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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6244

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) - I move-

That the following new clause be inserted : - 74A. Notwithstanding anything in this Part con.tained -

(r)   No Association shall register a Workers' Trade Mark -

(a)   if its rules are either burdensome or oppressive and do not provide reasonable conditions for admission to or continuance in membership ;

(b)   if its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes or require its, members to do anything of a political character.

(2)   No Association shall by any legal proceedings prevent, or recover damages for, any contravention of this Act in respect of its registered Workers' Trade Mark -

(a)   if its rules are either burdensome or oppressive and do not provide reasonable conditions for admission to or continuance in membership ;

(b)   if its rules or other binding decisions per mitthe application of its funds to political purposes or requireits members to do anything of a political character.

Political purposes" in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions applying to all persons in any particular industry, without discrimination as between those who are and those who are not members of a union, with respect to the regulation of the following matters : - (i.) Preservation of life and limb.' (ii.) Compensation for injuries or death. (iii.) Sanitation. (iv.) The sex and age of employes, (v.) The hours of labour, (vi.) The remuneration of labour, (vii.) Protection of salaries and wages, (viii.) Other conditions similarly affecting employment.

I propose to insert in this Bill the exact safeguard that was adopted in the Arbitration Act of last session. It is admitted that the object of the union label proposals is to increase the sale of union-made goods, and, consequently, to discourage, the sale of non-union-made goods. Therefore, the provisions of the Bill will act in an indirect way in the same manner as the provision for preference to unionists in the Arbitration Act. When the Arbitration Bill was before this Chamber, four members of the present Government approved of the adoption of a provision' similar in every respect to that which I am now submitting. It was considered that, whilst the Act might be used to increase the membership of unions, no opportunity should be afforded for forcing recruits into the trade organizations with a view to unduly interfering with their political freedom. The only gain which the Labour Party secured as the result of their magnificent fight for the Arbitration Bill' in its original form was the recognition of organizations formed for the purpose of maintaining the industrial peace of the Commonwealth, and not with the object of furthering political ends. If we do not insert a provision such as that now proposed, the powers conferred under the Bill may be used to increase the membership of political organizations.

Mr Watkins - But political unions cannot register under the Arbitration Act.

Mr KELLY - I am speaking of unions apart from those registered under that Act.

Mr Page - What union would do as the honorable member describes ?

Mr KELLY - Take the case of the Australian Workers' Union, which has in the past devoted itself very largely to political objects.

Mr Watkins - They will not want to register a union label ; in fact, they will be prevented from doing so by the amendment which has just been adopted by the Committee.

Mr KELLY - If my amendment will not apply to the Australian Workers' Union, why are honorable members objecting to it ? According to their showing, very few unions have political objects. Why do honorable members oppose a safeguard of this kind, unless they intend to use the union label for the purpose I have indicated? I wish to bring this Bill, which provides for a form of preference to unionists, into line with the Arbitration Act, which avowedly deals with that subject. Some time ago, the present Prime Minister very clearly showed that such a provision was necessary. At page 2981 of Hansard, 1904, he is reported as having stated -

When you have a body of men collected together into a trades union by the fact of their pursuing kindred industrial pursuits, forming a compact body in association with other similar bodies, standing shoulder to shoulder for their own advantage, as they are entitled to do, what is more natural than for the politician to say - " If I can obtain that united phalanx behind me; if I can secure command of a portion of its funds; if I can get control of its paper, and if I can induce these unions to attack my adversaries, I shall obtain the command of one of the greatest potencies which I can enlist on my side." There is nothing more natural than that politicians under those circumstances, should set out to capture the unions. But that ought not to be our object.

Those words were uttered by the Prime Minister in connexion with a similar proposal, and I desire to ask him whether he will now follow upon the lines he adopted in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

Mr Deakin - The cases are hot parallel.

Mr KELLY - The position is absolutely the same. A preference to unionists was proposed in both cases. Upon the former occasion the Prime Minister, the

Vice-President of the Executive Council, the Treasurer, and the Postmaster- General voted in favour of a similar proposal to that which I have submitted. They supported the view which the Opposition is adopting to-night. They are the only gentlemen, who have gone back upon their former position, and I maintain that they should assign some reason for their change of front.

Mr Watkins - I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in discussing a general vote of censure, or is he merely entitled to debate the ques- tion which is before the Chair?

Mr Johnson - The honorable member for Newcastle is only prolonging the agony.

Mr KELLY - I claim that my remarks are perfectly relevant to the proposal under consideration. Personally, I desire to catch the last train, but I do not intend to be "bluffed."

Sir William Lyne - I understood that the agreement was that the debate should terminate at 11 o'clock.

Mr KELLY - The action of Ministerial supporters has made this question a non-party one. Under these circumstances, surely Ministers should fearlessly express their individual views. The VicePresident of' the Executive Council has already informed us that he has never approved in its entirety any Bill which has been introduced by a Government. If that be so, it is due to the Committee that he should rise and explain his change of front. Last year, when he was asked bv the honorable member for Darling what was wrong with' the stringent rules of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, tie replied -

Nothing except that there is no room for old or weak men.

I merely wish to say that the exigencies of those old and weak men are exactly the same to-day as they were then. Of course, I can quite understand that the honorable gentleman's position is different. As a personal friend of the Prime Minister, he is faced with the alternative of showing a common sympathy for the liberties of " old and weak " people, or of sacrificing his own position in the Government.

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