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Thursday, 19 November 1914

Senator READY (Tasmania) . - We have been treated to a very lengthy speech from my honorable colleague from Tasmania on the text of law and order and constitutional obligations. I maintain that in the consideration of important questions such as that now before us something else has .to be considered. There is the question of human rights, human happiness, and the welfare of this nation, as distinguished from the welfare of a few of those persons of whom Senator Bakhap is the champion.

Senator Bakhap - Is not domestic violence likely to impair human rights and destroy human happiness 1

Senator READY - It is generally recognised' that in Australia industrial disputes are temperately and reasonably conducted. There are very few instances in modern times where it can be shown that the men concerned in disputes have not conducted themselves honorably, or have not maintained the good name, not only of their class, but of Australia also.

Senator Shannon - Then there is no need for this amendment.

Senator READY - There is need for this amendment-

Senator Bakhap - Why not have a referendum on this proposal?

Senator READY - I hope that as a result of the next referendum we take in Tasmania Senator Bakhap will disappear from the Senate.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - It is very likely that it will be Senator Ready who will disappear.

Senator READY - Judging by the results of the double dissolution and the fact that Senator Gould's prophecies in connexion with that have not been realized, we need not pay any great attention to any prophecies the honorable senator may make in the future. Senator Bakhap has ignored the fact that our Defence Force was created for a specific object.

Senator Bakhap - The Commonwealth was created for specific objects also.

Senator READY - That has nothing to do wilh my point. It was obligatory upon us to defend Australia. We had to take up our share of the burden of the defence of the Empire.

Senator Bakhap - It is obligatory upon us also to govern Australia.

Senator READY - The primary reason for the establishment of our Citizen Defence Force was that it was necessary for us to take our part in the defence of the Empire, about which we have to listen to so many speeches. When the Act was first passed, the fact that every boy was liable to be trained in defence of his country created a natural and reasonable suspicion that in case of a strike they were liable to be called out to shoot down their OWn relatives.

Senator Bakhap - In connexion with all these peaceful disputes of which the honorable senator speaks?

Senator READY - No; in connexion with disputes that are .nearly always aggravated by the class the honorable senator represents.

Senator Bakhap - If they are peaceful disputes, where do the military come in ?

Senator READY - The provocation may be so great as to bring about a temporary outbreak.

Senator Bakhap - Does the honorable senator say there will be peaceful disputes with domestic violence?

Senator READY - No; nothing of the kind. It is a question, not of domestic violence, but of industrial disputes. The men generally maintain law and order, but in cases where they do not the blame is usually on the side of those who unfairly provoke them. One of the worst means of provoking them is to make a show of military force. That was a reasonable objection to our defence scheme when first initiated, and we, as a party, decided to lend no hand in calling out against a body of men engaged in a strike their own relatives, who might be even their own brothers. The honorable senator is silent, but he knows that that is a real contingency that may arise in case of a squabble between a body of strikers and a military force.

Senator Bakhap - It arises in connexion with the police. A policeman is sworn to arrest without fear or favour even his OWn relatives.

Senator READY - Not as much as it would arise if the local militia were called out. We, on this side of the Senate, know that when great strikes reach the point of violence the men are worked up because the provocation is great - so great, as instanced in the past, as even to make them throw stones. According to the honorable senator that would be domestic violence, and he would send for the militia. We wish to prevent that sorb of thing. In most cases the men arn provoked by unfair treatment to any small breach of the peace that may occur, and when men are angry, small breaches of the peace can be easily intensified by a display of armed force. That is what we are anxious to prevent. We are patriotic Australians because we desire that our Citizen Defence Force should Jive. We do not want its efficiency to be impaired. A Queensland senator interjected that if, when Mr. Denham asked Mr. Fisher for troops to deal with the Brisbane strike, they had been sent, it would have been the end of the Citizen Defence Force. That is probably what Senator Bakhap desires.

Senator Bakhap - Does the honorable senator believe that the Commonwealth should have the power to call out any of th9 Permanent Forces in pursuance of its constitutional obligation ?

Senator READY - If the need arises, I do not think there will be much trouble, should the case be a just one, in getting volunteers. I do not think the Commonwealth will have to appeal twice for them, but we do not want men who have gone into the Defence Force to defend Australia to be called out to shoot down their own relations, as the honorable senator does.

Senator Bakhap - But this clause will do away with any chance of using volunteers.

Senator READY - The honorable senator knows that the Government could do anything they choose. The object of the present Government is to preservethe dignity and integrity of the Defence Force. We want it to succeed, and that is our main object in putting the clause into the Bill. The honorable senator has been talking about law and order. Law and order in the past has meant government mainly in the interests of one particular class, who have not hesitated to use bayonets when necessary to enforce their decision. We object to that on principle. We desire to secure a sound and safe future for the Defence Force, and to prevent the occurrence of anything that will weaken public confidence in it, or make those who entered it in good faith in any way regret their decision. I hope all the specious arguments put forward by the other side will be disregarded. Our object is so clear that I object to all these misstatements being dragged in. No honorable senator has the right to so misrepresent our attitude as to convey the impression that we are trying to justify a violent outbreak in connexion with industrial disputes. We deprecate force. We have tried moral suasion successfully. We have tried arbitration; but, largely owing to my honorable friends opposite, we have not been so successful with it as we could have wished. We want to use reason, and not force, in settling the great industrial disputes that may occur in the future, even in the best-regulated community.

Senator Lt.-ColonelO'LOGHLIN (South Australia) [6.17]. - I should have been satisfied if effect had been given to Senator Pearce's first statement in introducing the Bill, that it should be treated as an urgent measure, and that more vital amendments of the Defence Act might be left to next year; but, the amendment having been moved, I cannot refuse to indorse the principle that those who are compelled to join the Citizen Defence Forces should feel that they will not be under the obligation to use force against their fellow citizens, who might be their own relatives, in a commotion arising out of an industrial dispute. Honorable senators opposite, Senator Bakhap in particular, have exaggerabed the effect of the proposal. Other means than the use of the citizen soldiers can be found for the suppression of a riot in a State. There are the forces of the State itself, in the shape of the police. The States, also, have the power to call for special constables, as was done recently in Queensland. Nor does the amendment debar the employment of the Permanent Forces of the Commonwealth if it is thought necessary. I do not think it ever will be found necessary, nor do I think that, in the whole history of Australia, it has ever been necessary to call out the military, although in some cases they were called out when under State control. I believe thatall those disputes could have been settled more amicably and quickly if military force had not been resorted to at all. Since the establishment of Federation, in any industrial dispute that has arisen, particularly the Brisbane strike, the forces of the State itself, and the power to call for special constables, have been quite sufficient to deal with the trouble. I think the resources of the State will always be found sufficient to deal with any trouble that may arise in a law-abiding community such as this is. The principle of not calling on soldiers domiciled in a particular locality to engage in a fratricidal fight has been indorsed quite recently by the Imperial Parliament. Only the other day, when trouble was threatening in Ulster, a trouble which has now happily passed away owing, to the patriotic fervour evolved by the war, it was laid down in the House of Commons, by no less an authority than the Prime Minister, and then Minister of War, Mr. Asquith, that soldiers domiciled in that province should not be called upon to act against their own relatives and comrades if, unfortunately, military intervention became necessary. We are only establishing the same principle here. If such a condition of revolution as Senator Bakhap's fervid imagination bodes forth should ever arise out of an industrial dispute - an impossibility in a law-abiding community like Australia - -there is ample provision for calling for volunteers to suppress it. Our Citizen Defence Force is not bound to go outside Australia under the existing law, but, when the Mother Country was involved in war, volunteers when called for came forward in thousands. Is it to be supposed., therefore, that if our own country was in danger of revolution through violence we should not have ample volunteers to come to the rescue ?

Senator Bakhap - The amendment precludes the possibility of volunteers being employed.

Senator Lt Colonel O'LOGHLIN - It does not. The principle asserted by the amendment is one which those who have the interests of the Defence Force at heart should indorse every time.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [6.23].- Considerable heat has been imported into the discussion. A great deal has been said about settling industrial disputes without undue excitement or violence, and I quite agree that this should be done- where possible; but there are times when- this " sweet reasonableness " is not to be found on one- side' or the other. I have a lively recollection of what happened some years ago in New South Wales, when men took up arms to prevent other men carrying on their avocations, and burnt woolsheds and the steamers used on the rivers for the transport of workers. There was a great deal of violence, and some Judges, in their reports, said that there was practical revolution or civil war existing in certain parts of the State at that time. Everybody deprecated the position, and, no doubt, that circumstance was largely responsible for the establishment of a system by means of which we thought we would put an end to all these troubles. I admit that the blame for such troubles could not be altogether laid to the door of either party. As a result of the industrial unrest which then obtained we decided to adopt a system of arbitration. But what has been our experience of that system ? Whenever the awards of the Court have been inimical, to the interests of the workers they have refused to obey them.

Senator Ferricks - Like the employers do every day.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No. When a penalty is imposed on an employer it is much easier to enforce it than it is to enforce a penalty levied upon his employes. Only the other day the decision of the Court in regard tothe Newcastle miners was absolutely flouted at the instigation of their leaders. I. believe that if a secret ballot of the men themselves could be taken whenever an. industrial dispute arises, in nine cases out of ten it would be settled without resort to a strike. They would arrive at an amicable agreement with their masters.

Senator Ferricks - Why does the honorable senator use the word " masters " ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Anybody who chooses to read the decision of Mr. Justice Heydon in thecase to which I refer will see how little thespirit of "sweet reasonableness" can be expected from the leaders of the employes. If the Government would introduce a Bill to enable the men to take a secret ballot unknown to their leaders, there would not be a tithe of the strikes that we now experience. It is the leaders who "egg" on the men-

Senator Guy - That fallacy lias been*, exploded long ago.

Sena tor Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- That is the only conclusion which one outside the ranks of unionism can draw. These strikes are instigated by persons whose business it is to keep the men as discontented as possible. Honorable senators opposite may laugh as much as they please. The fact is that they are all tarred with the same brush. They come here to stand up for the rights of a particular class as against all other classes of the community.

Debate interrupted tinder sessional order, and sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

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