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Wednesday, 23 July 1930

Senator HOARE (South Australia) . - I do not think that arbitration has failed in its mission. I still have the same faith in arbitration that I had when it was first talked of many years ago. I think that it was in 1899 that I became a unionist by joining the Shearers Union of Australia, now the Australian Workers Union. From its inception that union adopted the principle of arbitration, believing that that was the proper method to settle industrial disputes.

I quite agree with Senator McLachlan when he says that we should either accept arbitration or reject it. I recognize that we cannot have arbitration and strikes. We must be honest and declare for one or the other. If we believe in arbitration we should accept its awards. If for the moment they be against us, we should entertain the hope that in the future they will be altered more to our liking.

Senator Thompson - We should be well satisfied if the honorable senator inculcated those sentiments into his union leaders.

Senator HOARE - I have always been candid, and expressed my opinions frankly both here and elsewhere. Senator Pearce is not the only unionist, who, in bygone days, got himself disliked because he was on the side of the, minority. However, the right honorable senator has somewhat altered his ideas in recent years. On the 10th November, 1911, he is reported in Hansard as having said -

I never did believe that the federal arbitration law would do away with discontent. I agree with Senator Bae that it will be a bad day for any country when discontent is done away with, because discontent is the mainspring of progress.

Senator Pearcereminds me of the words of Mr. Grayson of the British House of Commons, who once said that he would rather have a discontented pig than a satisfied, individual, because the discontented pig would endeavour to root it3 way out of its sty, and make provision for himself, but the contented individual would stagnate; indicating that the satisfied person would prefer to remain wallowing in a sty of starvation and want rather than endeavour to provide for himself.

Senator Guthrie - That is precisely what Senator Pearce said 20 years ago.

Senator HOARE - I am not disputing that. People change, but principles do not. Senator McLachlan said something about jurisprudence. I quite recognize that we owe to Greece our art and culture; to Rome our jurisprudence; to the Jews, our religion and our code of morals; and to New Zealand our arbitration system. 1 remember that when I was quite a lad and became a unionist, I looked to the New Zealand innovation of industrial arbitration as the thing that would bring peace among men engaged in industry. I claim that the innovation has met with a. great measure of success. ,

I quite admit that what would have been satisfactory, from an arbitration point of view, in 3910, would probably not do now. We must chancre with the times, and must amend existing laws as the necessity arises. That is why we learn that New Zealand has already adopted amending arbitration legislation somewhat similar to that which this Government is endeavouring to introduce by this bill. I shall quote from Wages and tha States, by E. M. Burns, specifically as it relates to New Zealand. It states -

There is one court for the whole of New Zealand, consisting of three members appointed by the Governor. One of these is the Judge of the Court who must be eligible for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court. The other two members are nominated on the recommendation of industrial unions of employers and workers, respectively, for a period of three years. The court has the power to refer any matter to a special investigating board, and base its awards on its reports.

Later, the following statement appears : -

The first group, the conciliation committees, and compulsory conferences are undoubtedly a very valuable, addition to the system, and are the means of saving much time. In New Zealand all cases must first be dealt with by such a committee, and each year they settle a very large proportion, often as much as 90 per cent., of the cases submitted to them. This system greatly reduces the amount of work to be done by the court, and the delay in hearing cases, which is one of the worst features of the arbitration system.

It would appear that New Zealand has adopted the principle of conciliation embodied in this bill, and that the system has proved wonderfully successful, for very few disputes ever come before the Arbitration Court. There is, therefore, not that delay in dealing with the cases which do reach the court that there is in Australia. In some instances unions which have waited for years to have their cases heard have gone to the length of going on strike purposely in order to have them expedited. It has been said that there are plenty of judges; but, if that is so, what is the reason for the delay in hearing claims? The appointment of conciliation committees should relieve the congestion in the Arbitration Court, in which case it might, in fact, be correct to say that we have a sufficient number of judges. I do not know why honorable senators should be afraid of these conciliation committees. They have worked well in New Zealand, and I see no reason why they should not be equally successful in Australia. The Cotton Industries Bounty Bill, which was before the Senate recently, contained the following provision : - (7.) If-

(a)   the Chief Judge or a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has not declared, in accordance with subsection (1.) of this section, what wages and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the production of seed cotton or lint, or the manufacture of cotton yarn; and

(b)   there are not in force in the locality where theseed cotton, lint, or cotton yarn is produced or manufactured, any standard rates and conditions relating to the labour employed in the production of seed cotton or lint, or the manufacture of cotton yarn, prescribed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or by an industrial authority of a State, or contained in an industrial agreement registered under any law of the Commonwealth or a State, the Minister may appoint an authority or authorities for determining, for the purposes of this section, wages and conditions of employment which are fair and reasonable for labour employed in the production of seed cotton or lint, or the manufacture of cotton yarn, and any authority so appointed shall be Seemed tobe a Commonwealth authority within the meaning of sub-section (1.) of this section. (8.) An authority appointed by the. Minister under the last preceding sub-section shall consist of a representative of employers engaged in the production of seed cotton or lint or the manufacture of cotton yarn, a representative of employees engaged in such production or manufacture, and a person, who shall act as chairman, and who shall be appointed by the Minister on the joint nomination of the representatives of employers and employees :

Provided that, if the representatives of employers and employees fail to make a joint nomination of a chairman within twenty days after being called upon by the Ministerso to do, the Governor-General may appoint a person to act as chairman.

To this honorable senators opposite raised no objection.

Senator Cooper - In that case it was a final settlement. The position is different here.

Senator HOARE - What is the difference between the provisions in that bill and those in. the bill before us? If honorable senators were prepared to accept the principle then, why do they not do so now?

Senator Cooper - In the other case it is a final settlement.

Senator HOARE - I realize that to Senator Cooper it is a different matter when cotton is concerned. Cottongrowing is a Queensland industry. But the position is entirely different when the principle is applied to the whole of Australia.

Senator Daly - The Leader of the Opposition drew attention to that point when the vote was being taken.

Senator HOARE - It might be well if I were to give the names of those who voted for this provision in the Cotton Industries Bounty Bill. The division list shows that Senators Barnes, Cooper, Cox, Crawford, Daly, Dooley, Greene, Hoare, Millen, O'Halloran, Rae, Thompson and Dunn voted for it, and that Senator Duncan paired in favour of it.

Senator Thompson - That could not be done with union representatives.

Senator HOARE - The principle is the same. As I have already stated, men may change, but principles remain the same. In this case there is no cotton bounty. If the Government could make this bill apply to cotton, it is probable that some honorable senators now opposed to it would change their views.

Senator Thompson - This is a different proposition, as the honorable senator knows.

Senator HOARE - There is no difference in principle. Senator Pearce said that arbitration was the cause of the growth of unionism. To a great extent that is true; but when the labour market is buoyant, unionism grows, irrespective of any law.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - What happens when the labour market is not buoyant?

Senator HOARE - The honorable senator has only to look around to see what is happening to-day. Irrespective of arbitration laws and arbitration courts, men are offering to work at rates far below those fixed by awards, and . are prepared to sign for the full amount that should be paid to them. When the labour market is buoyant, men join the unions because they are not afraid of the frowns of their employers; but when there are thousands of men unemployed and almost starving, those in employment are afraid to say "booh." Arbitration prevents unprincipled men from "scabbing" on their ma tes. as it also prevents unscrupulous employers from "scabbing" on their fellow-employers. Arbitration compels all employers to pay the same wages in a particular industry. That is only as it should be. Arbitration protects the just man from the dishonest one; it protects both the honest worker and the honest employer.

Senator Thompson - The honorable senator does not want men outside the unions to live.

Senator HOARE - Any decent man will recognize that the wages and conditions he enjoys have been fought and paid for by others. If he has any sense of justice he will willingly pay his share of the cost of obtaining the privileges he' enjoys.

Senator Guthrie - Then why are 40 per cent, of the workers outside the trade unions ?

Senator HOARE - That is easily explained. It is due to the wave of depression that is sweeping the country. I admit that there are always some men who are only too willing to evade the payment of their trade union dues.

Senator Coopersaid that the woolgrowers of Australia had obeyed awards which were against them as cheerfully as those which were favorable. For that I give them credit. In order to show how the men who cut the fleece from the backs of the sheep fare I desire to quote an extract from A New Province for Law and Order by the late Mr. Justice Higgins -

In the case of the shearers, the rates for shearing, 24s. per 100, as fixed by my predecessor, were not increased; and the strongest union in Australia, the Australian Workers Union acquiesced. In the same case, the court found that too high minimum rates had previously been fixed for wool-pressers, and lowered them, stating its reasons. There was no strike, no refusal to work, no expression, that I know, of discontent. In the case of the builders' labourers the court fixed lower rates for Ballarat and Bendigo than for Melbourne, and lower rates for Melbourne than for Sydney, all because of differences in the cost of living. The union leaders were troubled because those cities had always maintained the same " union rate " ; but they told the members of the union the court's reasons, and there was peace. Again, in the same case, the court fixed for Melbourne a lower minimum rate for scaffolders and demolishers than had been previously fixed by the wages board - ls. 34d. per hour, instead of ls. 44d. per hour; and the men submitted. The truth is, I think, that if the men secure the essentials of food, shelter, clothing, &c, they are not so unreasonable as is sometimes supposed. They do not love strikes for the sake of strikes; and the great majority are generally quite willing to submit to reason if they feel that they are reasonably treated.

Senator Guthrie - The Australian Workers Union had always obeyed the court; its members have fared well.

Senator HOARE - They have not fared well on this occasion, for their wages have been reduced by 20 per cent. I suppose that there will be a similar reduction in the wages of other men engaged in the industry. I did not hear Chief Judge Dethridge's summing up.

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