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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6213

Mr TUDOR -The honorable and learned member inquired this afternoon why the States Labour Parties had not taken action in regard to this matter. In reply, I would point out that at the first Inter-State Conference, which was held in Ballarat in 1891, and when, I dare say, there were not more than half-a-dozen unions in America using the label, a resolution was carried in favour of the union label. In accordance with instructions, delegates waited on an eminent firm of patent and trade marks agents in this city, and were told that a trade union had no legal right to a trade mark - that if it adopted a trade mark, it could not punish any one who counterfeitedit. The proposal was, therefore, allowed to drop. In 1894, the question was revived by the Trades Hall Council, but with exactly the same result. This is the first time the workers have had an opportunity to be placed on an equal footing in this regard with other manufacturers. We are told that the workers are only a minority ; but the Attorney-General has pointed out very forcibly that only a minority of the public ask for trade marks. It is said that the union label will not be a guarantee of quality. What warranty as to quality is given by any trade mark? The only guarantee' that a trade mark gives is that the goods to which it is applied have been made by the firm which has registered it.

Mr Isaacs - And we have not always that assurance.

Mr TUDOR - I believe that that is so. Some firms may farm out their trade marks.

Mr Kelly - Just as the Labour Party has farmed out this legislation to the Government.

Mr TUDOR - I have not the slightest doubt that the late Government would have passed this legislation if they had had the Labour Party behind them.

Mr Kelly - Then why did not the Labour Party allow them to remain in office?

Mr TUDOR - Because they did not give us an opportunity ; they committed suicide. We are told by the honorable member for Echuca that we should pass the trade marks provisions of this Bill, and embody the union label clauses in a separate Bill, to be dealt with next session, since that would enable honorable members to secure further information. It is difficult to understand such a suggestion coming, as it does, from an honorable member who has just made a tour through the United States, and he practically admits that during his travels he did not hear of a single case of any abuse of the trade union label. He did not see any of these glaring instances of the alleged misuse of the label to which reference has been made by honorable members opposite. No one can deny that this Bill was before us last session. We know that the Employers' Federation last year issued a circular containing exactly the same fairy tales as to the union label that have been read this afternoon - fairy tales about the people not being able to bury their dead, and the impossibility of procuring a meal in a restaurant, because of its being a non-union establishment. The same stories were published in September of last year, after Senator Pearce had carried the union label clauses in the Senate. Since then the honorable member for Echuca has visited the United States, and it is only reasonable to assume that if the union label there was being attended by the evil effects to which honorable members opposite have referred he would have returned with full information on the subject. It was not because of any love for the Labour Party, or, apparently, for the present Government, that he failed to obtain information which would have enabled him to put before us instances of the boycotting which is said to be going on in the United States in connexion with the label. The honorable member for Echuca^ asks us to allow this legislation to stand over till next year. . But the honorable member for Gippsland made the same request twelve months ago. The Reid Government would not say on which side of the fence it intended to come down in reference to the union label question. There was not a word in the reply of the late Minister of Trade and Customs, either to the deputation of manufacturers or the deputation representing the Trades Hall, as to the attitude which his Government intended to assume - not a single word ! I admit that it was a " Yes-No " Government. They were a " shandygaff " lot altogether. But why did they not declare themselves? We are told that the trade unionists will secure no advantage from this legislation. But it secures an opportunity for persons to purchase goods made under the best prevailing working conditions. I am aware that some honorable members opposite have threatened to boycott goods if they are marked with the union label ; but I do not fancy that they will carry out their threat. I know of employers who will only employ non-unionist workmen; but they take good care to buy goods for their own personal use produced under the best possible conditions. They do so because they wish to obtain goods of the 'best quality. They are well aware that goods produced by trade union labour are the best that can be made. I do not intend to say any more. I hope that this Bill will be passed into law, and that the splendid advertisement that has been given to it by honorable members opposite, who have resisted it, will show the workers that the measure is likely to be a piece of beneficent legislation for them.

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