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Thursday, 30 November 1905


Mr KNOX (Kooyong) - I should at all times be the last man in the House to justify an unfair construction being placed on the statement of any honorable member.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that the honorable member for Bland himself will admit in his calm moments that his language was very loose.


Mr Watson - Not a word that I used justifies the statement made.


Mr KNOX - I shall take care that the Chamber of Commerce is made aware of this explanation. It will be communicated to that body. If the honorable member will allow me to have a few proof-slips of the speech which he hasjust made, I shall be happy to see that the Chambers of Commerce in Australia are made aware of his contradiction. If a wrong has been done to him he should have an opportunity of making a correction. I am surprised to learn that some of the protests against the trades union labour clauses, which I desire to read, were read during the night by the honorable member for Corangamite. I understand that he quoted them from newspapers. I have here only the original documents. I need not weary, the Committee by going through the various telegrams and letters that have come to me on the question; but I wish to put on record a digest of the objections urged by the various Chambers of Commerce -

Geelong. - Protests against the union label clauses in the Trade Marks Bill.

Adelaide. - An unjust and unwarrantable interference with freedom of traders framed to promote a system of boycotting and consequent growth of industrial terrorism and strife. If clauses passed suggests an amendment prohibiting boycotting or any form of interference with the lawful business of others and providing a penalty for such an offence.

Hobart. - Protests against any provisions by which other persons than the manufacturers or merchants (the owners of the goods) may dictate as to what mark or label shall be placed on such" goods.

Launceston. - Still strongly protests against the adoption of the trades union label, which may be used, not only to coerce workmen into unions, but also to coerce employers into industrial agreements which may be against the public interest.

Fremantle. - Strongly protests against union label clauses in Trade Marks Bill; if passed support new clauses by Knox and Johnson.

Perth. - Protests against any provisions by which other persons than manufacturers or merchants (the owners of the goods) may dictate as to what mark or label shall be placed on such goods.

Newcastle. - Oppose the Attorney-General's proposed amendments, consider they would not mitigate in any way the evils apparent in the Bill, the main part of which would completely revolutionise the principles that have hitherto obtained with regard to trade marks, both statutory enactments and common law. Those proposing the change have the duty cast upon them of showing that the welfare of the Commonwealth and the exigencies of commerce call for legislation of such a pronounced character.

Rockhampton. - Protests against the passing of the Union Label.

Brisbane. - Again protests against the Union Label, industrial workers' label, and the Commonwealth Label.

Sydney. - Opposes the union label' as introducing quite a new principle resulting probably in class warfare and coercion.

I have also received a resolution of protest from the Victorian Reform League in the following terms : -

That the Council of the Reform League regards the Union Label clauses of the Trade Marks Bill as designed to give a minority of the workers a tyrannical power over their fellows, with the intention of enforcing compulsory unionism upon the large majority holding the just principle of freedom of contract. That such unjust and injurious legislation is intended to afford the means of boycotting the workers and distributers outside the unions, and the wares they may produce, is demonstrated by the text of the proposed clauses. This council protests against legislation at once dangerous and unjust as subversive of liberty and the well-being and peace of the community. It is also resolved that this council heartily approves of the Opposition members' energetic and patriotic efforts to prevent the inclusion of the Trades Union Label provisions in the Trades Marks Bill, and hopes that those efforts will be continued unflinchingly until successful.

I have received the following communications from various representative bodies bearing upon the same point; -

Copy of resolution adopted by the Launceston Chamber of Commerce - " That this Chamber strongly protests against the passing of the Trades Marks Bill, which would afford facilities for the registration of Trade Union Marks, which may be used not only to coerce workmen into unions, but also to coerce employes into industrial agreements, which may be against the public interests. This we contend has been the effect of similar legislation elsewhere."

Adelaide Chamber of Commerce, Incorporated. 23 Waymouth-street,

Adelaide,9th August, 1905.

Trade Marks Bill.

I have the honour to inform you that at a special meeting of the above Chamber, held yesterday, the above Bill was discussed at length, and the following resolution was unanimously carried : - " That the union label clauses in the Trade Marks Bill are calculated to promote and assist a system of boycotting whereby those engaged in commerce would be subjected to coercion and intimidation in the carrying on of their businesses. That such legislation cannot fail to bring about an improper and unjustifiable invasion of the rights of the individual, whether he be an employer or an employe. That such legislation is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. That if, unfortunately, the clauses referred to should be passed, steps should be taken to introduce an amendment into the Bill prohibiting boycotting or any form of interference with the lawful business of others, and providing a penalty for such an offence."

I have the honour to be, sir, Your obedient servant,

John Creswell. 23 Waymouth-street,

Adelaide, 3rd October, 1905.

Dear Sir,

I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 14th September, enclosing copy of proposed amendments to Trade Marks Bill, and in reply beg to state that same have had the consideration of the Committee of this Chamber, who can add nothing to their former protest of the 9th August with reference to the adoption of the trade union clauses.

They are of opinion that such legislation is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and they consider the constitutional question should be pressed home as much as possible. They also think it may be desirable for your Council to fortify Mr. Cussen's opinions by the very best legal opinion to be obtained, so as to strengthen the hands of Mr. Knox's party from a legal stand-point.

Yours faithfully,

John Creswell, Secretary.

The Launceston Chamber of Commerce. On the 8th ult. my Chamber adopted the following resolution : - " That this Chamber strongly protests against the passing of the Trades Marks Bill, which would afford facilities for the registration of Trades Union Marks, which may be used not only to coerce workmen into unions, but also to coerce employers into industrial agreements which may be against the public interests. This we contend has been the effect of similar legislation elsewhere." A copy of this resolution was forwarded to each representative for this State.

Brisbane Chamber of Commerce,

Brisbane, 5th October, 1905.

Copy of a resolution adopted by the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce on the 5th October, 1905 - " This Chamber again protests against Part VII. of the Trade Marks Bill, and also against the amendments proposed by the Attorney-General dealing with the Union Label, Individual Workers' Label, and Commonwealth Label, in fact, we consider the whole Act is quite unnecessary, and will be injurious to trade.

S.Larard, Secretary.

Copy of resolution adopted by the Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce : - "That in the opinion of this Chamber the new clauses relating to the Union Label in the Trade Marks Bill now before the Federal Parliament are a serious infringement of the rights and liberties of the people of the Commonwealth," and this Chamber strongly protests against the passing of these clauses."

Adopted11th October, 1905.

Thomas Parker, Secretary.

Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce, 11th October, 1905.

Inform president general council that Rockhampton Chamber Commerce strongly protests against new clauses relating to the union label in Trades Marks Bill.

Parker, Secretary.

Kalgoorlie Chamber of Commerce, 15th November, 1905.

Telegram in following terms sent yesterday by president to Sir John Forrest : - At meeting to-day resolution unanimously passed to request you use your influence in opposition to Union Label clauses in Trade Marks Bill,on the ground that it is pronounced class legislation, calculated to give an undue advantage to a small minority of workers. It infringes the principle of freedom of contract, and is fraught with great possible danger in the future.

Maughan, Chamber Mines.

Perth Chamber of Commerce, 22nd November, 1905.

Meeting merchants, manufacturers, traders, yesternight, passed following resolution : - This meeting records best thanks to Members House Representatives who are opposing union label clauses Trade Marks Bill as protest against legislation which will have ruinous effect trade commerce, and seriously interfere operations commercial men, no demand been made for such class legislation except by small section of community, and' meeting trusts Bill will be rejected or withdrawn until constituencies have had opportunity expressing opinions upon it.

Conigrave, Secretary, Perth Chamber Commerce.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, 23rd November, 1905.

This Chamber strongly protests against union label clause Trade Marks Bill, if passed rely your supporting new clauses by Knox and Johnston.

I earnestly ask honorable members to consider these documents. I claim to speak on. behalf of the bodies from which they emanate. I do not pretend to be the mouthpiece of labour organizations. I do say in all sincerity that the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the other members of the Government, and those honorable members who are supporting them, will be accepting a very heavy responsibility indeed if they do not lend a thoughtful ear to protests that have come from every part of Australia voicing the wishes of persons who speak with authority on commercial questions. Those of us who are opposed to these clauses have done our utmost to protest against them. Probably we shall not be able to resist much longer. The weight of numbers may be against us, owing to the unfortunate combination in favour of the provisions. There are honorable members who intend to vote for the trade union label' clauses who do not sincerely believe in them. Surely that is a serious position.


Mr Henry Willis - Is it a fact?







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