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Tuesday, 28 June 1904


Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) - In connexion with this measure the Prime Minister, like the Minister of External Affairs, possesses very marked advantages over almost all of us - certainly- over myself. They are not only members of trades unions, but to them these' bodies are concrete realities with whose workings they are familiar, and whose powers and privileges they thoroughly understand. They have also had an opportunity in New South Wales, during the last two or three years, of watching the working of the Arbitration Act in that State, and finding out its strong and weak points. Therefore, they start with a practical knowledge of the questions with which we have to deal that is not possessed by many of us. I admit, therefore, on the testimony borne by the Prime Minister that the influence which the trades unions are capable of exercising must be valuable. I can quite understand that in the Teralba case the steady pressure exerted by the leaders of the movement, and of the union,, must have been very beneficial.


Mr Lonsdale - A number of other influences were also exerted.


Mr Watson - The secretary of the Miners' Association was> present at several meetings of the Teralba union, and urged the members to go to work.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And yet they refused ?


Mr Watson - They went to work soon afterwards.


Mr DEAKIN - It seems to me perfectly reasonable that there should have been such an influence at work ; but I do not know of the extent to which it was exercised in the Teralba case. I part company with the Prime Minister first of all in regard to the view which he takes of the scheme of the Bill. As I understand it, the measure does not, in any sense, make it necessary that the unions and the organizations contemplated, by the Bill should be co-extensive. On the other hand, its provisions indicate that organizations will probably be formed of members of trades unions, and of those outside unions, who will be brought together for the purposes of the Bill.


Mr Groom - It will necessitate the federation of the unions.


Mr DEAKIN - At an earlier stage this evening the question was raised, whether the organizations contemplated by the Bill would or would not be Federal ; that is to say, whether or not they would always comprise subordinate associations or unions in more than one State.


Mr Isaacs - The amendment suggests that the organizations should disregard the unions altogether.


Mr DEAKIN - I think not. The question was raised to-night whether the organizations were intended to be Federal ot otherwise. I take it that they are not required to be Federal. They may be Federal or State organizations. It will be competent for an association of more than 100 employes in any one industry in any one State to register as an organization. They will not be affected, under this Bill, unless a dispute extends beyond any one State. Though it is not imperative, the probability is that organizations of employes in two or more States will unite for the purposes of bringing a case before the Court when a dispute has extended beyond the limits of any one State. Consequently, organizations will not necessarily be Federal, but . they may be Federal. In the next place, an organization is not intended to be coterminous with a trades union. I find clear proof of that in clause 54, amongst others. In sub-clause 2 of that clause, it is provided that -

The property of an organization shall be deemed to include the property of any association forming, or forming part of, the organiza tion, or in which any such association has a beneficial interest, whether vested in trustees or howsoever otherwise held. '


Mr Watson - That is not inconsistent with the recognition of trades unions.


Mr DEAKIN - The Prime Minister has not yet had an opportunity of following the particular line of argument which I desire to pursue. An organization under this Bill, therefore, is something which may consist only of a trades union, and be absolutely coterminous with it ; or ' it may include a trades union as forming part of it, and other trades unions or unionists. Organizations under this Bill are perfectly open.


Mr Watson - It is proposed by the amendment to exclude trades unions.


Mr DEAKIN - I think it will save time if I am allowed to explain what I clearly understand by the term "organization," and what is meant by one or two of the provisions to which I shall call attention. The organizations do not exclude trades unions. In fact, special references are made to cases in which a trades union may form or form part of an organization. In such cases a responsibility will be incurred by the trades union. The property of the union will become available in certain cases for the payment of penalties which may be inflicted by the Court; and . the Prime Minister had in this fact one of his strongest arguments if . he had chosen to use it. So far as a trades union is possessed of property, and becomes part of an organization, it will make itself responsible. That provision requires to be viewed in another light. The fact that inasmuch as, by becoming an organization or a part of one, a trades union will, so to speak, pledge its property, may be regarded by the unions as a reason for not, as trades unions, forming part of an organization. That is another argument which I present to the Prime Minister as of some importance.


Mr Watson - I do not know that that affects the Bill very much.


Mr DEAKIN - I am simply pointing out that the provision is in the. Bill.. If it is not approved, it ought to be removed or modified. The clear intention of the Bill is not to require, as the Prime Minister is inclined to do, that every person who desires to become a member of an organization shall also be a member of a trades union. Trades unions have all excellent objects, to some of which the Prime Minister has alluded, and as such they have exercised the most legitimate influences in furthering the interests of those who are embraced by them. But there are classes of the community who, for one reason or another, do not favour the particular trade union of the industry in which they are employed. In some cases they do not favour the union in a particular State, and in . other cases they do not favour unions at all. These persons are not excluded from the provisions of the Bill. On the contrary, special provision is made for keeping wide open the doors of the organizations, so that all who please may enter them, become bound by them, and share in their responsibilities.


Mr Page - But what organization would the employes join, if they did not attach themselves to the trades union of the industry in which they were employed?


Mr DEAKIN - The organizations, so far as the Bill requires them to go, are only bodies by means of which appeals are to be brought before the Court. When awards are made these bodies are expected, and are obliged, to assist in giving effect to them. So long as they do this they accomplish all that is necessary under the Bill. Trades unions, however, go a good deal further. They have a great many other objects, most of them - all of them in their place - most useful. They can bring a great deal of influence to bear upon their members, and the organizations contemplated by the Bill may not do so. The fact remains that when a man joins an organization he may or may not join the trades union associated with that particular industry.


Mr Page - I do not see what organization he could join unless he associated himself with the trades union of his industry.


Mr DEAKIN - Take the case of the boot-making industry,, -in which there are already unions. The union in Victoria might resolve to form an organization under the Bill. Having more than 100 members it could register and become an organization. It would be perfectly possible for any bootmaker, outside of the union, to enrol himself as a member of the trades union; or he might enrol himself only as a member of the organization for the purposes of the Bil] without becoming a member of the trades union.


Mr Carpenter - Then there would be two unions.


Mr DEAKIN - I am endeavouring to convey to honorable members what the Bill provides for. If they disapprove of the provisions, it is for them to alter them.

That is the position, and, as far as I know - I judge from memory, as well as from the provisions of the Bill itself - that was the intention of the right honorable member for Adelaide when he drafted the measure.


Mr Spence - Is not that sufficient for all purposes?


Mr DEAKIN - That may be used as an argument against the amendment. I am endeavouring to state the whole of the arguments which may be used on either side. The trades unions have objects relating to benefits, or of a political or quasipolitical character, besides those which are purely industrial. So far as they are industrial bodies they may come within the Bill as organizations, and if they are only' industrial they will probably approach very closely to fulfilling the requirements of an organization under the Bill. To the extent, however, that they, introduce any other motives or ends, either semi-political or wholly political, they pass right outside the purposes of the measure. The point that underlies the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas is that he wishes it to be emphasized - to be made perfectly clear - that the only sense in which trades unions shall form part of organizations under the Bill, shall be so far as they are extra-political.


Mr Glynn - Hear, hear.


Mr Watson - The amendment excludes unions as such, and in other provisions we take away from them the right to do what they can now do, namely, strike.


Mr Hughes - That is so; a trades union not being a recognised organization could still strike.


Mr DEAKIN - No; not at all. I noticed some remarks made by the Minister, and repeated in a Sydney newspaper of yesterday, in which he appeared to imply what he now definitely states, namely, that a trades union or other body not registered as an organization would be in a position to strike after the Bill had been passed.


Mr Hughes - Certainly.


Mr DEAKIN - With all deference to the Minister, but as precisely as I can, I venture to take the opposite position. Clause 6 contains the governing provision of the Bill. It enacts -

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


Mr Hughes - What is meant there by "person"?


Mr DEAKIN - The word has the ordinary meaning. It covers any person or organization that strikes.


Mr HUGHES (WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. It means a. person who is a member of an organization, or an employer who is at once a person and an organization.


Mr DEAKIN - -It may mean any person.


Mr Hughes - Does the honorable and learned member say that it means every person in the community ?


Mr DEAKIN - Absolutely; under the conditions of the Constitution. If it does not it is meaningless.


Mr Groom - A dispute must extend beyond the limits of one State. Therefore " person " must mean a person having interest in at least two States ; otherwise that could not apply.


Mr DEAKIN - Exactly. I have already said that this Bill contains the same ample powers that exist in every State Arbitration Act. There can be no doubt that a certain amount of ambiguity has resulted from adapting to disputes which must extend beyond the limits of one State before they are litigable similar provisions to those which have been applied to industrial disputes within a State. As the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has pointed out, the word " person," as it is used in clause 6, could not possibly mean a person who is located in only one State. He would require to be a person who conducts business in two States.


Mr Groom - " Industrial dispute," in the definition clause, refers distinctly to organizations.


Mr Isaacs - If a dispute arose between an employer and a trades union would it be an "industrial dispute" within the meaning of this Bill if this amendment were carried ?


Mr DEAKIN - If it extended beyond the limits of any one State it could be.


Mr Watson - But a trades union would not be a registered organization.


Mr Isaacs - An organization must be registered, and a trades union not being registered would not be prohibited from striking. This amendment would turn the whole Bill topsy-turvy.


Mr DEAKIN - if my memory serves me accurately the amendments which have been effected in the definition of " industrial dispute " relate only to the railway servants and to other employes. But when the Registrar certifies, in the' public interest, that an industrial dispute ought to be dealt with by the Court, it is not limited in the way suggested by the Minister of External Affairs.


Mr Watson - But the term "industrial dispute " is governed by clause 4.


Mr Glynn - It will be easy to amend that.


Mr Hughes - I said that the Court could interfere only when a dispute had attained considerable proportions, and when such interference would be useless.


Mr DEAKIN - The Minister assumes that a dispute must have developed considerable proportions.


Mr Hughes - Otherwise, how would it come within the knowledge of the Registrar?


Mr DEAKIN - All that the Bill- requires is that the Registrar shall certify that a- dispute exists which ought to be dealt with by the Court. It will not always be the size of a dispute which will induce that officer to certify as to its existence. Instances are readily conceivable in which relatively a small contest may raise for the first time .a very important industrial principle, requiring to be settled promptly, and in such cases the Registrar ought to intervene. It seems to me that the Minister requires to qualify his statement to a greater extent than he appears to have done accord- ' ing to the newspaper report, by calling attention to the fact that the Registrar has unlimited authority - subject to the President - to bring any dispute extending beyond the limits of a State within the cognizance of the Court.


Mr Hughes - Later on I will show to what extent that can be done.


Mr DEAKIN - Then we come to the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas. It is that no association shall be registered unless it has been formed and exists solely for the purposes of this Bill. The whole of the new element embodied in that proposal is to be found in the word " solely." Of course, before any organization can be registered it must have been formed, and exist for the purposes of this Bill.


Mr Isaacs - It would require to be formed after this measure has come into operation.


Mr Glynn - The employes can form an' organization upon another basis without extinguishing their present existence.


Mr Carpenter - Not without destroying the present unions.


Mr DEAKIN - It seems to me that, in referring to "organizations," many honorable members have used the term in different senses. In some instances it has been implied that an organization must necessarily be a trades union. I have already indicated the circumstances under which a union may or may not form part of an organization. The honorable and learned member for Angas desires to make a condition that an organization must exist for the purposes of the Bill. He proposes that it should exist solely for those purposes. What would be the effect of bis proposal ? It would make little or no change in the phraseology of. the Bill because the definition of the term "organization" is wide enough to allow such a body to consist, wholly of the members of a trades union, or not to consist of them at all. After his amendment some of the provisions might be very rarely used ; but that fact would not involve any serious change in the structure of the Bill. The amendment would relieve the unions of the financial obligation to which I have referred, but would not exclude every member of a union from joining an organization.


Mr Hutchison - Apparently the honorable and learned member wishes the employes to join two trades unions.


Mr DEAKIN - They might belong to one organization for general purposes, and to the other for the particular purposes of this measure.


Mr Hutchison - Then they would have to pay two subscriptions.


Mr DEAKIN - Probably. Perhaps this point will need further consideration, irrespective of whether or not the amendment of the honorable and -learned member for Angas is carried. We require to settle what is really meant by the term " organization." If an organization may consist of some unionists and some non-unionists, how is that junction to be communicated ? Will it be by resolution ? What step will require to be taken to make it clear whether or not a union comes within the scope of subclause 2 of clause 52 of the Bill?


Mr Hughes - The union will presumably have to pass a resolution.


Mr DEAKIN - Then in what way will it form part of an organization ? _ Is that intended to cover the case of a union which decides to form an organization, in which there may be some who are not members of the union? Would that make a union a " part of " an organization ?


Mr Hughes - It means part of an organization in which one branch is established, say in A State, and another part in B State.


Mr DEAKIN - Then the honorable member's view is that, if an organization is established in any State, and a union exists in that particular State, the' organization must necessarily be the union ?


Mr Hughes - I did not say anything of die sort, but that is what it amounts to. That has been the experience in New South Wales, New Zealand, and elsewhere.


Mr DEAKIN - In the New South Wales Act the term used is "industrial union."


Mr Hughes - In every case of which I know a trades union has formed the primary body which has by resolution decided to register under the Act. The only formality necessary has been the presentation of a suitable resolution to the Registrar.


Mr DEAKIN - There the practical experience of the Minister helps him out of a difficulty. Quite apart, however, from the particular question as to whether these organizations should be formed solely for the purposes of this Bill, 'the question involved is one of the utmost importance. If honorable- members will refer to schedule B, which sets out the conditions upon which any organization shall be formed, they will find nothing required there except what is necessary for carrying out the provisions of this Bill. Amongst other matters it contains the following sub-clause : - " The rules of an association may also provide for any other matters not contrary to law, and for the repeal or alteration of the rules, but so that the above condition shall always be complied with." I presume, therefore, that provision may be made for all the ordinary rules of a trades union, and may include all the ordinary objects of such a union. That brings the Committee face to face with the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas that it is desirable for these matters to be separated so that political and semi-political questions shall be entirely excluded from the organizations established' under this measure.


Mr Hutchison - Are not political questions excluded from them under the Bill as it stands?


Mr DEAKIN - If we are so far agreed it is .very easy to place the matter beyond all doubt. What shall we lose if we declare that organizations shall consist only of trades unions, so far as they are banded together for the particular purpose of this Bill ? We lose the power of coming upon the property of the unions.


Mr Hutchison - Why necessarily for the purpose of this Bill only?


Mr Watson - We shall, under this amendment, lose the unions for the purposes of the Bill.


Mr DEAKIN - If every member of the bootmakers' union can become a member of the association, what loss is there? There is, of course, the loss of keeping two organizations.


Mr Frazer - A pretty serious loss, does not the honorable and learned member think ?


Mr DEAKIN - I do not, at present. I wait to be informed. At present the trades union subscription is for trades union purposes. The organization subscription will be for the organization purposes, and will be required to be paid by the unionists as a new subscription, in any case.


Mr Frazer - Will it not necessitate additional staffs for the unions?


Mr DEAKIN - The organizations require, under schedule b, to have committees, chairmen, or presidents, and secretaries.


Mr Watson - That will be a duplication of the officers of the trades unions.


Mr DEAKIN - If there is no desire for duplication, it will be perfectly possible to appoint the same officers for the organization as for the union. But I take it that the force of the argument of the Prime Minister has relation to loss of influence.


Mr Watson - The honorable and learned member is arguing against his own Bill.


Mr DEAKIN - Not at all, this is an amendment. The. Prime Minister and his colleagues start with a great advantage over those who, like me, had not any practical knowledge of this question at the commencement. During the progress of the Bill I have, however, learnt a great deal more about the unions and the matters affected by the Bill than I knew before.


Mr Hutchison - The honorable and learned member does not seem to be disposed to follow their advice.


Mr DEAKIN - I follow advice, as the honorable member does, whenever it commends itself to my judgment; but I listen to both sides, and form my own opinion. As a matter of fact, I have not voted for the alteration of a single line or letter of this Bill - not one. I have supported the Government on every occasion when this Bill has been challenged, and have done that largely because I had introduced it and become responsible for it; although I have been discovering as we have proceeded - as I think every honorable member must on the further consideration . of a new question like this - that when sections of State Acts which are found to work well are applied to Federal affairs, they often produce unexpected consequences, and require consideration. Notwithstanding that, I have in every case cast the balance in my own mind in favour of the Bill as it stands. I hold myself free, however, to amend even those parts which are my own handiwork at any stage when I may see cause for amendment. And the greater part of the Bill is not my handiwork, but that of the right honorable member for' Adelaide. I am not in any way departing from the Bill in this case, because, as I have pointed out already, the Bill, as framed, allows organizations to be formed consisting entirely of trades unionists, or of non - unionists, or partly of unionists and partly of non - unionists. Therefore, the matter is open for consideration whether we shall gain most for this measure and its efficiency, by separating entirely .the membership of organizations under the .Bill from any other bodies to which they may belong, or whether it is necessary, in the interests of the Bill, and necessary for its working, as the Prime Minister contends, that trades unions shall be encouraged to come in and accept responsibility. That is a' question which is open for argument, and at present it seems to me that there is a good deal in the suggestion which the honorable and learned member for Angas has made. His proposal undoubtedly would create bodies which, being industrial wholly and solely in their purposes, will be open to those who choose to join them in order to secure the benefits of this Bill, without becoming involved in the various aims and efforts of trades unions. Those can be carried on by the unions in the future as they have been in the past. I have yet to see that this proposal cripples the Bill. If it did that, it would be an overmastering consideration, and I would be no party to it. But I do not see that it does cripple the Bill.


Mr Watson - Will the unions register under an Act which gives them no privileges, but penalizes them?


Mr DEAKIN - If they think they can secure any advantage they will bring their case before the Court.


Mr Watson - They may have to accept an award that they do not agree with, and at the same time give up their right to strike.


Mr DEAKIN - They would not appeal to the Court unless they thought the result would be to improve their present position.


Mr Groom - Suppose there is a dispute before a State Court] how would the honorable and learned member remove it to the Federal Court if there were different classes of organizations ?


Mr DEAKIN - That difficulty exists under the Bill as it stands. There is no compulsion upon existing unions tip come under the Bill as it stands. The Bill is framed so that although the existing unions do not come under it, an organization can be formed in any particular industry. If such an organization were formed in a particular industry - take the bootmaking industry, for instance - and did appea'l to the Federal Court, while a trades union in the same industry was appealing to a State Court, duplication must arise. That is one of the possibilities which I must say I did not foresee at the time when I was considering the drafting of the Bill as clearly as I see it now. But that possibility of duplication exists under the Bill as it stands, and may be worthy of consideration in any regard. If the amendment before us does not cripple the Bill, it would certainly facilitate its working. I hope that the honorable and learned member for Angas will review the language in which it is cast, so that it will leave the organizations to be formed as free as 'unions are now, provided that neither are devoted to other than industrial purposes.







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