Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 12 August 1904

Mr CULPIN (Brisbane) -I wish to say a few words on this question, and I trust that I shall not wander from clause 48 in doing so. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, whilst professing to be in favour of the Bill, has moved an amendment, the effect of which will be practically to kill it, and I believe that he has done so with that intention. If he alone were concerned, of course his action would not be important; but, as a matter of fact, his action was instigated by . those supporters of the late Government, and the members of the Opposition generally, who wish to kill the Bill. I believe that all those who vote against the recommittal of the measure will be actuated by that motive. Whein the late Prime Minister introduced the Bill a year or so ago, he made a statement as to his policy in regard to it, and that statement should stand good now. He said -

Any changes that I have proposed will be few, will be small, and will relate only to drafting.

But, notwithstanding that statement, a proviso was inserted in clause 48, on the motion of one of his- followers, the only purpose of which was to kill the Bill. Is it not an astounding change of front for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to be now attempting to choke discussion, by refusing to allow the Government to recommit the measure? In his present action he shows himself to be worse than the Chinese, who kill their superfluous female children, because he is killing the most virile progeny that he has yet fathered. The right honorable member for East Sydney, when the Bill was introduced, said that he hoped that we would cheerfully pass it; but he also is now attempting to kill it. Honorable members are, of course, used to the right honorable gentleman's ways, and are not surprised at anything he may do in this direction. The honorable member for Ballarat also promised to give fair play to the present Government; but he has not given them any more fair play than he has given to the Bill which he fathered. The proviso requires that applicants for preference must prove that they represent " a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants," while the Government wish to substitute for that provision an amendment requiring them to " substantially represent the industry affected in point of the numbers and competence of its members." The method of electing Members of Parliament may be referred to to illustrate the difference between the two propositions. If honorable members could take their seats in this chamber only when they had been elected by a majority of the whole of their constituents, in such case that requirement would be similar to the requirement of the proviso inserted in clause 48 by the honorable and learned member for Corinella; whereas the Government wish to provide that a majority of those who take sufficient interest in the subject to vote upon it shall decide the question. That is the present system of voting. If the Bill is to be effective, it must safeguard the liberties of those connected with the industrial organizations. The men who require protection are not those who are content to be trodden down, and who only squirm and sink lower, but those who have the manliness to fight for higher wages and better conditions. The unions are to be deprived of the weapon of striking which they now possess, and preference is therefore a necessary protection to them. Honorable members who are opposed to the granting of preference to unionists, show themselves in their true colours as those who are in favour of making the Bill a measure for the suppression of strikes only. While they wish to take from the unionists the power to strike, they still leave to the employers the power to lock out. If the proviso were left in the clause, an employer could always refuse to employ unionists who had acted against him. The honorable member for Lang has honestly said that his object is to kill the Bill altogether. We can give him credit for being a straight-out opponent of the measure; but other honorable members do not avow that that is their position. Unless preference is given to . unionists, those who complain of the treatment they are receiving may be refused employment, and will have no redress.

Suggest corrections