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Wednesday, 6 July 1904


Mr GLYNN (Angas) - It is about time the Committee came to a division on the amendment before it. But before it does so, I wish to say a few words, not in regard to the motive of my amendment, but in explanation of its effect upon the Bill. My motive is purely to alter the machinery of' the Bill, not to affect the interests of Ministers. My object is to work the ' Bill with organizations whose rules will be simple, and whose subscriptions will be small, so as to afford inducements to join to the greatest number of persons ; organizations into which every employe in an industry in a district can come without losing hSs position in respect to his friendly society. A man joining an organization provided for in the Bill as it stands must either drop out of his friendly society or pay two subscriptions. He might belong to a friendly society associated with a particular church or district, and under the Bill as it stands would either have to pay two subscriptions, or upon becoming a member of a registered organization, discontinue his membership of the friendly society. Under my proposal,, however, he could continue his membership of the friendly society, and would be called upon to pay only a farthing or a halfpenny per week as a member of a registered organization. I have not the slightest objection to unionism or organization. In the two speeches which I made on the Bill this year and last year, I recognised, taking a short retrospective view of unionism, the immense beneficent influence which it has exercised upon the progress of the nation.


Mr Ronald - Then why destroy the unions ?


Mr GLYNN - I am not attempting to do so. But what we are dealing with in the Bill are Federal conditions. The organizations .which would be constituted , under the Bill must be beyond all question Inter-State organizations. It has been said by the honorable and learned member for Indi that if my amendment were carried it would be impossible to make use of the State organizations for the purposes of the Bill. But I do not think we can make use of State organizations under the Bill as it stands. We can use only Inter-State or Federal organizations, and I believe that, as a matter of fact, some of the trades are at the present time federating with a view to coming under the provisions of the Bill. I heard in Adelaide last week that even the rail way men are organizing on a Federal basis, so as to have a constitutional status when the Bill passes. It is not at all clear that, as a matter of constitutional law, we can make use, for the purposes of the Bill, of existing trades unions which are purelyState unions.


Mr Batchelor - An additional rule or two would meet the difficulty.


Mr GLYNN - What is required is not the change of a rule or two, but the federation of two or more unions in different States.


Mr Watson - Most of the unions are so federated.


Mr GLYNN - Then all they would have to do, to register under my amendment, would be to drop from the rules of their organization such as appertain purely to friendly societies or political objects.


Mr Watson - And destroy the whole framework of their organization.


Mr GLYNN - That is not necessary. When the States joined the Federal union, their constitutions, remained absolutely unimpaired, except in specific particulars. They retained their distinct legislative capacities, financial, and general, and can, if they choose, change their constitutions without affecting the Constitution of tha "Commonwealth. Similarly the existing trades unions pf the States could, by federation, form a new body, with one object and one set of rules, framed purely for the purpose of the Bill, continuing under their existing organizations their educational, social, friendly society, and political objects. The existence of a Federal Parliament and Executive does not abrogate the duties of the States Parliaments and Executives. So the federation of the trades unions of the States would not to any extent interfere with their utility as friendly societies or political organizations, or prevent the carrying out of any other of their professed objects. But it is extremely likely that the Court will hold that a purely State organization cannot take charge of an Inter-State dispute. How then can honorable members say that, if three or four unions in as many States federate with an object relating purely to this Bill, it will kill their utility as State unions?


Mr Hutchison - Why was not this arrangement advocated when the State measures were under consideration ?


Mr GLYNN - The Parliament of New Zealand controls, by its laws, the local trades unions, but we cannot control the trades unions of the States. If we use the existing State unions for the purposes of the Bill, we must prescribe that these unions or associations shall have a set of rules as organizations under the Bill. As a matter of fact, their status as unions is regulated not by a Federal law, because such a law cannot touch them, but by a State law. Unless Nye form associations purely' for the purposes of the Bill, we cannot by a Federal law prescribe their rule's, because, the basis of the unions will still be governed by the States laws. ' Unless the organizations are controlled by Federal laws solely one set of laws will be applicable to them, so far as they meet the requirements of the Bill, and another set of laws set up by the State authorities will govern them, so far as they fulfil the purposes of States organizations.


Mr Spence - The amendment would not meet the case of the union with which I am connected.


Mr GLYNN - Does not the honorable member see that a very slight reconstruction of the rules of his union would meet the requirements of the amendment. . In discussing my proposal the honorable member ignores the fact that there would be nothing to prevent a hundred members of any union from declaring themselves an organization for the purposes of the Bill, and adopting rules that would allow of every member of the union with which they are associated to apply to become enrolled in the organization formed for the purposes of the Bill.


Mr Spence - That operation would occupy two years.


Mr GLYNN - It would be quite competent for the executive committee of the union to form itself into an association without consulting the other members.


Mr Spence - We could not do that.


Mr GLYNN - There would be nothing to prevent them. Only 100 members would be required. The moment that an organization was registered, a rule could be adopted providing that a mere application on the part of any person would serve to secure his admission to the organization. I believe that in this way 20,000 or 30,000 men could, within a month, be admitted into an organization formed for the purposes of the Bill.


Mr Hutchison - Whilst that was being done, a bogus organization could be formed and registered under the Bill.


Mr GLYNN - There need be no fear of that. I have drafted amendments which would have the effect of preventing the registration of any organization until ample notice had been given. Notice would have to be published in the Gazette for, say one or two months, and only after the expiration of that period could any union be registered, lt would then be open for any organization to come in and claim preference over the first applicant for registration. I do not see why preference should not be given to an organization formed exclusively for the purposes of the Act.


Mr Hutchison - That is the difficulty.


Mr GLYNN - If organizations were formed with objects absolutely distinct from the general objects of- trades unionism, but not contradictory to them, the trades unions could be left free to carry out their objects, whether they were useful or otherwise, within the State sphere, leaving untouched the organizations formed for the purposes of the Bill. The subscriptions to the organizations formed under the Bill should be small, the rules should be simple; and they should be absolutely under the control of the Federal Act. So long as the associations were trades unions, that had been converted into organizations under the Bill, their rules would be governed by State laws, and it would therefore be within the power of the State Parliament to absolutely neutralize the effect of any rules we might prescribe. The Federation ought to be capable of altering the rules of organizations under the Bill at pleasure.


Mr Hutchison - The honorable and learned member is really declaring that what the unions are now doing is illegal.


Mr GLYNN - I say nothing of the sort.


Mr Hutchison - The honorable and learned member wishes to declare them so.


Mr GLYNN - No, I do not. I recognise the expediency of the trades unions continuing their political propagandism. I realize that they must be the watch-dogs in connexion with the various Factories Acts which have been passed as the result of their endeavours. I believe that one honorable member, who did me the honour to refer to. me to-night - I was not present to hear him - almost threw doubt upon my motives in moving this amendment. He alleged that there must have been some inconsistency in my radicalism in South Australia in connexion with the social movement in the early days. I would remind that honorable member that, so far from my feelings being antipathetic to trades unions, I accepted an invitation to lecture on behalf of the distressed people at Broken

Hill during the strike of 1893. At that time there was a very strong feeling in opposition to the trades unions; but, in the face of that, I took the platform at the Town Hall, with the object of assisting those who had been reduced to distress through the strike. Therefore no honorable member should impute to me any sinister motive. My sole object is to see that the organizations created for the purposes of the Bill are effective. I desire that their rules shall be simple, and that they shall embrace the whole of the employes in an industry, and thus attain to the highest degree of strength, and provide effective machinery for the working of the Act. I rose principally because, owing to the allegations which have been made that this amendment is really directed against . trades unionism, and that, if carried, it would deal a deathblow at the unions, I thought a few words from me were due to the Committee.


Mr WATSON - I do not intend to delay the Committee to any great extent, but I desire to refer to two matters to which I think it is only proper to advert. In the first place, a statement has been circulated throughout the Commonwealth that only one of six or seven of the adult workers in New South Wales is a trades unionist. The right honorable member for East Sydney fathered that statement, but I forget who first put it forward.


Mr Conroy - I did.


Mr WATSON - I am not surprised to hear that the statement originated with the honorable and learned member, because it is just what we might have expected from him.


Mr Conroy - It is correct.


Mr WATSON - I know that it is absolutely incorrect, in the sense in which it has been used.


Mr Conroy - There are only 66,000 unionists in New South Wales.


Mr WATSON - That is not correct. That embraces only the numbers furnished to the Registrar of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, as representing the membership of the unions which had registered and sent in returns. A number of unions are not registered under the Arbitration Court, and some of the registered unions had not, sent in returns up- to the date at which those figures were compiled. The other day I gave, from the Statistical Register, a rough idea of the number of workers in New South Wales, and of the number which should be subtracted as belonging to trades, professions, and callings in which no unions are in existence. The people en gaged in these occupations are not eligible to join the existing unions, and the granting of any preference to the members of existing unions would not affect them one way or the other. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa was guilty of promulgating one of those halftruths which it is so difficult to pursue when it is desired to arrive at the actual condition of affairs.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister excludes a number of occupations from the calculation.


Mr WATSON - Certainly, we exclude those persons who are engaged in occupations in which no unions exist, and who could not therefore be detrimentally affected by any proposal to grant a preference to unionists.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister knows that the typewriters and shorthandwriters have lately formed a union.


Mr WATSON - But their number does not materially affect the calculation.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The life assurance agents are also forming a union.


Mr WATSON - Their number, too, is so small that they do not materially- affect the issue. Moreover, the instances which have been cited would correspondingly increase the number of persons who are members of trades unions. Upon 5th April, Mr. A. B. Spence, secretary to the Breadcarters' Union, in Sydney, wrote to the Daily Telegraph, amplifying the figures which I used here the other night. He states that at the end of December, 1903, there were 754,623 males in New South Wales.) Of that', number 310,321 were under the age of 17½ years, and therefore cannot be classed as adult workers. He adds that there are 20,719 persons between the ages of 65 and 113 years, or over 65 years' of age. Consequently, the. actual number of bonâ fide adults in the State is 423,592. Of that number 10,809areen- gaged in government, defence, law, and protection, not otherwise classed ; 16,044are persons ministering to religions, charity, health, education, science, and art; 20,128 are engaged in the supply of board and lodgings and the rendering of personal service; 8,985 find occupation in the exchange, valuation, insurance, lease, loan, or custody of money, house, land or property rights; 4,144 are engaged dealing in. art andmechanical productions; 16,689 are employed as general dealers, or in mercantile pursuits, not otherwise classed; and 424 are described as " speculators on chance events." These are bookmakers,

I presume. Then 4,961 persons are engaged in the postal, telegraph, and telephone services, and in the delivery of documents, parcels, and messages by hand ; 75.884 follow agricultural pursuits; 15,850 are employed in dairy farming; 949 in the capture and preservation of wild animals; 1,238 in fishery pursuits; 3,597 are persons of independent means, having no specific occupation; 128 are dependents performing domestic duty, without remuneration; 99,736 comprise relatives and others, not stated as domestics, and not classified otherwise; 10,000 are students and scholars over the age of 17½ years; 988 are persons engaged in- the disposal of refuse; and 10,805are individuals depending upon the State, or upon public and private support. These make a grand total of 301,660. If we subtract that number from 423,592, we find that there are 121,932 males engaged in callings or occupations in which unions exist. Of that number, 66,000 are accounted for in the returns furnished by societies which are registered under arbitration laws.


Mr Ewing - Are there any women included in those returns?


Mr WATSON - Allowance hasbeen made for them. It is unfair, therefore,to argue that, because there are 400,000 odd workers in New South Wales, of whom only 70,000 are registered under the Arbitration Act, a proposal to grant a preference to unions in any way implies the possibility of those organizations prejudicially operating against non-unionists.


Mr Mcwilliams - The unionists number, roughly, about one-half the adult workers ?


Mr WATSON - A little more than onehalf.


Mr Conroy - That result is arrived at by omitting all the able-bodied men.


Mr WATSON - No ; by excluding only those individuals who are engaged in callings in which no unions exist. Honorable members opposite have made much of the possibility of men being called upon to subscribe to political doctrines and to benefit societies in order to secure the advantage of the preference which it is proposed to extend to unionists. I suppose that the Amalgamated Engineers' Society is one of the most, conservative of existing trades unions. It confers very large benefits upon its members, and it has established a parliamentary propaganda fund; which for years has been used in England for political purposes. Two years ago that or ganization adopted special rules, which are applicable to any persons who care to join the organization under the arbitration laws operating elsewhere. These rules were adopted in Manchester in 1901, and are intended foruse in Australia and other parts of the world where arbitration laws are in force. Amongst other things it is laid down that -

Members admitted under these rules shall be known as " members under the Arbitration Act." They shall pay an entrance fee of 5s. (2s. 6d. to be paid when proposed, and 2s. 6d. on night of admission), and 4d. for a copy of rules, including the general rules of the society, and acontribution of 4d. per week. They shall not be entitled to anyof the pecuniary benefits of the society, except those conferred by the Arbitration Act aforesaid.

In other words,, they are not entitled to benefits in the shape of funeral allowances, or old-age pensions, or anything of that description. If they desire to participate in those privileges they can do so by paying an increased fee. The rules continue -

They shall, however, be entitled to participate in benevolent, contingent, and legal assistance funds, to which they shall pay levies the same as ordinary full members. They shall be admitted to all meetings, and be entitled to speak and vote upon all questions affecting themselves in any proceedings under the said Arbitration Act, and also to vote upon levies for the funds beforementioned, and at all elections for branch or general officers.

They are, however, specially exempted from any levy for political purposes. That, it seems to me, is the happy medium upon, which - if a preference be granted to any particular union - the Court should insist in the interests of the non-unionists. It isthat those individuals who join an organization under the preference clause, shall be exempted from any condition which may be sought to be imposed upon them in reference to politics or benefits. At the' same time, the Court should not preclude the members of the organization from continuing in force their own regular rules for the purposes for which they were originally framed. The " special " members of these unions are able to become ordinary members, if they desire to do so, but if they do not, they have none of the concomitant provisions attaching toordinary membership thrust down their throat. I wish to say, in conclusion, that the Government cannot accept the additional suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. He seeks, by adding; the words "or to," . to perpetuate the first amendment of which he gave notice.


Mr McCay - That is so.


Mr WATSON - That being the case, I regard the amendment as being exactly on the same plane as the one of which he originally gave notice.

Mr. REID(East Sydney).- The hour is very late, and I think that we should, as soon as possible, come to a division. I believe, however, that I shall be pardoned if I follow the example of the Prime Minister, and take the liberty of saying a few words before we arrive at a decision. I have no personal quarrel with the Government in respect of the extraordinary surrender they have made of principles for which they have fought for years past in their trades unions and their party. If any one had said a few weeks ago that the Labour Party, sitting in the Opposition corner, as the guardian of this measure, and not entangled by views of Ministerial self-interest-


Mr Watson - Is that a worthy suggestion to make?


Mr REID - I shall presently give my reasons for making it. They sat in the Opposition corner, as we all admit, for a long time, as pure-minded patriots, fulfilling the loftiest ideals of public life, and it is, therefore, remarkable that when, as a Ministry, they arrive at a position which they themselves consider one of crisis, as affecting their Ministerial offices, they surrender principle in a way that, I believe - I may be wrong- - will excite the astonishment -of the trades unionist's of Australia. When I interjected across the table that the Government, in accepting the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, would surrender the right of trades unionists to haVe a political soul within their organizations, the honorable member for Hindmarsh said he would take a certain course. I do not know whether he will act upon that statement. .


Mr Hutchison - He will.


Mr Watson - Is that the game? It is not a bad one.


Mr REID - The Prime Minister is now beginning to use controversial language.


Mr Watson - I should think so.


Mr REID - I am merely pointing my observation by the testimony of an honorable member, whose disinterestedness on this subject is well known. My view of it might be looked upon as that of a partisan, but the view of the honorable member for Hindmarsh is that of an honest trades unionist.


Mr McDonald - Oh ; no fl attery !


Mr REID - I hope that honorable members opposite are not going to laugh at that statement. The honorable member for Hindmarsh publicly stated that he would never vote for any amendment which would do that which the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposes. What is the history of this matter? For years past preference to unionists, whether in Arbitration Courts or out of them, has been the heart and soul of Labour agitations in connexion with industrial matters. The complaint of trades unions has always been that no honest worker who wishes to stand side by side with his fellow workers has any just reason for remaining outside a trades union. What have my honorable friends opposite said to-night? One after another they have said that trades unionists have won all the benefits and equities which to-day attend labour in Australia; that other men have stood by and enjoyed these privileges, and- have never consented to bind themselves as brothers with those who have fought their battles for them. We were told, before the little bridge was built for the Government by my honorable friends in the Opposition corner - and it seems very likely, from the smile that has suddenly overspread the face of the Prime Minister-


Mr Watson - I cannot help smiling at the right honorable member's anxiety for our welfare.


Mr REID - It seems probable, from my honorable, friend's smoothed wrinkles, that some arrangement has been arrived at. It may be a very close thing, but still sufficient to save the Government. Before this little bridge was built to help, not the trades unions, but the Government, over a difficulty, we were told that if this effacement of the political side of trades unionism were effected, no trades union would touch the Bill. Can we be surprised at that, when we know what would be the effect of the amendment proposed bv the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs in the mother State, where there are more than . twice as many unionists as there are in Victoria, and where unionists have a preference in the State Court ? Under that amendment they would come under the Federal Court with that preference wiped out. That preference would be set aside, not only so far as New South Wales is concerned, but all over Australia, by one decision. The amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas was that, at the first stage, unions should be refused registration unless they put aside their political character. Then the honorable and learned member for Corinella said, "No; that is too extreme. We should not refuse them registration, but should not allow them to submit their disputes to an Arbitration Court unless at that stage their rules and their books were purged of political attributes." The Government said, however, that with either of these two propositions embodied in the Bill, it would become a mockery, and would not be made use of by the trades unions of Australia. Suddenly, however, a friendly influence arises, and an amendment is foreshadowed which the Government are prepared to accept.


Mr Hutchison - I hope not.


Mr Hutchison - I do not think so.


Mr REID - I am now beginning to understand the position. This is a little bit of strategy. The Government have informed the Committee that they are going to accept the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, in the hope of defeating this amendment, and every other proposal in the same direction.


Mr Watson - The Government have accepted it. '


Mr REID - That is a straightforward statement.


Mr Watson - I said so last night.


Mr REID - Quite . so ; and I repeat that that is a- straightforward statement. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, however, cannot believe it. I quite understand his difficulty, because, while the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable and learned member for Corinella are- before us saying to the unions, (1) " no politics before you register," and (2) " no politics before you submit a dispute," the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs comes along with a third proposal, and says " No politics before you can get an award." This latter provision, a Labour Government of Australia has accepted, and yet we have been told - "You will ruin the unions if you do not allow them to register."


Mr Higgins - The right honorable member is making a big admission in saying that it will ruin the unions.


Mr REID - I was not saying that. My honorable and learned friend has had a mental lapse. I have been putting the views of my honorable friends opposite.


Mr Watson - We are extremelv grateful !


Mr REID - My honorable friends opposite say that if you purge the unions ' from politics before they can submit a dispute, you ruin them, but if you purge them of politics before they get a preference - an award - you save the Government. The trades unionists of Australia - these fearless, pure-minded, straighttongued, reckless advocates of the rights of labour - will not understand the Government saying for two weeks, " It will ruin unionism if preference is taken from the unions " ; and all at once, when the numbers on the division list get so dangerously narrow, saying, " Oh, these unions must be purged of their politics." Let me read the words of the amendment, which the Government - representing the trades unions of Australia - have accepted. What is to happen to trades unions before they can get the preference which they have fought so valiantly, and so loyally for? Honorable members opposite laugh. Surely they can appreciate a good fighter, even if they differ from him. Surely my honorable friends know that over and over again I have recognised the valour, the honour, and the courage of the Labour Party.


Mr Batchelor - The right honorable member has been on both sides frequently.


Mr REID - I recognise good qualities in my opponents, which is one of the rarest and best features in political life. I have always recognised that, whether right or wrong, the Labour Party were straight. I cannot recognise that in the Government now. Consider the words which the Government have accepted. ' There will be no mistake about them. They will appear in this Bill. We were urged to makeit permissive to the Judge to decide whether there should be- preference or not. But there is no permissiveness about this. ' The Judge is not to give preference to unionists,

So long as its rules - that is, the rules of the organization - or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do ' anything of a political character.

If that is honestly carried out - and the Court will see that it is carried out - will it not absolutely emasculate the trades unions of Australia? How can that champion of labour rights, Mr. Tom Mann, be continued in his mission by means of the funds subscribed by the trades unions of Victoria? He is a man of ability, a man who has been doing a great work for the trades unions and for democracy in this country, that is, according to the opinion of his friends. But the moment this amendment is carried, if a trades union in Victoria came before the Australian Arbitration Court, and it was shown that it had given a single sixpence out of its funds to help Mr. Tom Mann in his crusade, the bulwark of unionism would go. Unionists will be refused a preference, if sixpence has been subscribed from the union funds to Mr. Tom Mann's political mission. That is a subject which will engage the attention of the trades unions of Australia. When they see the narrowness of the division list - when they see it can.e to a question of one vote - one vote either way-


Mr Page - That is the trouble-that one vote !


Mr REID - One vote- yes ! I often got a labour caucus by one vote myself ! In the hidden recesses of a caucus meeting, in the vaults, it does not matter how you come out, even if it is by one vote. But when you are standing before the people of Australia, and dealing with great laws, and with great bodies of men- of whose interests you are supposed to be the guardians, there is no .secret vault open to you. This sort of manipulation, if it ever occurs, is in the open light of day. And what do we find ? We find that this one thing which was the demand of trades unionism - the right to be political ; the right to agitate as men within their own organizations - has become such an illegal thing that if there is the slightest pretence of it, the whole bulwark of unionism goes, and there is no distinction between a trades unionist and a man who is not. Well, these are matters for which my honorable friends have not to answer to me. I admit that. But it is my duty from my point of view to let the public outside know what this amendment means. It is not a question of preference. It is not a question of unionism. There is a plain thing which is being done to-night. The Government have purchased their existence, for a week or two perhaps - in order to surrender the basic principle of the unions which have made them what they are.


Mr WATSON - It does strike one as being exceedingly pathetic that the right honorable member, who was convinced until a few moments ago that the numbers were on his own side;-


Mr Reid - Hear, hear !


Mr WATSON - And therefore was quite placid and agreeable all the time, has suddenly wakened to the fact that the numbers are not that way at all.


Mr Reid - Has the honorable gentleman found that out?


Mr WATSON - I found it out long before the right honorable member did. And having awakened to that position, the right honorable member betrays a sudden anxiety for our welfare, but no anxiety whatever as to the public interest. What a contrast after the pleading of the right honorable member last week, when he asked the Government to accept some reasonable amendment-


Mr Reid - I asked them to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas.


Mr WATSON - The amendment of the honorable- and learned member for Corinella was then before the Chair.


Mr Reid - I did not ask the Committee to accept that.


Mr WATSON - No ; the right honorable member did not ask the Government to accept any amendment in particular, but he did ask that some concession should be made in favour of the non-unionists - those men who comprised five-sixths of the workmen of New South Wales. He asked that something should be done for these poor non-unionists. He said, " Let the Government consider them." How much is the right honorable gentleman considering them now ?


Mr Reid - Does the honorable gentleman admit that, he has done it ?


Mr WATSON - The Government have never betrayed the slightest intention to do other than provide for the. non-unionist equally with the unionist. I say distinctly that this attempt on the part of the Opposition to pose as the special friends of the non-unionists is like a pricked bladder as soon as people understand the question. It is, as I said last night, a spurious effort to divert the attention of the people from the true issue before them. Non-unionists are protected under the measure, as to the conditions under which they are asked to join a union. They are protected under the conditions which the Government have previously accepted ; and in reply to the taunt of the right honorable member for East Sydney that we on this side have purchased a few weeks' or a few days' lease of the Government benches-


Mr Higgins - And that was very generous.


Mr WATSON - By our action in regard to this matter, I desire to say, in the first place, that I did not know last night how the vote was going when I made that declaration. I then said, as I say now, that I am prepared, as a mere matter of logic, and of what is the right thing to do, to accept the spirit of the suggestion put forward by the honorable and learned members for Darling Downs and Indi.


Mr Johnson - And did not the honorable member for Hindmarsh say that he would not vote for it?


Mr WATSON - The honorable member for Hindmarsh is, in common with the honorable member for Lang, the judge of his own action in this matter. What I said last night, not as to the result of finding out how the division would go - because I did not find that out until late this afternoon, though I appear to have found out an hour or two before the right honorable member for East Sydney - was this -

I am prepared to consent to an amendment which will have the effect of preventing preference being given to unions, if they have in their rules anything in relation to politics which is likely to detrimentally affect any persons who may desire to join them.


Mr Reid - I say that is the most wonderful surrender ever known.


Mr Batchelor - Then the right honorable gentleman ought not to complain of it.


Mr WATSON - I say that it is no surrender, so far as regards the principles upon which we have advocated this measure, and I say, further, that if it were a surrender and a concession made to nonunionists the right honorable gentleman, after his own pleading, should be the last person to complain.


Mr Reid - Hear, hear.


Mr WATSON - The right honorable gentleman should rather rejoice; but, apparently, now he is troubled only with the possibility of the Labour Party in Parliament being torn to pieces by those outside, and so anxious for their welfare is he that the right honorable gentleman beseeches honorable members behind the Government to repent before it is too late, and to leave the Government in the lurch in a matter of this description.


Mr O'malley - It is the right honorable gentleman's good heart that speaks.


Mr Reid - The Prime Minister will have to answer to them, not to me.


Mr WATSON - The right honorable gentleman, in speaking last week, on the 29th June, said -

We have been fighting to secure political equality for every man ana woman in Australia. and when he has a prospect of getting what he is asking for, he is still dissatisfied.


Mr Reid - No ; I propose to vote for it.


Mr WATSON - That certainly is marvellous ; but I am very glad to have the right honorable gentleman's assurance immediately before the division.


Mr Reid - It will be carried without a division so far as I am concerned.


Mr Batchelor - What a surrender?


Mr Reid - The words "or to " have to be submitted vet.


Mr WATSON - The right honorable gentleman went on to say -

And our friends opposite have lent magnificent service, many of them having been honorable pioneers of the movement; but the moment we have got it we are asked to establish the most odious form of inequality, a form which penalizes a man who does not join a political union by taking from him the opportunity to earn his daily bread.

The Bill without the amendment would, in my opinion, have prevented the possibility of anything of that kind occurring; but, with the double safeguard agreed to by the Government some time ago, it is impossible that any such thing could occur. I have only this to say, that I am as fully sensible of the duty one owes to the trades unionists of Australia, as well as to the whole community, as any other honorable member can be.I have taken the step of consenting to the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs so far as the spirit is concerned. I said that I am not bound to the phraseology.


Mr Reid - But I understand that the honorable gentleman has now accepted it as it is proposed?


Mr WATSON - I said that I accepted the spirit of it as suggested last evening, though I was not bound by the phraseology.


Mr Reid - I understand that the honorable gentleman has accepted it in the terms in which it is now expressed ?


Mr WATSON - I shall not allow the right honorable gentleman to take me any further than my own words take me. I say that the proposal put forward by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and the spirit of which was accepted by me last evening, is quite in consonance with the views which I expressed in Sydney, I think, eighteen months ago, when a matter cropped up affecting this particular question, or affecting the aspect of it now under consideration.


Mr McCay - Does the honorable gentleman mean to accept the phraseology of the amendment as now submitted by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs ?


Mr WATSON - I think it very likely that some improvement on it may be discovered.


Mr McCay - Does the honorable gentleman mean by improvement a modification ?


Mr WATSON - Not a modification so far as the spirit of the amendment is concerned. I have definitely and distinctly accepted the. spirit of the amendment, and honorable members have not found me unfair in regard to a matter of that sort. I must again express my appreciation of the interest betrayed by the right honorable member for East Sydney on behalf of those with whom he has not been in sympathy for some time past.

Mr. HUTCHISON(Hindmarsh). - There must be no misunderstanding in regard to the position which I take up on this question. The right honorable member for East Sydney is remarkably clever, and finding that the numbers are so close he thinks to trap me on this occasion into voting against the Government.


Mr Reid - The honorable member must obey the caucus.


Mr HUTCHISON - I have let the Government know that I am not prepared to support the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. The right honorable member for East Sydney is aware that I spoke to that amendment immediately after it was moved by the honorable and learned member, and without knowing that the Prime Minister or the Government intended to accept it. Much as I dislike that amendment, I certainly dislike the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella a very great deal more. I propose, first of all, to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I shall then certainly exercise my right, whatever the opinion of the Prime Minister or the Government may be, to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, because I maintain that the unions to-day are doing nothing but what they are entitled to do, and what the law permits them to do, and nothing that the law will prevent them from doing in the future. I have, I think, made my attitude perfectly clear. I do not surrender the position I have taken that the unions are doing nothing illegal. The honorable member for Lang, who appears to take so great an interest in my remarks, has been urging for freedom to workers to do what they think is best. Surely the honorable member will be with me in that. He has been shrieking for freedom ever since he entered this Parliament, but he is now endeavouring to deprive the unions of the freedom for which he asks on behalf of others. The members of unions have never striven for anything which they were unwilling to share with non-unionists.


Sir Langdon Bonython - Before the division is taken I should like the Prime Minister to state the precise form in which he is prepared to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.


Mr WATSON - I have not any amendment in my mind at the present time, but I stated last night that I was prepared to accept an amendment which would have the effect of preventing preference being given to unions which had in their rules anything in relation to politics which was likely to affect detrimentally any persons who might desire to join them. I added that the form in which expression should be given to that idea was a matter for later consideration. I say definitely now that I am prepared to go so far, but I have no amendment in my mind at present.


Mr Reid - Has not the honorable gentleman seen the terms of the amendment?"


Mr WATSON -I have. seen the terms of it.


Mr Reid - Does h approve of them?


Mr WATSON - I have said all I intend to say about them.

Mr. REID(East Sydney).- The amendment of the honorable member for Darling Downs is a simple amendment of an amendment which has been under the notice of the Ministry for some days past. . The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella has been on the printed documents of the House for nearly two weeks, so that the Ministry must be perfectly aware of its terms. All that the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposes to do is to substitute for the words " submit any industrial dispute " in that amendment the words " any declaration of . preference by." I ask the Prime Minister, since he knows the exact wording of the amendment, and has said that he will accept it in spirit, whether he has not weighed the wording of it. If he has done so, he must know whether there is a word in it to which he objects. It is not a matter of accepting in spirit now.


Mr Watson - There are several amendments now before the Committee, and I do not intend to say any more on the subject until we reach the proper stage.


Mr REID - The Prime Minister will not tell us whether there is anything in an amendment which has been on the notice-paper for a fortnight, and of which it is proposed to alter only three words to enable three others to be substituted, to which he objects. If he says that there is not, and that it is a mere question of phraseology, that is a trivial matter, upon which we do not wish to waste time. But if he intends to ask the Committee to modify the amendment, we should know that before we divide. If the Prime Minister thinks it is a mere matter of wording - -


Mr Watson - Quite so. I have already said I will accept the spirit of it; What does that mean?


Mr REID - I am satisfied, if it is understood that it is a mere matter of wording which the Prime Minister thinks may have to be altered.







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