Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 24 May 1928

Mr SPEAKER - By inquiry motives may be imputed, and the honorable member may not impute motives.

Mr THEODORE - If in the rules of the House there is so delicate a discrimination and it is unparliamentary to inquire whether there is sincerity in the appeal of the Prime Minister and others, or whether on the contrary it is sheer hypocrisy, I do not desire to offend by persisting in this line of inquiry.

Mr Prowse - Say it on the soap box.

Mr THEODORE - One should not be afraid to say here what one would say on the soap box, or from any other public rostrum. I hope that I shall never make a different appeal or use different arguments here from those which I make or use outside.

The honorable member for Henty justified the introduction of this bill on the ground that it was intended to ensure the enforcement of the King's peace in industrial matters. I thought the Prime Minister had some kind of pre-emptive right to the phrase " the King's peace." At any rate, it seemed to appeal to him as one which could be usefully employed during the 1925 election campaign, when he exploited it to some purpose. But now the honorable member for

Henty asks, " Should the King's peace not be preserved under our present industrial law? Are we not justified in using compulsion to ensure its preservation?" In support of his contention, he said : " We have the right to enforce the King's peace under the civil law." But is not the King's peace broken under the civil law every day? Are there not prosecutions every day in courts under the King's jurisdiction to enforce the observance of the civil law by the imposition of penalties for breaches of the King's peace? Yet is that any reason why we should seek to scrap our civil law, under which 99 per cent. of our population live in harmony and peace, and set up in its stead some kind of dictatorial authority, or some form of terrorism? Or does it prove, as the honorable member for Batman suggests, that the civil law is a hopeless failure, to be cast aside and replaced by something that is as yet untried? If the argument applies in one case it applies in the other. I do not know that the AttorneyGeneral justifies the introduction of this bill on the ground that the King's peace in industrial matters is sometimes broken. Is the fact that there is recalcitrancy among certain sections ofthe unionists justification for this Draconian law?

During the debate there has been frequent reference to one or two who have proved recalcitrant and are said to have no respect for the arbitration law. Is that justification for upsetting the whole arbitration system and imperilling the liberty of thousands of unionists? There are registered under the Federal Arbitration Act 149 unions, with 650,000 members. The interests of that great body of unionists are to be adversely affected by this bill; their organization, their right of free assembly to be interfered with.

Mr Latham - There is not the remotest justification for that statement.

Mr Anstey - The Attorney-General has said that the unions are to be made responsible for the conduct of individual members, or any small section of them.

Mr Latham - The bill does not even say that.

Mr THEODORE - The AttorneyGeneral says that there is not the slightest justification for my statement that the interests of the whole body of unionists registered under the court are adversely affected by this bill.

Mr Latham - That was not the statement I challenged. It was that the right of lawful assembly now enjoyed by trade unions was affected by the bill.

Mr THEODORE - That is not all that I said. Among other things, I made allusion to the right of free assembly, but I was speaking of their right of organization, their right of assembly, free speech and criticism, as rights which they now enjoy, but which will be interfered with, and in some respects, taken away from them by the present bill. It is a fair deduction to draw, and a criticism which the Minister cannot dispute.

Mr Latham - I challenge it.

Mr THEODORE - My argument is that the presence of some recalcitrants among the unionists is not sufficient justification for a bill which will affect adversely 650,000 unionists, any more than the fact that there are some ordinary citizens who are recalcitrant under the civil law is not sufficient justification for taking away the liberty of hundreds of thousands of citizens who uphold the law. If there is no justification in one case, there is no justification in the other. The bill is not a bona fide attempt to amend the Arbitration Act, improve unionism, or give the workers a better opportunity to improve their conditions.

Honorable members opposite are contradictory. Some of them claim that the arbitration system should be scrapped, because it has hampered the economic progress of industry. Others say that the bill before us is designed to assist unionists. A quaint argument has been used by one honorable member that the provisions of the bill relating to the auditing of accounts of unions has been inserted in the interests of the unions to protect them against possible defalcations by officials. Was there ever so absurd an argument advanced! The honorable member must have imagined that his listeners were children. The facts are that the clauses relating to the audit of union accounts, the control of union rules, and many other matters in connexion with the internal management of unions have been inserted in the bill in order to give into the hands of a court which may have no sympathy with the unions, a power which it may use tyrannously a court that may be a packed court, partisan in the last degree. The Government want to give the court power to discipline and hamper the unions, to meddle in their affairs, to make it impossibe to conduct bona fide and decent unionism.

I have asserted that the billadversely affects the interests of a large number of unionists, and, in my opinion, it does so designedly. It will destroy the best features of our Arbitration Act, which is based on the wish to have industrial matters adjusted in a spirit of sweet reasonableness. This bill introduces a new element; it endeavours to achieve peace by terrorism, by intimidation, by coercion. It seeks to allay unrest by penalizing, and by putting into gaol, if necessary, those who dare to advance claims on behalf of the workers, or make or attempt to enforce a demand, even though it may be one justly based on grievances suffered by the workers.

It has been most interesting to hear hon orable members opposite refer, during the course of this debate, to the horrid conditions that existed in industry 50 years ago, and even more recently, and to hear their statements that all such undesirable conditions have been remedied, and that we now live in a different world. They recall without hesitation the sweating that went on one or two generations ago, the sweating of women, the employment of child labour, the long working hours, the drudgery and well-nigh slavery that existed even in Australia. But they claim that that is merely a page of history, that to-day conditions have improved considerably. For this they take credit. One honorable member referred to certain measures of reform introduced a few years ago, and now appearing upon the statute-books of the Commonwealth and the States, and declared that those measures were in no way attributable to the efforts of the Labour Party. It would not require much argument to refute that assertion. It is incontrovertible that, had it not been for the existence of the Labour party - I use the term in its widest sense, and refer not merely to the Parliamentary Labour party - there would still be the child slavery, the exploitation of sweated women workers, long hours of work in our coal and metalliferous mines, in our factories and shops, and the drudgery and semi-slavery that existed 50 years ago.

Mr Marks - But for unionism those conditions would still continue.

Mr THEODORE - Yet some honorable members opposite take credit to their own political party for the great improvement that has been made in labour conditions in this and other countries. Perhaps there is no need to examine that claim further, but we must recognize that even now, notwithstanding all the reforms that have been accomplished, and the great betterment that has been secured, we have not yet achieved all that has to be accomplished. Even had we done all that was needed in improving wages, hours of labour, and other material conditions, there would remain the necessity to maintain the conditions that have been won. Therefore unionism is as much justified to-day as it ever was in the history of Australia.

Mr Cook - Not as it exists at present.

Mr THEODORE - There are individuals, and among them some honorable members of this chamber, who are quite ready to applaud the " old " Labour movement, and the "old" unionism, but fail to see anything worthy in the Labour movement or its adherents of to-day.

Mr Watkins - They said the very same things about our predecessors in the Labour movement.

Mr THEODORE - Of course they did. For example, Mr. Andrew Fisher is now frequently referred to by honorable members opposite as a great man, a man of splendid ideals, and always honest and undeviating in the advocacy of them. He is set up as an example for the rest of us. I admit that Andrew Fisher set us a great example; yet less than 30 years ago he was victimized for being a unionist. He was dismissed his employment in the mining districts of Queensland because of his efforts in the Labour movement, and had it not been for his personal friends he would have been left to starve - simply because of his political and union principles.

Mr Foster - That was shocking, but things have been turned upside-down since. Who are the tyrants now ?

Mr THEODORE - Even the honorable member may have changed his opinion with regard to Andrew Fisher, and one may hope that, perhaps 30 years hence, even honorable members on this side may be spoken of. by such as he as great men, who were honest in their convictions.

It is for those who have been sneering at arbitration, and trying to demonstrate how great a failure it has been, to advance some alternative. It must at least be replaced with something that is rational and practicable, something which, on the face of it, at any rate, gives promise of success. So far, no such scheme has been advanced. From what I have read about alternative proposals, advanced both here and in Great Britain, I do not agree with them, because I do not think them an improvement on our present system. One honorable member opposite proposed something in the nature of Whitley councils. He considered that those presiding over our arbitration tribunals, learned in the law, but not particularly versed in industrial matters, are unsuited for the work to be undertaken. I do not think that anything corresponding to Whitley councils would be an improvement on our Arbitration Courts. In Australia we have achieved arbitration by a sort of evolution from wages boards and other bodies corresponding to Whitley councils. Whitley councils would deal with problems as they arose in individual industries and callings, and possibly it would be necessary to have a dozen such tribunals to deal with one industry. That would destroy the uniformity which is now lauded as a virtue. It would cause more overlapping, and overlapping is claimed to be an existing evil in our present system. Other honorable members advocate the straightout abolition of the Arbitration Court. I deplore that advocacy, and am confident that its adherents have not considered the consequences of such an abolition.

I have one or two references to show how intense is that advocacy for the abolition of the Arbitration Court. Even during the course of this debate honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) have advocated its abolition. The honorable member for Perth certainly qualified his proposal by urging that abolition should not take place before certain safeguards had been adopted. Recently the members of the Metal Trades Employers' Association met in conference at Sydney, and boldly advocated the abolition of our Arbitration Courts. They circulated their views in the form of a pamphlet, a copy of which I have here, and from which I shall quote. One paragraph states -

Industrial arbitration has a beautiful ideal, and a righteous one. It was originally evolved to protect the workers who' were unable to economically protect themselves. It has over-done it. It lias pampered them, so that they have become bowelless tyrants and unmitigated ruffians towards the industry from which they draw their sustenance.

Away with it, and let us get back to the clear, open economic ring. That is the only way to prosperity and increased employment.

Mr Scullin - But they do not want to get back into that ring when competing with traders abroad.

Mr THEODORE - That is so. If their views were adopted workers who were strongly organized would receive high wages, because they could not be resisted. Concessions would be made to those who could fight their own battles; but God help the weaklings, the women workers, and those poorly organized in that "clear, open economic ring."

I am quoting these statements because they contain opinions typical of some that are now quite widely held. I do not attribute them to the concrete platform of the Ministerial party, but they are largely current in Australia. They are being propagated in this country, and are figuring largely in all the controversies about the benefits of arbitration. Unless they are answered, they will tend to misrepresent the public opinion on this question. The views expressed recently by the executive of the Federation of British Industries, and cabled to this country, where they were freely published, are worth recording. I shall be careful not to accuse wrongfully any one who does not give adherence to these views, but they certainly represent the Chauvinistic opinion of many employers and

Nationalists in Australia, and need an answer. One portion reads -

We must face the fact that to secure a substantial reduction in prices we must effect a substantial reduction in wages. This can be done in two ways, either by reducing the rates of wages, or by the workers giving a greater output for the wages they receive.

Mr Prowse - That would be an awful crime.

Mr THEODORE - I take it that that view has the endorsement of the honorable members. The statement continues -

This would, in many trades, have a substantial effect in reducing the cost of production, but it may be necessary to go further, and for the workers to be prepared to accept a money wage which may, until business revives, give them a lower standard of living.

That is the ideal which some of our employers seek to achieve. Some employers give their support to this bill because it will reduce the standard of living. They want to lower the standard of living in Australia, and they think that they can do so by giving to the Arbitration Court a basis for a lower minimum wage. If this bill is not an attack upon the standard of living, that is definitely advocated' by honorable members opposite, why are they so concerned about the movement for a reduction of hours from 48 a week. The reduction of working hours is a definite material advancement for the workers. An increase in wages may not be a betterment in all cases, because the benefit of the increase may be taken from them ' by an increase in commodity price levels. A reduction in hours is a material improvement because it gives to the workers a greater amount of leisure. Of course, if it were carried to a foolish extreme it would probably cripple all industry, and the whole community would suffer. It can definitely be stated, however, that reductions of hours have not had that effect in Australia.

A third mode of handling the problem is advocated. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), who interjects so frequently from the back bench, is not sympathetically inclined towards arbitration courts, and has no argument to offer in support of an improvement in the material conditions of the workers. He is constantly preaching the doctrine of increased production.

Mr Prowse - I am not ashamed of that.

Mr THEODORE - I am not accusing the honorable member of being ashamed of anything. His idea is that the solution of all economic and industrial problems is to be found in increased production by the workers. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has spoken in similar vein; and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) last night advanced that as the most adequate solution. That honorable member, however, does not believe that we can continue to increase wages. On the contray, he says that arbitration courts in Australia have reached the maximum basic wage that can be fixed with safety, and that the next step is to obtain greater production from the workers. The burden of the speech delivered by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) was that if we can produce a greater output in industry we shall be in a position to pay higher wages. It sounds very simple; but, apparently, its advocates have not considered the implications involved. I freely grant that increased production would give an industry a better opportunity to meet wage and other industrial demands that are made upon it, and that it would be a solution of many of our problems, if there were an adequate and remunerative market for the increased production. But what do we find? Take some of our big industries; for example, meat, butter, cheese, maize, fruit, wine, sugar and coal. If the production of those industries increased, would they be in a position to pay higher wages to the people whom they employ?

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - Yes ; the world will take larger quantities of our meat and butter.

Mr THEODORE - During the last seven years the meat export trade in Queensland has not, on the average, worked to half its capacity. Even this year more than half the meat works in Queensland have been closed down owing to a lack of remunerative markets overseas. In the butter industry numerous schemes have been propounded with a view to making good the losses that are incurred in the overseas marketing of that product, by a distribution of the total amount realized on the home market.-

Mr Manning - Does the honorable member mean to say that there have been fat cattle in Queensland to keep the works going?

Mr THEODORE - There was a shortage of fat cattle last year, but the meat works have not been closed down solely on account of seasonal difficulties.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I shall have an opportunity later to deal with the honorable member's arguments on the two items to which he has referred.

Mr THEODORE - I am glad that the honorable member's interest in what I am saying is sufficient to make him wish to deal with the arguments. These are points which ought to be dealt with by those who advocate increased production by the workers.

Mr Anstey - The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the problem is connected, not with production, but with markets.

Mr THEODORE - I have referred only to certain industries, in which increased production would bring about economic consequences of a serious nature to the workers and all others concerned. There are other industries, such as thoseconnected with the production of wool and wheat, in which, presumably, production could continue to increase almost ad infinitum without their being overtaken by serious consequences ; but a tremendous increase in production in other industries would bring in its train far worse evils than those which exist to-day.

The honorable member for Forrest claims to be an authority upon questions that relate to primary industries. His only solution of the present economic troubles is to produce more. Let me pursue that argument a stage or two further. At the outset, I wish to say that if there has been any lowering in the volume of production, the worker has not been wholly to blame; nevertheless, he is solely blamed by honorable members opposite, and by no one more frequently than the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page).

Dr Earle Page - I have made that charge against the executives of the unions, but never against the men; and I shall prove it to-day.

Mr THEODORE - The honorable gentleman attacks the whole body of workers through the officials.

Dr Earle Page - I have never done so.

Mr THEODORE - He refers to certain supposed economic evils, and says that the executives are responsible for curtailing the output of the workers.

Dr Earle Page - The tyranny of union leaders is the cause.

Mr THEODORE -That charge has been made many times by the honorable gentleman since he became Treasurer, and he has been supported in it by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). Both of those honorable gentlemen have attempted to make out a case against the workers on the ground that they have curtailed production.

Dr Earle Page - Not against the workers, but against their leaders.

Mr THEODORE - I shall put the position in another way. The honorable gentleman has attempted to make out a case against the Labour movement.

Dr Earle Page - No ; I have made it out against the leaders of that movement.

Mr THEODORE - The honorable gentleman is entirely wrong in his deduction. Statistics which are available to every honorable member conclusively prove, not only that theoutput per head has not been curtailed, but that, on the contrary, the value of production and the individual contribution to the total output is greater to-day than it was some years ago. Production Bulletin No. 20 shows that the aggregate value of production in all industries increased steadily between 1916 and 1925-26. During that period there was only one year in which there was a diminution compared with the preceding year; that was in 1925-26. The following table gives the annual production from all industries in Australia since 1916. These figures are taken from Bulletin No. 20 of Australian Statistics : -


I know that there was an inflation in the prices of some commodities, and that allowance must be made for the changed value of the pound sterling; but after making due allowance for those factors, it will be found that the increase is still considerable.

Mr Foster - Allowance must be made also for the increase in the population.

Mr THEODORE - That is so. The figures per head of population, which take into account every man, woman, and child in Australia, show that the value of production per head of population increased each year in the following way : -


Those figures cover all industries.When we study those that relate to manufacturing industries, in which the percentage of unionists is much larger than it is throughout industry as a whole, we find that the value of the output in 1916 was £60,000,000, and that it increased progressively until in 1925-26 it had reached a total of £143,000,000. The value per head progressed in about the same ratio, from £12 6s.1d. per head of total population in 1916, to £23 18s. 2d. per head in 1925-26. From whatever angle the statistics are examined it is found that production has not diminished, and that, therefore, the charge against unionists of slackening on the job is not a fair one.

Mr ABBOTT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member has not referred to quantities.

Mr THEODORE - I have not; but I shall do so now. I have mentioned that one has to make an allowance for the diminished value of money. When it is seen that the output of manufacturing industries increased from £60,000,000 to £143,000,000, it must be acknowledged that the volume of production is greater to-day than it was in 1916.

I shall quote some comments by the Sydney Bulletin. It is by no means a Labour newspaper, but, on the contrary, has been highly critical of the Labour party, sometimes very unfairly. It deals with the increase in private wealth as well as the increase in production. It shows that in 1903 the estimated private wealth in Australia was £982,000,000, and that by 1921 it had increased to £2,166,000,000. Public wealth increased in a like ratio. Commenting upon the figures, this journal says -

In million pounds here is an unequalled record of factory output made by all Australia: 1919, £249; 1920, £292; 1921, £324; 1922, £320; and 1922-23, £32fi. This is the record of 5,688,092 people (half females), of whom 36.15 were under fifteen and over 05 years of age. What have our traducers got to say to that? If it were an ordinary record of work one would not mind the sneers, criticism, or advice. Being a story of hard work, clean living, and honest effort unequalled by any other people anywhere at any time, during this civilization anyhow, one fiercely resents this national calumny.

Let honorable members ask any big manufacturer who has had the employment of Australian labour in either Sydney or Melbourne what kind of service he gets from his workmen; the reply of 99 out of every 100 will be that the Australian workmen is the most adaptive, the most skilful, and the most willing worker of whom he has had any experience.

Mr Foster - There has not been a word said against the worker in this debate.

Mr THEODORE - Honorable members cannot challenge unionism, in the manner in which it has been challenged in this House, without reflecting upon the workers of Australia. If, as has been urged by the Prime Minister, there has been a slowing down in industry, the inference is that the workers of Australia are to blame. It is impossible to avoid that conclusion. It is, of course, an erroneous charge. The average Australian worker - I admit that exceptions will be found in every branch of industry - is as honest at his work and as desirous of promoting success in his industry as are the workers in any other country.

The Tariff Board has on certain occasions referred to the peculiar difficulties of particular industries, and has indicated that inefficiency and slackness are mainly responsible for losses in production. This charge is levelled at the workers by honorable members supporting the Government also, who seize on it as justification for the bill now before us. We are told that its purpose is to discipline the workers ; to compel a better state of efficiency.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I did not make that charge.

Mr THEODORE - The honorable member for Wannon, who has been a persistent interjector, happens to be an exception. There have been inquiries as to the root causes for production losses. Those inquiries have not been instituted by this Government, which is not very much concerned about' searching for the truth, but inquiries have been instituted by other authorities. Some time ago there was an inquiry into this important subject in the United States of America.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I mentioned that matter last night.

Mr THEODORE - The honorable member's attitude indicates that sometimes his thoughts travel along logical lines that are calculated to lead him to a reasonable conclusion. I can assure him, however, that I did not hear his reference last evening to the inquiry conducted in the United States of America into production losses, and that, therefore, in my study of this problem I worked along independent lines.

As I have stated, a committee of 80 engineers and their associates appointed by technical authorities, investigated this problem in the United States of America. The committee gave careful consideration to the many factors that might be responsible for losses in production, such as instability of labour, inefficiency in management, lack of standards of performance, lack of standardization of tools and products, inadequate costs control methods, inadequate transportation, labour organizations' rules and customs, waste of material and lack of research. After a thorough investigation the committee fixed the responsibility for production losses in the following order : -


If the same inquiry were made in Australia, if the same exhaustive methods were adopted by men of similar competence and technical training, similar conclusions would be reached. I am- not saying that labour is not responsible for some share of production losses. I admit that to some extent it may be responsible; but I submit that the principal factor is not the slowing down by industrial unionists, but inefficiency in management.

There are one or two particular matters contained in the bill to. which I should like to refer before I resume my seat. Honorable members supporting the Government have alleged that the penalties provided in the bill are not so severe as those contained in the act itself. It is true that the act imposes severe penalties on individuals and organizations for contravention of its provisions, but those penalties have never been enforced, and have become a dead letter. Therefore, it is idle for the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to point to a penalty of £1,000 enforceable against a union or individual under the original act. The clear intention of the Government in imposing lighter penalties against the individual is to ensure that a penalty will be enforced where, heretofore none had been enforced.

Mr Latham - The honorable member knows surely that the penalties provided for in the bill are maximum penalties.

Mr THEODORE - Does the AttorneyGeneral mean that a penalty of £50 under this bill is as effective as a penalty of £1,000 under the act ?

Mr Latham - No. I mentioned the matter because I believed the honorable member was speaking under a complete misapprehension of the facts.

Mr THEODORE - The truth is, the honorable the Attorney-General does not care to face the facts. Obviously the position is as I have stated, otherwise there would be no occasion to reduce the penalty in the case of individuals to a fine of £50.

Mr Latham - "We made the alteration because we considered that the penalty imposed in the act was unfair to the individual.

Mr THEODORE - The penalty has been reduced so that it may be enforceable. The Attorney-General prides himself upon his impartiality, his fairdealing, his draughtmanship of this bill, and on being its author. Will he be good enough to explain why it provides as penalty, a fine of £50, and imprisonment for unionists who are guilty of minor offences against its provisions, and a penalty of only £50, without imprisonment, against an employer who may be guilty of victimization?

Mr Latham - I will explain those provisions of the bill when I am replying to the debate.

Mr THEODORE - The marked difference in the penalties shows callous discrimination on the part of the Government.

Mr Latham - Not at all.

Mr THEODORE - I say it. does. There has been victimization already, without any punishment. I suppose that every honorable member has been circularized about one particular case that has come under my notice. The affidavits disclose that a female member of a trade union in Sydney, an employee of the firm of Murdochs Limited, was penalized by her employer because she gave evidence on behalf of her union in an Arbitration Court case. No action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with that matter.

Mr Latham - This is the first I have heard of it.

Mr THEODORE - There have been many such instances of victimization in the history of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.

Mr Latham - Send them along. I will consider them.

Mr THEODORE - It is not my job to do that.

Mr Latham - Very well, then, do not send them to me.

Mr THEODORE - There have been, I repeat, many cases of brutal victimization on the part of employers. Workers have been dismissed from their employment and black-listed because, as members of a trade union, they have given evidence in the Arbitration Court. No action has been taken against the offending employers. The bill provides for a fine _of £50 or six months' imprisonment against any officer of a trade union who refuses to assist in the taking of a secret ballot that may have been ordered by the court. This means that any union official who so offends against the law is to be treated as a quasi-criminal, and he may he thrown into gaol for six months. Contrast this treatment with a fine of £50 without imprisonment, the punishment that may be inflicted on an employer like Mr. Murdoch, who dismissed a female employee receiving probably 30s. or 35s. a week, because she dared to give evidence in a case which her union had before the Arbitration Court.

Mr Killen - Will the honorable member deny that the girl was dismissed because she told lies about her employer ?

Mr THEODORE - That was the excuse which was offered by Mr. Murdoch. The honorable member's interjection clearly indicates that he and other honorable members on the Government side have knowledge of the case, although the Attorney-General, by his keenness in asking for particulars, led me to believe that it had not come to his notice.

Mr Latham - I had not heard of it before.

Mr THEODORE - I see no good whatever in the bill. In my opinion it has been conceived in a spirit of hostility to unionism, and its purpose is to antagonize organized labour. It is designed to coerce the workers into submitting to whatever new order in industrial affairs the present reactionary Government may succeed in bringing about. The Government has prepared the way for it. They have a packed Arbitration Court Bench, consisting so far as a number of its members are concerned, of partisans of the worst type.

Mr Latham - I rise to order. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) has said of the judges of the Arbitration Court that they are partisans of the worst type. I submit that that statement is out of order.

Suggest corrections