?
– I do not know.
– Will he tell us what he thinks about it ?
– I said definitely that a grievous blunder was made By the Government when it took sides in this dispute.
– Did any one else make a blunder ?
– Yes; the greatest blunder of all was the action of the steamshipowners in seeking the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union.
– Does t-he honorable senator think that the seamen themselves made a blunder?.
– Speaking for myself, as an. individual, I say that had I been in the place of the seamen, I should have advocated action to retain the registration of the union. But an important factor which honorable senators are inclined to overlook is that the gage of battle was not thrown down by the seamen.
– Did the ship-owners stop the boats from sailing ?
– According to the Minister who introduced the bill, the people of Australia are face to face with the possibility of a tremendous industrial upheaval. I say that the passing of this measure will not tend to settle that trouble. To Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow I say that among trade unionists there is that feeling of comradeship that he knows sometimes exists among men marching in armies. Numbers of them may make mistakes, but they are comrades still. There may have been a certain amount of disagreement, but there was a possibility of the parties ultimately being brought together. The introduction, however, of the bill now under discussion in this chamber, and of a certain measure in another place has incensed the unionists to such an extent that the possibilities are not now as favorable as they would otherwise have been. Even if there was a certain measure of disagreement between certain sections, the actions of the Government during the last week or two have been sufficient to cause trade unionists to display that solidarity which only trade unionists can when the occasion demands it. If the Government desires to bring about industrial peace and avoid a great maritime strike, such as that with which we are now threatened, it should, instead of introducing panic legislation, allow the measures I have mentioned to stand over until Parliament reassembles after the departure of the American Fleet. Every power at our disposal should be used for the purpose of bringing the parties to the dispute together; and I am satisfied that if that is done, an agreement will be reached that will be to the satisfaction of the whole community. The Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator “Wilson), in moving the second reading of the bill; referred to the deplorable condition which would result if the strike should extend, and said that, not only the men, but thousands of women and children would be forced to the point of starvation. In reply to the Minister’s statement, I may say that the members of my- party in another place and in this, chamber know better than any one what follows in the wake of a great industrial upheaval. Trade unionists, whether they be seamen, . firemen, car.penters, miners, or labourers,- do not enter into a strike merely to display a vindictive spirit towards their employers. They know the hardship which follows, and the suffering with which they and those dependent upon them have to contend in. fighting for their rights. If the Government would call a conference, I believe the whole difficulty would be overcome.
– - The passage of this bill will not prevent the convening of a conference.
– It should assist in that direction.
– The Government has created the impression in the minds of the people outside that it is utilizing its power in order to protect the interests of the ship-owners.
– It will use it in the interests of the community.
– The Australian steamship-owners will be seriously affected if this measure is passed.
– I shall show later that it will not be altogether to their disadvantage. The opinions we hold have been confirmed by the statement of the Prime Minister.
– He said the Government would not take sides. . .
– And that if. the union withdrew its threat to strike, a conference would be possible.
– The Prime Minister said it was to be a fight to a finish.
– He was very careful to say that the Government would not take sides..
– If the vessels of the Commonwealth Government Line were tied up in consequence of a strike, it would be impossible to get men to man the vessels even if they were paid £10 per day. Notwithstanding the difficulties they would be compelled to encounter, they would not in any circumstances man the vessels and thus “ scab “ on their comrades. The steamship owners are providing the means whereby the members of the Seamen’s Union can be starved into submission. If the proposals of the Government are adopted, foreign vessels will be able to engage- in the Australian coastal trade. I shall be told that the overseas vessels are not the property of the Steamship Owners Association, but the Orient Company and the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Navigation Company Limited have a large interest in the Australian United Steam Navigation Company, the Adelaide Steamship Company, and other shipping organizations operating on the Australian coast. Until a few weeks ago this dispute concerned only the unions directly involved, but in consequence of the action of the Government during the last few weeks, tens of thousands of men who had little interest in the dispute are now supporting those directly involved. The leaders of the industrial movement in Australia, including the Trades Hall Council of Melbourne, the- Trades Hall Council of Sydney, the Trades and Labour Council of Australia, and the Transport “Workers Group have during the last two weeks used every . power and influence . at their disposal to bring the parties together. The members of the Labour party in this chamber and in another place . have pleaded with the Prime Minister not to take sides,but the Government which he is leading is standing solidly behind the Steamship Owners Association.
SenatorFoll. - Have not the representatives of the Seamen’s Union defied the transport group ?
– No. The Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang) convened a conference in Sydney, at which the representatives of the Shipping Board and Mr. Walsh and Mr. Joharinsen were present, an.d at which certain conditions sought by the Steamship Owners Association were agreed to. It is true that the men’s conditions were fixed by law, and that, in consequence of deregistration, these conditions no longer legally operate. The seamen are not demanding higher wages or better sleeping or messing accommodation, bub are only asking that the conditions previously laid down by the court shall be included in the articles they have to sign.
-. - Why did not they accept that from the court ?
– Had the seamen gone to the court, and applied for deregistration because they no longer desired to work under the conditions of the award, I could understand the attitude of the steamship owners, but they did not. The steamship owners took them to the court, and deregistered them.
– The court deregistered the union.
– On the application of the owners.
– The judge of the Arbirtation Court was defied by Mr. Walsh.
– On the application of the Steamship Owners Association., the judge agreed to the deregistration of the union.
– Why did the court deregisber the union ?
– Walsh was not opposed to deregistration.
– No. He was asked to defend the case in the court, and said that if the steamship owners wished to place the men beyond the power of the court, they could do it. The men are not asking for conditions which did not previously exist. They are simply asking for the continuation of the. conditions that prevailed prior to their deregistration. They want to have those conditions attached to the articles that they sign prior to going to sea. I believe that that is a reasonable attitude for the organization to adopt. The Labour party in this matter stands where it has always stood - for the recognition of our industrial laws.
– So do Ave.
– I was one of those who waited upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) with the request that the powers of the Arbitration Court should be extended. Speaking for the Australian Labour party, . the All- Australian Labour Congress, and previously for the Interstate Labour Conference of Australia, I and others also waited upon the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and endeavoured to induce him to increase the powers of the court. ‘ Despite the gibes and the sneers of honorable senators opposite -
– We are not gibing or sneering ; this matter is too serious for that.
– Honorable senators opposite have wilfully and deliberately accused honorable senators oh this side of using their positions to bring about industrial strife. -[Extension of time granted.]
– Will the honorable senator give us. his opinion of Tom Walsh?
– I shall leave if to Mr. Walsh’s opponentstodescribe him. Whatever he or others may do. I shall not use it for political purposes.
– Is the honorable senator afraid to give his opinion of Mr. Walsh?
– I have previously given that opinion. I know him to be one of the best read men in this country.
– He is very “ red “ - red right through. He is the upholder of the red flag.
– He is a literary man, and probably one of the ablestmen who have ever led a union.
– He is an able agitator.
– If the members of his organization wanted to declare a general stoppage of all shipping he would oppose it. He believes that it is only the ignorant who go out on strike as a body. . He does not stand for a general hold-up of shipping; he adopts the more scientific method of job control.
– I ask the honorable senator to direct his attention more particularly to the bill rather than to Mr. Walsh.
– I am sorry that I was induced to refer to Mr. Walsh. He is a great political asset for our oppo nents. They give him prominence in the debates . in Parliament and in . the columns of the newspapers, not from a desire to bringabout industrial peace or to help to improve our industrial system, but in order to gain a political advantage.
– He is not a friend of the workers.
– I have never beena member of an organization in Avhich Mr. Walsh was an official. When the members of his organization return him to the leadership of it after six or seven years’ service he must have given satisfaction. We who do not understand the circumstances may criticize the man, but it is quite evident that those whose servant he is place upon his services a greater value than is placed by outsiders. The men for whom he is working should be better able than I, or any other honorable senator, to judge of his ability. After hearing what Senator Guthrie had to say about the conditions in Russia, and his observations on Trotsky and Lenin, I am satisfied that his ignorance in regard to Mr: Walsh and the seamen is as colossal as his ignorance regarding Russia.
– I ask the honorable senator to direct his attention to the bill.
– The honorable senator does not care to hear the truth about Russia or Mr. Walsh.
– I ask Senator Guthrie to refrain from interjecting.
-The Labour party desires this dispute to be brought to a peaceful ending.
– So do we.
– The invitation to the Prime Minister to intervene, alone, or in co-operation with Mr. Charlton, came from the heart and soul of the Labour movement, which represents tens of thousands of persons who would be the greatest sufferers in any dispute. The Government is rushing through the legislature this and another bill on the plea that Parliament must close before the arrival of the American Fleet, so that honorable ‘ senators and honorable members of another place may take part in the festivities. Has the Government contemplated the possibility of our cities being plunged into darkness while the fleet is in our waters?
– Is that a threat?
– Can the Government not be moved by the prospect of industrial chaos, and our coastal trade being carried on with “ scab “ ships that are manned by “ scab “ seamen ?
– Does the honorable’ senator refer to British seamen as’ “scabs”?
– If I, in receipt of 20s. a day, went out on strike, and auother man undertook to do my work for £2 a clay, that higher wage would not absolve him from the crime of “ scabbing “ on a brother workman. A coolie boat cannot engage in our coastal trade unless it complies with Australian conditions. Neither can a British boat nor a foreign vessel. Under the bill, an exemption from the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act may be granted. Immediately’ a strike takes place ships can be brought here to do the work of the ordinary Australian trader, irrespective of what flag they fly. The Government may say, “ They have a special licence.” Despite that fact, in the eyes of their brother Australian seamen, every one on the ship, from the skipper on the bridge to the brass boy, will be an industrial “scab.”
– Will not the ships be “scabs” too? They will be taking the place ofAustralian ships.
-No. They will come here with the desire and the consent of the ship-owners of Australia, because their owners now control the Commonwealth Steamship Owners’ Association. If our ships are laid aside, it will be the result of the bitter, vindictive, partisan attitude of the Government. It is taking sides with the steamship owners, instead of using its power and its influence to bring the parties together in the interests of industrial peace, and so to prevent the infliction of suffering upon those women and children to whom Senator Wilson has referred.
– I want to correct a few of the impressions of Senator Hannan. He has charged the Government with rushing this bill through Parliament in view of the industrial position, but I should like to direct his attention to the findings of the royal commission on the Navigation Act. On page 78 of the preliminary report of the commission submitted in August, 1924, honorable senators will find that Senator Duncan and I, who were both members of the commission, pointedly directed the attention of the Government to the shortcomings of the act.
– Were Senator Duncan and the honorable senator the only two to sign that particular report ?
– Yes. Our view was not strong enough to suit the views of the chairman (Mr. Prowse) and Mr. Seabrook, who believed in the total repeal of the Navigation Act. Had Senator Duncan and I joined with the chairman and Mr. Seabrook, we could have submitted a majority report.
– Is that report the reason why the Minister brings the bill down as a matter of urgency ?
– The Minister gave as his reason for bringing the bill forward and moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders the pending visit of the American Fleet.
– The matter has been left over since last year ; and now, because the Parliament is to adjourn for three weeks, it is considered a matter of urgency.
– The royal commission drew attention to the great disadvantages large sections of the people of Australia suffered by reason of the operation of the act, and there is no doubt that those disadvantages will be aggravated by an industrial dispute. Therefore, the need for amendment pointed out in the report of the royal commission must be much more urgent at the present time than it was last year. On page 78 of the report the commission pointed out the inadequacy of the permit system to meet the requirements of the travelling public. I notice that honorable senators opposite are quoting the section in the original act, but section 286 has already been amended, and reads as follows: - 286. ( 1 ) Where it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister, in regard to the coasting trade with any port or between any ports in the Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth -
That provision seems to be wide enough, and almost as wide as the provision the Government now seeks to. introduce, but the Director of Navigation stated in evidence -
Foreign ship-owners will not take the responsibility or incur the odium that would attach to any proposal to break through the protection afforded toAustralian shipping companies. The report of the commission says -
It seems fairly obvious that the permit system has not been applied very much to cargo, nor is it likely to be availed of for cargo to any extent, with the exception of the case of the Queensland meat industry, which, during the past two years, has sent large quantities of frozen meat to southern markets by the refrigerated space on oversea steamers.
In the bill the Government has followed almost word for word the conclusion formed by the royal commission, which is given on page 79 of the report, and reads as follows: -
It appears to your commissioners that this is a genuine complaint, due to the rigid nature of the act. The machinery, is there to enable advantage to be taken of oversea vessels, but it is so hard to set in motion that the oversea companies will not’ bother about it, and when the individual attempts to set it in motion, it moves so slowly that the opportunity to take advantage of it is in danger of being lost. The act at present requires that it be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister that the service is inadequate. It would require great courage in administration to declare in advance that a service is inadequate, and it is not to be wondered at that decision is delayed, except in such cases where the interstate companies admit the fact. Great dissatisfaction was shown in many places because the Director of Navigation refers in the first instance to the interstate companies, and the inference has been that there is something improper in this, but it is obvious that such reference is often the shortest way of settling the question of inadequacy. If the interstate shipping companies admit the inadequacy, nothing more is required, for the Minister will be satisfied on such admission. On the other hand, if they dispute the fact, it is necessary to get independent evidence of the inadequacy, and the delay in establishing this inadequacy defeats the purpose of the provision.
The Government has decided, I trust on the advice of the royal commission, to introduce this hill to get over a difficulty that plainly defeated the intention of the original act.
– Parliament has not yat considered the report of the commission.
– The report was presented nearly twelve months ago, and has been open to the study of honorable senators ever since. So much for tlie allegation that we are being stampeded into passing this measure! The subject of job control has been raised, and it has been stated that the Prime Minister might very easily have stepped in and have brought about a conference between the disputing parties. I understand that the ship-owners were perfectly willing to insert in the ships’ articles a clause providing for the maintenance of the terms and conditions of the arbitration award under which the service has until recently been carried on, so long as the seamen would give some tangible guarantee that it would be regarded as. binding on them. The seamen have -declined to do this. Neither has the transport group insisted on that guarantee being given.
– Why did the Commonwealth Shipping ‘ Board accept the clause without such a guarantee ?
– Goodness knows !
– The’ Commonwealth Shipping Board accepted that clause without any guarantee.
– What guarantee would the honorable senator require?
– A guarantee backed by a financial bond.
– It is only lawyers who require a financial bond.-
– In the commercial world if any person wants a guarantee that a contract will be carried out he insists on a deposit.
– That is only when lawyers are, engaged to. settle a matter.
– Lawyers are needed, when one is dealing with shifty people who” will not stand up to their word, and who .openly preach that they will only be bound by their word when it suits them. That is the doctrine openly preached by Mr. Walsh. If the . transport section had any faith in their power to control Mr. Walsh and his union they would step in and give a bond of £20,000 that the clause in the articles would be obeyed, and then things could carry on.
– If the Governmentchose to put into operation the power it now has it could control Mr. Walsh or any one else. The honorable senator, as a lawyer, should know that.
– I know what power the Government possesses, but the honorable senator has his tongue in his cheek when he suggests that Mr. Walsh and the ‘ whole of his crowd could be jailed. He knows that it would be impossible to- jail all the members of the Seamen’s Union, and if . the leaders of the men were treated in that way, he and his friends would be the first to proclaim them as martyrs. When the Navigation Act .was passed with the intention of confining the work on the Australian coast to our own seamen, we practically’ delivered ourselves into the hands of the seamen.
– What about the shipowners also ?
– We delivered ourselves into the hands of both. Honorable senators opposite have hurled at us’ the taunt that the provisions of the bill which has been introduced to-day are -intended to help the steamship-owners. They are’ the very provisions which Senator Duncan and I recommended to this Parliament’, but which the steamship-owners bitterly assailed. How would it benefit them one iota to have the carrying of the coasting trade done by the Japanese ? As a matter of fact, when I showed representatives of the ship-owners that portion of the report they said that they would have preferred the recommendations of the Labour members of the commission. It is idle to suggest that the provisions of the bill will have the support of the ship-owners. This measure will hit both -the owners and the seamen, but it will save the community from the tyranny of both.
– Then the honorable senator admits that the steamship-owners are tyrannous?
– It is no use Tor the honorable member to quibble. These provisions will enable the Government to protect the community from tyranny, no matter from which side it may come. At the present time tyranny is being exercised by the Seamen’s Union. According to some of. the evidence gleaned by the Navigation Commission, the shipowners have been unreasonable, from the shippers’ point of view, at any rate, in the- matter of freight. Since the Seamen’s Union has proved itself unfit for the benefit which the act conferred upon it, I intend to support the bill. I congratulate the Government on having adopted the view expressed in the considered judgment arrived at some time ago by Senator Duncan and myself, after carefully weighing evidence taken in all parts of the Commonwealth.
– I conceive it to be the imperative duty of any government, when the country is threatened with an industrial upheaval of unparalleled dimensions, to do what it possibly can to prevent such a calamity. In my opinion, the Government has adopted an entirely wrong course. It would have been better advisedhad it taken a stand similar to that adopted by the Premier of New .South Wales (Mr. Lang), who deplores, as most people do, the precipitation of a big strike, because of the .hardship occasioned by unemployment. Mr. Lang took a hand in- a proposal to bring about a settlement of the dispute in his own state, and, as far as he was able to go, excellent results were obtained. Much to the consternation of the Bruce-Page Government, the Commonwealth Shipping Board decided to comply with the request made by the transport group and by Mr. Lang. Why should not the shipping, companies also comply with it’? The position is as clear as noonday. The Seamen’s Union, prior to its deregistration, was enjoying certain wages and other working conditions, and naturally, after’ the struggle that has taken place to secure them, it is not likely that it will lightly give them up. I realize that the Australian seamen have obtained possibly better working conditions than have been secured in any other part of the world, and in their attempts to secure even better conditions than they now enjoy they have the - good wishes of the most enlightened section of the community. It was reported, in the press some time ago that some, of the seamen wished to have ham and eggs for breakfast on certain days, and some of our scurrilous daily newspapers characterized that agitation as a “ham and eggs revolution.” For my part I say that, since the seamen, are doing the work of the world, they are entitled to the best of food. They are employed under trying conditions, and no doubt they will leave no stone unturned to make sure that theydo not lose the benefits they have already, won. I am reminded of the time when the late Sir Henry Parkes was Premier of New South Wales. He said that the function of government began and ended with the maintaining of law and order. I presume that this Government is prepared to preserve law and order, but it has also taken sides in the present dispute. While the Labour Premier of New South Wales has done his utmost to bring about industrial peace, the leader of the Nationalist Government (Mr. Bruce), in a speech delivered at the Rotary Club, and. reported in the Melbourne Argus, has intimated that he is “ out for a fight to a finish.” Presumably the whole of the members who stand behind the Government have adopted a similar attitude. Let rae assure them that they misjudge public opinion if they hope’ to prevent the seamen from securing- their object. .
– What is their object?
– The retention of the conditions awarded by the court.-
– Why’ did they refuse those conditions when offered -at the hands of the court?
– They did not. They demand the observance of the wages and conditions that they enjoyed prior to their union’s deregistration, and, so far as I am aware, that is all that they now desire. A fairly prolonged industrial dispute is imminent. At any rate, the Government seems determined to do all it can to accentuate the present difficulty, the Prime Minister having ranged himself on the side of the Australian Steamship Owners’ Federation.
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong in that statement.
– It is a ‘ statement of fact, and it’ is well at times to place such facts on record. The mere denial by Senator Thompson carries no weight. What does the Government propose to do ? Although the bill is not a long one, it proposes, in effect, to take- the very vitals out of the Navigation Act. Honorable senators opposite want to go back to the conditions that existed 150 years ago. Their action reminds me of a case of which I read recently, where four or five men were deported to Botany Bay for having attempted, to form a farm labourers’ union in the east of England. Although legislation of that kind is entirely out of date, it appears to appeal to honorable senators opposite. They should repudiate the statement of the Prime Minister that this is to be a fight- to a finish. . While many who take that stand will not be inconvenienced, they should realize that there are many who will suffer great hardship if this fight is fought to a finish.
– Would it not be better for the honorable senator, before criticizing the Prime Minister, to make, himself conversant with what he did say?
– I have done so.
– Will the honorable senator read it ?
– I shall read from a report which appeared in the Melbourne Argus on 2nd July, 1925. It is headed, “Fight to a Finish,” those words appearing in large type. Underneath are subheadings,’ “ Prime Minister’s Stand,” “ Deportation Proposals,” “ Strike Fomenters Warned.” The report -states -
In a speech to members of the Rotary Club, whose guest of honour he was yesterday, the Prime. Minister (Mr. Bruce) declared, amid’ enthusiastic applause, that if the seamen - and their leaders persisted in their tactics they must be fought, and fought to a finish. To the poisonous doctrines of imported union leaders he attributed most of the industrial trouble in Australia to-day.
Mr. Bruce is reported to have said on that occasion - .
If industrialists as a whole can lead- these men to reason, there is very little after all in this canker. If not, we will have to come to a fight (prolonged applause). And if it is going, to come to a -fight, let us remember that these men have declined to remain within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, and to observe their obligations- there. They haVe outlawed themselves from the industrial system that exists in this country. If they still persist, they have got to be fought, and fought to a finish (prolonged cheering).
The Prime Minister has deliberately ranged himself on the side of the shipowners, and honorable senators who boast of their independence, but have neither mind nor soul of their own, meekly support, him in his outrageous proposals. All that the seamen want is that the conditions which they enjoyed prior to the deregistration of their union by the court, on the application of the ship-owners, shall be embodied in their articles before they return to work. They are right in adopting that attitude. If a man engages in any occupation without a clear understanding as to his remuneration, and the conditions of his employment, he has no claim at law.
– That is not correct.
- Senator Elliott, if he were here, would support my statement. The desire of the Government and its supporters is to make the seamen, entirely dependent on the mercy of the shipowners, but they will find that they are grossly mistaken, and that the seamen will insist that the conditions which previously existed should be restored to them.
– Including job control.
– -There is not much in job control.
– Does the honorable senator believe in it?
– In some cases I should have no objection to it.
– All that the seamen want is a fair deal.
– What about a fair deal for the community ?
– I consider that some ulterior motive is actuating honorable senators opposite. They have erroneously adopted the view that the present time is opportune to bring about a big industrial dispute. Whether that is so or not remains to be seen. With the possible exception of the Bankruptcy Act, the Navigation Act occupied more time of the Federal Parliament than did any measure now on the statute-book. Yet, without notice, we find ourselves with the Standing Orders suddenly suspended, and a bill of this character brought before us. Apparently all the forms of the chamber are to be exhausted in order to force it through.
– The matter has been before a royal commission for nearly two years.
– And we have not considered one of the reports of that commission.
- Senator Elliott, this afternoon, quoted from a report which was signed by only two members of that commission, which, I believe, comprised seven members.
– There were three reports.
- Senator Elliott referred only to the report of two of the members. No doubt they were able men, but that remark applies equally to the other members of the commission, who refused to sign the conclusions arrived at by the two members whose report Senator Elliott has referred to. This bill proposes to suspend the whole of the provisions of Part . VI. of the original act, including the amendments set out on page 214 of the Amending Act of 1920. The Amending Act of 1920 provides -
Section 286 of the principal act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead: - “286. (1) Where it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister in regard to the coasting trade with any port or between any ports in the Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth -
that no licensed ship is available for the service; or
that the service as carried out by a licensed ship or ships is inadequate to the needs of such port or ports, and the Minister is satisfied that it is desirable in the public interest that unlicensed ships be allowed to engage in that trade, he may grant permits to unlicensed British ships to do so, either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit to impose.
The carriage, by the ship named in any such permit, of passengers or cargo to or from any port, or between any ports, specified in the permit shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
A permit issued under this section may be for a single voyage only, or may be a continuing permit.
A continuing permit may be cancelled by the Minister upon not less than six months’ notice to the master, owner, or agent of the ship of his intention to cancel it.
The Minister shall, within fourteen days of the granting of any permit under this section, or the notice of intention to cancel any such permit; notify in the Gazette the issue of the permit, or the giving of the notice, as the case may be, with particulars thereof.
The operation of far-reaching and allembracing sections of that description is to be suspended. One would think that the Government already had ample power to deal with the present situation. But it is nob satisfied with that; it desires to repeal the whole of the original sections 284 to 293; which set out the wages and conditions applicable to the seamen, especially as to the endorsement of the rates of wages on the agreement. If the operation of those sections is suspended, the act will practically be destroyed.
– Two members of bhe commission recommended their entire abrogation.
– They were only two out of seven members. I take it that the proposed suspension of Part VI. of the Navigation Act of 1912 is sought for the purpose of enabling any ships coming to Australia to do the work of the Commonwealth at any rate of wages its owners wish, and to employ men on any conditions that may exist in other parts of the world. A government supporting such a proposal deliberately ranges itself on the side of those in favour of paying a wage probably not one-fourth of that paid to Australian seamen. The members of the party to which I belong do not stand for that. Honorable senators opposite favour the use of ships on which coloured crews are employed.
– It may be necessary to pay even higher wages than those at present prevailing to establish essential services.
– Honorable senators opposite have no objection to overseas ships engaged on the Australian coast being manned by coloured labour. In supporting this amendment of the Navigation Act the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), and the Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator Wilson), and all their followers are individually and collectively favouring the complete abrogation of conditions at present enjoyed by the Australian seamen, and supporting the introduction of low wages, such as are paid by ship-owners in other parts of the world. The action of the Government is an unworthy one, and notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary, it will not lead to industrial peace. If the Government thinks it can beat the seamen into submission by this procedure, and that the industrial workers supporting them will be compelled to surrender, it has never made a greater mistake. By exercising all the powers at my disposal I shall do what I can to defeat the object of the Government.
– During his brief second-reading speech, the Minister (Senator Wilson) who introduced the bill appealed to honorable senators to assist in passing it through all its stages as quickly as possible. The honorable senator drew a harrowing picture of what might eventuate if the threatened industrial dispute assumed anything like the proportions of other maritime disturbances. Having regard to the utterances of the Minister and to the speeches of other honorable senators delivered earlier in the day, one would think that Australia had been free from industrial upheavals until the present year. Three and a half decades have come and gone since we experienced a big maritime strike in Australia, and that, too, was caused by the ship-owners. At the time to which I am referring the officers, not the seamen, of the mercantile marine were labouring under grievances which the employers would not rectify, and so they formed an association and affiliated with the Trades Hall. When they we-e able to exercise more influence and power as an organization than they could exercise individually, they approached the ship-owners and asked for a conference, which the ship-owners said they would not grant until they severed their connexion with the Trades Hall. Prior to the’ formation of a mercantile marine officers’’ organization, the ship-owners deprived the men of the opportunity to improve their conditions, and they were not therefore likely to leave an organization which was in a position to assist in their grievances being rectified. They desired a conference, and although they were promised in a measure that a conference would be held, for reasons which moved the ship-owners at that time, the owners went back oh their word, and selected what they considered to be a psychological moment for a great maritime strike. At that period there was a considerable number of unemployed, and acute distress prevailed in the different states. Many of the employers of labour considered it a fitting opportunity to hasten a dispute in order that they might be able to weaken the cause of unionism.
– I shall show later who were the friends of unionism in those days and who are its friends to-day. Thousands were drawn into the struggle which in a measure meant disaster to unionism. It taught unionists, however, that if they were to improve their position industrially and politically they had to organize, which they did, and that period can be said to have given birth to the great industrial and political movement now so. firmly established in Australia. Every time that organized capitalism or those opposed to labour set out to fight to a finish they may or may not win a temporary victory, but if they do, the vanquished are eventually the victors. Honorable senators opposite believe that all employers approve of the cause of unionism. I decline to believe it. They may as well say that there are no employers opposed to arbitration. I have an official report of an interstate conference of employers held in Adelaide a few years ago.
– Since . the inception of federation?
– When was the conference held?
– It does not make any difference when it was held, as the employers to-day hold the same opinions as they did then. At this gathering which was held about 20 years ago certain resolutions were carried in favour of freedom of contract. In other words, the employers wanted to treat labour as they would treat anything else and pay whatever wages they desired. At that conference the employers also passed a resolution unanimously against the Arbitration Act and thanked the members of both Houses who had voted against the measure.
– They were apparently in complete agreement with Mr. Walsh, who is now where they then were.
– The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act had not then been passed.
– We had an Arbitration Act in force. The chairman of the conference to which I have referred; in referring to the Arbitration Act. said -
It is purely class legislation, and is for the purpose of strengthening the labour unions. It is an experiment to increase the. wages of workers and give them better wages and conditions in defiance of the economic law, and will prove a failure. This act will never work. We are all anxious for conciliation, but we will not accept compulsory arbitration.
-That is what Walsh said.
- Senator Thompson says that our Arbitration Act was not then in existence.
– Iwas thinking of an earlier period.
– One resolution . passed read - .
The Employers’ Federation thank those mem bers of both Houses who by their speeches and votes opposed the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill when before the Federal Legislature.
It is quite true that the Seamen’s Union has been deregistered, and if newspaper reports can be taken as correct the members ofthat organization are not too friendly disposed towards arbitration, and to that extent are like many employers in Australia to-day. I have in my possession a number of pamphlets one of which has been issued by the Single Purpose League, an organization which supports this Government.
– That is notso.
– Members of that organization are the conservative “ die-hards.” That pamphlet is in the main a republication of articles that from time to time have appeared in the Melbourne Argus, and on the title page is the title’“The Curse of Arbitration.”
– Mr. Walsh thoroughly agrees with that.
– Apparently the Seamen’s Union also found that the Arbitration Court was a cumbersome and costly institution. Its opponents, the ship-owners association, ohe of the wealthiest corporations in Australia, having at its disposal unlimited funds, could and did secure the best legal talent available, and placed in the way of the seamen all sorts of obstacles to prevent them from getting what they were entitled to receive.
– The honorable senator must know that in the last couple of years the shipping companies have been losing money.
– They have made immense fortunes for at least some of their shareholders. Their stocks have been frequently watered. Not one word has been said by an honorable senator opposite against the shipping combine, although it has always exploited the community, and during the war was nothing short of a “ professional “ patriot. According to some honorable senators opposite, combinations of workmen are a danger to the community.
– Who on this side has said that?’
– I shall tell the honorable senator in a moment. They hold different views regarding these combinations of capitalists, who increase their freights and fares, who so arrange their business as to eliminate competition, who are in a sense one institution, and against whom Senator Lynch and Senator Pearce were arrayed only a few years ago. Senator Lynch in those days was in his element in vigorously denouncing . this powerful octopus. To-day all his ammunition is directed against that section of the community that we on this side represent to the best of our ability. The Leader of the Senate has asked me who on that side are opposed to unionism. Senator J: D. Millen on one occasion said, in effect, that unionism, numerically and financially weak, is all right; but numerically and financially strong and powerful is a danger which must be regulated. What does that statement convey? The honorable senator, I believe, expressed the views of the Government. The Government would lose no opportunity that presented itself to weaken unionism in Australia. This bill is a direct attack on unionism.
– Senator Millen’s words have been twisted by the honorable senator into something that he did not either say or mean.
– When Senator Millen is present he can speak for himself.
– I, as his friend, say that for him.
– He said that unionism might become so powerful, if it were one big union, that it would have to be regulated.
– Friendly societies have to be regulated, but. action along those lines is not an indication of hostility to them.
– During the last two or three weeks vitriolic attacks have been made in this chamber and in another place with a view to prejudicing certain men who are associated with a particular organization. Articles that appear in the daily newspapers from time to time are often written at the dictates of newspaper czars. Associated with newspaperdom in this and the other states are men for whom I have the highest respect and regard. Many articles that contain incorrect statements, and are written for a deliberate purpose, do not express the personal opinions of the men who write them. In newspaperdom to-day there are powerful organizations, one of which is the Journalists’ Association. The members of that association know - none better- that many years ago the lot of the newspaper man, like that of the policeman in “ The Pirates of Penzance,” was, “not a happy one.” When they founded their organization and became powerful, they were able to obtain better conditions.
– Through the Arbitration Court.
– If any honorable senator opposite were to say that trouble in the ranks of that association was traceable solely to the president and the secretary, the rank and file of the members would laugh the statement to scorn. Here we have an organization of seafaring men.. . Before the advent of these gentlemen to whom more than a passing reference has been made in another place, before their elevation to responsible positions in the organization, other men held similar posts. Was Australia free from trouble then? These men are not self -elected ; they are elected by the members of their organization.
– And many of those members never have a chance to vote.
– Honorable senators opposite claim to believe in democracy. What is the cardinal principle of democracy? When any matter arises affecting the principles, to uphold which they are banded together, both rank and file of the members’ of the organization, and the office bearers, are! in loyalty bound to carry out the instructions of the majority: Because they do that, the officers are singled out for. special critieism. If some persons had their way, they would be crucified. Yet there are those who flippantly say, “ If you get rid of the office bearers the trouble will cease.” All that has been and is being said against the men who fill these high’ and responsible positions has been said about every trade union leader since unionism came into being. What was said regarding the leadersof the maritime strike iu Victoria?
– Come down to recent history.
– It is apropos of this bill.
– What about the conditions that obtained in those days?
– Is the world to stand still ? Is no progress to be made ?
– The shipping is standing still.
– Whose fault is that? We have a Commonwealth Shipping Line on which the Government was in duty bound to rigidly observe proper conditions of employment. The Government put those ships’ out of commission and chartered others with a view to disregarding the provisions of the Navigation Act. . Trouble began, and there has been trouble ever since. After months of industrial turmoil, the Commonwealth Shipping Board set a good example to the ship-owners of Australia by agreeing to embody in its articles the conditions which the seamen desired to have observed.
– The honorable senator condemns the Shipping Board in one sentence and applauds it in the next.
– It was the Government that I condemned.
– It was the Commonwealth Shipping Board that chartered those vessels to which the honorable senator referred.
– The board did not then have the power to do what it is doing to-day.
– It had the power to charter those ships, and it did so.
-With the consent of the Government.
– It did not consult the Government in either case.
– I take that statement cum grano salis. Certain men came to Melbourne with no other purpose than to seek the co-operation of the Prime Minister in an endeavour to bring this dispute to a conclusion that would be satisfactory to all parties. The Prime Minister, in reply, stated that it was to be a fight to a finish. But notwithstanding what the Prime Minister said, although they were discouraged and disheartened, they were still determined to leave no stone unturned to bring the dispute to a settlement as quickly as possible. For a time they carried on negotiations with the ship-owners. The deputation came from New South Wales for no other purpose than to prevent an industrial upheaval. Later on we know what the Labour Premier of New South Wales did, and, according to a report published in the press, the Labour Premier of Tasmania has settled a difficulty which would have occurred in his state.
– By a complete surrender of everything.
– He has agreed to embody in the articles of the state ships conditions which the seamen enjoyed prior to the deregistration of the union. The ship-owners of the Commonwealth say, “ We do not intend to disregard the award of the Arbitration Court,” but the seamen say, “That is only your assurance. Put your signature to the articles, and the ships will be manned. ‘ ‘ The shipowners say, “ We will not do that,” and the seamen say, “ If you will not do it we will not man the ships.” That is the position as it is to-day. Does the Government honestly believe that by suspending the main provisions of the Navigation Act this unfortunate dispute will be brought to a close?
– The Government undoubtedly believes that the passing of this bill will be a great factor in helping to bring the dispute to a close.
– I am anxious that the Government should try to avoid any recurrence of those industrial upheavals which have caused so much distress in Australia. But men will stand steadfast to principles, and be loyal to their organizations, and if it is to bo a declaration of war, as apparently it is to be, on the part of the Government against organized labour in the form of unionism, the fight will be a serious and a deadly one.
– If the honorable senator wants peace, why does he try to mislead the men by telling them things which are untrue?
– I am not endeavouring to mislead any one. I have been associated with industrialism for a long period of years. I have seen and have been associated with many disputes. There is no one more anxioUs for their peaceful settlement than are members of the party with which I had the honour to be associated. We do not seek these quarrels. The seamen did not seek this particular quarrel. The ship-owners sought to deregister them, and succeeded in doing so. The seamen are not crying over that matter. They believe they are strong’ enough to retain without an arbitration award those conditions they obtained through an award.
– They are asking only for what the award gave them.
– Yes. Is there anything unreasonable or unjust in that ? Would an honorable senator who is a business man be satisfied with the word of another when paying an account? It is likely that some honorable senators would, but most people would want a receipt, because a receipt is a very handy thing to have. In the same way the seamen want something more than the word of the ship-owners. It is just an ordinary business proposition.
– But they cannot expect to have a one-sided arrangement.
– I am pleased that the honorable senator has said that. There cannot be a dispute without two sides to it.
– The seamen want job control and the arbitration award at the same time.
– Job. control again! “That blessed word Mesopo- tamia.” The phrase has become an obsession with the Minister. Some pf those who talk about job control ought to go into the kindergarten school of industrialism. In every well-regulated workshop and factory there is a delegate whose duty it is to see that the working conditions- are properly observed.
– All arbitration awards make provision for their observance.
– The Leader of the Senate is not so1 innocent as that. He knows that in connexion with every calling to-day there are delegates, or shop stewards, who carry out the duty I have mentioned.
– That is so, but they do not exercise job control.
– They exercise control to the extent that they keep the employers up to the mark.
– Yes, under the award, but not by unlawful means.
– There is nothing unlawful in having a delegate on a ship to see that an award is carried out.
– But the seamen adopt unlawful means in carrying out job control.’
– It is their duty to see that no award of the court is evaded. I am sorry that there is any award which renders it necessary to employ delegates or shop stewards.
– Does the honorable senator endorse all that has been done by the seamen in regard to the Arbitra: ti on. Act ?
– I am in favour of the Labour party’s platf orm which embraces arbitration. There are some unions, not many, it is true, who are opposed to it, just as there are some employers who are opposed to it. I do not forget what the Minister, said in introducing the bill, that it was for the purpose of settling industrial unrest, and preventing distress; but surely in his heart of hearts be cannot believe that a Government should take sides in a dispute like this.
– I refuse to believe that the Government has ever taken sides in any dispute.
– It is the duty of the Government to see that Acts of Parliament are strictly observed.
– - That is what the” Government is endeavouring to do.
– The Government professes to be in favour of a White Australia, and of the provisions embodied in the Navigation Act for the protection of seafaring .men, yet in this bill it is proposed to put into the. melting pot all those provisions without which the act would be of little or no use for the protection of seafaring men.
– Only’ if it is essential to do so.
– If that is to bedone, the White Australia policy will be sacrificed.
– Nonsense !
– It will go overboard, so far as shipping is concerned. Ministers cannot get away from the’ fact that the Navigation Act was intended mainly for the protection of the seamen of Australia against underpaid and overworked seamen’ in other countries.
– The first trade unionist in Australia to repudiate the White Australia, doctrine was the secretary of the Seamen’s “Union.
– The employers of Australia were the first, to declare against a White Australia. At an interstate conference of employers a few years ago, the president said, in effect, “We want immigration. As we import commodities we should import labour, be it black or white.” We do not object to any one because of his colour, but we do object to a man of alien race, unaccustomed to our habits and our civilization, ‘coming here unless he complies with the conditions that apply in Australia. So far as coloured seamen are concerned, Ave know that they get- the wages the white man gets, so long as .they belong to the union. We also know that the objective of those who believe in having any sort of Australia, black or white, is cheap coloured labour, imported under conditions which- are a disgrace to any civilized community. I should like to see the Government hesitate before they take the extreme step of pushing this bill through. It is not yet too late for the dispute to be settled. I expect that honorable senators on both sides feel very strongly on the matter, but there should be give-and-take in regard to all proposals. Senator Wilson says that the passage of this bill is the way to settle, the dispute. I say it is not. . But it should be settled, and. as soon as possible. If the Government would only take the right course in one or two moves the whole trouble would be smoothed over?
– What move could the Government take?
– That of putting up their hands.
– No, I do not suggest that; but the Government is not so big or so dignified that it cannot take part in an honest endeavour to settle a dispute which threatens to have such farreaching consequences.
– The Government is willing to do that, but it is not willing to . hand- over the control of the country to certain individuals.
– No one desires that sort of thing. I could not take Senator Lynch’s statement seriouslythat two or three men want to run the country, that they are a danger to the community, and may bring about an upheaval such as has occurred in Russia.N obody who is mentally sound talks about a bloody revolution being imminent in Australia.
– Thehonorable senator is the only honorable senator who has spoken of a bloody revolution in this debate.
– Time after time it has been said that a few men are desirous of overthrowing the Government of thecountry. Such an argument is . too stupid for words, because trade unionists can accomplish in a peaceful way through the ballot-box anything that is not contrary to the will of the people.
-Now the honorable, senator is talking in a sensible way.
– I hope that I have been from the commencement of my remarks. I well remember the trouble experienced by the Labour party in securing the passage of the Navigation Bill, and how vested interest were ranged against it. I recollect how the present leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) defended every provision in the bill, particularly those affecting the working conditions of the men engaged in the coasting trade. If he were not associated with the present Governmenthe would be standing now as in years gone by for unionism, and expressing views similar to my own.
– I have never stood for the brand of unionism that men like Walsh advocate.
– I deprecatethe suggestion’ that if two or three individuals were disposed of; perfect peace industrially, would follow. The Australian Workers Union, of which. Senator Barnes is president, has helped, perhaps more than any other organization,’ to advance the cause of unionism in these southern seas.
– That body stands for the maintenance of the arbitration laws.
– Its members number over 100,000, but if a dispute affecting that powerful organization occurred, does any honorable senator opposite suggest that the whole of the responsibility would rest upon the shoulders of Senator Barnes, the secretary (Mr. Grainger) and the executive officers of that union ? Would they be singled out for special criticism as had certain members of the Seamen’s Union?
– Obviously . not, because the Australian Workers Union does not do what the Seamen’s Union does.
– Every government advances the same old excuse when it wants to take action that is inimical to the best interests of the working class. Senator Reid has been a stalwart fighter for unionism in Queensland in days gone by. His voice was then always raised on. the side of the workers.
– It is now when unionism is sane.
– In those days all the leaders of. Labour who participated in the bigdisputes of the Shearers Union were regarded by our opponents as insane and dangerous men. Senators Pearce, Reid, and Lynch took an active part in the early industrial struggles, and they know that many disputes which threatened to paralyse industry were settled. No honorable senator on this side desires to see the trade and commerce of the country dislocated and armies of unionists thrown out of work. We therefore urge the Government in all seriousness to hesitate before taking the extreme step now contemplated. Surely. Ministers do not imagine that they will be able to get qualified persons to man the ships, if it is decided to commission them.If the seamen will not man the vessels to-day it is because the owners will not observe the award of the court.
– They said that they would.
– If they give that understanding in writing the dispute will end. Since the seamen will not work under conditions other thanthose, laid down by the court, it is not reasonable to expect that their services can be commanded, and, therefore, war has been declared against all members of the Seamen’s Union.
– And against the Commonwealth Shipping Line.
SenatorFINDLEY - The Shipping Board was appointed to manage a line of steamers that is the propertyof the people of Australia, and on those vessels the conditions that obtained previous to the union’s deregistration are to be observed. Now the Government asks for power to abrogate certain provisions of theNavigation Act to enable it to employ any labour it likes:
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight . to 1 a.m. (Thursday).
Thursday, 16 July 1925,
– Nothing would be more regrettable than that Australian ships should be manned by coloured crews who would be fighting our own white men. Surely no honorable senator opposite would desire a fight of that nature to take place. But that is what we may anticipate if this bill becomes law.
– What is the use of fighting a shadow?
– It is not a shadow, if we are to take any notice of what the Minister in charge of the bill has said: His language was not in any way ambiguous when he stated that, if it were considered necessary’ by the Government, coloured labour would be employed on the ships.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland), - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Grant), “ That Senator Findley be granted an extension of 30 minutes.” negatived.
– One reason which has been given for the urgency of this measure is that at the end of this week it is proposed” to adjourn Parliament for the period that the American Fleet will be in Melbourne, but a greater reason than that exists for the expeditious treatment of this bill. Honorable members who have objected to this measure are aware of the critical position which obtains to-day in the shipping industry. During the last week or two vessels have been held up one by one, and only yesterday more were added to the list. . Unfortunately, everything points to a general hold-up of shipping. No honorable senator can regret that more than I do; I hope that some means will yet be devised to avert such a calamity. From the remarks of honorable senators opposite one would think that this bill dealt specifically with the present dispute between the Seamen’s Union and the Ship-owners’ Association.
– The Minister made that clear.
– The purpose of the bil] is to ensure that precautions will be taken to prevent a general hold-up of our communications by water. In view of the present situation and the possibilities before us, the failure of the Ministry to bring in such a bill would have been an evidence of criminal neglect of the best interests of Australia. It has been suggested that this legislation is intended as a blow at trade unionism, but honorable senators know that that. is not so. Any one who cares . to analyse the measure with an unbiased mind-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT(Senator Newland). - Order ! I call the. attention of Senator Barnes to the fact that smoking in the chamber is not permitted.
– Mr. Deputy President, will you inform me under what standing order you refuse to allow me to smoke in the chamber ? .
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable, senator knows well that smoking is notpermitted in the chamber.
– I think that that is not so . If you will permitme-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable . senator may dispute my ruling if he feels so inclined. He knows the procedure that must be followed.
– Although I do not agree with your ruling, I am not disposed to dispute it.
– The argument has also been advanced thatthe purpose of the bill is to replace white labour on the ships with coloured or hybrid labour.
That also is not true. This measure is an attempt to carry out the announced intention of the Prime Minister to do all in his power to maintain regular shipping services.
– He said it was to be a fight to a finish.
– I shall come to that directly. No one with an unbiased mind can object to the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister in connexion with this matter. We have heard a good deal of Mr. Walsh, president of the Seamen’s Union. Honorable senators know that Mr. Walsh distinctly stated that he was opposed to constitutional methods, and that only by revolutionary methods could the union gain its ends.
– When did he say that?
– He said it when he was appointed to the position that he now holds.
– Does the honorable senator know that some years ago the present High Commissioner, Sir Joseph Cook, said that he was a republican and hated the monarchial system ; that he stood for an Australian Republic?
– I do not care what any one says - we have a Constitution which makes usthe freest people on God’s earth. Under the Constitution we are bound to adopt constitutional methods, and not attempt to obtain anything by force or revolution, if we desire to be loyal to Australia.
– The honorable senator is supporting those who are seeking’ to bring about a revolution. We on this side stand for constitutional action.
– The bill is a simple measurewhich provides that, if trouble arises, action can. be taken to insure the continuance of sea communications.
– Does the necessity exist now?
– I am not saying that it does, but unfortunately there are indications that it soon will. If the Ministry had waited until after the departure of the American Fleet to introduce this bill, and in the meantime the trade and commerce ofAustralia had been held up by a shipping strike, honorable senators opposite would have denounced it for its inaction. Surely it is better to provide for contingencies than to wait until disaster overtakes u9, and then seek to find a remedy’. It has been said that this is panic legislation; but that is not so. The Prime Minister’s statement that this would have to be a fight to a finish has been construed to mean that the right honorable gentleman is prepared to do anything to injure the Seamen’s Union. The facts, however, are entirely different. While it is true that Mr. Bruce did use the words “ a fight to a finish,” I desire to place those words in their proper setting, so that the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister may be correctly presented to the Senate. The Prime Minister is reported in the press as having said -
– Where was the statement made?
– At a meeting of the Rotary Club. Senator Hannan referred to the speech the Prime Minister made on that occasion, and said he declared there would be a fight to. a finish. What the right honorable gentleman actually said on that occasion was -
The fundamental thing that is destroying this country is fomented, and increased, and aided by men who are doing everything in their power to prevent such prosperity coming to Australia as we long to see. If we can destroy that fundamental cause we will come to the prosperity that we so much desire. All smaller causes have no effect.
The underlying thing that is Bapping our national confidence is this doctrine that is strangling industry to-day, and preventing the development that we might expect. (Applause.) If we could get rid of that we should see the end of the problem. There should be no difficulty in getting rid of it. It is not as if we had great sections of the community imbued with class consciousness. It is not that men and women to-day are being faced with burdens that are being placed upon them, or being denied fair conditions. There is nothing in our national life that should cause the canker to increase and spread. It is the work of a small group of people in this country determined to import into Australia that hideous, poisonous doctrine that is prevalent in other parts of the world. If ever in our history we want the clear recognition of our people it is in regard to this matter. What is the basis of this trouble which appears to be threatening us? Is it caused through industrial unrest and general discontent? No. The workers of this country - the great mass of them, at least - recognize that the conditions they enjoy are incomparably better than in any other part of the world. There is, properly speaking, no industrial unrest in this country. There is no mass of workers that wants to destroy the basis of our national life and substitute something else for it. The majority of our people is content, with no desire for any change but that brought about by evolution.
If you examine this industrial unrest you will find that it is almost confined to one individual section - the seamen. They, unfortunately, are the men who are employed in one of our national services, which is an artery down which the whole trade of the nation has to flow. Among the ranks of the seamen it would take a lot to convince me that there is any unrest. (Applause.) The trouble is due only and entirely to the way in which they are being led. “ I have seen these seamen,” Mr. Bruce went on, “ and have been told of what is happening. I have been told of a case when the fiat went forth that .a ship was only- to be held up at the last minute by the men jumping off and leaving her undermanned. I have been told that some of these men came back to the superintendent of the shipping company and told him that they did not want to do it, but they dared not disobey- the orders of the union. If the seamen could only take control of their own union I am certain that the trouble would disappear altogether. The seamen ‘ go down to the sea. in ships ‘ and they have not !he same control of their own affairs as other unionists. ‘ Co not be always ready to condemn the seamen for their pernicious doctrines. The seamen at heart are all right. (Loud cheers.)’ I believe that they are going to get rid of those men that are trying to destroy the future of every industry of Australia, and bring privation upon every individual that is dependent on the worker. “ I must emphasize this, point. The action that has been taken by that particular union, through its leaders, is not a matter that should merely be a cause of alarm and consternation to any section, but to every section of the community,, and upon all industrialists and trade unions. They are the people against whom these formenters of strife are working. They are working against the very principle that unions have striven for, against the whole basis of peaceful settlement of industrial disputes within the country, and no one subscribes to that principle more than the working class. I am certain that the whole industrial move.ment in Australia is opposed to the tactics that have- been adopted by the seamen and their leaders. If the leaders of unionism have the’ courage to give a bold lead to trade unionists generally and the workers of Australia, then the tactics of foreign, imported agitators can count as nothing. The greatest responsibility rests upon .the whole of the leaders of the industrial movement to show whether they will tolerate these tactics any longer. There is no industrial unrest and no necessity for any thing of the sort.” . ‘
I wish honorable senators to listen particularly to the following: -
If industrialists as a whole can lead these men to reason there is very little after all in this canker. If not, we will have to come to a fight. (Prolonged applause.) And if it is going to come to a fight let us remember that these men have declined to remain within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court and tq observe their obligations there. They have outlawed themselves from the industrial system that exists in this country. If they still persist they have got to be fought, and fought to a finish.
Honorable senators should read what ied up to the use of the words which have been so frequently quoted during this debate. I stand behind the Prime Minister in the attitude he has adopted,, and I am sure every reputable citizen will support the Government in the action being taken.
– Apparently the whip has been cracked.
– The whip has not been cracked. The honorable senator should speak for- himself and those with whom he is associated, but he should notdare to refer in such terms to honorable senators on this side of the chamber, who are free to act ais they desire. That is more than can be said of the members of the Labour party. If the whole of the speeches delivered during this debate were read by the people, of Australia, they would, soon discover who were their friends and who were their enemies. 1 am confident that those with whom I am associated are the true representatives of the Australian workers.
– The honorable senator’s attitude towards this bill does hot give that impression.
– It does. Those -who are supporting the bill are . acting in the interests of Australian workmen, because if it should become necessary to give effect to itS provisions hundreds of thousands of deserving Australian citizens will benefit. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that if our shipping services are disorganized, and the transport of various commodities between the states is interfered with, people will not be seriously inconvenienced, ‘ and in many cases subjected to .extreme hardship ? Will any one dare to suggest, that in a time of shipping crisis any legal means taken to transport goods and passengers to various parts of the Commonwealth will not be a blessing to hundreds of thousands of people? I trust that this measure, which has not been brought forward- without due consideration, will have a speedy passage.
– That was decided at your caucus meeting.
– A meeting of the members of the party to which I belong may have been held, but I was not present. If this measure had not been introduced at this critical period in our industrial history, the present Government could not expect to receive the support of intelligent people. I trust, therefore, that honorable senators will see the wisdom of allowing the bill to pass within, a reasonable period, so that the shipping services, which are so essential to the Commonwealth, may be maintained.
– Why does not the honorable senator take a broad national view of the question?
– That is what I am doing. The policy which I am supporting will benefit the whole of the people, and not only those from whom I may expect support at the next election. Honorable senators opposite are merely tickling the ears of certain members of the community.
– The honorable senator is not an “ ear-tickler.”
– No, I am a nationalist, and am not afraid to frankly express my views, and support any measure the objects of which are in the interests of the whole community.
– I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without entering an emphatic protest against the action of the Government in bringing forward an amending Navigation Bill at this juncture, and endeavouring to rush it through before honorable senators have had an opportunity to thoroughly consider its provisions. It would appear from a statement made by the Minister for Markets and Migration (Senator Wilson), when moving the second reading of the bill, that honorable senators opposite” are in this chamber for the purpose of doing the bidding of those who sent them here. Whom do they represent ? .
– Does the honorable senator think that we do not receive any Labour votes?
– The people whom honorable senators opposite represent are the shareholders of shipping companies, and the members of the great Inchcape Combine.
– The members of that combine have not any votes in Australia.
– No, but they can provide the money.
– The Government and its supporters are bringing this measure forward with the idea of assisting those who helped to return them to this Parliament.
– That is nonsense.
– It is a fact, as the Minister states, that many votes may not be involved, but the combinations to which I have referred can supply the money, which is an essential factor.
– How much?
– Practically the . whole of the financial support received by the party opposite comes from the faction now opposing the seamen in this particular dispute. A great deal has been said in regard to arbitration, and the manner in which awards of the Arbitration Court have been observed by trade union organizations throughout Australia. I know something concerning arbitration, and the way in which employers have endeavoured to evade the awards of the court. On one occasion I had the honour of holding the office of president of the Amalgamated Miners Association of New South Wales, which obtained an award in the Arbitration Court. For a period after that award came into operation the employers generally throughout the. state observed it, but after a while quite a number of complaints were received from mining fields in different parts of the state that the conditions of the award were not being observed. It was necessary for my organization to expend a very large sum of money to police the award. I was appointed an awards investigation officer to inquire into the complaints that were made. I had to issue summonses against quite a number of employers in. different parts of the state, and bring them before the court to secure for the employees the conditions and the rates of wages set out in the award.
– Did the employers lock out their employees?
– They did not; but they did what was just as. bad, in that they endeavoured to cheat their employees out of their rights.
– The courts assisted the honorable senator to see that they did not do so.
– Only by the vigilance of members of the organization were the employees able to secure what they were entitled to receive. One would imagine that after a union had incurred the expense of obtaining an award from the Arbitration Court the’ employers would, as a matter of honour, meet their obligations.
– A great majority of them do.
– Every industrial organization in the Commonwealth has had a similar experience. There is not an award that has not in some instances been broken by the employers. One of the greatest offenders has been the Commonwealth Shipping Board, a body that was created by the Commonwealth Government to control the destinies of the Commonwealth Shipping Line.
– Has the board been prosecuted ?
– No. The board did not observe the conditions laid down in the award that was given to the marine cooks, butchers, and bakers union. That was oneof the principal causes of the trouble that arose in the Commonwealth Shipping Line. .
– Why . was the. board not prosecuted?
– I do not know. Unfortunately I was not an executive officer of that organization. Had I been, I should have made it my business to see that the Commonwealth Shipping Board answered to the court for its misdeeds. A test case was stated, and the employees were successful. . The board did not, however, ‘ apply the verdict to the whole of the employees concerned ; every individual employee had to sue it to obtain his rights. During this debate much has been said regarding employees who break awards. Mr. Tom Walsh also has been frequently referred to. I hold no brief for Mr. Walsh; but in this trouble I would sooner stand behind him than behind the shipping companies, as the Government is doing. By its partisan attitude from the commencement of the trouble the Government is compelling members of the Labour party to stand behind the seamen. Bight, at the begin- ning of the trouble efforts were made in New South Wales to effect a settlement. Responsible members of the trade union movement met to consider the means that were best calculated to prevent an industrial upheaval. I was at Parliament House in Sydney during the progress of certain negotiations. I saw there Mr: Tom Walsh, Mr. Johannsen, the Premier of New South. Wales, Mr. Lang, the VicePresident of the Legislative Council, Mr. Willis, and other responsible representatives of the trade union movement. What wasthe result of the activities of the Premier of New South Wales? After the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union, the dispute hinged upon the question whether the award of the Arbitra tion Court should be embodied in. the seamen’s articles. A discussion took place between the representatives of the organizations concerned, the heads of the Commonwealth Shipping Board, and the Premier of New South Wales, and the board agreed to the proposal of the Seamen’s Union.
– The proposal was not put forward by the seamen’s organization.
– The proposals were put forward by the seamen’s organization, through the transport group, and they were accepted by the Commonwealth Shipping Board.
– The board accepted the guarantee of the transport workers’ group.
– That is so.
– What was that guarantee ?
– That the boats would be manned, and the service maintained continuously..
– How does the transport workers’ group propose to ensure the observance of those conditions?
– I cannot say. What I do say is that the Commonwealth Ship-‘ ping Board considered the guarantee to be sufficient, accepted the assurance that was given, and signed the agreement. I assume that that attitude was a. right one, or it would not have been adopted by the board. Rather than see the country plunged into an industrial upheaval it used a little common sense.
SenatorFoll. - Will the seamen work the boats of. the Commonwealth Shipping Line in the interstate trade if the coastal boats are laid up?
– I shall come to that point directly. If it was right for the board to accept the guarantees that were given by the transport workers group, it should be right for the Steamship Owners Federation to accept similar guarantees.
– Is it not a fact that other companies were prepared to sign, but the seamen refused to man their ships because these companies belonged to the combine?
– The ships of Burns, Philp and Company, who signed the agreement, are still working, and the service of the Patrick Line of steamers will be maintained. During the course of his remarks, Senator Payne declared that the bill had been introduced for the purpose of ensuring that transportation between state and state should not be interfered with ; but Senator Wilson, who is in charge of the measure, made it quite clear that it had been introduced, for the purpose of bringing about industrial peace. Instead of doing so, it will plunge Australia into greater industrial war than it has ever known. Is the Government so barren of ideas that this is the only suggestion it can put forward to bring about industrial peace? Surely there is sufficient intelligence among honorable senators opposite to give us something better than a measure that will bring about, not industrial peace, but industrial war.
– The honorable senator has also a responsibility in that regard.
– I realize it, and that is why I am endeavouring to prevent the Navigation Act .from being amended, and am asking the Government to intervene, even at this late hour, and bring about a round-table conference of the parties concerned. If each party to the dispute lays its cards on the table at such a conference, the trouble will be settled very speedily. I listened to Senator Wilson talking about the distress that is likely to come about . if an industrial upheaval should take place. I have a vivid recollection of the privations endured by quite a large number of people during the nine weeks’ strike in 1917.
– That was a very stupid affair.
– It was; it could have been obviated without any difficulty if a -little common sense had been used. And the impending dispute can be obviated if a little common sense is used; whereas, if. an attempt is made to apply coercive measures, the trouble will be aggravated.
– By whom should the common sense be exercised?
– By the Government of the day. The trouble could be brought to a satisfactory conclusion within two days. The trade union movement in New South Wales,, backed up by the trade union movement in Melbourne, held out the olive branch a. few days ago and offered the ship-owners an undertak ing that the conditions prevailing in the Commonwealth Line of Steamships would be observed in the steamshipowners’ vessels if the owners would grant the modest request put forward by the Seamen’s Union, that the rates of pay and conditions of labour provided for in the recent arbitration award should be embodied in the ships’ articles. The shipowners’ reply was, “We will not negotiate on those conditions.” A deputation from the transport workers group in New South Wales came to Melbourne to interview the Prime Minister, with the idea of getting him to use his influence in the matter and intervene, in the dispute. If he had done so, he would not have been the first Prime Minister of . Australia to intervene in an industrial dispute. The ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) intervened when industrial trouble was about to eventuate in New South Wales between the coal miners and mine-owners. . As a result of his intervention a tribunal was appointed to investigate the grievances of the miners. That tribunal is still in existence, and it has been responsible for preventing a great deal of industrial unrest in Australia. Had Mr. Hughes not intervened, the country would have been plunged into an industrial upheaval and a commodity indispensable to the manufacturing industries throughout the whole of the states would have been unobtainable. As a result of his intervention, however, the coal mining industry continued in full operation, ‘with satisfactory results both to employees and employers. The. bill proposes to suspend the operation of the whole of Part VI. of the Navigation Act. Clause 3 provides -
After section two hundred and ninety-three of the principal act, the following section is inserted in Part VI. : - “293a. (1) The Governor-General may, if at any time he considers it expedient in the .public interest to do so, by Proclamation suspend, for such time as is specified in the Proclamation, the operation of any of the foregoing provisions of this Part, as regards any ship or class of ships, and either unconditionally or subject to such conditions (if any) as he thinks fit to impose. 3
A Proclamation issued in pursuance of the preceding sub-section may provide for suspension for the period specified in the Proclamation or may provide for suspension ‘ until the issue of a Proclamation revoking the prior Proclamation.”
– It might be just as well to embody in Mansard the provisions proposed to be eliminated.
– I am just about to do so.
– The honorable senator has before him the original act, which has been amended. He should quote from the consolidated statute.
– This is still operative. Part VI. reads as follows: - 284. This part of this act shall, except where otherwise expressed, apply to all ships (whether British or foreign), 285. This part of this act shall come into operation on a date tobe fixed by proclamation, but shall not come into operation on the date fixed for the commencement of this act unless the proclamation fixing that date expressly declares that this part is to come into operation on that date. 286. The Governor-General may by order declare that the carrying of. passengers between specified ports in Australia by British ships shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds.
Penalty (on master, owner, or agent) : Five hundred pounds.
Every licence shall be issued subject to compliance on the part of the ship, her master, owner, and agent, during such time as she is engaged in the coasting trade, with the following conditions : -
Penalty (on owner) : Ten pounds.
Where, by reason of a seaman being entitled to a higher rate of wages while the ship on which he serves is engaged in the coasting trade -
Those are the. provisions of the act that this bill proposes to amend.
– Senator Elliott drew attention to the fact that the honorable senator was reading from an old act, but he took no notice of his remark. The act from which the honorable senator was reading is not up to date.
– But the conditions of part VI. of the act from which I have read are embodied in their entirety in tne consolidated statute.
– With amendments.
– And with considerable amendments, too.
– If the bill is put into operation, it will mean the abrogation of the whole of that part of the act. One or two minor amendments may have been passed, but the conditions generally laid down in part VI, from section 2S4 to section 293, are embodied in the Consolidated Act at the present time. The ship-owners, assisted by the Commonwealth Government, have succeeded in obtaining the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union:
– The union, by its action for months past, has asked for deregistration.
– Now the union has not the protection provided by theconditions laid down by the court, and it is compelled, therefore, to insist that the ship-owners throughout the Commonwealth . shall state in black and white that, they are prepared to observe the rates of wages and the conditions fixed by thecourt. The ship-owners say that they are prepared to observe those conditions, and the Seamen’s Union makes the modest request that they shall prove their bona fides by putting their statement in black and white, so that the union shall not be tricked as it has been many times in the past. . . If the ship-owners adopt that course, the seamen will be prepared to man the vessels, and the dispute will be ended.
– If the honorable senator who has just resumed his. seat, and other honorable, senators on his side of the chamber, had made their appeal to those engaged in the transport work of the Commonwealth, they would have rendered a service to Australia. Honorable senators opposite claim to be speaking for the trade union movement, but it would be reassuring to know that they were speaking on behalf of the transport group, including the seamen. If they had urged upon that section the observance of the principles of arbitration, and, more particularly, conciliation, many of the industrial disputes of the past would not have occurred. Have we read any speeches by them in which they have appealed to the unions to stand by arbitration and conciliation, and condemned the method of resorting to strikes ? With their tongues in their cheeks they now try to make the Senate believe that they are advocating conciliation and arbitration.
– They are absolute hypocrites.
- Senator Foll has accused honorable senators on this side of being hyDocrites. I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - I did not hear the remark.
– I now inform you. Mr. Deputy President, that the honorable senator made- that remark, and, as it is offensive, I ask that you call upon- him to withdraw” it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Senator Hays, not Senator Foll. is address- ing the Chair’. Senator McHugh may, if he so desires, take the proper’ steps to achieve his object.
– We . have heard a great deal of the rights of trade unionists; much has also been said concerning the -practices of the shipping combine, but. the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber said nothing about the rights of the people of Australia who are outside the unions and combines he mentioned. I have not yet heard any honorable senator on this side, of the chamber speak, against arbitration and conciliation.
– We forced honorable senators to accept the system.
– Arbitration has become the accepted policy pf Australia, and we: on this side stand for it. Although much has been said regarding the present shipping dispute, honorable senators opposite have taken care not to refer to its cause. . From their remarks one might be led to believe that something entirely new to Australia had taken place, but,- unfortunately, similar (troubles have occurred year after year. I do not say that the employers have never broken the awards of the Arbitration Court.
– When they did so, they were fined.
– Senator Gibbs referred to the awards made in connexion with the mining industry, and stated that the mine owners had to be forced to observe them; but honorable senators know that Government inspectors had to be appointed to see that the miners themselves carried out the regulations relating to the use of sprinklers for keeping down the dust, and for other purposes. No one on this side- offers any apology for the refusal of any employer to- observe the awards of the court. The Seamen’s Union was deregistered because Mr. Walsh, the president of the union, asked for it. The judge warned. him what the result would be if the union failed to comply with the court’s order to provide crews for the two vessels, and. he undertook to accept the full responsibility for not doing so. ‘
The judge then appealed to him to consider the seriousness of his contemplated action, a;nd Mr. Walsh replied that he recognized the gravity of the situation, but declined to obey the order of the court. I ask any honorable senator if he approves of that action of Mr. Walsh. Senator Findley argued that Mr. Walsh was elected to his present position by the members of the union, and that whatever action he takes in. his official capacity has the full- concurrence of the members of the union. Senator Findley may be in a position to speak for the Seamen’s Union, but I should like to remind him that many seamen tell a very different story. Numbers of them have informed me that when the meetings of the union are held they are at sea, earning an honest living and endeavouring to . make provision for the proper maintenance of their, families, they have stated that there is a class of men who, while they claim to be seamen, are really “ hangers on “ at the Trades Hall, and that these resolutions are carried by such men in the absence of the genuine seamen. Where is our boasted democracy when such things can take place? The men who are the backbone of the union, and responsible for the transport services of this” country, have little or no voice in the working of the organization. . Information of that nature has been volunteered to me by men engaged in the shipping industry. ‘ Senator Gibbs said that all that the seamen ask for is that the last award of the court shall be embodied in the ship’s articles, but that the representative of the shipping companies had refused to accede to their request. What are the’ facts? A delegation representing the transport workers came to Melbourne from Sydney with the object of meeting the steamship owners. A meeting of the two parties was duly held, when the members of the delegation said that they had full’ power to speak on behalf of the Seamen’s Union. The ship-owners replied that if that were so the delegates; as proof of their bona fides, - should return to Sydney and persuade the Seamen’s Union to withdraw its threat to strike on the 14th of this month, arid that if that were done the ship-owners, would be prepared to, carry the negotiations to what they hoped would be a successful conclusion.
– “Why did the Government at that stage introduce discord by bringing in this bill?
– The door to an agreement is still open. The transport workers who came to Melbourne had no authority to speak on behalf of the Seamen’s Union.
– I believe that the honorable senator is honest in what he says, but I ask him why at that stage the Government created discord by introducing this measure?
– I say, without hesitation that the Government is doing a great service to Australia by introducing this measure. It is not the duty of the Government to destroy trade unionism, nor is it attempting to do so in this legislation. But it is its duty to see that’ the transport services of the Commonwealth are carried on, arid to provide itself with power to maintain essential services between the states. Honorable senators opposite who complain that the Government has” neglected its duty are equally responsible for seeing that the rights of all sections of the community are protected, and that proper services are maintained. .1 support the bill.
– I cannot allow the second reading of such an important measure as this to go to the vote without first expressing my opinion regarding it. Some years ago a man who figured prominently in the political life of Australia said, “Under no circumstances will one stone from the temple of labour be removed.” To-day I see two honorable senators who, when these words were uttered, were supporters of the gentleman who made them, but are to-day trying to remove one of the corner-stones of the Labour party’s policy. One of them is now a Minister; the other once held office in the Cabinet, but was afterwards removed from the Ministry. Although removed from office, he was used as a working horse, by the Government this afternoon’; while we were waiting for some honorable senators to make their appearance, he put in a good hour’s work.
– He performed like a thoroughbred.
– The honorable senator was treated as a draught horse and placed in the shafts. He was once a
Minister, but his services in that capacity were dispensed with.
– It is better to be a horse than a mule.
– Possibly the mule is on that side of the chamber and the horse on this. The honorable senator, who was once a leader in the team, is now in the shafts, and this afternoon when the whip was cracked by his bosses he did not like to come up to the collar. The Government had to adopt many measures’ in order to achieve its ends, included in which was the dispatch of an urgent message requesting the attendance of Senator Guthrie to give it a sufficient majority to carry the motion which was then under discussion. The honorable senator will always respond to the whip and do his job.
– Honorable senators opposite did the work for us this afternoon.
– If the honorable senator and those master tacticians with whom he is associated knew their work it would not have been necessary to compel Senator Guthrie to fly to Melbourne in the belief that a revolution had broken out and that his presence was immediately required in the Senate
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT .(Senator Newland). - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the bill.
– I am leading up to the bill, which is one of great importance.
– Why treat it as a joke ?
– The hilarity displayed during the discussion of this measure and the jocose spirit in which honorable .senators opposite have attempted to deal with it, makes one regret that the Government which they are supporting will for the next few months nave the fate of the Commonwealth in its hands. The Minister (Senator . Wilson), in moving the second reading of the bill, referred to the .fact that the Seamen’s Union has been deregistered. The union was deregistered on the application of’ the steam-ship owners.
– The union was dragged into the court and had not the money to oppose the application.
– No; the ship-! owners were able to retain ‘ the ‘services of leading King’s counsel, but the’ unfortunate seamen were “in the unfortunate position of being unable to fight their case in the court established for their protection. It is easy to see that this is all pact of a big political mme. The Minister . (Senaltor Wilson) is not prepared to tellthe people what we allknow is behind the proposal. It is a determined attempt on the part of the capitalists, who are strongly represented in thischamber to destroy trade unionism in Australia.
SenatorFoll. - The honorable senator does not believe . that.
– I sincerely believe that thatis theGovernment’s intention, and that is the principal reason why this measure is being bludgeonedthrough. Honorable senators opposite do not want the people of Australia to hear the truth.
– We are giving you the opportunity.
– Because you had to.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator must address the Chair.
– Every honorable senator has. the right to express to the people of Australia his opinion on the drastic action which the Government is now taking. One of the reasons which the Government gives for the hurried passage of this measure is that Parliament is goinginto recess during the forthcoming visit of the American Fleet. I presume “that during the visit honorable senators will be enjoying a holiday, but I am more concerned with the conditions prevailing in this country than I am with the prospects of a holiday. We shall be only too happy to welcome our American brothers, but the welfare of the Australian people is of more importance than welcoming people from overseas. I am glad that the vessels of the American Fleet are visiting Australia, and that from 20,000 to’ ‘30,000 of the United States navy men will have the opportunity of learning that we had a Navigation Act framed with the object of protecting their brother seamen on this side of the world, but that it is now being practically repealed in order to meet the wishes of a certain section opposed to trade unionism. I am hopeful that these men who are coming from overseas will on their return act as organizers in their own country, and will endeavour to see that the conditions in America are at least equal to those which existed here before this obnoxious measure was introduced. The effect of this amending bill is to virtually wipe out the Navigation Act. It issurprising to find the Government introducing this bill merely because it is afraid of two men. Has itnot the courage to deal with them,ifit so desires, in any other way? If the Labour party were in power to-day the presentdispute would not last . 24 hours, (notwithstanding any action which might be taken by those persons whom honorable senators opposite are representing and who supply them with braids with which to conduct their election campaign.
SenatorFoll. - More electioneering funds ave obtained by the partyon that sida of the chamber than by this party of which I am . a . member. “Jimmy” Catts told thepeople where themoney came from.
– ApparentlySen torFoll is not in possessionof the whole of the facts, or he would not make such a statement. We are informedthat the bill is urgent, and that immediate action must be taken; but the Government knew last week what was pending, and the Senate couldhave met on Monday of this week. If thathad been done more time could have been given to the consideration of the bill. Senator Reid does not even understand what the measure contains and appeared greatly surprised when certain of its provisions were quoted by Senator Gibbs. Even at this stage the Government should withdraw the bill, which isaltogether obnoxious, and will not be of the least assistance in bringing about industrial peace. I have had to listen to a lot of claptrap from honorable senatorsoppositewho know little concerning ithe industrial movement. Probably they would liketo select our leaders. If the Government could elect our leaders matters would, of course, go swimmingly. There would not be any industrial trouble, there would not be any friction, because the men would be under the whip of the Government, working all hours, for any pay that it thought fit to give them. I inform honorable senators opposite that the Labour movement will not allow them to select Its leaders. It will select its own leaders. Every union selects the officers that it wants, and will not agree to selection by any government. Honorable senators talk about the starvation that is likely to ensue ! On the face of the threat of the Prime Minister, ihat he is going to fight the men to a finish -
– He did not say that.
– He did say it. He has not denied having said it. I tell the Prime Minister and the members of the Government that there is still a little fight left in the working class of Australia. If honorable senators think that the action of any government will break the virile spirit of the Australian working man they are mistaken. This bill is an attempt to do that. From, it something else will be worked up. When the workers of Australia become alive to the fact that there is in the Commonwealth a National Government which would break down the White Australia policy and take away from our seamen the good conditions that exist in the ‘ coasting trade, they will give it a very short lease of life.
– Mr. Walsh said that he would throw open to Chinamen the ranks of the Seamen’s Union.
– There are no Chinese working on the coast at present. Unfortunately, there are many Chinese in Queensland. My concern is that honorable senators opposite want to bring a greater number of Chinese to this country. . .
– I say that the honorable senator is a liar !
– And I say that Senator Foll is a liar!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland) . - Order ! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that expression.
– Senator Foll called me a liar. You, sir. should have heard him. He has insulted me three or four times.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - If the honorable senator was’ called a liar he had a right to ask that the expression be withdrawn. Had he done so I should immediately have demanded its withdrawal. If Senator Foll used that expression, I ask him to withdraw it.
– The honorable senator pointed to me and said that I wished to introduce black men to this country. I say that he is a liar.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT . - I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that expression.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I again ask Senator Foll to withdraw the expression.
– Having regard to the procedure of the Senate, I withdraw it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I now. ask Senator McHugh also to withdraw the expression.
– I withdraw it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - These interjections only lead to disorder, and I ask that they be discontinued.
– I was developing’ an argument that annoyed Senator Foll. I do not like to annoy any one. I suppose that I am one of the most peaceable nien in Australia. I merely want to show what is happening in Australia. I can see a very great deal oftrouble ahead if this dispute develops We are not concerned about individuals. The Labour movement, however, will be greatly concerned if the trouble extends. The policy of the Labour party is, and has been for a very long time, conciliation and arbitration. That is a plank of our platform. I am sorry that the Seamen’s Union was deregistered, at the instance of the ship-owners. I think that the shipowners acted very unwisely. When two sections of the community enter into what promises to become a very big dispute, it is a fair thing for the Government to attempt conciliation. Surely we are not altogether devoid of common sense ! Although holding different political beliefs, I think that honorable senators on both sides are anxious to act in the best interests of the people of Australia. I may think that my way of doing things is the better way. If we get at one another’s throats, so to speak, something must eventually break. I do not want the industrial life of this country to be broken ; I do not want any home in Australia to be broken up. But if the gage is thrown down, the working class will fight for its rights. That is why I say that the Government, which possesses a great moral influence, should bring’ the warring parties together. That can be done. I hope that oven at this late hour the Government will drop the bill and say, “ These parties must be brought together, and the matter must be fixed up.” I feel sure that the differences which now exist could be satisfactorily adjusted. Semi-internecine warfare would thus be saved. We have had ex- perience of the results of strikes. They do not help Australian industry or the people of Australia generally. In a dispute in which great principles are involved - and both parties to this dispute say that big principles are now involved - the effect is felt all over Australia. I do not want 300,000 or 400,000 men to be thrown out of employment. I know that it is possible for the Government to introduce labour to take the place of Australian labour. Such action, however would only aggravate the trouble. The Australian working man will not revert to the conditions’ under which he worked many years ago.
– “Who wants him to?
– The ex-Premier of South Australia, Sir Henry Barwell, said four years ago that if the mines could not be made to pay at the ruling rate of wages, he would force the men to work for 9s. a day. The ruling rate of wages at that time was 13s. .2d. a day.
– What became of the mines ?
– Sir Henry Barwell was kicked out of office by the people of South Australia.
– That is not what I asked. Why not tell the whole story ?
– I suppose that Senator Wilson would like to see the men back at work in the mines for 9s. a day. A very learned judge in South Australia, Mr. Justice Gordon, said that an industry which could not pay a living wage to its employees had no right to exist. That is a sound policy. If an industry could pay only 6s. a day, does Senator Wilson suggest that men should work for that rate ?
– That is the logical conclusion to his argument.
– Do no:t talk nonsense.
– Six shillings stands to 9s. in almost the same relation that 9s. does to 13s. If a mine can pay only 2s. or 3s. a day, I suppose that Senator Wilson would pay that wage if he ‘could obtain the labour for it. Australian labour has progressed beyond that point. It has taken years to reach the position that it now occupies.
– Do not some men willingly work in mines for less than the standard wage, in the hope that conditions will improve?
– I presume that the honorable senator refers to tributors They are like men who back race-horses: they indulge in a gamble. I know several men who met with very great success in that way. They could have been engaged at other work, but they tramped through the country on a prospecting tour, and when they did make a strike it was a rich one. Such an argument cannot be applied to industry generally. I am sure that Senator Lynch will agree that the labourer is worthy of his hire. Every man is entitled to a living wage. That is the principle for which I - ;aud: I hope every honorable senator - stands. It is a big principle, and it has helped to make Australia, a great nation. There are present to-night honorable senators who’ helped to blaze ‘the track. Senator Lynch did so for a while, but he deviated from it, and nobody is more sorry than he. I hope that honorable senators will not even suggest that the ‘ standard of living enjoyed by the Australian worker should be lowered.
– Certainly not: it should be higher than it is.
– It should be raised. Tlie Seamen’s Union put a fair proposition to the ship-owners. They asked that the articles should provide for their getting what they were previously receiving under an Arbitration Court award.
– They turned down the Arbitration Court.
– They did ,’iot. They were deregistered. The ship-owners made an application to- have them deregistered, and the union did not have enough money to fight the case. And for this honorable senators opposite are prepared to throw this country into the greatest industrial turmoil it has ever seen. We on this side of the chamber are accused of having no heart, but we have a heart for those who send us here. We do not want industrial turmoil if it can be avoided by the exercise of a little common sense.
– Why does not the honorable senator talk in that way to Mr. Walsh ?
– Why does not Senator Greene talk in that way to the ship-owners ? I am prepared to talk to the men if the honorable senator willi talk to theship-owners. I guarantee if he and I and one or two more could get into conference with these people, we would settle the whole trouble amicably.
– Well, why not do it ?
– Withdrew this bill, and give us. a chance to do it.
– Why has. it not been fixed up before the introduction of this bill?
– If Labour was in power, the trouble would not last for 24 hours.
– Why has. not the honorable senator used his influence with the Seamen’s. Union?
– What influence has Senator Glasgow used to get the trouble settled? His influence is being used to try to put a certain amount of fear into a section of the. workers, and it may end in a stampede which I do not want to. see.
– The honorable senator is drawing on his imagination.
– A vivid imagination sometimes enables one to see a little ahead’. Men with no imagination are useless in a government. Every one knows that if the affairs of the country are to be properly carried on, the Government must have a little imagination. The trouble in this case is that our Government cannot see an inch ahead. If it thinks it will get some political advantage out of the present issue it is. making the greatest mistake it has ever made, because the workers can read and write, and they can listen to reason, and there are men who will go from one end of Australia to the other telling the truth about the present situation. The Government admits that it cannot handle a little dispute unless it abrogates one of the most important pieces of legislation on the statute-book.
– And Senator Guthrie flew from Geelong to-day to help to abrogate it.
– I hope that when Senator Guthrie speaks he will not confine his remarks to two individuals, but will talk about something in the interests of the Commonwealth. We have heard a lot of bunkum about Mr So-and-so and Mr. Such-and-such, giving them an undue prominence in the community. Possibly some honorable senators think it is good propaganda- to frighten the people of Australia by the frequent mention of two individuals. But I am sure the people are not afraid of these two men. They are only afraid that the Government is not big enough for its job. A “big” Government would be taking a hand in this matter of national importance, affecting every man, woman, and child in the community, but nothing has been done by the present Government to help to settle the present trouble except to say that it will fight the workers to a finish. I hope that it will be settled without anything in the shape of a big . industrial upheaval’, but if that infliction does. come about, it will go down in history as the fault of a government that made no real attempt to settle it, but, on the other hand, made an effort to aggravate it.
– Honorable senators have been stirring up the trouble throughout this sitting.
– It isour duty,, as representatives of the people, to tell them what we think about this legislation. Does the honorable senator imagine that we can take lying down something, affecting the conditions of the workers of Australia? I appeal to the. Government to do the right thing, and act as mediators with a view to getting this trouble over. Does the Government range itself on the side of the big ship-owners?
– And black labour?
– I do not want the Government to make that criminal mistake. It is not in the interests of the people of Australia that the conditions prevailing in the shipping on our coast should be broken down for no reason whatever, especially when the wholetrouble is capable of being fixed up. If the Government cannot get the warring parties to settle the matter, its commonsense is infinitesimal. One feels a little keenly when one feels that principles for which men have fought for years and years may be broken down in this way because there is a little dispute in progress. I appeal to Ministers to get in and settle the dispute-. They have all the necessary powers, but all they do is to tell us that they are afraid of two individuals. Ministers have not done much in the interests of the people of Australia, and this is the worst pieceof legislation they have yet brought down. It is inflammatory legislation.
If the. Government want this bill passed, they might just as well tell . us that they aro anxious to have a big industrial upheaval, so that all the shearers and coalminers; and others will be prevented from working, and the trouble got over quickly - possibly by the use of guns, following the example set in Queensland at one time. If the Government wants that sort of thing> let it be honest and say so, and get straight into the fight. But if it wants the matter settled peaceably, and if it is a big-minded Government, it WI, get into the dispute with both hands and feet and do everything possible in the interests of the people of the country to get rid of the menace that is now hanging over them. A big industrial upheaval may be a good thing politically, for them, at election time, but the people of Australia are too wise to fall into a trap of that sort. If Ministers have that idea in their mind’s they are making a big mistake and are digging a hole into which- they will fall themselves. I hope that common sense- will prevail and that the Government will try to do something to alleviate the position and not to aggravate- it*
Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) [3.14 a.m-J. - I ana rather loth to add anything further to the debate at this early hour of the: morning, but I must. not shirk, a public duty, however unpleasant it may be. There has- been a- lot of talk tonight om< matters outside the issues to be considered. I understand that the bill’ proposes to give the Government authority to suspend certain- sections of the. Navigation Act, which gives the shipping companies of Australia a- monopoly of the coastal trade. The- original act- was -passed in all good faith1 to protect the interests of shipowners, and also the rights? and privileges of the seamen. It has built, up a monopoly of the snipping companies, who have used- it for their own private gain,, and it has also established a monopoly of the seamen ‘themselves,, upon, whom it has conferred great benefits. No- other seamen in any part of the world can boast of such humane conditions and such, fair terms as are enjoyed by the seamen of Australia.
– All obtained by constitutional methods*.
– Tha* is so. 1 may here interpose that the> whole object of the pioneers of the Labour movement was to> obtain improved conditions for the workers by constitutional methods. They urged from every platform the need for passing legislation which would abolish the fear, and the barbarous method, of strikes. Some of us were (optimistic enough to believe that the establishment of the Arbitration Court would bring turmoil to an end, but we now find that a trade union is repudiating the expensive industrial machinery that has been built up, and the leaders of Labour are applauding them. I do not desire the seamen to be deprived of any of the privileges that they have enjoyed in the past, so long as they “ play the game.” The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) and other speakers have contended that the ship-owners applied for the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union, and have endeavoured to convince the country that the seamen had no part in it. Let me quote from the official; document prepared by the Registrar of the Arbitration Court the judgment of Mr. Deputy President Webb, delivered on the 5th June last. The Commonwealth Shipping Board and the Steamship. Owners’ Federation were tired of the. attempts at job control,, which made it impossible for them to carry on. the shipping trade of the country.. The question, arose as to whether crews should be found, foa? the Eromanga and the Dilga, and Mr. Deputy President. Webb said: -
I pointed- out. to Mr. Walsh that I looked on such holding up as a serious matter and a matter of urgency, and stated that I would later decide on a date for the- hearing, of the matter. I put the cases down for further consideration this, morning, and Mr. Walsh at- the outset intimated that the union did not intend to oppose the applications. I pointed out to Mr. Walsh that it was my duty to endeavour to. get these ships put into commission,, and I ordered the union, through its representative, to take steps to provide crews for these ships. The transcript is1 as follows : -
His Honour: - I order you to supply crews for those; two vessels.
Mr. Walsh. With all due. respect, I must decline to do so, or to- advise the men to do so.
His Honour. - You hear my order that your union shall supply crews for those two vessels. YOU understand I mm ordering you to da it> and you understand that you are declining?
Mr. Walsh. We must decline.
His Honour. - You take the full responsibility of declining to comply with my order that yo? shall supply- those two ships with crews
Mr. Walsh. We take all responsibility.
It is plain, therefore, that the Seamen’s Union, by the word of its president, took full responsibility for the deregistration of the union.
– Put the whole case. Why did not the union supply the crews necessary to man those ships?
– Does Senator Grant believe in arbitration?
– I believe that he does, and I do not think that he wishes to see a strike. I do not believe that he approves of Mr. Walsh and his methods, but I am surprised that as a Labour man he doe3 not denounce the tactics of that leader. I am a Labour man, but I claim the right to retain freedom of speech when I think that unionism is going astray. I should be craven and a coward if I refused to do that.
– The honorable senator is a better friend of Labour for saying it.
– I stand for the preservation] of trade unionism. Mr. Walsh took full responsibility for the deregistration, and this bill is the result of the attitude of the Seamen’s Union in refusing to obey the order of the court.
– Does the honorable senator contend that both parties are to blame for the deregistration?
– I do not hold the owners blameless, but I say that the immediate cause of the deregistration was the attitude of the seamen’s recognized leader. Mr. Deputy-President Webb would never have deregistered the union had it not been for the invitation of Mr. Walsh to do so. Is there any other union that has failed to observe the conditions laid down by the court? The Australian Workers Union, of which Senator Barnes is president, and which has 120,000 members, has been loyal to the principles of arbitration, and so has the miners’ organization. In fact, every craft union that comes under the operation of the act has been loyal to those principles. The seamen alone rebelled against them.
– Does the honorable -senator say that the seamen as a body have done that?
– I do not know.. I cannot understand their attitude. When I was an official of a trade union - and I have filled all the official posi tions; - the officers took their orders from the men. but to-day in the Seamen’s Union the executive officers instruct the unionists what they are to do. I do not think that my colleagues in this chamber believe in strikes and industrial turmoil.
– We believe in the principles of arbitration.
– Then, let us speak boldly in favour of them on the floor of this chamber. I am not in favour of depriving the seamen of any of the conditions that they have enjoyed, but when the welfare of the people is at stake it is necessary to protect . the interests of other unions and of the citizens generally. Some time ago Senator Hannan grew eloquent concerning the- hardships suffered by Australian .seamen. I have been a miner, and have worked in the bowels of the earth, unfortunately, too many years for the good of my own health ; but I remind the Senate that the seamen enjoy far better conditions than the miners, who not only risk their lives, but also sacrifice their health, and in following such employment, commit 3low suicide. A miner’s wages now are about 14s. a day, while a seaman receives probably twice . that pay, and enjoys better working conditions. I regret to find that my colleagues have so much sympathy with the seamen and none for the miners and other trade unionists who will suffer if a strike occurs.
– That is an inaccurate statement.
– Members .of the Labour party all deprecate the action of the seamen, but I am the only representative of my party in this chamber who dares to speak out in opposition to these aristocrats of Labour.
– The honorable senator should say that members of the Labour party condemn the Seamen’s Union in private.
– They do so.’
– - The honorable senator said that we have no sympathy for the miners, but that is a wrong statement.
– I said that the sympathy shown by Labour senators todayis for the seamen, but if those men go on strike to-morrow they will not .only penalize the miners, but also the car- penton, the factory workers, and the producers of this country.
– And the women and children.
– They will suffer the greatest hardship of all. Some honorable senators who have been talking about industrial matters are mere1 children in the Labour movement, and have never experienced the. serious results of an inindustrial war. An industrial war is a serious thing. While I am in this chamber, unless there is good reason for taking the opposite stand, I shall vote for any measure which will prevent (industrial trouble. Some honorable senators have suggested that this Bill strikes a blow at the White Australia policy. Who is the enemy of that policy ?
– Tom Walsh.
– Trouble occurred recently in Western Australia when the seamen attempted to hold up the shipping of that state. A state ‘ disputes committee was appointed, which made some very strong and plain statements about the seamen. I shall read a paragraph from the statement of the committee, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 17th June last: -
A handful of men at Fremantle were making war on the Labour movement and were expecting Labour to prevent the processes of the law from taking their usual course.
Mr. Walsh himself in a contribution to the West Australian Worker in December last said -
The rank and flic must have control of the Labour party. Unfortunately, Labour has many parliamentary representatives, who said chat” the world would be a splendid place to live in when the masters and the workers adjusted their differences. The capitalist class in Australia is almost wholly in favour of the White Australia policy. There is, therefore, no need for the workers to make so much of it.
He went on to say -
There is not in either the Federal or the State Labour platforms any method by which the objective of the party can be achieved. The socialization of land and industry would (at present) be an unconstitutional act. To achieve socialization the workers must be organized . . . and internationally united. That is why patriotic Labour politicians, with their …” White Australianism “ are enemies of the working class.
Mr. Walsh is no friend of labour; yet members of the Labour party in this chamber seek to defend him. He is an opponent of the White Australia policy and an enemy of labour. His article proceeds -
If industry, .is to bo socialized the working class must be served by the army, the navy, and the air service. It must be supreme.
There is a sinister suggestion there. If Mr. Walsh is in a position to carry out his threat, there is ample justification for the measure now before us. That Mr. Walsh is not in favour of the Arbitration Court is shown by the following statement that he made : -
The Arbitration Court is a useful instrument for the adjustment of certain differences. It is capable of being used in the immediate interests of the worker. . . . The Seamen’s Union finds it useful to force the shipowners into the court. Some disputes, .however, are not capable of adjustment by the court, and on my advice the seamen fought the maritime strike of 1919 outside the court with great success. I will have no hesitation in advising members of the Seamen’s Union again to seek redress outside the court immediately the atmosphere is favorable. Now you have my idea of arbitration.
I am sorry that some of my colleagues have wasted hours to-day in defending this leader of the Seamen’s Union. The seamen have demanded something for which no other union has asked. They want the protection of the Arbitration Court and also the right to strike. They cannot, and should not, have both. - So far as I am concerned, they are. not going to stand on a pedestal aloof from other trade unions and enjoy the privileges for which some of us have fought, and which every one in this chamber has supported, while at the same time they defy the forces of law and order. That is what they are attempting to do. I believe that the delegates from the transport union acted in good faith when they endeavoured to arrange a settlement of this dispute, and stated that they could guarantee thai the conditions would be observed. When I first read that I realized that the guarantee was of little value so long as Walsh and Johannsen, and those recalcitrant members of the trade union had still to be reckoned with. At no time did the seamen officially agree to the suggestion.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for that statement ?
– - My authority is that no official statement to that effect has been issued ; the honorable senator knows that what I have said is correct.
– Are not the members of the Seamen’s Union manning the vessels of the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers?
– That may be so. The ship-owners were prepared to consider the offer, but they said that they would not enter into negotiations while the threat to strike remained. The seamen refused to withdraw the threat. Was it any wonder that the ship-owners then declined to give the seamen all that they asked for? I do not want to delay the Senate further, nor do I find pleasure in differing from colleagues with whom I have worked for many years. ‘There is, however, a debt which every man owes to the community, as well as . to his party. Whenever it comes to a question of making a decision between his country and his party, any member who is worth his place in this chamber must decide to place his country first. Whatever the consequences to me may be I, like Mr. Walsh, am prepared to accept them ; I shall “ take my gruel “ when it comes. I wish to make it clear that I value very highly my position in this Senate. I consider it a great honour to have been returned at the top of the poll for an important state of this great Commonwealth. But,while I value that position highly, I am prepared to sacrifice it and return to private life,rather than actcontrary to the dictates of my conscience. Some honorablesenators seem to adopt as their motto, “smother conscience and stick to your party.” No man has a right to enter this chamberand neglect to do what he believes to behis public duty. We should not. always have our eye on the electorates, but should “cast a considerate eye “ upon our country. I ask that my colleagues of the Labour movement will cast a considering eye on the welfare of their country, and not pander to a section of the community. On the contrary, they should tellthemwhen they are wrong, and endeavour to direct them into right paths. Senator McHugh condemns the Government for having failed to bring the parties together, but are we not all guilty if we make no attempt to solve this problem? It is our duty to trv to bring people who are acting in a wrong manner to a sense of their wrong.
– The Government stands condemned because it has admitted that it cannot control two men in this country.
– Does Senator McHugh endorse the action of the Seamen’s Union ?
– I shall endorse the action of the people of Australia.
– I ask the honorable senator if the other unions will endorse the action of the Seamen’s Union and follow them blindly. I remind honorable senators that this man, who had the effrontery tocondemn the Arbitration Act, deliberately invited the deregistration of his union, and who refused to accept dictation from the other trade unions, attended a meetingin Sydney the otherdayto ask other trade unionists to stand behind the seamen.
– If this bill is carried the other unions will be forced behind Walsh.
– I think that it is only right to provide for an executive power to be used in time of necessity. No Government would be so foolish as to attempt to use these powers unless in extraordinary circumstances. I fully understand the significance of my vote to-night. Plainly and bluntly the position is that the protection granted under the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act will be withdrawn from the shipping companies and the seamen if certain possibilities arise because the services of the country must be maintained. We must see that the people are fed, we must protect the means of transport, and must preserve law and order. A paragraph in the Herald reads: -
The hope is thatthere will be nobig industrial upheaval, and that honest and intelligent men will not fightfor a rotten cause.
I would not say that it is a rotten cause, but I desire to point out that no principle is involved. No attack is being made on the wages and conditions of the seamen. The ship-owners have promised that the wagesthey obtained and the conditions they enjoyed prior to the deregistration of the union will still remain in force. No attempt is being made to interfere with the conditions of the men at all. No union can hope to succeed in any ‘industrial trouble unless it has the sympathy of the general public behind it. The seamen cannot expect the sympathy of the people in this trouble when no attempt has been made to interfere with theconditions of those engaged in seafaring.One does not like to urge that unionists should or should not docertainthings but I. ask unionists to seriously consider their position;.
– Has the honorable senator addressed the Seamen’s. Union?
– I have no objection to doing so.
– But has the honorable senator done so?
– I would willingly address the men if I thought I coulddo any gaod. It is the duty of Senator McHugh. to speak to the seamen and ask them to reconsider their decision, if he thinks such a course necessary.
-I want to see the strike settled, and the honorable senator does: not.
- Senator McHugh saysthat he does not. want any industrial trouble, and if that is the casehe should make. a. personal effort to endeavour to get it settled. He should not. always depend upon the Government.
– Why has this measure been introduced.
– Because it may be necessary .
– Why does not tha honorable senator use his oratory on the seamen ?
– I am no orator -
I antan orator, as Brutus, is:
But asyou know me all, a plain blunt man. . .I only speak right on.
There are many things one could say on this important question. I know that members of the Labor party have said thatthe seamen are decidedly unpopular amongst, other trades unions.
– Is the honorable senator endeavouring to make them less popular?
Senate OGDEN. - Yes; by desiring them to exercise a little commonsense
– The whole trouble could have been easily avoided.
– The honorable senator addressed the Senate for about an hour and never suggested a. way in which a settlement could have been reached’.
– I did..
– I have detained the Senate long enough, I am afraid, and find it difficult tocontinue in view of the numerous intejections..
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland;). - Order!I ask honorable senators’ to refrain from interjecting,.
– At this earlyhour of the morning we should he retiring.
– Irrespective of the interests of the seamen?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask Senator McHugh to allow Senator Ogden to proceed without further interruption-.
– I do not mind interjections so long as they are pertinent, but I am being subjected to a continuous wail. I intend to support the bill because it may be necessary to use the powers for which it provides. The seamen deliberately disregarded the Arbitration Court, and in doing so knew what waa awaiting them. They knew that they shouldered the serious responsibility,, and only last week I predicted’ that a measure such as this would be introduced if the seamen persisted in, the attitude- which they had taken up. If the shipowners are to blame, this measure, if it becomeslaw, will affect them quite as much asit will affect the seamen, as they do not want overseas, vessels to enter into competition with those under their control. I sincerely trust that wiser counsels will prevail, and the seamen will be persuaded to return to the Arbitration Court, so that the rights, privileges, and protection that we have fought for for years’, and which are now being threatened bv the action of certain trade unionists will not be taken from them. If the seamen persist in their present attitude- they will be not only injuring themselves, and inflicting a hardship upon the community, but threatening the very existence of trade’ unionism itself. They are marching to their Sedan. I do not wish to assist in destroying tradeunionism, but that is what the seamen themselves will do if they persist.
– At this hour of the morning I shall begin with the rather encouraging promise to honorable senators that I shall not’ keep them very long, because I believe, in view of all that has been said, that I can compress what I have to say into a very little space. It is a pity that the position has not been clarified more than it has, and that honorable senators opposite have not addressed themselves to the main question. They recognize that there is to be an upheaval in this country ; but the question is, howare we going, to control it? That is the problem we all have to assist in solving. It certainly cannot be solved by adopting the practice followed last night and this morning of attributing all sorts of unwarranted motives to the Government and its supporters. We get no further forward by condemning either the Government or those who support it for certain alleged evil motives. Therefore, the lime has arrived when every member of this chamber should feel he has a responsibility cast upon him, and when he should ask himself, in the first place, how the difficulty which is now confronting us is to be solved. I totally disagree with honorable senators who have in this chamber levelled charges almost from Dan to Beersheba against the Government. For the information of the Senate I quote some samples of the expressions used concerning the members of the party to which I belong. “ They are the advocates of the ship-owners and of black labour.” “ Lord Inchcape is instigating this, and honorable senators opposite are his tools.” “ They are working in the interests of the overseas shipping combine, and making an attack on trade unionism.” These are samples, taken at random, of statements made by honorable senators opposite. It is clear that there is not a scintilla, of truth in them, because we should be courting disaster if such charges could be truthfully laid against us. I can say at once that we are not making an attack on trade unionism, are not advocating the ship-owners’ case, and are not the advocates of black labour. The influence of Lord Inchcape, whatever it may be, has nothing to do with the question. We are attacking the lawbreakers and nothing else, and are endeavouring to bring them back within the pale of the law. What has been said on this side, I believe, can be expressed in the one sentence, that this agitation has been brought to a head at the instigation of one man, who has acquired extraordinary powers in this country, and whose name I shall not mention. Let us consider what has been said by some honorable senators opposite, particularly the cool insinuation made by an honorable senator from New South Wales, concerning money obtained for party purposes. I certainly absolve from responsibility a great majority of the people who come from that state, because that majority consists of honorable men and women. That an hon- orable senator, however nurtured in a certain atmosphere, should, on the first occasion on which he opened his mouth in this chamber, speak of the use of illgotten money, and make an unwarranted charge against this party, is, to say the least of it, most regrettable. Senator Needham will recall what actually happened in connexion with the industrial history of Western Australia. He referred to the action taken by the present Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) and myself. A body of men was being offered 6s. a day and were obliged to be the victims of the “ truck “ system, and it was on their behalf that Senator Pearce, Senator Needham, and myself took up the cudgels, with the result that they were awarded better terms than they had ever had before.
– Yes, and we organized them into a union.
– Yes, and what we did on that occasion I would do again in order to accomplish the objective we had in view.. On another occasion, when I happened to be a Minister of the Crown another incident came to pass. I was the member for a gold-fields constituency, and the advocate for a body of miners. After an award had been obtained from the court, although I risked a great deal, I urged the men who were on strike to obey the Arbitration Court, and I induced them to do so. The result was fully in their favour. Those men afterwards returned me to the State Parliament, and subsequently helped to send me to the Senate. I do not withdraw one word of what I said at that time, nor am I sorry foi the action that I took. My attitude has not changed. I still advocate respect for the law of the land, in the. belief that the Arbitration Court is the only bulwark that the workers have ever had. I invite honorable senators to consider what happened twenty years ago. The public men of that time were confronted with the problem whether or not the seamen should be brought within the scope of the Arbitration Act. That course was stoutly resisted in some quarters, but ultimately it was recognized that it would be a good thing to allow the seamen to have the benefit of the court’s protection. Could the Parliament then have foreseen that the seamen would be the means of bringing arbitration almost to its doom, do honorable senators believe that the act would have been passed so enthusiastically? It was perhaps just as well that a friendly veil was drawn across the eyes of the members of that time. The majority of those who were then in public life have since passed out of it. All that remains is their reputation for uprightness and an independence which would fling aside party and other miserable considerations in order that they might do their duty to Australia.
We are on the verge of a very great trouble, such as we have not had before, because a considerable advance has been made along the road of progress. There are now Labour Administrations in five of the six states, but if the workers are not very careful they will find themselves further back than they ‘ were ten or fifteen years ago. I dissociate myself entirely from the attitude of latter-day Labour men, who look upon employers of labour with an ugly, unfriendly glare, as though they are inferior beings. The early members of the Labour party recognized that amongst the employers of labour were citizens as good as those who earned their daily bread by the toil of their hands. The tactics that are being employed by the latest dictator will, in my opinion, bring evil to the working men of this country. I see Senator Findley looking at meWhen the 1890 strike occurred I was engaged as a seaman under conditions which, as he knows, were vastly different from those that exist to-day. Public opinion was strongly in favour of that strike, and the men received sustenance from all classes of society. If subscriptions were sought tomorrow, does Senator Findley think that a Chief Justice would give half his salary towards the sustenance of the seamen on strike, as was then done by Chief Justice Higinbotham? Of course nob. Would public men support Mr. Walsh’s strike?
– I doubt whether 50 per cent, of the unionists would contribute towards a fund for the relief of these strikers.
– I agree with that statement. If the unions were put to the test, would they contribute towards the sustenance of the associates of Mr. Walsh? Senator Findley surely must know that they would not. In the early days in South Australia the Trades Hall had difficulty in clearing the debt on its building. Mr. Barr Smith planked down thousands of pounds for that purpose. Where are the Barr Smiths to-day who will come to the relief of a trades hall? The responsibility lies at the door of the suicidal temper that has supplanted the better relationship that once existed between capital and labour.
– They are too classconscious now.
– Of course they are. They would wreck any state of society. They have clone their best to wreck this country. Compared with twenty years ago, the relationship that exists to-day is as different as is the noonday sun from the darkest night. Can the advocates of this change claim that it has been for the betterment of Australia? Of course they cannot. In conversation honorable senators opposite cannot hide their opinions. They then condemn the excesses that take place, but in public they do not dare to speak the thoughts that are locked away in the secret recesses of their minds. They are false to the true interests of the men who have sent them here. Mi Walsh not only holds undisputed sway in his own union, but he also holds in the hollow of his hand tha welfare of the vast majority of the honest toilers in Australia. During the progress of the strike in Western Australia - - the trouble at Fremantle - I was at my place at Three Springs. One day I saw a member of the present Government of Western Australia passing in the train. I said to him, “ How are things down in Perth?” He said, 1 All right. Tom Walsh is in charge there.” I said, “What! Has the Labour Government abdicated?” He replied, “Have you had any rain here lately?” I said, “You gave us plenty of mustard at one time; now you are getting a bit of it back from Walsh.” I blame- Walsh and his associates less than I do the men in the latter-day Labour movement who, by their acts in the past, helped to make him what he is. I. have moi-e respect for him than for them. We know where he stands, but we cannot esteem those who will curse him in private and applaud him in public.
The public is composed of many elements. It consists not of seamen, only, not of artisans only, not of ship-owners only; it is a many-sided affair, comprising a number of elements Chat are so complex .that they need to be delicately ‘handled. No one constituent can be allowed to tyrannize to the detriment of another. Honorable senators talk about the workers and the employers. There io no such ‘classification as composing society wholly and substantially. In Western Australia we have goldminers, wheat-growers, shipping-owners, and other exclusive interests, and it is the duty of the Government to hold the scales of justice evenly, and to see that ne one element gets an advantage over another. What is the position of the seamen1? I suppose they number altogether about 8,000. The Commonwealth Year-Booh tells us that the number of trade unionists in Australia registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act on the ’31st December, 19®0, was 59,885. In August, 1923,. the number was 578,095. The seamen therefore represent about *lh per cent, of the total number of trade unionists registered, in the Arbitration Court. There are other unionists registered under state wages boards and arbitration courts, so that actually the seamen may not represent more than a negligible fraction of the trade unionists of the Commonwealth. However, accepting for the moment that they represent 1$ per cent, of the total number, we are engaged at this early hour in the morning in trying to redress the trouble .this small section is causing. What is the 98^ per cent, doing? Has there not been tolerable satisfaction with the Arbitration Court among that 98$ per cent. ? Yet that small percentage is seeking to wreck a bulwark that, has been erected, for the industrial workers of this country, and we on our part are engaged in an endeavour to retain it. Is not -the 98^ per cent, entitled to some sympathy and protection against these wild, rebellious, truculent wreckers of arbitration 1 Surely the time has come for us in this Senate to put up some sort of plea . for the overwhelming bulk of the unionists of Australia, and to see that the small section of wreckers of arbitration are put in their proper place, and are no longer given an opportunity to carry out thenintent. I put it to Senator Barnes.
– Why to me?
– Because T recognize the honorable senator’s position as president of the Australian Workers Union, and the wonderful power for good he is capable of being in this country. The figures’ I have quoted must appeal to him, because we are all here to see that trade unionism is preserved in all its vigour. The Seamen’s Union belongs to a key industry, but it is not entitled by virtue of that fact to levy blackmail on society generally. There are other unions who are numerically stronger, yet weaker, than the Seamen’s Union, inasmuch as they are not engaged in key industries. Very little is heard about them. Although they outnumber the Seamen’s Union many times over, if they went on strike to-morrow they would cause very little inconvenience to the public; trade and commerce would be carried on just the same. I may mention such unions as the wood and furniture workers, who number 24,000; food, drink, and tobacco workers, 58,000; men engaged in the building trade, 37,000; domestic and hotel workers, 20,000; and miscellaneous workers, 127,000. These are all unionists who are interested in the Arbitration Court, but not a word has been said in this debate about their interests. All these men and their wives and families are likely to be affected by the action taken by one union because it happens to be engaged in a key industry, or, in other words, because it lies right across the road of exchange along which goods in transit must pass. If we want to see justice done we must not allow this industry, which has the power to hold up the trade and commerce of this country, to prevent goods from passing from the place of manufacture to the place of consumption. We must prevent it from bringing about havoc and distress without being called to account. We read in this morning’s papers that SOO men will rise from their beds this morning only to find that they will not be able to follow their usual vocations. There is work for them, but they are not allowed to undertake it. To this number thousands may be added, because Mr. Walsh has said that, when it pleases him to do so, he will use the Arbitration Court or leave it alone and disrespect it. Have we reached that stage when this individual is to take charge . and run this country? We have a Government appointed for the purpose of administering the affairs of the Commonwealth, and it should not abrogate its duties to any individual. That is why we are here,firmly convinced and determined to see that the affairs of the country are run by the Government and not by anyband of men armed with no authority from the people, but solely kept in position by a few individuals who happen to be associated with them. We are told thatMr. Walsh is the mouthpiece of the seamen and never takes a ballot. When I was an activemember of a union in the days beforeanbitration existed, its rules provided for ite holding of a secret ballot before anyset of officers could dictate any sort of policy to the men. But (evidently thatprinciple does not hold to-day. Mr. Lyons, thePremier of Tasmania, has declaredthat it is the bounded dutyof the Commonwealth Government to maintain a shipping service to Tasmania. Ifarbitrationhas gone by the board, so far as the seamen are concerned, and they will no longer obey the awardsof an ArbitrationCourt, it is certainly the duty of the Commonwealth Government to step into the breach and seethat justice is done to all thestates.But it cannot do so unless it getsthe authority of this Parliament, and the firststep towards obtaining that authority is to secure the power to proclaim the suspension of thecoastalprovions of the Navigation Act. and invite others to tafe the places ofthe menwho, atthe dictatesof Mr Walsh, will not man the coastal steamships.
– They have not refused to maintain the Tasmanianservice.
– Then why have they refusedto mam other vessels?
– Possibly because there is a LabourGovernment in Tasmania.
SenatorLYNCH- That has nothing to do witihthe question. TheCommonwealth Government must see that thevery necessary services ofthe country are maintained,and no longerheld up. On one occasion farming implements, verybadly needed in Western Australia, were held upon a wharf in Melbourne for three months. The manfreshly recruited to thefarming ranks from the labour field, . needed ploughshares, but Mr. Walsh said thatthe steamers must remain idle untilthe obtained what hehad asked the Anbutration Court to grant him.
Is that justice? The majorityof the people in Australia have long been patient. It has puzzled me that they have stood this sort of thingso long,and have not risenin their wrath and turned awav fromtheir shores that unscrupulous element which is playing with the welfareof this country.
– How would you suggest it should be done?
– I would take the firm hand that the Labour Government a few years ago took in Western Australia. When Mr. Collier was Minister for Railways in that State, he told the men employedon the Perth to Fremantle railway duplication job that if they went on strike the work would be closed down. At that -time, however, the Labour party wasverydifferent from what it now is. The policyadopted by the Labour Government in Queensland is to settle disputesby agreeing to the demands of strikers.It does not require astatesman to bring about industrial peace ‘by submitting to what is virtually blackmail. When the bridge ever theBurdekin River was swept away by a flood, and a chain pontoon was placed in position, the boatmen who were thus thrown outof work induced the whole o’f the workers iihere to declare that they would go on strike unless jobs were found for those men. And jobs were found for them by the State Labour Administration. A member of the Labour Government of Queensland admitted publicly that the demands of the men practically amounted to blackmail. As I previously said, Mr. Walsh andhis associates should be made tounderstand that society will no longer stand the mad pranks thatthey have put into practice. If the producers of butter, for instance, could command about5s. a pound for that commodity, they would be on asimilar level to that of the seamen, butthe butter producers, the wheat-growers, the fruit-growers, and the gold producers cannot fix the prices oftheir own com modities. An interesting telegram is published in the Melbourne Aryus this morning under the heading “ ‘Liars and Trickster’ - Seamen’s officials attacked - Stewards’ journal’s comments.” It reads as follows : -
Sydney, Wednesday. - Outspoken comments on the methods adopted by ‘the seamen in their relationswith the allied organizations to whom they are now appealingforsupport appears in the latest issue of the stewards’ monthly journal under the heading, “ Deregistered Seamen’s Fight,” “ Self-confessed Liars and Trick-‘ stersare Obstacles.” The article states : - “ Unions have hitherto suffered seriously by their disloyalty towards each _ other. The Seamen’s Union,” through certain of its officials located in Sydney, has been one of the worst offenders in this’ regard. As recently as 21st April last they, with other members of the transport group, which represented the members of other maritime unions, agreed to abide by a certain decision which had been arrived at and which dealt with the manning of the Eromanga. After the decision had been partly given effect to, after the other members of the transport group had carried out their part, the officials of the Seamen’s Union in question stated quite openly that they did not intend to go any further with it, and boasted that they had deliberately tricked the other members of the group in agreeing to it. Such an attitude is quite in keeping with the working of sewerrat minds, but it will not help the cause of the Seamen’s Union or that of the other maritime unions. While all due allowances oan be made for men who are lacking in character and capacity to represent trade unionism, they must not be trusted. If they fail in a minor issue such as -the one which has been mentioned, they will certainly fail when, bigger issues are being fought out, and the Labour movement as a whole will suffer consequently. If the Seamen’s Union expects the loyalty and support generally from ‘ the other maritime unions to which ‘it is entitled, it must be represented by officials capable of setting an example in “loyalty to those from whom they expect, loyalty’ in return. Certain officials of the union in” Sydney ave self-confessed liars and tricksters, and if the Seamen’s Union is to succeed in its fight against the shipowners it must be officered bv men who are more reliable.”
I feel that it is unnecessary for me to say more on this subject.
– Honorable senators have enough common sense to ignore the arguments advanced by some supporters of the Government, and concentrate on the purpose of the bill. Senator Gibbs has reminded us of the important principles that were embodied in the Navigation Act deliberately, and after lengthy discussion. The people of Australia declared that it was necessary to give the workers on sea, as well as those on shore, decent conditions of employment. This act is not a piece of panic legislation, bub was passed after the gravest possible consideration, the debates ‘on if. extending over a . number of years. Do honorable senators opposite seriously say that all the conditions read to us by Senator Gibbs should be abrogated, as they will be, if this bill becomes law? I warn them, that if they support the bill in its present form, they will have to answer for it to the people of Australia. The Government has not submitted a sound case. If it is given the powers that it now. seeks, it will have the right to hand- the shipping trade of Australia over to vessels from other countries employing black crews. I am under no delusion over the matter. I have only my common sense to guide me in declaring that there is a great conspiracy afoot to destroy the Commonwealth Shipping Line. The private shipping companies would rather employ black than white labour, because they could engage it at a cheaper rate. The White Australia policy should be upheld at all costs. . One of the noblest actions in Australian history was the return of the black boys to their native islands. Honorable senators opposite may rest assured that if the Government takes the action threatened, its chickens will come home to roost. It is intended to pass legislation which will’ deprive the seamen of all the rights which they have won during the course of a number of years. The award of the court contained certain provisions, but because of something that happened, the shipping companies, who were parties to that.’ award, applied to the Arbitration Court for the deregistration of the Seamen’s Union. The union having been harassed, and having spent a lot of money in connexion with various awards, adopted the attitude that it could gain nothing by spending further money in that direction. Its members therefore were unaffected by the threat to deregister their union. As a result of that deregistration the seamen are 110 longer entitled to the protection of the Arbitration Act and the Arbitration Court. Apparently, they are prepared to take the risk. When trouble arose between the seamen and the ship-owners the former declared their willingness to work every vessel if in their articles the award of the court was included. That was a perfectly sane proposition, and I cannot understand why the ship-owners did not accept it. Evidently its soundness appealed to the members of the Commonwealth Shipping Board and to some other shipping companies. It was recognized as a great achievement when Australia became possessed of her own means of sea transport, but from the beginning forces have been at work to make the scheme a failure. This legislation, if once enacted, will give to any government that happens to be in office powers of which they may be unworthy. I do not know whether honorable senators are aware that the existing Arbitration Act is sufficient to discipline any persons who cause industrial disturbances in our midst. Against very strong opposition, the Labour party fought for arbitration. The Arbitration Act provided a method of settling industrial disputes different from any previously in operation. Because such legislation reflected the commonsense of the community, the Labour party fought strenuously for it; for the same reason our opponents just as strenuously opposed it. . For our success on that occasion they have never forgiven us, and ever since the passing of the measure efforts have been made to destroy it. Senator Pearce, who is now proposing to amend that act, is fighting for the destruction of a child of his own. I have good reason to remember this act, as on one occasion the union of which I was an officer had a case before the Arbitration Court. We “ obtained what was said to be an award t but which in reality was an outrage. Consequently there was a strike; there was no other thing to do. We placed before the court figures which I had prepared, and which were supported by the best accountants in Sydney, as well as by the Commonwealth Statistician and our own solicitor, who was an excellent mathematician. I desire to warn the Government against doing a stupid thing. If this bill is amended in the direction indicated by the Minister people in other unions, and affected by other awards, will want to know when their turn will come. The contemplated action of the Government is unwise, as under existing legislation it already has great powers. It has been said that the seamen did not care whether they were registered or deregistered. Their real position was that they were not prepared to continue to spend money in dealing with cases before the court. After making proper provision for their families, 8,000 men could not provide a great deal towards the funds of their union, but the economic position of the Seamen’s Union was such that, whether registered by the court or not, they considered that they could hold what they had gained. It does not really matter whether they are registered or not. As an officer of my union, I was fined £100 on a charge which was laid under the Arbitration Act and about 500 people, both dead and alive, were held responsible for the pains and penalities provided in that act. What is the use of talking of deregistration ? An organization is nob an organization until it has been proclaimed as such. The Arbitration Act says -
The Governor-General may on the recommendation of the President by proclamation declare this act to apply to any association whether registerable under this net or not, and thereupon the association shall be deemed to be and shall become an organization for such of the purposes of this act as are directed by the proclamation or as are prescribed.
There is no necessity to pass coercion acts other than those already on the statutebook. Much could be said concerning the decisions given under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I have been closely associated with the Arbitration Court, and on one occasion a faulty decision was undoubtedly given by tha judge in consequence of a mistake being made in the compilation of certain figures. No appeal could, of course, be made; but the full particulars were later published in Hansard. In this enlightened age there should be no necessity to introduce coercive measures, because they only cause dissatisfaction and discontent, and lead to further industrial trouble. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) and I had to submit to a fine of £100 or imprisonment for advising men to disregard an award of the Court. Legislation such as the Government is introducing in this chamber and in another place should not have the support of honorable senators opposite, many of whom have been “through the mill,” and know the conditions under which workmen have to operate. It is to be regretted that Senator Pearce and Senator Lynch, who, in their earlier, days so strongly advocated the cause of unionism, and who with others were largely responsible for the introduction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the Navigation Act, which it is now proposed to emasculate, should support this bill which will not bc of any advantage to the people. I know we are confronted with industrial trouble, and I- am hoping that common sense, will eventually prevail, and that means other than those proposed will be adopted to settle the dispute. It must be remem- bered. that, all the intelligence of the. country isnot in this Parliament, and that outside menare working day and night in an endeavour to arrive at a. satisfactory, solution of the difficulty. I do not think Mr. Walsh should be considearedin the case?
SenatorGuthrie -Is he not theun- official leader of theLabour party ?
– Ibelieve that he isa member oftheindustrial wing ofthe Labour party. I met Mr. Walsh 25 years ago at an industrial conference,and sofar as I knowhehas beenactivelyassociated with industrial movements for many years. He has not alwaysbeen on the side where I stand, and hehas notso far as I know, occupied any. political position. ‘“Jock”’ Garden is another man to whom reference. is frequently made, andafter that gentleman’s returnfrom a visit overseas wehearda good deal about Moscow and theMuscovites;but notwithstanding all that was said, theGovernmentduring the first three monthsof this year permitted 260 ofthose people to land in Australia. I canonly repeat that the Government will bewell advised ifit withdraws this mensure;whichwould virtually destroy the Navigation Act.
SenatorWILSON (South Australi aMinister for Markets and Migration) [5.12 a.m.]. - The debate on. the second reading of this bill has clearly shown the people of Australia the attitude of certain honorable senators in regard! to arbitration andtheir opinions concerning the industrial trouble with which we are now confronted’. I am sure a majority of hon- orable senators congratulate Senator Ogden on the determined! stand he has taken in placing the interests of his country before those of his party. The Government is only asking for a power which is exercised by every government in the British Empire, but. one which will not be exercised except in cases of emergency. Senator McHugh endeavoured’ to showthat the Government were opposing the White Australia policy.
– That is the intention of tile bill.
– Thehonorable senator knows as well as. any one in this chamber that’ no one here believes in a black Australia.
– The Minister believes in it, but is not game to admit it.
– I sayunhestitatingly that we stand far a White Australia. and know that,inadvocatingsuch a policy we have the support of the whole; of the peopleof this greatcontinent. Itis easier tocriticize than to create. Nearlyevery honorable senatoropposite criticizedthe Government for doingwhat it believes! to beitsduty, yet not onesuggested a practical substitute.
SenatorHannan. - Intervention, and a round table conference.
– Intervention when an organization, has putitselfoutside the law! Let them get back to the law, whichthemajority of honorable senators opposite support.Personalabuse does not appeal to me on a greatnational question of this description, or, indeed, in amycircumstances. A great deal has been said in regard to Mr: Walsh-. I should life to speak more definitely andclearly of menwho are ina position to guide the unionists;but are afraid to do so. I have agreater admiration for Mr: Walsh than for the man who ishaving- on the game,5* and’ is. not prepared to; come into the. open in time of crisis, and leadhis men according to the dictates ofhis conscience. As Senator Lynch rightly said i twas theold-time unionists who took risks and. did. things. Most of the speeches on this matter haw; beenreasonable. and moderate. I can. assure the Senate that the Grovernment is exceedingly anxious to avoid trouble, and. it hopes; that the necessity will not arise to use the powers for which this bill provides. It remains f or honorablesenators opposite toplay their part.
Question - That the bill ho now. read a second time - put. The Senate divided,
Ayes .. … … 19
Noes . . . . … 9
Majority . .10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Power to suspend provisions, as to coasting trade) -
.- If one thingstand’s out prominentlyin the protracted debate caused bythe attempt of the Government to settle a threatened industrial dispute by destroying theNavigation, Act it is that Parliament is not the place in which to settle such disputes. We have had evidence of men’s feelings being roused. In that frame of mind they say things which do not make for a settlement. At the outset of the debate it was. suggested that theGovernment shouldintervene and endeavourto bring together the contending, parties. It was stated also that clause § does not abrogate those provisions of the Navigation Act which preservetheconditions under which: the seamen work, and the wages that they receive. Senator Elliott said tha t honorable senators on this side were quoting from the wrong act, and that a later consolidating act badmade certain alterations., I have reviewedthat consolidating act, and I say;, advisedly,that if the. committee agrees to clause 3, it will open the door to the employment of black and other labour Binder any conditions on our coast. The. manning scale, rates of wages, hours, and industrial conditions, will all go by the board. It does not matter what some honorable senators didin 1894, or in 1904,the fact remains that any honorable senator who votes for thisclause will help to undo everything, that he stood for a. few years ago. There is another feature of the clause to which I desires to direct attention.Th is supposed tobe a temporary measure, to be. usedonlyincaseof seriouseventuality. According to theGovernment, that eventuality has already arisen, and. this amending bill will be put into operation at the earliest possible moment., What is more, it will stand so longasthe Treasury bench is occupied! by men who have inclinations similar to those of the honorable gentlemen who are now, in. possession of it. Within a few months,, however, Labour men. will sit where anti-Labourites and anti- Australians nowsit and as soma as we, dothis measurewill be repealed.Frequent. references have been made tojob control, but wehave heard nothing: about the exercise of theprincipleof job control by the ship-owners. It: is most effective when the ship-ownerssumarily increasefreightsand fares without appealingto anytribunal, or asking thepermission ofany citizen.. But if. the men engaged on their vessels endeavour to preserve the conditionsthat have been won for. them after many hardfoughtbattles, the charge islevelled against them that they are improperly resorting to job control. The most effective job controllers I know of in Australia are the ship-owners.Honorable senators on this side will vote against the clause, because it is. impossibleto amend it.
– Since we first assembled- yesterday, we have made substantial progress, and that progress would have been more rapid but for the tactics of certain honorable senatorssupporting theGovernment. The provision immediately before usisofsuch great moment that. I think the. Government should report progress and ask leaveto sit again. In the meantime efforts whichare being made to bring about a peaceful settlement of the impending trouble may be successful. We cannot when we are tired devote to this’ matter of supreme importance the close attention’ it demands.. It is well nigh impossible for some honorable senators to keep awake. How, therefore, can they be fully cognisant of what is taking placer? A member of a state legislature oncesaid, “ Thank God, wehave an upper house.” He; knew that the Legislative Council wouldnot, work at the express speed displayed by the Legislative Assembly in passing; legislation , but would take its time,over the business it was called upon to transact. We are the upper house in the Federal Parliament and we should takeour time.
– I enter an emphatic protest against the adoption of this clause. The Governor-General is the representative of the Crown in this country, hut when he speaks it is with the voice of the Ministry. The Navigation Act was passed by this Parliament, after nine years of careful deliberation, to preserve the rights of the men who “ go down to the sea in ships.” When a measure relates only to Australian conditions, the GovernorGeneral has the right to assent to it, but if international considerations are involved, the assent of the King has to be obtained, and ohe of the few measures passed by this Parliament to which the Governor-General could not give his assent was the Navigation Act.
– (Senator Newland). - This clause does not refer to the assent of the Governor-General, but to a proclamation to be issued by him.
– But the proclamation would be issued on the authority of the Government of the day. If that portion of the Navigation Act relating to the coasting trade is suspended. Parliament will be setting aside some of the main provisions of a measure which was passed in the interests of not only the seamen, but also the shipping companies. Mr. Justice Higgins, referring to the first case that I had the honour of taking to the Arbitration Court, said that the seamen should not be allowed to work under conditions that were unfit for pigs. When he was asked by the representatives of the Shipowners’ Association to withdraw that remark, he said he would do so when the companies provided ‘ conditions on their vessels that would not compel the seamen to work under conditions to which pigs should not be subjected. The great benefits of the act, I say, were conferred on the steamship owners as well as oh the seamen. You, Mr. Chairman, and the leader of the Senate, supported the original Navigation Bill. Senator Pearce introduced the bill, and in his second-reading speech gave a most interesting history of the trade union movement, if the statements made by him at that time were true, they are equally true to-day. The Labour party asks to-day that the privileges awarded by the Court shall not be taken from the seamen. Neither the seamen nor the shipping companies should be subject to the unfair competition of ships manned by coolies. The Government’s proposal is to set aside the Navigation Act during a strike period, so that it may call to its aid any vessel, whether manned by Japanese or even by Germans, whom the Government despises and who were recently the enemies of this country. We have adopted the White Australia policy, and yet, under this bill, the Government seeks power to call in the flotsam and jetsam of the world during industrial crises to “ scab “ on Australians. I make no apology for saying that. The bill is not intended for the protection of the people of this country in standing for that for which the Chartists were deported to Australia. It is not submitted for the purpose of upholding the principles for which the strike of 1890 was launched. It is not designed to maintain ideals for which the antisweating league carried on its agitation. It is not introduced to uphold those things foi’ which the Labour movement in the past fought, and for which it stands to-day, but is designed to drive the seamen to their knees. The supporters of the Government do not care ‘ if trade unionism in Australia is injured. I conclude by saying that in this, as in other matters, I stand first for Australia.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– This clause, although short, proposes to set aside a vital part of the Navigation Act. It reads-
– The clause has already been read twice.
– Am I not permitted to read the clause?
– It has been read twice already, and to read it again would be tedious repetition. I rule that the honorable senator is not in order in again reading the clause. He can, if he desires, dispute my ruling.
– As I desire to assist in passing legislation which will benefit the country,’ I shall not dispute your ruling. The clause is so short that, unless honorable senators take the trouble to refer to the principal act, they may not realize its far-reaching consequences. It proposes to give the Governor-General power, by proclamation, to suspend not only the operation of the whole of Part VI. of the 1912 act. butthe operation of the amending sections in the 1920 act. These sections are really the vital. part of our navigation legislation. Oan any portion of the act be more important than Part VI. of the original act, which deals with the coasting trade of the Commonwealth ? It applies to all ships, whether British or foreign. To give honorable senators some indication of the nature of the sections in the principal act which will be affected, I shall read section 285 : -
This part of this act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation, but shall not come into’ operation on the date fixed for the. commencement of this act unless the proclamation fixing that date expressly declares that this part is to come into operation on that date.
That section was inserted with the object of delaying as long as possible the application of those provisions which were wrung from the opponents of the measure. Clause 3 will set it aside. Section 287 reads -
A ship shall not engage in the coasting trade which is receiving or which under any arrangement is to receive, or which in the immediately preceding twelve months has ‘been receiving diTectly or indirectly any subsidy or bonus from any government other than that of a part of the British dominions.
The importance of this section will be realized when I remind honorable senators that Parliament provided a penalty of £500 for a breach. I wonderthat the Government has not asked for the suspension of the whole of the ac.t, so that it might have an absolutely free hand Section 288 (1) of the principal act provides that no ship shall engage in the coasting trade unless licensed to do so. Here, again, the penalty is £500. Yet the Government, regardless of its importance, seeks the power to suspend the operations of that section. Senator Wilson, in supporting this clause, in effect admits that he is in favour of the employment of black labour in the coasting trade of Australia. Sub-section 3 of section 288 provides -
Every licence shall be issued subject to compliance” on the part of the ship, her master, owner, and agent, during such time as she is engaged in the coasting trade, with the following conditions : -
Penalty (on owner) : Ten pounds.
– I draw attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– It is further provided in section 289 that -
Every seaman employed on a ship engaged in any part of the coasting trade shall, subject to any lawful deductions, be entitled to and shall be paid, for the period during which the ship is so engaged, wages at the current rates ruling in Australia for seamen employed in that part of the coasting trade, and may sue for and recover those wages.
The Government asks us to adopt clause 3, its real intention being to rob the seamen of the right to claim any payment at all.
– I point out to the honorable senator that he is quoting from the wrong act. He is not reading the act as amended.
SenatorGRANT. - I find that the section that I have read has not been disturbedby the amending act. An amendment was made of sections 286 and 422 of the principal act, but not of the whole act. So far as. I can see, all the statements that I have made are in accordance with fact, and the adoption of clause 3 will mean that those sections will, at the wish of the Ministry, be suspended indefinitely. Clause 291 reads - (1.) No provision in any agreement, whether made in or out of Australia, shall be taken to limit or prejudice the rights of any seaman under this part of this act.
Where, by reason of a seaman being entitled to a higher rate of wages while the ship on whichhe serves is engaged in the coasting trade-
That original provision should be left undisturbed. Under this clause all the sectionsof the principal act which I have read may be suspended. Other sections may also be affected, but these, owing to the limited time at my disposal, I cannot quote. To propose in the present circumstances to set aside what is unquestionably the most vital part of the principal act so as to enable the Government to employ any labour at any cost isbeyond mycomprehension. No restrictions will be placed upon the ‘employment of colored labour on vessels engaged on the Australian coast. That is the policy which the Minister (Senator Wilson)is advocating in asking us to agree to the suspension of this vital portion ofthe act. The Government should notthrow down thegauntletand place the seamen entirely out of court.
– (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the committee do now divide.
Question put. The committee divided.
Majority …. 6
Majority … … 7
Question : so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. TheCommittee divided.
Questionso resolved in theaffirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Dispensing power of Govern or-General) - (Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [6.23 a.m.] - It is evidentthat there is some confusion in the mindsof honorable senators as to the sections we are amending, and forthe informationof the committee I quote section 422 of the principal act, which reads -
Where theGovernor-General is satisfied that the enforcement of any provision of this Act, in regard to ships of any country, would be inconsistent with theobligationsof the Commonwealth under a treaty made between that country and the United Kingdom, he may by Proclamation suspend the operation of that provisionwith regard to ships of thatcountry so far as is necessary to enable the obligations ofthe Commonwealth under the treaty to be fulfilled.
This section deals with a treaty, but the object of this measure, according to the Minister, is to settle industrial disputes.
– I had not the opportunity to protest as fully as I should have liked to do against clause 3, but I declare war to the knifeon this clause.Honorable senators opposite maythink that this is a matter of little or no moment, butI remind them that to every man engaged in political life there comes a day of reckoning. It will bo possible for the Governor-General to suspend all those major provisions in the act that apply to the conditions of the seamen, and he may disregard the whole of the conditions relating to the manning of vessels. That is a matter which vitally affects every one who travels by sea. A perusal of schedule 2 of the act will give an idea of the powers that the Government may exercise. Why did the Parliament devote so much time and trouble to that schedule? It wasin the interests of the travelling public. Ships that go to sea should be seaworthy and properly manned.
– The honorable senator knows that they could not go to sea from an Australianport unless they were seaworthy.
SenatorFINDLEY. - I hope thatno Government would be guilty of allowing a ship that was not absolutely seaworthy to go to sea. Woknowthat some Few years ago the then secretary of theSeamen’s Union, Mr. Sangster, who afterwards became the honorable member for Port Melbourne, made the serious allegation that certain ships were absolutely un seaworthy. . He referred to some of them as “coffin ships.” He was not taken seriously at first, but because of his persistence, a royal commission was appointed and the truth of his statements was proved up to the hilt. I hopethat the provisions of the act will not be abrogated or suspended, and that the schedule in its relation to manning will be strictly and rigidly observed. That schedule provides for the employment of qualified men. Where, outside the ranks of the Seamen’s Union, can such men be secured ? This is a very drastic provision, and it has been inserted forno ther purpose than to try to weaken the seamen’s organization.
– The honorable seator’s time has expired.
Question - That the clause st and as printed -put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question soresolved inthe affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Hill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
Thatthe report be now adopted.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Wilson ) proposed -
Thatthe bill be nowrend athird time.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until this day (Thursday), at 8 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 7 a.m. (Thursday) .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 July 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250715_senate_9_110/>.