10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11a.m. and read prayers.
- (By leave.)- To enable honorable senators to make their private arrangements, I have ascertained that several bills will shortly be received from the House of Representatives, and that there will he sufficient business to warrant the Senate sitting next week.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Elliott) agreed to -
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on1 1th March, 1926, be adopted.
Sixth Assembly:report of Australian Delegation
Debate resumed from the 3rd March (vide page 1202), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the paper, “ League of Nations - Sixth Assembly, 7th to 26th September, 1925: Re port of the Australian delegation,”’ be printed.
– It will be observed that the report of the Sixth Assembly of the League of Nations is a somewhat formidable one. It deals with many matters in detail, but I shall not be able to traverse them today. If honorable senators are interested in not merely what happened at the Sixth Assembly, but also many of the proceedings that led up to that gathering, they will read this document with considerable pleasure. It contains an immense quantity of valuable information, and I hope that honorable senators will find it to have been compiled in a sequence and with a simplicity that willen able it to be easily followed by them. The subject-matter is so large that in the hour at my disposal this morning I cannot hope to cope with the doings of the Sixth Assemblyitself ; much less could I be expected to give historical records of the previous proceedings of the League, which it would be necessary for me to do in order that these particular reports could be completely understood. It will be remembered that I loft Australia on the 9th July of last year, and returned on the 2nd November. The Australian delegation comprised Sir Joseph Cook, High Commissioner for Australia ; Mr. George Swinburne, who is “well known in the public life of this country; and myself, as the parliamentary representative. There was also a fourth member (Mrs. MacKinnon, from New South Wales), who was the substitute delegate, in which capacity she was available as a substitute for any of the three permanent delegates. It would be impossible for the business to be dealt with by such a large number of people as those who constitute the Assembly itself, and, consequently, the work is divided into six parts, and six commissions are set up, to whom the various items on the agenda paper are referred.
– Will the honorable senator state how many delegates were present ?
– At the last Assembly 47 members of the League, out of a total of 54, were represented. Each of those members had three delegates, and there were also a number of substitute delegates. Japan, for instance, had a delegation of 40, while Australia had only four.
– Was the representation on the basis of population?
– No. I shall deal with that matter later. I. was pointing out that, owing to the volume of the business to be dealt with, the work is subdivided. The first commission deals with legal and constitutional subjects: the second with technical organizations, health, and economic questions, communcations, transit, intellectual co-operation, and such-like matters; the third with the reduction of armaments; the fourth with the budget and financial matters generally; the fifth with social and general questions, such as opium, white slave traffic, women and children, international municipal co-operation, and a number of subjects of a similar nature; and the sixth with matters that are described as political, such, for instance, as, on the last occasion, slavery.
– Which commission deals with mandates?
– I shall come to that subject. On the first and fifth commissions Sir Joseph Cook was the representative of Australia; on the second and fourth Mr. Swinburne; and on the third and sixth Australia was represented by myself. Mrs. MacKinnon, the substitute delegate, was available in place of any one of the permanent delegates. In the event of a clash between meetings of two of the commissions, or in the case of any- one of the members, for any reason not being able to be present, the substitute delegate was available. It is very desirable that there should be one or more substitute delegates, because the quantity of work thrown on each of’ the representatives is stupendous. The proceedings at Geneva lasted only three weeks, but never’ have I previously experienced three weeks of harder work than fell to my lot during that conference. I also remind honorable senators that we did not have a very large staff at our disposal to assist in the research work that wo had to undertake ; but such officers as we had rendered excellent service. The secretary to the delegation was Major Fuhrman, who is secretary to the High Commissioner in London. He is an extraordinarily efficient officer, and the extra work that fell on his shoulders on this occasion was carried out in an admirable manner. Another member of our staff was Major Casey, the Australian representative in the Foreign Office in London, one of the most efficient men with whom I have ever been associated. His services were particularly at my disposal, and he certainly rendered me very able and valuable assistance, without which I should have found it exceedingly difficult to master the subjects that I was supposed to understand in dealing with the work allotted to me. The other member of the Australian staff was Miss Wood, from the High Commissioner’s Office. She attended to. the correspondence, and gave assistance generally to all the delegates. The three officials I have named were overworked in rendering to the delegates the assistance which was required. Perhaps I may state here that, in my. opinion, at all events, it is very desirable, having regard to the tremendous importance of the place that the League of Nations occupies in the affairs of the world, that Australia should take the proceedings of that body . a little more seriously than it does, and that some official of high standing and capacity should be appointed as a permanent Australian representative to look after the affairs of the League of Nations in London and
Geneva. I do not suggest that he need remain in Geneva for the whole of the time; his headquarters could be alternately in thatcity and in London.Canada has a highly paid and highly efficient officer permanently stationed at Geneva to advise the Canadian Prime Minister direct regarding the affairs of the League, in very much the same way that Major Casey in London advises the Australian Government in regard to foreign affairs generally. Ireland, also, has at Geneva a similar officer. Australia should, therefore, consider the desirability of taking that action. We must regard the League seriously. Some persons do not approve of it, whilst others are over enthusiastic regarding it; but it is of tremendous importance to Australia. I, therefore, advise the Commonwealth Parliament to seriously consider the appointment of such anofficer as I have indicated.
When I dealt justnow with the different committees upon which the various Australian delegates sat. I omitted to mention that Mrs. MacKinnon divided her attention between the second and the fifth. She was particularly anxious to sit upon those committees, as they dealt with subjects which peculiarly concerned women. She acted as the substitute for Sir Joseph Cook and Mr. Swinburne, particularly when subjects of concern to women were under discussion. The Australian delegation worked as a very happy family, and there was constant consultation between its members. Sir Joseph Cook readily made available to those of us who were less familiar than he with the League and its proceedings a measure of that very wide knowledge and wisdom which he undoubtedly possesses, to guideus in the performance of our duties, and I desire to express my appreciation of his help. Mr. George Swinburne was peculiarly suited to discharge his duties upon the committees to which he was allotted on account of his wide financial, professional, and engineering knowledge. His services were frequently enlisted by sub-committees which dealt with particular aspects of the work ofthe main committees.
It is desirableto consider the factors that operated to bring the League into being, and the previous efforts that had been made in the history of tike world to establish organizations with similar aims.
The present League came into existence at the termination of the late war, when nations were exhausted, and there was a general desire throughout the world for peace. The aim was to set up an organisation that would have some reasonable hope of maintaining peace in the world. This is by no means the first attempt that has been made in such a direction. Down through the ages a number of similar efforts have been made, some of which achieved a certain measure of success, whilst others met with only local success.
The first with which I am acquainted was made by the Greek States, prior to the advent of the Christian era. Those States entered into a federation and agreed to make common war upon any other State which dared to attack one of their number. The success of that organization was purely local, because those States envisioned a limited world and exercised a very brief authority. The second effort was that which was made by theRoman Empire. TheRomans ensured the peace of the largest portion of the then known world by the use of a military organization whose quality was so superior to that of any other nation that few dared to offer it resistance. It was a peace based on force and a superior military capacity, not upon mutual forbearance and goodwill, which is the ideal of the existing League of Nations. It had a considerable measure of success, and lasted for some time.
The next great effort was that of the Unity of Christendom, under the Holy Roman Empire, directed by the Pope. It lasted right down to the time of theReformation. The Pope and those who were associated with him exercised a very large measure of authority over every other nation in Europe. That authority had as its basis the acknowledgment of the Pope as the head of Christendom. We know, from our reading of history, that from time to time he took very strong action in directing the military activities of his various associates, to enable him to bring into line those nations which thought they could break away from the dominance of the Pope and the Holy Roman Empire. Honorable senators may be aware that a great writer has said that it was neither Holy norRoman, nor Empire. However, the fact remains that it was the dominating factor in world politics for hundreds of years, and continued to be so right down to the time of the Reformation, when the Pope ceased to have in Europe that religious dominance which he had formerly possessed. His dominance became less and less as. the years passed, and for the first time there began to grow up in Europe a certain rule for the regulation of international conduct. The position then became very much what it is now. Rules relating to international conduct are set up by each nation, but there is a similarity between them all. There is, as yet, no sanction behind this law; it is peculiarly the concern of each nation to observe it or disregard it as its desires dictate. An effort is now being made to establish such a sanction and to place the law entirely in the control of the League of Nations. I shall deal with that point later on.
The next period is that comprising the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, inclusive, during which what is known as the balance of power was set up. That consisted of the grouping of nations in Europe. It was only in the latter part of the last century that nations outside Europe were brought in. Prior to that the problem was essentially a European one. That schemeworked quite well, although there were occasions when a power considered that it was strong enough to break away from the combinations that existed. The best illustration of that was that of Prance under Napoleon. The next illustration was afforded 100 years later, when Germany considered that she was strong enough to override all other European combinations and to impose her will upon the world. Both those outstanding efforts failed, and the world got back to the position that it had formerly occupied. The great objection to such a scheme for preserving the balance of power was that it did not provide a peaceful means for the settlement of international disputes, and the only restraint imposed upon nations was the fear of consequences. No appeal was made to the higher instincts of men or of nations ; every nation, in fact, armed itself to the limit of its capacity and its resources in anticipation of the struggle which it considered would inevitably come sooner or later.
The next effort for the preservation of world peace was made after the Napoleonic wars, and it was the first that had been based upon any ideals. It was known generally as the “Holy Alliance.” In the first place, it consisted of an alliance between the monarchies of Russia, Austria, and Prussia ; but subsequently it was agreed to by most of the other monarchies of Europe. It contained a declaration that its objective was the uniting of the nations of Europe in everlasting peace. Although it was based upon certain ideals, and, in the opinion of its authors, had as its foundation Christian principles, it broke down, because it was an alliance not of nations but of monarchs. It developed into an alliance the main object of which was the bolstering up of absolutism in the face of the rising tide of democracy which at that time was spreading over Europe. In fact, it became a league of monarchs, not of nations.
– It was a league of some nations.
– It was an alliance between monarchs rather than between nations. It was an effort by those monarchs to maintain the prestige and the power of monarchies rather than of democracies. It failed. It was inevitable that it should fail, in the face of the rising tide of democracy that was sweeping over Europe at that time. The originator was Alexander I. of Russia. It is interesting to note that the next move also came from Russia. In 1898 Nicholas II. of Russia, following the example of Alexander I., and in the interests of the peace of Europe, summoned the first convention at the Hague to bring about a limitation of arms convention. That conference completely failed in its original purpose, but it resulted in the establishment of the Hague Tribunal, a permanent organization for the settlement by arbitration of disputes between nations. That was a very distinct step forward. In 1907 theCzar of Russia called another conference at the Hague, again for the purpose of bringing about a limitation of armaments. All the nations of Europe were then being involved in huge expenditure on armaments, and it was feared that aclash was inevitable. Again the conference failed, largely owing to the attitude of Germany, which refused to have anything to do with a proposal to limit military expenditure ; but it certainly served some useful purpose, because it set up rules to govern the conduct of nations in war. T hose rules were generally accepted by the civilized people of the world.
In . addition to these efforts by Russia to provide for the peace of the world, a number of private individuals were working in various countries to educate public opinion in the direction of establishing a League of Nations. There is no time now to examine the various documents, which are of great historic interest, but as a starting point we may take the fourteen points of the proposal submitted to the United States Congress by the late President Woodrow Wilson. They provided for a general association of nations, and a specific covenant for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small nations alike. This was the firstattempt to provide mutual guarantees. Following the close of the war there came the gathering of nations’ at Versailles to draw up a general treaty of peace. The preamble to the Covenant of the League of Nations, incorporated in the Treaty, is very interesting. It provides -
The High Contracting Parties, in order to promote international co-op!eration and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another, agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.
Here we have an ideal differing entirely from that which had governed previous efforts in history - an organization for the maintenance of peace and to insure justice among the nations of the world. For the first time we have a real organization of peoples - not of monarch* - who are represented at the annual gatherings of the assembly by their respective delegates.
Some people in Australia in both private and public life hold the view that Australia should keep out of international affairs. Others, again, say that we should have an international policy, carried out in the full light of day, and that it should be entirely Australian and independent of the rest of the Empire. Since these views are held by people who are regarded as leaders of public thought in Australia, we must have some regard for them. It is, therefore, necessary to ascertain Australia’s responsibilities and undertakings in connexion with the League. The Covenant provides - (1) Members are bound, in the event of any dispute between themselves likely to lead to war, to submit to arbitration, judicial settlement by the world court, or inquiry by the Council, and not to go to war for three months after an award or report. The award must be made within a reasonable time and the report within six months. (2) Members are bound to carry out an arbitral award or judicial decision on matters recognized as suitable for arbitration, and are bound not to go to war with any member which complies therewith or with a unanimous report by the Council on any international dispute whatever. (3) Any member nation which goes to war in disregard of these obligations commits an act of war against all other member nations, and the sanctions imposed by article 16 come into force. These sanctions are, shortly, that trade, financial, personal, and commercial relations may be terminated, and the Council of the League will advise what military action the member nations should take. In disputes between members and non-members of the League - and this is of special interest to Australia - the latter are invited to assume the obligations of membership. If they refuse all members of the League are bound to apply the sanctions mentioned in article 16, which means a state of war. Article 10 provides -
The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against- external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League. . . .
This is an obligation which Australia has undertaken to observe. It is therefore essential that we should pay some regard to what is going on in the world, and contribute to the shaping of international policy, otherwise we may be dragged into trouble in any part of the world.
– In other words, we cannot accept the protection of the League without accepting its obligations?
– Is it not a fact that the dominions, before they signed the Covenant, expressly exempted themselves from military interference?
– No. Let me illustrate Australia’s position under the League by supposing that a dispute arose between Japan, which is a member of the League, and the United States of America, which is not a member of the League. Honorable senators will recall that prior to the Washington Conference there was a grave possibility of a dispute between those two countries leading to an outbreak of hostilities. Under the Covenant of the League of Nations in any dispute between Japan and the United States of America, the latter, for the purposes of the dispute, would be invited to become a member of the League with a view to a pacific settlement. If the Government of the United States accepted the invitation, well and good. The dispute would then go before the League of Nations in the ordinary course, and automatically the United States of America would be bound to accept its decision; If, however; the United States of America refused to become a member of the League in the circumstances I have mentioned, but took the stand that the dispute involved a question of national honour in which outside intervention would not be tolerated, Australia, as a member of the League of Nations, would be bound to stand behind Japan in the dispute if that country complied with the requirements of the Covenant, and supported the sanctions laid down in article 16 against the United States of America. This, as I have shown, would mean a state of war, and whether or not we agreed with Japan, we might be called on to stand by that country as a member of the League of Nations.
– And, if necessary, assist Japan by a force of arms.
– It would mean a state of war. This is the obligation which Australia has undertaken under the Covenant of the League of Nations, and this is one of the reasons why it is essential that the Commonwealth should take its part in shaping the international politics of the Empire. Probably very few people in Australia realized what serious obligations were being undertaken when the representatives of the Commonwealth attached their signatures to the Covenant and when Parliament approved of it. The fact remains that we have accepted the Covenant, and we have undertaken very serious responsibilities. I have given an outline of the main features of the Covenant that affects Australia.
– At the Sixth Assembly, was any indication given as to the possibility of the United States of America coming into the League later on?
– No. America’s position is very difficult, because, unlike most other democracies, it has not parliamentary government, and the administration is not chosen from the American Parliament. Congress is not divided into parties on the lines with which we are so familiar in Australia, and the administration is not carried on by a Government which has the support of a definite majority in Parliament. Consequently, it cannot speak definitely for the Parliament, and cannot enter into foreign negotiations with the knowledge that its party will back it up in any course of action. The American Senate is the dominant factor in foreign relations.
– As the Senate ought to be here.
– I am doubtful as to that. If the control of foreign affairs were divorced from the government of the day, which is responsible to a parliament responsible, in its turn, to the people, we should have here the unfortunate position that now exists in the United States of America. The United States Government can enter into the discussion of foreign affairs with the Government of another nation, and may even enter into schemes for the conduct of the affairs of all other nations, but, on account of its own peculiar position, because it is controlled by a Senate whose actions it cannot direct, it pleads for special consideration and special treatment for America. That in a nutshell, is the position of the United States of America. and, therefore, it is difficult to say when that nation will subscribe to the League of Nations. If it were a member of the League, Australia’s dangers would be much smaller than they are now.
From the formation of the League until the present time, three great nations - the United States of America, Germany, and Russia - have not been members of the League, although it was contemplated, when the League was formed, that they would be in it, if not at once, at least very soon after its formation. If these three nations were members of the League, the danger of Australia being involved in a war in which we thought that the merits were on the other side would be much less than they are now.
– Australia might be involved in a war utterly opposed to Australian sentiment.
– If war had broken out between Japan and the United States of America, as it nearly did prior to the Washington Conference, it would have been difficult for Australia to support Japan.
We have to remember that there are in Europe at the present time many danger spots which are likely to lead to war at any moment - such matters as the partition of Silesia, the Dantzig corridor, the Polish-Russian frontier, the Italian- Austrian dispute over the Tyrol, and the HungarianBulgarian frontier. It will be remembered that, against the desire and wish of the rest of the European nations, Poland seized a great portion of Russia, and incorporated it within its own boundaries. Many people think that the merits of that dispute were all against Poland. I do not express an opinion on the point, but there is a great divergence of view upon it. Under article 10 of the Covenant, we are obliged to maintain existing boundaries and territories of all nations which are members of the League, regardless of the view we take at the time ‘of the merits of the case. I remind honorable senators of this undertaking, and that these danger spots exist, to impress on them the necessity for Australians taking a keen, intelligent, and informed interest in public affairs.
We have also to remember that we have undertaken to maintain the territorial integrity of such places as China and
Persia and .the Central American and South American States; in fact, of the whole of the 54 countries which are members of the League of Nations.
– Just as they would come to our assistance.
– BROCKMAN. - Yes ; they have, on their part, undertaken to preserve the territorial integrity of Australia. There is a danger in the fact that democracies of the type of Australia cannot be driven .to war in support of a mere legal technicality or technical obligation. They would want to understand the merits of a dispute, despite all the covenants in the world, and all the undertakings entered into. I remind honorable senators also that we cannot dissociate ourselves from Great Britain’s foreign relations. Under international law, as it is accepted to-day, when Britain goes to war, technically we also go to war. That is a fact we must constantly bear in mind when we are considering international affairs.
– If England were at war in opposition to the League, would that involve Australia being in. opposition to England?
– The honorable senator’s question opens up a very technical, wide, and difficult discussion; but T have no doubt in my mind as to what would happen- under sill circumstances we would find ourselves on the side of England.
– There is no doubt about that.
– BROCKMAN.Now I shall deal with some, of the work more definitely done at the Sixth Assembly. That Assembly did not produce anything very spectacular. The spirit which governed it was that of consolidation and sound routine. There was no Geneva Protocol turning it into, as one distinguished man had described the previous assembly, something resembling a revolutionary tribunal rather than a gathering of distinguished statesmen. Very solid and useful work was accomplished. The Protocol which had been the subject of most discussion at the previous assembly had not been accepted by the nations of Europe, principally because of the opposition of Great Britain. I do not propose to discuss the reasons why the British Empire generally turned down that Protocol, but I want to say that- in all its arbitration treaties Great Britain has, as a general principle, refused to submit to arbitration matters of vital interest to itself or the Empire, and matters involving the nation’s honour. Great Britain declined to subscribe to a protocol which would bind all the members of the League of Nations to submit disputes of all land, no matter what they involved, to settlement by outside arbitrators. Sir Austen Chamberlain explained the British point of view to the Sixth Assembly, In a very interesting speech he analysed the peculiarities of the Anglo-Saxon race. He said that the Anglo-Saxon was perhaps less logical than the Latin ; that he preferred to work from the particular to the general rather than from the general to the particular. He said that the Latin preferred to lay out a complete plan,, and make everything else fit into it, whereas the Anglo-Saxon preferred to deal with each particular problem as it arose, and so build up a general principle from a solution of a number of problems. In that way - but not of course in the language I have used - Sir Austen Chamberlain described the differences between the Anglo-Saxon temperament and the Latin temperament, and explained how impossible it was for Great Britain to accept the general arbitration scheme propounded by the previous Assembly, known sometimes as the Protocol, but more often as the Geneva Protocol.
– What did the Sixth Assembly do with the Protocol?
– At the Sixth Assembly there was a general discussion upon it. Most of the Latin nations were whole-hearted in their support of the Protocol, and but for the action of the British Empire it would undoubtedly have been accepted. However, another principle seems now to govern the position. The Latin nations and many others, while recognizing that it is impossible to bring the Protocol into being so long as the British Empire objects to it, ask that the principles laid down in it should be maintained. These principles can be summed up in three words, arbitration, security, and disarmament. At the same time they accept the principle for which Great Britain stoodrthe principle of having regional .pacts for the settlement of local problems/* and so working out a general scheme and arriving ultimately at a general principle togovern all problems requiring solution. These are the general lines which now apply, and in consequence of this new attitude of the League, Britain took the initiative in the settlement of the most urgent disputes between France, Italy, Germany, Czecho-Slovakia. and Poland, with the result that the series, of treaties known as the Locarno treaties has been produced.
– The honorable senator is referring to what is known as the Locarno pact.
– The pact was really an arrangement between Germany, France, and Belgium with the guarantee of Britain behind it. The whole of the treaties agreed to at Locarno are known as the Locarno treaties. I do not propose to deal with these now, except to say that the British delegation advocated regional pacts under the auspices and control of the League, instead of a universal protocol of the type of the Geneva Protocol. The Assembly, while agreeing to the principle of the German negotiations which were then under way, seemed to regard them in the nature of a first step towards, rather than an abandonment of the idea of, a universal agreement on the lines of the Geneva Protocol. I think that sums up the attitude taken up by the Sixth Assembly in regard to the Protocol.
The three most important matters that were discussed at Geneva last year were disarmament proposals, the slavery convention, and the economic conference proposals.
It will be remembered that article 8 of the Covenant contains this paragraph-
The members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement by common action of international obligations.
Consequently, it was the duty of the League to endeavour to bring about a reduction of armaments. I propose to relate what it has done in that regard since its inception. The very words of the Covenant reveal the difficulty and complexity of the whole matter, so that I need not enlarge upon it. They specifically refer to the wisdom of prohibiting competition in armament making, which in itself is a considerable threat against peace; and to the duty of safeguarding the national security of League members, by the maintenance of a minimum force of troops; and to the desirableness of encouraging co-operation among the nations. The First Assembly of the League decided that -
In order to diminish the economic difficulties of Europe, armies should everywherebe reduced to a peace footing. Armaments should be reduced to the lowest possible figure compatible with national security.
At about the same time the International Finance Conference was held at Brussels, and it recommended to the Council of the League -
The desirability of conferring at once with the several governments concerned with a view to securing a general reduction of the crushing burdens, which on their existing scale, armaments still impose on the impoverished peoplesof the world, sapping their resources and imperilling their recovery from the ravages of war.
The First Assembly of the League adopted the recommendation, and appointed the Advisory Committee, one of its permanent committees, and the Temporary Mixed Commission to investigate the problem. ‘[Extension of time granted.] I shall not deal in detail with the work of those committees, but will simply say that the Second Assembly contented itself with dealing with the matter from the point of view of trafficking in arms, and the manufacture of arms by private enterprise. It recognized that if it could control the manufacture of armaments, it would take a big step towards disarmament. Unfortunately, the Government of the United States of America, which, as I have said already, is dominated by the Senate, refused to exercise any sort of control over the private manufacture of armaments, and so the good work that the League sought to do was partly nullified. After the Second Assembly ended, the Temporary Mixed Commission got to work again, and catalogued the difficulties in the way of disarmament. It reported to the Third Assembly in the following terms: -
It will be seen that, at this stage, there was, apparently, a unanimous desire to reduce armaments. I use the word “ apparently “ deliberately. There can be no doubt that Great Britain desired to reduce her armaments, for she started to do so straightway, and has ‘ continued the policy, until now she has reached the limit to which she can go, having regard to the state of armaments of the other nations of the world. I greatly regret that the European nations have not followed up their expressed desire for, disarmament by any substantial action. There are more men under arms in Europe to-day than in 1914. That fact is a menace to the continued peace of the world, and it emphasizes the importance of this problem. There was a long discussion at the Third Assembly of the League on disarmament proposals, and what is known as resolution 14, by everybody who studies League affairs, was adopted. The resolution reads -
(a.) The Assembly, having considered the report of the Temporary Mixed Commission on the question of a general Treaty of Mutual Guarantee, being of opinion that this report can in no way affect the complete validity of all the Treaties of Peace, or other agreements, which are known to exist between State’; and considering that this report contains valuable suggestions as to the methods by which a Treaty of Mutual Guarantee could be made effective, is of the opinion that: -
This reduction could be carried out either by means of a general treaty, which is the most desirable plan, or by means of partial treaties designed to be extended and open to all countries.
In the former case, the Treaty will carry with it a general reduction of armaments. In the latter case the reduction should be proportionate to the guarantees afforded by the Treaty.
The Council of the League, after having taken the advice of the Temporary Mixed Commission, which will examine bow each of these two systems could be carried out, should further formulate and submit to the governments for their consideration and sovereign decision the plan of the machinery, both political and military, necessary to bring them clearly into effect.
Out of that resolution arose the Treaty of Mutual Assistance, which was adopted by the Fourth Assembly. Only eighteen nations that are members of the League accepted that treaty. It was felt that, although it had a gooddeal of merit, it had a tendency to cause a grouping of the nations, and a return to the old balance of power principle, which had been rejected. It was considered that it did not give security to the nations, or extend the principle of arbitration and international jurisdiction, set out in article 8 of the Covenant. Whether the demand for disarmament made at the Third Assembly was honest or otherwise, there was expressed at the meeting of the Fifth Assembly a general desire for some treaty of security, and that led to what is known as the Geneva Protocol, the basis of which was arbitration, security and disarmament. As I have already said, it was rejected principally on ac count of it being unacceptable to the British Empire. That was the position that had been reached in the disarmament negotiations when the Sixth Assembly began its general discussion of the matter last year on the following proposal, which was made by the Spanish delegation : -
The Assembly, profoundly attached to the cause of peace, and convinced that the most urgent need of the present time is the reestablishment of mutual confidence between nations; declaring afresh that a war of aggression constitutes an international crime; taking note of the declarations submitted to the Council and the Assembly of the League of Nations in respect of the Protocol for the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and of the fact that the said Protocol has not up to the present received the ratifications necessary for’ putting it into operation immediately; regards favorably the effort made by certain nations to advance these questions by concluding treaties of mutual security conceived in the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and in harmony with the principles of the Protocol (arbitration, security, disarmament) ; records the fact that such agreements need not be restricted to a limited area, but may be applied to the whole world; recommends that, after these agreements have been deposited with the League of Nations, the Council should examine them in order to report to the Seventh Assembly on the progress in general security brought about by such agreements; undertakes again to work for the establishment of peace by the sure method of arbitration, security, and disarmament; and requests the Council to make preparatory arrangements for a conference on the reduction of armaments, as soon as, in its opinion, satisfactory conditions have been achieved from the point of view of general security as provided for in resolution XIV. of the Third Assembly.
That resolution was submitted to the Assembly, and referred by it to the third committee, of which I was a member. Two amendments were proposed, one by the Hungarian delegation, and the other by the Netherlands delegation. The effect of those amendments would have been to set up a very expensive organization for the purpose of making preliminary inquiries before the holding of a disarmament conference. Had they been accepted, the activities of the League would have been greatly enlarged, and an inquiry which would certainly not have been concluded during the next 20 years would have been instituted. That is the advice I received from the technical officers attached to the British delegation. The earlierpart of the investigations would have been completely out of date before the inquiry could be finalized, and thus it would have been interminable. Some nations, I am sorry to say, hope that there will be no settlement of this question, because they do not desire to be interfered with. I believe that some nations would have been very glad to see an organization which would continue for all time without being able to arrive at a definite conclusion, appointed to go into the subject of disarmament. Therefore, those amendments were not acceptable to the committee nor, ultimately, to the Assembly. Finally, the following resolution, based upon the three proposals, was adopted by the Assembly: -
Taking note of the declarations submitted to the Council and the Assembly of the League of Nations in respect of the Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, and of the fact that the said Protocol has not up to the present received the ratifications necessary for putting it into operation immediately;
Convinced that the most urgent need of the present time is the re-establishment of mutual confidence between nations;
Declaring afresh that a war of aggression should be regarded as an international crime;
Regards favorably the effort mode by certain nations to attain those objects by concluding arbitration conventions and treaties of mutual security conceived in the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and in harmony with the principles of the Protocol (arbitration, security, disarmament) ;
Records the fact that such agreements need not be restricted to a limited area, but may be applied to the whole world;
Recommends that, after these conventions and treaties have been deposited with the League of Nations, the Council should examine them in order to report to the Seventh Assembly on the progress in general security brought about by such agreements;
Undertakes again to work for the establishment of peace by the sure method of arbitration, security, and disarmament;
And, in conformity with the spirit of article 8 of the Covenant, requests the Council to make a preparatory study with a view to a conference for the reduction and limitation of armaments, in order that, as soon as satisfactory conditions have been assured from the point of view of general security as provided for in resolution XIV. of the Third Assembly, the said conference may be convened and a general reduction and limitation of armaments maybe realised.
The onus is thrown upon the Council of the League to make inquiries, and to summon a disarmament conference as soon as the circumstances warrant it. The League is not under an obligation to proceed with the big inquiry that would have been necessary if the amendments had been accepted, and if the recommendations of certain nations had been agreed. to. Disarmament, instead of being brought nearer, would certainly have been very much further off than it is to-day. The essential condition precedent to any disarmament in Europe - and it is essentially a European question—is the establishment of some measure of mutual confidence among: the nations there. I regret to say that that does not exist, to any great extent to-day. There do exist, however, very large armies and very large provisions for armaments. A condition precedent to any real disarmament is a moral disarmament - a mental condition, which, in my opinion, is not tobe found in Europe at the present time. But that mental condition is gradually developing, and the League of Nations is contributing in a large measure to that desirable end. Provided the issue is not forced too much, I hope most sincerely that a mental condition will be brought about in Europe that will make a physical reduction of armaments a political possibility.
A great deal more could be said on this subject, but my time has nearly expired. The next, perhaps, most important matter discussed was the proposed economic conference. This proposal was submitted by the French delegation, and it was in general terms. The Council was invited to consider at the earliest possible moment the expediency of constituting on a wide basis a committee to prepare for an international economic conference. France wished to go ahead with it immediately, but the British delegation was more cautious, and desired that there should be a preliminary consideration by the Council. The general idea is that the subject of holding an international economic conference should be discussed, with a view to producing an economic public opinion. I desire to remind honorable senators that this will almost certainly include a discussion of migration - a matter that vitally concerns Australia. The present position, broadly, is that under international law the admission of immigrants into a country is regarded as a matter of purely domestic concern. In recent times, however, strenuous efforts have been made to take it from the domestic sphere and bring it into the international arena. So long as it remains “in the domestic arena, it will fee purely a matter of Australian concern as to what immigrants are admitted and excluded from this country; but the moment it reaches the international arena we shall no longer be able to say whom we will have here and whom we will not have. That question will then be decided by the. League of Nations or some other international organization. This is certainly one of the questions that will be discussed at the proposed economic conference. There is a strong urge from the southern portion of Europe, as well as. from Asiatic countries, that this matter should be made an international one. I made some inquiry in League of Nations circles as to which were the most important subjects, and I was told that undoubtedly those matters were disarmament and migration. Therefore, I was at some pains, with the. aid particularly of Major Casey to discover what documents were in existence that touched on this subject, and what were the statements that had been made from time to time by various people that might give me a lead as to the direction in which their thoughts ran. I need not have worried much about that, because that information came directly from many of the European delegates, particularly the Italians.
Let me deal with the Italian position. Italy is in a very peculiar economic position. The annual increase in population is too great to enable the country to absorb all its people into its own economic system so that an outlet has consequently to befound for its surplus population, which amounts to about 750,000 a year. Prior to 1914 these people in a large measure emigrated to America, but since the late war the United States of America has placed a limit on the number of immigrants that it will accept from Italy. Although in the past as many as 450,000 have been accepted in one year, the number is now limited to 4,000 a year. Italy, therefore, is faced with a serious problem, and it asks, perhaps with some justice, “ Why should a country like Australia, capable of absorbing a population of at least 100,000,000. refuse to accept our nationals, Christians and whites as they are, seeing that it cannot fill its vast empty spaces?” That is what the Italians are saying - that is what they said to me.
– Yes. The matter will be discussed when the economic conference is held in terms of the resolution passed at the Sixth Assembly, and Australia must think about it. It is useless for us to ignore it. If we are to uphold our White Australia principles by filling this country with immigrants from Great Britain, we must do more than we are now doing in that direction; otherwise, how can we meet the statements made in southern European countries ? These statements, are already being made very insistently. On this subject I have a most interesting collection of notes, which I intended to read had my time permitted me. They show that there are certain nations thai have cast, their eyes in the direction of Australia - and they are increasingly doing so - in seeking means for the disposal of their surplus populations. This matter is of tremendous importance to Australia.. It- was discussed at a conference in Rome the year before last, and. arrangements have been made for another conference on the subject to be held in Cuba, I think, this year. The. matter is being brought into the international arena whether we desire it or not. It would definitely have been brought under the control of the League of Nations, and the permanent court set up by the League, if Australia had subscribed to the Geneva Protocol last year. An increasing effort in that direction is being made - and one can readily see the reason for it - on the part of these nations which have populations that they cannot support. Australia must face the problem, and face it immediately. I regret that I cannot deal with that matter as fully as I should like.
The next matter of importance dealt with, first in the Sixth Committee and later in the Assembly itself, was that of slavery. Some persons believe that slavery has been abolished, and that it no longer exists in the world. An examination of the facts proves the fallacy of that belief. Slavery does exist to a great extent, and there are also many conditions which are analogous to slavery. A. committee was set up under the direction of the League of Nations to inquire into slavery in different partsof the world. It brought down a very useful and exhaustive report. It met with a good deal of passive resistance from various nations in its inquiries, but eventually it succeeded, in the main, in ascertaining the facts. Following upon its report, Great Britain took the lead and brought down a protocol that was designed to secure the abolition of slavery and conditions analogous to slavery - such as forced employment. That protocol was considered by the Sixth Committee and by a sub-committee of that committee, on both of which I sat. Some of the delegates criticized the protocol, considering that it did not go far enough. On the other hand, some of the delegates considered that it went too far. Eventually a protocol was drafted by the committee, but instead of being completed it was left in an incomplete state, so that every nation in the world would have an opportunity to consider it and make observations upon it before the next Assembly of the League, when it will be finally dealt with.
A number of other reports were considered, and actions taken, during the proceedings of the Assembly. One of those was the financial reconstruction of Austria. That is almost complete, and constitutes one of the finest acts that has been taken by the League. The financial reconstruction of Hungary is also well on the way to completion. If it had accomplished nothing else, the League would have justified its existence by the work that it did in that direction.
Excellent work is being done also in connexion with health, intellectual cooperation, the opium traffic, mandates, and many other matters of routine, and a great deal of success is being achieved. Each of those matters was dealt with by the different committees, and by the Assembly itself, during the course of the proceedings.
I regret having exhausted the time allowed me under the Standing Orders. I should have liked to give more information in relation to the matters with which I have dealt, but particularly those of immigration and slavery. I hope that I shall have another opportunity to speak upon those subjects.
Before I sit down I should like to recommend to honorable senators a small publication on the League of Nations, by Dr. Ellis, a member of the Victorian bar. I have found it most useful, and any one desirous of getting a grasp of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the position of Australia in connexion therewith will be well advised to read this publication.
– We are deeply indebted to Senator Drake-Brockman for the masterly speech that he has delivered.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– The honorable senator has rendered a great public service by placing on record an historical account of the efforts of the nations to establish world peace, and of the motives that underlie the formation of the League of Nations. I endorse his plea that Australia should endeavour to understand some of the questions with which the League of Nations is dealing, and define its attitude towards them. His speech will undoubtedly arouse interest. He has given a lot of information that I feel sure was not previously in the possession of honorable senators, and I know that I voice their opinion when I say that the Senate thanks him heartily for. the trouble to which he went in the preparation of his comprehensive speech.
There are only two matters upon which I wish to comment. They would not have called for comment had the honorable senator been enabled to deal more fully with them. I realize that he has (had to discard a great deal of interesting material, and that he has necessarily had to deal cursorily with some important matters, with which he would have dealt more fully had our Standing Orders allowed him a greater length of time in which to make his speech. ‘ One of the matters to which I desire to refer is the obligations of the Commonwealth and of every other nation under the Covenant of the League of Nations. Senator Drake-Brockman mentioned the possibility of a dispute between a member and a non-member of the League. A dispute that might have great significance to Australia, he said, would be one between the United States of America, a non-member, and Japan, a member of the League. He pointed out that it might be argued that every member of the League should range itself alongside Japan in opposition to the United States of America. I am sorry that the honorable senator did not have more time to elaborate’ that particular phase. There are two qualifications which would affect such a position. The first would be, who was the aggressor, and what effect that consideration would have?
– That would happen only in the event of the United States of America consenting to come in under the terms of article 17 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
– The other qualification, which is the more pertinent, is that the United States of America is a member of the World Court, which was formed under the aegis of the League of Nations. In the event of a dispute so important as possibly to involve war, there would be very little doubt about America refusing to allow that dispute to go to the judgment of a court to which she had voluntarily agreed to submit such disputes.
The other matter, which is of first class importance to Australia, and which, probably for the first time, has been raised by Senator Drake-Brockman to-day, is the desire of many nations - but particularly of those of southern Europe - to bring immigration within the scope of the subjects that may be dealt with by the League of Nations.
– Was not that the desire of Japan?
– It was not so much the desire of Japan as of other nations.
– It was introduced by Japan.
– Japan took up an altogether different stand-point, which did not present such formidable difficulties to Australia as are presented by this particular matter. Whilst many nations sympathize with our point of view, and understand it, in relation to the aspects of immigration which Japan desired to raise, there are not so many who either understand or sympathize with our point of view- towards that aspect to which Senator Drake-Brockman has referred. We may have a very strong case to put up against the contention of Japan, but we have yet to prove that we occupy such a strong position in regard to the other aspect of the matter. Great importance attaches to the raising of the question to-day by Senator Drake-Brockman. Within the last two years an attempt has been made to focus public attention in Australia upon this question, and by sensational, exaggerated, and unfounded statements, to convey the impression that it is assuming a dangerous aspect. I say, advisedly, and without heat, that the actuating motive has been party political gain. Those who have been responsible must be made to realize that they are playing with fire. They are playing into the hands of those who, as Senator Drake-Brockman has said, are ‘ hopef ul, of making this a question of international moment. The figures that I tabled last week constitute a damning exposure of the greatest hypocrisy and humbug that have been displayed in the political history of Australia. Public men in this country have been endeavouring to make it appear that Australia’s welfare is endangered by the immigration of southern Europeans, but the returns which I tabled show that actually there has been an excess of departures over arrivals of such people. Those who are crying “wolf “ are probably doing more damage to Australia than they realize. After the warning that was sounded to-day by Senator DrakeBrockman, we should be careful to see that we, at any rate, are the last to drag this question forward and make it one of first class importance, unless we have a more substantial backing for our claim than we have formerly had. I feel sure that I am voicing the opinion of all honorable senators when I say that we appreciate very much indeed the speech delivered this morning by Senator DrakeBrockman, who has rendered the Commonwealth a valuable service.
– Mr. President-
– Order! The honorable senator has lost his opportunity to debate the motion. I waited, before I called upon the Minister (Senator Pearce), to see if other honorable senators wished to speak. The Minister’s reply closed the debate.
– That is so, sir. I and others overlooked the fact that the motion for the printing of the paper was submitted by the Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) pro posed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I cannot allow this opportunity to passwithout again expressing regret that the Government has brought down legislation of thischaracter. The bill, in the main, consists of two parts, one referring to unlawful associations, and the other to industrial disputes. Proposed new sub-section 30j deals with industrial disturbances, lockouts, and strikes. Any person convicted under that provision will be liable to imprisonment, and, if not Australian born, to deportation. Why should this legislation be aimed at any man who, as a member of an industrial organisation, takes action to improve his conditions of employment? There is no mention in thebill of another section which is just as vigorous and as dangerous to the peace, order, and good government of Australia. I refer to the profiteers. A few years agothe ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said he felt inclined to go out and shoot the profiteers in this country. Apparently also those who may be responsible for a financial hold-up will not be dealt with by fine, imprisonment, or deportation.
– Order ! The honorable senator has just reminded me that there is no reference in the bill to a certainsection in the community. Therefore he must know that his references to that section are irrelevant and out of order.
– The bill should provide for such people. Recently there was a considerable amount of unemployment andunrest owing to the refusal of the associated banks to make advances to persons engaged in certain industrial enterprises.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the general banking policy on the motion for the third reading of this bill.
– Ihave no desire to contest yourruling, Mr. President; but I think I will be in order in directing attention to the fact that the bill differentiates between citizens of Australia. For example, Senator Reid, who was not born in Australia, would be liable to both imprisonment and deportation if he took a prominent part in any industrial disturbance likely to endanger the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, whilst an Australianborn member of thesame organization, who might be as prominently identified with the dispute, could not be deported. I reiterate that members of the Labour party are not revolutionists. We believe in evolutionary reform. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is the result of agitation by members of the Labour party both inside and outside of Parliament. If the Government was really anxious to preserve industrial peace in Australia, it could achieve its purpose by introducing an amendment of the Arbitration Act in the direction of making access to the court easier and cheaper. In the course of the debate Senator Drake-Brockman admitted that the hearing of claims before the Arbitration Court was exceedingly costly to the organizations concerned. The position has been made more difficult and more costly by the refusal of the employers to accept the awards of that court. Time after time they have appealed to the High Court, and have even taken the matters in dispute to the Privy Council, thus involving industrial organizations in an almost endless chain of litigation. I have always been an advocate of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes, but even the Arbitration Court occasionally gives unjust awards.I have in mind a decision given by the Western Australian Arbitration Court in connexion with a claim by the timber workers of that State in 1907. The minimum rate fixed by the court was 7s. 3d. a day. As so often happens, the minimum became the maximum, and, as it was not a living wage, the men revolted. They were led by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), who was ably assisted by Senator Lynch. I also took part inthat dispute by raising money in Victoria and New South Wales to finance the strikers.
Bitting suspended from I to2 p.m.
– Senator Pearce has attempted to tell the Senate that the timber workers’ strike, to which I was referring before the adjournment, was a lockout. As a rule, employers do not lock out their employees if the latter are content to work for the wages which the employers say they ought to receive, or for rates which have been determined by an award of an Arbitra- tion Court. Despite the remarks of tho right honorable gentleman, there is ample proof that it was a Strike, and that the timber- workers organization referred to was registered under the Arbitration Court in Western Australia. I have with me a report of certain proceedings taken before the Western Australian Arbitration Court by the union in question. The court gave its award on the 13th March, 19G7, and the organization is shown to have been registered on the 27th August, 1906. It was registered in 1906, and the following year its members refused to work under an award of the court. As the present cost of living is not what it was in 1907, it is quite possible that an award given in these terms would not be commensurate with the cost of living to-day. Yet if men. refused to work under such an award, they would come under the provisions of this bill, would be deemed to be causing an industrial upheaval, and would be liable to imprisonment and deportation. Yesterday Senator Drake-Brockman accused me of being a communist because I had taken part in a conference in Sydney concerning the deportation provisions of the Immigration Act passed last session, a measure which has since been declared by the High Court to be unsound, invalid, and illegal.
– The honorable senator’s statement is not quite consistent with the decision of the High Court.
– In any case, the honorable senator’s opposition to the proposed deportations was not on those grounds. .
– My opposition to them was that it was altogether foreign to Australian sentiment that a citizen should be deported, and one of the objects of the conference in which I took part was to prevent the deportation of any citizen. The attitude I took up then, that every obstacle should be placed in the way of the Government deporting a citizen of Australia, has since been upheld by the decision of the High Court that certain citizens cannot be deported. While Senator Drake-Brockman may be well versed in the arts of war, I do not think he is well versed in the ways of law. As a matter of fact, like necessity, he knows no law. He also referred to the action of the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) in connexion with the retirement of Mr. Walter, who was resident magistrate in Perth, and he sought to make it appear that it was political vindictiveness on the part of Mr. Collier.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens).The honorable senator is not giving reasons why the bill should not be read a third time. He is merely reviving a debate which took place at another stage, and which is not relevant to the question before the Senate.
– Surely I may refer to the general trend of the debate which took place on the motion for the second reading.
– On the motion for the third reading of a bill, it is permissible only to advance arguments why it should or should not be read a third time. During the second reading and committee stages there is ample opportunity for discussing everything that is relevant to a measure, and that opportunity is also available on the motion for the third reading; but at the thirdreading stage, an honorable senator is not permitted to revive arguments raised and dealt with earlier in the proceedings on the bill.
– I thought that I could refer to a statement made by another honorable senator during the course of the debates on this bill.
– If it were permissible to revive at every stage a matter already disposed of, there would be no end to the discussion of a bill.
– Very well; I bow to your ruling. I hope the bill will not be passed, because it is an attack on trade unionism. It is simply an attempt to make the people believe that the Government is carrying out a mandate given to it at the last election. If Ministers are desirous of preserving industrial peace, they can achieve their object by amending the Arbitration Act. I shall take another opportunity of referring to the matter raised by Senator Drake-Brockman, and will prove that Mr. Collier, upon whom the honorable senator reflected, was not actuated by a spirit of vindictiveness, but was simply carrying out a provision of the Public Service Act. i protest against the passage of this bill. It is an iniquitous measure, and if passed will be an outrage on the community and a blot on the statute-book.
– Before this bill passes its final stages, and before the opponents of Labour and trade unionism have an opportunity to shower their blessings on it, I desire to further strongly express my disapproval of the drastic and vicious principles embodied in it. We have had responsible government in Australia for many long years, but at no time in our history has any government attempted to- do what this Government proposes to do, and will do if this bill is passed - to broad-arrow the ‘trade unionists of Australia, and deport any of them, not of Australian birth, who may engage in an industrial dispute after a proclamation has been made. The statement that the Government received a mandate to introduce this legislation is absolutely incorrect. The Government claims that it received the votes of many one-time supporters of Labour, and many unionists who at previous elections had recorded their votes in favour of the party to which I have the honour to belong. That may or may not be true, but the issue which the Government put before the electors was not the issue we now have before us. No genuine Labourite, man or woman, no legitimate trade unionist would vote for a government that, introduced a bill of this kind to make it an offence punishable by twelve months’ imprisonment and the liability, in the case of one not born in Australia, to deportation, to take part in an industrial dispute after a proclamation has been issued, or to continue to incite, urge, aid or encourage the taking p&rt in or continuance of a strike. If that issue had been put before the electors, a genuine Labourite or legitimate trade unionist would naturally have said, “ 1 do not think any one should be punished for sympathizing with those on strike or subscribing to a fund for the upkeep of the men, women and children who are unfortunately circumstanced because of such a dispute. I do not think any public man, whether he be in the unionistic sphere or not, who expresses sympathy with, and gives practical support to, those on strike, or any newspaper which gives publicity to the speeches made by the men on strike, should be punished.” Yet under this bill these persons are liable to the penalties to which I have referred. Would any genuine Labourite or legitimate trade unionist have voted for such a measure. By no means. The provisions of this bill were never put before the people. No one knows that better than be ( Government. The only issue before the electors was that upon which a challenge had been thrown out by Mr. Charlton, the Leader of the Opposition. Every Government supporter knew that. It was considered that the Government had all the power it needed until the interpreters of the Constitution said that it did not know its own business. The amending Immigration Bill, passed lastsession, was not nearly as drastic as this one is. It provided that certain men might be deported in certain circumstances, but no penalty was provided for those born in Australia, and no imprisonment was provided for anybody. Under this measure any man, whether he be Australian born or otherwise, may be imprisoned for certain acts; and men born outside Australia may be deported. Under our arbitration legislation men have been fined, however, for not rigidly obeying awards of the Arbitration Court, but none have been imprisoned for it. The Government are taking a new stand altogether in this bill. It- has been said that the bill is necessary because the actions of certain communists in Australia are detrimental to our trade and commerce, as well as to trade unionism. Senator Ogden asserted that the numerically small group of communists here have been responsible for such reductions in the hours of work that the cost of production has become altogether too high. He said that he did not believe in a 44- hour week. In my opinion that statement brands him as one who disrespects the law. For three score years and ten the eight-hour principle has been established in Australia, and for a very long while the 44-hour principle has been operative in New Zealand, and in some industries in every State in the Commonwealth. A 44-hour week is stipulated in many awards of the Arbitration Court. The clothing trade, and the building trade, which, of course, embraces bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, painters, and builders’ labourers, work only 44 hours a week ; and the shipwrights have worked only 44 hours a week for the last 40 years. Senator Ogden has become a tory die-hard.
– 1 must remind the honorable senator that there is no reference in the bill to either a 44-hour week or a 48- hour week. While it is customary to allow considerable latitude to honorable senators in the second:reading and committee stages of a bill in order that they may elucidate their points, the thirdreading stage is usually formal. The honorable senator is only entitled to give reasons why the bill should or should not be read a third time. He is not in order in referring to the remarks made by Senator Ogden at the second-reading stage.
– I thought that I had the right to do so, sir; but I bow to your ruling. The object of the bill is to deal with industrial unrest. May I ask honorable senators to consider the causes that lead to industrial unrest? Every effect must have a cause. Men do not strike without good reason for it. This bill is the outcome of an industrial dispute that occurred here some little time ago. What was the reason for that trouble? Certain workmen had been reduced £1 per month in their wages, without their consent or knowledge, and they were being paid only £9 a month. Does any honorable senator suggest that that is a fair remuneration for a man, and sufficient to maintain him and his wife and family in anything like reasonable comfort ?
– This bill has nothing whatever to do with the seamen’s strike. .
– Perhaps not with the last seamen’s strike; but if a similar dispute occurs, every man who participates in it may be brought within its provisions, for it contains a most unfair drag-net clause. In the event of a similar strike happening, and the Seamen’s Union deciding, by resolution, as they did in the last dispute, to morally and financially support the strikers, every man in the union will be liable to imprisonment, and many of them to deportation. Any man who dares, after the proclamation is made, to advocate a change in our present social order will be liable to imprisonment. I dare say that honorable senators have read Mr. Henry Ford’s book, My Life and Work. In it Mr. Ford says -
A.s things are now organized, I could, were I thinking selfishly, ask for no changes. If I merely want money the present system is all right; it gives money in plenty to me. But I am thinking of service. The present system does not permit the best service, because it encourages every kind of waste - it keeps men from getting the full return for service.
If this bill had been on our statute-book, any person voicing the opinion of Mr. Henry Ford, as here expressed, would run the risk of imprisonment and banishment, for . he undoubtedly advocated a change in our social order. Since that book was written Mr. Ford has been interviewed by Collier’s Weekly, and some of his statements at the interview have been published in Australia. A cablegram from New York informs us that, according to the Morning Post of the 11th February, Mr. Ford remarked -
The greatest check to world depression in finance is to reduce prices and increase wages. The labourer is always worthy of his hire.
Trade unionists who go on strike to reduce prices and increase wages would, under this bill, be liable to imprisonment and deportation. We are told that there is ample room in Australia for not merely 6,000,000 people, but many more millions. The Leader of the Senate (Senator -Pearce) recently stated that there was plenty of employment in Australia for those who follow the building trade. What an advertisement it will be for this country when those who contemplate coming here from the Old Land are told that there is a law in the Commonwealth under which members of trade unions who show practical, sympathy with men on strike for better working conditions, are liable to twelve months’ imprisonment and deportation ! In furtherance of that contention, I shall quote an extract from a leading article published in the Melbourne Age on the 22nd .February last. This journal is said to have a larger circulation than any other daily newspaper, at least, in Victoria.
– When it expresses views in opposition to Labour, honorable senators opposite refer to it is a capitalistic organ.
– The Age cannot be said to have been friendly towards the Labour party at any time. It said many hard and unjust things about Labour at the last election. The article reads - “….. It should chasten Ministers to remember that, if the 1,421,000 electors who voted for the Composite Ministry thereby invested it with a mandate, there were 1,197,000 electors who, presumably, considered that no such mandate should be granted. The repeated references to a mandate appear to be designed to strike critics dumb. . . . What the public wishes to know is what is to be Australia’s future attitude to those who are ‘ our brothers in the dear Home Land overseas’ when an Empire speech is being made. In their millions, Australia is at present frantically beckoning these brothers to come in. Would it not be honest to tell them also that if at any time, they chance to go on strike for what they might deem a perfectly reasonable ‘ cause, they would ‘be liable to be ignominiously bundled out? . . . In times of industrial trouble, deportation would need to be on a mass scale in order to be successful. But deportation on a mass scale would be impossible. The thing that is impossible should not be made legal.”
– Is that a leading article ?
– It is only the opinion expressed by one individual.
– It is not the view of one man ; it is the opinion of that newspaper.
SenatorReid. - Is the honoroble senator “stone-walling” on behalf of the Labour party?
– I have no desire to do that. I hope that my remarks will induce the Government to hesitate before besmirching the statute-book of this country with such legislation.
SenatorReid. - The honorable senator made that statement on the second reading of the measure.
– I am repeating it now with emphasis. Although the Government has a substantial working majority behind it to-day, some honorable senators who have voted for the bill do not sincerely believe it to be just. Those honorable senators opposite who in days gone by belonged to the Labour party cannot approve of it. They know at what sacrifice every labour reform has been secured.
– They know, too, who is wrecking Labour to-day.
– The Labour party has no time for wreckers and evildoers. Ministers and their supporters know that there is already ample legislation to punish wrong-doers without passing this bill. Labour contends that this bill is anti-Australian, anti-British, and antedeluvian. Legislation such as this was meted out to the pioneers of unionism a century ago, but it recoiled like a boomerang upon its authors. This bill must inevitably have a similar result.
– The honorable senator does not believe that.
– I do. Honorable senators who take any other view cannot have seriously examined the bill. Although the Government alleges that its purpose is to deal with transport, trade, and commerce, the bill is an all-embracing one, by which the Government will be able to imprison and deport not only those who take part in a strike, but all others who believe it to be just. Many of those who supported the coercive legislation passed many years ago in connexion with the railway strike in Victoria are now in the limbo of oblivion.
– The honorable senator is prepared to ignore the Federal Arbitration Court which his party helped to establish.
– That court has power to inflict fines and imprisonment, but in no instance has it ordered the imprisonment of trade unionists. I am relentless in my opposition to the bill. I have passed through the fiery furnace of industrialism, and I know that many unionists have been boycotted and “blacklisted “ from one end of Australia to the other. Although Senator Lynch claims to believe in unionism, I doubt his sincerity in the matter. I recollect when, in days gone by, the fight on the part of employers was for freedom of contract and against unionism.
– It was against preference to unionists.
– That was the decision at the employers’ conference at Brisbanesome years ago.
– Why should we not have freedom of contract ?
– It would mean that labour, like any other commodity, would be regulated by the law of supply and demand ; that the amount of wages to be received, and the number of hours to be worked, should be governed by that law. Although that view may still be entertained by Senator Thompson, and those who share his beliefs, I am satisfied that the Labour movement is sufficiently strong to resist it. The passage of this legislation may lead to men being imprisoned, and even banished, for having engaged in a strike; but it will not prevent strikes and industrial unrest. If the Government earnestly desired to find a remedy for industrial unrest, it would seek for the root cause of that unrest, and introduce legislation that would be helpful, not only to the working classes, but also to the people of Australia as a whole.
– Before the curtain is rung down on this unusual scene, I wish to say a final word. Senator Findley has given a fair exposition of the case from the point of view of his party. Broadly, his contention seems to be that he, and those who stand with him, are the sole custodians and champions of the interests of the working men, and that those who are opposed to him must perforce be in the pay of opponents of those interests, or at least be under a perpetual cloud of suspicion. It is useless to remind one of that type of mentality of what happened on the 14th November last. An appeal was then made to the most enlightened democracy in the world, a democracy in which there is free education, and an unrivalled ability to judge public questions. The verdict was in direct opposition to the desires of Senator Findley and his colleagues; yet they still persist in saying that this measure is aimed at the tap-root of the true welfare of the workers. There has never been a more flagrant misuse of the truth in this chamber. We on this side must render an account of our stewardship to the same authority that judges the action of Senator Findley and his friends. If we committed acts that were monstrously unfair, is it not quite plain that those who created us would come down upon us, and rightly so, with remorseless severity? That is a fate which we should deserve if the story told by Senator Findley were true. Let me remind him that in every free democracy such as we possess there is a section which unfailingly endeavours to exert its influence. It is, metaphorically, a noxious weed in the garden plot of freedom. It consists of a combination of men, whose object is to” serve, not the public interest, but the interest of a clique at the expense of the whole community. That is what has been happening in Australia for a number of years. I rose merely to remind Senator
Findley, and other honorable senators who still hold a place in the diminished ranks of what was once a glorious, popular, and dominant cause, that there are other men who as jealously guard the interests ofthe workers. It is incumbent upon us to realize what is happening in countries which enjoy a freedom equal to that offered by Australia. Will Senator Findley say that the Federation of Labour in the United States of America, which represents 3,900,000 trade unionists, is not as worthy a champion as he of the cause of the workers ? We in Australia have no reason to be so egotistical as to consider that we alone can conceive and fashion that which is worthy of admiration, and even worship. The American Federation of Labour represents 3,900,000 trade unionists, compared with 700,000 in Australia. It has not the hardihood to put forward the plea that we are worse champions than they of the cause of the workers. The President of that Federation, Mr. William Green, succeeded Mr. Samuel Gompers, lately deceased, who was one of the greatest champions of Labour the world has ever produced. Mr. Green contributed to the December, 1925, number of Current History an article that I am afraid honorable senators opposite have not perused. It dealt with the proceedings at a recent Convention of Labour. At page 341, he said : -
Discussion on the floor pointed out that marked increases in productivity were characteristic of present-day production, because of power machinery and the greater availability of power for production purposes, and that, therefore, wage-earners should: share in the benefits of increased productivity and greater leisure made possible by power and machine tools.
To the original statement on wages was added the following: -
Social inequality, industrial instability and injustice, must increase unless the workers’ real wages, the purchasing power of their wages, coupled with continuing reduction in the number of hoursmaking up the working day, are progressive in proportion to mam’s increasing power of production. The completed declaration embodies acceptance of Labour’s responsibility for helping to perfect production methods and processes, together with Labour’s right to equitable remuneration and standards of. life and work that assure sustained advances in national well-being, as well as progress in the industrial arts. Thus, American trade unions of the United States and Canada are offering to industries the establishment of agencies through which co-operation between unions and management can be realized.
There isno mention there of “the hated capitalist.” the “money-bags.” “the blood-suckers,” and so on. There a constructive programme was put forward by the mouthpieces of 4,000,000 workers. Their attitude is vastly different from that of Labour in this country; -so much so that one would imagine them to be a totally different race of men.
– What has that to do with the bill?
– If Senator Hoare and those who stand with him acted in like manner there would be no need for this bill. They should outline Labour’s duty in Australia, instead of raving against “the hated capitalist.” Even a bootmaker who had risen from the ranks and employed a helper had that term applied to him. It is the hellish doctrine of class warfare, preached by honorable senators opposite, that the bill is intended to destroy. If Labour in Australia would only follow the lead of these 4,000,000 trade unionists in America they would advance their cause; and this Parliament, instead of being engaged on the unwelcome task of providing a remedy for industrial unrest’, with untold hardship and misery to innocent people in its train, would be engaged on more urgent work. We have to clear the decks, particularly of those obstructions that in recent years have manifested themselves in the public and industrial life of Australia. The tendency has been to pit labour against capital in a mutually bitter and mutually destructive warfare. They glare at each other, and each refuses to give the other the credit of possessing a single virtue. Those evil and baneful influences have been sedulously fostered by honorable senators opposite. As an illustration of the world of difference that exists between that body of 4,000,000 trade unionists in America, and the relative handful in Australia, I shall quote the opinion of bolshevism givenby this successor to that mightly industrial figure and leader of men and trade unionists, Samuel Gompers. At page 343 in the article from which I have quoted, Mr. Green says -
The British Trade Union Congress was represented by A. A. Purcell and Ben. Smith. Mr. Smith, the Labour party’s whip, gave the Convention timely and valuable information on the coal situation in Great Britain, the development of a British fascist movement, and unemployment. Mr. Purcell is identified with the group that favours establishing relations with the communist of Russia by official recognition and by admitting them to the International Federation of Trade Unions at Amsterdam. His imagination had been captured by the changes in Russia and the immense potentiality of the country and its people, and in his ardour he urged us to establish the closest possible relations with the workers of Russia.
As spokesman for the American trade union movement, I could not permit that session to close without making plain the position of American Labour, and I frankly and kindly stated that position, and asked Mr. Purcell to take a message to Moscow that the American Labour movement would not affiliate with an organization that teaches the philosophy of communism.
That statement is clear and unequivocal. Mr. Green, in effect, told Mr. Purcell to take to Russia the message, “You may preach the doctrine of communism so long as you like, but there are 4,000,000 trade unionists working under the Stars and Stripes who will not join you or have any truck with you.” I considered it advisable to place that on record so as to draw the veil from the eyes of Senator Findley and those other honorable senators who have taken a mistaken stand in this matter. I wanted to show them the view that is held by other men who, in the interests of the workers, have made sacrifices equally as great as they have made. It has been said over and over again that this bill is not aimed at the interests of the trade unions. If it were not proposed in their interests, it would be scouted and derided by honorable senators who sit on this side, because they have to go back to the people who returned them to this Senate and render them an account of their stewardship. The ranks of Labour senators have been sadly depleted, and in consequence the ventilation of the chamber on the Opposition side is admirable. The verdict of the people on the 14th November last has made this side of the chamber the most closely settled district, so to speak, in the Commonwealth. Apparently, hon- orable senators opposite have not learnt the lesson,which their defeat should have taught them. It is high time they looked us straight in the eyes and admitted their faults. Let them admit their faults as we admit ours - because, being human, we are not without our faults - and come to the conclusion it is high time that, as representatives of the people, we got together to discharge that solemn and important duty laid upon us to do all that is possible for the advancement of this glorious country. We cannot do this if leaders of public thought, as represented by honorable senators opposite, take advantage of every opportunity to intensify our difficulties by fanning the flame of this sectional and class warfare. They never miss a chance to heap contumely and obliquy upon public men who differ from them, especially upon honorable senators on this side of the chamber, notwithstanding ‘ that our credentials have been endorsed quite recently by the people of Australia. Workmen put us here as the representatives of the majority of the people, and workmen put honorable senators opposite in their positions as members of the Opposition. Why do they not accept the verdict of the people and be sports for the first time in their lives? Why should they not acknowledge defeat, and do their duty fearlessly as public men ? They declared a little time ago that’ they wished to appeal to the highest tribunal in the land. We accepted their invitation, and notwithstanding that “ Labour “ is the best name in the vocabulary of any political party, we’ came back with increased strength. “ Labour “ is the most popular banner under which to appeal to the people, for the simple reason that the overwhelming body of our citizens have to earn their daily bread by labour. There is another word. It is to be found, not in any standard dictionary, but in a glossary. That is the word “ scab,” which is constantly being applied to any man, and especially a Labour man, who attempts to think or act independently. And this, mark you, is the party that talks about no victimization! Do we not know only too well that immediately a man becomes an employer he is an object of suspicion? If a boot operative or a fisherman rises to the position of an employer, and employs only one man, he is, by all the. rules of their game, outside the rank of the Labour party. If Senator Findley opened a small printery to-morrow, he would not be as good a Labour man, in the eyes of some people, at all events, as he is to-day. Have we not seen men persecuted time after time in this country for no other reason than that they dared to differ? I have in mind the treatment meted out to an old friend of mine in Western’ Australia, Mr. “ Bob “ Norman, who. in pre- Labonr days - and that is a long time ago - was an ardent champion of the cause of the worker in the Sydney Domain. When the war came he voted for conscription. When Mr. Frank Anstey came over to address a meeting in Perth in opposition to Mr. Norman, Mr. Anstey had to get under the table while Mr. Norman spoke to the people on that vital issue. When Norman could no longer follow his usual occupation as a carpenter, and had to sell vegetables at Middle Junction, Labourites, to their discredit, be it said, boycotted him. Then when the poor fellow, in the ‘course of nature, passed out, his former friends in the Labour party would not even go to his funeral. These are facts. Senator Needham can bear testimony to the truth of my statement. No victimization! Honorable senators opposite, and the party they represent, are the exemplars par excellence, of this nefarious, paltry, and contemptible practice of victimization that has crept into the public life of this country in recent years. Their treatment of fellow Australians who disagree with them could hardly be equalled by that of the thugs of India, whose practice it was to flay alive all who disagreed with them. I support the bill in the belief that it is necessary to correct our existing social and industrial disorders. Such legislation is not required in the United States of America, because, as I have shown, the workers of that country, under the wise dictatorship of the late Samuel Gompers, fearlessly faced post-war difficulties, with the result that, according to figures furnished by Mr. Hoover, United States Secretary for Commerce, their position is infinitely better to-day than it was prior to the outbreak of the war, and the best of any body of workmen in the wide world. Their position is also better than it was at the close of the war, whereas in Australia, the position of the workers, owing to the wrong-headed, pusillanimous leadership of its blind leaders, is not what it ought to be. I support the bill.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 16
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260312_senate_10_112/>.