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Friday, 10 November 1911

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - After the eloquence of the previous speaker, one feels rather at a disad- vantage in addressing himself to this question. If the Bill in its present form would be the means of settling industrial disputes and of causing the parties to those disputes to honorably observe their agreements, it would undoubtedly be of immense benefit to the community. But, from experience, I doubt whether it will have that result. I note that clause 2 modifies section 4 of the principal Act, which defines industry as follows - " Industry " means business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment on land or water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, and includes a branch of an industry and a group of industries.

That definition exempts only those persons who are engaged in domestic service and in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits. I presume, therfore that the amending Bill will include all domestic servants and persons engaged on farms and dairy farms. Am I right in that supposition?

Senator Pearce - It will include all those who come within the definition of " Industry " under this Bill.

Senator McColl - It will include all those who have hitherto been omitted from the scope of the measure.

Senator WALKER - In Committee, I may have something' to say on this subject. Personally, I have always been in favour of the settlement of industrial trouble by means of conciliation. The very word "compulsion" is opposed to the spirit of the average Briton. If he is compelled to do a thing, he will probably resent it. For that reason, a voluntary agreement is much more likely to be observed than is a compulsory one. According to the Argus, there have been ninety strikes in Australia during the present year, of which no less than forty have occurred in Victoria.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Does that number include the doctors' strike in Adelaide?

Senator WALKER - I was always under the impression that the Wages Board system in Victoria was a great success, but if there have been forty strikes in this State during the present year, it does not seem as if it were. Clause 7 seeks to effect an alteration of section 10 of the principal Act by increasing the penalty from ^10 to ^25. Sub-section r of section 10 of the principal Act reads -

No em ploy £ shall cease work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that the employer is an officer or member of an organization or of an association that has ap plied for registration as an organization or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.

I would suggest that a new sub-section should be inserted, to read as follows -

No employ^ shall cease to work in the service of an employer by reason merely of the fact that a fellow employe^ is a non-unionist.

I .think that would be a wonderful improvement upon the original Act. I cannot for the life of me see why a unionist should object to a non-unionist working alongside him. As a matter of fact, there are more non-unionists in Australia than there are unionists. Somebody has called the party to which I belong the Tory party. But, as I understand Toryism, the Tories are a party who desire to extend a preference to one section of the community as against another. I do not think that charge can be laid against' our party. When I was in London, three years ago, I found myself made an honorary member of St. Stephen's Club, and, when the articles were forwarded to me, I discovered that every member of it must be a Conservative. I went round to the club and pointed out that I was not eligible for membership, as I had always been a Liberal. Curiously enough, T met a gentleman there who said, " I am glad to see you here," to which I replied, " I have come to tell the secretary that I am ineligible for membership." " What do you mean?" asked my friend, adding, "You must belong to .the Conservative party or to the old Whig party." He then took me into the office of the secretary, and said, " Here is a gentleman from Australia who says that he is not eligible for membership of the club because he is not a Conservative." "But," said my friend, "if not a Conservative, he is an Australian Tory." I never went back to the club. I declined to be considered a Tory. I should prefer to leave the Act as it stands. I am not prepared to say that this measure runs counter to the Constitution, because that is a point as to which lawyers will have to express their opinion. What, however, does the Minister in charge of the Bill think of my suggested amendment ?

Senator Pearce - We will consider that' in Committee.

Senator WALKER - When I behold the Macedonian phalanx sitting opposite to me, I can form an opinion of the treatment that any amendment will receive in Committee. But the time will come when our party will have a chance. Meanwhile we are trying to learn to be submissive. I trust that we shall have the pleasure of seeing SenatorSt. Ledger's speechin printed form, so that we can study it carefully. Apparently it has not been appreciated as it deserved to be.

Debate (on motion by Senator McColl) adjourned.

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