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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6220

Mr FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) - It is extraordinary that honorable members of the Opposition should now display such anxiety to proceed to a division upon this important question. Only three hours ago the honorable and learned member for Corinella was denouncing honorable members on this side of the Chamber for having entered into a conspiracy of silence, and even more recently the honorable member for Parramatta, referring to some agreement that had' been entered into, threatened to disregard it if honorable members on the Government benches exercised their right to address themselves to the proposal now before the Chair.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said that I should do so itf they spoke at undue length.

Mr FRAZER - I recognise that it is almost impossible to influence the votes of honorable members upon the main, question at this stage, but I think that it is only right that I should place mv opinions on record. I propose to deal with the matter from only two aspects. I am content to leave the constitutional question to such an eminent authority as the honorable member for Parramatta, but only because I am convinced that his view will not be- shared by the majority of honorable members. The whole of the arguments used by honorable members opposite have been in support of granting the fullest protection to members of the mercantile and manufacturing community who use trade marks, whilst denying it to workers or associations of workers who may desire to attach a distinguishing label to their workmanship. It has been urged that the proposal for the adoption of workers' trade marks is on a par with that made in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, under which the Court would have the power to give preference to unionists in certain cases. Although I approve of preference to unionists - and I think that it might, with greater propriety, De termed "security to unionists" - I claim that the proposal now before us is quite distinct from any such provision. It is proposed that -

No person shall falsely apply to .... or knowingly sell or expose for sale . . . any goods to which there is falsely applied .... a mark which is a distinctive device design symbol or label registered by any individual Australian worker or association of Australian workers corporate or unincorporate.

Those who would deny the protection thus sought to be extended to workers' trade marks must stand self-confessed as defenders of thieves. I know that honorable members of the Opposition will at once say that they do not believe in thieving, or in permitting persons to improperly make use of trade marks belonging to others, and yet they are prepared, by default, to practically give their countenance to such proceedings. We have been told that these proposals would confer undue advantages upon the unions, and honorable members opposite have expressed great concern for the unfortunate men who are outside the unions, who, with their wives and families, will, according to their representations, be driven to starvation, owing to the tyranny exercised by the unionists. In this connexion, I propose to quote one or two statements which appear in a report recently published in the Argus. According to the report referred to, a witness who recently" gave evidence before the Coal Commission said that he and other hands employed in one of the coal mines in Southern Gippsland conceived the idea of starting a union, and posted a notice to that effect. Although he was not told so, he was sure that he was dismissed from the service of the company because of his participation in that movement. It is well known that no man can obtain employment in the coal mines of Southern Gippsland unless he is a non-unionist - he must be a free labourer or a " loyalist."

It was stated, further, that the men employed at one mine were earning only 5s. 1 id. per shift. One man stated that he was induced to apply for employment at the Outtrim Colliery, but upon being told that he would have to pay ^15 for a block of land, which he thought was worth only -£2, he left the mine.

Mr Wilson - Would the honorable member read the manager's categorical denial of all those statements which appear at a later stage of the report?

Mr FRAZER - The honorable member is not correct in stating that any such denial appears iri the report to which I have referred.

Mr Wilson - Then it must have been published on the following day.

Mr FRAZER - If any such denial was made, it must have been published whilst I was temporarily absent from Melbourne. Will the honorable member for Corangamite deny that a man, in order to obtain employment at the Outtrim Colliery, must be a non-unionist ?

Mr Wilson - I know nothing, about it. I am in no way connected with the mine.

Mr FRAZER - The honorable member is conveniently ignorant of facts which tell against the employers, whose interests he is advocating.

Mr Kelly - What has all this to do with the union label?

Mr FRAZER - It has been argued that the union label would present opportunities to unionists to boycott manufacturers who employed non-unionists, and traders who sold goods bearing other than union, marks. I am not prepared to admit that they would do so. I hope that they would not. But if they did take such extreme measures they would have abundant justification in the examples furnished by employers.- I need only refer to the operations of the shipping ring for another illustration of the boycotting tactics pursued by large trading organizations. We are being victimized to some extent by the shipping ring because of the restrictions they have placed upon competition in connexion with the English mail service, and we know that, in order to conform with the conditions laid down by the ring, the steamers belonging to the Aberdeen line on arrival at Sydney have to discharge their Brisbane cargo and proceed on to the latter port in ballast. If they do not do so, they will be subjected to competition in the trade which they are now permitted to control, lt is needless to say that as the result of these operations higher freights are being charged upon consignments of goods to Brisbane. Under the proposal now before us, the public will have an opportunity of declaring whether they are in favour of fair conditions of labour, or whether they are content that the goods which they require should be manufactured under circumstances such as have been referred to by the honorable member for Bland. It is not necessary to go to Adelaide in order to find instances of sweating, because similar conditions exist in Melbourne, Sydney, and other large industrial centres in the Commonwealth. When it was proposed to establish a daily labour newspaper in Sydney the proprietors of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph sent out circulars to their agents notifying them that if they associated themselves in any way with that project they would cut off supplies. If that was not a threatened boycott, I do not know what is. Then, again, those who been connected with mining communities know that it is recognised upon all hands that the Employers' Association keeps a black-list. The honorable member for Maranoa produced such a list upon one occasion, and of my own knowledge, I can say that such a list exists in various mining camps in this country. It has been urged that this is the wrong time and place to insert the proposals of the AttorneyGeneral. It is not often that I am guilty of quoting from the New South Wales Hansard, and if the circumstances were not so exceptional, I should hesitate to do so now. In speaking to a motion of censure on the Dibbs Government in 1892, regarding the arrest of certain strikers at Broken Hill, I find that the deputy leader of the Opposition


Mr FRAZER - Yes. I admit that it is a long time ago, but the quotation will serve to indicate how the opinions of honorable members may undergo a change.

Mr Liddell - The honorable member's own ideas have changed.

Mr FRAZER - I' hope they will never change to the extent of inducing me to consider, with the honorable member, that the residents of the back-blocks have degenerated. Upon the occasion to which I refer the deputy leader of the Opposition said -

That is why I protest so strongly against the way in which the Government have trotted out the law and order bogey, because I believe it to be detrimental to the whole of the people of this country, and the best interests of any country, to accentuate the question in such an acute form. Leniency should be shown to men striving in a legitimate way to improve their position.

A little later on he said -

People say they do not object to trade-unions ;

That is exactly what we hear from honorable members opposite.

Everybody is a trade unionist nowadays, but when the conditions become hard enough, and a conflict arises between trades unionism and tyrannical conditions, these people are the first to turn round and say, " You have gone far enough."

That is precisely the sentiment which we hear expressed by members of the Opposition. They declare that they believe in trade unionism, but only to a certain extent. I am prepared to admit that there is some justification for certain honorable members entertaining a particular view. For example, the honorable member for Wentworth, who has been reared in the atmo-sphere of Oxford, and under luxurious conditions

Mr Page - And with a golden shovel in his mouth.

Mr FRAZER - I do not know that that fact will contribute to his happiness to any great extent.

Mr Kelly - I would rather have that in my mouth than a " gag."

Mr FRAZER - The honorable member may get the latter before he expects it. There is a certain amount of excuse for the honorable member holding the views that he does, although it is regrettable that he does not thoroughly understand the aims and ambitions of the toilers of this country, but there is no excuse whatever for the honorable member for Parramatta, who is an ex-coal miner and ex-check weighman of New South Wales, denying the right of the miners of Lithgow to purchase goods manufactured under proper conditions. I see no reason to anticipate the dire disaster that has been predicted in the event of trade unions being granted the measure of justice that is proposed in this Bill. We have been told that some honorable members believe in voluntary trade unionism, and that they will support the non-unionists as against the unionists. Can they cite any instance ir> which the unionists have1 attempted to trample upon the non-unionists when they have been successful in securing beneficial conditions tor themselves ? Up to the present time, all the privileges which unionists have won have been enjoyed by the community without discrimination. The real motive underlying the action of certain honorable members is that which prompted them to oppose preference to unionists in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Their difficulty lies in the fear that they will be required to face an organized opposition to their candidature at the next election. I shall support the proposal of the Government, which is designed to extend to workers the same protection that is accorded to other sections of the community.

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