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Tuesday, 28 June 1904

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! I have called on the honorable members for Swan and Yarra half-a-dozen times to keep order, but the noise is still continued. I have to ask honorable members, if they have a conversation of that character to carry on, to retire from the Chamber, and not to disturb the business of the Committee.

Mr. CROUCH(Corio).- I do not wish the Prime Minister to come to a decision on this point too quickly, because I believe that I shall be able to advance reasons which will induce him to agree with my view. I am quite aware of what the procedure would be. First, an award has to be made ; secondly, an application has to be made to the Court for a mandamus or an injunction ; then a copy of that order has to be served on the parties, and if they do not obey, it is intended by the clause that imprisonment only shall be inflicted. It say's -

No person lo whom such order applies shall, after written notice of the order, be guilty of any contravention of the award by act or omission.

The Prime Minister will see that it applies purely to employers, and not to employes.

Mr Groom - Why does it not apply to employes ?

Mr CROUCH - Because the order of the Court applies to employers only. The only thing that an employe" could do to contravene the law would be under clause 6, which says -

No person or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any lock-out or strike. " Person " under the interpretation clause can mean only " employer."

Mr ISAACS (INDI, VICTORIA) - We do not know what the award may be.

Mr CROUCH - Let us take the case, which arose recently in Sydney, where an organization refused to admit members to a union pursuant to an order of the Court.

Mr Watson - They did not persist in that action.

Mr CROUCH - Well, supposing that any organization were ordered by the Court that it must .have an open membership, and that it refused to obey the order, the Prime Minister will not say that the committee nf management and the present unionists in the organization would be liable under this clause ? Because the offender, in that case, would be an organization, and not a person.

Mr Watson - The persons individually are made liable as well as the organization.

Mr CROUCH - Not in clause 55, because the words "no person" are used, and it is only the organization which appears.

Mr Isaacs - If my honorable and learned friend will look at paragraph e, of clause 46, he will find that the Court has power - to enjoin any organization or person from committing or continuing any contravention of this Act, or any breach or non-observance of any term of an order or award.

Mr CROUCH - I propose to show the honorable and learned member for Indi that clause 55 applies, so far as persons are concerned, to only employers.

Mr Groom - Oh, no.

Mr CROUCH - So far as employes are concerned, it is only by organization that they can take part, and the word " person " is always held in the Bill to refer to employers.

Mr Watson - It is not.

Mr CROUCH - Take the case of the colliers in Newcastle,, who refused a little while ago to obey an order of the Court, and continued to strike. Would the honorable gentleman say that those colliers would, come under the definition of the word "person " in this clause?

Mr Watson - If the Court so ordered they would.

Mr CROUCH - Then we have to go back to clause 6, which says -

No person or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike.

If honorable members will turn to the definition of " industrial dispute," which is the limitation under which that clause can be applied, they will find that it is -

A dispute in relation to industrial matters arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part, and an organization of employes on the other part.

Only an organization of employes, not an employe' singly. I submit that clause 6, which would stop a strike or lock-out, can apply in reference to only an industrial organization. That is not a dispute between employers and employes, as persons, but only one between an employer or an organization of employers and an organization of employes. Consequently, under the Bill, as it is drawn, an employ^ can make any breach he likes, and, therefore, does not come under this clause. The only punishment that can possibly be inflicted is against the organization itself, and not against the employe^ because h2 is not a person as defined in the Act. This is only my view, but I certainly think that, for the reasons I have given, the word "person" throughout the Bill, particularly in this clause, which provides for three months' imprisonment, can under no circumstances apply to an employe, but must always apply to an employer. It is very unfortunate that we should not have this remedy against an employe. An employer is a person only, and he is the only offender who is to be visited with imprisonment. I ask, in these circumstances, that an employer should be allowed the privilege of paying a fine, and should not be imprisoned straight off.

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