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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6205

Mr CARPENTER (Fremantle) - Like the honorable member for Oxley, I also desire to enter my protest against the waste of time that has occurred in connexion with this unfortunate proposal. If I had desired to waste time as the honorable member has done, by quoting a lot of stuff that has no bearing upon the question before the Chair, I might have presented volumes of evidence as to the enormity of the evil which has been wrought bv greedy employers and capitalists at the expense of hundreds and thousands of workers.

Mr Fisher - We know that people have been done to death by employers.

Mr CARPENTER - They are being killed to-day. The speech of "the honorable member for Oxley was only .a sample of the utterances to which we have had to listen for days past. Some honorable members have been puzzled to know whence the newspapers have derived the extraordinary matter which they have been "dishing" up for the delectation of honorable members opposite during the last few days. Either they have relied upon their own imaginations, or have derived their information from class journals published in other countries, and have manipulated it in such a way as to make it appear that all sorts of dangers attach to the adoption of the proposals now before us. Their misrepresentations have been so persistent that a number of people have been induced to regard the innocent, just, and fair proposals which it is sought to embody in the Bill as calculated to work havoc to our industries. I was told that an honorable senator recently visited a country town in Victoria, and addressed a meeting of farmers upon some matter entirely dissociated with the subject now under discussion. When the business for which the meeting was called was concluded, a member of the Farmers', Producers', and Property Owners' Association - more particularly property owners - brought before the meeting a resolution which had been passed by the Employers' Federation, and asked that it should be adopted without discussion. One gentleman asked whether those present understood what was involved in the adoption of the union label provisions, and suggested that they should not pass the resolution until they had at least discussed it. His appeal was successful, and I am quite sure that if one similarly fair-minded man had been present at any of the other meetings at which resolutions condemning the union label were passed without due consideration, such a large number of ridiculous telegrams as have appeared in the Melbourne Argus would not have been published.

Mr McWilliams - Were all the people who attended the meetings referred to unfairminded men?

Mr CARPENTER - I consider that any meeting which condemns a proposal without discussing it is an unfair one, and most1 of the resolutions passed in condemnation of the union label proposals have been unfair for that very reason.

Mr McLean - We were asked to pass these proposals without discussion.

Mr CARPENTER - That is not correct. For the last two or three weeks members on this side of the chamber have been compelled to observe a patriotic silence.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why have honorable members suddenly found their tongues - is it because an agreement has been arrived at to bring the debate to a close to-night? If so, the agreement will soon be "off."

Mr CARPENTER - We have been compelled to preserve a patriotic silence on account of the extraordinary loquacity of honorable members of the Opposition, who have talked day after day, and night after night, not for the purpose of enlightening any one with regard to these proposals, but with the object - which they have had steadily before them from the beginning of the session - of discrediting the Government. The public are beginning to see through the manoeuvres of the Opposition, and are asking why so much time should be wickedly wasted over a simple proposal of this kind. With the exception of the honorable member for Bland, no member of the Labour Party has addressedhimself to the clause now before us. Why are we now finding our tongues? I tell the honorable member honestly - speaking for myself - that it is because honorable members opposite - yielding to some saner influence than has swayed them for some time - have agreed to bring the debate to a conclusion this evening, and because this affords the only opportunity that we shall have of saying a word in our defence.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member knows better than that.

Mr CARPENTER - The present is the only opportunity we have had of talking without assisting the Opposition, and we have not been so foolish as to talk against time to help them to kill the Bill.

Mr Frazer - And now the deputy leader of the Opposition wishes to break the agreement.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the whole of the time for which we bargained is to be consumed by honorable members opposite, we had better break it at once.

Mr CARPENTER - Does the honorable member mean to say that he made that agreementwith the Government on the understanding that only members of the Opposition should talk?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; but we had a right to assume that the ordinary conditions then prevailing would continue.

Mr CARPENTER - They were extraordinary conditions. So far this afternoon the Chairman has called upon a mem- ber of the Opposition and a Ministerial supporter alternately.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is something out of the ordinary. The honorable member would not have been allowed to speak at all, but for the agreement at which we arrived.

Mr CARPENTER - The deputy leader of the Opposition knows that he is talking utter rubbish. I have asked nobody to allow me to speak, and I shall speak as long as I choose, and without consulting anybody.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope that later on the honorable member will not prevent us from speaking.

Mr CARPENTER - I shall not do that. I wish to thank honorable members opposite for the splendid advertisement they have given the workers' trade mark. When this Bill becomes law - as it undoubtedly will - the public will know more about that mark than they have ever done before. Apart from the waste of time and its cost to the country this long debate has given the workers' trade mark a splendid advertisement - one which is worth many hundreds of pounds.

Mr Conroy - Does the honorable member think that the adoption of the union label will result in any good?

Mr CARPENTER - A few months ago the honorable and learned member was sitting behind the Reid-McLean Government. Whilst he was supporting (hat Administration this proposal was inserted in the Trade Marks Bill.


Mr CARPENTER - In another place. A proposal - if anything more drastic - was inserted in the Bill without a word of protest from any supporter of that Government, and I venture to say that if the honorable and learned member had been sitting upon this side of the House to-day, he would not have offered any protest against it. But because he sits on the opposite side of the Chamber, and another Administration is in power, the whole position has been changed, and what, at that time, appeared1 to be a harmless proposition, has become a great evil which has been held to justify members of the Opposition in wasting whole weeks.

Mr Conroy - There has been only four d.ivs' debate upon it.

Mr CARPENTER - I have lost more than four nights' sleep over it. The honorable and learned member for Corinella opposed the Government proposal because, as he declared, it was against the theory upon which Australian industry has been established. That is a very highsounding sort of reason to advance, and, consequently, I found myself asking, " What is the theory upon which Australian industry has been established?" I have had twenty years' experience in workshops in. the different States, and that experience has taught me that the only theory upon which industry has been established is that the employer shall make as much profit as he can out of his employes. It is because an attempt is being made to attain to something higher and better that we are being asked to sanction legislation in the interests of the manual labourer.

Mr Conroy - Does the honorable member really think that this proposal will assist the majority of the workers?

Mr CARPENTER - If I did not, I should not support it. It is because the theory hitherto advanced is an inhuman one that the public conscience todaydemands something better upon which to base our industries. I have no doubt that honorable members have frequently come into contact with persons who have had conscience enough to ask themselves, " How am I to ascertain whether the goodswhich I am purchasing are made under honest and fair conditions?" There are thousands of conscientious individuals in Australia to-day who really desire to know something about the conditions under which the goods which they buy are produced. At present they have no means of acquiring that knowledge. Although they may pay "the highest price demanded for goods, they may be cheated just as much as if they purchased them in a sweating shop-

Mr Page - I have been deceived in that way in Melbourne.

Mr CARPENTER - I have been similarly deceived myself. I have endeavoured1 to purchase furniture made by white workers, and there has been, perhaps, a drawer in that furniture which would not openWhen I have reached home I have discovered that that very drawer has borne thebrand of the Chinese manufacturer. I donot say that this Bill will prove a cure for all the evils of sweating, but it will certainly provide the class to whom I refer with the means of ascertaining where goodswhich have been made under fair conditions can be obtained. I am glad to notethat there is a patriotic movement on foot - and one which, I hope, will extend all over Australia - to induce people to purchase goods made in the Commonwealth in preference to those produced in foreign countries. I believe that this proposal, when it becomes law, will very materially assist that movement. Give us a label which states " Made in Australia under fair conditions," and the man or woman who will not purchase the goods to which it is affixed, in preference to those which are produced in a sweating shop, needs to be educated in patriotic motive and feeling. I am sorry that the honorable member for Moira, during the course of his remarks, attempted to raise the old cry of town versus country workers. His observations in that connexion were emphasized by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who endeavoured to point out that the adoption of a workers'" trade mark would confer no benefit upon the country worker, because he is not so well organized as is the worker in the towns. Nobody regrets more than I do that the workers in the country are not better organized. They would be much better off if 'they were, and their employers would not suffer one bit. But whilst the worker in the country to-day may have no organization, it is undeniable that he reaps a very material advantage from the organization of the worker in the towns. It is because the' latter is able to insist upon the conditions which obtain to-day that the former is not worse off. I am not aware of the precise conditions which at present prevail in the country, but I know that in a rural district in Victoria a few years ago the hours of labour were longer, and the wages paid lower, than those which prevailed in the cities. I contend that the hours of labour would have been still longer, and the rates of wages still lower, had it not been for the organized workers in the cities, who have established a certain standard. Nobody is more ready to recognise that fact' than is the country worker; and therefore it is idle for honorable members to attempt to cloud the issue by setting one -class against the other. Before I resume my seat, I should like to say that the exaggeration which has been indulged in by opponents of this proposal, backed by the alarmist articles which have been published in the newspapers - not only of Melbourne, but of other cities; - has produced a temporary feeling of alarm in the minds of a section of the public. This, however, is only a repetition of what we have had to contend with upon every occasion on which a proposal has been made to ameliorate the condi- i.-on of the workers. What does this opposition amount to ? We simply ask that the same protection shall be extended to a worker's trade mark as is extended to the trade mark of an employer. Efforts have been made to make it appear that this workers' trade mark is something new. But - as has already been pointed out - in Western Australia a similar mark has been in use for years ; and, so far as I am aware, not a single complaint has been made as to any evils resulting therefrom. It is well known that the Tailors' Union of Kalgoorlie has a label affixed to all the goods which it produces. The result is that the citizens of that district, who have strong unionist leanings, experience no trouble whatever in discovering goods made under fair conditions. When they go into a shop they simply ask : ' Are these union-made goods ' ' ? They purchase the goods, knowing that the label is merely a guarantee that proper wages have been paid by the manufacturers, and that the workers, male and female, have enjoyed proper conditions. In Fremantle, the Tailors and Tailoresses' Union, instead of affixing a label to the goods, have a ticket printed which, by an arrangement with each shop-keeper who sells their goods, is displayed in his windows. It informs the public that all the goods sold in the establishment have been made under the rules and conditions of the Tailors and Tailoresses' Union of Fremantle. So far as I am aware, no one has ever objected to that being done. All we ask is that those who have been doing this, and who may do it in the future, may have extended to them the same protection that we are extending to employers, importers, and agents all over Australia.

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