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Tuesday, 26 May 1903

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Possibly natural conditions ; but my point is that we ought not to have those natural conditions affected by artificial combination. The idea is that Inter-State trade should be all on fair terms. Now that we are a united community no one. portion of the Commonwealth should in matters of trade be preferred to any other portion. I hope that when the InterState Commission is constituted, full powers will be given, in order to regulate such abuses as those to which I have referred. I have alluded to the High Court, which will settle matters between individuals, between States, and between the Commonwealth and States, and I have mentioned the Inter-State Commission, which is intended to regulate commerce and trade, and to enforce those sections of the Constitution which deal with such matters. I am pleased to notice that the Government have gone further, and said that there is another class of disputes which seriously affects trade and commerce, and that it is proposed to constitute a court of arbitration and conciliation to deal with them. I notice with pleasure that that is part of the Government scheme for this session. After all, what does this question come to ? To me a strike, like a war, is a break-down of our civilization. When we consider the discoveries which have been made in science, and when wo see the advances in industries and in production, . it seems to me an admission of weakness on the part of those who administer the affairs of government if they cannot devise some means of settling an ordinary labour trouble or dispute. I hail with pleasure the announcement that the Government are going to do their best to remedy grievances in this direction. What is the principle underlying the whole question ? What right has the State to interfere? The State has the right to interfere for the reason that a strike is a matter of public concern. A strike does not affect only the particular parties interested, but it disorganizes trade, causes pain and suffering, and, what is worst of all, it leaves for years a feeling of class hatred in the community. If the Government provide a scheme which will prevent this class feeling, they will have done good service to the Commonwealth. The first principle is that it is in the interests of the public that the State should step in .and say - " This dislocation of trade and commerce and business shall absolutely cease." If strikes and lockouts are to be made illegal, as they should be, the workmen and employers must be given some other method of solving disputes. We know that the right of combination has grown up in years past. The right of combination and the formation of unions has steadily advanced year after year, and also the building up of funds by workmen. England may have gone further than have some of these States, but the right of combination is recognised throughout, and further recognition is given to the enforcement of combination by that industrial warfare, which is practically the legalized method of settling disputes. But I repeat that if we take away from the men this right of industrial warfare we must of necessity substitute some other means of settling disputes. I acton the principle that the persons who are concerned in a strike or lockout are not always the best judge of their case. In ordinary affairs if two persons cannot come to an agreement as to the meaning of a contract, they go before a court of law, and the Judge decides as to the true purport of their contract or agreement. Let us adopt a similar method in industrial warfare. Let us conciliate, by all means, if we can: but if we cannot obtain conciliation, let our Courts of Arbitration come in and say to the parties - "Stop! This warfare shall not go on! You are causing untold misery in this community.- State your case, take it to the proper tribunal and let the matter be impartially decided." That court, of necessity, must be a court that can command the confidence of the whole community. I believe that if one of the Judges of the High Court were appointed chairman of that tribunal, and were assisted by arbitrators, we should obtain happy and excellent results. There is one matter to which I regret the Governor-General's speech makes no reference. I am sorry that it floes not allude to the desirableness of establishing a department of Agriculture. I think honorable members remember with pleasure the very able speeches upon this question which were delivered last session by the honorable and learned member for

Bendigo, and the honorable and learned member for Indi. They put very strongly before the Government reasons why the Commonwealth should set up a department of Agriculture. I do not for one moment contend that the Government is in a position to establish a department of Agriculture, as fully equipped and as fully manned as is the department of Agriculture in the United States of America ; but I do believe that a great deal of good could be done if they were to create at an early stage some central federalizing agency. In the past, splendid work lias been done by the various departments of the several States. We know that excellent agricultural colleges have been established at Dookie in Victoria, at Hawkesbury in New South Wales, at Gatton in Queensland, and in other parts of the Commonwealth. We know also that the State departments have disseminated excellent bulletins, by which means useful instruction has been given; But we ought to go a step further. It is absolutely necessary that we should have some central federalizing agency, by which the experiences of any one State could be brought to bear upon the experiences of another. In Queensland we have at the present time an absolute shortage in the supply of seed wheat, and we have been compelled to draw our supplies from South Australia. ' If there had been a central agency to afford us some practical information as to the various kinds of seed wheat which we were drawing from that State, that knowledge would have been worth many thousands of pounds to Queensland. But we have not,' at the present time, that centralizing agency. I submit, further, that we ought to have a central department of the description T have named, for the reason that a great many of the powers which the States formerly possessed, and which could have been used to encourage " agriculture have now passed over to the Commonwealth. Take, for instance, the Telegraph department. One of the features of the department of Agriculture in the United States of America, is the Weather Bureau. We have weather bureaux working on common lines in the various States, and my hope is that we shall have, at no distant date, a Federal weather bureau in Australia. If that bureau were established it able to supply to all parts of the Commonwealth information in regard to approaching storms and tempests, many of which have caused so much loss to agriculturists. It -would also be able to supply information with respect to the likelihood of frosts in different localities, so that agriculturists would, be in a position to take precautionary measures. Such precautions have been taken from time to time in Queensland. But the whole matter must be placed upon a sound basis. It is essential that we should have centres throughout the Commonwealth taking simultaneous observations, acting simultaneously, and sending their reports to the one centre. The Telegraph department has passed over to the Commonwealth, and honorable members know that without the telegraph a weather bureau is impossible. Another point to be remembered is that we have methods of encouraging agriculture by means of protective duties, or by granting bonuses, and it is well that -we should have a department to advise us with respect to productions which might be assisted by bonuses. Laws regulating trade and commerce have also passed into the hands of the Commonwealth, as well as laws relating to external affairs - powers probably carrying with them the appointment of agents abroad to supply us with information with regard to produce grown in other lands, and also as to produce imported into the Commonwealth, but which could be grown here. Even the power to make mail contracts has passed over to the Federation, and honorable members must realize to what an extent the pastoralists and the agriculturists can be assisted by us if in making oversea mail contracts we see that ships are selected that can be made available for the conveyance of our produce across the seas. I have mentioned only a few of the powers which have been taken 'over by the Commonwealth ; I dare say there are many others which will occur to honorable members. If we take all these functions, gathered together, and also add to them such an important matter as the collection of statistical information, we shall see that there have passed over to the Commonwealth large powers that could be exercised for the benefit of the agriculturists, if a department such as I have suggested were created to assist them. I was pleased also to observe in His Excellency the GovernorGeneral's speech a reference to the fact that the Government do not intend to allow the burden of a «hite Australia to fall upon Queensland and New South Wales alone.

I think that when the question of a white Australia was before this House, honorable members were practically unanimous in the opinion that the citzenship of Australia should be preserved for European races. It was felt that Queensland, owing to her peculiar position, had thrown in her midst black races, \ylaich honorable members representing the southern States considered were practically a menace to the citizenship of Australia. Honorable members from the south said that such a state of affairs should no longer be .tolerated ; and those who represented the north discussed the question with them, and appreciated their action. We contend, however, that as Queensland has come into the federal union, and is joining with the south in its demand that the country should be rid of black labour, she can turn round with justice and say to the south - " If you are going to have an equality of benefit, there should also be an equality of burden." I propose to quote some figures bearing on the subject from a letter which was written by Sir John See, on 3rd February last. As to the accuracy of the figures, I must ask the House not to rely upon me for the authority. Sir John See said that the burden of a white Australia fell on the States as follows : - In South Australia it was practically equal to 6d. per ton of sugar consumed ; in Victoria it amounted to ls. 9d. per ton; in Western Australia, 3s. 9d. per ton ; in Tasmania, Ss. 5d. per ton ; in Queensland, lis. 3d. pelton ; and in New South Wales, 16s. 2d. per ton of sugar consumed.

Sir George Turner - Sir John See was referring to something that was going to be done.

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