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Wednesday, 13 September 1911


Senator RAE - Senator St. Ledger's mind seems to be obsessed with the idea of picnics. His life has evidently been one long picnic. I am not speaking about picnics at all. My contention is not that there was nothing done at Lithgow, or that nothing wrong was done there; but that when there is anything done, it is surely enough that a newspaper should relate the facts, without attempting to make the position a thousand times worse than it is. In this case there was something which, perhaps, might be called a little worse than horse-play, though not so bad as has often been done by some of the youths attending our Universities on a Commemoration Day. I complain that these journals that are so very democratic about the way in which Russia should be governed, should attempt to inflame the mind of every one opposed to unionism by the publication of these exaggerated reports of occurrences. They have the unblushing audacity to write about the yellow journalism of America, whilst they perpetrate similar stuff themselves whenever it suits them, in the hope of prejudicing the mind of the public against trade unions.


Senator St Ledger - What did occur at Lithgow?


Senator RAE - I was not present.


Senator St Ledger - Yet the honorable senator denies the accuracy of the newspaper reports.


Senator RAE - Senator St. Ledger, apparently, does not know how to be even as fair as the newspapers from which I have quoted. I do not claim to know anything at first-hand of what occurred at Lithgow ; but I have compared the accounts appearing in two specially reputable morning newspapers published in Sydney, with the official report of the superintendent of police, who was sent to Lithgow. I am not putting forward any view of my own, but showing that when the calm, dry, official report of occurrences at Lithgow was received, it showed the gross exaggeration published by these newspapers, obviously, as I contend, to inflame the mind of the public against these alleged rioters, the unionists. This is only one instance, which could be multiplied by ten thousand. I, personally, have no complaint against the daily press, because the more it abuses me the more I flourish. But I do say that the crying need of this country is a daily newspaper, and fifty if we could get them, which will put on record the views of the Democracy of Australia, instead of the distorted and lying misrepresentations which are current every day in the daily press in every one of the States. Of course, I am aware that a man like Senator St. Ledger will not think anything of a little misrepresentation like this, because the Brisbane Courier can out-Herod Herod in this kind of thing at any time. The newspaper is certainly the most shameless journal published in the Commonwealth in its dealings with matters of this kind.


Senator St Ledger - Does the honorable senator hold me responsible for what appears in the Brisbane Courier}


Senator RAE - I do not, except that the honorable senator belongs to the party which is buttressed by that journal, and he may, therefore, be regarded as, to some extent, responsible for what appears in its columns.


Senator St Ledger - Labour papers occasionally encourage outrages ; but I do not charge the honorable senator with doing so.


Senator RAE - I say that the whole of the daily press of Australia is an outrage on fair play and decency. Last year the Sydney Morning Herald used " Billingsgate " concerning myself, in regard to the vote I gave on the Federal Capital. All these newspapers that profess such a high moral tone are themselves the biggest offenders against fair play and the judicial treatment of matters affecting the public interest, in which the Labour party are concerned. They might well, instead of complaining of the yellow journalism of America, put their own houses in order. Failing any hope that they will do such a thing, it is only natural that the democratic elements in this country should endeavour to provide themselves with a daily press, which will fairly record the doings and aspirations of the party to which they belong.


Senator St Ledger - Are the Labour newspapers going to report both sides? Senator RAE. - There is not very much occasion for them to report the honorable senator's side, because, in the first place, the existing daily newspapers do that, and even improve upon the speeches of honorable senators opposite. So that a measure of fair play will be brought about if we can establish newspapers which will do us a like service. I am not blaming the daily newspapers for this course of conduct because of any hope I ever held that they would act differently. I should deem it as illogical to cast any considerable amount of blame upon them as it would.be to blame a black snake for being venomous. It is 'the way he is built. The newspaper press of Australia at the present time is dependent for its existence upon the commercial and financial interests which our party is out to deal with. Naturally being dependent upon those interests as against the interests of the whole community, and being a product of this commercial age, and a mighty bad product at that, it has to play up to those who are its support. We can, therefore, expect no reliability or stability in the course taken by the daily press at any time. It must adopt a political course in accordance with its pecuniary interests. That being so, I say that one of the greatest blessings this continent can experience will be brought about when we are enabled- to launch a daily newspaper press which will be absolutely free from commercial influences of that kind, because 'it will be owned and controlled by the Labour organizations of this country. I am very glad indeed to be able to inform my honorable friends opposite that we have already in hand for the purpose a sum approaching ,£40,000, with another £40,000 or £50,000 in sight, and we hope soon to have a daily newspaper in full going order.


Senator St Ledger - My honorable friends will have a big, flourishing, financial corporation.


Senator RAE - I hope we will, and . I believe that one of the effects which the publication of a Labour journal will have will be to compel the others to give us a square deal. I hope we shall have a ring of Labour journals right round the continent! Referring now to the GovernorGeneral's Speech, I should like to say something with regard to the paragraph dealing with the Imperial Conference. I hope that the good results foreshadowed will be realized. In connexion with the reference to the new Naval Agreement, arrived at after a Conference between the Commonwealth representatives and the Admiralty. I should like to express my disappointment that it has been agreed that the discipline and methods adopted in our Australian Unit are to be precisely the same as those adopted in the Imperial Fleet. I can quite understand that uniformity of equipment, and that kind of thing, would facilitate combined action by the various units of the Fleet if ever, unfortunately, it should be necessary for them to act together. But I feel that if we are to adopt a precise copy of the British regulations and methods of discipline, we shall find it extremely difficult to recruit Australians for service in our Navy.' 1 submit to the Minister of Defence that, while on broad general grounds it is no doubt highly advisable that we should run on common lines with the

Admiralty, we shall find it very difficult to get Australians to enter our naval service if they may be subjected to the kind of thing which I know from friends and relatives who served in the British Navy was common in that Navy a few years ago.


Senator Pearce - There has been a great alteration in the British Navy in recent years in respect of the matters to which the honorable senator refers.


Senator RAE - The Minister will admit that an alteration was highly necessary. If the class and caste business to which Senator McDougall referred were allowed to grow up in connexion with our Navy, if those placed in command were to be drawn from a special class, and unnecessarily rigorous and severe discipline brought to bear upon the men engaged in our ships, we could hardly expect that they would be manned by the best class of Australian youths.


Senator Pearce - Within the last few years flogging has been abolished in the British Navy.


Senator RAE - I have heard so, but tyranny might be exercised without going to that length. My father was in the British Navy, and, though there has been time for many changes since he served, the way in which the Navy was managed in his time was something scandalous. We know that with all its high traditions sections of the British Navy have mutinied in past generations, and in the present generation there has been a close approach to mutiny on many occasions, due to the exercise of a certain amount of unnecessary tyranny and unfairness by superior officers in the management of the men. I trust we shall never allow anything of that kind to grow up in our Navy. At the same time, 1 am not one who believes in any namby-pamby sentimentalism in the management and control of any of our public services. I recognise that in any organization, and particularly in the control of ships of war, discipline must be enforced, but I trust there will never be enforced in our Navy a system of discipline of the rigorous and injudicious character that seems to have been enforced in the British Navy in times past.


Senator St Ledger - There is no indication of undue severity.


Senator RAE - I have not heard of any yet.


Senator St Ledger - We may get efficiency without severity.


Senator RAE - I trust we will. One matter referred to in the Governor-General's

Speech is the establishment of the Federal Capital. I was one of those who, last session, voted against the choice of Canberra for the Capital site. If it had not been irrevocably settled, I should have been prepared, on any future occasion, to do the same thing ; but I contend that the site having been fixed by the only method known to Parliament - a majority vote in both Houses - the opposition to the building of the Capital at Canberra on the part of some of my Victorian friends on both sides in this Chamber is unwarranted. Having decided once and for all upon the selection of a particular site, the sooner we accomplish the object for which the Federal Capital was designed the better. I shall, therefore, on no occasion be found in opposition to a proposal for the expenditure of the money necessary to give effect to the wishes' of the Parliament in establishing the Capital. I believe that the amount offered by the Government for the best design for the Federal City is totally inadequate to secure the best results. I have told the Minister of Home Affairs that, in my opinion, to give ,£25,000 for the best de-, sign for a Capital city, on which millions of pounds will ultimately be expended, would be money well spent if it secured for us a first-class. design. It would be a mere bagatelle compared with the results which might follow from its expenditure. It is no disparagement to Australian intelligence to say that in this country we have never had an opportunity of doing much in the planning of cities, and we should take advantage of the experience of ' people in the older countries of the world, and, that being so, I contend that we should make a magnificent offer so as to attract the best talent, because no country in the world can be always planning a new Capital. Such an opportunity will probably never arise again, and we should endeavour to obtain the most up-to-date plan for a Capital which the mind of man is capable of evolving. This is the first time in the history of the world when one nation has owned a whole continent, and has been able to create a city at its own will for the purpose of a Capital. It should be a city which will be an object of pride, and I might almost say of veneration to future generations of Australians. For that reason I think that the amount offered for the best design is ridiculously small and mean. If it should fail to bring forth a design which can be approved of, I trust that renewed efforts will be, made, and that a much more generous prize will be offered. I also believe that each House of this Parliament should have an opportunity of examining and approving of a design before it is adopted by the Government. It is not a matter for mere Cabinet decision, and, therefore, Parliament should have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on whatever designs may be submitted before we are committed to any particular one. In regard to the Tariff, at the referendum I made an uncompromising statement to the effect that I would oppose any alterations in the direction of affording more Protection to any industries until we had secured the power to give effect to what is known as the new Protection. While some of my colleagues on this side differ from me, I am still of that opinion. I think - and I believe, it is founded on a common-sense view of the matter - that if the manufacturers want to get more protection, they should enlist themselves on1 our side hi fighting for those amendments of the Constitution which will enable us to enact the new Protection.


Senator St Ledger - Does that not look very like a bribe?


Senator RAE - It does not trouble me in the least whether you call it a bribe, or anything else. I call it a condition, that unless they are prepared to give this Parliament the widest conceivable powers to see that labour gets fair remuneration they shall never receive a vote from me to give them one copper more protection. If all Protectionists in the world think differently I cannot help that : they are wrong, evidently. Does it not stand to reason that if you proceed to enact a scientific Tariff - a thing which I believe to be a myth - or the nearest approach you can get to it, the manufacturers will probably say, " We have obtained, if not all we want, all we can expect, and now we will strenuously range ourselves against the Commonwealth having power to hand any of our profits over to the workers." As a matter of pure tactics I think it would be idiotic on our part to give them another copper until they help us, or abstain from opposing us, in the demands we are making


Senator Millen - If you are serious you are very frank.


Senator RAE - I am frank. I have never concealed my opinion on this matter, and on a few others. We know very well that, under the Constitution, we have no power to enact new Protection. While I do not believe .for a moment that even it we had new Protection it would be more than a palliative to a section of the community; while I am not building up any extravagant hope that the widest measure of new Protection will ever bring about the industrial millenium, yet I do say that, so far as it goes, it is on the right lines, and that the recognition of it is a distinct step in human progress. The recognition by a whole community that a fiscal law is not meant for the benefit of one small section only, but is avowedly meant, even if it is not accomplished, to benefit the workers in the industries, as well as those who scoop the profits, is of itself a valuable one, and I shall demand that (recognition before 1 shall concede a single point.


Senator St Ledger - The Protectionist trades unionists, . in America, are unanimously against that.


Senator RAE - Yes, and the trades unionists in England are very largely against compulsory arbitration. It is, perhaps, a good thing that different communities in the civilized world, even speaking the same language, have different ideas on these matters.


Senator Millen - It is not your fault that they are wrong.


Senator RAE - I am not even saying that they are wrong. I quite agree that much of this legislation is purely experimental in character; that it is farreaching in its effect, and that all that it may yet bring about is not known to any of us. Consequently, if one nation waits to see how another nation gets on, we may be able to take lessons from its experience, or vice versa. I contend that we have not yet had an opportunity to give full effect to the principle of arbitration. I contend that all laws fail if you quote the instances of those who break them in proof of that contention, and that, therefore, the fact that there have been numerous transgressions of this law, that there have been various instances in which it has broken down, does not afford any conclusive evidence that it is wrongly based.


Senator Millen - The most serious thing is not the breach of the law, but the fact that the breach is defended, and that a right to break the law is claimed.


Senator RAE - I do most honestly.


Senator Millen - I was thinking of the honorable senator.


Senator RAE - I wish that the honorable senator had been as frank as I have been. I honestly contend that this experimental piece of legislation was deliberately spoiled by the gentlemen associated with my honorable friends opposite, when leading principles which we advocated should be included were rejected.


Senator Millen - That does not apply to State laws.


Senator RAE - When we find those who were compelled by force of public opinion to take up a measure and emasculate its main provisions, giving us the husk after crushing the kernel', it is not to be wondered at that we absolutely refuse, when it suits us, to be bound by such a fraudulent law. A law is a fraud when the chief provisions which would have given it life are withheld. Of course, I go further than do many of my honorable friends, and believe that the basis' of this law is wrong. In the Arbitration Act of New Zealand, they openly started with the advocacy of organization. They recognised that the law was for the purpose of the better organization of labour, or- used words to that effect, and they encouraged organization under the law. We, on the other hand, did not specifically do anything of that kind. We went out of our way to give opportunities to nonunionists to avail themselves of the law to some extent. But I go further than that, and say that an arbitration law, in order to be effective, should not attempt to do any of those Aim flam things which mob orators enunciate, about holding the scales evenly, and all that kind of pathetic claptrap. What we want is an arbitration law which sets out to do, by legal . and peaceful means, what we, as a Labour party, exists for, and that is to secure the wealth of the world for the world's wealth producers. An arbitration law should be a means to secure to the workers, by peaceful means, an ever increasing share of the wealth which they produce. That is what we are out for. Why disguise it in any way ?


Senator Millen - You claim the right to arbitrate, and if the award does not suit you, to break it.


Senator RAE - We may apply for something which we know we are justly entitled to, and if. the verdict goes against us, we may get less than we are enjoying. An arbitration law of that kind is not of very much use to me, nor do I believe it will be to the workers. Manifestly, they want better conditions. They want an arbitration law to secure to them by peace ful means what they succeeded in getting before by strikes. If it is not going to do as much for them as strikes did, then we do not want it. We want means which will give us most of that which we, as wealth producers, are entitled to, and if one way will not do that, we naturally resort to the other. Whether my fellowmembers share these opinions or not, those are the lines on which I have always gone. I know that if you have a strike, you have to resort to arbitration sooner or later to determine the terms on which . you will settle. It is seldom that one side knocks out the other completely. They generally come to some kind of agreement as to the terms on which work shall be resumed. It is better, I think, to arbitrate before you fight than to do so after damage has been done. If we, as a class, are to gain anything by arbitration, we shall have to try a more effective scheme. It is a labour measure for the benefit pf the workers, not for the benefit of the class represented by honorable senators on the other side, who have been getting the benefit all the time. If they do not like that sentiment, I cannot help it. I contend that the methods of arbitration, so far, . have been ineffective, because they have not recognised that this is an age in which the workers have awakened to the fact that they have been far too long the slaves of a class who have robbed them from the cradle to the grave. It is slowly dawning upon them that they possess the numerical and physical power to alter that state of things. In this country the workers have attained political power, and once they form an effective combination, there is absolutely nothing to prevent them from getting all their demands complied with. If the Parliament is not prepared to frame measures which will give them slowly, but surely, a constantly increasing instalment of the wealth they produce, then it will naturally goad them into such a state that they will turn round and take the lot. For the protection of the class for which my Conservative friends opposite -attempt to legislate, they should be foremost in advocating this peaceful means of securing justice to the workers, knowing that that is the only way to avert revolution.


Senator Millen - Do you not trust the Arbitration Court?


Senator RAE - I have not been complaining of the awards of the Court, but of the very foundation of our arbitration law; that it does not set out definitely to give better conditions to the workers.


Senator Millen - That was its object.


Senator RAE - That should be its sole purpose, and that is the purpose which men always put before crowds. But I hold that that is not its sole effect. Its purpose does npt matter to rae unless that is its effect. When a law can be brought in to lower wages as well as to raise them, do you think that it is of any use to us? It is of no use to me.


Senator Millen - You are a whole hogger, anyhow.


Senator RAE - No; I believe in carrying out a thing lo its logical conclusion, and the purpose of my argument is to show that the workers of the world are setting out to get a larger share 'of the wealth of the world which they are the chief factors in producing. That being so, of what- use is it to them if a Court gives them a little more to-day and takes it away from them to-morrow, placing them in- a worse position than they originally were? That is simply playing with the question, merely tampering with a great purpose, instead of dealing with it. It must be clear to all of us that the proceedings of the Arbitration Courts must be rendered much more prompt and less costly than they are at present. Take the case of the Australian Workers Union, whose case is being heard at the present time. The costs; which have been piled up week after week, have already involved our union in about £6,000. That kind of thing may be all very well in the case of a big wealthy union like ours, which can stand it. But what sort of effect can such difficulties have upon the masses of workers all over the Commonwealth?


Senator Millen - How was the £6,000 expenditure incurred?


Senator RAE - The - honorable senator cannot expect me to furnish him with a lawyer's bill of costs.


Senator Millen - I thought' the arbitration law shut out the lawyers.


Senator RAE - No, it does not. The honorable senator will find that, if the parties agree, or if the Judge so orders, lawyers may be admitted. Indeed, I know that that is so, because in a case which was tried by Mr. Justice O'Connor four years ago we sought, prior to the trial corning on, to prevent the pastoralists getting leave to employ counsel, and the Judge granted leave, in spite of our opposition. That having been done, of course we then secured the best counsel we could. The present

High Commissioner represented us, and put up a very decent fight for us, getting well paid for it, of course. He even advocated preference to unionists, notwithstanding our political objects.


Senator St Ledger - That" was part of his brief, not an exposition of his principles.


Senator RAE - We quite understand that it was in accordance with his brief. The expenses of witnesses are something enormous. We have had to bring witnesses from every State in the Common-wealth, except Western Australia, where an agreement at present exists, and have had in many cases to keep them for weeks, and that during the shearing season, when competent men would be earning the largest amounts that they earn at any time during the year. Thousands of documents have had to be prepared. All this costs an enormous amount of money, and I say deliberately that something approximating . £6,000 has been spent on this case up to date.- I now ask leave to continue.my remarks to-morrow. Leave granted ; debate adjourned. Senate adjourned at 10.3a p.m. "







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