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Friday, 8 December 1905

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) - We are now discussing material alterations in a Bill which originated in this Chamber, but I may remind the Committee what real difference', if any - I emphasize " if any " - there is between the Bill as now presented to us, and the Bill as passed last session. I suppose the Chairman will agree that it is quite relevant to touch for a few moments on the question of the alteration of title, although, from one point of view, that has already been passed. No one of us imagines that the business to be carried on under " Workers' Trade Marks " will be different in any respect from the business proposed to be carried on under " Trade Union Marks."

Senator Guthrie - A considerable difference.

Senator CLEMONS - I venture to say that the business is precisely the same; it is merely an alteration in words, and not an alteration in matter or spirit. I have no hesitation in saying that between workers' trade marks and trade union marks there is not a scintilla of difference. When the distinguished imitator of American methods, who, fortunately, or unfortunately, is in this Senate, first introduced the provisions for a. trade union label, he made the meaning perfectly clear. Since then the matter has gone into what I think I may safely describe as more skilful hands. To use a humble analogy, there is no doubt under which thimble the pea was originally, and it will be agreed that in spite of the great dexterity of the operator retained in another place, there is not the slightest doubt that the pea is still under the same thimble. The verbiage of clause 73a means neither more nor less than the simple provision originally inserted under the name of a trade union label. It is involved in a tremendously long sentence. Every effort has been made, if possible, to mollify the public, to deceive the unwary, and make them imagine that this is a modified version of the original trade union label - that, if there was anything injurious, harmful, or unjust in the original crude proposal, it has been removed. Everything which, from my point of view, was bad in the original proposal is con tained in this proposal. If that were not so, I am quite certain that those who are going to support all these amendments would, if they thought that their value, or strength, or adaptability to the purposes intended, had been in any way impaired or weakened, refuse to accept them. But we know perfectly well that they are going to accept the amendments with absolute satisfaction. I wish to refer briefly to another matter which was introduced bv Senator Keating last night. In what I might almost call a furious storm of bombast, he referred to Canada and its Upper House. There was much bandying of the word " Tory," which I contend is generally meant to denote class legislation. If the comparison is to be limited in that way. I venture to Say deliberately that the nominee Senate of Canada, in that respect, differs very little from the elected Senate of Australia.

Senator Findley - One is elected bv the people, and the other is elected by a" very small section of me people.

Senator CLEMONS - Precisely. I never expected the day to come when, in one very material respect, I could wish that I were in a nominee. House. It is a surprising thing to me that in this debate we should have been reminded that a nominee House, elected under conditions from which I dissent just as much as my honorable friends' opposite, should be singled out as an instance of a House which had the courage of its convictions. For four years we have sat in a Senate elected on the widest possible franchise, and not once have I seen the Senate assert itself in the manner which the nominee Senate of Canada - with an accent of contempt on the word " nominee " - ventured to do in respect of measures relating to the trade union label.

Senator Playford - In Canada the senators are nominated for life.

Senator CLEMONS - I am not dealing with the question of whether the senators of Canada are nominees for years or nominees for life, but with the fact that in a. nominee Senate, which, on most grounds, is as repugnant to me as to any one here, there should be found senators with sufficient strength to maintain their convictions.

Senator O'Keefe - Would not the honorable senator rather have a nominee Council in his own State than the present elected Council ?

Senator CLEMONS - No ; but I should like to find myself in a Senate which had the courage of its convictions.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator is sitting in that House now.

Senator CLEMONS - I think that I am now sitting in an ordinary registry office. I consider that for years the function of the Senate has been to register the decisions of another place; and in that respect this session has been in no way different from the previous session. A very solid body of honorable senators opposite are absolutely determined to give effect to everything which is enforced below under present circumstances. They are reinforced here by a sufficient number of senators to command an absolute majority - senators, for instance, like Senator Keating, who, whether from shame, or from expediency, declines to join their party, but is absolutely afraid to vote against them.

Senator Fraser - But he must do their bidding.

Senator CLEMONS - That may be so, but I state, advisedly, that for one reason or another, which is his concern, and not mine, he is either ashamed of the party or considers it inexpedient, openly to join them, and yet always votes with them, and is afraid to vote against them. The difference between myself and many honorable senators isthat I am neither afraid to vote with the Labour Party, nor afraid to vote against them.

Senator Keating - Hear, hear.

Senator CLEMONS - In that respect there is a distinction between the Minister and myself.

Senator Keating - If the honorable senator will look at the division lists he will find that his remarks are not justified by the votes.

Senator CLEMONS - I know the division lists in the Senate for the last four years just as well as does my honorable friend. But, reverting to the question before the Committee, I suppose it is not denied that whatever may happen from the enactment of these amendments, they cannot in any way improve the conditions of labour. I have never heard it contended by any advocate of the union label that the measure with these provisions could produce that result. We know that in the majority of the States there is direct legislation for that purpose, and I have not heard it contended that the enactment of these amendments would in any way improve the conditions of labour. If that result will not be achieved, what is the object of these provisions? To that question half-a-dozen different answers have been given. We have had the admission that the direct object of the provisions is to bring more men into the trade unions.

Senator O'Keefe - Does any one in the Chamber make that admission?

Senator CLEMONS - Undoubtedly.

Senator O'Keefe - I suppose that he has good reasons.

Senator CLEMONS - Yes.

Senator O'Keefe - A number of honorable senators, including myself, do not admit that that is the direct object of this legislation.

Senator CLEMONS - I am glad to get that assurance from my honorable friend, but I know that a great many members of his party earnestly hope that it will have the effect of bringing more men into the trade unions.

Senator O'Keefe - Incidentally, they may have that hope, but they do not say that that is the direct objectof the legislation.

Senator CLEMONS - I attach great importance to the use of the word " incidentally," because it is just as important as the postscript to a woman's letter. Men could only be brought into the trade unions by means of threats or unfair inducements, or pressure. To sum up my view of this legislation, the most that I have to hope is that it will be of no effect. That, I take it, is the minimum of my honorable friends opposite ; it is theworst which they hope to come from this legislation. It is quite possible that for a considerable time it will lie dormant to all intents and purposes, that there will be no one who will be able to trace its operation, and it was for that reason that I ventured incidentally to draw attention to the question that the Bill should not come into force for, at any rate, four months. This may not quite please my honorable friends opposite, but I recognise that if the measure can be so used as to produce no possible disturbance on the political horizon for twelve months, it will suit them excellently.

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator's party will take good care that it is not forgotten?

Senator CLEMONS - I do not think that our party can do that; but I recognise what my honorable friends opposite want.

Senator Pearce - We have no wish that it should be forgotten, nor will it be.

Senator CLEMONS - I hope that the operation of these provisions in the coming vear will not differ from their operation after the next general election. I am inclined to hope that no effect will be produced, but I recognise that if my hope is going to be disappointed, the measure is calculated to produce a state of things which even my honorable friends on the other side will one day regret. If, however, it is going to be used as a weapon of intimidation, or boycotting, there will be great anxiety as to who will emerge triumphant from the trouble. We all know the number of unionists and nonunionists in Australia. I can quite imagine that when a struggle does arise the majority will rule, and that instead of these provisions being good for trade unionists they will be very bad.

Senator Givens - Would that trouble the honorable senator much?

Senator CLEMONS - It would. Up to a certain point I am entirely with the trade unions. Let me remind the honorable senator that the fight for the liberty to have trade unions extended over forty years. But the fight for freedom to go into trade unions is quite different from that with which Australia is now threatened, and that is a fight for freedom to keep out of trade unions. There is an enormous difference between the position of forty years ago and the present position. What I wish to emphasize is that the coming fight will be a fight for freedom to keep out of trade unions.

Senator Givens - This Bill will not compel men to join trade unions.

Senator CLEMONS - The Bill will not empel men to join trade unions, but I know that the honorable senator is honest enough to admit that that may be one of its results.

Senator Givens - The Bill may induce men to join trade unions, but it will not compel them to do so.

Senator CLEMONS - Precisely. But Senator Givens knows as well as I do that one of the results from these clauses will be an inducement under pressure, either severe or modified in its character, to work men to enter trade unions.

Senator O'Keefe - Will hot every worker be at liberty to join a union or keep out of it?

Senator CLEMONS - No; the freedom of every man to join or keep out of unions will be endangered.

Senator Givens - The only inducement will be that it will probably be more profitable to enter a union.

Senator CLEMONS - What is that but a kind of pressure? It is surely indirect pressure put upon every man in this community that he is going to gain a certain advantage from joining a union, or that he will be handicapped if he does. not. And that is, in my belief, the intention of many of those who support these clauses.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator has already said that they will neither do good nor harm.

Senator CLEMONS - I have said that these clauses may have no effect upon the industrial life of Australia. I am inclined to think that the matter is one of very grave, doubt, but that is mv belief.

Senator O'Keefe - Does, the honorable senator know how many men in this country belong to unions ?

Senator CLEMONS - I should say that for every unionist there are ten workmen outside the unions.

Senator O'Keefe - Surely the ten will be able "to look after themselves.

Senator CLEMONS - If these clauses come into force, and operate in the direction of pressure upon non-unionists, they will produce a certain amount of strife Out of that strife one side or the other must emerge victorious.

Senator O'Keefe - It must be the nonunionists, since they are the more numerous.

Senator CLEMONS - It is by no means certain that when this struggle is over the unionists will come out victorious.

Senator O'Keefe - Why all this, concern for the unionists on 'the part of the honorable senator?

Senator CLEMONS - Surely we can allagree that a state of industrial strife in Australia is a bad thing for the whole country ?

Senator O'Keefe - I do not admit that the clauses will bring about industrial strife.

Senator CLEMONS - They may not. I hope they will not.

Senator Givens - What applies to workers' trade marks applies to other trade marks under this. Bill; it is all a matter of public preference.

Senator CLEMONS - It will not do good to Australia if we have perpetual struggling over this matter.

Senator Givens - We have people struggling for trade now.

Senator CLEMONS - Struggling for trade benefits the consumer, but struggling for a livelihood is not a good thing for the working man. I remind the Committee that Senator Keating, in dealing with this subject, referred' us to clause 75a, and he endeavoured to make the Committee believe that that clause contained an absolue safeguard against boycotting. I venture to say that not one of us, no matter where he sits in this Chamber, could accept that statement as being one of actual fact.

Senator Givens - Will 'the honorable senator define what boycotting means?

Senator CLEMONS - I have not time to go into that.

Senator Givens - If I buy from one storekeeper, do I boycott all other storekeepers ?

Senator CLEMONS - Clause 75a, which is intended to stop boycotting, can have no effect whatever upon it. It does not touch the question. First of all, the Federal Parliament has no power whatever to interfere with boycotting. That is left to the States entirely. If there is boycotting anywhere in the Commonwealth, the State in which it arises will have to suppress it. The Federal Parliament cannot. To insert this clause is merely a piece of hyprocrisy. It is more or less of a sop. Let me institute a comparison between the proviso applying to what are called workers' trade marks, and the proviso with regard to Commonwealth trade marks. First of all, if I understand it rightly, any association which uses a workers' trade mark may also use the Commonwealth trade mark. But only a limited number can use the workers' trade mark. So that in this case, to put it broadly, the rule is "What is yours is mine, and what is mine is my own." This thing, which is called a Commonwealth trade mark, and which an ingenious lawyer in the other House has introduced, is an attempt - wholly unsuccessful, I believe - to placate the workers outside the unions.

Senator Findley - No restriction is placed in the way of their becoming members of unions.

Senator CLEMONS - That interjection indicates the pressure that is at the root of the whole matter. The intention is to bring ' the non-unionists into the unions ; but I want the non-unionist to have freedom to remain outside if he wishes.

Senator Findley - Very few workmen would keep out of the unions if they had real freedom. But they are victimized by employers if they join, and that keeps them out.

Senator CLEMONS - I am pointing out the difference between the proviso attaching to the Commonwealth trade mark and that attaching to the workers' trade mark. Suppose that there is an employer who is employing labour under absolutely fair conditions. This Bill does not accord to him, and. to the workmen employed by him, the same privileges as are accorded to trade unionists.

Senator Givens - His workmen can register a mark just as the unionists can.

Senator CLEMONS - I admit at once that the men can form an. association, and register a trade mark. But when you come to the Commonwealth trade mark, the difference arises. A resolution has to be passed by both Houses of this Parliament that the conditions of labour are fair before the Commonwealth trade mark can be applied. In other words, the use of the Commonwealth mark can only be secured* by bringing forward evidence to show that the conditions under which the business is carried on are fair, and awaiting the approval of such evidence by both Houses of Parliament. See what it means. Suppose the case of a manufacturer employing 100 men. Suppose that each individual man of the hundred receives wages which are higher than those paid to trade unionists following the same occupation, that the hours of labour are less, and that the conditions of employment are all fair and reasonable. Even then the use of the Commonwealth label or mark cannot be secured.

Senator Findley - Such a good employer as "that would encourage his men to become members of a union.

Senator CLEMONS - That interjection merely confirms me in the opinion that the object of these provisions is to drive men into the unions. How can a man who is employing fifty men, or the fifty men themselves, succeed in having a resolution passed through both Houses of this Parliament affirming that their conditions of labour are fair and reasonable? On the very face of it, the proposal is utterly hypocritical. It has for its object conditions which are onerous, unfair, and unjust, and which expose that element of preference which is an under-current to all this legislation. But look at another aspect, of it : Suppose these men have gone to the trouble and expense of having a resolution carried through both Houses of this Parliament, and have acquired the use of the Commonwealth label. What is going to happen then? If their rights are infringed, how are they to defend them in a Court of law ? I have never seen such a travesty of justice as an attempt in a serious piece of legislation to deny the rights of individuals as this proviso does. Under it, if their rights are ' infringed, they actually have to apply to the Minister to sue. I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.'] I cannot help saying that, in view of the promise given by honorable senators in Opposition to agree to take a division not later than 4 o'clock, it is an extraordinary thing that after the lunch adjournment there should have been great danger of the Senate being adjourned for want of a quorum. If we had not been able to obtain a quorum at the last moment, the whole thing would would have collapsed, and the fault would have rested with Ministers more than with any one else, because neither of them was present in the Chamber. As I have been partially responsible for the arrangement entered into with, the leader of the Senate to conclude the debate not later than 4 o'clock - an arrangement for which I am" personally grateful - it would be' unfair for me to offer any more comment on these provisions. I shall close with the observation that I am perfectly confident that if we were to succeed in rejecting these clauses, we should kill this Bill, and the union label proposals for this session. In the circumstances, I think it is a very great pity if any honorable senator is under a misapprehension that he would not be justified in using this as an excuse for voting against the clauses, which a very important minority in the Senate believe to be repugnant to the best interests of Australia.

Senator MACFARLANE(Tasmania).I should like to say a few words on these provisions, and, as usual, I shall be very brief. A good deal has been said about the iniquity of these clauses. I feel that they, are entirely unnecessary, and if there were any prospect whatever that we should be able to reject them, I should gladly assist in doing so. I cannot understand why, when provision has been made in Part VII. a, for a Commonwealth Trade Mark covering Australian labour conditions, provision should also be made for workers' trade marks. I should like to say with respect to clause 76A that I should prefer to see it amended by the omission of the word " primary " so that it would read -

This Part shall not apply to any product of the agricultural, viticultural (including winemaking), horticultural, dairying (including buttermaking and cheese-making), or pastoral industries.

If we are going to exclude from the operation of Part VII., what are called the household industries, such as wine, butter, and cheese-making, we should also be prepared to exclude jam-making. It is surely one of the household industries. I hope that the Minister will not object when the time comes to accept the amendment suggested by Senator Mulcahy, in order that the interests of the smaller States may be as fully protected, as are those of the larger States, under the provision to which I have alluded. If the amendment 'suggested is not moved by Senator Mulcahy, I shall be very glad to move it myself.

Senator GRAY(New South Wales).Recognising, as I do, that the numbers are against us, I do not propose to occupy the attention of the Committee for more than a very few minutes. But I wish to enter my protest as strongly and as earnestly as I possibly can against the principles underlying these iniquitous provisions.

Senator Guthrie - It does not matter what the honorable senator calls them.

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