13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– On 4th and 5th May, Senator Foll asked two questions which, for convenience of reply, may be summarized thus -
What is the quantity and value of tobacco removed from bond since thelast reduction in duty?
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
The last reduction of duty on tobacco was made on 26th February, 1932, in respect of tobacco, unmanufactured (i.e., tobacco leaf) for the manufacture of tobacco in Australia. The clearances of such leaf from bond during the period26th February, 1932, to the close of business on 5th May, 1932, was 2,293,708 lb., valued at £125,812.
Australian Instructional Corps
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible to Senator Dooley, in regard to his questions relating to promotions in the Australian Instructional Corps.
Re-employment of Returned Soldiers.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it intended to give other forms of employment to the recently dismissed returned soldiers, both married and single; if so, will they be re-employed in the months of May or June; if not, why not?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following reply : -
Assuming that the honorable senator refers to returned soldiers employed in the Department of the Interior, in the Federal Capital Territory, it is pointed out that all employees whose services were reported by the Public
Service Board to be in excess of requirements were, on the 16th May, given one month’s notice of the termination of their employment. In the meantime, every possible avenue is being explored in an endeavour to find suitable employment for these men.
– Inquiries will be made, and a reply furnished as soon as possible, to Senator Dunn, with regard to his questions as to the opening at week ends and holiday times of the South Head military reserve and the reserve at Middle Head, Sydney, to amateurfishermen.
Dismissal of Returned Soldiers
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister has supplied the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many people were deported from Australia whilst the Scullin Governmentwas in office?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the follow ing reply:-
From 1st November, 1929, to 31st December, 1931-
– Inquiries will be made and replies furnished as soon as possible to Senator Johnston, who has asked a series of questions with regard to the Empire Day Patriotic League.
Is it a fact that the duties imposed on oregan timber in July, 1930, in contravention of the recommendation of the Tariff Board, have imposed acute hardship on certain Australian citizens?
Is it a fact that the retention of these duties threatens to involve these citizens in complete ruin?
Will the Minister, by removing these duties before Parliament rises, take steps to mitigate any injustice that has been done?
– -The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following replies : - 1 and 2. I am not aware that the position is as stated.
Information is also being obtained with regard to further questions asked by the honorable senator relating to the duty on
Oregon timber imposed on the 26th July, 1930, and statements alleged to have been made by the chairman and secretary of the Sydney and Suburban Timber Merchants Association and the secretary to the executive of the South Australian Labour party.
– I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short bill to make provision for two or three matters arising out of the Commonwealth’s responsibilities under the Financial Agreements and the general loan conversion operations of last August. A.s honorable senators are aware, under the financial agreements all securities for moneys borrowed by or on behalf of the
States must be Commonwealth securities. Under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act power is conferred for the issue of Commonwealth Government inscribed stock and treasury bonds only. “We have no power to issue any other form of security. “When the Commonwealth Debt Conversion Act 1931 was passed, power was taken to convert all these securities and State securities into Australian consolidated inscribed stock and Australian consolidated treasury bonds, debentures and such other securities as might be prescribed, but the issue of securities of these designations was limited to those issued under the Debt Conversion Act.
At the Loan Council meeting on the 12th September^ 1931, it was decided that the various governments should make counter sales of Commonwealth securities bearing the same rate of interest, and subject to the same conditions as regards income taxation as the 4 per cent, consolidated securities issued under the Conversion Act. It is, of course, obvious that those are the only conditions under which it is possible to make counter sales1, because if the conditions attaching to counter sales are other or less favourable than the conditions attaching to the sale of . converted securities it will not be possible to make any counter sales at all. This decision of the Loan Council made it necessary that the securities issued should also be known as consolidated securities, thus indicating at once to the holders the limits of taxation which may be imposed on the interest from the securities. This requires an amendment of the .Stock Act to enable the issue of consolidated stock and consolidated treasury bonds. Honorable senators will observe that the bill contains a provision, making its operation retrospective to the date of the resolution passed by the Loan Council.
It should, perhaps, be stated that the issue of these consolidated securities on the same terms as securities issued under the Conversion Act was only adopted as a temporary measure until market conditions became more settled and the market price for securities showed that it was desirable that other terms should be fixed by the Loan Council. The terms and conditions under which any loans can now be raised in Australia have to be settled by the Loan Council before the prospectus is issued. As a matter of fact up to date a very large proportion of the new securities issued under the Loan Council’s decision of September last, have been taken up by superannuation funds and similar bodies.
The last clause of the bill makes specific provision with regard to income tax on these securities, and sets out that interest on the securities shall be free from Commonwealth income tax to the same extent as securities referred to in section 20 of the Debt Conversion Act. The securities are free from all income tax under State law, as were securities under the Debt Conversion Act.
As some investors in Commonwealth securities show a preference for other kinds of securities than stock or bonds, power is also being taken to issue such securities, such as debentures or some other kind of securities still, if so desired, and as may be prescribed from time to time.
. -In the light of the Minister’s explanation, and of the consideration that I have given to the measure, I have come to the conclusion that it is merely machinery legislation; consequently I have no objection to its passage as speedily as possible.
– When the time arrives - if it ever does - that the financial position has so improved as to permit of counter sales being made as they were prior to the depression, will it be possible for such sales to be effected at lower rates of interest, and under conditions suitable, to the time, without any further amendment of the act ?
– I think so.
– The Minister referred to debentures. I should like him to state how they are to be issued. I cannot understand their being issued by a. government.
I should also like to know whether any counter sales are being made, in view of the fact that the market is so much against par. Any person who wishes to obtain Government stocks to-day can purchase them in the market at a considerable discount.
– Debentures are a form of security which is preferred by a few big firms in Australia, who from time to time invest funds in Government stocks. They are issued merely to suit the convenience of the customers of the Government.
– What is the nature of the security that is behind them?
– It is exactly the same as the security that is behind the Government bonds.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– Before proceeding with any further business, I regret having to acquaint the Senate of the receipt of the following telegram: -
Regret inform you of death of Senator Sir
John Newlands to-day. newlands.
The telegram was despatched by his son, from South Australia.
– by leave - I crave the indulgence of the Senate, on behalf of the Government and of my colleagues, so that I may pay a tribute of respect to the late distinguished gentleman.
It is a most pathetic circumstance that, only last evening, at the conclusion of a gathering of honorable- senators that was held to say farewell - which, I hope, will be only a temporary one - to some of our colleagues, who will not be members of this chamber after the end of J une, the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) prior to his departure for Sydney, should have been asked to convey by telegram to Sir John Newlands an expression of the good wishes of those who were there assembled.
I feel very keenly the loss of our deceased friend, because I knew him intimately for more years than one cares to contemplate. I knew him in his private, his public, and his business life, and I have never been associated with one whose character so strongly impressed me as that of a kindly, honest man. I need make no mention of his capacity, because that is well known to honorable senators. In the office of President of the Senate, he discharged his functions with distinction to himself, and satisfaction to honorable senators. Hewas impartial in all his dealings and the world is the poorer for his passing. The deceased gentleman leaves behind him the record of a clean, honest, and disinterested life. He always desired to serve Australia by the best and most honorable means. Politically, his thoughts did not always harmonize with mine; but whether as an opponent or a colleague, I learned to admire and to esteem him as a straightgoer, and as one whose only wish was to give of his best to his country. It may be some comfort to his splendid helpmate, Lady Newlands, and to his family - who, I believe, will prove themselves worthy of the name of Newlands - to learn that the Senate has marked its regret at his passing, and its admiration and respect for his many admirable qualities, by suspending its sitting for a few hours.
I speak with a good deal of feeling, because I knew Sir John personally for many years, and highly respected him. He endeared himself to all, and won the esteem of every one with whom he came in contact in all his relations. I move -
That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of the late Senator Sir John Newlands, places on record its. appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
.- I associate myself with the remarks that have been so feelingly expressed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan). Death is one of those sad events that none can escape. The deceased gentleman had a long career in the public life of this country and was well known to every honorable senator. I had known him personally since 1896, and was more or less closely associated with him in the intervening period.
As honorable senators are aware, Senator Newlands had not enjoyed good health for some time, so that his death was not altogether unex pected. Still the sad news comes as a shock to all of us. “Whatever may be our political opinions, all party considerations are entirely forgotten on an occasion such as this, and we join in extending to Lady Newlands and the members of the family our sincere sympathy in their bereavement. The members of the party whom I have the honour to lead on this side of the chamber associate themselves with the sentiments expressed by the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan).
– I always feel on these occasions that the grief of the Senate, or of any House, is most suitably expressed by the official spokesmen of the chamber, and I would not have spoken to-day had it not been suggested that I should do so as a representative of South Australia.
Senator Sir John Newlands had a distinguished career, spread over many years, in both the State and the Federal sphere. He was first a loyal member - in fact, loyalty was one of his most pronounced characteristics - of the old Labour party. The test came to him, as it came to many, during the war, when he left his former party and joined the other side. Two of his sons served in the Great War. Every one must feel grateful to him, and to others like him, for what they did to help those of us who were on the other side of the world. Subsequently he rose to the highest office in the gift of the Senate.
For some time, as has been said, he had been in indifferent health, but during the last election, in spite of this, and notwithstanding that he was not a candidate, he was on the platform at a great public meeting held at Glenelg, which was addressed by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), to assist those of us who were. That was typical of the man.
Just before I last left South Australia, I visited the late Senator Newlands, who was then in hospital, and he asked me to give his kindest regards to all his friends over here, mentioning specially his old friend, the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator McLachlan). In saying that, I am sure he did not mean to convey his good wishes only to members of the Senate and another place, but to all his friends in Canberra.
I grieve at the passing of this loyal Australian, who was truealso to the country from which he sprang, and I join in the Senate’s expression of sympathy and regret to Lady Newlands, who has been his helper in sickness and in health, and to the members of his family.
– The members of the Country party in this chamber wish to associate themselves with the expressions of regret that have beenso ably given utterance to at the death of Senator Newlands. We always had great respect for the way in which he discharged his public duties, and an affectionate regard for him personally. We deplore his loss, and wish to join in the expression of sympathy which will be conveyed to his family.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.’ W. Kingsmill) [11.36]. - Before putting the motion, I may, perhaps, be permitted as Senator Sir John Newlands’ immediate successor in the Chair, to express my deep and hearty appreciation of that gentleman’s life, and my great sorrow athis death. I have had every opportunity to estimate the thoroughness of the work which he did while President of the Senate, and I place on record my opinion that the two prominent features of his career as the holder of that high office were his sense of fairness, almost judicial in its thoroughness, and his conscientious discharge of duty, even at the great price that it involved. Suffering great bodily disability he displayed indomitable courage in carrying out so completely the responsibilities of his position.
Our sympathies should go forth in the fullest degree to his widow, Lady Newlands, whose absolute, utter selfless devotion to him in his latter days made those days of trial more bearable to him. The courage and resolution which she displayed in attending to his many wants offer a wonderful example to all womankind.
I express my extreme sorrow that Senator Sir John Newlands has passed from among us, and assure honorable senators that a record of the proceedings of this sitting of the Senate will be forwarded to his widow and relatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
SenatorMcLACHLAN (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) [11.41]. - As a mark of respect to the memory of the late honorable senator, I would suggest, sir, that you suspend the sitting of the Senate until 3 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 11.48 to3 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 18th May (vide page 1111), on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
, - I endeavoured to point out last night that the first portion of this bill is designed to protect trade unionists and their organizations against the tyranny of the employer. Honorable senators need only look at the initial provision to realize that that clearly is what is aimed at.
The second branch of the measure has been discussed by honorable senators on the assumption that we are dealing with ordinary circumstances. Already, under the law, any association or organization that is affiliated with the red element is an unlawful body. The difficulty with which we are confronted, however, is that of proving such affiliation; and it is because of that fact that the methods provided for in the bill are to be adopted. Affiliation is very difficult to establish by evidence in this country. The affiliation is with an organization whose headquarters and operations are overseas. It therefore becomes necessary to use somewhat wide language - language that perhaps offends the susceptibilities of those who are familiar with the principles of British justice. But the averment provision is not a new one ; it is to be found in the Crimes Act, as well as in a great deal of other legislation that this chamber has passed from time to time. It is necessary to make such provision because of the difficulties of the situation, and the practical impossibility of taking action unless the onus of proving his innocence is thrown upon the person charged. There are no more subtle bodies known ‘ to the Department of the AttorneyGeneral than those which are associated with the Communist element. They exhibit remarkable agility in jumping from limb to limb. How can the Crown, in the interests of the general public, prove affiliation when that affiliation is with a body that has its head-quarters in Moscow or elsewhere ? Honorable senators may think that I speak somewhat fervently on the matter. My excuse is that the menace is a real one. The daily press furnishes manifestations of this reality in the neighbouring dominion of New Zealand. There, a man who for twelve years had conducted an ordinary business was discovered marching through Government House grounds with a powerful live bomb in his possession. His premises were searched, and the discovery was made of three other bombs, as well as plans of several important public buildings. This 13 the sort of thing that happens inside the circle of those from association with whom we wish to save the trade unions. Why should we sanction the registration in our courts of organizations which affiliate or mix themselves up in any way with bodies that have in mind the objective that is aimed at by these people? No court would deregister a union without absolute justification. Some executive with lunatic tendencies, or a feeling of ill-will towards the community, might associate itself by affiliation with some of these bodies. If the members of the organization disapproved of such action they could put themselves right by changing their executive and removing the justification for deregistration. There is the additional protection that no AttorneyGeneral would exercise this power in a tyrannous manner. This legislation has been introduced merely with a view to strengthening the arm of the law. It is not so long since a certain organization definitely decided to affiliate with the Red International. A desperate dispute arose, and I am glad to say that those who stood for moderation and the best traditions of trade unionism, in an encounter with the executive, by 48 votes to 20, declared that the affiliation should end. Is not that all to the good, in the interests of the decent men in the union, as well as of the body politic? But, forsooth, they were threatened with violence, because they had determined to do the right thing by complying with the law and dissociating themselves from this menace, which the heads of every organization, all our religious bodies, and every Parliament in Australia, realizes is a danger to the life of Australia and to civilization throughout the world. Why should we not take steps to cleanse the register of our Arbitration Court by cancelling the registration of bodies which carry on in that way?
I apologize for my absence from this chamber yesterday afternoon while _ the debate on the measure was proceeding; it was absolutely essential in the public interest. I observe that objection was voiced to retrospective legislation. I shall deal with that in committee. But, emerging from it, another point was taken: that is, that no legal association has to be proved. That is the very thing that we want and that .we have to meet. We know that the association exists in fact ; we have information to that effect ; but we cannot secure the necessary proof, on account of the fact to which I have already referred - that the body with which the affiliation takes place has its head-quarters outside of Australia. Therefore, it is not the ordinary prosecution of a man for some felony or misdemeanour that is involved; but the highest function that Parliament can perform - the protection of the public life of the country. One could attack this legislation by abstract reasoning. But this is not an abstract question. I appreciate the views that are held by my learned friend, Senator Brennan. I admit that this principle is held dear by the profession to which he and I, in common, belong. I know that it will be suggested that we are violating the best traditions of British justice. But I am not going to have British justice prostituted, and its good name traduced, because the arm of the law is paralysed, and because men or bodies are registered who are affiliated with the organization to which I have referred. The present position is not singular to the administration of Com- monwealth law. Under various statutes, State and Commonwealth, the difficulty of proving illegal transactions in various walks of life had become so great, and the subtlety of the people engaged in illicit transactions so deep, that the law was becoming a by-word. Methods have had to be adopted that, in ordinary circumstances, would not be contemplated. Charges are not made lightly, but only after the fullest consideration. Is it suggested that the Attorney-General would launch a prosecution without real reason? The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) should know full well that the very existence itself of his own powerful organization was challenged not many days ago, and that the attempt was made to drive its members into other bodies which, apparently, are not so respectful of the law as is the organization which he leads so well. The morning press of Sydney to-day publishes a statement concerning what was about to happen, and what I believe did happen in some cases, to members of the Australian Workers Union. That was simply an attempt to drive those men out of a law-abiding union into an organization extreme in character, and that we may yet find is associated with the red element. The principle that a person must be held to be innocent until he is proved guilty is excellent up to a point; but, as I have already said, it is incapable of application in cases such as this.
This measure is analogous to the legislation that the Senate enacted the other night, and is designed to assist the Attorney-General and his officers to deal with the menace that threatens us whereever they may find it. We know that these organizations have employed disruptive tactics in derogation of the power of the court, and to its injury. As I understand the position, this country stands for the regulation of wages, hours, and conditions of labour, under the system of arbitration. But those who seek the advantages of arbitration must go into the court with clean hands. That is the principle which applies to every suitor in equity. If they do that, they will be dealt with honestly and fairly.
It has been suggested that deregistration would deprive the members of unions of the advantages of the law. It will do nothing of the kind. Registration is fol lowed by certain consequences. This can have reference only to the conditions that prevail under Commonwealth law. It has no relation to the actual existence of the union, but concerns only its existence as a registered body under the Federal Arbitration Act. We go to the limit in that regard. Whatever government is in power must be trusted to see that this privilege is not abused, to the detriment of innocent persons. Senator Brennan, who criticized this portion of the bill would be the last to suggest that it would be used to the detriment of an innocent person by any Attorney-General. The honorable senator answered his own criticism by saying that in this class of cases the onus of proof rests with the accused. That is the position under this measure. The onus of proof in the matter of affiliation should rest upon the organization.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section nine of the principal act is amended by inserting in sub-section (1.) after paragraph (dl) the words - “ , or, in the case of an employee who is an officer or member of an organization, by reason of the circumstance that the employee is not a member of any other organization or association of employees “.
Section proposed to be amended - 9. - (1) An employer shall not dismiss an employee, or injure him in his employment, or alter his position to his prejudice, by reason of the circumstance that the employee -
.- Section 9 of the principal act provides that in certain circumstances protection shall be afforded to members of registered organizations. Under this proposed new sub-section similar privileges are to be extended to others who are not members of an organization, and who have not had to submit to the industrial laws of this country. That is grossly unfair, and such a provision should not be embodied in our arbitration legislation. It is somewhat difficult to understand the type of person this proposed sub-section seeks to protect. Good work has been done by the old soldiers in the Labour movement, and the benefits obtained for themselves and their fellow men should be shared only by those who have helped to secure them. This provision is aimed at genuine industrial organizations, the members of which have paid their fees, and fought to obtain the benefits they enjoy.
– The honorable senator seems to me to be arguing1 beside the question. Has he read the bill!
– I have read it 50 times, and if the honorable senator can make its meaning clear, it will be a benediction to me. This section proposes to filch the rights of the genuine trade unionist by putting on an equality with him the fellow who has never paid a penny towards a union, or helped to obtain an Arbitration Court award.
– The provision is intended to prevent victimization.
– It is not fair that the man who has all along refused to take his proper place in the industrial movement, or made any sacrifices to obtain industrial benefits, should be entitled, under the law, to the same privileges as is the genuine unionist.
Legislation which proposes to make that possible does not represent the feelings of the people of Australia.
– Does not the honorable senator believe in equality of opportunity?
– I believe in equality of treatment to those who have made equal sacrifices to obtain industrial benefits. This provision will make it possible for the industrial scally-wag, who belongs to no industrial organization, who has no ties, no spirit, and no manhood, to take his place alongside the man who has always supported his union. It seeks to confer the benefits of the arbitration system on these scraps of industrial flotsam who obtain employment only when the boss wants them to do a dirty job. It is not possible to amend a clause which provides for that sort of thing. The only possible course is to treat it like a cancer, and cut it right away. In this measure the Government is sowing the seed of industrial strife. Most honorable senators who support the Government have never been through the industrial mill, and know nothing of the conditions obtaining in the industrial world. The workers have had to band themselves together, and fight for their protection like an army. We, on this side, every man of us, have been through it, and know what it means. Through their organizations, the workers have won benefits for themselves, and now the Government proposes to make them share those benefits with men who are commonly called “ scabs “. I do not like using that term ; I do not think it is half vile enough for the people it describes. If the Government were actuated by a Christian spirit, and were assisting those people in the same way as it might befriend and feed a leper, there might be something to be said for its action, but we know that its real purpose is to destroy legitimate trade unionism.
– How can the bill do that?
– It makes no distinction between the unionist and the nonunionist, and preference to unionists is the only thing which has made the arbitration system possible.
Senator J. B. Hayes. Nonunonists cannot obtain registration under this measure.
– The proposal is, that whether a man be registered or not, he shall be entitled to all the benefits conferred by an Arbitration Court award. The Government is seeking in this subtle way to destroy the industrial organizations of Australia, those organizations which constitute the only protection of the workers against the rapacity of bad employers. For a long time now, a campaign has been carried on by the press and by commercial organizations against the workers’ wages. It has been said that costs of production are too high, that we must get rid of the Arbitration Court, suspend awards, and bring down wages. The idea, apparently, is that the worker, having been robbed of the protection of the court, or other industrial tribunal, will, when he can suffer hunger no longer, accept the wage that is offered to him. The Arbitration Court is supposed to consist of judges who have no personal feelings on the matters which come before them, and whose judgments are founded entirely on the evidence offered. That protection, should not be removed, because it is unreasonable that the workers of this country should not have between them and the rapacious sweater a tribunal to insure that justice is done.
-Will the honorable senator give an instance to show how this thing will work? I am seeking the light.
– That is what I have been trying to do; evidently the honorable senator has been in dreamland.
– I want light without heat.
– The following words are proposed to be inserted after paragraph d of sub-section 1 of section 9 of the principal act, which provides that an employee shall not be dismissed because he is a member of an organization which is seeking better conditions : - or, in the case of an employee who is an officer or member of an organization, by reason of the circumstances that the employee is not a member of any other organization or association of employees.
Why should such an employee be considered at all, since the act does not exist for his protection?
– He might be a member of the honorable senator’s own union.
– No; he would be a member of a bogus or “ scab “ union - a union which is trying to destroy the legitimate Labour organization. Why should this man claim the same protection that is given to a member of a legitimate organization.
– “ Organization “ is defined as a registered organization.
– I know that. This clause protects a man who is not a member of a legitimate organization, and insures to him benefits which have been won by genuine unionists. That is my reading of the language of the bill; and even if that is not the literal interpretation, there can be no doubt that that is the intention of the measure.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– While the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, I was reminded of the old saying that “ There is none so blind as they that won’t see.” The honorable senator, with the object of hitting all round, simulated a misunderstanding of this clause, which was entirely unworthy of him. His remarks will not hurt any one who is out to do his best in the interests, not only of the unionists, but also of the community generally. Either the honorable senator has not read the measure, or he has misconstrued it, for when Senator Brennan asked him to give an example to illustrate his point he refused to do so. Section 9 of the principal act provides that-
An employer shall not dismiss an employee, or injure him in his employment, or alter his position to his prejudice . . .
Honorable senators will see that at each stage the employee is protected by reason of the circumstances that the employee -
It is now proposed to add to paragraph d the following words: - or, in the case of an employee who is an officer or member of an organization, by reason of the circumstances that the employee is not a member of any other organization or association of employees.
Since the section, as proposed to be amended, provides for the protection of the employee the honorable senator in opposing this clause is opposing an attempt to give the employee a fair deal. I remind him that “ organization “ is defined as an organization registered under the act. Had the honorable senator been studying the newspapers recently, he would know that an attempt is being made to drive men out of organizations, which either are registered or are capable of being registered, into some other organization, which is subject to the control of the petty tyrant, who, for the time being, is in power. The Government seeks to protect employees from that tyranny. The legislation now before us will not allow the employer - whether he be the head of a large industrial establishment, the railways commissioner, or even the Premier of a State - to dictate the organization which an employee shall join. It will be for the employee himself to select the organization to which he desires to belong, and if the boss attempts to force him into another organization, the employee is amply protected by this legislation. The Government claims that this bill is in the interests of freedom - freedom of conscience, and freedom to refuse to join an organization to whose objects an employee objects. Probably that is the reason for the opposition to this measure.
– Under the common law has not every man the right to refuse to belong to any organization at all?
-It would appear, at first sight, that this legislation violates the common law; but on further consideration it is. clear that that is not the case. This measure will enable an employee to decide between one organization and another; it upholds the principle of freedom. As I have said, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) either has not considered the effect of this clause, or he wishes to appear to misunderstand it, in order that he may make a fervent speech in the interests of some bodywhich he mistakenly supposes the Government intends to attack.
– While I appreciate what the Minister has said, I am not at all convinced that the object of this measureis to provide protection for employees. We must not lose sight of the significance of the words “ of any other organization or association of employees “ in the proposed amendment to paragraph d of sub-section 1 of section 9 of the principal act; it is in them that the sting lies. Sitting with the Minister are honorable senators who, in the days of the Fisher Administration, favoured a policy of preference to trade unionists.
It must be recognized that this legislation is directed against the Australian Railways Union. Why does not the Minister in charge of the measure be honest and admit that clause 5 is intimately related to clause 2 so far as the effect upon genuine unions is concerned.
– Clause 5 may not be necessary now. It was merely drafted to meet an emergency. Clause 2 has nothing to do with clause 5.
– Clause 5 sets out-
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order ! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to clause 2.
– We know that this legislation was introduced because of the strife that existed between the Commonwealth Government and the Lang Government of New South Wales. I should like to know why Senator McLachlan is so much concerned about retaining clause 2, which reads: -
Section nine of the Principal Actis amended by inserting in sub-section (1.) after paragraph (d) the words - “, or, in the case of an employee who is an officer or member of an organization, by reason of the circumstances that the employee is not a member of any other organization or association of employees “.
If clause 5 is struck out clause 2 still remains to injure trade unionism.
I believe that the Labour party of New South Wales is about to make an appeal to the country. Why that has become necessary I do not know. We hear a lot about this being a free democracy, and we sing “ Advance Australia Fair “-
– Order !
– The seemingly innocent words contained in clause 2 have a sinister significance. They cover any organization that desires to send its representative to Canberra to interview the
– The Prime Minister cannot register an organization.
– He can instruct his Acting Attorney-General, as he has done in this instance, to bring in an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which will enable the individuals to whom I refer to claim the protection of our industrial courts. Clause 2 does all that clause 5 was intended to do. In his policy speech Mr. Lang definitely declared that if he is returned to power his Government will re-establish preference to unionists, and that those who are not at present in recognized trade unions will have to join up. We know that, among other things, the Financial Emergency legislation, introduced by this Government, and which is now lying in cold storage, was intended to drive the wedge between the Australian Railways Union and those organizations named in clause 5, and to empower the latter to collect the revenues of the State.
SenatorHerbert Hays. - Does the honorable senator imply that some of the railway workers of New South Wales are not in trade unions?
– They are outside the Australian Railways Union.My colleagues and I will vote for the elimination of this provision.
Senator J. B. HAYES, as Chairman, brought upthe report of the Joint Select Committee on Public Accounts, together with the minutes of the proceedings of the committee, and moved -
That the report be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Bankruptcy Act - Regulations amended -
Statutory Rules 1932, No. 48.
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 3.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 May 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1932/19320520_senate_13_134/>.