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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6237

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In view of the very wild statements that have been made during the last hour, a few words are necessary from those who do not think in the same way as the speakers immediately - preceding me. Previously I have explained that 1 am against the use of the boycott by either employer or employe. I expressed the opinion that, not on one side, but on both sides, the boycott would be employed to effect the results desired. I still believe that on the one side the only effective means of using the label' will be by the boycott, and that the other side 'will resist its use and encourage the use of another label - one belonging to an association of employers - by the boycott. I have also pointed out that the boycott is a most undesirable system to be introduced into the commerce of the country, not by employes only, but also byemployers. What the honorable member for Gwydir said in the last part of his speech I could not hear, because he had worked himself into a hysterical condition. But in the first part of his speech I understood him to hold up his hands in horror at the boycott; to say that he could not conceive how any man could use such a weapon, and to call down upon the heads of its users all the anathemas which he could command. Let me remind the honorable member that, time- after time, the boycott has been used as a fighting weapon, not merely on one side, but on both sides. Let me ask those honorable members in the corner, who supported the strike of 1890, what was done on that occasion? The unions boycotted, right and left, the goods of men who had not the remotest connexion with the strike, including the wool from the stations and the coal from the mines. So intensely' bitter did they feel that they threatened even to close the bakers' shops in Sydney.

Mr Spence - It was the coal mine owners who locked out the miners.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member knows that I am speaking of the conveyance of the coal, and that on that occasion the boycotting was carried to a greater extreme than ever previously in Australia. If it led to the adoption of the boycott by the employers, then, though both boycotts were undesirable, those who suffered from the one should not come here and whine when they employed the same method on their side.

Mr Spence - The boycott by the emplovers was the greater crime.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not intend to go into that matter, but merely to point out that on that occasion the boycott was used with a desperation and to an extent that has never been seen in Australia either before or since. Therefore, its users should not come here to whine and complain that a similar weapon was used on the other side.

Mr Frazer - We only say that, if we are to have the boycott, the power to use it should be general.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am against the use of the boycott on either side, and I regret that a measure of this sort should contain a proposal which I believe will only be effectively carried out on either side by the employment of the boycott.

Mr Isaacs - Other people do not believe that.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I cannot expect everybody else to think as I do.

Mr Isaacs - I mean to say that it is not admitted. <

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am only expressing my own belief. If this weapon is to be effective, it must be applied by means of a boycott, and it may come to this pass in the long run, that wool and wheat, unless it be grown by union labour, and the bales and bags branded with the union mark, will not be conveyed by union carriers.

Mr Spence - The grower's consent must be obtained.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Surely the honorable member does not believe me to be so simple as to accept that remark. The grower's consent will be obtained bv the use of the boycott.

Mr Spence - How could he be boycotted ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Just as a pirate cannot by law force people to allow him to use their goods for his purposes, so a union cannot by law force the owner of goods to allow the union to use them for their purposes, but just as a pirate can use unlawful means, so they can use other means which are not contemplated by the law, and that will be an intimation to a man that if he does not adopt the label, or if he is not in a position to do so through not having union, men, he must get into a position to use it, and use it, or his goods will be boycotted.

Mr Webster - That is the trouble.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the trouble with the honorable member. For a long time the Labour Party and the

Labour Leagues have been endeavouring - and they have almost succeeded - to get the unions affiliated with the Labour Leagues. If they can get them affiliated, and can by any means - by boycott or otherwise - increase their membership - they think that they will increase their political power in the constituencies, and apply a law, which is professedly meant only for industry, to politics in order to gain their ends.

Mr Webster - That is the outgrowth of a vivid imagination.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member need not suggest that that is not one of his expectations.

Mr Hutchison - Is the honorable member aware that the political organizations are separate from the unions?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At the conference in Sydney, the unions decided, by two votes only, not to join the political Labour Leagues.

Mr Webster - By the votes of two delegates ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. It was stated on that occasion by some of the labour leaders that it was anticipated that in a short time the proposal for affiliation would be carried.

Mr Hutchison - But we take the nonunionists into our party.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I admit that in the Labour Party and the Labour Leagues there are non-unionists. I have not the least doubt that it can be shown that in some cases employers have improperly used the boycott ; but, on the other hand, it can be shown that on certain occasions the employes have used the boycott to a more extreme extent.

Mr Webster - The honorable member knows that since that time we have passed legislation in New South Wales to prevent anything of that kind being done.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Since that time legislation has been passed to fix the conditions of industries in the States.

Mr Webster - By the Labour Party?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Partly by the Labour Party; they were never sufficiently strong to pass the legislation alone. We are, however, enacting a provision which ought to be quite unnecessary when we have the legislation. I object to strife in industry if it can be avoided. I object to tyrannical actionby either side. The strongest objection to the union label is that the results desired cannot be obtained, as there is no provision under this legislation to obtain them, without the use of the boycott, and if it is used on one side, most certainly it will be used on the other side for all it is worth. If strife can be avoided in industry, well and good. I do not see how the proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong can effectively prevent strife. And in one respect I . agree with the Attorney-General, that it is exceeding the limit of our constitutional power, even more than we have already done in connexion with the trade union mark. I am glad that the honorable member for Kooyong proposes to withdraw his amendment. It certainly will surprise me very pleasantly indeed if I find that after the Bill has become law, steps are not taken to compel, by the means of boycott, the use of the union label by employers, and the consumption by the public of the goods to which it is attached.

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