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
Wednesday, 6 June 1928

Mr LATHAM (Kooyong) (AttorneyGeneral) . - As honorable members, have recognized, this clause embodies a very important principle, and it was to be anticipated that it would arouse differences of opinion. The principle upon which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is founded is that arbitration is a substitute for direct action, and that resort to arbitration ought to exclude resort to direct action. That principle has existed ever since 1904, and it has persisted throughout the various amendments of the principal act. It would have been possible, as I have already submitted to the House, to have a system of industrial regulation by arbitration or other means that did not exclude direct action, as, for example, the wages board system of Victoria, where determinations are made binding on employers, but where there are no penalties for strikes or lockouts. From the beginning the Commonwealth Parliament has definitely adopted the prin- ciple that, if a union by its own action becomes registered in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court - and it need not do so unless it desires - it must accept not a part, but the whole of the system. It must accept -not merely such benefits as may accrue from favorable awards of the court, but also the accompanying provision, that a union shall not take part in strikes.

Mr Lazzarini - The Minister has said that a good many times.

Mr LATHAM - It is a very important principle, from which many of the provisions of the bill flow. This clause, in particular, flows from the general principle that, if a union chooses to become registered under the act, it ought not to strike. It deals only with the offence of doing something in the nature of a strike or lockout, and not with offences in the way of breaches of awards or other provisions of the act. It simply deals with this principle, which is fundamental to the act: that a union cannot have both the arbitration weapon and the strike weapon.

Mr Scullin - That is not the point at issue.

Mr LATHAM - That is the general principle on which this clause depends, and it follows that a person holding any official position at all in a union, or controlling the business of a union in any degree, must be held responsible for knowing that the one thing that the union has undertaken not to do when it registers itself under the act, is to strike. The section, as proposed to be amended by this clause, is founded upon the principle that any person holding an official position of any character in a union, either as an officer in the full sense, or as a member of a committee of a federal organization, or a branch of an organization, should at least know that the one thing that the union has undertaken not to do is to strike. Of course, the Parliament might have deleted from the act the anti-strike provisions; but that has not been done, and it is not regarded as desirable by either side in industry that it should be done. So long as this provision remains, the fundamental thing is that every officer should know that he should do nothing towards encouraging or inciting a strike. The clause merely gives effect to that principle.

Mr Anstey - It does nothing of the kind.

Mr LATHAM - It deals with the acts of certain persons which make an organization liable.

Mr Anstey - Those certain persons are not the organization.

Mr LATHAM - They are mentioned in paragraphs a, b, c and d.

Mr Anstey - Sheer, damnable distortion !

The . CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The honorable member for Bourke is out of order.

Mr Anstey - I know that my remark is out of order; but it was necessary in order to draw attention to the Minister's statement.

Suggest corrections