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Wednesday, 26 September 1906

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) .- I can hardly understand the objections of Senators Findley and Pearce to the motion submitted by Senator Neild, Considering that the latter complains that the inquiry asked for by Senator Pearce - and asked for by Senator Neild - and promised by Senator Playford, is not being pressed forward. No one connected with the combine ever asked for an inquiry ; it was Senator Pearce who sought to move the machinery of government to that end.

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear, and I Still ask for an inquiry.

Senator MILLEN - Then why does Senator Pearce object to Senator Neild seeking to force the Government " to carry out what Senator Pearce desires?

Senator Pearce - I object to the statements made by Senator Neild.

Senator MILLEN - I am not dealing with the statements made by Senator Neild.

Senator Pearce - I am.

Senator MILLEN - Senator Pearce has dealt with a great many statements not made here, and I admit the ingenuity which introduces into this debate matters which have no possible bearing on the question. Senators Pearce and Findley have introduced the question of whether trickery was resorted to in connexion with the trial made in the factory. That was a proper subject for the Royal Commission to inquire into, or it might have been a proper subject for the Arbitration Court ; but it was never brought before" the Senate on a former occasion. Senator Pearce's demand for an inquiry rested on statements - ex parte, as is frankly admitted - that intimidation had been resorted to in the case of a Royal Commission witness. If the question had been merely whether trickery had been resorted to in the factory, Senator Pearce would have scouted the idea of asking for an inquiry by the Government. Senator Pearce's whole case rested on the charge that an attempt had been made to intimidate a witness; but on the present occasions, Senators Pearce and Findley have been eloquently silent on that point. They have sought to confuse the issue by referring to allegations of trickery and malpractice in the factory. Senator Pearce was Chairman of the Royal Commission, but he evidently did not think it his proper function to bring this question of trickery before the Senate, and ask for an inquiry. What he very properly said was that he believed the witness had been intimidated, and that, in his opinion, there ought to be some investigation made.

Senator Col Neild - The question of intimidation was brought bv Stone before the Royal Commission, and yet Senator Pearce took no action.

Senator Pearce - The question of intimidation was not brought before the Royal Commission.

Senator MILLEN - Time is too short to permit us to unravel all these matters.

Senator Pearcealleged that a witness' had been intimidated, and the Government promised to make inquiries; and' now Senator Neild complains that that inquiry has not been pressed. Senator Pearce should have been the first to have thanked Senator Neild for assisting him to obtain justice.

Senator Pearce - I referred to Senator Neild's misstatements.

Senator MILLEN - I have nothing .to do with those

Senator Pearce - I have.

Senator Mulcahy - We are not trying the case here.

Senator MILLEN - Exactly; the whole point was as to an alleged attempt to intimidate a witness.

Senator Pearce - Who is to blame for introducing foreign matter ?

Senator MILLEN - That has nothing to do with the point. My complaint is that Senator Pearce, instead of welcoming an attempt to press the inquiry, seems to be angry at the motion.

Senator Pearce - I am angry at the misstatements made by Senator Neild.

Senator Col Neild - I made no misstatements, as the honorable senator knows.

Senator MILLEN - Senator Pearce need not be at all jealous; he is holding his own in that way. It has been frequently stated that the employers in this case had an opportunity to have the matter decided before a proper tribunal. But the question of intimidation never could, and never would, have come before that tribunal. The tribunal to which the union at first agreed was the only one before which the company could have had a fair deal. An agreement was arrived at to appoint one of four gentlemen, but in some mysterious war - I venture to say it was after consultation with members of the Royal Commission - the union withdrew. That was the only impartial tribunal it would have been possible for the employes to have put their case before, and it was rejected, I do not hesitate to say, by the advice of members of the Royal Commission.

Senator Col. NEILD(New South Wales) [12.8]. - It has been stated that the question of intimidation did not come before the Royal Commission. But, according to the Sydnev Evening News of the 13th January, the witness Stone came before the Royal Commission and com plained that he had been threatened. The newspaper report proceeds : -

The President - What is it that was said?

Mr. Stone.The statement made was that what I said before the Commission was untrue.

The President did not think that what took place outside had anything to do with the Commission.

Senator Mulcahy - Senator Pearce says that no complaint was made to the Commission.

Senator Pearce - And I say so again; what is reported in the newspaper took place before the Commission opened its sitting.

Senator Col NEILD - That newspaper report is an absolute and direct contradiction of Senator Pearce's statement.

Senator Findley - Is it evidence cr a newspaper report?

Senator Col NEILD - Surely such a paragraph could never have been concocted ?

Senator Pearce - Will the honorable senator take my statement that what is reported there took place before the Commission opened its sitting in the morning? The matter never came before the Commission.

Senator Col NEILD - At any rate, it came before members of the Commission. What is the use of paltering with words? It has been alleged by the AttorneyGeneral, with the grossest inaccuracy - and it has also been alleged by Senator Findley - that the proposal was to have an inquiry which would have been all in favour of the company. I refer again to the shorthand note of the conversation, between the representatives of the union and the representatives of the company -

Mr. Beeby.If you can see a short way to settle this I shall be pleased. If you can suggest some persons I shall be perfectly satisfied. I will leave it with any creditable barrister, such as Messrs. Kelynack, Shand, or J. L. 'Campbell, or Judge Heydon, or you can perhaps suggest names.

And yet the Attorney-General has the supreme audacity, and the supreme - but I shall not say what I was going to say - to allege that a proposal made by the union's own solicitor, suggesting the name of the Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and the names of three barristers in high and honorable practice, was a proposal to get up a tribunal that would be " prosecutor, judge, and jury." It is little short of infamy that any officer occupying the high position of a Minister, much less that of Attorney-General, should be guilty of so scandalous a misrepresentation of the truth. I have here the statutory declaration to which I have already referred, and which I said I should read in reply. It is as follows: -

I, Philip Marcus Lawrence, of Botany-street, Waverley, near Sydney, in the State of New South Wales, do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that -

1.   From the and day of March to the end of September, 1904, I was employed bv the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited as foreman of the covering department of the Sydney factory, and am the person referred to in the declarations of Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett made on the 10th day of December, 'igo4, and the 19th day of June, 1906, respectively.

2.   During the period first above mentioned, I was exclusively employed in the covering department, and was charged with the- supervision of all the coverers employed in the factory, and was responsible for the receipt and distribution of all the wrapper leaf used in that department.

3.   From and after the month of May, 1904, I made careful daily entries of the quantity of wrapper leaf received by me; of the quantity distributed to the female coverers; of the quantity distributed to the male coverers; of the total quantity of unused wrapper leaf returned at the end of the day's work by the male and female coverers; and of the quantity of scrap (that is the portions of leaf too small to be used for wrapping) returned by the male and female coverers respectively.

4.   I have read in the report of the Parliamentary debates in the Senate, session 1906, copies of the above-mentioned declarations of Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett.

5.   With reference to the declaration of Richard Henry Bartlett, I say that he was not employed by the said company after the 2nd day of May, 1904. During the period of his employment no record 'of the quantities of wrapper leaf used as between male and female coverers was kept.

6.   With reference to the declaration of Horace Reginald Herington, I say that the said Horace Reginald Herington voluntarily left employment in the said company on the 15th day of September, '1904.

7.   I further say that the wrapper leaf returned from the females' department was always kept in a separate bin, and was returned to them on the next working day. and was always used up before any other wrapper leaf was served out tohem, eexcept that on Saturdays the wrapper leaf returned from the females' department was sent back to the leaf department. It is untrue as stated in such declaration that every evening when the men knocked off, from June to September, the females' returns were brought and mixed in with the wrapper leaf which the men had to work the next day.

S.   In addition to the returned wrapper leaf, scrap leaf is returned by both male and female coverers at the end of each day's wwork. This scrap leaf is, and during the period above mentioned was, weighed by the employe charged with the distribution of the wrapper leaf, and checked by me ; then on the same evening taken to another department, namely, the flavouring department, and there checked by the foreman of that department. The weights above mentioned are, and were carefully checked one with the other, both the foreman of the flavouring department and myself being charged with the quantity of scrap shown in each daily return.

9.   From returns made by me during the above-mentioned periods, I say that the average daily quantity of wrapper leaf served out to the female coverers was as follows : - During the month of June, 1904, 232 lbs. ; July, 1904, 197 lbs. ; August, 1904, 230 lbs. ; September, 1904, 24S lbs; being a daily average during those months of 226J lbs., and not 300 to 350 lbs. per day as stated by Horace Reginald Herington and Richard Henry Bartlett.

With reference to the statements made by James Stone in his evidence before the Royal Commission on the I 2th day of January, 1906, I say that a mechanical time register " is kept in the factory which shows the time each employe enters and leaves the factory. I have examined the record during the month of September, 1904' and I find that, with the exception of the 26th day of that month, and on Saturdays, the coverers did not knock off work before 4.3a p.m. during such month. I further say that the wrapper-leaf referred to bv the said James Stone was American wrapper-leaf, and that on the 26th day of September above mentioned no American wrapper-leaf was served out to female coverers.

I am the foreman referred to by James Stonein his evidence before the Royal Commission, and I say that it is not true that members of the union used to stay behind, and that they ever caught me bringing the females' returns and mixing them in with the leaf which the men had to work, so that when they came next morning to start it would be taken as an average.

I never at any time tampered with the leaf intended for use by the male coverers either by mixing returned leaf, whether wrapper or scrap, with it, or in any other way, and I have never been directed in any way to do so. On the contrary, I-say that such a proceeding would be in absolute defiance of my instructions.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and bv virtue of the provisions of the Oaths Act 1900.- P. M. Lawrence.

Subscribed and declared at Sydney this tenth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and six, before me - James Macintosh.

I have nothing more to say, and I thank the Senate very much for giving me an extension of time to introduce the case.

Senator Turley - You made the statement, in opening, that the company had on various occasions asked the Government to give effect to the promise given by the Minister. I think that should be explained.

Senator Col NEILD - On the 17th July, the company's managing director, Mr. S-haw, wrote to the Minister of Defence, drawing his attention to the matter brought forward by Senator Pearce, and to the Minister's promise, and asking for an inquiry. About a month afterwards, he wrote -

As we have not so far been approached, we would like, if possible, to know when it may be convenient for the inquiry to be held, as we are equally desirous of having a thorough investigation, when we have every confidence that we shall be able to remove any misconception which might exist in the minds of some of those who took part in the debate.

The reply SenatorClemons has read. Then the company, through their managing director, wrote a further letter, dated 27th July last, taking exception to the extraordinary statement of the Attorney-General, and again urging that an inquiry should be held in order that they might have an opportunity to clear their reputation, which had been so seriously assailed. To that letter of the 27th July, the Ministry have not deigned an answer. No less than two months have elapsed since the last time the company asked for an inquiry to clear their reputation and the reputation of their foreman, and it is in these circumstances, and on account of the failure on the part of the Government that I, as apublic man, and as a member of the Federal Legislature, deem that I am doing my duty in showing the actual correspondence that has taken place. I have made no statement today that is not supported by the documentary evidence and reports. I consider that if the Government, had done their duty, a report might by this time have been presented, which would have rendered it totally unnecessary that I should have occupied the time of Che Senate for one moment on the subject. I ask leave to withdraw my motion.

Leave granted; motion withdrawn.

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