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Thursday, 7 December 1911


The PRESIDENT - I have been listening to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition carefully, but I have not heard him say anything that would lead me to believe that he is out of order. He simply said he did not intend to speak at great length, because he thought that his criticism would practically have no effect.


Senator MILLEN - I thank you. sir, for .your ruling, and Senator Gardiner for the very kind service he is rendering me in helping to carry on the proceedings in conformity with the Standing Orders up to that moment when, you will declare the time convenient for suspending the sitting. This Bill comes to us with the approval of the party opposite, and experience teaches us that a measure to which they are pledged as a party stands no chance of amendment.


Senator Vardon - There is nothing on the face of the Bill to show that it .has the Ministerial party's approval.


Senator MILLEN - I take it that the Bill comes here first of all as a party measure. Although we are not allowed to refer to debates in the other House, none of us is so entirely ignorant as not to know what has transpired there. We know that it is not merely a Government measure, but a party project, submitted by the party of which the Government is the official head.


Senator Vardon - The honorable senator ought to fortify that view bv quoting passages from speeches of members of the party.


Senator MILLEN - I. should like to do so, but if I did, the President would at once remind me that I was breaking one of our Standing Orders by quoting speeches made in another place during * ie current session. I do not intend to touch upon the genera] question of arbitration. We have quite recently had one debate upon that subject, when the whole principle underlying our arbitration methods and dealing with industrial troubles was reviewed. Although I was then in a minority, I seized the opportunity of expressing the views which I strongly held, that arbitration had failed, and will continue to be a failure until there is an entire change of mental attitude on the part of the great body of industrial workers of Australia. I justified that view.


Senator Henderson - Arbitration has not been a failure in Western Australia. The honorable senator is quite mistaken.


Senator MILLEN - I do not know a single member of the Senate who, according to Senator Henderson, has not been mistaken at some time or other. His final and crushing argument is always that his opponent is mistaken.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.


Senator MILLEN - Before the sitting was suspended, I intimated my intention to be extremely brief in my observations upon this Bill, brief not only because of the reasons which I have already advanced, but because I do not believe that this measure will confer any advantage upon the public servants who are immediately concerned, or upon the general public, who to a considerable extent, though less directly, are also concerned. The Bill marks the nearest approach to Gilbertian legislation of which the Government have yet given us an example. Its advocates ask us to believe that Parliament is incompetent to determine the conditions surrounding the employment of our public servants, and, therefore, they propose that we shall invoke the aid of the Arbitration Court. But whilst we are asked to affirm that Parliament is incompetent to determine those conditions, they still leave it to our public servants to say whether or not the aid of die Court shall be invoked. Now, if Parliament be incompetent to deal with this question, surely there ought not to be any doubt as to whether the Court's assistance should be sought - surely it ought not to be left to the public servants themselves to say whether the aid of the Court should be requisitioned or not.


Senator de Largie - I thought that the policy of the honorable senator's party was voluntary arbitration?


Senator MILLEN - I have already tcdd the Senate that I have no faith in arbitration, and shall not have until a better spirit is manifested by those who are asked to work under the' awards of the Court.


Senator Henderson - The honorable senator has no faith in parliamentary control either.


Senator MILLEN - I am dealing with a Bill, and with the arguments of those who desire us to accept it. We are asked to affirm that Parliament is incompetent to determine the rates of wages which shall be paid to our public servants.


Senator Henderson - We declared that long ago by Act of Parliament.


Senator MILLEN - Then Senator Hen'derson is in agreement with me up to that point.


Senator Henderson - I have never said that I was in agreement with the honorable senator.


Senator MILLEN - The advocates of the Bill claim that Parliament is illequipped to determine the rates of wages which shall be paid to our public servants. That being so, they invite the Arbitration Court to determine those rates. But they do not insist that it shall determine them - they make that matter an optional one with our public servants.


Senator Pearce - The assumption' is that if they do not go to the Court they are satisfied.


Senator MILLEN - That- would be the assumption if it were not for other conditions which are imposed. The advocates of the Bill say, " We pin our faith to the Arbitration Court, and these matters shall be referred to it, as the most competent body "to determine them." But not only are we asked to say that the Arbitra tion Court is the best body to determine them, and yet it shall not be necessary to invoke its aid, but we are invited to declare that, although Parliament is incompetent to decide what are fair wages to pay to our public servants, yet it shall retain the power to do the very thing which it is incompetent to do. Now, if Parliament be incompetent to :deal with this matter, we ought to say so plainly, and put it beyond its power to interfere. The Bill also in effect declares that the Public Service Commissioner is incompetent to decide not only what is a fair remuneration to the various grades of the service, but what is a fair remuneration to the individual members of it. Yet, curiously enough, it falls back upon that officer the moment the public servants decline to appeal to the Arbitration Court.


Senator Gardiner - Has the Public Service Commissioner the power to grant an increase of pay throughout the whole of our Public Service?


Senator MILLEN - The Court will not have that power. Either the Bill goes too far, or it does not go far enough. If Parliament be incompetent to deal with these matters it ought not to retain the final power of determining what the conditions in our Public Service shall be.


Senator de Largie - Parliament must always retain that power.


Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator believes that, he will sound the death-knell of thib Bill. If Parliament be incompetent to deal with these questions, I invite my honorable friend to be logical, and to "go the whole hog" by saying that it shall not retain the power of veto after the Arbitration Court has dealt with any claim. We know that the Public Service is seething with discontent, not merely in regard to the rates of wages which are paid, but in regard to a hundred other points. Is it to be supposed that the granting of the right of appeal to the Court upon one point will settle the whole trouble? Is it to be supposed that public servants, who are fretting under the belief that they are suffering injustice will cease their fretting the moment the right of appeal to the Arbitration Court is granted to them upon one matter?


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Some of them have been deprived of .£100 a year.


Senator MILLEN - I hope that Senator W. Russell is not supporting the Bill because of the grievances under which some of his constituents labour?


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am supporting it because it is just.


Senator MILLEN - I know that there were certain employes in South Australia who, when they were transferred to the Commonwealth, enjoyed, certain rights under the Constitution. They feel aggrieved because those rights have not been preserved to them.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They have been robbed.


Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator, whose moderation of language we all recognise, prefers that I should use that term, I have no objection to doing so. If a certain number of public servants in South Australia feel that they have a claim under the Constitution, I say the correct course to follow is for the Government to submit a Bill to this Parliament with a view to redressing their grievances.


Senator Vardon - This Bill will not give them any redress.


Senator MILLEN - Exactly. Because a few public servants have a specific claim on the Commonwealth on account of their accrued rights, surely it is not proposed to transfer the whole of our public servants to the Arbitration Court.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I have another object in view.


Senator MILLEN - As the honorable senator discloses his objects, I shall be able to deal wilh them. But up to the present he has referred only to one. I am unable to see that this Bill will help the public servants to whom he refers.


Senator McGregor - The honorable senator is quite right ; it will not help them.


Senator MILLEN - If Senator W. Russell believes that it will, he will be disappointed. Let me summarize my objections to the measure. In the first place, the Bill leaves it to our public servants to ignore the Arbitration Court if they choose ; and, in the second place, it allows Parliament to ignore any award which may be made by that Court. If that is not an approach to Gilbertian legislation, I do not know what is. Just apply these two statements to any other contention which may arise between sets of bodies or individuals.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Would the honorable senator compel man to go to the Arbitration Court if he has no grievance ?


Senator MILLEN - Does Senator E. J. Russell mean to suggest that our public servants have no grievances?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Many of them are well satisfied.


Senator MILLEN - Then this Bill offers them nothing. But the contention of its supporters is that a great many of our public servants have grievances. The Bill, however, does not insure that those grievances shall be referred to the Arbitration Court.


Senator de Largie - It will be the fault of the public servants themselves if they are not.


Senator MILLEN - But if the Court is such a well-equipped body to deal with these matters, we ought not to allow the invoking of its aid to be optional with our public servants. But 'if our public servants decline to go to the Arbitration Court, what is Parliament to do?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Does the honorable senator wish Parliament to settle all these grievances?


Senator MILLEN - I say that ultimately Parliament must face the difficulty. This Bill merely postpones the trouble. Let us take our position clearly upon one side or other of the fence. Either let us say that this Parliament is competent to deal with the conditions of employment in our Public Service, or let us declare that it is not, and let us affirm that when the Arbitration Court has given an award this Parliament must obey it. It is merely trifling with our public servants to pretend, while we are still retaining parliamentary responsibility, that we are giving them the verdict of an untrammelled Court. If we analyze the measure, we shall find that all it does is to substitute the President of the Arbitration Court for the Public Service Commissioner. It may be urged that technically the President of the Court will be armed with enlarged powers compared with those which are vested in the Public Service Commissioner, inasmuch as the former may make an award providing for the payment of rates higher than those set out in an Act of Parliament itself.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - We do not substitute the President of the Arbitration Court for a private employer.


Senator MILLEN - No; but the private employer is not at liberty to turn round and say to the President of the Court, "I will not obey your award." We give private employes an honest run for their money, but we are not giving that to our public servants.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) -I shall help the honorable senator to make that decision final.


Senator MILLEN - If Senator E. J. Russell is prepared, before he knows what the decision is, to bind himself to it, does he not think that the Bill ought to be logical, and to provide that the decision shall be obeyed ? I was endeavouring to show that the effect of the Bill will, in practice, be found to be the mere substitution of the Judge of the Arbitration Court for the Public Service Commissioner.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That will not be a bad thing either.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend is, I think, bearing in mind merely the personality of individuals. I shut that out of view altogether.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Nothing of the kind.


Senator MILLEN - Then it comes to this, that you have in the case of one individual, now called the Public Service Commissioner, who, within the limits of an Act, does determine the rate of pay and the grading of the various sections of the Public Service-


Senator NEEDHAM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - -Which Act gives him. too much power.


Senator MILLEN - Now what do the Government propose to do with the Arbitration Court? They do not propose to give the Court one bit more power than the Public Service Commissioner possesses today.. What they do say to the Court is - " You can make whatever award you like, but if an award is outside the Act, if you have gone beyond your authority,. Parliament claims the right of review." That means that the Judge will be merely making a recommendation to Parliament to be adoptedor rejected as it may think fit. The- Commissioner enjoys that right today. He has on more than one occasion sent down a recommendation.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - His rights are too great altogether.


Senator MILLEN - It is now proposed to give the same powers to another individual.


Senator Needham - The Commissioner exercises rights as well as enjoys them.


Senator MILLEN - Here is a contention from Senator W. Russell that the Public Service Commissioner enjoys too much power to-day. He believes that we have parted with too much power to an individual, and he expects to cure that evil by transferring that delegated power to a Judge.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Judge will hear both sides.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Does the honorable senator know that inVictoria we have had awards vetoed, not by Parliament, but by a Minister, over and over again ?


Senator MILLEN - Apparently the electors of Victoria are satisfied with the procedure, if we may judge from the results of the last general election.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Probably they are. I grant you that.


Senator MILLEN - Although I am not sufficiently familiar with the local procedure to enter into an argument with one so well versed in the matter as is my honorable friend, I assume that the citizens of Victoria are common-sense, intelligent individuals, and that they know what is going on as well as he does. They have, I assume, seen nothing particularly wrong in the practice, whatever it has been.


Senator Needham - That is why he is in this Parliament.


Senator MILLEN - Even intelligent people occasionally make a mistake or a lapse, and seeing how soon they recovered from that lapse, I am sure that the honorable senator and I can be equally gratified in the matter. I want to point out that under the Act the Public -Service Commissioner can make a recommendation to Parliament in any terms which he may think fit. If he thinks that he is prevented from granting an adequate wage by any section of the Act he has merely to send down a recommendation to. Parliament, which it can consider. That is all that the Judge can. do under this Bill. The Commissioner can, within the powers of the Act, grant wages which Parliament has approved-, and the Judge can do no more. The Commissioner can send down a report, while the Judge will make an award, which will come to us, and will be held in suspense,, as it were, until Parliament has expressed its approval or disapproval.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Can the employ6s approach the Commissioner?


Senator MILLEN - The VicePresident of the Executive Council, in dealing with the present state of affairs, drew a most harrowing picture, and I have no doubt that he was moved by his personal' experience to refer to the regularity and persistence with which a provision of the Act is broken, and that is the one which is supposed to prevent public servants from approaching members of Parliament. Every honorable senator knows that Senator McGregor was speaking with a very close regard for the truth when he stated that the section is frequently broken, both in the letter and in the spirit. But does he suppose that members of Parliament will be relieved of that importuning by the mere passage of this Bill ? Does he not see that it opens the door wider and wider to it? What is going to happen? Suppose, for instance, that the Judge sends down an award which is slightly in excess of something allowed by the law. Honorable senators an the other side will not be able to fight their way from the door of the chamber to the public thoroughfare without being accosted by a number of public servants, importuning them to vote in support of the award.


Senator Stewart - Why call it importuning?


Senator MILLEN - Well, it is. If the honorable senator prefers " lobbying," he can substitute that word.


Senator Stewart - Why should not a public servant have the right to appeal to his representative in Parliament?


Senator MILLEN - Because the law says that he shall not.


Senator Needham - The law is wrong.


Senator MILLEN - Here is another advocate of the right to break a law when it does not suit him.


Senator Needham - I did not help to make that law.


Senator MILLEN - Because the honorable senator did not help to make the law, he claims the right to break it.


Senator Needham - Is the law always right ?


Senator MILLEN - Suppose that, when the honorable senator leaves the chamber, some person says to him, " Look here, there is, I believe, a law against stealing, but I did not help to make it. Hand over your watch to me." The honorable senator would hand over his watch freely, and say, " Perfectly right. That is the theory I preach."


Senator Needham - There is no analogy.


Senator MILLEN - No, because somebody would be breaking a law at the expense of the honorable senator, and all that he claims is the right to break a law at the expense 'of somebody else.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) -You must not forget that when public servants in this State approached Parliament, and asked for the redress of their grievances, their votes were taken away.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator must recognise that there never has been in Australia any attempt by legislation, nor, I believe, has any public man ever expressed the slightest objection to any approach to Parliament by public officers collectively. There is a proper way to do that. What I am talking of, as the honorable senator must know, is the individual button-holing of honorable senators, the attempt to secure the influence of individual senators in the interests of the various sections of the Public Service.


Senator Chataway - As theydidin connexion with the reduction of the. duty bn corsets.


Senator Needham - Senator Millen'; did not object when the manufacturers and importers were button-holing membersof Parliament.


Senator MILLEN - Here is Senator Needham, who always speaks with the great freedom which springs from ignorance of the subject, complaining of buttonholing. Let me tell him, as I have often told the Chamber before, that when the last Tariff was under consideration, I refused to be interviewed by anybody. That is an example which I commend to his careful consideration.


Senator Needham - Your followers did not imitate your good example.


Senator MILLEN - Probably they did not agree with it. The honorable senator was criticising me on the point, but they have not done so. Now, why has this Bill been brought forward ? It is clear that the public did not ask for it. There has been no request from any section of the public anywhere that we should shirk our duty, and delegate to somebody else the work and responsibility which has belonged to Parliament ever since it has had an existence. If the public did not ask for the Bill, did the Public Service?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Yes.


Senator MILLEN - I invite the honorable senator to show any collective expression from the Public Service in favour of this proposal.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The instrumentfitters conference passed a resolution in favour of the Bill the other day.


Senator MILLEN - The only approach to Parliament on the subject has been made on behalf of a large section of the Public Service, who protested against the Bill. I ask where it has been approached by the Public Service in favour of the Bill?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The Federated Instrument- fitters of Australia decided, on Wednesday, to come under the measure.


Senator MILLEN - I have no knowledge of what takes place at the Trades Hall, but I have a knowledge of the records of the Senate.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - This association includes men from Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland.


Senator MILLEN - I cannot pretend to know, nor am I in a position to deny or to accept the honorable senator's statement.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - You do not profess to know. Do you plead ignorance?


Senator MILLEN - Does the honorable senator suppose that I know everything that takes place in Australia?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - You will not accept a correction when you are wrong.


Senator MILLEN - What I said still stands good. No expression of opinion, from the Public Service, in favour of the Bill, has been placed before Parliament.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I grant that.


Senator MILLEN - There has been a petition against the Bill from a very large section of the Public Service. In view of the fact that it was attacked in the other House, and that the party to which I belong has given a sufficient indication of its want of faith in the proposal, one might have assumed that the Public Service, with all the machinery ready for the purpose, and the activity which it has displayed on so many occasions, would, if it had wanted the Bill passed, have sent some intimation to Parliament, through the proper constitutional channel, that it was in favour of its enactment.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - We were pledged to this legislation when we were before the electors.


Senator MILLEN - Nothing of that kind has been done.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Oh, yes.


Senator MILLEN - Let the honorable senator turn up the records of the Senate and show where there has been any representation of that kind made.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It was made by the electors when the general election was being held.


Senator MILLEN - There is no evidence that at the general election any electors spoke about this legislation. The public has not asked for the Bill, nor has the Public Service


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I say, again, that the Public Service has asked for the Bill.


Senator MILLEN - One little organization has passed a resolution in its room. The only fact we can go on is that 4,000 public servants - a very big body - did make known their views in the proper constitutional manner by saying that they were against the measure.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Say that they are divided on the proposal, and you will be correct.


Senator MILLEN - If a measure is passed, one does not say how many were for or against it, but one says that it was passed by a majority.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I deny that there is a majority of the Public Service against the Bill.


Senator MILLEN - I say that 4,000 have petitioned Parliament against the Bill. Nobody can say that a majority of the Public Service are for or against it.


Senator Needham - I say that there is a majority for it.


Senator MILLEN - Of course, the honorable senator would say anything. I am thinking of a man who has a regard for his words.


Senator Henderson - You will not assume that there is a majority against it because of that.


Senator MILLEN - I ami not assuming anything. I have not that happy faculty which the honorable senator has of assuming a thing if I do not believe it. I am trying to look into the facts, and the facts as they present themselves for parliamentary consideration are - and no one will deny my statement - that a large section of the Public Service have declared their opposition to this proposal j but as regards the other and larger section, no effort has been made by them, or on their behalf, to place before Parliament that they are in favour of the proposal. All I can do is to say that the only pronouncement from the Public Service at the present moment is hostile to the Bill.


Senator Givens - The question is : Is the proposal an equitable and a just one?


Senator MILLEN - I have already expressed my opinion that it is neither. I regard the Bill as not only doomed to failure, but as being, for many other reasons, objectionable. Why, I repeat, was it brought forward? I can only find one reason which accounts for its appearance, and that is that it has been brought in merely to save the face of the Government and their party.

SenatorNeedham. - Nothing of the sort.


Senator MILLEN - I know that for some years, when they sat in Opposition, the Labour party made most reckless promises to the Public Service.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - And they have carried out a number of them.


Senator MILLEN - They have carried so much that it wanted a Labour Government in office before there was a threat of a strike in the Public Service. We never heard that threat before; and in spite of all that the Government have professed to have done, and have done, the fact remains that discontent is moving on a larger scale and with deeper feeling in the Public Service than was ever the case before in the history of Australia.


Senator de Largie - Do you mean to say that the more they get the more they want?


Senator MILLEN - No. What I do say is that all that the Labour party have given the Public Service falls so far short of what they promised when in opposition that they are bound to look for a more honest attempt to redeem the pledges by means of which votes were obtained very largely at the last election. The Government in their twilight hours see all these chickens coming home to roost. They see the public servants demanding that an honest attempt shall be made to redeem the promises made to them. Not long since, honorable senators on the other side promised the public servants that if they were returned to power, they would lead them out of the winter of their discontent into the bright summer of complete contentment. Where are they to-day? The Government are now having their promissory notes forced under their nose for redemption, and with the date of redemption clearly staring them in the face, they say, " We cannot meet these bills; can we shirk them?" They are endeavouring now to avoid the redemption of their promises by handing the Public Service over to the Arbitration Court, while at the same time they carefully retain the right to veto any award of the Court that does not suit them. Senator de Largie has made an interjection or two which would suggest that he has been a consistent believer in the principle of the Arbitration Court for the settlement of grievances of public servants. If my memory does not serve me falsely, the honorable senator was associated with a Royal Commission that inquired into the grievances of a large section of the Public Service. May I ask him whether there was any expression of opinion from the public servants who came before him on that Commission, in favour of the reference of their grievances to the Arbitration Court?


Senator de Largie - Yes; some of the witnesses spoke in favour of it


Senator MILLEN - Were they representative witnesses?


Senator de Largie - Yes; only representative witnesses gave evidence before the Commission.


Senator MILLEN - Let me put it in another way.


Senator Needham - The first way did not satisfy the honorable senator, and he now wishes to put it in another way.


Senator MILLEN - I am satisfied that Senator de Largie will tell me the honest truth. His answer to the question I have put does not convey the whole truth. It would convey the impression that a number of representative witnesses from the Public Service asked for leave to apply to the Arbitration Court, whilst we know that the great bulk of the evidence given before the Commission was that on which the Commission founded their report.


Senator de Largie - Did I say anything to the contrary?


Senator MILLEN - No; but Senator Needham suggested that the honorable senator did, and I have said that I am satisfied that the honorable senator will not for a moment deny the fact that the great bulk of the evidence given before the Postal Commission was evidence on which the Commission founded a report recommending an entirely different course of procedure.


Senator de Largie - That is not the question the honorable senator asked me. He asked me whether there was any evidence given before the Commission in favour of an appeal to the Arbitration Court.


Senator MILLEN - That is so, and Senator de Largie gave me a literally truthful answer to the question which, I think,. conveyed a wrong impression. I return to the matter for this reason. The honorable senator has by interjections given me the idea that he intends to support this Bill, and I remind the Senate that it is only a few weeks since he moved a motion in this Chamber for the adoption by the Senate of the report of the Postal Commission, which he signed.


Senator de Largie - This Bill is not inconsistent with that report.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator need not ask me whether I accuse him of inconsistency. It will be seen that it is unnecessary for me to do that, when I have finished. 1 point out that the Royal Commission that inquired into the grievances of the officials of the Post and Telegraph Department, the largest body of public servants we have, arrived at a decision that there was but one course which stood out pre-eminently as the best to adopt in the interests of the public and of the service. That course was not the course proposed by this Bill. To the extent to which the Senate indorses the proposal contained in this Bill, it will sign the deathknell of the proposal recommended by the Commission. I assume, without any reservation whatever, that Senator de Largie signed the report of the Postal Commission believing that, as the result of the exhaustive labours of the Commission, it recommended the best course in the interests of the public and of the service. But if he supports this Bill, he will be absolutely kicking his own report out of doors. He will be telling the public servants, whose hopes were brightened when they perused the report, that they have been fooled, and that it was never intended to give effect to it. I venture to say that one of the reasons for the introduction of this Bill is that the Government may be relieved of the necessity of giving effect to the report of the Royal Commission. They had to do one of two things, to adopt that report or to find some substitute for it. They had not the moral courage to say that they would absolutely reject the report, and they have consequently brought in here this spineless, ineffective, anaemic substitute. If this will supply a cover under which the Government and their supporters can shrink from the consequences of the reckless promises made when in Opposition, I have no doubt they will take full advantage of it. But if they think for a moment that the public servants will accept this Bill as an honest attempt to redeem the promises to which I have referred, they will find themselves woefully mistaken. The public servants watch too keenly what goes on in this Parliament. Although our honorable friends opposite made promises light-heartedly the public servants took them seriously, and they now ask for their redemption.


Senator Givens - Those promises have been largely redeemed. No party that hasever been in power in any part of Australia has done as much for the public servants as the Labour party in this Parliament.


Senator MILLEN - Senator Givens' interjection causes me to repeat again that it was not until a Labour party came into power in the Commonwealth that we had any thought of a strike in the Public Service.


Senator Pearce - There was talk of a strike among the telegraphists in Western Australia in the first year of Federation, and there was nearly a strike amongst them.


Senator MILLEN - That is so long ago that I really have no knowledge of the circumstances. I say that there was no serious talk of a strike in the Public Service until' a Labour Government came into office in the Commonwealth. That was not' due solely to the change of Government", but to the fact that it was the Labour party which had offered so much, and the public servants naturally said, " You have offered so much ; you are now in a position to redeem your pledges, why do you not do it." That was a very natural inquiry on their part.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Because preceding Governments had them gagged, and they dare not speak.


Senator MILLEN - Senator E. J. Russell will soon find - after the GovernorGeneral's signature is attached to this Bill, and I assume that it will become law because the honorable senator's party have said so - that no measure which we can pass through, this Parliament will make the public servants dumb if they .desire to protest that it does not meet their requirements. I say that the sole object and effect of this Bill, in my judgment, is to give the dominant party of to-day a little breathing space. They offered when in Opposition to set right all that was wrong in the Public Service, and to put it into such a perfect condition that there would not be a single member of it with a grievance. To-day the grievances of the-

Public Service are more numerous, of greater extent, and are voiced with more vehemence than ever before. I say that it is only natural that the public servants should express their disappointment very loudly when they discover the absolutely ineffective methods adopted to, remedy their grievances by the party that promised them redress.


Senator Givens - The Government are offering them the same remedy as that which is given to the outside public.


Senator MILLEN - Senator Givens tempts me to go back over the ground I have already traversed, but I am sure he will not consider it discourteous in me if 1 do not do so. I do not think for a moment that this Bill will settle the great difficulty with which we are confronted. We may postpone its settlement. We may be able to hold the Public Service at arm's length until the Court is called upon, i? it is called upon, to adjudicate upon these matters. But if honorable senators opposite believe that a decision of the Arbitration Court will set right all that is wrong in the Public Service they are making a tremendous mistake. No provision of this kind would remedy the grievances of the public servants. What I believe we require is a. re-organization of the service from top to bottom. We require the adoption of the business methods which obtain in big enterprises outside, and which will enable the public to get a better return for their money without .unduly pressing upon any member of the Public Service from the lowest to the top rung of the ladder. That will not be brought about by_this Bill. If we had to consider merely a question of wages, although I should still have very little faith in it, there might be some justification for trying this last suggested expedient. Seeing that the service is troubled with grievances in one hundred-and-one forms, we cannot hope to bring about satisfaction iri it by this expedient for dealing with one out of the many grievances from which public servants suffer. Holding these views, there is but one course open to me in regard to this measure. I do not suppose that I shall address myself to its provisions at any length in Committee. I feel that the measure is ineffective, and that it will fail in its object. And I feel also that it is an attempt to induce this Parliament to shirk its responsibility. I am aware that Parliament cannot shirk its responsibility to the public servants. Although we may postpone it by this means for a few days, weeks, or months, sooner or later, like the ghost in the story, it will confront us at every turn unless we resolutely grapple with it. This measure does not grapple with it, but pushes it on one side. The time, however will come when we can no longer escape it, and must grapple with it.







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