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Federal Council Sessions.

3. The Federal Council shall sit at such time and place as may be from time to time decided upon, and not less frequently than once in three years.

Provision is made for calling special sessions and for an executive, the duties of the latter being defined.

A special Intercolonial Congress was held in Brisbane in 1899, at which a comprehensive scheme of federation was adopted, to be brought into operation when three or more colonies adopted it, but it was never put into force. The scheme provided for proper control in case of strike or lock-out, and for providing funds. The rules were very complete, but the following will indicate the difference in the objects between the two schemes of 1899 and 1902, those of 1899 being:—

The following shall be the objects of the Federation:—(a) To improve, protect, and foster the best interests of all classes of labor throughout Australasia. (b) To secure direct Labor representation in the various Parliaments, and to promote and extend such legislative


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reforms as will ensure social justice to Australasian workers. (c) To prevent, as far as possible, any strike or dispute between the members of the Federation and their employers by conciliatory means, and by appeal to any recognised Board of Arbitration. (d) To uphold the rules of all federated bodies and ensure justice to all their members. (e) To provide funds for the assistance of any Federated Union involved in a dispute, such funds to be used only after all conciliatory measures have failed. (f) To secure a better advocacy of the principles and rights of Labor through the press, and, if deemed necessary, to establish journals for the promulgation and defence of all classes of Australasian workers. (g) To prevent the influx of colored races.

Interstate Congresses are now held triennially and have a smaller delegation, the delegates being mainly Labor Members of Parliament, as their possession of free railway passes enables them to attend at small cost. Labor unions have also come to realise that all big questions are political. As a consequence the Political Conferences in each State have grown in importance and the others have lessened. Interstate Political Conferences are held every three years for dealing with Federal matters and for framing the platform for the Commonwealth elections.

The Parliamentary Committee of the 1884 Congress, in its report presented to the Congress in 1885, introduced the question of direct representation


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of Labor in Parliament, and the subject was discussed at that and succeeding Congresses. Delegates could not, however, induce their societies to take up the matter, and it was not until 1898 that the unions in New South Wales affiliated with the political section of Labor. The unions in the other colonies were several years ahead of them in that respect. The Shearers' Union stood up all along in favor of political action, and not only passed a resolution at its 1891 Conference, but appointed a committee to draft a platform. Several unions still hold out and take no part in political work. The members are gradually awakening, however, and when they do take the matter in hand they will soon over-ride the narrow-minded persons who now fight against electing to Parliament their own men so that they may remedy the evils which have been brought under the notice of the legislature in vain for thirty years past.

During the sittings of the Intercolonial Congress in Brisbane in 1888, the then Premier (Sir S. W. Griffith), now Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, issued a political manifesto in which the following passage appeared:—

“The relations between Labor and Capital constitute one of the great difficulties of the day. I look to the recognition of the principle that a share of the profits of productive labor belongs of right to the laborer as of the greatest importance in the future adjustment of these relations. The experiment of giving to workmen


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a personal interest in the success of the industrial undertakings in which they are engaged has already been tried in a few cases by the individual of the employers, and has resulted in conspicuous advantage to all parties. I entertain a strong hope that before long this principle will form a part of the positive law of Queensland.”

Like the other promises of old political parties nothing was done by Sir S. W. Griffith, though he had a splendid opportunity, and the pressure of an evil social system is daily becoming more severe in Queensland as elsewhere.

The trade union has not become less necessary because of political activity. It has become more than ever important. It has still plenty to do in watching over the bread-and-butter question which is with us all the time, and it is at the same time the backbone of the political Labor movement. The unions give stability, continuity, and solidarity to it. They form a training ground for future Parliaments. It is rare that a member trained and disciplined in a trade union goes back on his principles. The unionist is more loyal and reliable, and will stand the decisions of the party with less strain than others. The organization of unions must not, therefore, be neglected if the masses wish to work out their political and industrial salvation.

The Melbourne Trades Hall Council has a very fine set of buildings in Carlton. The old hall, which is still in use, was built in 1857. The foundation stone of the first portion of the new building was


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laid on 26th January, 1874, and that of the second part on October 21st, 1882. The approximate cost to date is £24,000.

The Trades and Labor Council of Sydney made a start to secure its Trades Hall in 1884. The committee appointed had £17 to start with. The foundation stone was laid by Baron Carrington (then Governor) on 28th January, 1888. The building and property are now valued at £26,000.

The Trades Hall in Adelaide, S.A., took eleven years' agitation to get. The foundation stone was laid on Eight-Hour Day, September 2, 1895, by Mrs. C. C. Kingston. It was opened on the 14th March, 1896, by Mr. T. Price, and cost £6490.

The Trades Hall, Brisbane, Q., was officially opened on May 5th, 1894, and cost £5200.

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