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Thursday, 5 August 1920

Mr DEPUTYSPEAKER - The honorable member must obey the Chair. Does he intend to conform to the rules of the House?

Mr Nicholls - Yes. I do not wish to be heaved out.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I was about to reply to the remarks of the honorable members for Dampier and EdenMonaro. I did not hear the latter honorable member speaking; but according to the report of his speech in the newspapers, he seemed to attribute all the industrial unrest in this counry to the goslow policy of the workmen. To a charge of that character, one whose duty it is to have regard for the interests of the workmen of this country cannot turn a deaf ear. These honorable memberi who talk about the go-slow policy of the workers have not a word to say about the go-slow policy of those who have sent them here.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Again I ask the honorable member to address himself to the Bill. Allusion to such matters can only lead to disorder.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am replying to statements made by honorable members in dealing with the Bill. They have said that the industrial unrest in this country is largely due to the goslow policy of the workmen; and if their remarks were in order, I am in order in replying to them.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member was not called to order for replying to statements made by other honorable members; but he is not in order in going beyond the scope of the Bill.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I accept your apology, sir.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I am making no apology. While I have the honour to occupy this position, I shall carry out the duties attaching to it fairly and impartially, but shall brook no insults from either side of the House. I ask honorable members to be more respectful to the Chair, and they will find that it will protect their interests. They are only lowering the dignity of the House when honorable members seek to evade the. rulings of the Chair. As a matter of fact, I have allowed more latitude during this discussion than I should have given, but I have done so in order that the fullest debate might be permitted.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am glad to have that assurance from the Chair. It is remarkable that honorable members who talk about the go-slow policy of the workers, which I absolutely challenge, shut their eyes to the go-slow policy of those who sent them here. Evidence was given before the Fair Profits Commission of Victoria on the 19th July by Mr. Zwar, the managing director of a large tannery carrying on business at Preston and in other parts of Victoria, and he is reported to have said -

The price of leather is regulated by the cost of replacement. That is to say, in fixing the price of a pair of boots, consideration would be given to the cost of replacing it.

On the top of that definite statement, he went on to say -

There has been a terrific fall in the price of leather. .

Yet, later on, he pointed out that the leading boot factories of Melbourne, because of the over-supply of leather, were working only about two and a-half days in each week. In other words, because the men engaged in the boot trade had been giving effect to what the Prime Minister has urged - that is to say, they had been "producing, producing, and producing," which, the right honorable gentleman says, alone will bring about the salvation of the world- an oversupply of boots has resulted. Are we getting boots any cheaper? No. But because of this over-supply, brought' about by the men who have accepted the advice of the Prime Minister to " produce, produce, and produce," they have been obliged to remain idle for about three days a week. Such is the go-slow policy practised by those who send here honorable members whosupport the Government; and, as a matter of fact, the real go-slow policy which is killing industry in this country, and causing industrial unrest by forcing up prices, is that which is adopted by the very people who are the opponents of organized labour.

Mr Jowett - The honorable member does not suppose that Mr. Zwar really made that statement.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have quoted the words of the managing director, who said that there has been a terrific fall in the price of leather. Both he and other witnesses affirmed that the price of commodities was regulated by the cost of their replacement, so that if there has been a terrific fall in the price of leather we ought to be able to purchase boots at a reasonable price to-day, although, as a matter of fact, we are unable to do so. Upon the other hand, our boot factories are closing down. They are adopting the " go-slow " policy.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - What on earth has this todo with the principles ofthe Bill?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When the Treasurer was absent from the chamber the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) stated that the principal cause of industrial unrest in Australia was the high cost of living. That was the only statement he made with whichI agreed. I come now to my principal objections to the Bill. In the first place, it provides that tribunals shall be appointed consisting of three representatives of the two parties to any dispute, and a chairman who, in the event of the parties being unable to agree upon his selection, will be the nominee of the Government. This measure, therefore, offers no hope for the settlement of industrial disputes. I do not know that there is the slightest chance of getting three employees and three employers to agree upon the selection of a chairman. If they cannot do so, they will be obliged to accept as chairman the nominee of the Government. A council thus constituted, is expected to effect the settlement of any industrial dispute which may arise. Its chairman will naturally take the side of the employers. There is nothing in the Bill to show whether the Government nominee will be on the council for an hour, a week, or a year. It is because we are hopelessly in the dark upon these matters that we require a longer time to consider the measure. The Government have really strangled the Bill in its infancy.

Mr Jowett - Strangled it?

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