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Friday, 20 June 1930

Senator CRAWFORD - I for one should like to see the honorable gentlemen so attired

Senator DUNN - The Queensland cotton industry is at present working amicably ' its labour being supplied by members of the Australian Workers Union. I am sorry to say that certain other Australian farmers frequently give preference to Italians rather than to Australians ' and Britishers.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Those Italians are members of the Australian Workers Union.

Senator DUNN - I do not know anything about that. I remind the honorable senator that interjections are dia. orderly. I endorse the remarks of Senator Barnes that we make no complaint about family conditions applying to the growing of cotton. At the same time, when father dies and leaves £18,000 to the members of his family-

Senator Thompson - That sort of father is obviously not a cotton-grower.

Senator DUNN - He may . be a squatter. I notice that that sort of thing is happening every day. Unfortunately the man that father hires to assist him to harvest his crop has no say in the disposition of the fortune. Senator Payne is endeavouring to introduce into the cotton-fields of Queensland the slave conditions that exist in the southern States of America. He would delight to have a white overseer cracking his whip over the backs of the field-workers. He recalls to my mind poor Eliza, leaping from ice-floe to ice-floe, to escape from the hellish brutality of Simon Legree. I remind the honorable senator that while the Government is prepared to assist the Australian cotton industry it will not countenance such practices in this enlightened country of ours. This provision is designed essentially to protect the workers of the country from sweated labour conditions.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m..

Senator DUNN - The Australian Workers Union realizes that, in the general development of farms in Queensland, the labour of its members may be utilized for the growing of maize or other crops, and all it asks is that awards in relation to cotton-growing shall be applicable to the picking of cotton.

Senator Daly - The term has a definite meaning in industrial law; it would not include the clearing of land.

Senator DUNN - Honorable senators opposite appear to fear the consequences of an award in connexion with the picking of cotton. If the Commonwealth pays a bounty on cotton-growing, the Government, irrespective of the party it represented, would be justified in policing awards in areas where rural jurisdictions did not operate.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW (Queensland) [2.17]. - I intend to oppose the amendment, on the ground, mainly, that I believe the benefits accruing from the payment of a bounty to the cotton industry should not be enjoyed by one section only. The growers should share with their employees the benefits of a bounty. 11 any industrial organization imposed difficult conditions on employers, its action would have the effect of preventing the expansion of the industry. I have always supported the bounty principle in relation to rural industries, because I desire that those who have invested capital in them should have an opportunity to see if it is not possible to place them on a permanentbasis. If onerous conditions are imposed on the growers, cotton-growing will remain -a strictly family industry,, as it is to-day.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch -What about the employees in other industries that are not helped by bounties?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW -All established protected industries are subject to awards of some industrial tribunal, and those engaged in them are expected to abide by its determinations.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - The honorable senator knows ' very well that rural industries could not survive if the employers were obliged to observe Arbitration Court awards and conditions of employment.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - I am aware of that; but if this Parliament assists an industry by means of a bounty, the benefits accruing from such a policy should be shared by employers and employees. It would be unfair to pay a bounty to the grower of cotton and the manufacturer of cotton yarn, and give protection to employers in the textile industry, without at the same time expecting them to give their employees a share of the benefit.For the reasons stated I shall oppose the amendment.

Senator SirHAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [2.20]. - The speech to which we have just listened from Senator Glasgow is extraordinary evidence of the demoralizing effect of legislation of this kind. Senator Glasgow has deliberately stated that an industry which is to receive a bounty at the expense of the general community should give better conditions of labour for those employed in it than an industry which has to fight its own battles without government assistance and make its contribution to the bounty. The agricultural industry could not live for five minutes' if the employers in it were obliged to pay the wages and observe the conditions of employment that obtain in our protected secondary industries. All employed in agricultural occupations have to work longer hours in order to make their contribution to bonuses of this kind. I object to the clause and I support the amendment on exactly opposite grounds to those advanced by those honorable senators who favour it. If they believe that the class of legislation which has been passed in recent years will maintain the present high standard of living for the worker, they are welcome to that opinion. The fact is that this legislation is steadily destroying the standard of living of the worker and is driving more and more of them into unemployment and poverty. The further we go along this legislative path the more disastrous will be the results from that point of view. I protest against this clause for two reasons: In the first place I regard it as a distinct breach of the Constitution which limits the industrial powers of this Parliament to providing machinery for arbitration and conciliation for the settlement of disputes extending beyond the limits of one State. Although the cotton industry is confined almost exclusively to one State, and it cannot possibly extend to any other State; the Government proposes to establish a Commonwealth industrial tribunal to prescribe wages and conditions of labour in it. Clearly this is an invasion of the right preserved to the States under the Constitution that they alone should legislate in respect of industrial matters, except where disputes extend beyond the limits of one State. I object to it also for reasons which I gave earlier in my remarks. It seems to me to be monstrous and unjust ' that bonused industries should, so far as the workers are concerned, have better conditions of err.ployment than can be enjoyed by those employed in industries which have to contribute to the payment of these bonuses. The strength of industrial organizations, together with the legislation passed by the various State Parliaments, should be sufficient to prevent sweating or unfair conditions of employment. Reference has been made to the fact that cotton growing in Queensland is a family industry. What will happen if groups of families engage in it and employ members of their respective families to pick the crop? Senator Barnes has already indicated that awards of any authority appointed by the Minister may be avoided by groups of employers pretending to pay award rates to their children, thereby securing payment of the bounty by misrepresentation and fraud. Has Senator Barnes told us the whole secret of how the provisions of the act may be evaded and the bonus made available to people who may grow cotton on a family basis? I raised this question in my second-reading speech. Up to the present the only explanation received has come from Senator Barnes who has told us how industrial awards may be evaded.

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