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Wednesday, 11 July 1906

Mr HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne) . - I think that the argument which the honorable and learned member for Angas used with very great effect very recently, was thatthe anti-dumping clauses would be perfectly useless to protect anybody in Australia.

Mr Glynn - I did not say that.

Mr HIGGINS - I must have misunderstood my honorable friend. I, however, took that to be his argument, and when he submitted this amendment it looked to me as if, because it would be of no good to anybody, he wished to give a share of it to the worker.

Mr Glynn - That is a fine deduction, if the honorable and learned member gets the premises.

Mr HIGGINS - I understood that the honorable and learned member spoke against the anti-dumping clauses, and wished to have them in no way applied to industries. However, to make a long story short, I think that, however well meant his amendment may be, it is impracticable, because the Commonwealth Parliament has not power to make uniform legislation as to wages, hours, and industrial conditions. We cannot get that power. It is well known that in one or more of our States there is no Factories Act, or Arbitration Act. Gross sweating is practised in these States where there are no established conditions of labour. If the Justice were to come to the conclusion that insucha State there were not good conditions for the workers, he would not be able to apply the antidumping provisions to any part of Australia. Those who are in favour of applying them to Australia for whateverthey are worth - and I am not at all sure that they would be worth very much for a time - in order that we may not be insulted by men who come here avowedly for the purpose of destroying our industries, should endeavour to make them as effective as possible. We cannot in this Parliament legislate with respect to wages, hours, and conditionsof labour. Therefore, in certain of the States we must leave the workers to continue to be sweated, and if the amendment be accepted, and the workers in any State are sweated, the Justice will not be able to extend the protection of these anti-dumping clauses. As I understand the amendment, it provides that there shall be no protection to any industry, if in that industry wages are not paid in pursuance of an award of a Wages Board, or of an Arbitration Court, or if, in the opinion of the Justice, the wages paid are not fair.

Mr McCay - It refers to the majority of the workers.

Mr HIGGINS - That may be, but that only increases the difficulty, as I should like to know how we are to find out what wages are being paid to the majority of the' workers.

Mr Isaacs - Everything would have to be held up until we found out what the numbers were.

Mr HIGGINS - That is so. May I point out that the latter part of clause 13 provides by anticipationfor what the honorable and learned member for Angas is anxious to provide for.

Mr Hutchison - The amendment must be all right if clause 13 provides for the same thing.

Mr HIGGINS - Clause 13 is not rigid. It allows the Justice great discretion, which in these matters it is clear that he must have. We are justified in assuming that he will act with common sense, and under clause 13 he must have " due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers." I do not think that we can adopt any more' rigid provision to give protection against dumping, I rose to say that I cannot vote for the amendment, which I have no doubt is submitted in good faith for the purpose of protecting the. workers, and not for any merely party purposes.

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