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Wednesday, 7 December 1927


The PRESIDENT - If the honorable senator will allow me, I shall give my ruling in my own way. I point out to him also that when the presiding officer is on his feet, he must be heard in silence. In dealing with questions of this nature the Chairman of Committees must exercise his own judgment. I consider that the honorable senator would have gone beyond the bounds of .legitimate discussion if at this stage he had dealt in detail with the findings, and the reasons therefor, of a body whose report was not before the committee. I must, therefore, rule that the Chairman adopted a correct attitude when he asked the honorable senator not to discuss those details. It would be quite in order for the honorable senator to make a passing reference to the report, such as to say it was worthless or was obtained at too high cost, but not to discuss it in detail. I share the opinion of the Charman, and therefore uphold his ruling.

In committee(Consideration resumed) :


Senator OGDEN - I am prevented from mentioning the report of the delegation. -

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order! 1 do not wish the honorable senator to attribute to me a ruling that I did not give. He must clearly understand that he has absolute freedom to make reference to the report of the Industrial Delegation to America. He claimed, however, the right to discuss every detail of that report, and I declined to allow him to do so. I ask the honorable senator to be fair and not to misrepresent me.


Senator OGDEN - I have no intention of disobeying the ruling of the Chair ; but I find it very difficult to refer as I should like to do, to the work of that delegation. The expense of sending it to America was borne by the people. It went there to endeavour to obtain information that might prove useful to the general community in Australia, in connexion with the different methods of organization and manufacture. It is difficult for one to handle the subject without making a few references, as I had intended to do, from its report.


The CHAIRMAN - If the honorable senator had made that clear to me I should have granted my permission.


Senator OGDEN - I shall merely say that although I was opposed to the Government incurring expenditure in sending to America a delegation of four representatives of employers and four accredited labour and union representatives, since I have closely studied its report I have come to the conclusion that that money was well spent. The delegation has been able to show clearly and definitely that American manufacturing industries are able to pay higher wages than are paid in Australia, and give just as good conditions, although that country has no industrial legislation, and the unions do not believe in parliamentary representation, because of the attitude of the unions themselves. The psychology or the philosophy of the trade unionists in America is summed up in the words " produce to the limit, consume to the limit, and urge all to practise the doctrine of efficiency." That is the way to prosperity, if we care to take it. I have learned from the report that despite the existence in Australia of powerful trade organizations, which are strongly represented in our legislatures, the wages paid in America are considerably higher, and the hours shorter. The reason, according to the report, is that the union representatives, and the workers themselves, believe in helping instead of curtailing and hampering industry. The unions realize that they can secure good conditions and high wages only so long as they produce. Because the report contains these facts, it is invaluable to the trade union movement of this country. I advise every honorable senator opposite and every Labour member of the House of Representatives to study it carefully, and commend it to the consideration of the trade unionists. Mr. Grayndler, Mr. Valentine, Mr. Guy, and the other Labour representative signed this report, in which is urged the adoption of a system of co-operation between workers and employers similar to that which is in force in America. Honorable senators opposite evidently wished to prevent these facts from being made public.


Senator Grant - That is not so.


Senator OGDEN - Senator Findleyobjected to my making references to, or drawing conclusions from, it.


Senator Findley - At the committee stage; and I was supported in that contention by the Chairman and the President.


Senator OGDEN - I shall endeavour to see that in future the honorable senator himself is confined strictly within the limits of debate. This report is extremely valuable, inasmuch as it shows that the weakness in Australia lies in a lack of co-operation and co-ordination, and the refusal of the workers to undertake piece-work. The American Federation of Labour has shown clearly that the policy of the trade unionists there is, firstly, efficiency in industry; and secondly, to produce and consume to the limit so that every one may share in the resultant prosperity. Unfortunately, I have not the opportunity to place these facts in Hansard, where they should be placed. I admit that I missed my opportunity on the motion for the first reading of the bill. Every trade union ought to be supplied with a copy of the report, and Labour representatives should go among them and preach the philosophy which has proved so successful in

America. The rate of pay in the building trade there is 5s. 2£d. an hour, and the number of hours worked range from 42 to 44 a week. The workers realize that they are members of a partnership, and they co-operate in every way. The same story can be told of most of the other trades. Even in the unskilled trades the wages are far higher than they are in Australia for similar work, although we have extravagant industrial machinery. The delegation has reported that in America there are fewer strikes and labour troubles than are experienced in Australia, and a valuable table which it has compiled shows that they are rapidly decreasing. In Australia, unfortunately, we are not able to show similar results. I shall take a later opportunity to quote from the report, whether Senator Findley is agreeable to that course or not.


Senator Findley - There is nothing to prevent the honorable senator from saying what he wants to say so long as he chooses the right time and place.







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