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
Tuesday, 29 May 1928

Mr GREGORY (SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - On whom would the honorable member place the responsibility, and how would he do it?

Mr THEODORE - As far as possible the responsible bodies should carry it. The officers and members of the union should, as far as practicable and reasonable, carry their responsibility; but there is a limit to practicability. There is a limit to what can reasonably be done in such matters. This bill attempts the impossible. It is expecting too much of an organization to ask it to accept liability for a penalty of such a drastic nature for the individual acts of thousands of minor officers who, in many cases, will not own disciplinary allegiance to a central executive. Does the Minister expect so drastic a discipline on the part of other associations? In most other cases the individual is responsible for his own actions. Mr. Anstey. - And action is taken against the individual.

Mr THEODORE - Yes, and the onus of proof is on the Crown. In this case it is proposed to punish an innocent organization for some possibly illusory offence on the part of an individual officer. I have referred to clause 8 only because of the bearing it has upon the clause under discussion, and because it introduces the uew words " doing something in the nature of " a lockout or strike. Some of the acts against which penalties are provided are not acts that can be construed as strikes or lockouts except by applying legal definitions. For instance, an officer of a union who counsels a body of men against accepting employment is not, according to the ordinary interpretation of words, doing something in the nature of a lockout or strike. But the Attorney-General proposes that those words shall be construed in that way.

Mr Latham - That has always been the law.

Mr THEODORE - The Minister seems to be emphasizing it in this case, for some reason or other, just as the ostensible reduction of the penalty in the case of individuals is likely to be more harsh to individuals than was the original penalty which was not enforceable. The Attorney-General tried to score on that matter. He tried to make out that in that case he had been generous, and had actually reduced the penalty. But, if he were honest, he would admit that his intention was not to reduce it, but to make the enforcement of the law more effective by applying a penalty where no penalty was previously applicable. That, I think, is a fair interpretation of the Government's intention with regard to the strike penalty. How many times has the fine of £1,000 . been enforced against the individual since the passing of the act in 1904? Can any such case be cited? Actions have been taken to enforce penalties against individuals; but no honorable member can recall a case where action has been taken against an individual to recover a- penalty of £1,000 where the individual was concerned in a strike or lockout. The Attorney-General thinks that a £50 penalty against the individual can be more easily applied than a £1,000 penalty. Therefore he widens the area of application in order to rope in all those to whom he thinks the punishment can be applied. He intends to use this most disciplinary measure against those who may be concerned in industrial disputes - against all those who may offend the Government's sense of propriety. I object to the clause - and for that matter I object to the whole bill - because it has been made more severe than before, despite what the Attorney-General has said.

Suggest corrections