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Wednesday, 16 May 1928


Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) .- At one stage of his speech the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) must have thought that he was on a platform in his constituency. He spoke of bolshevists, self-seeking politicians, revolutionaries and communists - all the usual stuff which he feeds to his electors. The fact that they returned the honorable member upon such political claptrap says little for their intelligence. I am often tempted to wonder if the honorable member is not one of the self-seeking politicians. ' Does he not " aspire to a seat in the Cabinet? .

The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Ley) spoke at great length of the old Labour party that did wonderful things of which he approved. The Labour party of today, he said, is not as of old; we are all revolutionaries. That sort of stuff has been told to the Australian people for many years. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was at one time the Leader of that old party. Mr. W. A. Holman, now a VicePresident of the Nationalist organization in New South Wales, and a candidate for

Martin, was also a member of the old Labour party, and in a debate with the late Sir George Reid proclaimed himself a believer in more advanced socialism than the party advocated. He was obliged, he said, to tone down his ideals to conform with the platform of the Labour party. Upon these and other men, who were at one time accused of desiring to abolish the marriage tie, introduce free love, and let loose the socialistic tiger, the Nationalists depend for leadership. The wild men of a generation ago are today amongst the most' trusted leaders and champions of Nationalism. The man who no doubt will be elected to represent Martin is identical with him whom the conservatives in New South Wales tried to railroad into gaol and whose photograph, even after he had won his case, was kept in the rogues'" gallery for years until a Labour Government came into office and removed it. Yet, when he enters this House honorable members opposite will listen to him with bated breath. So much for the labour men of the good old days. The Labour party of to-day is the saint as it was when the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and Mr. Holman were members of it. Its ideals and aspirations are unchanged, and it intends, as opportunity offers, to give effect by safe constitutional means to every plank of its platform.

The honorable member for Warringah complained that no honorable member on this side of the House has offered any constructive suggestions for the amendment of the bill. It is not our intention to do so. Our attitude to the bill is one of unqualified and unremitting hostility at every stage. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Blakeley) stated that on the whole trade unionism was well managed, guffaws came from honorable members opposite. A man would be foolish to deny that huge aggregations of assorted human beings will make mistakes and reveal failings. Until human nature becomes perfect, no organization of men will be infallible. But that is no excuse for introducing a drastic measure of thi3 kind to crib, crab, and confine the industrial unions. How does the management of private enterprise compare with that of the trade unions? What of the bankruptcies and frauds, watered stocks and fictitious balance-sheets, faked balancesheets and bogus prospectuses? Conditions more rotten, corrupt, and chaotic than would be thought possible at this state of our civilization are the characteristics of capitalistic management; these are the hallmarks of individualism im.excelsis. Over such practices this Parliament has no control. But honorable members opposite who will fight to the death to maintain private enterprise and all its evils have the effrontery to talk of the failure of trade unionism, and to allege corruption amongst unionists as a justification of this measure. Any workers' organizations in the world will compare more than favorably with any capitalistic organization engaged in private enterprise.

The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) lauded the industrial unionism of America and said that more of that sort of thing was wanted in Australia. Yet he described as bolshevists and revolutionaries the men who are endeavouring to establish industrial unionism in Australia. There is a direct cleavage between two distinct schools of industrial thought - that which still believes in sectional or craft unionism, and that which seeks to organize the workers on the basis of one union for each industry. The agitation for industrial unionism as distinct from craft unionism is used on every platform to flog the workers and prove that they are revolutionists seeking to attain forcibly the control of industry. I welcome the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) into the ranks of the revolutionaries. Anybody acquainted with American industrialism knows that a few skilled men who are able to hold up an industry are able to obtain from the employers high wages to the detriment of the masses of unskilled men who are not able to exert the same pressure. The masters do not mind, paying high wages to a few men, so long as they can get the last ounce of effort out of the unskilled workers for the minimum consideration. Because the Labour party long ago realized that that kind of unionism enabled one worker to be played off against the other, so that the unskilled masses paid by their economic degradation for the high wages of the skilled few, it sought to bring about a re-organization of the workers, and by political action to have industrial problems solved in a constitutional way.

The honorable member for Warringah declared also that trade union organizations should not be obliged to vote funds for the support of the Labour party's platform, and suggested that the present was a terrible state of affairs. Cannot the same be said of chambers of manufacturers, chambers of commerce, and employers' federations, as well as of shareholders in big limited liability companies? Can the honorable member for Warringah guarantee that all members of such organizations and companies are supporters of Nationalist political aspirations? How can he or any one else know the political views of shareholders of companies or members of employers' organizations? If Labour were in power and if a Labour Ministry brought down legislation to prevent employers' organizations from subscribing to the funds of the Nationalist party he would be the first to rise in his place in this House and squeal in protest against it. The honorable member referred also to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that we, on this side of the House, stand for the workers, and he endeavoured to make it appear that the honorable member for Tarra had declared that the Labour party was indifferent as to the interests of other sections of the community. What the honorable member for Yarra said was that in the ultimate analysis the Labour party stands for the workers who, we claim, represent the great mass of the people in this country, but that it also believes in a fair deal to all sections of the people.

In his references to the position in the coal mining industry the honorable member for Yarra stated that, in the main, the coal pits in New South Wales were working on only three days a week. Honorable members supporting the Ministry at once challenged his statement. Actually he erred on the conservative side. I say without fear of successful contradiction that not one coal pit in New South Wales has worked three days a fortnight over any length of time.


Mr Gregory - Who destroyed the coal trade ?


Mr Watkins - It was destroyed during the war.


Mr Gregory - That was a long time ago.


Mr LAZZARINI - As the honorable member for Newcastle has stated, the Commonwealth coal export trade was destroyed during the war, and the coalowners have not recaptured it. When speaking on this subject some time ago I quoted figures, obtained from an authoritative source, showing that under the sliding scale for wages laid down by the coal tribunal during the war the higher prices charged by mine owners returned to them £11,000,000 in excess of the increased wages paid to the men who cut the coal. This is my answer to the honorable member for Swan, who suggested just now that the miners were chiefly responsible for the loss of our coal export trade. Australia's position in this matter is due to the avariciousness of the mine-owners who, like Oliver Twist, are continually asking for more. All those who have any knowledge of the industrial position in our coal mining districts know that almost without exception the mines are worked intermittently. In some mines in my electoral division the whistle has not blown for a fortnight. The honorable member for Warringah stressed the importance of keeping the wheels of industry moving. If he is sincere in his attitude will he support a proposal to force mineowners to keep the mines open and allow men to cut the coal, irrespective of whether it is being sold or not? If he will not, then it is useless for him to endeavour to put all the responsibility for industrial depression in the coal-mining industry upon the shoulders of the miners. Although the honorable member for Yarra quoted official statistics which showed immense losses in the coal-mining industry due to stoppage of work, it should be borne in mind that, as the mines, in the ordinary course of operations, are worked not more than three days a fortnight, the official figures were to some extent misleading, because of the suggestion that, but for the stoppages the mines would have been working full time. The position is entirely different.

The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Ley) had something to say concerning the rise of trade unionism. The AttorneyGeneral also dealt with this subject. I can assure the House that the spirit which forced trade unionists many years ago to organize for their own protection is abroad to-day, and that this measure, which, I am convinced, aims at the destruction of industrial unionism, will do much to stimulate it. The movement is not, as the honorable member for Barton suggested, in the kindergarten stage of economics. It knows all about the doctrine of economic pressure. The honorable member further assured us that he was entirely opposed to extremists in the ranks of the Nationalist organizations, as well as in the ranks of Labour. He declared, of course, that Messrs. Walsh and Johnson should have been deported years ago for their participation in certain industrial movements. Will he now advocate the deportation of extremists in the Nationalist party, and in the employers' organizations? Will he advocate the deportation of John Brown, the coal baron of New South Wales - the racehorse proprietor, the man who spends so much money on racehorses and gives more thought to them and to his prize roosters than to the conditions of the men who delve in his coal mines; the man, in fact, who declared that if the coal-mining industry is to prosper the owners must get back to the wages of 1914?







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