Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 22 June 1926

Senator McHUGH (South Australia) . - The discussion on' this bill h-is thrown a good deal of light upon what is, probably, the most important subject with which this Parliament could deal. At the outset, I wish to make it clear that I am in favour of arbitration as a commonsense way of settling industrial disputes, and I believe that the majority of the people of this country are of the same opinion. Some honorable senators appear to have erroneous ideas regarding the manner in which trade union business is conducted. It is my privilege to be closely acquainted with the workings of various trade unions, and I have no fault to find with the way in which their affairs are conducted. Senator Pearce, when introducing this hill, drew an analogy between friendly societies and trad. unions. In that both exist for the mutual benefit and protection of their member*, he was right. The Minister said, also, that it was desired that the books of trad.3 unions should be inspected by qualified auditors, in the same way that the books of friendly societies are audited. To that trade unionists, in the main, have no objection, so long as the persons appointed to do the work are fully qualified. Senator Barnes told the Senate that the books of each branch of the Australian Workers Union must, under the rules of that organization, be audited at certain intervals by at least one certified auditor. Trade unionists are endowed with an ordinary amount of common sense, and are anxious to conserve their own property. Having a voice in the distribution of their union funds, they can be relied upon to see that those funds are not misused. Cases of misappropriation have occurred at times; but even in the bestregulated banks, where auditors are almost constantly employed, funds are sometimes improperly used. Reference was made by Senator Lynch to the memorable award by Mr. Justice Higgins in the Harvester case, which has been accepted as the basis of the living wage. I suggest that altered conditions have arisen since the time when that judgment was delivered, and that the standard of living should, if possible, be raised. Mr. Justice Higgins was faced with a very difficult task in having to determine what was a living wage; he was practically a legislator in industrial; matters, upon which his book, A New Province for Law end Order, contains much valuable information. Let me direct the attention of honorable senators to the following passage from that work: -

The new province is that of the relations between employers and employees. Is it possible for a civilized community so to regulate these relations as to make the bounds of the industrial chaos narrower, to add new territory to the domain of order and law? The war between the profit-maker and the wage earner is always with us; and, although not so dramatic or catastrophic as the present war in Europe, it probably produces in the long run as much loss and suffering, not only to the actual combatants, but also to the public.

Senator Lynch,unfortunately, never has a good word for the Australian worker, who, in his opinion, " goes slow ", and does not return a fair day's work for the wage received.

Senator Lynch - A section of tho workers certainly has that fault.

Senator McHUGH - If there be such a section, it comprises a very small proportion of the workers. My own opinion is that the Australian worker is the best in the world.

Senator Lynch - Then why were the principles of day labour departed from by the letting of a contract for the recent additions to the Melbourne Trades Hall?

Senator McHUGH - Although the work was done by a contractor, the men were employed under the day-labour system. Perhaps Senator Lynch would like us to return to the days when jails were built by prison labour, for which no payment was made. He also referred to the State agricultural implement works in Western Australia, which, I have been informed, have resulted in great benefit, particularly to the farming community of that State. The institution pays its way, and has had the effect of keeping the price of agricultural machinery at a fair level. I was sorry to hear Senator Barwell's virulent attack upon the industrial system of this country, and upon the workers generally, because such statements, if broadcast, will do incalculable harm. He said that Australia was the home of strikes; but, as a matter of fact, fewer strikes occur here than the majority of people imagine. In South Australia, for instance, the total loss in wages on account of industrial disturbances in the year 1920 amounted to £140,326; in 1921, to £37,315; in 1922, to £43,222; in 1923, to £20,440; in 1924 to £14,851 ; and in 1925 to £12,240. Since the total loss decreased from £140,326 in 1920 to £12,240 in 1925, I hardly see the justification for Senator Barwell's extraordinary allegation. He said that he believed in the Canadian system of settling industrial disputes. There a reference board is appointed, consisting of three members. One is nominated by the employees, and one by the employers, and, if the two sides cannot agree as to the third member, he is appointed by the Minister for Labour. I remind honorable senators, however, that strikes' take place even in Canada. Senator Barwell suggested that arbitration was the cause of strikes in Australia ; but I intend to show that they occur in countries that have no arbitration system. The following statement by Judge Dennistoun, in the case of the King versus Russell, in connexion with the general strike in Winnipeg, was as follows: -

A ballot for a general strike waa taken within the week preceding 15th May, 1919.

At 11 o'clock on 15th May the strike became effective.

Russell was business agent of the Machinists' Union and of the Metal Trades Council. lie was on the central strike committee, which at first consisted of five persons' known as tho " Big Five," and was composed of Russell, Winning, Veitch, McBride, and Robinson.

A meeting of the general strike committee was held on 14th May, at the I-abour Temple in Winnipeg. Russell, Armstrong, Ivens, Queen, Heaps, were all present. They are all mimed in the indictment.

The general strike committee consisted of about 300 persons.

The police were instructed not to strike at that time, although they had voted to do so, and had given a strike notice to the police commissioners, as it was anticipated that, if they did so, martial law would be proclaimed, which was not desired by the committee.

Waterworks employees were instructed to remain on the joh, but to reduce the water pressure tn 30 lb., so that the water would not rise higher than the first floors. After a lapse of time, and as soon as the city council ordered the pressure hack to normal, they were called out.

Every organization affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council was ordered out, and every effort was made to force unorganized workers to stop work as well.

During the first week or so of th». strike, the executive work was done by the " Big Five."

When the strike became effective it is said there were 24,000 persons who left their employment, which included all the organized workers except the Typographical Union.

Among those who came out were the em'ployees of the railways, street railways, telephone system, post office, express companies, ' milk and bread companies, the fire department, city health and scavenging departments, and hotels and restaurants.

As the police had representatives on the strike committee, the force was dismissed as a whole by the Winnipeg Police Commission, after refusal to sever connexion with the Trades and Labour Council.

Pickets were placed on the post offices and throughout the city.

Publication of newspapers was eventually stopped by a strike of the pressmen operating the heavy presses.

Ivens and Queen, with others, were appointed to print and circulate a StrikeBulletin, which was done. Armstrong was one of the " censor " committee. Sixteen to eighteen thousand copies were issued daily, copies being sent to all parts of Canada.

A committee of strikers was formed to supply food to returned soldiers and strikers. This proved impracticable, and milk and bread drivers were ordered back to their jobs.

Permission was given to flour mills for the grinding of a limited amount of wheat: the limit having been exceeded, the mill workers were called out again.

Permits were issued by the strike committee for the carrying on of certain kinds of business, for the sending of censored telegrams, for. the purchase of gasoline, &c.

Moving picture theatres were issued permit cards on condition that they posted a permit card, " Permitted by authority of the strike committee," outside the theatre, and showed on the screen, "The. operators in this theatre are working in harmony with tho strike committee."

A permit was granted for the furnishing of certain supplies to the hospitals. Delivery wagons were not permitted to operate without a similar permit card prominently displayed.

Efforts were made to promote sympathetic strikes in other cities, and were successful in the cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Brandon, and many points in Western Canada as far as Vancouver.

On 4th June, drivers of milk and bread wagons were again called out.

Several of the accused, from time to time, addressed open-air meetings in support of the strike.

The citizens who were opposed to the sympathetic strike took steps to patrol the streets, to guard the tire-alarm boxes, to man the fire halls, to supply workers in the waterworks department, to form volunteer, military organizations, and to distribute food.

About 23rd May, a meeting took place at the City Hall between representatives of the strikers and the mayor and representatives of the city council. Russell, Queen, and Ivens were present. Russell and Queen spoke. When the mayor stated that he represented constitutional authority in the city, Queen rose and said he did not want to hear anything about constituted authority: they were running the city, and would continue to run the city, and would show the citizens who were running the city. He then told the mayor to sit down.

In June, demonstrations and processions were frequent in the streets. A great deal of intimidation was evident.

The mayor describes o mob of about 4,000 aliens and 500 returned soldiers which assembled in the streets on 10th June. The special police of the city were driven from the streets. There was serious rioting at this time.

On 21st June, about 1,400 special civil police were available, and the mayor issued a proclamation urging the citizens to keep off the streets. Prior to this there had benn1 a direct prohibition of street parades. An was made to run a few street cars on this date. The strike sympathizers demanded the right to parade, and that the running of street cars be discontinued. Large crowds assembled in the streets. The special police were unable to cope with them. The mayor then called on the Royal North-west Mounted Police for assistance; on arrival they were attacked by the crowd, and shots were fired from the roofs of houses. The Riot Act was read by the mayor. The military were then called out. The mounted police fired volleys. One person was killed and a considerable number were wounded, one of whom subsequently died.

The strike lasted six weeks. During the whole of that time there existed a widespread system of terrorism. It was due to the energetic action of the general body of citizens that the necessaries of life were procured and distributed and property protected.

On 17th June the accused wore arrested and subsequently admitted to bail.

On 26th June the strikecollapsed, and was called off by the strike committee.

Here is the judgment of Judge Cameron -

The strike committee put an end to street car transportation, shut off the telephone communication, interfered with the city's water supply, called out the firemen from their posts, and left the city without tire protection . until the strikers' places had been filled by volunteers. When the members of the police force, renouncing their sworn allegiance, had voted, to join the strikers, the strike committee issued an edict that "ordered" them back to duty. The delivery of milk, bread, and ice was forbidden. Restaurants and eating . places were closed, save those favoured with " permit cards." In the city delivery and transmission ofHis Majesty's mails were, for a time, completely stopped. The newspapers were suspended, and telegraphic communication with the outside world was forbidden. The special police. force, organized to take the place of the ordinary . police force when its members were finally dismissed for disobedience to their lawful superiors, was mobbed, and driven from the streets, and the city left practically without police protection. One member of the special police, who had- been awarded the Victoria Cross for gallant conduct in the war, was seriously injured and had a narrow escape with his life*. In the rioting that occurred subsequently, there were numerous casualties, and members of the Royal North-west Mounted Police were assailed with missiles of all kinds, shot at from the street and roofs of buildings, and several of them wounded. Workers in the hospitals were called from their tasks, and the management of the Winnipeg General Hospital was forced, in the interests of its sick and dying patients, to obtain . permission from't'-fl strike committee to keep its employees at their posts. A widespread system of espionage, intimidation, and terrorism was organized and executed with relentless vigilance and activity. All these events and many more arc a matter of history and of evidence.

Australia is not the only country that has strikes. I have not read of any strike in this country approaching that referred to by the two learned judges I have quoted, and that disturbance, be it remembered, occurred in a country whose industrial legislation Senator Barwell advises us to copy. Our industrial legislation is not perfect, and I doubt whether we shall ever devise a perfect arbitration system; but our industrial courts, on the whole, have done, and are doing, good work in the interests of the trade unionists and the people generally of this country. At least. 95 per cent, of the trade unionists are willing to submit their grievances to a court, and to abide by its decision. The strike of shearers a few years ago has been mentioned. Evidence was given in the Arbitration Court,, and Mr. Justice Powers fixed 30s. as the rate for shearing 100 sheep. Further evidence was brought before him, and the following week he altered the rate to 35s. It was contended, by the advocates of the union that on the evidence adduced the rate should have been higher than 35s., but if that rate had been awarded , in the first place, there would probably have been no strike. Mr. Justice Powers admitted that his calculations were wrong, and the necessity for altering the award caused the shearers to distrust the court. After taking evidence in Queensland, Mr. Justice McCawlev said that he could not . award less than. £2 per 100, and, as a result, the rate was £2 per 100 in Queensland, while it was 35s. per 100 in the other States. All except two of the pastoralists in South Australia who. had their sheep shorn that year paid £2 per- 100.

Senator Reid - The South Australian pastoralists referred to b'lacklegged on their mates, and paid the £2 per 100 in order to get their wool first to the market.

Senator McHUGH -I do not think the honorable senator can describe their action as breaking away from their union. What we stand for in Australia is not a maximum but a minimum wage. If the honorable senator had a man working in his garden and the basic wage for gardeners was 14s. 6d. per day, I do not think he would consider that he was blacklegging upon any one if he gave his gardener 15s. 6d. or 16s. per day. The increase beyond the basic wage would merely indicate a generous nature. We hear a great deal of talk about the need for bringing capital and labour together, and a little generosity of that kind would be likely to break down many barriers between them. South Australia sets many good examples, and the pastoralists of that State set a good example to pastoralists in other States in doing the right thing on the occasion I have referred to, and' getting their sheep shorn. I may mention the fact that there have been strikes in America. I quote from the Monthly Labour ' Review of the Department of Labour, United States of ' America, of which James J. Davies is secretary. I want to put on record some information supplied by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, and published by the Government of that country, to show that this is not the only country in which strikes occur : -

According to information received by the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, 274 labour disputes, resulting in strikes or lock-outs, occurred in this country during the first quarter of 1925. Since, in some instances, the reports do not reach the Bureau until some time alter the stoppages occur, the number of strikes occurring during the quarter was perhaps a little larger than the above figure. Complete data relative to many of these strikes have not been received by the Bureau, and it has not been possible to verify all that have been received. The figures in the following tables should therefore be regarded as preliminary, and should not be accepted as final: -

The successful six-day 'strike of 30.000 clothing workers in about 2,000 shops in New York City, beginning 10th March, was the most important labour disturbance during the quarter, as respects the number of workers involved. The strike was called- by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union against the Wholesale Dress Manufacturers' Association, the union claiming that the association had violated its agreement which became effective on February, 1924.

A strike of about 15,000 clothing workers beginning February, 1917, was called by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union against some 850 shops in New York City. Among other things, the workers wanted a wage increase of 20 per cent., a forty-hour week, and complete unionization of the industry. The strike lasted twenty days, and resulted in a compromise.

This shows that Australia is not the only country in the world in which workers are calling for a shorter working week.

On 5th January, a strike of 3,000 coal teamsters in Chicago .for a wage increase of one dollar per day occurred. The men agreed to arbitrate, and returned to work on 6th January.

A successful strike for increased pay of 2,500 municipal employees (street sweepers, teamsters, &c.) in Chicago ran from 17th February to 28th February.

One of the most stubbornly-contested strikes in the history of the textile industry began on 9th March, when the employees of the American Thread Company at Willimantic, Conn., struck against a wage reduction of 10 per cent. This strike of 2,360 workers of both sections is still in progress.

A strike of 2,000 spinners, loom fixers, &c, of the Utica Steam and Mohawk Valley Cotton Mills against a 10 per cent, wage reduction was in effect from 2nd February to 1st April.

Strikes apparently also occur in Argentina. I quote the following in support of this statement from a paragraph headed " Strikes in Buenos Aires" -

According to an official report on strikes in the Federal Capital of Argentina, in the last six months of 1924 there were 35 strikes, affecting 58,992 workers, and causing a loss of 3U9,314 working nays, and an estimated loss of wages amounting to 2,386,562 pesos.

Of the 58,992 strikers, 43,664 were men, 12,180 were women, and 3,148 were minors. 1 have quoted sufficient to show that Australia is not the only country in which there is industrial unrest.

Senator Lynch - lt should be the only country in which no strikes occur. Was not the Arbitration Court specially devised to prevent the occurrence of strikes in this country ?

Senator McHUGH - I think it has prevented their occurrence to a very great extent. We heard something the other evening about the psychology of the Australian, and as I understand him he is a man of very independent character. When he makes up his mind that he has a just claim, or is entitled to resist certain action, having an independent spirit he fights for what he believes to be right. I remind honorable senators that many disputes, of which the public know nothing, are settled by the Arbitration Court judges.

Senator H Hays - Not many in the. Federal court.

Senator McHUGH - The Federal court has been hampered to a great extent, because there has not been a sufficient number of judges to carry out its work. Trade unions have had at times to wait an inordinate length of time to have their cases heard. That is one of our difficulties, and, in common with other honorable senators, I am anxious that something should be done to overcome that difficulty by making the court more accessible. Very often when trade union organizations have been unable to get their cases heard by the Federal court they have gone to a State court. We have a State arbitration court in South Australia, and before any dispute is taken into the court the judge calls the parties together in conference. The other day I was looking through the figures showing the number of cases that were settled in South Australia without the parties going into court. In that State, if the judge can induce the parties to settle their differences without going into court, he does so. If he finds that they are not in a mood to settle their differences he orders them into court, where he arbitrates, and they are then bound by his award. I do not know of any case in South Australia where an award of the court has been flouted. I think that on all occasions the employees have obeyed the awards of the court.

Senator H Hays - The honorable senator is now referring to awards of the State Arbitration Court?

Senator McHUGH - Yes, but I may add that I know of no. award of the Federal court that has not been observed in South Australia by employees of the industry affected. There have been some strikes in connexion with key industries in Australia that have caused trouble, but, eventually, every strike or disagreement in an industry must be settled by some means of arbitration. I am of opinion that the most effective way to settle industrial disputes is through an industrial court.

Senator Lynch - The difficulty is that big unions go to the court, and afterwards strike if they do not receive a favorable award, whilst the weak unions can do no such thing.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator may remember that on one occasion at Broken Hill the Proprietary Company, and not its employees, refused to accept an award.

Senator McHUGH - The Proprietary Company locked its men out; but we shall have the power under these proposals, if they are accepted, to deal with lockouts as well as with strikes.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No one could, of course, be employed in the Proprietary Company's mines unless award rates were paid.

Senator H Hays - Possibly the industry could not stand the new award rates.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The men might just as reasonably contend that the wages paid prior to the award would not enable them to live.

Senator McHUGH - There are some people who, whenever an industrial disturbance is mentioned, conjure up a picture of employees on strike. They never think that, as Senator Thomas has reminded us, sometimes employees may be locked out. No sane man likes to see industrial trouble, and we need machinery to deal with industrial disputes. It is an axiom that there are three parties to all industrial disputes - the employer, the employee, and the community. Each party has its rights. One has no more right than another to inflict injury on the others. It should be the function of arbitration authorities to get the parties together, and we should make provision for the awards of an Arbitration Court to be binding on both employer and employee. I believe in arbitration. I consider it the nearest approach to the perfect method of settling industrial disputes. I know of a case that occurred in South Australia where men were working in a certain factory under an award. The manager of the factory hired some nonunion employees, who agreed to do piecework. Piece-work rates were set, and for the first two or three weeks the fast man was earning up to £8 per week, and the slow man about £5 per week. When this had been in operation for a few weeks the piece-work rates were recast so that the fast man could not possibly earn more than £5 per week, and the earnings of the comparatively slow worker were brought down to about £3 per week. There was no arbitrator called in in that case. The men had to work under piece-work rate's set, not by arbitration, but by the firm for whom they worked. It is true that piece-work rates apply in the shearing industry, but those rates are fixed, not by the employers, but by the Arbitration Court, and the men are satisfied with them. In a strong virile community there are always bound to be little disputes, but so long as there is some means of settling them these differences of opinion do no harm to the body politic. I do not agree with Senator McLachlan that Australia has a bad name overseas. Quite recently I had the pleasure of meeting a number of woolbuyers from various countries - Japan, Germany, Prance, and Great Britain - and they all assured me that there was nothing in Australia to which they could take serious exception. They were all keen, observant business men, and they were most complimentary about the progress that Australia's primary and secondary industries were making. In fact, one gentleman, who has two establishments in Yorkshire, giving employment to a large number of hands, who is starting a business in Australia, told me that after he had settled his affairs in the Old Country he would bring his wife and six children to settle in Australia, which he regarded as the best country in the world. Those who declare that Australia has a bad name overseas are not a good advertisement for this young country. Senator Barwell has told us that he replied for a couple of hours to questions put to him at a dinner in London. It is regrettable that when gentlemen holding responsible positions in Australia go overseas they are not accompanied by men 'of different political views. The honorable senator has also told us that money is going in streams to other countries, and that people are not anxious to invest in Australia. If that be so, it is strange that Australia's credit on the London money market is good, and that the British investors will lend us whatever money we require.

Senator Andrew - They have lent us £6,000,000 this week.

Senator McHUGH - Yes, and they have agreed to lend us £34,000,000 to carry on our immigration scheme. Statements like those of Senator Barwell and Senator McLachlan are not calculated to do any good to Australia. We never hear an American decrying his own country. He always says that America is the finest place on the face of the earth. In Australia any man with grit can make good. Thousands of young Australians are making good, and there is room for others to come here and do so. They are welcome to come, so long as provision is made for them beforehand - because we do not want to create an army of unemployed. I believe in a system of scientific immigration. As I have said previously, I believe in bringing people here from England, Ireland, and Scotland. I would rather have men of our own kith and kin coming to Australia than Southern

Europeans or semi-coloured people. Australia is a country worthy of the attention of those of our own race, and they are worthy of the attractions that Australia offers to them. With others, I urge the Government to postpone the submission of these questions to the people. I think that Ministers are wasting a lot of energy and a good deal of money in holding the referendum at the present juncture. The industrial organizations of the country are solidly against the proposed amendments. Almost every Labour organization is fighting them tooth and nail. Last week we read a manifesto in which Mr. Turvey, the general president of the Waterside Workers Federation, vigorously denounced the proposals. In every port of Australia the members of his organization are fighting them. We have also read the declaration of the secretary of the Australian Workers Union against them. Various trades and labour councils have carried resolutions in opposition to them". The Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales is standing by the Premier of the State against them. The great State of New South Wales, with its population of about 2,300,000, will be a big factor in deciding the issue. The Queensland Government has also declared against the proposals. The press of Australia is solidly in opposition to them. We have only a few weeks in which to convert all these people. One man said to me the other day, " I bet you thirteen Stetson hats to one that the referendum will not be carried." If there is any possibility of the proposals being defeated I think it would be better to postpone, the referendum for, say, six months, until an atmosphere more favorable to them can be created. If the Prime Minister thinks that, by a hurried campaign of five or six weeks, he will sweep the people off their feet, he is making a huge mistake.

Senator H Hays - These proposals are not new.

Senator McHUGH - But it is many years since proposals for the amendment of the Constitution were last placed before the people, and there are thousands 6f voters now who were minors then, and took no interest in politics. What do they know about the previous proposals? Unfortunately, the average citizen of Australia takes but a cursory interest in politics.

Senator Reid - Then why refer the matter to the people?

Senator McHUGH - I believe in ascertaining the voice of the people; but, when I want anything carried, I try to use the best means of attaining my object.

Senator Pearce - There is no choice in the matter. A proposal to amend the Constitution must be submitted to a referendum.

Senator McHUGH - I am aware of that; but, if the Government is honestly anxious to alter the Constitution, it should hold the referendum at a time when it has a chance of having its proposals carried.

Senator Pearce - These will be carried.

Senator McHUGH - I think they -will be defeated in every State.

Senator Pearce - There is plenty of time to educate the public.

Senator McHUGH - There is not. With the support of the press, five or six weeks might be sufficient; but without that support the only chance of educating the electors is by pamphlets, speeches, or advertisements in the newspapers - a very costly method. The Government would be wise to withdraw the proposals for the present. I believe they will be carried later on. I believe in giving the Commonwealth Parliament absolute power. The time is overripe for conferring greater power on this Parliament, and I am sorry to- note the -parochial Staterights spirit which still exists. Too many people are without the Australian outlook. They are little State-righters, who cannot see beyond their own State boundaries. The Commonwealth Parliament is the big national Parliament of Australia, and, as a member of that Parliament, I believe in looking at matters from an Australian view-point. I am as interested in doing something to promote the welfare of North Queensland as I am in assisting the development of the southeastern portion of South Australia. Itis the duty of a member of this Parliament to do all he can for the benefit of the whole of his country. I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision to hold the referendum at an early date. I think it should be postponed for a time.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it not a tory statement that the time is not ripe. I have never known of a reform being submitted without some one saying, " The time is not ripe."

Senator McHUGH - I think the time is ripe for the amendment of the Constitution, but I maintain that there is not time enough, with the press against us, to instil into the public mind the need for an alteration. We must educate the people. Already we have great agencies on both sides of politics actively at work against the Government proposals, and saying the hardest things about them.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did not all the newspapers of Australia advocate conscription, and yet the people defeated both proposals ?

Senator McHUGH - The people understood what conscription meant, but the average citizen could not explain what is meant by the present proposals.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is he more likely to bother about it in six months' time '! .

Senator McHUGH - I think so. We know that the Waterside Workers Federation has declared against the proposals. If during the next six months delegates in favour of the amendments could get into the union rooms and and convert the vote of that organization from a negative to an affirmative one, it would make a difference of thousands of votes. There are many men in the Labour movement who say that the Government proposals are not understood by the people. A postponement of the referendum would give them an opportunity to explain to the members of the various organizations what the proposals actually mean. I hope that honorable senators when quoting figures relating to industrial matters will not ignore the decreased purchasing power of the sovereign. What could be purchased for 21s. 5d. in 1911 cannot be bought for less than 34s. 9d. to-day; a loss of £1,000,000 worth of wages through strikes in 1911 was more serious than a loss of £1,250,000 in 1925, becaues the effective value of the sovereign has been reduced by the increase in the cost of living.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - To what extent is the tariff responsible for that?

Senator McHUGH - I believe in a high tariff, and I am convinced that the people are grateful for the assistance which the Labour party rendered to the Governmentt in enacting the tariff -with which this chamber dealt recently. If we proceed along constitutional lines, this country will make great progress, and will be able to give to its people high wages and a standard of living second to none.

Suggest corrections