15th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon.J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.in., and read prayers.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, uponnotice- 1.Has price control been established to prevent increases of the prices of agricultural machinery and tractors?
– The Prime Minister has. supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be made available to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– Replies to several questions appearing on the notice-paper are not yet to hand. Some will be distributed later to-day, and others will be forwarded by post to the honorable senators concerned.
Motion (by Senator Foll) agreed to - That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Immigration Act 1901-
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 22nd April, 1940 (vide page 286), on motion by Senator Wilson -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– Last night Senator Cameron took us into realms in which it was somewhat difficult forus to follow him. For an hour and a half or more he led us along his own lino of thought, and he even introduced for our admiration poor old Epictetus, the stoic philosopher. If there were ever any stoics in the community they were in this chamber last night, and, if the pursuit of virtue is the only good thing, Senator Cameron has a long task in front of him should his future contributions to the government of this country be on the lines of that made by him last evening. At this stage is our history, the opening of a new session suggests to me that the occasion is one for a tacit understanding that we should endeavour to take stock; that is, to satisfy ourselves as to where we are at the moment, and what has been done, and to evaluate in some measure the proposals for the future. The majority of the speeches already made in this debate have indicated that attitude, and the tone of the Speech by His Excellency the Governor-General suggested thoughts in that direction. It has been a source of satisfaction to my colleagues and myself that honorable senators opposite have expressed appreciation of the difficulties and responsibilities associated with the government of this country at this time of crisis. To obtain even the semblance of a parallel to the war now raging, we should have to go back to the Napoleonic era; but even then we should not approach the magnitude of the dangers to , us, the ultimate range of which seems to be beyond the grasp of our imagination.
Since the dawn of history, civilization, as we understand it, has been built up gradually on ethical principles, which long since were, and are to-day, comprehended by all of the great religions of the world. Reason has been the basis, and reasoning has evolved the rights of the individual and customs or laws for the guidance, protection and preservation of communities, together with human sympathy with, or chivalry towards, those in difficulties or distress. Senator Abbott, inhis characteristically sincere and eloquent speeches, has on more than one occasion suggested to us a philosophy of understanding and peace amongst nations; but I put it to honorable senators that to bring that philosophy within the range of attainment it must first be adopted in principle or applied within our own shores. Civilization, if it is to be retained, demands certain observances by the individual, and, until we can be assured that these are loyally forthcoming, how can we expect our collective influence to spread abroad? We must first, I maintain, set our own house in order, bearing in mind that the fundamental duty of every man who claims to represent the people is to assist the process to the utmost of his power. The cancerous growths sapping the vitals of our established and democratic institutions must be cut from the body of the people, and the very germs exterminated. The exotic growth of communism must not be permitted to spread and give off poisonous propaganda, nor should strikes for which there is no justification be tolerated.
Various comments have been made upon the current coal strike, communism, and the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution. It is refreshing to learn how these have been dealt with by the miners on the Kalgoorlie gold-fields. It is refreshing, also, to remember the loyalty and gallantry of those men, which were so strikingly exhibited in the last war. I had the privilege of being associated with some hundreds of them. According to the West Australian of the 1st April, the “ Bed “ motion, that is, the “ Hands of Russia “ resolution, of which notice had been given, was thrown out without discussion at the recent branch meeting of the Australian “Workers Union by 380 votes to 16. One speaker said -
This notice of motion is one of the most infamous, vile, dirty and rotten things that have come from the Australian Workers Union to be foisted on the workers of the gold-fields.
Another speaker, who is a member of the Legislative Council in Western Australia and a prominent Labour representative, remarked -
What lias been done in New South Wales lui 8 thrown the Labour party back 25 years. If the union does not throw out this notice of motion we will go down to shame, the same as the New South Wales party. I am not afraid to say that the coal-miners’ strike is the scabbiest thing put over the Labour party for years.
– He is a great unionist !
– These miners arc men of action. At a mass meeting last Sunday on the gold-fields, by an overwhelming majority, they deprived the Communist secretary of his office, and refused to sanction the grant from union funds of any money for the assistance of the coal-strikers.
– They decided1 to take up a voluntary levy.
– No, it was left to individual miners to subscribe privately if they cared to. In this country to-day individuals have complete liberty to live and to work. Perhaps it is not quite correct to say that they have complete liberty to work, because the trade unions impose conditions upon workers which to a degree constitute a negation of that liberty. . If we value the privileges we possess, and desire to retain them - if there is to be any post-war period for us other than one of darkness - we must take steps to equip ourselves with, among other things, that moral re-armament of which we read so much hut which, I confess, most people but little appreciate.
Reverting for a moment to the subject of communism, I recall that some years ago the Government proposed certain amendments to the Crimes Act which, if given effect, would have obviated the measures which now unfortunately seem to be necessary. Owing, however, to the sensitiveness of some members of the Opposition in both this chamber and the House of Representatives that amending bill was dropped. As the result of the abandonment of that measure we are now confronted with serious threats to our national well-being.
– Why has not the Government tackled the Communists long before this?
– I have just given the explanation. I remind the honorable senator that foresight is a virtue. Among our people the consciousness that we are at war is rapidly increasing. We read daily in out press of the course of the war. The Germans have discarded reason, and with it has gone, it would seem, the freedom of all peacefully inclined nations. The outcome of this war, therefore, should- be the subject of not only our hopes, but also our prayers. The future alinement of nations in the conflict, at this stage, can only be conjectured. As a nation we are definitely committed in this conflict to a part, and that is to give the utmost material and moral support to the British Common wealth of Nations. In that resolve I believe that all parties in this Parliament are, in intention at least, unanimous. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) has indicated that in its outlook and policy for the defence of Australia the Australian Labour party is independent of any other labour party. He has made that quite clear. He said deliberately : -
My desire is that there should be the maximum of unity among the people of Australia in their devotion to the common cause against aggression. …I say to the Prime Minister and to the Government that there is no earthly reason why there should be industrial strife in this country, no earthly reason why the desires and hopes of the workers to be of use to Australia should not be mode available not only freely, but enthusiastically. … Iam not asking any one to bribe us to support the cause of the Allies. We do that unconditionally.
I, personally, have faith in Mr.Curtin’s intentions. In the few sentences which I have just quoted he has set out clearly the views and desires of a large majority of the members of the great party of which he is the respected leader. I say “ the large majority “ advisedly, because I am convinced, as I am sure most honorable senators are, that some who claim to be his followers would, if they could, sabotage his efforts. That has been done to him on previous occasions.
– There are saboteurs in every party.
– That clement is universal. In regard to the actual prosecution of the war, I feel that the difficulties of the Government have to some degree been realized. Political as well as strategic considerations have obtruded themselves, and upon the advice of its experts, the Government bases its plans and amends those plans from time to time as it finds necessary. Some honorable senators have complained that Parliament was not called together between December and April, but upon mature consideration of that point, can any one say that any real need existed to reassemble Parliament? Parliament instructed the Government to “get on with the job”, and in due course, the Government has reported progress. I submit that its report to date is satisfactory.
– The British Parliament is meeting much more frequently.
– Yes, but the conditions here and in Britain are not quite parallel. It has been necessary not only to comprehend the strategical use of forces, but also to take measures necessary to ensure that the economic, industrial and social equilibrium of the nation during the trying months ahead - and, perhaps, years - will be maintained. Dealing with the disposition of the forces, the Prime Minister has drawn attention to the changed conditions to-day as compared with those existing in 1914. Such changes had in themselves necessitated the creation from mere nuclei left by former governments of home defence forces numbering in all approximately 100,000 men. This force is now in being, together with the major portion of its equipment. Then wehave the Royal AustralianNavy, of which we have every reason to be proud; its silent work is proving very effective indeed.
– It was created by a Labour government.
– That is all to Labour’s credit. Superimposed on this force, and well under way, is the scheme for expeditionary forces composed of volunteers for service abroad. These are contributions from the Australian Army and the Australian Air Force. Already, units have entered the theatre of operations. This is a definite and tangible contribution towards the winning of the war.
As the Prime Minister suggested, some critics may still ask if what is being done is sufficient. Some, too, who are anxious to help have not yet found a niche and these are impatient of delay. Every honorable senator, I think, has been approached by people who desire to make some contribution to our war effort, but so far have not been able to fit themselves into the scheme of things. They complain that matters are dragging. The answer to this criticism can be found in one quarter. Any difference between the present effort and that which commenced in 1914 arises from the fact that the situation in the Pacific to-day is not what it was a quarter of a century ago. Nor did we previously attempt the expansion of munition manufacturing on the scale on which we are now operating. To-day we are not only “supplying our own needs, but are also contributing largely to those of other partners in the Empire. After a careful survey of what has been planned and accomplished in the face ofmany difficulties - physical, material and political - the claim can justly be made that Australia is standing up to its obligations. War was declared eight months “ago. As an interesting comparison, the older generation will remember that, in the Great War, we had by December, 1914, sent abroad one division, an extra infantry brigade, a light horse brigade, and a mixed force for the occupation of German Now Guinea. Twelve months after, two divisions, two extra infantry brigades, four light horse brigades and miscellaneous units were in the field. In November, 1916 - that is, two years and three months after the outbreak of hostilities - the order of battle of the Australian Imperial Force reached its maximum, development with five divisions on the Western front and almost two divisions of man-power in Palestine, with hospital and technical units in other countries. In terms of man-power this represented a contribution of over 400,000 men and women volunteers, of whom some 330,000 embarked for service overseas. Since 1914, the population of the Commonwealth has increased by approximately 2,000,000.
I have been interested to note among honorable senators a growth of knowledge in respect of the three arms of the forces. Probably, this has resulted from the reading of reports on operations abroad. I recall that in a debate which took place in this chamber twelve months ago, various honorable senators advocated the strengthening of this or that arm of the f orces. That view is becoming noticeably less apparent. Formerly, disproportionate views were held concerning the strategical and tactical value of the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force, considered as separate services. I feel sure that to-day the value of co-operation is better appreciated, and we can place reliance equally upon each arm of the services. The home forces should not be neglected. I remind honorable senators of the great response to the nation’s call made by the Militia, and the satisfactory progress towards complete efficiency which these men, by sheer hard work, have attained. To-day, they are in a state of readiness, and they are being substantially and willingly augmented by the trainees, the calling up of whom has established equality of status and of sacrifice in respect of every citizen. This condition of affairs was envisaged at the very commencement of our existence as a Commonwealth, and is expressed in the principles embodied .in the Defence Act.
Senator Cunningham made a statement in regard to our defence preparations which scarcely does him justice. With him, I share anxiety for the safety of these shores, but a little more cordial and close co-operation all round will quickly remove cause for that anxiety. His charge against former governments of neglecting our defences rebounds upon his own party, because during the Scullin regime every establishment was reduced and defence finance was cut to the bone. No doubt, a valid reason can be advanced for the action then taken. But an equally valid reason can be found for the prolonged task encountered by subsequent governments in restoring the services to a condition of real usefulness. The honorable senator has displayed a comprehension of the elements required for effective home defence measures; but, with all respect, I suggest that he failed utterly to indicate how these should be utilized. In addition, he suggested, unfortunately, that the situation here is parallel with that existing in the Scandinavian countries.
At this stage I should like to touch upon a minor, though not unimportant matter, mentioned by Senator Lamp. He stated that “ the method adopted of distinguishing militiamen from members of the Australian Imperial Force gives serious discontent among the returned soldiers who fought in the last war He instanced the rising sun emblem which, he argued, should be worn by every person bearing arms in the defence of his country. As one who, for the past 21 years, has been most actively connected with soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force, this is surprising to me. Never, previously, have I heard of such a suggestion. The rising sun badge has, up till now, been worn only by the expeditionary forces, and right throughout the other services it has always been the custom to wear corps or regimental distinctions. The one exception is the Navy wherein the name of their ship is emblazoned on the sailors’ cap bands. Regimental badges are worn with great pride alike by soldiers young and old. Some of them are of considerable historical significance, and for years I was privileged to wear one instituted some 80 years ago, which was associated with the foundation of the first volunteer unit in Western Australia. I trust that Senator Lamp is not serious in this matter, because if he pursues it, he will find it to be an unpopular move. He could, with equal logic, advocate the abolition of the little patches of coloured cloth worn on the shoulders of the Australian Imperial Force jacket, or the disbandment of Scottish battalions, which I am sure would be very unpopular, particularly with many members of the Senate.
I now desire to refer to some remarks of the Leader of the Opposition made during his speech on this motion. As usual, he was impressive. As on previous occasions he used the word “ worker “ in a discriminatory sense to the intended disadvantage of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Accepting his interpretation of the word, I would be literally correct if I said that nine-tenths of the Government’s supporters come within its ambit, and there is not one who has not justly earned the title. The honorable senator knows, but I shall remind him, that ambition is part of every man’s nature, and success does not necessarily divorce him from a knowledge of the struggles of others or sympathy for those who have not made material progress towards their goal. He referred also to “ education ‘’. To me that word does not mean a close and prolonged acquaintance with the three R’s, or even attendance at a college or university; but rather knowledge born of experience. In that respect, those with whom he is associated may, for all I know, be as rich as are those on this side of the chamber. I urge the honorable senator to use the understanding which he possesses. In his long and, I am sure, useful life, he has gained great education. This has brought to him valuable qualities, one of them being his eloquence - which I sometimes envy. He has made many useful contributions to the debates in this chamber. I have also known him, when putting forward or supporting a weak case, to speak for an hour and say very little, whilst his worthy deputy has achieved the same result in half the time. Finally, I would say that, as the last war proved, on the issues now before this free country there is no real difference between the major parties in this Parliament. I believe that the people would like to say to us : “ Forget your petty party politics, discard your false shibboleths, and get on with our real work.”
On Thursday next we shall be observing Anzac Day. In my State that is usually commemorated by a deep regard for those men who, in the past, fought for us and whose patriotism knew no bounds. It is, too, a day during which prayers are offered for the peace and safety of the nation and for the Divine guidance of its governments. To-day I believe, as I am sure we all do, that these things should more than ever be borne in mind - that, ridding ourselves of subversive elements, we should seek harmony and unanimity in the endeavours to attain our ends, so that the members of the younger generation serving with the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force, inheriting as they do the valour of their fathers as well as the traditions of the units whose colours they wear, may go forth on a great and grave mission strengthened with the knowledge that they leave behind them a people as strong, as united, and as devoted as they themselves are.
– The debate on this motion has been characterized by a great deal of earnestness, and, with one or two exceptions, the speeches have been very temperate and pertinent to the great issue with which we are now faced. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) gave the Senate the benefit of one of his customary orations, which I did not hear, although I understand that he showed a spirit of co-operation with respect to the Government’s defence proposals. Senator Arthur devoted a good deal of time to a somewhat discursive dissertation on a matter which later was most effectively dealt with by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll). Senator Cameron spoke at length last night on the very complex problems of finance, increased prices, and extension of credit; but I shall leave that honorable senator oto the tender mercies of Senator Darcey, because I do not see how the opinions of these two honorable senators on the subject of finance can possibly be reconciled. Senator Cameron claims that the policy of inflation which has been adopted by the issue of treasury-bills, an increase of the note issue, and the extension of bank credits is all to the detriment of the working class - a class which he claims to represent in this chamber - because such a policy results in a reduction of the real wages which the workers receive under the awards made by the Arbitration Court and other industrial tribunals. That is what we contended some years ago when certain gentlemen proposed to inflate the note issue. Senator Darcey believes in a wide extension of credit, and, if circumstances should arise in which those two honorable senators are members of the Government, it would be interesting to see the struggle which would necessarily ensue between the two factions, and the manner in which they would endeavour to effect a compromise.
I shall now direct my attention for a few moments to several statements made by that staunch supporter of Labour - the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Keane) - who in an eloquent speech dealt with the subject of arbitration. I was surprised to hear the honorable senator say that a few years ago some of the present supporters of the Government and those who preceded them endeavoured to abolish arbitration. I can imagine the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with his striking physique and stentorian voice denouncing us as desiring to crucify the working class by abolishing compulsory arbitration. 1 do not know how long the honorable senator has been associated with the Labour party, but I would remind him that long before that party came into existence as a parliamentary force, compulsory arbitration was advocated, supported and carried into effect by men who had never signed the Labour party’s pledge. Arbitration was introduced in order to improve industrial conditions. The BrucePage Government endeavoured to bring about a system of arbitration more satis factory to both workers and employers in order to prevent both parties, as it were, tossing with a double-headed penny, lt was as essential then, as it is now, that industry should proceed smoothly and that neither employers nor employees should possess any undue advantages. It is true that the system has been abused, and, I believe, to a degree by both parties.
– What of the maritime industry?
– That industry has been working with greater smoothness recently than at any other time for many years. I do not propose to deal with the coal strike, because, according to a report which appears in the newspapers to-day, there is a possibility of that unfortunate dispute being settled. After all, what is the nature of the dispute between the employers and the employees? Australians are rather sensitive. We have a good deal of pride, and naturally those who are at fault do not wish to approach the Court. After all, the whole dispute concerns a slight reduction of the working hours of surface workers; but surely at a time like this, when we are facing a world crisis, the men engaged in one of our vital industries should not be allowed to interfere so seriously with the general industrial activity of the whole community. Why are they on strike ? Because of their pride, they have refused to approach the tribunal which has been set up for the express purpose of settling such disputes.
– Had the honorable senator been the Attorney-General he would have intervened.
– How is it possible for a Minister to intervene? What does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Keane) suggest the Minister should do? Should he interfere with the independence of the tribunal? Did not the unionists bellow to high heaven when, in bringing about a settlement of a similar dispute in 1928, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, withdrew a prosecution which the AttorneyGeneral had lodged against a mine-owner in New South Wales? Mr. Bruce knew full well the political capital that would be made of his action; but he withdrew the prosecution because he wanted the miners to go back to work, and the owners would not meet them unless the prosecution was withdrawn. That action taken by Mr. Bruce brought about at least temporary peace in the industry. I do not intend to deal at length with the strike. I wish merely to put right the weighty Deputy Leader of the Opposition, because I know the manner in which he would broadcast this type of destructive propaganda throughout the length and breadth of Australia with the object of securing votes in his own State at election time. I suggest to him that the time has come when we should pause and consider new and progressive methods for the preservation and improvement of our great democratic system, which we claim has done so much for our people. Democracy must be saved from the impending attack, which, in my opinion, has already started. We are just at the beginning of a world crisis.
I have been twitted by my versatile and experienced friend from Western Australia, Senator Cunningham, because of my views in relation to certain aspects of the defence of this country. Coming as he does from the State which has the longest undefended coast-line, he should be the last to state that the policy which I advocated, and which I shall broadcast again and again throughout Australia, namely, that an Empire unit of the British navy should be established south of the Equator, is wrong. The honorable senator should be the last to oppose such n move, because this war has proved conclusively that the Navy is the superior arm of defence. An air force may terrorize civil populations by massacring women and children and shattering towns. No one will deny the value of aircraft as spotters for other arms of defence; but what real achievements have they to their credit in the Sino-Japanese war, the Spanish war, or even in the present conflict? They have succeeded only in intimidating thousands of people. Germany’s object in building up such a huge air arm was not to attack the British navy, or the Allied armies, but to terrorize the people of the great city of London in such a way that Great Britain would be obliged to sue for peace. I recognize that Australia must have a well-equipped and mobile military force, but no matter what may Le the strength of our army and air force, this country will not be safe« until it is protected by a substantial naval force. “Similarly, South Africa, New Zealand and India will not be safe until there is a battle fleet, based on Singapore, for the protection of the Pacific and Indian oceans. During the Sino-Japanese war, up till the time I left the Cabinet, the Japanese had landed 1,500,000 soldiers in China. That was possibly only because China ‘ had no navy. The landing of the Japanese troops was covered by their own battleships and cruisers, as well as aircraft. I have studied the work of the various arms in the Sino-Japanese war, and it is apparent that aeroplanes cannot fly at less than 30,000 feet over areas which are properly equipped with anti-aircraft defence. Not long ago a statement was published in a certain connexion that aeroplanes could fly as low as 9,000 feet over battleships. I am informed, however, that in a country not far from Australia it has been proved that aircraft cannot descend with safety below 20,000 feet, which is approximately four miles. I have frequently travelled in aeroplanes, and on one occasion I flew at a height of 4,000 feet over the Murray River at Goolwa, where it is a fine wide waterway. From the ‘plane it looked like a narrow strip of paper. Honorable senators can readily imagine how small a target a ship would present from a height of 20,000 feet. It is claimed that precision instruments mate accurate bombing from great heights possible, but I am not convinced of that. I appreciate fully the gallantry of the men of the air arm, and I take off my hat to them; my blood runs hot when I think of their exploits which, for gallantry and dating, are second only to those of the men in the submarines. I maintain that the first duty of any government of this country is to co-operate with the sister dominions below the Equator in an endeavour to establish a powerful naval unit in southern Pacific waters. I shall not pursue this subject, however, because at present I am not in agreement with the Government, or with honorable senators opposite. The only honorable senator whom I have ever heard voice views similar to mine is Senator Aylett, who, on one occasion, stressed the utter isolation of Tasmania in the event of an attack on this co.untry.Despite our disagreement on this one question of policy, I am wholeheartedly behind the Government in its war effort. On the cardinal principles of defence, I think that the Government holds views similar to mine, and to those of honorable senators opposite. Although perhaps I may not live to see it, the. establishment of an Empire naval unit below the Equator and based on Singapore will one day be accepted as part of our defence policy.
Undoubtedly magnificent work has been done by the Department of Commerce in connexion with the. sale to Great Britain of our primary products. This was a colossal undertaking and could not ‘be accomplished merely by holding meetings, and arriving at decisions in a few minutes. A comprehensive interchange by cablegrams of views and ideas was necessary before action could be taken, and consideration had to be given to a thousand and one matters which do not occur to honorable senators who sit here day after day and work more or less regular hours. The economic phase of Australia’s defence work is now well in hand, and the Government is to be commended also for what it has achieved in the development of the military and naval arms. The importation of large numbers of Lockheed-Hudson bombers from America is of vast importance to our air arm. I welcome wholeheartedly the suggestion that we should engage iri some form of shipbuilding, not because such an undertaking will be of great economic value to Australia now, but rather because it would create a sea sense in the Australian people - a sea sense which is so vitally necessary if this huge coastline of ours is to be adequately defended.
I now wish to approach what I regard as the chief subject of discussion at the present moment. It appears to me that we are inclined to overlook the seriousness of the war in Europe and its possible political effects upon the whole of the world. I have made a painstaking study of the rise of nazi-ism in Germany. It has many features in common with the rise of marxism in Russia, and fascism in Italy. I recently read a book, No Compromise, by a gentleman named Raeder who is a professor of philosophy at the Washington University. It is a strange coincidence that the. .name of. the– writer should he .the same as that of the .head: of..’ the German, navy. .1 commend this bookto the attention, of honorable senators. The writer, who confesses that he is a. socialist, apologizes for .leaving the shelter..of the Washington University in order to: endeavour to explain to the people ofAmerica the danger with which civiliza-r ti on- is confronted. Drawing upon his profound knowledge of history he traces: the development of this movement’ from the days of Machiavelli, and deals with’ the evolution of philosophic thought in Germany through the centuries; He points to the dangers which confront the world” to-day, and deals extensively with the effects of propaganda. According to him what is now’ occurring is no new develop- ‘ ment; but the culmination of the philosophic and economic preaching that has ‘ continued over hundreds of years. He warns the democracies that their backs are to the wall, arid that they are fighting for their very existence. “There is no doubt” that democracy as we know it to-day has many imperfections and perpetrates many injustices ; I know some of” them only too well. Our system is by no means perfect. To some people our methods of doing many things may appear slipshod and inefficient. We can safely claim, however, that, as applied in the British Commonwealth of Nations, democracy has been the freest, cleanest, and best form of government yet devised. But that democracy is now in grave danger. We have been told by means of the radio and the press that there is a fifth column in operation in this country. One’ would think that the fifth column was an extraneous influence, but, as Senator . Brown has said, the danger of the fifth _ column is from within. Do not let us . delude ourselves with a philosophy ‘. fathered by clever thinkers, who are capable of dishing up their sedition to the . people in attractive and acceptable forms. Were they given a role such as that now played by the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber some of these people would be spellbinders to the average man because of their profound knowledge, born of an exhaustive study of history, their logic, and their overwhelming power of persuasion. These people are now busily at work in countries neighbouring on Germany. They are at work in Norway and Sweden, which are the most advanced democracies in the world to-day. Both are peaceloving countries - unfortunately for them, too peace-loving. There is a fifth column in every other country, and Australia and the other dominions are no exceptions. The fifth column pursues its nefarious ways, and serves up its attractive propaganda throughout the length and breadth of the world. That brings me to the point which I rose to make. This war, to my mind, is the beginning of a world crisis, which, if not checked, will result in the destruction of much that is of inestimable value to civilization. I believe that the arms of the Allies will triumph in the war, but we must be on our guard lest the conflict lead to something far greater and more catastrophic than most of us at present visualize.
Some honorable senators on this side - I think Senator Abbott was one - deplored the fact that we are living in an armed world. Unless something can be done to remove the suspicion existing among the nations and to bring standards of living into alinement so that trade may flow more freely, the nations, after this war, will continue to be more heavily armed than ever. I do not profess to have a solution for this grave situation. The one organization that has been examining this problem with a view to propounding a solution is the International Labour Office at Geneva. Unfortunately, that body is somewhat under a cloud at the present time, and many countries are reluctant to send representatives to its gatherings.
The Treaty of Versailles imposed a huge burden of reparations on the German people, and immediately after the war all the nations that were embroiled in that terrible conflict raised their tariffs, as a measure of self-protection, thereby preventing the people of Germany from discharging their obligations, even if they had any intention to do so. Et was certainly impossible for Germany to pay the reparations account in gold, and the higher tariffs imposed by the various nations made it impossible for German goods to be exported. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Cordell Hull, in pronouncements on the situation lately, have declared that world peace can be ensured only by the breaking down of policies of economic nationalism. How is this desirable objective to be achieved? Is it likely that France, one of the leading protectionist countries, will reduce its tariff barriers against the introduction of goods from other countries? There appears to be some ground for the hope that France, as the result of the recent economic and financial arrangements with Great Britain, will be brought to see the light. But what of the other nations? What will be the reactions of the people of those countries whose standards of living are so low as to render them such formidable competitors in this contest for world trade ? They have demonstrated a capacity to live under conditions which would mean starvation to other races. A mere reduction of tariff protection by the government of any European country would be futile. No tariff wall can be raised high enough to operate effectively against, say, the people of China, if ever they are harnessed to industry under modern conditions. Absolute prohibition is the only thing that would work. Apropos this problem of living standards in industrial competition, I remind honorable senators of recent events in the Far East. A few years ago Japan seized Manchukuo, ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining an outlet for its surplus population, which for so long has occupied the attention of the government of that nation. Prior to the seizure of Manchukuo, Japan established a protectorate over Korea, also for the purpose of obtaining an outlet for its surplus people. But, so far from achieving that object, to-day there are more Koreans in Japan than there are Japanese in Korea, simply because the living standards of the Koreans are so low that Japanese industrialists are powerless in competition with them. Consequently, and because the same factors operated, the seizure of Manchukuo failed to give to Japan the much-needed relief in respect of its surplus population. The League of Nations disapproved of Japan’s action; but I was told by a distinguished Japanese statesman that expansion was imperative for Japan because of its over-population. But what happened? Although Japan set up a puppet government in Manchukuo, its occupation of that territory is purely military and official. Instead of the Japanese surplus population migrating to Manchukuo and there engaging in secondary and primary production, owing to intense competition from Chinese, accustomed to a standard of living lower than that of the Japanese themselves, those Japanese who migrated to Manchukuo were forced to return. No fewer than 28,000,000 Chinese returned to Manchukuo from the south in order to live under the rule of law and order which Japan has established there. What does that lesson teach us? Although the living standard of the Japanese is substantially lower than that of the white races, it is higher than that of the Koreans and Chinese, the results being that in competition with these peoples they have been worsted. That also is a world problem. Upon its solution depends future peace among the nations.
– That is, if competition is necessary.
– The dream that we shall have a world from which competition has been eliminated is bound to fade. Instead of gazing up at the stars Ave should look at the facts. Let us deal with realities.
We of the white race have a sacred duty to civilization, and must come to some arrangement which will prevent or ease the terrific onslaught which must follow the impact on our social order of competition from races having a lower standard of living. We may, I think, cake courage from an examination of what Great Britain has done in its colonial administration. In my travels I have paused and wondered at the reasons for the continuance of that primitive system of lifting water, that has operated for so many centuries in Egypt and is still retained, notwithstanding that for many years that country was under the beneficent rule of Great Britain. I have marvelled at the genius of the British race in its dealings with these backward races. The governments of some countries which boast of their modern development would, no doubt, have imported’ into Egypt modern ploughs, steam shovels and other uptodate machinery with which to tear the land asunder in no time, and probably there would have been a tenfold increase of production at the expense of the fellaheen who, for so many centuries, has been content to follow the ways of their forefathers. The Government of Great Britain has wisely left native conditions undisturbed and the results have amply justified the policy.
I have endeavoured to outline as I see it the problem confronting civilization. My belief is that this problem will emerge with greater intensity after this war. Therefore the Government of this country has the responsibility to see what contribution we can make towards its solution. In Great Britain some thought has already been given to postwar rehabilitation in order to avoid the depression which has followed every great war in history. Mr. J. M. Keynes has published his thoughts on this subject. The Government should, I think, instruct Commonwealth Treasury officials to examine the proposals submitted by Mr. Keynes, because we shall, I believe, experience a post-war depression unless action be taken at this stage to prevent it. At the moment our industries, primary and secondary, are buoyant as the result of huge governmental expenditure for war needs. After the war there must be a slackening of demand for the various commodities now being produced in such great volume, and unless timely precautions be taken, we shall probably find ourselves in the unhappy position which we occupied in 1928-29. I do not suggest that the scheme propounded by Mr. Keynes offers a complete solution of the difficulties confronting us, because I have not had an opportunity to examine it in detail ; but the London Times says that there is something in it and I submit that it should be examined by the Government.
It is imperative that we should, at this stage, give our attention to the probable trend of events after the war, in order to preserve our living standards and our civilization. Great Britain and all the Dominions have their backs to the wall in a desperate struggle to preserve those democratic institutions which, with all their imperfections, we all prize so highly. These are being threatened, and it behoves us, irrespective of party alinements, to come together with a view to meeting the danger, instead of bickering a’bout whether Bill Jones in camp at
Puckapunyal has a uniform or whether rugs .are available foi? horses at Torquay, Mistakes in these matters are inevitable, but surely we can give our attention to those things which in the future will mean so much to our civilization.
– I listened carefully to the speeches of other honorable senators and 1 have studied the Speech with which His Excellency the Governor-General opened this session. In one portion there w’as reference to possible further aggression and the emergence pf new enemies whom we may ‘be called upon to face. This has been the view of the Labour party for a considerable time, and it is mentioned in Labour’s war policy. Unemployment figures, in relation to the Government’s war effort, will be closely studied, and I may have something to say on this subject later. Paragraph 8 of the Governor-General’s Speech contains this statement -
Senator Wilson, who moved, the adoption, of the Address-in-Reply, expressed the hope that this debate would he conducted on the highest plane. The motion was seconded by Senator Abbott, who made an appeal for peace and a better understanding . among the nations. We have often heard that appeal from him, although he admits that he is not a pacifist.
Senator James McLachlan amazed me by his attempt to link the. Opposition with the Communist party. I had always regarded him as a paragon of virtue, but [ must confess that I have now been disillusioned. I was astounded to hear him indict the Labour party on that charge. He seemed to confuse. Mr. Hoare with Mr. W. Orr, the secretary of the miners’ organization. Mr-. Hoare, the president of the Northern Coalminers Association, lias never been a Communist, and. has been fighting Communists practically all. his life. The honorable senator was supported by Senator Dein, who remarked that if Mr. Hoare was not a Communist, lie was a <( Quisling “. Language such as that should not he used in this chamber, because it naturally results in retaliation by the Opposition. Last night the statement that Senator. Dein was a German was burled across this chamber from the Opposition side. That remark would not have been made if an insult had not been thrown from the Government, benches. Members of the Opposition have always endeavoured to conduct themselves with decorum during debates in this chamber, but, when honorable senators opposite, particularly Senators Wilson and Dein, and I am sorry to have to add the name of a member of the Government, Senator McBride, constantly interject and hurl insults at members of the Opposition, we cannot be blamed if we retaliate to the be3t of our ability. I do not attempt to justify the remark from this side concerning Senator Dein, which, as I have said, was due entirely to constant baiting of the Opposition.
Reference was made by Senator James McLachlan to the fact that the Prime Minister visited the northern coal-fields last week. The honorable senator expressed the opinion that Mr. Menzies was brave to go there, but I do not consider him to be a Daniel on that account. The coal-miners and others who live on the coal-fields are as democratic as the people in other parts of Australia.
– And quite civilized.
– Yes. Surely no one imagined that the Prime Minister would be mobbed as soon as he reached Kurri Kurri.
– The miners themselves thought that he was brave.
– No. The Prime Minister and the Government denied the representatives of the miners the right toreply through the .national broadcasting stations to the statement proposed to be made by the -Prime Minister.
– Does not the Honorable senator think that the coalmine owners should also have that right?
– The Prime Minister speaks for the. coal-mine owners.
-No.; he speaks for the whole of the people who are affected by the strike.
– Not at all. Last night he went to ‘great trouble to defend the economic position of some of the mine-owners. He pointed out that the shares in some of the companies were as low as 2s., but he made no reference to tho economic position of the workers in the mines, thus showing that he is primarily concerned with the welfare of the mine-owners, He made no mention of the fact that Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and Australian Iron and Steel Limited and their subsidiary companies use approximately 50 -per cent.- of >the coal produced in Australia, There is. hardly any need for me to draw attention to the fact that last year Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited showed a. profit of £1,500,000, and a few days prior to the declaration of war, distributed bonus shares to the value of £4,250,000, 6.6 shares being distributed for every 100 shares held. The answer of honorable senators opposite to that would, no doubt, bo that anybody in Australia is entitled to be a shareholder, but no worker can afford to own shares in Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, It is interesting to note that th.ig company and Australian Iron and Steel Limited are linked with shipping and finance companies. Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited now has control of Australian Iron and Steel Limited, and these two companies control the Bulli mine, the Wallsend mine, Wongawilli steel works shaft, the Burwood mine, the John Darling mine, the Lambton mine, and the Orphington mine. Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is also linked up with Colliers Limited, which, is linked with Hebburn Collieries, which control Hebburn .No. 1, Hebburn No. 2, and another colliery on the south const of New South Wales. Through Australian Iron and Steel Limited, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited controls the’ Southern Portland yearn and the Burwood coal-mine. Howard Smith Limited is a large shareholder in Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and it controls Cale donian Collieries Limited, which coven the Invincible mine in the western district of New South Wales and the Aberdare, the Aberdare Central, and the Aberdare Extended mines in the north.- This is a group of some of the biggest mines in the Commonwealth. Howard Smith Limited is also associated with J. and A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited. The biggest shareholder in these collieries is the Adelaide Steamship Company, which controls the following mines: - Abermain No. 2, Kersely, Buckinsfield No. 1, Pelaw Main, Seaham No. 2t Stanford Main, Stanford No. ‘2, Stockrington Main, and Abermain mines. The ramifications of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited cover the steel industries of the Commonwealth. This company is’ a large shareholder in Stewarts and Lloyds (Australia) Pro.prietary Limited, and it also controls Commonwealth Structural Steel Limited. It owns Bylands Brothers Australia Proprietary Limited. and has a controlling interest in Commonwealth Company Limited. It further controls Bullivants Australian Company Limited and Australia Wire Rope Works Limited. Lysaght Brothers and Company Limited have big shareholding interests, in Broken Hill Proprietary ‘Company Limited, which controls Titan Nail” and Wire Proprietary Limited and Byproducts. Proprietary Limited. Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is a large shareholder in Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, in which it owns 104,396 shares,
Reference has been made to the activities of the Communist party in regard to the trouble on the northern coa. fields. It is an acknowledged fact that the secretary of the Miners Federation is a Communist, but it must be remembered that the secretary has been elected to that position, and that he must have the confidence of the workers in the industry or he would not have secured the post.The conduct of the miners’ ballot is just as democratic as that of any other body. Senator Wilson asked what the miners and other workers in Great Britain and France would think of the strike of miners in Australia. Tho statement was made by Senator James McLachlan that miners in England are now working 60 hours a week, and I interjected that that was not correct. Those miners are working only seven and a half hour shifts. I have here a copy of a claim dated the 25th January, 1939, for a review of hours, in respect of which coal-miners in England obtained a reduction of the working hours to the pre-1926 level.
– That was long before the war.
– They now enjoy a seven-hour day. I refer to this fact simply in order to prove that Senator James McLachlan was incorrect in asserting that the coal-miners in England are now working 60 hours a week. The present dispute on the coal-fields cannot be described as a war time trouble. For the last three years the miners have been agitating for the claims for which they are now on strike. In September, 1938, a claim was served upon the mine-owners for improved conditions. The mine-workers also asked for a 40-hour week and the adjustment of wages on a basis which would obviate any loss of wages resulting from a reduction of hours. On that occasion the owners refused even to discuss the matters of hours and wages, with the result that a strike took place in the following September. That strike lasted six weeks, at the end of which period tha then Treasurer of New South Wales, now tho Premier of that State, Mr. Mair, intervened in the dispute. It was agreed to refer the miners’ social claims dealing with pensions, amendments of the Compensation Act and Health Regulations, Sca., to a royal commission. Subsequently, most of those claims were granted. However, the two major issues concerning hours and the adjustment of wages were referred to the Arbitration Court. The hearing on these matters was commenced on the 3rd November, 1938, and lasted until the 20th April, 1939. Judge DrakeBrockman, who heard the claims, visited the northern, southern and western coalfields. He descended the pits, and saw at first hand the conditions under which the men worked. He saw something of the work of the miners, and of the members of the craft unions. At that hearing the case for the mine-owners was placed before the court as fully and as forcefully as possible. However, Judge Drake-
Brockman awarded a 40-hour week inclusive of crib time for underground workers, and a 40-hour week exclusive of crib time for surface workers. The present strike is not a fight solely on behalf of the miners; it is equally a fight on behalf of the craft unions. Workers in the mining industry have been brought up to the principle that an injustice to one section of them is an injustice to all engaged in the industry. That is the reason why the miners are on strike to-day with members of the craft unions. They are fighting for the improved conditions which Judge Drake-Brockman granted in his award. That judge decided that members of craft unions should receive an increase of 20 per cent, in order to compensate them for the loss of one day a week. I point out that the 40-hour week was to bo worked on five instead of six days. The Miners Federation then claimed adjustments of daily rates on this basis and asked for an annual holiday period of two weeks. These applications were granted. Judge Drake-Brockman’s award operated at the Wonthaggi mine from the commencement of the first period in July, and should have come into operation in New South Wales as from the 16th August. Prior to the latter date, however, the mine-owners filed an application for a review of these wage rates and hours of employment, contending that wages and hours were matters which should be decided by the Full Arbitration Court and not a single judge. This application first came before the Full Court in Sydney on the 8th August, when the court decided to postpone the operation of Judge Drake-Brockman’s award in New South Wales. I emphasize that this award operated for a period of seven months at the Wonthaggi mine. The appeal proceedings commenced in Melbourne, on the 21st August, and without hearing any evidence whatever the court, by a majority of two to one, disagreed with Judge Drake-Brockman’s award. The point I emphasize here is that whilst it took Judge DrakeBrockman five and a half months to conduct the investigations upon which he based his award, the Full Court within approximately nine days, and without hearing any evidence whatever, upset that award.-
I presume that the Full Court perused the evidence submitted before the single judge; but even on that point I have some doubt.
– The argumentbefore the Full Court revolved round the principle of standard hours.
– Yes, and that is still the main issue to-day. I submit that every adjustment consequential on Judge Drake-Brockman’s award could be, and would be, made in the coal-mining industry tomorrow if it were not for the fact that theprinciple of a 40-hour week is involved. That is the trouble so far as the mine-owners and the capitalist employing class generally in this country are concerned. They maintain that the miners’ claims represent the spearhead of an attack for the introduction of a 40- hour week throughout industry as a whole.
– That is the cause of the strike - the claim for a universal 40-hour working week.
Senator Keane. - The coal-miners now enjoy a 40-hour week. Senator Ashley’s point is that the Full Court upset Judge Drake-Brockman’s award without hearing any argument whatever.
– Judge DrakeBrockman dissented from the ruling of his two colleagues, and his remarks are worth considering. He said -
I have had an opportunity of perusing the judgment of the learned Chief Judge and Piper J. After careful consideration of it and a reconsideration of the evidence submitted, I am unable to agree to any alteration to the hours fixed by me in the several interim awards made by me in June, 1939. In my view there is no justification for interfering with the practice of substantial uniformity of hours that has prevailed in all parts of the industry except at Wonthaggi for many years past. The uniformity of hoursin an industry envisaged by section 25a of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act1904-1034, should not, in my opinion, be departed from without very definite reasons which do not exist in the coal-mining industry.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
The applications before the court are for variation of the before-mentioned awards in respect to hours. The employers seek to increase hours while the employees seek to reduce hours. No evidence was led by either side in support of the respective applications. Roth sides relied on argument and the evidence given before me as the judge of the first instance. The onus of proving justification for any variations lay on the parties asking for alterations in hours. No party has attempted to meetsuch onus. I am strongly of the opinion that if only for this reason no alteration to the hours fixed by the several awards concerned is justified.
– The hearing by Judge Drake-Brockman extended over five and a half months, and, after hearing voluminous evidence, he made an award in favour of the mineworkers; but as the result of the decision of the Full Court the hours of mineworkers were increased, and an increase of the daily rate, which was granted to compensate for the 5-day week, was withdrawn. In some instances members of the Mine-workers Federation, who in the past worked only eight hours daily, inclusive of crib time, actually had their daily hours increased by one half hour, but the daily rate of pay was not increased. When an application was made by the Mine-workers Federation for an adjustment of the wages, involving a 20 per cent. increase of the daily rate, in order to ensure that there would be no loss of earnings for men whose working week was reduced from six to five days, Judge Beeby held that the men worked only eleven days a fortnight, and that they would require an increase of only 10 per cent. to compensate them for the loss of time occasioned by a reduction of working hours; but the court awarded an increase of only 5 per cent. to prevent a loss of earnings. In reply to a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) the general secretary of the combined mining unions said -
Mine-owners are anxious that the benefits bestowed by that part of the court which was capable of making a decision should be continued and implemented.
I was a member of the deputation which waited upon the Prime Minister. The members of the craft unions and of the Miners Federation claim that there has been uniformity of hours in the industry for more than a decade, and that has been acknowledged in evidence given by the representatives of the mine-owners themselves. In some instances, the miners and mine-workers live some miles from the collieries, with the result that a couple of men who become “ matey “ drive to work together. One may be a miner and another engaged in some other capacity, but under the award given by the Full Court they cannot derive any benefit because a man working a 40-hour week has to wait an extra half an hour until his mate has finished. In the Full Court proceedings Judge Beeby expressed the opinion that the underground workers should work fewer hours than the men working on the surface. A perusal of the judgment shows that underground workers and a majority of surface workers handling coal from pit-top to the wagons have been granted the same hours. The result of this decision means that some workers will have a working week of six hours less than the craftsmen and others with whom they are associated. In the earlier proceedings Judge Drake-Brockman emphasized that the employers regarded a uniformity of hours as desirable, and stated that the reduction granted to underground workers should also be granted to all workers. The important fact is that the union fought for and won a 40-hour week of five days and an adjustment of wages to prevent loss of earnings. That has been taken away. The latest award by the Chief Judge not only prevents craft unions in New South Wales from enjoying the benefits received under the Drake-Brockman award of a shorter week, but also deprives craft unions in Victoria of thebenefits which they had enjoyed for seven months. Before the last judgment was delivered, Mr. Munday, representing the Amalgamated Engineering Unions, advised the court not to make an order. He said -
The production for the six months ended the 24th December, 1938, was 108,331 tons, and for the six months ended the 24th June, 1939, was 152,500 tons. For the six months ended the 23rd December, 1939, the production was 159,952 tons. So it cannot be said that the work was in any way held up.
Summarizing the position, it can be said that the production days have been reduced from eleven to ten, and those in the “ face to wagon group “ will lose 5 per cent. of their fortnightly earnings. Other workers, including most craft union members who were given a 5-day week and a 20 per cent. increase in their daily rate of pay under the Drake-Brockman award have now been awarded a 5-day week without adjustment of wages. To this group it will mean that since pro duction is carried on for only five days a week, fewer men will be required to. work more than five days, except in cases where special repair work will be made available. Many will, therefore, suffer a loss of earnings of 20 per cent. I am conversant with all the details of this subject because I was present at the deputation which waited upon the Prime Minister. I do not blame him or the Government for the strike, but I say definitely and emphatically that the Government could have prevented it. Five or six months ago the deputation which waited upon the Prime Minister pointed out the possibility of the present dispute arising. In view of the threatened dislocation of the industry the Prime Minister was advised to act under the Industrial Peace Act which was placed on the statute-foook when the present Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) was Prime Minister. Under that act a special tribunal was set up, and while it operated it did much to maintain peace in the industry. That act makes special provisions for the prevention of strife in the coal-mining industry. Sections 28 and 29 read -
( 1 ) No award or orderof a special tribunal or local board shall be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question, or be subject to prohibition mandamus or injunction, in any court on any account whatever.
Those provisions show that the act is absolutely watertight in that the workers and mine-owners are protected. When an agreement is drawn up under the act it is not subject to review as was the award of Judge Drake-Brockman. The Government and its supporters continually harp on the Arbitration Court, and contend that the arbitration laws should be observed. The mine-workers went to a properly constituted court and after submitting lengthy oral and documentary evidence received an award, but the Full Court which sat for only ten days, and probably only glanced at the transcript of the evidence taken over a period of five and a half months, upset the decision of Judge Drake-Brockman.
– Eighty-five per cent. of the men got what they sought.
– What part are the miners playing?
– As I pointed out previously, the attitude of the miners with regard to their unions is that an injury to one is an. injury to all. What the honorable senator is trying to say is that the miners are still enjoying a 40-hour week. Is that not correct?
– And that the craft unions are the only ones affected? (Senator Dein. - Yes.
– I answered that statement this morning by pointing out the principle which actuated the miners in entering upon this fight. The miners are just as sincere in their fight for their fellow workers, as is Australia in its efforts to assist in the defence of the British Empire. I cannot give any ‘better answer. I direct attention to the industrial dispute which took place in 1930, when the owners on the northern fields locked out the workers in an endeavour to compel them to accept a 121/2 per cent. reduction of wages. There was no talk then of referring the matter to the Arbitration Court, because it was the capitalistic class that had taken direct action. The lock-out lasted for fifteen months, at the end of which the miners were forced to accept the terms dictated by the owners. On that occasion there was no extolling by the capitalistic government of the virtues of the Arbitration Court.
– : The reduction of wages on that occasion was made by the Arbitration Court.
– That is not so. The men were locked out by the owners. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his Government are sheltering behind the Arbitration Court in this dispute.
– Does the honorable senator believe in arbitration?
– I believe in arbitration and conciliation. The Arbitration
Court is one of the finest instruments of industrial justice in existence to-day. Further, I believe in international arbitration. The League of Nations was. nothing but a glorified arbitration court, and it functioned well as the arbitrator in international disputes until some nations lost confidence in it. In Australia to-day . a section of the people has lost confidence in the Arbitration Court, and the result is industrial chaos. It cannot be suggested that on this occasion the miners have not a legitimate grievance. Theirs is not a sentimental grievance, but a real, tangible and living one - it relates to the conditions under which they work. When these men enter the mines there is no certainty that they will come out. There is greater loss of life in mining than in any other industry. Miners are forced to work under conditions which are the worst imaginable. Mines are artificially ventilated, and therefore are conducive to colds and rheumatic ailments. When the workers enter the shafts their lungs immediately become filled with dust. Their conditions of labourare the most primitive in the world. When working at the pit face, the miners wear only trunks, caps, and Blucher boots. When they emerge from the mines they are covered from head to toe in coal grime, and look like chimney sweeps. Nobody can deny that mining is the most unhealthy and hazardous of all occupations.
It has been stated in this chamber and elsewhere that the Prime Minister did a courageous thing in going to the northern coal-fields in order to address the miners. One would gather that the right honorable gentleman had gone to face savages who were likely to attack him. Such statements are a reflection on the miners, who are just as fair and democratic as any other section of the community. In all centres on the coal-fields, the miners may be found occupying positions of trust, with dignity and considerable ability. They operate their own co-operative stores, which are models of efficiency. In one centre, there is a co-operative store which has a turnover of £300,000 a year. In organizations such as lodges, the miners hold important executive positions; they participate in sport of every description ; they are members of the various municipal and shire councils, and some have risen to the position of mayor. In fact, in the public life of this country they are just as capable as any other section of the community. Therefore, I say that there was nothing heroic about the Prime Minister’s visit to the coal-fields. He went to address not a mob of ignorant savages, but merely a representative gathering of ordinary individuals.
– That is why the right honorable gentleman went to the coalfields.
– Then why star him as a hero?
– It has been suggested that Mr. Menzies selected Kurri Kurri for his visit because the miners at that centre had voted against the continuance of the strike. I do not know whether or not that is correct.
– It is not correct.
– The Prime Minister denied that yesterday.
– I do not think that the action of * the Prime Minister in visiting the coal-fields did anything to assist the settlement of the dispute. The right honorable gentleman has been appealed to on many occasions to intervene but has declined to do so.
– What would the honorable senator suggest that the Prime Minister should do?
– It is not my place to make such suggestions. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) said yesterday that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions had been endeavouring to intervene in the dispute and had suggested that it should apply to the Arbitration Court.
– Why did not the miners make the application?
– The Australasian Council of Trade Unions is anxious to settle the dispute, but a technical difficulty has arisen because that body is not a registered union under the Arbitration Court. With a view to making a contribution towards the settlement of the trouble, the Australasian Council of Trade Unions approached the combined mining unions, and only yesterday the following telegram was sent to Mr. Curtin : -
In replying to the request of the executive of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions for an authorization for the Combined Mining Unions Committee to allow the Australasian Council of Trade Unions to seek a conference to allow a reasonable settlement of the coal dispute, the Combined Mining Unions decided to accede to their request.
The telegram is signed by Messrs. Orr and Nelson, and is concrete evidence that the combined mining unions have agreed to intervention in this dispute. I mentioned earlier that before Judge DrakeBrockman’s award was made the case for the miners was substantially placed before the court. The court then made a certain award which was of benefit to the miners. It is not necessary for me to point out that a settlement of the dispute is essential if full effect is to be given to Australia’s war effort. If coal fuel cannot be obtained transport will be dislocated and the paralysing influence will spread to all other industries. A prolonged strike will not only diminish our war effort, but in all probability will cause its utter collapse. During the Corio by-election campaign, Mr. Menzies said on more than one occasion that Hitler was taking considerable interest in the result of that by-election.
– The result of the byelection was broadcast from Germany.
– We have heard broadcast from Germany many things which are not to the credit of this Government. The Prime Minister said that Hitler would derive some pleasure from the defeat of the Government nominee at Corio, but I point out that Hitler will also derive considerable satisfaction from the neglect of the Government to intervene in the coal strike.
– What has the honorable senator done to end the strike?
– I have done considerably more than Senator McBride, whose only contribution has been to sit in this chamber and heckle honorable senators on this side. Every hour’s delay will render the settlement of thi, strike more difficult.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government should interfere with the court?
– I contend that under the National Security Act, the Industrial Peace Act or the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Government has unlimited power to take the necessary action to end this dispute.
– The men also can approach the court.
– They did approach the court and got an award. I am not alone in the view that serious responsibility rests upon the mine-owners in connexion with this dispute. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes) criticized the employers not so long ago. This is what he said -
I have been in touch with the leaders, and I thinkI can say that all those I have seen are very anxious to avoid a stoppage.
The situation is extremely difficult, and it can hardly be said that a solution is made easier by the attitude of the employers. It may be, of course, that they are wholly in the right, but the fact remains that they have taken up a stand from which they will not recede. Since a settlement, if one is arrived at, must Be in the nature of a compromise, this is distinctly unhelpful.
When a senior member of the Government makes observations of that nature, surely honorable senators on this side may be excused for offering comments on the position and criticizing the owners.
Another matter which has given rise to a good deal of controversy is the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution at the Easter Conference of the New South Wales Labour party.
– That resolution was repealed by only two votes at a subsequent conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions.
– Why have the Government and its supporters taken this stand against the resolution? Was it for the purpose of consolidating the defence of this country and strengthening the Allies in this war? No; the Government was solely concerned with securing useful propaganda material for the coming election.
– Why did the Australasian Council of Trade Unions Conference in Sydney order that resolution to be expunged from the records?
– I answer that question by asking, why did not this Government take a more determined stand some monthsago and declare war on
Russia when that country invadedFinland? Did Ministers wish Mr. Curtin, the Leader of our party, to do that? I ask this question in all sincerity. When Russia invaded Poland and assisted Germany to destroy the independence of the country, and later when the Soviet invaded Finland and seized an important tract of territory in order to make Soviet defences more secure, did this Government offer any suggestion that Great Britain should declare war upon Russia? Of course it did not. It adhered to the “ Hands off Russia “ policy.
– Neither did Mr. Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, say anything about declaring war on Russia.
– Why bring that subject up now?
– This Government did not then suggest that war should be declared on Russia. On the contrary, it stood for “ Hands off Russia “, so it is quite evident that activity in ministerial circles with respect to the “Hands off Russia “ resolution by the New South Wales Labour Conference is intended solely for political propaganda purposes. The Government felt that it needed some such material for the next election.
– The honorable senator has not yet told us why the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution was expunged from the records of the Labour conference.
– There will be another Labour conference shortly. If this Government will instruct me, I shall submit a resolution urging the declaration of war against Russia. If that were carried I can well imagine the position the Government would then be in. I can imagine also what Mr. Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, would say. I stress the fact that Mr. Menzies took up the cudgels on behalf of the mine-owners in order to reveal their economic position. He declared that some of the mines were so unprofitable that their shares were worth only 2s. each. I would point out that the position of the mine-workers is infinitely worse, especially since the commencement of the war, owing to the great increase of the cost of living which, I submit, has been a contributing factor in the strike that has taken place. Mr. Hughes, the present Attorney-General, in a pamphlet. Bond or Free devoted to a denunciation of Sir Otto Neimeyer’s report during the depression, said this - .
Whatis wanted is a uniform basic wage and standard hours throughout the Commonwealth with tribunals on which the parties are equally ‘ represented with an impartial chairman to deal with all matters in dispute in each industry.
-That is sound logic and common sense.
– The miners fight for uniformity. They have asked for a tribunal to handle the problem of the coal-mining industry.
– What is the minimum wage paid to coal-miners under the award?
– The men are receiving less than they were getting ten years ago.
– The basic wage is £5 10s. 6d. a week for surface hands.
– That is not quite correct. The average wage is as low as £3 a week.
– Surely that is not quite correct.
– It is correct. The wages received depend upon the working of the industry. I know of men who, owing to the method of working a mine, have had work for only one day or two days a week. The intermittent nature of the work is one of the grievances of the men, because it reduces their wages very substantially. If a miner were on full time he would receive a very decent wage.
– Whose fault is it that miners are not working full time?
– It is certainly not the fault of the men if there is not sufficient trade to keep the mines working full time.
– Is there any contract, work in the mines ?
– Some of the underground work is on contract, and some of it is shift work.
I sincerely hope that this strike will soon be ended. As to the influence of the Communists, that may be the responsibility of the men engaged in the industry ; but. if Communists are. condemned for what has happened the men also must be condemned, because they have followed the advice of their leaders.
– We condemn their leaders.
– Then the Minister and his friends must condemn the men, because it is obvious that the leading officials in coal-mining unions must have ability to get the appointments, and ability to hold them. They are elected by a ballot of the rank and file to those positions, and as they have been re-elected year after year, the men must have confidence in them.
– Has the honorable senator any confidence in them?
– I have no confidence in the Menzies Government. The Minister is continually interjecting in this chamber when honorable senators on this side are speaking, but he has not succeeded in confusing me. I have stated the case0 for the mine-workers to the best of my ability. Since I have been a member of this chamber I have never advocated anything in which I did not believe. I have always been ready to furnish evidence in support of my statements. It is well known that although the number of miners in the industry has been reduced by 6,000 over the last ten years, production to-day is greater than at any time in its history. Prior to this strike . there had been an award which was acceptable to the men, but the mine-owners appealed against it notwithstanding that prior to lodging their appeal they had advanced their contracts by 4s. a ton in order to meetthe additional charges that might have been incurred through observance of the award. I know of no other case in which the court has ordered a return to the original conditions. The fact that the companies which control the great majority of the coal-mines in Australia are” the best dividend-paying concerns in this country shows conclusively that the industry is in a position to meet the demands made by the miners. These men are entitled to a decent rate of wage, so that they may enjoy a standard of living comparable with that of other sections of the community.
– Whatever may be the merits of the miners’ case - and I am not prepared to say that their claims are not without merit - when we are fighting for our very existence, and for the retention of our liberty, the time is not opportune for industrial turmoil and disruption. During the last few months several neutral countries have been overrun by two of the most brutal and barbarous butchers the world has ever known. The people of those countries have lost everything that they treasured, and a similar threat confronts Australia. Although one may be prepared to concede that the miners have been somewhat harshly treated under the award, the time is not ripe for interference with our efforts in the big struggle in which we are engaged. I see in this strike nothing more than an attempt by a mere handful of the miners’ leaders to throw this country into a state of chaos, so that Australia will be hampered in its war effort. I regard the few leaders who are responsible for this strike as traitors to Australia, to the working class, and to the Empire. It has been stated by honorable senators opposite that the miners are loyal. I have never heard anybody suggest otherwise. They are as loyal to Australia as is any other section. I am the son of a miner, and I have been a miner myself, although not a coalminer. The records of the coal-miners in tho last war show their loyalty in glowing colours, and far be it from me to hurl insults at them.
One of their leaders, the general secretary of the Miners Federation, Mr. Orr, is reported to have said to the Prime Minister, “I am a Communist”. I ask honorable senators to contemplate for a moment what that means. In effect, this official said to the Prime Minister, “I believe in displacing you, although you are at the head of the Commonwealth Government by the expressed will of the people. I believe in the “abolition of the Parliament that governs Australia. I favour the setting up of a dictator, who has my permission to stand up against a wall anybody who differs from him “. It is time somebody told Mr. Orr where to get off. This job must first be tackled by the Labour party itself. This party, par ticularly in New South Wales, has been undermined and white-anted by men like Mr. Orr, and the party should take stock of its own machinery in order to clean out the rubbish. The party in New South Wales has realized the menace, and initial steps have been taken, but unfortunately, the federal executive of the party was too much tinted with red to put the officials with Communist tendencies where they deserve to be placed. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) supported a motion for the setting up of a new executive to control the Labour movement in New South Wales, and the press report to that effect has never been denied by him; but the conference turned him down. The duty rests upon the Government to get hold of these Communists, whoever and wherever they may be. Whether they are actually members of the Communist party or not, they should be tried and treated as traitors are, not only in the British Empire, but also throughout the world. This is too important a job to be attended to by one party. The Communists are the greatest internal menace we have, and a concerted effort is required to clear them out. If the Labour party would set its own house in order, it might return to a point somewhere near the ideals which it formerly held.
Let us briefly examine the facts leading up to the present strike. The trouble on the coal-fields began to simmer in 3937. That was followed by an investigation by Mr. Justice Cantor, of New South Wales, who held an exhaustive inquiry into the ramifications of the coalmining industry, and made an award. Immediately afterwards, the leaders of the miners said that the employees in the industry were in receipt of the highest wages experienced in its history, and the miners agreed to be bound by that decision for two years. In 1938, however, when war seemed inevitable, the miners’ Communist leaders thought the time opportune to come to the surface, and, as usual, endeavour to bring about chaos and disruption throughout Australia. The (strike of 1938 followed, notwithstanding the fact that the miners had agreed to abide by the Cantor award for two years.
Very soon afterwards the miners resumed work, and Judge Drake-Brockman, one of the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, investigated their grievances. He saw the conditions under which they worked, and he was sympathetic towards them. After a lengthy inquiry, during which he took all possible evidence from both sides, he made a certain award, one of the conditions of which was that the whole of the miners, irrespective of whether they worked in the bowels of the earth, or enjoyed “cushy” jobs on the surface, should receive uniform conditions. When that finding was announced the mineowners objected, as they had a right to do, and an appeal was made to the Full Court. I have heard honorable senators opposite object time after time because in certain legislative measures no provision has been made for appeals. Rightly or wrongly, the appeal to the Full Court was allowed. The court decided that about 85 per cent, of the employees engaged in the industry were entitled, owing to the dangerous nature of their work, to better conditions than those enjoying “ cushy “ jobs on the surface, and that it was only fair that the remaining 15 per cent, should work three hours a week longer. The Full Court took from 15 per cent, of those engaged in the industry a concession which Judge Drake-Brockman had given to them. The men affected complained, but no trouble developed immediately. However, early this year, when we were about to prepare for a conflict which seemed inevitable and in which it was apparent that we must fight for our very existence, these disrupters, who always show their heads here and in every other country during times of stress, declared for a strike in the industry. They said, “ Now is the time to make our demands “. Thus they persuaded the miners to go out on strike last month. It seems remarkable that the miners will not place their grievance before the Arbitration Court. The court i.-i prepared to hear their grievance. Why do they not approach it? They wish the people of Australia to believe that the means of settling the strike rests with the Prime Minister. The remedy lies in their own hands. Recently the president of the Northern Miners Federation, Mr. Hoare, said -
We do not believe in arbitration. We will not go to the court. We will apply the economic weapon.
What is meant by the application of the economic weapon ? It means the creation of turmoil, misery and hardship by closing the coal-mines, and in time a stoppage of industry generally. Tens of thousands of workers are thus thrown out of employment. This attitude is maintained Until every one in the community becomes heartily sick of the position, and the employers concerned are obliged to say to the strikers, “ You have beaten us ; we will give you what you want. Go back to work “. That is how the economic weapon is applied. Honorable senators on this side agree with Senator Keane and Senator Ashley that the Arbitration Court was specially constituted to deal with industrial troubles of this kind. In this instance, however, the miners’ leaders have no time for the court. They prefer, as Mr. Hoare says, to apply the economic weapon. I ask honorable senators to consider the origin of the Arbitration Court. Why was it established? It was set up for the benefit, not of the employers, but of the workers. It was established many years ago to ensure the observance of better working conditions in industry. Before the policy of industrial arbitration was adopted employers could fix their own terms and conditions, and a worker had to take what was offered or leave it. Through the court equitable working conditions have been established in industry. To-day employers are forced to observe those conditions, and to pay certain rates of wages as well as to provide certain employees, in many industries, with annual holidays. As the result of arbitration, conditions in the mining industry to-day are the best they have ever been. [ do not say that they are as good as they might be, but it is generally conceded that definite benefits have resulted from the policy of industrial arbitration. Yet the miners’ leaders to-day say that they will have nothing to do with the Arbitration Court; they believe in the economic weapon. I should like honorable senators opposite to say clearly whether they themselves prefer arbitration to the application of the economic weapon. I know that the mass of the miners are democratic. But are their leaders democratic ? If they are, why do they not say to the unfortunate miners, who contribute 9s. a fortnight to the unions’ funds, that this trouble should be referred to the Arbitration Court? Three or four Communist traitors - and I do not hesitate to call them traitors to Australia - who occupy “ cushy “ jobs and batten on the miners, refuse to give to the miners the right to decide individually, through a secret ballot, whether or not this strike should continue. That is the only fair and equitable method by which the mass of the miners can be enabled to express their real opinions. That right, however, is denied to them by their leaders. Honorable senators opposite say that we on this side are not democratic. I reply that if the leaders of the miners had exhibited the slightest semblance of democracy every miner would have had an opportunity to say whether or not he favoured this strike. If a secret ballot were taken the community generally would know the real opinion existing among the miners themselves, and every one of us as ordinary citizens would know what the rank and file of the miners think. I have spoken on this matter with only one -coal-miner. He comes from Lithgow. He said that he and his mates were opposed to the strike, but were obliged to go to a meeting and vote in favour of it. Is ‘that democracy? It is the sort of democracy to which these traitors resort. They know they can defeat any resistance by individual miners by getting their basher gangs to work as they have done on previous occasions.
By way of interjection, which was resented by honorable senators opposite, I said last night that if war had not occurred, there would he no strike at the present time. That is my sincere conviction. I have said sufficient this afternoon to show how Communists the world over accept every opportunity to stir up dissension and bitterness in industry. I propose to quote certain statements made by Mr. W. Orr, the general secretary of the Miners Federation, as reported in Smith’s Weekly of the 17th September, 1938. The country was faced with a great crisis. The Cantor award was in operation in the indus try and had another twelve months to run. Mr. Orr said -
The vital question in this (1937) dispute was therefore not one of organization but merely a strategic appreciation of the situation . . . We selected a time when war scares abroad had increased the coal trade. Everywhere there were shrieks for coal and more coal, steel and more steel, ships and more ships.
This statement was quoted in the same paper just prior to the 1938 strike (when war appeared certain), with the following significant comment: -
The strike was planned and timed a year ago. Nothing could stop it. All the political parleys, owner-miner conferences and temporary postponements of the last few months have been idle formalities . . . it is now spring - the miners will not have to endure the rigors of a winter on strike relief. Coal stocks are running low. The defence programme is now at its height.
Honorable senators will recall that it was at a time when our defence programme was at its height that these traitors chose to strike, notwithstanding the fact that the Cantor award, which the miners had solemnly agreed to observe, still had another twelve months to run. Again in September, 1939, immediately after the outbreak of war, Mr. H. A. Fountain, of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, one of the striking unions, declared -
If they want their armament programme to proceed they have got to concede us the tilings we have been fighting for.
Then, only last week in Sydney, at the conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, at which the “ Hands off Russia “ motion was repudiated by two votes- r
– “We knocked the “ Reds “.
– I hope that the honorable senator is proud of that knock. At that conference Mr. Orr declared that the mine workers would, if necessary, tie up every industry in the Commonwealth. He revealed just one more step in the campaign of disruption which these Communists, who have foisted themselves upon the Labour party, are conducting. I take the following statement from Common Cause of the 9 th March, the official organ of the Miners Federation, of which Mr. Orr is the general secretary: -
To-day the British lion has fallen into a pit which he dug himself. He had meant it for Soviet Russia. We are not going to help him to come out. The lion is telling us “ Pull me out by the tail, dear lamb, and we shall bo eternal friends”. But we know full well that the lion will eat us up if he is once extricated. So all we are ready to do is to push him deeper down, to cover the pit, along with him, with dust and sand, and give this vicious exploiting Empire a decent burial.
It is hard to credit that a journal containing such a traitorous statement should be allowed to be transmitted by post. These traitors make full use of our postal facilities to foist filthy stuff of that kind upon decent citizens. It is high time that the Government woke up to such activities. Holding in his hand a copy of Common Cause, the Prime Minister declared in the House of Representatives yesterday that he would be the last Prime Minister to read this journal. I propose now to inform honorable senators of what other members of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions have said on this matter. They are gentlemen with whom Senator Cameron associated a few days ago. I admit that the honorable senator used his influence at that conference to temper the hot-heads, and probably it was because of his ability as a tactician that the “Hands-offRussia” motion was rejected by a majority of two votes.
– Much to Senator Dein’s regret.
– Not at all. At the conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions certain startling opinions were expressed. I cite that of Mr. A. E. Morrison of the Federated Liquor Trades Union who in speaking to the amendment said -
I have a family of nine, but I would rather follow my sons to the cemetery and smile over their bodies than see them wearing khaki to fight in the interests of the capitalists.
That is the opinion of one of these parasites who is living on the efforts of the workers and who is a supporter, if not a member, of the Labour party. That is the type of man who is being protected by the brave men who are leaving Australia to fight in a great cause.
– The honorable senator has not yet worn a military uniform.
– I am not at all surprised to hear such an interjection from the honorable senator, who evidently agrees with the opinions expressed by Mr. Morrison. Senator Eraser is not man enough to admit or to deny that he supportsthe opinion expressed by that individual.
– We have not had any indication of the honorable senator’s loyalty.
– I am as loyal as Senator Fraser, and if he cares to search my records and those of my family he will find that we have always stood 100 per cent. behind the British Empire. My record is quite as clean as that of Senator Fraser, whoconcurs with the opinions expressed by Mr. Morrison.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Dein is not entitled to say that I concur in the opinions expressed by Mr. Morrison.
– I withdraw the remark. Perhaps I should have used the word “ apparently “.
– I ask for an unqualified withdrawal.
– I withdraw without reservation. Mr. Maloney, a representative of the Bootmakers Union, said -
The declaration we are asked to adopt means nothing. It should be concise and clear and contain definite opposition to the war. I believe we should to a man be against the war lock stock and barrel.
Quite a number of similar statements were made by those present at the meeting, but I should cite only one more, that of Mr. Thornton, who said -
The resolution submitted by the executive gets us nowhere. What is the difference between this policy and Menzies’ policy and Curtin’s policy? Curtin at Corio would have been prepared to send thousands of our men abroad so long as thousands were killed. Curtin is going as fast as he can in the way that Billy Hughes went in the last war. I hope that the “ scabs “ of Downing Street are defeated in this war just as I hope that Hitler will be defeated.
Such statements are made by persons who are alleged to be attempting to bring about peace in the coal-mining industry by taking initial steps to convene a conference. It is amazing that men enjoying the privileges they do under our democratic system should express such sentiments. Why do they not go to the country that offers all the opportunities of which they speak? No one is holding them back. They will not go; they remain here and live on the union fees provided by workers. A few of them, who have never done an honest day’s work, know that if they went to Russia they would have to work.
SenatorFraser. - Why does not the Government send them there?
– Should it do so, I trust that it will have the support of the honorable senator. I always endeavour to speak the truth, and I have never been charged with making a false statement. I am sure that we all wish to see the end of this unfortunate industrial disturbance which is interfering so severely with the important task we have in hand, and causing untold misery and hardship. Before an amicable settlement can be reached the traitors in our midst must be removed. We need the cooperation of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and those with whom he is associated - Senator Ashley is in a. rather difficult position and I sympathize with him - to get rid of these people who are traitors to this country. We should then have industrial peace and happiness, and know that that which we hold dear is not going to be destroyed by the efforts of individuals such as those whose names I have mentioned.
– The motion before the Senate expresses our loyalty to His Majesty the King and thanks His Excellency for the speech which he delivered in this chamber a few days ago. During the debate many honorable senators opposite have dealt with the plans for a successful prosecution of the war, the trouble on the coal-fields, communist activities and the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution. In various ways these honorable senators have associated the Labour party with those subjects. Senator Dein made a most vicious attempt to fasten upon the Labour party acts for which it is in no way responsible. Of course, we have heard such diatribes, abuse, and misrepresentations, ever since we became a political force in this country. Speeches have been delivered in the Senate and in the House of Representatives with the object of drawing the people of Australia together; but I could not help comparing those made within the last few days with those delivered prior to the adjournment of Parliament. At the outbreak of war the people of Australia, through their re presentatives, expressed their inflexible determination to see the conflict brought to a successful conclusion. Strong appeals were made in this chamber and in the House of Representatives to the members of the Labour party to join a National Ministry, and I believe that if the invitation were accepted, our representatives would be received with open arms. Yet within the last few days this party, which it was said could assist in the successful prosecution of the war, has been dubbed as disloyal. We have been accused of being traitors and of being associated with those who would interfere with the great cause for which the Allies are fighting. After SenatorWilson had been speaking for a few minutes he made severe accusations against the Labour party.
– I did not do so.
– Can honorable senators opposite point to one disloyal action by any member of this party or show in what way our policy to-day differs from that which was announced by our leaders a few months ago? We have said that we are in this war because we believe that the cause of the Allies is just. We do not believe in the action of the rulers of Germany because we know that nazi-ism has been responsible for the destruction of the trade union movement in that country, and has destroyed the liberties of the German people. We are at war with Germany because we are opposed to the policy of those in control in that country. In the past honorable senators opposite, or their predecessors, have laid the charge of socialism against the Labour party, as if some stigma attached to the term, but they had not even approached consideration of the great fundamental principles of socialism. Their conception of socialism was as an evil monster endeavouring to devour all that might come within its power. They have said that Labour stands for the destruction of home life, for the abolition of the marriage tie, and for depriving people of their right to private property. For as long as we can remember, these tilings have been said of us.
– The honorable senator has had a nightmare.
– I am afraid that Senator Dein is now having a nightmare. Evidence of what I have said may be found in newspapers, periodicals, and even in the pages of Hansard.
– The honorable senator has a good imagination.
- Senator Wilson is new to the political game, and knows little of political history, into which he apparently did not delve very deeply during his university studies.
I should like to deal now with the trouble on the coal-fields, but it is not my intention to discuss the matter in detail; already it has been very ably dealt with by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Speaking on the Estimates soon after I entered this Parliament, I discussed at length conditions in the coalmining industry. That was in 1938, when there was trouble on the coal-fields. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber were then endeavouring, just as they are to-day, to induce the then Prime Minister to make an effort to bring the warring factions together. On that occasion, I spoke of the intricacies of the coal-mining industry, its vast ramifications, and the necessity to establish a tribunal to investigate all its peculiarities. Since that time, a judgment has been given by Judge Drake-Brockman, who spent a considerable time in investigating the claims of various employees in the coal-mining industry. One might gather from what has been said by honorable senators opposite that the only people concerned in the industry are those actually employed in hewing the coal. As a matter of fact, the present dispute does not concern the hewers at all; it concerns other workers who are equally important in the task of winning coal. The miners have a very important function to perform, but the coal could not be brought to the surface and distributed if it were not for the other employees in the industry. This dispute concerns members of the craft unions, principally members of the engineering trade. But, because it has always been the accepted practice on the coalfields that all employees should support action taken by any section of the industry, the coal -miners also are on strike. These men are being spoken of by honorable senators opposite as plotters of the destruction of Australia. As I have said on previous occasions, a special tribunal should he established under the Industrial Peace Act to deal with this industry. A tribunal composed of men with a thorough knowledge of the industry would not lightly set aside a judgment made after a hearing lasting for several months as did the Full Arbitration Court. In the course of that hearing, Judge DrakeBrockman went underground and personally inspected the work done by the miners and other workers associated with them. The mine-owners, however, were not satisfied with Judge DrakeBrockman’s decision. They considered that the court had given to the men something that they should not have received, and so an appeal was made to the Full Court. Much has been said in the Senate and elsewhere about obeying the decision of the umpire. In this case the coal* miners and those associated with them desired only that the decision of Judge Drake-Brockman should be observed, and the people who did not obey the umpire’s decision were the mine proprietors. They had funds at their disposal to enable them to appeal to the Full Court. The history of industrial arbitration in Australia shows that almost invariably these appeal courts have given decisions diametrically opposed to the interests of the workers. In Victoria, there is a wages board system and a court of appeal. That court of appeal has been brought into operation only at the request of the employers, to whom its decisions have nearly always been favorable. When the Full Arbitration Court heard the appeal from Judge Drake-Brockman’s decision, did it examine the witnesses and the evidence upon which the determination of the lower court was made? Did Judges Beeby and Piper investigate the industry for themselves! No. Within a few hours, the work of the umpire was undone and a new decision was made. It is against that decision that the mine-workers are appealing.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that there should be no right of appeal ?
– I admit the necessity for appeal courts in ordinary litigation, but the Labour party believes that there should be no appeal court in the arbitration field.Conditions surrounding the employment of workers should be determined not by legal men, but by persons who have a thorough knowledge of the industry concerned. Whilst in this case Judge DrakeBrockman is a legal man, he nevertheless spent some months investigating the industry, and I believe that his decision should have been accepted as final.
– Has the honorable senator always accepted Judge DrakeBrockman’s decisions?
– No, but the majority of his determinations have been obeyed. In this case we expected the employers to obey the decision in the same way as workers in other industries have obeyed other decisions. The Labour party stands for the establishment of industrial peace tribunals to which parties involved in a dispute in any industry could go and have their cases dealt with by men familiar with that industry. This Parliament has also agreed to that form of conciliation, for it passed the Industrial Peace Act. Requests have been made to the Government to set the machinery of that act in operation, but it has refused to do so. Honorable senators opposite have protested against the present industrial holdup, and have drawn attention to the terrible calamity that will overtake Australian industry if a settlement be not reached. As to that, all honorable senators are in agreement. Coalis the life blood of the nation, and without it industry will come to a stand-still. That has been amply demonstrated within the last few weeks, when transport facilities have almost ceased. Incidentally, a very grave charge of mismanagement can be levelled at those responsible for our rail transport. Within a few weeks of the cessation of the production of coal, rail transport is now practically at a standstill. I congratulate the State of South Australia which, although it has no coalmines, has had the foresight to provide ample stocks of coal, and as a result is now in a position to assist private enterprise. Our industries are likely to close down because of the lack of coal, and surely that prospect is one that should impress upon every person holding a responsible position the necessity to direct all his efforts towards bringing about a settlement. Yet the Prime Minister stood in his place in this Parliament and uttered one of the most belligerent speeches delivered since the trouble commenced.
– He did not only stand in this Parliament; he went to the coal-fields.
– The Prime Minister holds a very responsible position. He is probably the only person in Australia who can bring this dispute to an end, but so far he has only appealed to the miners to return to work. Why does he not appeal to the employers?
– The employee are obeying the law of the land.
– The coalowners disputed the umpire’s decision. What does it matter what Mr. Orr or some one else has said, when there is an opportunity to settle the trouble if the Government will act?
– What does the honorable senator’s party intend to do about Mr. Orr?
– That is not important at the moment.
– He belongs to thehonorable senator’s party.
– He does not.
– Is it not a fact that Mr. Orr was endorsed as a Labourcandidate ?
– Not that I know of.
– Of course he was..
– Again, Mr. President, I direct your attention to attempts, by interjection, to fasten theseelements upon the Labour movement. There is a duty devolving upon theGovernment to set in motion the machinery to make possible a settlement of thecoal strike. The Prime Minister does not do himself justice in this matter. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act vests in the Ministry power to bring theparties together. Why is that not beingdone? One can only believe that the Government is deliberately delaying a. settlement of the trouble in the hope that it will add to the prestige of Government: candidates at the next election, and perhaps revive their hopes of success. Ministers realize that the people of Australia1 have turned against them because of their maladministration, and that unless some diversion is created, their chances of success will vanish. So they see in thiscoal strike the opportunity and, as in former years, they are indulging in misrepresentation of the Labour movement. We well remember the tactics adopted during an election campaign many years ago, when Nationalist election placards gave prominence to the activities of Jacob Johnson and Tom Walsh, who were depicted as trampling upon the Union Jack. In today’s newspapers there appear reports of a statement made by the Prime. Minister relating to his visit last week to Kurri Kurri, where, so he said, he saw much trampling upon the Union Jack. Is it not significant that, as we are approaching the next Commonwealth election, there should be these attempts to display the same old skeleton for the purpose of damaging the chances of Labour candidates? Possibly, at the next election, instead of Jacob Johnson and Tom Walsh and Jock Garden being pictured as trampling upon the Union Jack, we shall have placards showing some one else doing the same thing. But it will be the same old story, and told for the same purpose. Such devices have outlived their usefulness. The Government should find) something more original. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday,. 14th May next, at 3 p.m., unless the President shall, prior to that date, by telegram or letter addressed to each senator, fix an earlier day of meeting.
Coal Strike - Censorship : “ Common Cause “ - Free Wireless Licences fob State Schools - Senate Adjournment.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.In view of the statement this afternoon by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that the Government proposed to open the coal-mines under Commonwealth control, will the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) give an undertaking that the principle of economic conscription will not he applied to the unemployed or to members of the Defence Forces? I ask this question because, during the last war, I had occasion to write to the Australia Day Fund Amelioration Committee (Newcastle Branch) and, under date of the 31st October, 1917, I received the following letter from the then Mayor of Newcastle, Mr. Gilgower: -
Dear Sir,: - Re your application for assistance. The executive secretary, Sydney, desires to know what you have been doing during the last three months. As you were previously employed in the railway department he states you should endeavour to be reinstated.
In explanation, I may say that on that occasion an attempt was made to apply the policy of economic conscription to me and many others like me, but we refused to assist the move against our fellow-men who were taking part in an industrial’ dispute. I should like to have an assurance from the Leader of the Senate that this Government will not attempt to conscript the unemployed or any member of the Military Forces to carry on work on the coal-field’s.
– This morning Senator Ashley asked the Minister representing the Minister for Information, upon notice -
Is ita fact that the following articles were censored on Thursday last from the Miners Federation official organ Common Cause: -
A statement by Mr. Justice Davidson concerning the mine-owners ;
Advice to women as to how to conduct their homes during the strike period;
A decision against evictions from homes during the strike period;
Notice of meetings to be held and a statement “ themine-workers are willingto accept the Drake-Brockman award “, even though it did not give them what they wanted?
The answer was not to hand at the time. I have since received the following reply from the Minister for Information : - 1, 2 and 3. Censorship now regards Com niunist controlled papers asenemies of constitutional government in Australia, and the proper conduct of the war. They will not bo permitted to publish matter of any kind associated directly or indirectly with strikesor industrial disputes.
Other matters they must not report uponor write about are the war, war preparations within or without Australia, neutral countries, communism, Russia. If the Miners Federation removes Common Cause entirely from Communist editorship and control, the censorship authority will immediately reconsider its attitude towards this publication.
– This morning Senator Lamp asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General enter into negotiations with the Australian Broadcasting Commission with the object of securing free wireless licences for all State schools?
The Postmaster-General has furnished the following answer: -
The question of exemption from the payment of broadcast listeners’ licence-fees has been sympathetically considered on many occasions in relation to educational and charitable institutions, pensioners and persons in indigent circumstances suffering from physical ailments. Whilst there is a natural desire to liberalize the conditions in these cases the Government has found it impracticable to extend the concession of free licences beyond those permitted to blind persons.
.- On the 17th April this Parliament resumed after a recess lasting four months. I enter my most emphatic protest against the decision of the Government to adjourn the sittings of the Senate for another three weeks. This arrangement is most unsatisfactory to honorable senators fromWestern Australia owing to difficulties in connexion with transport by rail. We are in an entirely different position from honorable senators from New
South Wales and Victoria. I am aware of the additional work that is thrown upon Ministers owing to the war, Taut I have advocated, and will continue to advocate, the more frequent sittings of Parliament for the discussing of matters vital to the nation. There may be some reason for an adjournment of one week in order to allow members to visit their constituencies and take part in Anzac Day services, but an adjournment of the Senate for three weeks is wholly unjustified.
. - in reply - The motion which has just been carried does not mean that the Senate will necessarily adjourn for three weeks. It is so framed as to authorize the President, if circumstances warrant, to call honorable senators together on an earlier date. As the business before the House of representatives relates mainly to tax proposals, which cannot originate in the Senate, the Government is of the opinion that the convenience of honorable senators will be met by an adjournment for the period mentioned. It is not considered desirable to keep honorable senators waiting until the measures indicated have been passed by the House of Representatives.
– But the House of Representatives also is adjourning.
– It is adjourning only for one week in order to enable members to take part in Anzac Day services. That chamber will meet on “Wednesday next. As to the point raised by Senator Amour, all I suggest is that it is in the power of the Labour party so to deal with the Communists that genuine trade unionists may take their proper place in the movement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Commerce - S. L. Heriot and J. V. Howden - Attorney-
General’s Department - A. G. Richardson.
Senate adjourned at 4.13 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Apple and Pear Acquisition Scheme. Operation in New South Wales.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the New South Wales Government has refused to co-operate with the Federal Government in implementing the apple and pear acquisition scheme, in spite of the fact that the scheme has been gazetted under the National Security Act?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer: -
The New South Wales Government has withdrawn “ its officers from co-operation in the Apple and Pear Acquisition Scheme.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Will theGovernment give consideration to placing the export of fruit upon a just basis, by granting licences to all firms engaged in the export business last year, and dividing the quantity to bo exported pro rata among them in the ratio of 1939 exports?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer : -
If each firm which was engaged in the export business last year were granted a quota in the manner proposed, irrespective of the prices quoted, the result would be a reduction of the price received by the producer. The Government will, however, consider the meansof giving to all exporting firms an opportunity to quote for fruit which is available for export.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
In what way does the Army Department consider the area of land, owned by that Department at Langwarrin, Victoria, less suitable for military purposes than the area at Royal Park, Melbourne, which the department proposes to utilize for such purposes?
SenatorFoll. - The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
An area at Royal Park is to be used - (a) to provide accommodation for troops employed on d uty in the metropolitan area; (b) as a staging’ camp for temporary accommodation of troops enlisted for overseas service during medical examination and outfitting before being alotted to the Australian Imperial Force camps at Seymour ami Mount Martha.
Langwarrin is approximately 30 miles from Melbourne and for that reason alone is quite unsuitable for the above purposes.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 April 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1940/19400423_senate_15_163/>.