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Thursday, 11 August 1904


Mr KING O'MALLEY (Darwin) - T am sorry to see so much heat imparted to the debate by some honorable members. There is no necessity for any extraordinary trouble over the matter. As a party, we are game to die to-night. There is no hesitation on our part. For the three months during which I have been sitting on this side of the House I have felt like a muzzled Rocky Mountain tiger cat, and the sooner we can go over to the Opposition benches, the better I shall' be pleased.

I do not see why the prospect of the right honorable member for East Sydney coming over to this side of the House should arouse any great excitement. What we object to is the way in which the Opposition are taking advantage of the Government. No opportunity is being afforded to honorable members to discuss the vital issues before the country. If the right honorable member for East Sydney had moved a no-> confidence motion, and succeeded in ejecting the Government from the Treasury benches, we should have been satisfied. Under present conditions, however, we are absolutely muzzled, because we are prevented from discussing anything but clause 48. The action of the Opposition might be all right, viewed from the stand-point of the Tammany Hall bludgers or the sand-baggers of Pennsylvania or the Louisiana Kuklux clans, but it is altogether out of place in a British Legislature. Ever since I have been here, British institutions have been held up to me as the glorious apotheosis of liberty and righteousness. We are not troubled at the prospect of crossing over to the other side of the House, but we should like to have an opportunity to discuss clause 48 in Committee. How can we go into Committee, when the numbers are against us ? I do not blame the right honorable . member for East Sydney. He is playing the political' game. '


Mr Hughes - He is playing a very dirty game.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - It is a Tammany Hall game. I had hoped that there would be no political trickery or dodgery in this Parliament, but we now have presented to us a sorrowful and pathetic sight. When I look across the chamber and see the sadness depicted in the faces of honorable members opposite, I realize that in their heart of hearts they feel ashamed of what they are doing. I ask them to repent.

An Honorable Member. - Ask them to testify.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I do not ask them to speak, because they have the numbers. It is for those who have not the numbers to speak. The essence of democratic government consists in the preservation of human rights, and no . scheming or trickery should be indulged in which would endanger those rights. Honorable members opposite have set themselves up as the party of negation. In this great Parliament of the Commonwealth we are absolutely tied up. I have known nothing like it in the United States Congress. When that body was discussing the great Ben Butler case, there was nothing like that which we now see here. I admit that the Labour Government have not occupied the Treasury benches for any great length of time.


Mr SPEAKER - That has nothing to do with clause 48.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I quite agree with you, sir; but nearly all the great discussions that we have had in this House have turned upon matters that have had nothing to do with the question before the Chair. I understand that a majority of honorable members are opposed to the recommittal of this clause. It is absolutely certain, therefore, that it cannot be recommitted, and if that be so, what is the use of endeavouring to recommit it? It must be painfully evident to all that there is a section of this House which does not exactly know where it is. Either honorable members or the Ministerial supporters are at sea. After the skipper of a vessel has been drifting at sea, in storm and darkness, for a prolonged period, what is the first thing which he endeavours to do? He endeavours to ascertain his bearings. I wish to 'ascertain our bearings, so that we may determine exactly our position. When speaking upon this question, some time ago. the honorable member for Franklin declared that the miners of the West Coast of Tasmania are not in favour of granting a preference to unionists.


Mr Mcwilliams - I did not say that.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - Well, the honorable member said something to that effect. I hold in my hand a letter which I have received from the secretary of the Amalgamated Miners' Association, at Zeehan, bearing upon this point. This communication is important, as showing that the people of the West Coast of Tasmania are favorable to the extension of a preference to unionists.


Mr Mcwilliams - How many persons resident in that locality belong to that union ?


Mr KING O'MALLEY - There is a great crowd in Zeehan.


Mr Mcwilliams - No objection can be urged against a preference being granted to them if they constitute a majority.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I am not prepared to say that they do constitute a ma jority. The letter to which I have referred reads -

Mr. K.O'Malley, M.H.R.

Dear Sir, - During the debate on the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill now before the Federal House, a statement was made by Mr. Mcwilliams that the workers of Tasmania were satisfied with the existing state of affairs, and did not desire arbitration. This has caused a great deal of adverse comment here on the West Coast, where the population is more or less of a cosmopolitan description, being composed of workers who have travelled the whole, not only of Tasmania, but in most cases of the Commonwealth. The feeling here, which, I believe, is shared by the workers throughout Tasmania, is that the passing of the Arbitration Act will mark a new era in the history (industrially) of. every portion of Australia ; and in place of wishing to revert to the old order of things, we look forward to the passing of the Arbitration Bill as a further step in the march of progress and democracy. I trust that if this expression of dissent from the opinions expressed by the member for Franklin will assist you or any member of the Ministry in their efforts to place this important and progressive measure on the Statute Book of the Commonwealth you will not hesitate to use it. With every good wish for your continued prosperity, and regards from' inquiring friends,

I am, yours sincerely,

S.   Ford,

Zeehan.


Mr SPEAKER - Does the honorable member say that that communication relates to the proposal to grant a preference to unionists ?


Mr KING O'MALLEY - Indirectly it does. It is not couched in the language of a lawyer, but in that of the ordinary miner.


Mr SPEAKER - The question immediately before the Chair is not the passing of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but the recommittal of a clause which relates to the granting of a preference to unionists.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - Exactly. That is the position which these miners take up. They say that without a preference to unionists the Bill will prove inoperative.


Mr Tudor - Many honorable members will vote against that clause from a desire to kill the measure.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I would not say that, because I do not think that we have a right to attribute ulterior motives to one another. I wish to put the position as fairly as possible. In the absence of this provision, can any honorable member assure me that there is any power on earth to enforce an award against an individual workman? If a wealthy individual against whom judgment has been recorded in a civil action fails to satisfy that judgment, his property can be sold at public auction. But if a preference is not granted to unionists, how can any award of the Arbitration Court be enforced against the individual workman? Such a preference must be granted, because the trades unions represent the capital of their members. Personally, I should much prefer to institute an action against a strong unionist organization than against a solitary workman. How can we extract blood from a stone? Honorable members are being starved upon a stipend of ^400 a year ; but what I wish to know is how we can enforce an award against the individual work'man.


Mr Reid - A member of Parliament still has Dower to strike.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I am not at liberty to strike. That liberty was taken away from me, when I had to spend so much money in fighting my election. I do not think that my honorable friends opposite have studied this question. They have been consumed with too great an anxiety to displace the Ministry. I know that the right honorable member for East Sydney is usually a most reasonable individual. But, reasoning with a man who has renounced his reason, is like administering medicine to a dead mule. It. is inefficacious. No man is capable of expressing an opinion unless he can think for himself. ,


Mr Kennedy - A man requires something to think with.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - My honorable friend will never be troubled by his thinker. The more we examine this question from a financial stand-point, the more we shall come to the conclusion that labour must be organized. I firmly believe that honorable members opposite are labouring under a frightful hallucination. In their anxiety to jump the seats of the present Ministry they have neglected to study this question.


Mr Kelly - What question?


Mr KING O'MALLEY - The honorable member should go home and sleep upon it. I believe that he is open to reason, but he should recollect that prejudice is the deadliest enemy of investigation.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Four twelves.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I do not know whether the honorable member has ever visited the Rocky Mountains, but if he has, he is probably familiar with the Rocky Mountain flea. With that insect, it is a case of " Now you have him, now you haven't," but he is always bothering one. I am anxious to put this matter so clearly that even the most unintelligent may understand it. There is no reason why we should attempt to destroy each other. This is a socialistic House, and we are all partners.


Mr Wilks - Except in the matter of allowances.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - The time will come when Ministers will have to divide with the brethren.


Mr Reid - There will be no trouble then.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I shall not deny the fact that I believe that the Labour Party have, in one respect, set a bad example.


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must discuss the question before the Chair.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - It is remarkable how a man will wander away from the question. I believe in preference to unionists, and think that we should give effect to that principle in the Bill. I am anxious that honorable members should consider this question in an impartial manner, and, banishing all sordid considerations, endeavour to deal with it on its merits. I appeal to honorable members to say how an award could be enforced if each individual in the land had to be dealt with separately?


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No one proposes anything of the kind.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - If it were merely necessary to found organizations consisting of 100 members each, and having only a few pounds at their disposal - the moneys of the unions on which they were based being kept entirely apart from the organizations themselves - it would be impossible to give effect to any award imposing penalties upon them. That, however, would be the position if the course proposed by the Opposition were adopted. I should like honorable members not to be carried away by the awful fears which some appear to entertain in regard to members of the Labour Party. They are no more dangerous than are members of any other party in the House. They are endeavouring to carry out that which they believe to be in accordance with the principles of justice. Some persons have not so clear a conception of the principles of justice as have others, but every member of the Labour Party is filled with his mission to repletion. So far as this question is concerned, the Labour Party are missionaries among the heathen. Honorable members remember that the cannibals in Fiji used to eat missionaries-


Mr SPEAKER - That question has nothing to do with the matter before the House.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I bow to your ruling, sir.


Mr Wilks - It shows a preference.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - A preference to unionists for white men, as missionaries are unionists. After cannibalism was abolished, they had to substitute mutton for missionary.


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is out of order.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I agree with you, sir. Unions may exist among savages. We had various unions among the Yaqui Indians in Mexico, and the Grand Sagamore used to sit back in his chair, while the members fell at his feet to worship him. We are making a great mistake in proposing to deal with this question without carefully investigating it. It is proposed to turn out of office a Ministry which, during its short career, has set a splendid example to the world. I should not object so strongly to their defeat if it took place after the presentation of our case in the clearest possible way, so that the people might judge for themselves of the attitude which we take up. But I seriously object to the action of the Opposition, for we have no such opportunity to discuss the general question as we should have if a straight-out motion of want of confidence were submitted. Many persons condemn the Labour Party - men who have no chance to place their views before the country by means of the press. Could the evil which is in the minds of our opponents die with them, and their bad example also, we might enjoy the luxury of forgetting all about them. That, however, cannot be, because the evil which men do must live after them. The action which honorable members of the Opposition are now taking against the Government may recoil on them with tenfold strength long before they anticipate anything of the kind. Evil and the example of evil acquire tenfold strength when they speak from the grave. We have good memories, and we shall never forget this night. It may be necessary for us to metaphorically gibbet those who are treating the Government in this unchristian, unrighteous, and dishonorable manner, so that with the steel pen of a century to come their names will be written so high, and in letters so black, that their children's children will be ashamed to bear their name. I am sad to-night. When I think of honorable members opposite, after a struggle for protection-


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is again wandering away from the subject.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I admit, sir> that. I am. It is because I cannot touch the main question that I feel so sad. Tonight we see among the ranks of the Opposition honorable members, whom we assited to carry the great policy of protection, standing up and denouncing us.


Mr Mauger - Not all of them.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - No; thank the Lord, there is one saved. I have witnessed sad scenes in the United States of America, but have never seen so sad a spectacle as that which now confronts me. We may be mistaken, we may feel that we cannot endure it-


Mr SPEAKER - I must ask the honorable member to debate the clause, or to cease speaking.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I come back to the consideration of clause 48. I do not desire in any way to come into conflict with the Chair, but I should like to point out that there is at least one essential difference between capital and labour. Labour is an organization possessing a soul, a heart, and a conscience, while capital is an organization that is soulless, heartless, grasping, and vicious.


Mr Higgins - There is no soul in clause 48.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I am sorry to say there is not.


Mr Batchelor - It has been torn out nl it.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - That is so. I am really amazed that Ministers should have been so foolish as to make this a vital question. If ever I obtained office the Opposition would have a difficulty in displacing me. They would not put me out in such a light and easy way.


Mr SPEAKER - -That has nothing to do with the question.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I desire to be absolutely fair, and I wish to know what the Opposition propose in lieu of the Government amendment.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The proviso already in the clause.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - But it will hot cover the ground. It certainly does not mean that a "unionist shall have preference. Have honorable members opposite any conception of that which the workers are surrendering in submitting themselves and all trade disputes to a Justice of the High Court ? We know that a Justice of the High Court is nurtured, reared, and trained in a school remote from that of the vast multitudes who toil in poverty year after year. These people are prepared to surrender the right to strike and to submit themselves to the Court, and what is to be given them in return ? At the root of this attack on labour there is the feeling that, for some reason or other, an ordinary workman is made of inferior clay as compared with that of which the so-called better classes are composed. The goldplated aristocrats, whose bank overdrafts are their patents of nobility, think that the ideal State for ordinary workmen is that of a hatdoffing peasantry ; and that they should intrust all their hopes and prospects to the keeping of these unattached slave masters. Unions have throughout the world awakened millions of people to a sense of community pf interest, to sentiments of comradeship, and to the power of associnted effort to such an extent that to-day philosophers and other good men, who are devoting themselves to an investigation of the troubles caused by poverty, have arrived at the conclusion that monopoly is the arch-enemy of the workers and of the people. If that be the case, and if the unions have worked to secure the uplifting of the wage-earners, why should they now be cast aside and branded as bodies of criminals? That is what the clause, as it stands, would do.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Preference is monopoly.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - It would be where there was a vast aggregation of money ; but it is never a monopoly when you say to the working men, " Organize, and form yourselves into associations, so that we may deal with you." There is no greater unionist than is the honorable member for South Sydney ; but to-night he has wandered from the true path of unionism, as even the best Christian may go astray when he gets into bad company. The honorable member must not think that I have not a great respect for him, however. We ought not to take this vote suddenly. We ought to tryto look into the question.


Mr McDonald - Why should not the vote be taken?


Mr KING O'MALLEY - Are honorable members anxious for it?


Mr McDonald - Yes.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - If they are ready to die, it is all right. I do not wish to talk for hours, if there fs nothing to be gained by doing so.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is delivering the funeral oration of the Government.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - The Ministry is being sacrificed to the commercial and corporate greed of Australia.


Mr Tudor - At the mandate of the Employers' 'Federation.


Mr KING O'MALLEY - I would not say anything like that. But the libertyloving, truthful workers of Australia, the great toilers of this country, if they cannot get justice from this House, may eventually be forced to demand the restoration of the Mosaic law, which requires " an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." During the three months that the Ministry have been in office, they have proved themselves to be as good administrators as we have had in Australasia, and as there have been anywhere else in the world. In this southern, sunny land we may yet see . a monument erected which will for ever perpetuate the era when corporate and commercial aggression met its doom,, and humanity achieved its regeneration.







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