Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 19 April 1904


Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) - -I have taken a deep interest in this question, because I feel that I shall be called upon to part company with some of those for whose opinions I have the greatest admiration and respect. I shall have to part company with the Prime Minister, than whom, I consider no man in this Parliament more truly represents national ideas and aspirations, not only in politics, but generally in regard to the Constitution. ' The matter to me, however, is one of conscience. I feel that it is necessary that I should satisfy myself as to our powers and duties as a Federation, and that having done this, I should have no hesitation in following the course which I deem to be right. We have to justifyto ourselves the position which we take up in regard to the question now before us, and I think that I can do this to the fullest extent. In the first place, I shall vote against the amendment in the form in which it has been presented by the honorable member for Wide Bay. It purports to embrace the whole of the public servants of the States and of the Commonwealth. I fail to see how it is possible for us, under the terms of the Constitution, to pass a Bill of this kind which would embrace the public servants connected with, say, the

Audit Department of the State of Queensland, or the Treasury Department of New South Wales. I attach great importance to the definition of the word " industrial." We are bound by the wording of the Constitution, according to which we can legislate only with regard to " industrial " disputes ; and I cannot see how Departments such as those I have mentioned could be deemed to be " industrial."


Mr Crouch - Would the Patent Office be an industrial Department ?


Mr GROOM - I would not express an opinion upon that matter. The Patent Department is not under the control of the States. Upon the question which the Prime Minister treats as vital, namely, whether we should bring any State servants within the scope of the Bill, I part company with him, and intend to support an extension of the provisions of the measure to the States railway servants. I shall do this upon two grounds. First, because I believe that it may be held to be constitutional; and, secondly, because I regard it as highly expedient. The Prime Minister, in dealing with the question of constitutionality, has laid too much emphasis upon sub-section xxxv. of section 51. He says that there is no reference whatever to the States- in the sub-section, and that therefore the States are not included within the scope of the powers to be exercised by the Federal authority in regard to conciliation and arbitration. He lays it down as a general rule for the interpretation of the Constitution that wherever a grant of power to the Federal Parliament contains no mention of the States they are not included within the scope of the powers conferred. With all deference to the Minister, I take a different view. I think that he overlooks the fact that the really vital sub-section bearing upon the matter with which we are now dealing is sub-section 1, relating to our power, to make laws with respect to "trade and commerce with other countries, and amongst the States." This is amplified by section 98, which provides that -

The power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.

The Prime Minister was eloquent when he pointed with great admiration to the American Constitution, and told us that our Federal Conventions had been largely influenced by American precedents. He informed us that these were followed in delegating to the Federal Parliament certain powers, and that we had in substance adopted the rules of interpretation which have for the past century been laid down by the United States Courts. I think he is right. I believe that where you purport to re-enact a statute which has been in force in another State, and adopt almost the identical words of the original, you incorporate in it all the rules of the interpretation given by the Courts in administering that statute. That is the rule adopted by the States, of the Empire when dealing with sections taken from the Imperial statutes. What has been the position of the United States as regards this one particular section to which I wish to direct attention for a while? The Prime Minister has told us how a provision, placed in a Constitution with the intention of meeting certain ends, may, after the lapse of years, when new conditions have arisen, lae dealt with in the light of the developments which have occurred, with the result that new meanings are imported into it, and wider applications given to it than were anticipated by the original framers. He could not have given -a better illustration than the trade and commerce provision in the Constitution of the United States. During the first sixty years of the history of the Union that provision did not come under notice more than twenty times. But since then there have been at least 200 decisions in regard to it by the Supreme Court of the United States. One text-writer has said-

This is a remarkable instance of a national power, which was comparatively unimportant for eighty years, and which, in the last thirty years, has been so developed that it lis now in its nationalizing tendency perhaps the most important and conspicuous power possessed by the Federal Government.

How has that come to be applied ? It is under that section of the American Constitution the words of which read as follow : -

The Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States and with the Indian tribes.

Underlying those simple words is a principle which has received the widest application. Included in it is the control of the railways.


Mr Lonsdale - Has there been any attempt to interfere with wages?


Mr GROOM - Yes ; as I shall presently show.


Mr Isaacs - But the United States railways are not State-owned railways.


Mr GROOM - I shall answer that objection presently. The Congress, in 1888, relying upon the section I have quoted, passed an Act -

To create Boards of Arbitration or Commission for settling controversies and differences between railroad corporations and other common carriers engaged in Inter-State and territorial transportation of property or passengers and their employees.

This was the intention of that Act, as formulated in one section -

That whenever differences or controversies arise between railroad or other transportation companies engaged in the transportation of property or passengers between two or more States of the United States, between a Territory and a State, within the territories of the United States, or within the district of Columbia, and the employees of the said railroad companies, which differences or controversies may hinder, impede, obstruct, interrupt, or affect such transportation of property or passengers - certain action shall follow. Therefore, our power to regulate trade and commerce, which the Convention adopted from the Constitution of the United States, is a power to deal with railways generally. Let me first establish that proposition. Two sections of our Constitution deal with the regulation of railways; we have been dealing with one of them only. I wish to direct particular attention to this vital provision, because the control of the commerce of Australia is a national power which we must preserve to the Commonwealth. Anything which hinders or impedes the free carriage of passengers or of produce from one part of the Commonwealth to another is to be prevented, and this power to regulate trade and commerce is one which we as a national Parliament must regard as of national importance. The United States Congress in 1898 repealed the statute to which I have just referred, and passed another, an Act " concerning carriers engaged in Inter-State commerce and their employees," section 2 of which provides that -

Whenever a controversy concerning wages, hours of labour, or conditions of employment shall arise between a carrier, subject to this Act, and the employees of such carrier - the chairman of the Inter-State Commerce Commission and the Commissioner of Labour may mediate, and if they cannot effect conciliation or amelioration there is power to appoint arbitrators. The important point is that when the arbitrators have given a decision the award is absolutely binding upon the parties. The award has to be filed in the Clerk's office of the Circuit Courts, and, once filed, it becomes the judgment of the Federal Court, and, as such, can be enforced against the parties.


Mr Deakin - Does the Act relate to a railway which is wholly in one State?


Mr GROOM - It relates to companies engaged in continuous transit, but it deals with the general question, the power to regulate Inter-State commerce. So far as the United States are concerned, it has been held that there is clearly invested in Congress power to legislate with respect to railway disputes extending beyond the area of one State. What is the provision in our Constitution? Apparently the members of the Convention wished to give to the Commonwealth all the powers which the section of the American Constitution to which I have referred gives to the Congress of the United States. They wished to give to this Parliament all the powers' conveyed by the words they used. In the United States, Congress relies upon those words for its power to pass anti-trust laws, and I am sure that that is a power which this Parliament wishes to have. Our authority for it is the provision in the Constitution which confers upon us the power to regulate trade and commerce. The Prime Minister, in reply to the honorable and learned member for Corio, stated that this particular provision would not bind the States unless express mention was made of that intention. But in section 98 of the Constitution the railways of the States are expressly included.


Mr Deakin - Hear, hear. That is mv point.


Mr GROOM - That section provides that-

The power of the Parliament to make laws in respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.


Mr Deakin - Only as regards InterState trade.


Mr GROOM - The words used are -

To railways the property of any State.


Mr Glynn - The provision affects only Inter-State rates.


Mr GROOM - If in the United States there were a dispute affecting the railways in two of the States, Congress would have power to deal with it.


Mr Glynn - How far can the award go? That is the point which touches the very substance of the Bill.


Mr GROOM - The power of award goes with the power to interfere.


Mr Glynn - There is no power to touch internal rates, so why should there be power to touch internal wages?


Mr GROOM - My point is that those words include the railways of the States. The power to deal with trade and commerce includes the railways of the States, and we know that the provision in the Constitution of the United States has given Congress power to pass an Act of Conciliation and Arbitration applying to the railways. In my opinion the proper course to adopt in construing section 51/ is to add to the power under subsection 1. the power which is contained in paragraph xxxv. of section 51 of our Constitution we shall see that it confers upon Congress power to deal only with trade and commerce. There, the Parliament can adopt measures to prevent any obstacle being placed in the way of the free transit of goods, but our Constitution goes much further, and gives us power to legislate for all sorts of industrial disputes that may occur throughout the Commonwealth. It really amplifies instead of cutting down the power which is contained in sub-section 1. I submit, therefore, that, following the American Constitution, which, is our great exemplar, we clearly possess the power to deal with the States railways.


Mr Deakin - Only as to Inter-State trade.


Mr GROOM - That is my first proposition. Under our power to deal with trade and commerce, we have power to regulate the railways of the States. Consequently, if a railway dispute arises which extends beyond the limits of any one State the Commonwealth has power to deal with it. Let me examine the position which is taken up by the Prime Minister generally- His objection to this proposal practically rests upon four grounds. In the first place, he holds that the proposed amendment is contrary - he did not say to the " spirit" of the Constitution, as the honorable member for Gippsland suggests - but to the general principle underlying' the Federation. In other words, it is contrary to the distribution provided for in the Constitution, of the powers vested in the central and the States Governments. His second proposition, is that the States public servants are excluded from the operation of this Bill, because they are not specifically mentioned. His third objection is that there may be some sort of prerogative attaching to the servants of the Crown. This prerogative is an undefined one, which the Prime Minister will not touch. His fourth proposition is that the proposal is tantamount to the power of imposing taxation upon the States, and that, therefore, it is outside the limits of the Constitution. As to his first proposition, that the proposal is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution--


Mr Deakin - Of course, I mean the power to tax the States means and instrumentalities.


Mr GROOM - Exactly. But is the proposal contrary to the spirit of the Constitution? That Constitution provides for a distribution of power as between the central and provincial Governments. As has been laid down by many eminent authorities, each of these Governments within its own particular domain possesses sovereign powers. But what was the idea underlying the establishment of a Federation? It was that a large number of matters of Australian concern, many of which were previously dealt wilh by the States, should in future be dealt with by the Federal Parliament only.


Mr McColl - Those matters were expressly defined.


Mr GROOM - They were expressed by implication in some cases.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They were defined as the result of compromises in nearly every case.


Mr GROOM - They were defined expressly or by implication. In the case of ex parte Siebold, which was decided in 1879, the Court laid it down that -

As a general rule, it is no doubt expedient and wise that the operations of the State and National Governments should, as far as practicable, be conducted separately, in order to avoid undue jealousies and jars and conflicts of jurisdiction and power. But there is no reason for laying this down as a rule, of universal application. It should never be made to override the plain and manifest dictates of the Constitution itself. We cannot yield to such a transcendental view of State sovereignty. The Constitution and laws of the United States are the supreme laws of the land, and to these every citizen of every State owes obedience, whether in his individual or official capacity.

I admit that that is the correct interpretation. The Prime Minister, however, by implication, imbues the advocates of socalled State rights with the belief that there is some transcendental power in those rights which overrides the provisions of the Constitution. After all, what is the meaning of this doctrine of State rights, about which the honorable member for Gippsland is so anxious? In the United States, a State right is generally accepted to be a right which belonged to a State at the time of the establishment of the Federation, and which it still retains. But many persons seem to think that a State right is a right which a State can claim to prevent the Commonwealth Parliament from exercising the powers which it undoubtedly possesses under the Constitution. They apparently imagine that they have merely to raise the cry of " State rights," and we must immediately stay our hands. Although the States have certain definite powers of sovereignty, the underlying principle of the Constitution is that, upon matters of general national concern, their interests are subordinate to those of the nation. What is the position for which we are fighting? It is quite possible that the whole trade and commerce of the Commonwealth may be dislocated by reason of a strike. That is a matter not merely of provincial, but of national interest. When the Victorian railway employes went out upon strike last year, although the dispute was one with which the State had power to deal, it seriously affected Australia as a whole. It interfered with the proper carriage of the mails of the Commonwealth. Where a dispute extends into two States of the union - a dispute with which neither of the States . concerned can deal with from its very nature, if it is to be dealt with satisfactorily, it must be dealt with by a national tribunal.


Mr Deakin - Each State may deal with it within its own borders.


Mr GROOM - But a dispute may arise as to how far each State should go. A democratic Government may be in power in one State and an aristocratic Administration in the other, or the two States may jointly refuse to come to any agreement with the other side, declaring that they will fight the trouble to the end. In the case of a great national emergency it may be utterly impossible to carry on the trade and commerce of Australia as a whole. Consequently we may require to have recourse - as was done in the United States in the case of in re Debs - to the Executive power.


Mr Deakin - We possess that power.


Mr GROOM - It is a power which is based upon the right of the national Government to keep open the highways of the country as a whole. It is quite possible that in the event of a dispute arising, such as the Victorian railway strike, which affected the trade and commerce of Australia, and the carriage of its mails, we might be able to step in; as the United States did, and say - " We are going to exercise the inherent rights of the -nation as a whole."


Mr Fisher - How can we do that without an Arbitration . Bill ?


Mr GROOM - It can be done. Let me quote a decision on the point. In re Debs the learned Judge said -

If the emergency arises, the army of the nation and all its militia are at the service of the nation to compel obedience to its laws.

Prentice and Egan, in The Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution, state that -

Most cases in which this power has been considered have involved the constitutionality of State statutes. The Federal power is not limited, however, to a control of the State, but extends to the removal of any obstruction in the way of the freedom of Inter-State commerce and the execution of Federal laws.

In the judgment the learned Judge himself referred to the fact that the Federation had the power to control the States, and to prevent them from obstructing .commerce. And if they have that right over the States a fortiori, they have the same right over a voluntary association, such as a body of men on strike, and interfering with trade and commerce as a whole. The point which I wish to emphasize is that, in certain conditions which might arise in the Commonwealth, the States, in the interest of the nation as a whole, would have to be subordinated, and the Commonwealth would have to exercise its powers on behalf of the nation. The principle, therefore, is that there are two sovereignties, but that in many ways there is Federal - restraint over State action. There is, for instance, a restraint placed upon State action, both from a legislative and executive point of view in regard to coinage, interference with trade and commerce, and other different matters. There is this restraint, not only upon the State in its legislative powers, but upon the corporate powers of a State in the exercise of its own particular laws. The Prime Minister's proposition, therefore, is not one which is applicable to the present position. What is his second point? It relates purely to the rules for the construction of a statute. The Prime Minister says that because the word " State " is not used in the sub-section in question, the State is not bound.


Mr Deakin - I contend that it would have been provided for in express words if it had been intended.


Mr GROOM - The rule of interpretation, which, I submit, is the correct one, has been clearly defined by the learned annotators Quick and Garran. In dealing with the meaning of the words " other than

State banking," which occur in sub-section xiii. of section 51, they lay down the rule of interpretation, and quote as an authority the case of Rhode Island v. Massachusetts. The principle laid down is that according to the rule of interpretation in the United States, wherever there is a general grant of power without any exemptions in the Constitution of the United States, it is deemed to have conferred upon Congress the right to exercise to the full extent the powers conferred upon it.

Where no exception is made in terms, none will be made by mere implication or construction.

The annotators mention that the words " other than State banking " were inserted in sub-section xiii., so as to exclude the general rule of interpretation ; that had it not been for the insertion of those words the general rule would have operated. That, I submit, is the correct rule of interpretation, and- if we apply the Prime Minister's argument to other sub-sections, it will be found that it is not a good one. Let us refer to sub-section XXXII. of section 51, which provides that the Parliament of the Commonwealth shall have power to make laws for - the control of railways with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth.

In that sub-section the States are not mentioned.


Mr Deakin - There are no other railways.


Mr GROOM - There are private railways in Queensland, and. they may. be built in the other States of the Union. The question at issue is not whether there are such railways, but the correctness of the rule of construction put forward by the honorable and learned gentleman.


Mr Deakin - The sub-section does not provide for the taking over of the control of the railways.


Mr GROOM - According to the honorable gentleman's rule of construction, the States are hot bound by this sub-section, inasmuch as there is no mention of a State in it. That is the honorable and learned gentleman's argument.


Mr Deakin - On the whole.


Mr GROOM - If the rule of construction does not apply in one instance its value as a general rule disappears. Notwithstanding that the States are not mentioned in the sub-section to which I have just referred, we find that in section 65, and other sections of the Defence Act, the Federal Parliament has dealt very fully with the control of States railways for the purpose of carrying the troops of the Commonwealth. What, then, is the value of a rule as one of general construction if as soon as one applies it to a certain provision in the Constitution he finds that it breaks down ?


Mr Deakin - There are practically -no railways in the Commonwealth save those owned by the States.


Mr GROOM - The question at issue is the rule of construction. It is open to Victoria to dispose of all her railways to privateindividuals or corporations. In that event the4 power of the Constitution would still apply. Does the honorable and learned gentleman contend that this power relating to Defence deals only with States railways ?


Mr Deakin - No.


Mr GROOM - Then it has a general application, and the Prime Minister's rule does not apply.


Mr Glynn - Does the honorable and learned member think that sub-section

xxxii.   of section 51 of the Constitution was really necessary?


Mr GROOM - I am pointing out that in interpreting powers which are provided for in the Constitution where a general rule has been put forward, and that rule breaks down on being applied to one of the powers under section 51, the conclusion must be that it is not a valid rule.


Mr Deakin - I did not admit that. I pointed out that there were several cases in which apparently the rule would not apply ; but that it was of value when taken as a general rule with the restrictions and explanations which I mentioned.


Mr GROOM - The honorable and learned gentleman contends that the rule laid down by him is a good one when it suits his own particular argument ; but it is not a rule which would guide a Court. The general rule laid down by Quick and Garran is that wherever there is a general power conferred On the Commonwealth that power is intended to be exercised to the fullest extent, unless there is any exception made. A further argument was put forward by the Prime Minister with regard to the prerogative of the Crown. As he himself admits he attaches no value to the particular instance referred to by him.


Mr Deakin - I hold that it has a value if we take the doctrine as it stands, but I do not think it can be applied here.


Mr GROOM - I have endeavoured to find out what are the doctrines as to the prerogative of the Crown. There is no prerogative with respect to the servants of the Crown generally. It extends to particular cases, giving the servants freedom, from arrest and certain immunities ; but there is no general prerogative of the Crowns which applies to the whole of the servantsthroughout the States. I have made a. search in several text-books, but I have not: found any such prerogative.


Mr Deakin - We cannot bind theCrown


Mr GROOM - The Crown cannot bebound unless it consents. If it is a prerogative of the Crown, then, according to> Canadian decisions, the Crown can give it up; but it can do so only bv assenting to> a Bill in which the Crown is mentioned. We can make this provision in the Bill, and! if the Crown opposes it because of the prerogative, it can refuse its assent to the Bill on that ground.


Mr Glynn - The honorable and learned? member does not say that the giving of the Royal assent to the Bill gives up the prerogative of the Crown?


Mr GROOM - Where the statute expressly binds the Crown.


Mr Glynn - That is a different thing.


Mr GROOM - That is what is proposed? here, and therefore I think it is right that the provision should be inserted as a safeguard.


Mr Isaacs - That does not meet thedifficulty, because we have to go beyond that and see if the Crown is bound by the Constitution.


Mr GROOM - In Canada it has been held that the Crown can surrender its prerogative.


Mr Isaacs - That is another thing.


Mr GROOM - The two Constitutionsare analogous.


Sir John Forrest - It was struck out of ours.


Mr GROOM - We put in the words, "This Act shall bind the Crown,'" and they were struck out. If under our legislative authority we can deal with certains matters affecting the royal prerogative, the Crown can assent to the Bill. If it i& desired to deprive the Crown of any prerogative the only way by which it can bedone is by passing a distinct Bill.


Mr Watson - To which it can assent.


Mr GROOM - The Bill will not be oF any force until it is assented to by the Crown.


Mr Deakin - Has it been done in the Constitution by express words?


Mr GROOM - Under the Constitution, we' have the power to deal with certain subjects which are defined. In the Constitution of Canada similar provisions are contained, and it has been held there that, if the Parliament passes a Bill dealing with a royal prerogative, the Crown can assent to that Bill and lose its prerogative by that means. That is laid down in Lefroy.


Mr Glynn - If it is within the Federal power.


Mr GROOM - That is the very point. Suppose that there is a prerogative attaching to the servants of the Crown, our contention is that the legislative power does include servants. Can it be contended that we have no power to bind any of the public servants of the Commonwealth, because the Crown is not mentioned in the Constitution ?


Mr Isaacs - The honorable and learned member does not argue that we can create the power by putting in these words? -


Mr GROOM - Certainly not.


Mr Isaacs - No one disputes the other portion.


Mr GROOM - I am glad to hear that the honorable and learned member agrees that there is no dispute about the other portion, but the Prime Minister has suggested that other people do not agree.


Mr Isaacs - I did not understand that.


Mr Deakin - Only as to that point.


Mr GROOM - Yes. The question of the power of taxation is, I presume, purely a question of analogy. The power to tax certainly contains the power to destroy. Where a large number of public servants are seriously affected by a taxation measure, the power to tax may practically destroy the Federal or State agency. By that- means the instrumentality or agency could be destroyed. But this power is not to my mind at all equivalent to taxation. The result might be that the States would have to impose taxation. But we have power to regulate trade and commerce generally, and to deal with navigation generally. Surely these are matters in which the States are concerned.


Mr Deakin - Expressly.


Mr GROOM - The States are not expressly mentioned as regards navigation. We may impose heavy navigation charges. Suppose that Queensland started to run a shipping company, and extended its operations to the other States of the Union, because it had to pay increased charges, would that render the measure imposing them un- constitutional? Because the State is 2 n not mentioned in that section of the Constitution, would all its ships be exempted ? Could Queensland send out ships in an unseaworthy condition ? Could it set aside all regulations as regards payment of wages in various ports? .


Mr Deakin - I do not know that it could not.


Mr GROOM - That is an extraordinary limitation of our powers under the Constitution. I submit that it could not. The States generally are bound by the provisions. Yet we, by our legislation dealing with trade and commerce, may lay certain charges on the States.


Mr Deakin - Which we are expressly authorized to do within certain well-defined limits.


Mr GROOM - Quite so. The test of the principle, which the honorable and learned gentleman lays down, is that, if a statute causes a State to raise more revenue the statute is unconstitutional, because it contains an exercise of the power to tax.


Mr Deakin - No; I did not go so far.


Mr GROOM - I am glad to see that we are gradually narrowing down the issue to a smaller and smaller scope. It seems to me that the exemption of the States cannot be based on these propositions at all. The last proposition - which has not been mentioned by the Prime Minister, . but which has been raised by several honorable members - is what is the value of the power? It is said that the amendment is unconstitutional, because we could not enforce the award of the Court. How can we enforce our remedies against the States? In the Constitution we have power to deal with actions against the States. Under secion 78 we may make laws - conferring rights to proceed against the Commonwealth or a State in respect of mailers within the limits of the judicial power.

In the Judiciary Act we have given to the High Court the express power of issuing injunctions against a State. It provides that the Treasurer of a State shall pay out of the consolidated revenue, on the production of a certificate, the amount of the judgment of the High Court.


Mr Glynn - Do we not stop short of that ?


Mr GROOM - No; section 66 says -

On receipt of the certificate of a judgment against the Commonwealth or a State, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth or of the State, as the case may be, shall satisfy the judgment out of moneys legally available.


Mr Glynn - How can the Court compel him to pay ?


Mr McCay - Suppose that he does not ?


Mr GROOM - If every State in. the Union but one is prepared to obey the Constitution, and that State is only going to obey so much of the Constitution as may suit itself, it will bring about a social revolution, and we shall have to call out the powers which we, as a nation, possess to deal with the matter.


Mr McCay - That is evading the issue.


Mr GROOM - It is not. If the Treasurer of a State refused to do his duty, to satisfy the judgment of the Court, he would practically be guilty of treason to the Commonwealth.


Mr McCay - But if a private individual refused to pav ?


Mr GROOM - He could be forced to pay. We have the power to issue an injunction against a State.


Mr Hutchison - Otherwise a State could say that it did not belong to the Federation.


Mr GROOM - Practically it would be the secession movement in a new form. I do not believe that any responsible Minister in a State would refuse to be bound by the decision of a properly constituted, tribunal. I believe that every Minister would submit loyally- and faithfully to the Court's decision. Every State has proved itself to be a law-abiding community, and I have every confidence that that spirit will continue.


Mr Isaacs - The Privy Council recently discounted any such argument. They said that if a judgment were given against a State they would assume that Parliament would provide the money.


Mr GROOM - Exactly. There is now only the question of expediency to deal with. I feel that it is a right and. proper thing that the Commonwealth should at all times preserve its control over the trade and commerce of the community. Strikes are things which at times happen most unexpectedly. Perhaps the stupidity of a State Minister, or the obstinacy of a trade union executive, may be the means of causing the whole commerce' of a community to be thrown into confusion. It would be a lamentable thing if we had repeated in the Commonwealth that which occurred recently in Victoria.


Sir John Forrest - This would- not stop it.


Mr GROOM - If it extended beyond a State it would. If the whole of the farmers and other residents in the interior are to be placed at the mercy of a strike executive. or of a Minister, who may cause trouble at a moment's notice, they will be in a precarious situation. They are justified in saying - " If you are going to introduce a measure which purports to deal with the peace, welfare, and good government of the community as a whole, we demand that you should preserve, to us the highways." For after all, what are the highways of the Commonwealth? It is,' along these that the life-blood of the nation flows.- A citizen's right to go over the whole of the Commonwealth depends upon his ability to travel on the highways. It is absolutely of vital importance to every citizen of the Commonwealth that he shall have the right of travelling freely along these highways of commerce, and be able to send the product of his industry along them. The railways are the only means by which the people in the interior can get their produce to the various centres; and I say that as a matter of vital importance to them, and as a matter of expediency, the railway, servants should be included in the provisions of this Bill, so as to prevent obstructions to commerce.







Suggest corrections