1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 4 p.m.
– I have to announce to the House that I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a commission empowering me from time to time to administer the oath to such members of this House as have not already taken and . subscribed the same.
The Right Hon. George Houstoun Reid, P.O., K.C., and Hugh Mahon, Esq., made ‘ and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Mr. Dugald Thomson presented a petition from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales in favour of the opening of the proceedings of the House with prayer:
Mr. Hume Cook presented a petition from Mr. John Robertson, M.A., against opening the proceedings with prayer.
The petitions were received.
– I wish to withdraw a paper which I laid upon the table on the 10th instant - the draft standing orders for provisional use - and, in place of it, to lay on the table a revised draft.
– I should think there would be a revised draft. It will save us a great deal of trouble.
Resolved (on motion by
That the document be printed.
– Before the order of the day is called on, I have to inform the House that I have mode a careful examination of that part of the building which is at the disposal of Members of the House of Representatives. I may mention at once that, in my opinion, the accommodation for members, officers, and the press is extremely limited. I have decided to place the large room on the second floor at the disposal of the Ministerial supporters. The next room on the same floor I have allotted to honorable members of this House who arc identified with the labour party. The large room on the first floor I have set aside for honorable members belonging to the Opposition. After to-morrow honorable members using the rooms I have mentioned will find their correspondence placed therein. Some further conveniences are to be arranged. Doorkeepers will bo on duty from nine o’clock in the morning until the rising of the House, to specially see that all requirements of honorable members arc properly complied with. Honorable members may rest assured that I shall do all in my power to study their convenience and comfort in every possible way, and I am sure that the Bight Honorable the Prime Minister will assist me in that direction. I should be glad if all honorable members will, as soon as possible, band to the Clerk of the House their Mel bourne addresses, to facilitate the distribution of parliamentary papers, &c. With reference to a petition which’ has been lodged against the return of an honorable member, having carefully considered it, I have formed an opinion concerning it ; but in the absence of standing orders relating to such a matter I have felt bound to reserve it for the consideration of the committee which is to be appointed to deal with such questions.
– Since the last sitting of the House I have received the following cablegram from the Hon. J. P. Booth, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia : -
Members Legislative Assembly province British Columbia extend Speaker, Members Parliament Commonwealth, Australia, now assembled, heartiest felicitations successful inauguration federal form government South Hemisphere. Express confident hope labours Commonwealth Parliament result not only great good people Australia, but whole Empire.
To that cable I sent the following answer: -
Commonwealth Parliament being under adjournment until Tuesday, I venture to express to you and Members your Legislature, cordial thanks of President and Members of Senate, and Speaker and Members House of Representatives, for felicitations your telegram expresses in such handsome terms. We are encouraged in our own hopes by confidence with which you all expect that our labours will result in great benefits to our people and to the Empire. The Commonwealth wishes all prosperity to British Columbia and the Dominion.
You, sir, were out of town at the time, and I think the President of the Senate was also away, so that I thought it better to at once reply to the message myself.
Address in Reply.
Consideration of Address in Reply to the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General resumed from 10th May, vide page 32.
– I move that the following Address, in reply to His Excellency’s speech to both Houses of Parliament, be agreed to by this House : -
May it Please Your Excellency : -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I have on many occassions addressed the members of the Parliament of my own State, and I have also on many occasions addressed my fellow citizens of that State; but I do not remember an occasion when I have risen to speak with such a heavy sense of responsibility as that which now rests upon me. Will you allow me, Mr. Speaker, in the first place, as the oldest parliamentarian in this chamber, to congratulate you on the very high position to which you have attained. I trust that the dignity that characterizes your conduct of business in the chair will be a standing example to the long line of Speakers who will follow you in this Commonwealth Parliament. I beg also to take the opportunity of congratulating the right honorable and learned gentleman the leader of the Opposition on his restoration to health, and on being able to take his seat in this chamber. I once heard a speaker declare the Address in Reply to be a document having nothing in it; he said there was never intended to be anything in it, and that the debate following on it was more for the ventilation of grievances than for the discussion of public policy. I cannot say that I altogether indorse that opinion. But I will certainly say this: that as far as the opening speech on the present occasion is concerned, there is a great deal in it for our consideration, and there is, in my opinion, a thorough enunciation of public policy for the Commonwealth. Sir, during the last few weeks - I may say since the 1st January - we have been creating history. I was present in Sydney on the occasion when His Excellency the Governor-General was sworn in. I witnessed then a great pageant, worthy of Sydney itself, and worthy of the Commonwealth. During the past fortnight we have been creating further history. It was a happy inspiration on the part of our late great and good Queen to suggest the sending of her distinguished grandson to open the new Commonwealth Parliament; and I think, Sir, that the whole Commonwealth may well congratulate itself upon the splendid reception which was accorded to their Royal Highnesses by the public of the city of Melbourne, and upon the admirable addresses which his Royal Highness delivered on that occasion. I am sure that those addresses will be treasured in many a home, and will be of value especially to the boys attending the public schools of Victoria. Now, sir, we are commencing yet another page of our history.
I feel the responsibility of this occasion, because we are now supposed to be rising above the provincialism of State Government. We are supposed to be now in that “higher sphere” to which reference has so often been made; and I cannot but express the hope that in the discussions and deliberations of this House we shall set such an example to the other States in matters of legislation as will reflect honour upon the first Commonwealth Parliament. Now, in regard to the different measures which the Ministry propose to introduce, the first of highest consequence will provide for the appointment of “a High Court of Justice with an extensive appellate and federal jurisdiction.” Sir, I have long been of the opinion that such a court ought to have been established among the States many years ago. I have witnessed appeals which have been made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and which have resulted almost in ruin to the litigants. I have one particular case in my mind affecting the State of Queensland. A question of title to thousands and tens of thousands of acres of land was involved. One of the leading barristers for the Crown stated that had he been before the Appellate Court in London himself, and argued the case on behalf of the Crown, he was quite satisfied that a different decision would have been given than was given on that occasion. The decision of the Privy Council was adverse to the Crown, and the State of Queensland lost tens of thousands of acres of land, which it has since had to purchase back at a very high price. Through having appeals heard by a court within the Commonwealth, and heard before the high and distinguished judges who will be appointed to that court, we shall not only have a better administration of Australian law, but shall certainly save a great amount of the expenses which litigants are now put to in their appeals to the higher courts. I regard this as one of the greatest of the measures to be passed by this Parliament. I have no doubt as to the wisdom of the choice the Government will make of the high and distinguished men who will compose the High Court. In regard to the creation of an Inter-State Commission, that is a measure which might possibly involve a conflict of opinion. I understand it is proposed to appoint three commissioners. My own impression is that the commission should consist of five. I have no doubt whatever that in the various States of the Commonwealth the Government will be able to find able and competent men who will discharge the duties. I do not think there is any necessity whatever to go to the old country in search of good men to form the Inter-State Commission. I believe that there are to be found connected with the railway departments of the various States men who have for years - some almost for a lifetime - devoted their attention to the study of Inter-State matters in connexion with the working of our railways and the conduct of traffic upon them; and I feel sure that the Government will be able to appoint a commission that will accomplish all that is desired in connexion with this measure. One of the principal Bills that the Government proposes to introduce is -
For the firm restriction of the immigration of Asiatics, and for the diminution and gradual abolition of the introduction of labour from the South Sea Islands.
That is a question of very vital importance to the State of Queensland.
And to every other State.
Probably it is of more importance to Queensland than to any other State. I hope honorable members will not consider me egotistical if I claim to have a thorough knowledge of this question. I strongly supported the introduction of a Bill in the Queensland Parliament in 1885, by the then Premier, Sir Samuel Griffith, for the abolition of Kanaka labour from and after the 31st December, 1890. I can only express to the House my very deep regret that that legislation was subsequently interfered with by the Parliament of Queensland, after being accepted by the people, indorsed by a general election in 1888, and accepted, as it was then believed, as a final solution of the difficulty. But, in 1888, a change of Government took place, and an agitation then commenced for the re-introduction of kanakas after the time mentioned in the Act of 1885. Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, at the close of the session 1888-9, appointed a Royal commission to inquire into the whole question, and he did me the honour of asking me to accept the position of chairman of that commission. In the course of its inquiries the commission visited every plantation in Queensland. We examined 140 witnesses, and we were enabled to go minutely and carefully into the whole question. Having done so, we brought up our report and our recommendations. What we recommended has been partially carried out by Governments subsequently, and indorsed by the people. We recommended the establishment of central mills. For the information of honorable members, let me explain what that means. An enormous area of land was selected in North Queensland for the cultivation of sugar. Special protective legislation was passed, offering extraordinary inducements to men of enterprise and capital to embark on that industry. We passed what were called the Cotton and Sugar Regulations, under which some magnificent scrub land on the banks of rivers in North Queensland was parcelled out in blocks of 320 and 640 acres at five shillings per acre. Altogether, an area of land amounting to, perhaps, 850,000 acres was selected in North Queensland to carry out this industry. The depression in 1889 led to the appointment of a Royal commission. The functions of that body were to inquire into the causes, and to recommend the remedies to be applied. One of the causes we found was the enormous amount of land which had been taken for the purpose of carrying on the sugar industry, and the very small area cultivated. Enormous mills, costing eighty or a hundred thousand pounds, in some instances, had been erected, but there was a comparatively small area of cultivated land which had to bear the whole burden of maintenance and the interest charged upon the outlay. What we recommended was the subdivision of these large areas into smaller areas. That has been carried out to a very large extent. The areas have been subdivided into sections of 50, 80, and 100 acres. White families have settled on these small areas, and have carried out the growth and manufacture of sugar without the aid of black labour. Parliament has assisted these men in this way: we passed the Sugar Works Guarantee Act, by which the small selectors undertook to mortgage their land to the Government as security for an advance sufficient to erect a central mill. During the last three or four years the State of Queensland has invested £500,000 in that way. Last session we were called upon to vote a further sum of £150,000, of which amount £100,000 was for the erection of two additional mills, and £50,000 to assist those who had already erected mills, but who had not the money to pay for their complete equipment, or for the introduction of new machinery into them. The Government did that to preserve their own security So that at this moment the Queensland Government itself is interested in the sugar industry to the extent of £650,000. But, Sir, private enterprise has invested from seven millions to eight millions of money in the sugar industry. In addition to that, there are, at this moment, 20,000 of our white population, men, women, and children, whose daily bread is dependent upon it. So that what I am sure my honorable friends from Queensland will ask is this: That the House will deal with this question, not from sentiment, and not on narrow lines, but on broad lines, bearing in mind the great fact that the industry is the result of State legislation. All the arrangements of the sugar industry, for the introduction of the kanakas, have been made under legislation sanctioned by the Crown and indorsed by electors at general elections. This question is one of very great importance indeed to the future prosperity of Queensland, where the industry has assumed great magnitude. I dare say some honorable members may have been surprised by a statement made by the member for Wide Bay at a recent interview, that the sugar production of Queensland has doubled itself of late years. It is true the industry has doubled itself entirely by the establishment of central mills, by the subdivision of large properties, and by men going into the industry and carrying it on with the aid of white families. That is a fact which I ask the House to take into consideration. We shall have a further opportunity of debating this matter at length. But these are the main facts, which I now put before honorable members to carry away with them for their thoughtful consideration. One of the principal dreads of those who were disinclined to enter the Federation - and I frankly admit I was one of them- was that the numerical weakness of Queensland in this Chamber would be a danger to the State - that the larger voting power of Victoria and New South Wales would be highly detrimental to its interests. But when I look around the chamber, I feel assured honorable members will approach the various questions in a broad and statesmanlike manner, and will consider the interests of Queensland particularly by themselves, and also in conjunction with the many interests of the Commonwealth. So far as a “ white Australia “ is concerned I yield to no member of the House in the desire that this idea should be carried out as speedily as possible, consistently with the recognition of all interests. At the same time, I cannot shut my eyes or ears to the admirable address delivered by Mr. Chamberlain at the conference in London, when a Bill which had been passed through the New South Wales Parliament was submitted to him for consideration. We are not to forget that the great empire of India is part of the British dominions, and that His Majesty the King is now going to set an example tending to the consolidation of the Empire by having a body guard of 200 Indian troops in the city of London itself. These are incidents which we are bound to consider in considering a question of this kind, and I feel sure that when we do approach the question, we shall approach it in such a manner as will do honour to ourselves and honour to the Commonwealth, and that there will be no necessity for His Excellency the Governor-General to reserve the Bill for the Royal assent. With regard to old-age pensions, I am one of those who think the subject is now quite within the scope of practical politics. New Zealand has adopted a measure of the kind with very great success. A similar law is now in operation in Victoria, though I regret to say that no less than 16,000 persons in the colony have already applied for pensions. New South Wales has also adopted the measure; but Queensland has stood out, and I do not think I should be doing the latter State an injustice by saying I do not think there is an immediate prospect of an Act of the kind being passed there, although I am quite prepared to support such a measure, because it is of as great importance to the aged poor of that State as to the aged poor in the sister States of the south. I am not altogether sure whether the plan adopted by the late Prince Bismarck was not, after all, a sound one, namely, that those who were to receive the advantages of old-age pensions should be, in a moderate degree, contributors to them. It may be remembered that his scheme was that all wage-earners throughout the whole of the States of Germany should contribute one penny per week from his or her wages, the employer to be held responsible for the weekly payments, and that the fund should accumulate until it reached the sum of £5,000,000, which was to form the nucleus, of a fund for the old-age pensions to be distributed. We have not in Australia the population they have in Germany; but I do not see why a similar scheme could not be worked out by the Commonwealth. In addition to the weekly contribution of the wage-earners themselves, there could be an annual contribution from each of the States, and from the Commonwealth, the whole to accumulate for a number of years, and form the groundwork of a scheme for the payment of old-age pensions. It has been said, and there may be some truth in the remark, that the Commonwealth revenue will not of itself, for years to come, admit of old-age pensions being paid. That is a debatable point; but that the subject is one which ought to receive the greatest consideration I do not for one moment doubt. May I be permitted to say one word more. We talk a great deal about old-age pensions, and no doubt it is a right and proper thing to make provision for the aged poor who are not able to provide for themselves; but there is another class which, I think, even at this early period of the Commonwealth, ought to be considered, even if we cannot carry out a plan in its entirety. I am sure it is with feelings of regret that every honorable member misses the venerable form of the late Sir Henry Parkes; and probably another Chamber will express its equal regret at the absence of the late Mr. James Service. But, taking the first-named gentleman, we have one who devoted a life-time to the interests of his country, and to the building up of the great colony of New South Wales, and who is recognised as the father of the Commonwealth. Well, what was his condition in his late days? Could any honorable member depict the pain and sorrow of that venerable statesman in his dying moments in regard to those whom he was leaving behind? There is an unwritten law in the British Constitution that, if a gentleman has occupied the distinguished position of a Minister of the Crown, and has been in direct communication with the Sovereign, and declares, after his retirement from office, that he is not in a position to maintain his proper dignity without a certain amount being voted to him, that amount is cheerfully given. I know that in my own State of Queensland, we on two occasions had to vote sums of money to distinguished public men, in order that those they left behind them might not be left in a state of privation, and I think that at this early stage, when we are talking about old-age pensions, so far as the poor are concerned, we ought certainly to endeavour to lay the groundwork for some provision, in case it should be needed, for gentlemen who are now Ministers of State, and who may devote years of their life to the public service, so that in their old age they may not experience the cares and anxiety which poverty brings in its train. I do not think it can be said that men who devote themselves to political life generally acquire fortunes; indeed, the contrary can be told. The next matter, and a matter which may be regarded as the crux of the address, is that relating to the fiscal proposals of the Government. The Ministry say-
The fiscal proposals of any Federal Government must be largely dependent on the financial exigencies of the States. The adoption of the existing Tariff of any one of the States is impracticable, and would be unjust. To secure a reasonably sufficient return of surplus revenue to each State, so as fairly to observe the intention of the Constitution, while avoiding the unnecessary destruction of sources of employment, is a work which prohibits a rigid adherence to fiscal theories. Revenue must, of course, be the first consideration; but existing Tariffs have, in all the States, given rise to industries many of which are so substantial that my advisers consider that any policy tending to destroy them is inadmissible. A Tariff which gives fair consideration to these factors must necessarily operate protectively as well as for the production of revenue.
I do not think there is anything vague or indefinite about that statement. It appears to me to be a clear enunciation of the policy which the Ministry are in a measure pledged to by the electors, from whom we have just come. I know, of course, that the primary consideration is that we must have a certain amount of money for revenue purposes. That sum has been variously estimated. Some have said that the Commonwealth cannot do without £8,000,000, whilst others have contended that £6,000,000 is quite sufficient for all practical purposes. Then there is the “ Braddon blot,” as it is called, and it is satisfactory to note that the author of the clause is in the chamber to himself explain why the clause is in the Act. I can only assure the honorable member that the Braddon clause is regarded in Queensland as the very salvation of the Act, and that I have been authorized and commanded in a measure, by my constituents to offer most strenuous resistance to its repeal. The honorable member for Wentworth was good enough to say he thought £6,000,000 would be sufficient for the purposes of the Commonwealth.
I did not say anything of the kind. I said £8,000,000.
That is near enough.
I do not wish to misquote the honorable member for Wentworth; but I would remind him of a statement, of which he will, perhaps, admit the accuracy, that if the free-trade party got the ascendancy they would collect £4,000,000 from direct taxation, and £2,000,000 from indirect taxation and Customs, arranging the duties so as not to embarrass trade, and that in order to make up the £8,000,000 he would say to the State Governments, “ Collect it amongst yourselves.” I do not wish to misquote the honorable member, but that is the purport of his remarks as reported in the Sydney newspapers. A remark of this kind attracted my attention because it appeared to me - and the honorable member will excuse my saying so - that the adoption of such a policy would certainly be breaking faith with the State of Queensland, and in this way: Queensland reluctantly entered the Federation. But it did so upon the express terms of the Constitution Act as it now stands, and understanding that we were to have back at the very least a million of money from excise and customs. In fact, the question resolved itself into this: Southern Queensland, by a majority, decided that it would not enter into federation: North Queensland decided by a majority that it would. It was mainly through the influence of the present Premier, Mr. Robert Philp, that they did enter the Federation, because he assured the electors that they need not be under the least apprehension regarding the Braddon blot, that under its operation they were to receive at least a million of money back into the State Treasury, and that, therefore, they need not be afraid that it would involve the State of Queensland in any additional taxation. I contend that if you repeal the Braddon blot, and adopt a system different from that contained in the Commonwealth Constitution, you will undoubtedly break faith with the electors, who recorded their votes for that measure, and who look to the present Parliament to see that justice is conceded to them in that respect. When it is said that you throw back on the States the two additional millions required
It is not said; it never has been said.
When it is suggested that, in the event of a certain contingency arising, and only a certain amount of revenue being raised through the Customs House, the balance necessary to keep the States in their present financial position must be contributed amongst themselves, then I say that honorable members must take into consideration the position of their own State. There may be States with sufficient wealth from other sources of revenue to enable them to do without assistance from the Commonwealth Government, but as far as the State of Queensland is concerned it cannot do without the million of money which the present Premier of Queensland promised should be returned to it at the time the election campaign took place. It seems, under present conditions, impossible to raise a revenue of £8,000,000 without the Tariff being more or less of a protective character. I declare myself, at once, a moderate protectionist. In my early days I was as strong a free-trader as the right honorable and learned gentleman, the leader of the Opposition. In my early days. I even went to the length of delivering lectures at Mechanics’ Institutes and Schools of Art on the life and works of Richard Cobden. But my views and my opinions have been mellowed by time and experience.
I was struck by a remark made by Richard Cobden, in one of his speeches, to the effect that after the repeal of the corn laws by Sir Robert Peel the whole of Europe would become free-trade in less than ten years. Has it become freetrade? Let history speak for itself. Further, he stated, when addressing the masses of his fellow countrymen, that if they consented to the repeal of the corn laws, so that England could send her iron and steel to the United States, they would receive in return millions of bushels of wheat to make bread to supply the starving portion of their own population. Forty years have elapsed since those words were uttered, and what is the condition of affairs to-day? Did it occur to Cobden when he uttered those words what would occur in the development of the United States during that 40 years? A clear-brained, hard-headed Scotchman in that country only recently sold his steel and iron works to a syndicate for £40,000,000 sterling. At the commencement of the twentieth century we also find a steel and iron works ring formed in the United States with a capital of £200,000,000. Was such a thing ever contemplated even by the most sagacious statesmen 40 years ago in England? When I look round and see what Belgium and Germany have done since those memorable words of Cobden were spoken, and when I remember what has been accomplished in the United States under her policy, I unhesitatingly come to the conclusion that a national protective policy is the right policy for the Australian Commonwealth to adopt. I have in my hand a little pamphlet containing the speech of Sir Charles Tilley in introducing to the Dominion House of Canada on March 14, 1879 - 21 years ago - the national protective policy of the late Sir John McDonald. Here is a Tariff conceived in most ingenious ways - I dare say if my honorable friends opposite were to read it they would be horror-struck with the scientific ingenuity with which Sir Charles Tilley formulated his Tariff. He put himself in communication with all the manufacturers of Canada, with all her great farmers, and with all her importers and exporters. He got all the information he could possibly collect; and, according to the statements contained in this pamphlet, he received no less than 30,000 letters from different parts of the Canadian dominion. A staff of clerks went through the whole of them, tabulated all the information collected, and on that information he framed the Tariff embodied in this pamphlet. What is the position of Canada to-day? Will any one say that Canada is not prosperous? Even Sir Wilfred Laurier, one of the most brilliant sons Canada has ever produced, a man of the greatest eminence and of the greatest ability, will not disturb the national policy of Sir John McDonald, because it has placed Canada on the pedestal of the greatest prosperity that the dominion has ever enjoyed. My contention is, having been converted from free-trade to protectionist principles, that in this early initiation of our history we should start a broad national policy which will give employment to our own population, which will make those who are endeavouring to secure advantages from Australia, without contributing anything towards its prosperity, contribute something through the medium of the Customs House. I feel sure, from honest conviction, and after having given the matter careful consideration, that the truest policy we can adopt is that of protection. Therefore, I hail with the greatest satisfaction this particular paragraph in the speech delivered to us at the opening of Parliament. There are one or two other matters which I should like to speak about, but I do not wish to weary the House with a long address on this occasion. I am one of those who think that the Government should take under its entire control the note currency of the whole of the Commonwealth. I have had a privilege which was probably not conferred on many honorable members, inasmuch as I saw the great commercial crisis in Queensland in 1866, and I certainly would not like to see repeated the disasters, sorrows, and miseries which followed in its trail. The then Colonial Treasurer proposed to issue Treasury notes as a way out of his difficulty, but the Governor of the colony at that time, most unconstitutionally in the opinion of most people, whispered to the Treasurer that if he introduced a Bill of that nature he would not give his assent to it, as currency was undoubtedly within the Royal prerogative. That action led to a Ministerial crisis. In 1893, when we had another commercial crisis, but less acute than the former one, the Colonial Treasurer, Sir Hugh Nelson, took the entire note currency into his hands, and from that time we have issued Treasury bills bearing the signature of the Colonial Treasurer. That has proved of immense benefit to the whole of Queensland, and I feel sure that if the Commonwealth Government took the question of currency into its own hands, and made notes a legal tender throughout the Commonwealth, it would be of great advantage to commerce and industry. In Canada - and I may be pardoned for again referring to that country, since Canadian sons and Australian sons have fought side by side in South Africa, and we can therefore regard the dominion as portion of our empire - in Canada the Dominion Government have not only issued £1 Treasury notes, but they have gone so far as to issue a 10s. and 5s. paper currency. There it has been found of great advantage, particularly in the north-western territories. There is ample precedent, therefore, for the introduction by the Commonwealth Government of a Bill providing for such a currency, and I hope it will not be long before such a measure is laid before us. With regard to the Public Service Bill, I know I am treading on dangerous ground in referring to it. I know that a certain appointment has been made which was not altogether acceptable.
It has been unmade.
Well it was partially made, but as I do not know the gentleman concerned I shall follow the course I always follow on occasions of that kind, and say nothing about him. But I feel sure that those who proposed to make the appointment had very good grounds for doing so.
When they unmade it.
Why didn’t they stick to it?
Honorable members will have an opportunity to express their opinion of this matter.
There are several others of a similar kind.
I do not think that on the initiation of the Commonwealth we should make appointments on what I call provincial grounds. I sympathize a great deal with the remarks which were made on the election of Speaker by the honorable and learned member for Parkes. I do not think appointments under the Commonwealth should be made on the American principle of “spoils to the conquerors.” I rather think the men selected to be Under Secretaries of the great departments of State should be men of the highest ability and proved experience in the States. I do not care what State they come from, as long as by their experience in the past and their industry they have shown their adaptability for the public service. I know, as one of my lengthened experience of parliamentary life cannot fail to know, that the Under Secretary of a department is the right hand of the Minister controlling that department, and is often indeed his “guide, philosopher, and friend” in times of difficulty and doubt; and in selecting men of that stamp as Under Secretaries of our departments we shall ascend above provincialism, and set a bright example for the future of our public service. I think I have occupied the time of the House long enough, and I thank honorable members for the kind attention they have given me.
As I have already said, I feel a deep sense of responsibility on this occasion, because I know that the eyes of all Australia, and probably of every portion of the British Empire, are fixed upon this Parliament and its legislation. I hope that we shall rise to the occasion, and prove ourselves worthy of the Royal visit which has just been paid to us to celebrate the introduction of our work, and that we shall satisfy our countrymen in Great Britain that we are worthily following in their footsteps. I feel assured, however, from what I know of my fellow members, that every matter coming before us will receive the gravest consideration and the most matured deliberation, and I fervently hope that upon all occasions our deliberations and discussions will be of such a character that people may point to us with pride, and say that we are worthy of the great charter which Great Britain has conferred upon us.
– I feel that it is a very great honour for me, the youngest member of the House, to be asked to second the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply which has been moved by the honorable member for Darling Downs. I hope that my youth will not prove a sign of immaturity, and that any shortcomings of which I may be guilty will be more than lost sight of by reason of the excellent address which has been delivered with such dignity and gravity of manner by that honorable member. It will always be a pleasure to us to listen to any advice that he, as the father of the House, may think it wise to give us by reason of his long years of parliamentary life, andthe great business experience which he has gathered. As a staunch believer in radical principles, I think that my first explanation to the House should be as to why I sit on the Ministerial side of the chamber; and, no doubt, every honorable member who speaks in this debate will give his reason for sitting on one side orthe other. As members of a new House, we have not the advantages possessed by members of a State Parliament, who are ableto know what are the politics and principlesof the members of a new Government whichthey propose to support. In State politicswe know a great deal of the principles ofaspirants to parliamentary honoursbut, coming here, we meet new faces and newmen, and find it very difficult to know,for instance, why certain members of the labour party should sit on that side of the House, while other gentlemen, whom we know to be thoroughly radical and liberal in their views, should sit among the reactionaries on the Opposition side of the chamber. Like a very large number of other people in Victoria, I am not very well acquainted with the Prime Minister. At the time of the elections a large number of the voters of this State knew him onlybyname, but they had this justification for supporting him, that when an election conducted upon absolutely democratic methods, on the basis of one man one vote, was held for the choosing of representatives to the late Federal Convention, the righthonorable gentleman was chosen in New SouthWales by the largest majority givento anyman in any State in Australia. Inaddition to that,we find that when the convention, which was composed of ten of thebest men in each. State of Australia, met at Adelaide; it was considered advisable, ‘and’ even necessary, to appoint the right honorable gentleman to be the leader of the; Convention, and thus to constitute him . the Premierof what was really the preliminary Parliament of Australia. I thinkthatthose are sufficient reasons whyIshouldsupport the right honorable gentlemen, now that he has been chosen by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to formaCommonwealth Ministry. But there are further reasons why I should support him.
-This Ministry isnot a Ministry of allthe talents, but it is practically a Ministry ofall the Premiers, and if democracy meansanything it means that the man who becomes the leader of the government of a State for the time being represents the absolute sense of that community. Therefore, the fact that the Commonwealth Ministry includesalmost every premier who waswasinOffice, at the time of its formation is an additional reason why the democratic party in Australia should support it.
-May I say further that what reallyinfluenced the people of Victoriaand particularly the people of the electorate by which I have been returned to support the Ministry was the democraticprogramme by which it stands to win or lose. The Barton Government hasinwords , which I think are not equivocal, expressedits views on the public platform, and in the speech in regard to which I am addressing myself to the House. His Excellency’s speech carries out, line for line, the programme put before the country, and to that extent it is an honest speech. It follows the views which were more largely and clearly expressed by the members of the Government in the various speeches which they made prior to the general elections, and I take it that it embodies what is in every way a democratic programme, a programme including all the present phases of liberal thought. I cannot imagine a man in Australia who is not a protectionist calling himself a liberal.
Honorable Members. - Oh!
– Notwithstanding honorable members’ expression of derision, I repeat the statement. What Australians want at the present time is work and wages.
– They certainly want wages.
– It is the working men of the community who are chiefly interested in the question of work and wages. Believing that the employment of Australians in Australian industries will give work and wages to the working men of the country, and that it is better to employ our own people in the production of what we want than to send our orders to Germany, Japan, and England, I cannot imagine how any persons who call themselves liberals, who look at things from a radical stand-point, and who want to serve the interests of the Australianworking man, can sit on the opposition side of this chamber among the conservatives. . I did not, however, intend to refer to the fiscal question on this occasion, because I have no doubt that in the future we shall have many opportunities for’ dealing with it, and shall hear some very spirited speeches upon it. I make these remarks by way of an aside, in reply to the interjections which greeted my original statement. What I strongly approve of in the Address in Reply is the reference which has been made to the fact that the Government intend to bring in, at the earliest moment possible, a uniform franchise and a uniform electoral law. It is too late, at this stage of the history of Australia, with the record of the legislation of some very democratic states behind us, for it to be necessary to arguein favour of the principle of one adult one vote. That principle used to be considered perfect in theory, andonewhich could not be argued against ; but the States of Western Australia and South Australia and the colony of New Zealand have lifted it from the regions of theory into the regions of practice, and now allow their women to vote at all elections, I am very glad that that is so, and I feel that it would be impossible for the Government to do otherwise than propose the granting of adult suffrage to the whole of Australia. One of the sections of the Constitution provides that the franchise privileges of the States are not to be taken from them ; and, as two of the States have womanhood suffrage, it will be impossible to enact a uniform franchise except on the base of adult suffrage. I am also glad that the introduction of legislation for the enactment of a uniform franchise must mean - because of the section of the Constitution to which I have just referred - the adoption of the most advanced methods of voting existing in any of the States. That will mean that we shall have in all the States the system of registration which is now in force in New South Wales, and will abolish the system of preparing ratepayers’ rolls which now exists in Victoria. To those who have had no experience of the working of the Victorian system, I should like to say that it is the bulwark of conservatism. Men who care nothing for politics are, merely because they own land and have their names on the ratepayers’ rolls, dragged up to the polling-booths at the last moment, and induced to vote for one candidate or another, whether they know him or not. The ignorant vote is largely a conservative vote, and largely the vote which is obtained by reason of the existence of the ratepayers’ rolls. The persons who vote under that system are people who do not take sufficient interest in politics to have their names placed upon the electoral rolls, but I trust that when next we have a parliamentary election, the ratepayers’ roll will be no longer in existence, and that we shall have a system under which every man will be required to register himself, and to take out an elector’s right in the manner required by the law now existing in the other states of the Commonwealth. The principle of one man one vote is not in force in one of the States of the Commonwealth at the present time. Here in Victoria we have a system under which, although an elector can vote only once, he can vote in any constituency, and as a consequence, a kind of pairing was indulged in insome of the electorates of
Melbournein order that a constituency might be prevented from electing a member of the labour party. A man who intended to” vote for “ A “ knew another man who was going to vote for” B” but they both agreed that, rather than allow “ C “ to be elected in another constituency, they would not vote for “A” and”B,” but would vote against “ C,” who was acandidate for election in a labour constituency. In this way the one-man-one-vote principle is, in Victoria, set aside by what is in effect plural voting. If a man can vote in any constituency he likes, hewillvote where he feels that the interests of his party compel him to vote.
-I thought that they had all the liberalism here.
Mr. CROTCH.I did not say that we had all the liberalismonthis side of the chamber, but I think Isaid that we had nearly all the liberalshere. Iwant now to refer to amatterwhichis of very great importance to me andtoa large number of myconstituents-the question of the defences. One of the main reasons why the colonies federated was to secure an efficient scheme of defence. The fiscal question, and the bringing about of InterState free-trade, alsoformed a very important part of the federal compact ; but the main reason that induced the motherland to support our federal movement so strongly as she has from time to time, and particulary in her last splendid grant of a Federal Constitution, which was passed through both Housesof the Imperial Parliament almost without amendment, was to secure that the defences of Australia should be placed upona proper basis. In this matter I want the Federal Parliament to follow democratic lines. I see that notice has been given tonight by theRight Honorable the Minister for Defenceofhis intention to bring in a Bill to arrange for the defences of the Commonwealth. I think the first plank heshould lay down in that Bill is this- that we should pay a fair day’s wage: for affair day’s work. I do not want tosee adopted systems which have been current from feudal times in England, where by gradual stages only they have raised the pay of the English soldier from 6d. to1s. 2d. per day. I think the soldier who does hiswork is just as well entitled as is a policeman to a fair day’s pay. When it is pointedout to honorable members that at the present time there are men in the permanent forces of Australia who are being paid only 2s. 3d. per day, and who are keeping a wife and family on 15s. 9d. per week, I- think it will be seen that the plank of the labour platform, which says that there shall be a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, must be insisted upon, not only for the public service, but also for the defence forces of Australia. I trust that those who believe in that principle will help me to place my opinions before the House, and to see that this part, at any rate, of the radical programme is carried out. I also hope to see effect given in Australia to what is now conceded in every democratic country in the worldthe right of men to rise from the ranks. At the present time commissions are not granted except to a specially favoured few. There has been an unfortunate position in regard to this matter in the State of Victoria, and in other parts of Australia where there is a permanent military force. The man who goes into the ranks as a private soldier may eat his heart out before there is the slightest chance of - his rising. Men stay in the ranks for years and acquire a great amount of knowledge on military matters, but they find it is quite impossible for them, at any time, to raise themselves from the condition under which they joined, simply because they joined as gunners. We want to put an end to this condition of things that has existed in Victoria as well as in the other States of Australia. We want every man who has military ability, and who wishes to rise, to be able to do so. We should adopt a system such as has made it possible for that magnificent general, Hector MacDonald, to rise from the ranks in India and fight our battles in South Africa. There are in the English army a n umber of officers who have risen from the ranks, and we want the conditions of advancement in the defence forces ‘of- Australia to be, not social status ^conferred by birth or the possession of money,, but military ability. If that principle, be carried out we ‘ shall have better soldiers as officers and better soldiers as men.-. If there is one thing more than another . I; .am- surprised at in connexion with the Governor-General’s speech it is an omission- which’ I thought would never have been .made; .’I should have thought that . .some reference would be made to;.! the- .fact that we have in South Africa! iia large number of
Australian ‘ soldiers who are .still fighting there. No reference
whatever is made to that fact in his Excellency’s speech, and some allusion should
have been made to it. We have in South Africa, not only men who have been sent out by
their own States and who are paid by their States, but also men who, although they are
in the Imperial pay,, are really Australians. I trust that the Commonwealth, which takes
over these soldiers, will see that they get fair treatment from the Imperial Government,
and fair treatment also from the States Governments which have pledged themselves to it.
I trust that in the future all obligations entered into will be strictly kept by the
Commonwealth Government. One paragraph in the Address in Reply relates to the commission
that was sent out by His Majesty the King to enable His Royal Highness the Duke of
Cornwall and York graciously to deliver to us a memorable speech. I think that some
reference ought to be made to that commission. I wish to point out to the House, and
also to bring under the notice of the Government themselves, that that commission was
signed by King Edward VII., under the title of King and Emperor. I think that the matter
of privilege arises with regard to this House which arose in the British House of
Commons when the Royal Titles Bill was before the Legislature. The House of Commons had
a very long discussion on that Bill, and it was distinctly promised then that the use of
the title of emperor should be strictly limited to India. As far as his Majesty the King
is concerned “I am as loyal a British subject as there is. I do not wish to be
misunderstood in this matter. I am a good subject of the King. I swore to bear true and
faithful allegiance to His Majesty. I know a constitutional King, but I know no emperor.
I take it that it is a matter of importance to me, and one affecting the liberty of the
citizens of this land, that King Edward VII. should assume in this commission, and that
the Governor-General should have been asked to accept in it the title of King and
Emperor. Of course, I know there are some people who do not see that there is anything
in this point. They will regard it perhaps as a mere inadvertence. I do not regard it as
a mere inadvertence, because that communication, you may be sure, passed the strong
scrutiny of the Colonial Office before it caine out to Australia. It is necessary at the
beginning of things here to take up this stand-point. This is the first commission ever
issued in connexion with this Federal Parliament, and I believe it is the first time
that a commission has been issued in connexion with Australia in which the word emperor
has been used, and in which the King of England, or the late Queen, assumed also in
addition the title of Emperor, or Empress. The records of the English House of Commons
will show that when the Royal Titles Bill was passed
– Ifmy honorable friend had been present he would have known that the remark was made in a jocular spirit.
– I wasthere, and I did not understand it was said in a jocular spirit. But I am very glad it was so, because, however friendly we are to New Zealand, we cannot permit the creation of a second commonwealth in the Pacific. If we are the Commonwealth we must see that the power already given us by the Imperial Parliament to administer the islands remains to us. Already honorable members have seen the difficulty created in Canada by thefact of Newfoundland not joining in the Federation there ; and since a jocular spirit is not always evident in cold print, I am glad of the assurance that Fiji is not, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, to be handed to New Zealand. In conclusion, I would say we have to consider very carefully our position in regard to the Australian squadron. We are paying at the present moment a very large amount annually for the maintenance of a squadron over which we have absolutely no control. We have also during the pastyear spent large amounts of money in South Africa purely to support the Imperial Government ; and while I admit, of course, that the defence of Melbourne begins at Cape Town, and that the expenditure was thus also for our own defence, we must take up the position now that these grants of public money cannot go on without some distinct knowledge of where they are going to lead us. We are really surrendering a great principle, which is that there shall be no taxation without representation. So far as the Australian squadron is concerned, we have been taxing ourselves, voluntarily I admit, for years past to maintain a fleet over which we have no control. We have been taxing ourselves for participation in a war in South Africa over which we have no control, and with the bringing about of which we had nothing to do ; and if we are to continue to tax ourselves in this way, we must take up the position that we must have a voice in the policy which brings about the taxation. Of course it will be seen what that means. It means that we will really have to bring about some form of Imperial Federation, and I hope this House is large-hearted enough and brave-hearted enough to tackle the question. Do not let us be afraid to be great. We do not want to be little.
– What about the Emperor ?
– What about the Monroe doctrine?
– I think it was Tennyson who said -
God grant our greatness may not fail Through craven fear of being great.
Unless we are ready to accept those responsibilities which lie to our hand, and unless we avoid a continuation of taxation without representation, we shall not be doing our duty as a national parliament. Although the Commonwealth is going to be invested with great responsibilities, I, for one, shall feel that honorable members will rise to those responsibilities, and that, while we shall have to face very large difficulties, we have sufficient strength in us to overcome them. I believe we have a good Government, and a Commonwealth of which every man can be proud, and I am satisfied that in the future every member of the House will do his best to add to its influence in the counsels of nations.
Honorable Members. - Adjourn until after dinner.
– I am quite willing to adjourn my speech until after dinner if that be the wish of honorable members.
– It is now only half-past five, and I understood that Mr. Speaker intended to adjourn for dinner at half-pastsix. On this point I will make a short statement. I understood it was arranged between the President and the Speaker that the two Houses should for the present adjourn at half-past six, and observe how the arrangement worked, with a view afterwards, if necessary, of putting some distance of time between the rising of the two Houses. If the honorable member for East Sydney, would speak more comfortably after tea, I will not oppose an adjournment now until seven o’clock.
– I think it would be better.
Mr.REID (East Sydney- New South Wales). - I listened attentively to the addresses whichhavebeen delivered by theoldest and the youngest members of this Chamber, and Imust congratulate the Government upon having in those two gentlemen representatives of the people who we may hope from their beginnings in this House will prove thoroughly faithful and vigilant in their criticism of all the measures which the Government may have to submit. My little experience as the head of a Government suggests to me that if addresses go into detail so much as those two addresses did the Government have rather a dismal prospect in front of them. But at the same time Ave must all recognise the excellent spirit which prevailed throughout both addresses. There was a healthy ring of independence in both speeches, and personally I was gratified at the vigour and straightforwardness which was shown hy the youngest member of the House* Mr. Crouch, with reference to thi fiscal question. There was a healthy ring about his utterances which has been singularly absent from the utterances of the commanderinchief; I almost feel, in addressing the Parliament here, that it will be my duty to use words which may sound heretical in this atmosphere
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– But I anticipate the greatest benefit not only to those of us who have the honour of coming over to the great State of Victoria but also to Victorians themselves from the healthy interchange of feeling and convictions to which I am afraid they have been long unaccustomed. One of the advantages, I think, of holding the Parliament in Melbourne is that our good friends in Victoria will have a better opportunity than they have had of hearing the truth told about themselves. But perhaps there is one ground upon which we can, for a moment, forget the lines which separate us, and the first’ observation
Of any importance which I wish to make is that I feel the profoundest pleasure that the long struggles which have prevailed throughout this continent in the direction of federal union have found at last their highest expression in the mere . fact that we are assembled here as a Federal Parliament. In days gone by we used to indulge in sentiment as to an Australian brotherhood * but now we can rejoice in the fact that this Australian brotherhood has become a perpetual and a . glorious accomplishment, and that all the scattered energies of Australia have at last been crystallized into a living national Organism which will give the fullest play to our own power and to the genius of the Australian race. I am glad to congratulate my- honorable friends opposite, many of whom were amongst the most distinguished advocates of federal union, upon the success of their labours, and I think I may fairly say that those who have laboured for this union are not confined to one side of this Chamber. I do not at all say that I was ever able to do anything to advance the cause during my Premiership. I only had the duty of steering the ship for five years ; but, at least, I had the satisfaction of steering the ship into the haven of safety and success. But that is nothing. I simply desire to express my deep acknowledgment of the great services which others have rendered to this great cause, and I rejoice, Mr. Speaker, that in the opening speech, which seems to have thought of everything, there is one singular but salutary omission. We hear nothing, in this most ample .document of any clangers to the Constitution.
HONORABLE Members. - Hear, hear.
– Can it be that the dangers to the Constitution only existed SO long as my honorable friends were not installed in office t Can it be that now they are safely installed in office all the dangers that existed have happily disappeared ? If that has been the basis of the fears of my honorable friends, Ave do not grudge them the double .pleasure of succeeding to office and saving the Constitution at the same time. And, although I do not Wish to say much with reference to the formation of the Ministry, because there they are before us constitutionally to stand their ground and answer for all that they have done, or have not done, and to take credit for all that they may never do, I must make one or two observations with reference to that important part of the evolution* of this federation. My honorable friend, the youngest member of the House has explained to us the basis upon which this Ministry was formed. It was formed, he says, out of the Premiers of the colonies. Now at last I understand the presence of my distinguished friend the honorable member for Hume in the Ministry. It was because he was a Premier. That is the only explanation possible of the suddenly affectionate relations of my two friends the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Hume. If there were any dangers to the Constitution during all these long struggles I should have expected to have found them concealed somewhere about the person of the Minister for Home Affairs’, because he fought against the Constitution right through - and though I do not wish to obtrude local politics into this august Assembly, and I hope we will all try to avoid that and many other things which exist in local Assemblies - still I may be allowed to say that those who are familiar with the history of New South Wales when the Prime Minister and the honorable gentleman combined and were opposed to me in the Assembly, must have felt greatly astonished at the sudden affection which sprang up between those two honorable gentlemen. But there they are. We do not know Sow they get on, that is a secret known only to themselves. There they are, and I do not wish to make any further allusion to the subject except to say that when the history of this mysterious affection comes to be written I have no doubt it will be amusing if not edifying to the public. But there is another matter, I think, of a more serious character. We deliberately implanted in this Constitution a provision that there should be seven Ministers of State - no more and no less.
Honorable Members : Hear, hear.
– Is the Constitution to be respected or not? Was it intended that, side by side with that written expression of the Constitution, there might be seven other mysterious individuals in the Federal Cabinet who were not Ministers of State - because no person can be a Minister of State within the meaning of the Constitution unless he is in charge of a department. It is quite true there is power given to the GovernorGeneral to call any number of persons to the Federal Executive Council, but I think we would not be prepared to learn that that power was to be used so as to intrude on the central principles of this Constitution the provision that the men who sit round the Cabinet table, and who in their necessarily secret deliberations govern this Commonwealth, should consist of two classes - Ministers of State and gentlemen whom they may choose to pick up on the road. I beg to say that I consider the conduct of the Government in the formation of the Ministry is open to serious objection. If anything could accentuate my objection it is the open and unblushing arrangement that was made which secured the admission of Mr. Lewis of Tasmania into the Cabinet. There was no thought of having a representative of Tasmania in the Cabinet when the Ministry was formed. That State was, I think, wrongly omittedfrom representation.
If there was an. obvious principle which should have been observed in
the forma- tion of the first Federal Government it was that each State, however small,
should have one representative at the Cabinet table. How could others presume to advise
the Cabinet with a reference to a State of which they were wholly ignorant ? It was
practically ostracising one of the Australian States. What honorable member here other
than a Tasmanian is competent to advise the Cabinet as a representative of Tasmania ?
When Tasmania, however, showed its righteous indignation, there occurred this immediate
shuffle of the Ministerial cards,’ which has no pretence to serious business,
because Mr. Lewis announced that, although he
entered the Federal Cabinet, he was a mere makeshift until some one else took his place.
And when the gentleman from England arrived
Mr.REID.- I beg to take the liberty of telling the honorable member what I think. He will hear a little that is quite novel now. It is as much as a Minister in Victoria dare do to show the slightest act of civility to me in the open light of day ; it has got so far as that. A virtual dictatorship exists in this State which no prominent politican has had the pluck to face. But one man, not a politican, not a great man in the community, the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, had the courage to face this dictator. He is sitting opposite me, is still alive, and seems to be tolerably well, and his act may infuse a certain amount of courage into Other Victorians. We hope that it may. I think I am stating what is admitted’ in Victoria by every one, except the victims of this powerful influence, when I say that there is one newspaper which rules Victoria. That is the state of things with which we have to reckon. As I have said, I have nothing to do with the positions which honorable members choose to take in either House of the Legislature, but I have something to do with their convictions upon great public questions, and I have taken the trouble to go carefully through the results of the general election to see how the two great parties stand in reference to the chief subject of difference between us, the difference between the men who believe in a Tariff only as a means of raising revenue for the necessities of the State and the men who believe in a Tariff for other purposes. I have gonecarefully over these lists, and, whilst they account for the phraseology of the Governor-General’s speech with reference to the fiscal question, they can scarcely be satisfactory to our Mends on the Ministerial side of the House. I am going to be so perfectly open and straightforward in my statement of this matter that I shall enable every honorable member whose name I shall use to correct me if I am wrong. I do not propose to generalize ; I shall take each individual member who has been returned to the Commonwealth Parliament. I shall not read out the names of protectionists, because I intend to deal only with the revenue tariffists ; I shall leave the protectionists to look after themselves. I” shall begin with the representatives of the State of Queensland. I admit frankly, as we all must, that the fiscal question was not the burning question in Queensland, so that I must be understood in reference to the Queensland members not as saying that they were returned as revenue tariffists, because it would not be fair to say that, but as pointing them out as men who believe in a genuine revenue tariff, and who do not believe in protection. In the Senate we have three representatives of Queensland who believe in a revenue tariff, Senator Dawson, Senator Ferguson, and Senator Stewart. In the House of Representatives - and these gentlemen being present, may correct me if I am wrong - we have, not as those who were returned on the fiscal question, but as those who, as a matter of individual conviction, which I do not suppose they kept secret from their constituents, are revenue tariffists, the honorable member for Herbert-
– Are you a protectionist?
– That is the sort of declaration I want. I want to separate the sheep from the goats, so that we may begin fair in this Federal Parliament. Shall I put the honorable member down amongst the goats, as a protectionist? Then we have as revenue tariffists the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Wide Bay, and the honorable member, Mr. Paterson.
– Baal ! No !
– I am not referring to my honorable friend.
– I must ask the right honorable member to address his remarks to the Chair, and not to honorable members personalty.
– I am very much obliged to you for asking me to do so, Sir, but I really thought that I might bore you. I.
was referring to the honorable member for Capricornia/ Another revenue tariffist
from Queensland is the honorable member for Kennedy ; I am doubtful as to the
honorable member for Oxley. But;’ correcting my figures by adding the name of
the honorable member for. Herbert to the list of protectionists, I find that the
representation of Queensland consists of seven revenue tariffists, seven
protectionists, and the mem1 ber of whom I am doubtful, a total of fifteen in idi.
Now I come to South Australia. In the Senate we have Senator Sir Richard Baker,
– No ; revenue tarifiists.
– I am glad to have that correction. May I suggest to the right honorable member
that he will have to say protectionists and revenue tarifiists in reference to his
somewhat motley following. The representation of South Australia consists, as I have
shown, of seven revenue tarifiists and six protectionists; a total of thirteen. I
come now to Western Australia. If ever a country was under the domination of one
fascinating personality it was the State of Western Australia. My honorable friend,
the honorable member for Corio, spoke of his aversion to any one in the position of
an emperor. Just let him think, then, of the lot of the people of Western Australia
during the past ten years. However, the emperor of the west has become an ordinary
Cabinet Minister. But he still thinks that the charm of his personality may work
wonders with the representatives of Western Australia when he insinuates that these
honorable gentlemen, having been elected on great, principles, will prefer the right
honorable Minister for Defence. They have taken means to dissipate that illusion of
my right honorable and distinguished friend. We -find, with reference to Western
Australia, this magnificent result : Of one . member returned by that State, I am
doubtful,, and I am prepared to place him among the protectionists because he is not
in this Chamber, and cannot correct me; but, as I have the figures, there are nine
revenue tarifiists from Western Australia and one protectionist- that is, if my
right honorable friend ever was, or is, or will be a protectionist. I am putting him
down as one, although he may be another free-trade sentinel in- the enemy’s
citadel. I believe that he had strong leanings towards a free-trade policy until he
became a follower of my right honorable friend the Prime Minister. However, -there
he is, and we will call him a protectionist. So that Western Australia is
represented by nine revenue tariffists, and my right honorable friend ‘is -the
one protectionist member for that State, unless
– No; they are revenue tariffists. <
– Revenue tarifiists is the term I wish to use, because it is the term.’
which has been used throughout, and it is the term which properly distinguishes this
party. The gentlemen I have named are revenue tariffists, and so are Senators
Clemons and O’Keefe. I have some doubt with reference to Senator O’Keefe, but ‘L had his personal
statement to that effect today. Then,- of the Tasmanian rel presenta-tion in the Lower House, four out of five are revenue
tariffists. - They are the right? honorable member
– The one lost sheep.
– Like many other lost sheep, he may become a flock in the long run. I have-
noticed amongst sheep that if one takes a decided turn all the others follow in
time. I’ thank my honorable friend for the
observation, and I beg of my honorable friends opposite to help me with
interruptions occasionally;: Now we find,
– He is not here to-night.
– I have, on that account, been guarded in pointing out the true state of tilings with reference to him. 1 am simply putting him down amongst the revenue tariffists because I- believe that, as between the two parties, he wishes to be on that side, and that it represents his individual convictions. So that is the only observation I have to make as to New South Wales, that it has returned 21. re venue tariffists and 11 protectionists. Now, that gives us a grand total for the whole Federal Par.liament of 57 to 52, with the two doubtful members to whom’ I have , referred. That makes 111, the total of both Houses. So I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the Government have not shown a proper sense of the force- of the voice of Australia in hauling down the protectionist flag, as they have done in this speech, and putting in a plea for charity, to save the lives of some industries which might otherwise expire? That is their charitable plea. There is in that none of the light chivalrous buoyancy of my distinguished friend the Attorney-General, who has been found in the great fights of the past, when the numbers were different,’ I admit; holding the protectionist flag aloft, in full belief in the principle of protection, not as calling for the exercise of our charitable instincts, but as laying- at the root of all sound industrial progress, putting bread into the mouths of the poor, and showering comfort and prosperity upon the homes of the people. I believe he thinks that still, but the voice of Australia has been too strong for him. We find this state of results. Let us apply it : Here is New South Wales, .which has returned a magnificent and decisive verdict in favour of a revenue Tariff- - represented by whom ? Misrepresented by three Federal Cabinet Ministers - the Prime Minister, Sir William Lyne, and Senator O’Connor. Those three gentlemen sit in that Federal Cabinet by right as Federal Ministers. I admit that if all New South Wales were against them, they still have the right to sit in the Cabinet. I do not wish to become so provincial as to say that because a man’s own colony is against him on a- certain point, therefore he has 110 right to’ sit on those benches opposite. I make no such miserable claim as that. I merely point out the results as they are as affecting the politics of this Parliament. I point out that three of the most influential members of this Cabinet sit there, not ‘by -the”- sanction and by the voice of the -colony which knows them, but of the colonies which do not. My honorable friend who seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply, was good enough to refer to one of the rightful claims of the Prime Minister to distinction, one of which he may well be proud, and of which his descendants may be proud - that on the memorable occasion when the people of New South Wales chose delegates to the Convention the right honorable gentleman was triumphantly elected at the head of the poll. That statement has been made often, and it is, as1 I say, a matter of distinction to my right honorable friend. But it is only fair to remember, I think, that the man who was next to my right honorable friend on the poll was a man who had trodden on all the political corns in New South Wales - by a land tax that no man in Victoria has had the pluck to propose, by an income tax which was very new to New South Wales at the time, by a thorough cleansing of the public service, and by the destruction of a number of monopolistic interests. Tens of thousands of my supporters, as my friends from New South Wales know well, voted - as they ought to do - for one of the most eminently fitted men in the world for such a position, whereas’ tens of thousands of my right honorable friend’s supporters forgot to vote for me. ‘ ;The feeling generated by an intense political struggle was in full force and fury, and it was too strong for my right honor- ‘ able friend’s supporters to vote for me. My honorable friend the Ministerial Whip has said more than once that he regarded my position on the poll as the greatest’ -wonder of the contest. He was always a generous opponent, and always will be one. -My friend, although opposed to me - honor- . -ably always - has made it no secret that the : fact that I was next on the poll was under : the circumstances a far greater achievement than that of the man who had no enemies. But now that the -people , of New South Wales have had to settle down to serious politics, if there should be a per- ‘sonal question in such a contest, which Iutterly repudiate- but if .there should . be a ; personal conflict of that sort, I have the satisfaction of knowing that in the country where my right honorable friend has lived all his life, and I the greater part of mine, the verdict of New South Wales was not only against my right honorable friend, but against him clothed in all the legitimate glory of his high office. So that when the youngest member of the House refers to New South Wales, I point out that where we have come down to more solid tests, when the people have had the men before them in contrast and conflict, whatever may be the majority in this House or the other House on this or that question, I and my friends behind me have, at least, this great solace - that we have the voice and the calm judgment of the’ vast majority of the people of the mother State of Australia. I want now, Mr. Speaker, if I may, to separate the numbers ‘I have given’. I wish to show how these numbers apply to both Houses. Take the Senate. There are 21 revenue tarifiists in ‘the Senate of Australia. There are fourteen protectionists and Mr. De Largie, whom I put down as doubtful. ‘ That was under the Constitution the broadest test you could have. The whole political voice of the country was expressed upon one ballot-paper. As to that test, I do not wish to give too great a significance to any particular school of politics ; I do not wish to underrate the power of this House, and hope I shall never be one to do so. But I am dealing with the results of the election1. Honorable members will see, therefore, that I am justified in inquiring- what they are. Here is a fact which stands for the instruction of my honorable friends in Victoria, including my honorable friend who seconded the Address in Reply - that in the Senate, based upon the widest suffrage in Australia, we have 21 revenue tariffists, fourteen protectionists, and one gentleman who is doubtful. In the House of Representatives there are 36 revenue tariffists, 38 protectionists, and one gentleman doubtful,- which 1 think makes up the 75. I candidly admit that it might, perhaps, have been, well in the public interests if this great reference to the people- had brought about a more thoroughly, decided result than these figures, -if correct, show ‘the result to-be’; but- if my protectionist- friends call that a victory, it is a sort of victory -which needs only to-be repeated -to be -fatal. - And -we- have this great consolation, that when we asked the judgment of Australia we did not beseech the electors to think of everything but the great issue they had to decide. I can speak for my own State, and probably it is true of the other States - though in Queensland I admit the matter was not put in the way in which it was in the other States, and was not an issue of a serious character - but so far as I know we have this great distinction, that in our appeal - I suppose Mr. Speaker, I may occasionally for a moment turn to honorable members.
– May I say the reason I called the honorable member to order just now was not so much for turning his face from the Chair, as for addressing honorable members in the second person.
– I am very much obliged to you, sir. As you know, in the ardour of addressing the House we occasionally address honorable members, and I hope you will understand that my doing so arises from no want of respect’ to the Chair. I may on this point pray your forgiveness, for I have unfortunately not been in a position during the last fortnight to make myself acquainted with the names of honorable members and their constituencies, and I hope the House will give meindulgence under the circumstances which they know existed. May I express to you, sir, if I may be allowed the liberty, my deep gratification that the first honorable members whom you have reminded of the rules of the House are men in a prominent position in the House, thus showing the high standard which I am sure will always obtain under your rulings. I would infinitely rather see a Speaker strict with the. older members of the House than with the younger members, and I congratulate you, sir, if I dare take the liberty, in showing such an excellent example. As I have said,’ the gentlemen on this side - and when I speak of gentlemen sitting on this side of the House, I do not mean that every one here is a member of the Opposition - I do not attach any significance to the positions honorable -members take up, because they have a perfect right to sit wherever they like - I speak of the party which I lead, and I wish to say that we have the great consolation, if we need to condole over anything, that our fight was absolutely straightforward. We mixed no issues with this great issue. We did not talk about mysterious dangers to the Constitution. We did not talk about the necessity of electing “good men” - “ good men “ always meaning men with principles which are not the principles of the people whom they ask to elect them. You never need to talk to a man who possesses the confidence of the majority of the electors about his being a “ good man.” It is the candidate who is not really at home with the constituencies who has to get in on the “ good-man “ ticket. I am happy to say that we have put a plain, naked issue before Australia, and let us apply the result to the Federal Ministry. Three members of that Ministry have come from a State - the Premier, the Secretary for Home Affairs, and the senator who leads the Senate - the people of which, if they had their own way, would have put them anywhere but in a Federal Ministry. Now, I come to my old dear and distinguished friend, the honorable member once for South Australia, but now for one of the constituencies thereof.
– Member for South Australia. The constituency is the whole State.
– That is so ; in South Australia itwas a national vote for both Houses. I find
that South Australia, by a majority, would have had my honorable friend anywhere but
in a Federal Ministry. Where should we see the member for the Swan, if Western
Australia had its way? He would be on some lonely island, condemned to isolation for
life, like the other Napoleon. But he is in the Federal Ministry, although Western
Australia, with a gigantic volume of electoral power, almost unanimously said -
“ We will have none of him, and we will have none of his policy.” And yet he
sits there to-day a member of the Federal Ministry of Australia. As to Tasmania, I
do not wish to say a word in regard to
– Why does the honorable member not divide the House ?
– My honorable friends will always try to choose a time for me to divide the House, but I propose to choose a time that suits me, and I think my honorable friends will find I will not take up the public time in making an attack upon the position of the Ministry until some great public emergency calls for it, or until I have a rational prospect of being successful.
– The honorable member prefers to attack every one personally.
– I hope my honorable friend will get accustomed to a little of the healthy atmosphere of a real democracy. If he had spent more of his time on the gold-fields and less at Perth he would have been accustomed, to it. But I wish it to be understood once for all that I cherish feelings, I would almost like to say, of friendship with reference to the individuals who form the Federal Ministry. I have no sort of feeling contrary to those of friendship, but I think the Premier and myself by this time have learnt that we each have a public duty to discharge, and that in the discharge of that public duty it saves a great deal of time ‘ to talk straight. I might have said the same thing about my right honorable friend in half-an-hour more politely, but time would not allow of that. I want now to invite the attention of honorable members to the utterances of this speech on the one big question on which there is a radical splitting of opinion. Just compare the language used in this speech with the language which would be used by mv two friends from Vic toria in a vice-regal speech addressed to the Victorian Parliament on the subject of protection. That is the way to test this thing. I test it by the -two gentlemen in the Cabinet who I know are accustomed to believe in protection, and have never had any occasion to reconsider their position. I ‘ say that if these two gentlemen had put into the mouth of the State Governor of Victoria those expressions of opinion, the Melbourne. Age would have had them out of office in a week. A more whining appeal to the merciful charitable instincts of a great House of Parliament was never uttered. Surely those gentlemen believe that the principle of protection which has caused so many struggles throughout the whole civilized globe is a principle which works well. If those Ministers believe that a protective policy will increase wages, steady the labour market, will add. to the volume of human industry and will bring happiness and comfort to the homes of the poor, surely it is a principle pf which they might be. proud. Now genuine protectionists believe all that, and do not put the principle forward on a plea of charity. The genuine protectionist does not say that industries, after 30 years of protection, have become so decrepit that if you gave them a bit of fresh air it .would be fatal. He does not say that, and he dare not say that ; but when we hear those gentlemen, now addressing a Federal Parliament, what do they say 1 The Secretary for . Home Affairs for 20 years made my life miserable by assuring me that if I would only put a- duty of 30 or 50 per cent, on everything the colony would become an industrial paradise. But I acted on different principles. I swept away all the duties, and my honorable friend came into office and found the revenue expansive ; : even now, in spite of my honorable friend’s accession to power, our revenue in New South Wales has increased by a million, roughly speaking, during the last two years. So that we built, as we thought, very soundly ; but myfriend, now a member of the Federal Ministry, goes round assuring the people of New South Wales that there is really no difference between himself and myself, and that it is a matter of only 10 or 15 per cent., if not 5 per cent. That is very gratifying to the free-traders of Australia. Experienced politicians, however fearless and independent they are, do endeavour occasionally to glance at the political barometer, and my friends, in their study of the political barometer, have dropped the militant note of protection. They beseech us to save those decrepit industries which Victorians have established under a protective policy, and beg of us to show mercy to the derelicts they are committing to our charge. When on that ground my feeling of humanity is touched I will say that in the case of every Victorian industry that will produce its books I am prepared to take its case into merciful consideration if it can show that a rational, sound, Tariff will inflict any injury upon it. I amprepared, if it is to be a question of charity - charity officers inquire always into the means and circumstances of the objects which they relieve - and if our friends ask us as they do in this speech to extend our charitable feelings in order to save some weakly industry, and if those men can show me on their books, as any man to whom one was going to extend charity would be asked to show his means and circumstances that they really require assistance, I am prepared to extend the most generous consideration to them. But I am not prepared to make all Australia a hot-house for the sake of the cripples there are in Victoria. I will help them in any other way, but I am not going to live in that sort of atmosphere because they cannot live out of it. I understand of course the responsibility of the Victorian statesmen. I understand their position. They have incurred a great responsibility. They have led the industrial energy of Victoria into this path, and I can quite understand the feelings of Victorians, and especially of the men who are in any way responsible for this policy. Their desire is to save their victims from the consequences of bad legislation. But we are here as the representatives of Australia to lay the foundations of sound national principles which affect the masses of the people and every industrial and commercial interest. We are not prepared to twist and deform those principles in order to meet a case of distress. We will meet a case of distress with assistance to the distressed. We will not be so indiscriminate as to help to keep some tottering industry on its feet by multiplying the profits of the wealthy monopolists who have made their thousands of pounds out of their tobacco and their spirit laws.
An Honorable Member. - And sugar laws.
Mr.REID. - And probably sugar too. We are not here to extend our charity in that indiscriminate way. We are here, I submit, as the result of the elections, with a mandate to pass a genuine revenue Tariff, which shall take no coin out of the pockets of the Australian taxpayer which is not destined for the chest of the Commonwealth Treasury. If we are to consider individual cases, let us consider them on their merits as individual cases ; but do not let us dwarf and stunt a great national policy to meet a few “hardships. I rejoice in the result of the appeal to Australia. We know that the moment an Australian constituency was appealed to the freetraders were to disappear, and were to become interesting relics of some bygone stratum which had been overwhelmed by a huge democratic wave. The wave has come, but it has made the advocates of a protectionist policy in the Federal Ministry remarkably damp. It has made them remarkably limp. All the fire has gone out of them, and when the youngest member of the House spoke out like a man on protection the beseeching glances from the bench of Ministers were most instructive. They burned to him as if he were about to fire a torpedo amongst them. My honorable friend the member for Corio will find, before he is here much longer, that the less he talks about protection the more Ministers will like him. Where is a word of protection in the Governor-General’s speech? Let us look at the paragraph with reference to it.
– Where is there a freetrader amongst the members of the Opposition?
Mr.REID. - This is a young member. Now, I can understand why my honorable friend would not allow King Edward VII. to add an “ I “ after his title. We are told that -
The adoption of the existing Tariff of any one of these States is impracticable, and would be unjust.
What, with two Victorians in the Ministry ! With the ideal fiscal policy of Victoria, which fills the homes of Victorians with happiness and plenty ! Why can not the Ministry extend this great blessing to the other benighted populations of Australia? Now that the chance has come of extending the marvellous advantages which the Victorian Tariff has conferred upon every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth, why do not we see one flicker of missionary spirit, instead of the attitude which suggests - “Hold on as long as you can, and say as little as you can? “ This speech does not say that the policy of the Government will be a protective- policy. It says it will be a charitable policy. Why not adopt the Victorian Tariff, which has worked such marvellous wonders for the people of Victoria? It is all ready to the hands of the Government. Why, my honorable friend, the Minister for Trade and Customs, who looks as if this job would kill him before it is over, has in the Victorian Tariff, which is ready to his hand, an ideal policy, and it would save an immense amount of trouble if the Government would only let the flood-gates of prosperity loose at once, and give us the Victorian Tariff. Why call it “unjust “.if it covers t]ie land with plenty? Why “unjust “ if it adds to the comfort of the homes of the poor ? Why “ unjust “ if it increases the volume of employment, and heightens the rate of wages ? Where is the injustice ? The fact is that it has broken down, and the Ministry do not know how to fix the pieces. There is one startling admission made in this speech, where it is stated that “revenue must of course be the first consideration.” Why should revenue be a consideration before the well-being and prosperity of the people? If this policy will make your workers busy, happy, and prosperous, why should revenue be the first consideration? If there be a prosperous people the Government will get more revenue out of them, so that on protectionist principles they should give them a stiff dose of protectionist physic in order to make them turn out more wealth to the State, because the wealthier they get the more the Government can tax them, and the less it will affect them. The speech proceeds -
To secure a reasonably sufficient return of surplus revenue to each State so as fairly to observe the intention of the Constitution, while avoiding the unnecessary destruction of the sources of I employment, is a work which prohibits a rigid adherence to fiscal theory.
Has the protectionist flag sunk so low as this? Again, the plea for charity in thewords -
A work which prohibits a rigid adherence1 to- fiscal theory.
That is the result of the general elections. It prohibits “ a rigid adherence to fiscal theory.” If the Ministry had a majority that they could count on in. this House, and a majority in the Senate that they could count on, they would give us a genuine’ protectionist Tariff as hot as any one would like it, but they do not feel strong enough for that. I, therefore, feel deeply indebted to my light honorable friend the Prime Minister, and my other honorable friends opposite, and think that they will probably do a great deal of work for us in carrying out a genuine revenue Tariff, and I can assure the House that if they do bring down a revenue Tariff they will have our support. As for the Melbourne Age, they must settle with that newspaper afterwards. The speech also states that -
Existing Tariffs have in all the States given rise to industries, many of which are so substantial, that my advisers consider that any policy tending to destroy them is inadmissible.
I agree with the Ministry, but I find that a “policy which puts shackles and taxes upon the great natural industries of Australia tends to destroy them more efficiently than by leaving them free from those burdens. I look across this mighty continent and see working there, against a million difficulties, the indomitable Australian settler, battling with droughts and sterility, and numerous other evils. There is a great natural-industry. The settler has to fight in the markets of the world against all the cheap and coloured labour of the world. Do you make him stronger for this great fight for a living abroad by multiplying the. taxes upon him at home, by taxing his implements and his clothes, and by making it necessary for him. to pay so much more in order to have the privilege of. living at all ? Then I look across the continent, and see’ a great mining industry.. Do you help the miners of Australia, who, whether on the surface or deep, deep down in the heart of this continent, are working their lives out - do you make their lot easier by taxing every comfort they enjoy ? In. building up a- great nation- are we going in- the search for. a sound, national policy, to search for every cripple, and regulate your nation’s policy by their necessities’!. No; and in spite of the marvellous advantages this Government had, and in spite of tine influence of their position and offices, right through the heart of Australia the light has gone, and the first lesson that labour has to learn is that the more free the country is in which it labours the better it is for labour. If you make artificial methods for creating wealth you give great advantages to the brain power and capital of the country. After all, specious as many of their arguments are, there are one or two small rules that Australia will insist on. So far as the great primary industries of the Commonwealth are concerned, Australia will insist that they shall not be handicapped. They have to fight, not here, but in the markets of Great Britain, against all the nations and all the serfs of the world. What sort of a policy is it which makes a man strong by tin-owing ropes around him, or intelligent by prescribing the lines of his enterprise; which makes a nation great by the ink of an Act of Parliament, drawn by men whom no persons of sense would trust, in the matter of business-like sagacity, to found an industry of the value of £500 ? If you will attempt this enormous task, if you will seek to decipher the hidden destinies of human industry in this young, mysterious continent, call to your councils men who have been accustomed to deal with the great problems of Australian industry. I do not make this remark in disparagement of my honorable friends more than of the members of the party on this side of the chamber, and I apply the same remarks to myself. To ask men like the right honorable the Premier and myself, with our absolute ignorance of the problems of industry, to fashion a policy for the future of Australia, is a freak of lunacy. Our only safe line is to leave the people as free as we can, to put the hand of the State upon them as little as we can, to take as little out of their pockets as we can. After all, when the- money gets into their pockets they have a *prima facie right to enjoy it. No Parliament on earth has the right to put its hand into the pockets of the people, except to meet the necessities of the State. That is the solid principle upon which we take our stand. We say - “ If you: will encourage new forms of industry, make Government industries’ of them. If you believe that you can fashion industries, try a few experiments - Government experiments, and let us see how they get on. Then, if there is’ failure, no one else can be blamed, and the experiments’ can be dropped.” But if you fasten this policy upon the country, a revolution may be needed to get rid of it If you plant this ever-growing octopus upon the fair young form of Australia, there will be much suffering when you come to tear it out. Fortunately in New South Wales we have the courage of our convictions. When I had an opportunity to- use the power of the State, I loyally and honestly gave effect to the policy in which I believed, and ‘since the year 1896 the items upon our Tariff have numbered about ten, and we have not a single ad valorem duty. I had the courage of my convictions, and I believed that in doing that I was not strangling industry but was improving the condition of the people We have had five years’ experience of that policy ? Have our factories been shut up! Has Sydney declined ? Has the colony been ruined ? Is there one man in all New South Wales who now clamours for the re-imposition of the duties’ that were taken off? There are still’ one or two - a candle manufacturer, a rope manufacturer, and some others. But the’ great heart of the people was so sound upon tin’s subject that the .Government of the honorable member for Hume had only one anxiety, and that was how best to assure the people of New South Wales that’ they would do nothing to remove the policy which I had established. There is an object lesson for all Australia ; and Victorians must remember how inferior we are to them in enterprise, in skill, and in quickness. Yet in that rather lethargic State that great experiment has been tried, and one would think- that if it had not rested on a sound foundation our factories would have been closed. ‘ We had no barriers to take down when federation came. The cause of Australian Union did not call upon us to take down’ the barriers between usand you. You in Victoria have had the free run of our State, although you have shut us out from your markets for a good many years past. But I was riot afraid of the competition of Victoria; because I knew . that the future in manufacturing industry must be with’ us. I’ could’ ‘understand a New South Wales man’ who took a narrow view being a protectionist, But the idea of
Victorians building up industries which depend upon the use of iron and coal against the competition of New South Wales is another phase of lunacy. I do not, however, view these matters in a selfish way. I would not come here to consciously do a wrong or inflict a hardship upon a single man in Victoria. It is because I believe that this policy of freedom will be good for Victoria that I feel the strongest determination to carry it through. What has been the result of our manufacturing enterprise since 1896? Our factories have increased the number of their hands by nearly 11,000. Now that the figures are upon a uniform basis a fair comparison can be made ; but, though I have the New South Wales figures for 1900, I have not the Victorian figures, and I should not like to make a comparison for the period between 1896 and 1899, because it would not be a fair one. I propose, therefore, to give only the figures for the State of New South Wales. In 1896, when our great change came, there were employed in our factories 49,840 hands, and in 1900 we had 60,732 hands so employed, an increase of 10,892 hands in four years ; so that experience has justified our policy. I shall now give a comparison between the States of New South Wales and Victoria ; but I shall not trouble the House with many figures. Taking the period between 1889 and 1899, I find, from the figures given in the statistical publications that in 1899 there were 5,000 fewer males employed in the factories of Victoria than were employed there in 1889.
– We gained 2,000 last year !
– I am delighted’ to hear it. That is something to crow about. May I tell the honorable member that in New South Wales we have gained 5,000 in twelve months ; but I did not wish to make the comparison, because I had not the Victorian figures. - During the year ending 31st December, 1900, there was an increase of 5,000 in the number of hands employed in the factories of New South Wales.
– That is- not a fair, comparison. The increase I speak of was in our city factories, while the right honorable member refers to the factories of the whole State of New South Wales.
– Then the honorable member is speaking from s6me little private information of his own.
– I am speaking from the report of the inspector of factories which was published in the- newspapers.
– I do not know anything about that.
– The right honorable member evidently does not.
– I am dealing with the States of New South Wales and Victoria, and, in making a comparison between them, I could not quote the Melbourne figures, though I admit that in one sense Melbourne has been Victoria for many years past. Melbourne, however, has a wider area to deal with now, and that will be to its great advantage. After eleven years experience of the Victorian policy, that is, at the end of the period between 1S89 and 1S99, there were absolutely 5,000 fewer males in the factories of Victoria than there were at the beginning of that period. But, during the same number of years, in the much slower colony of New South Wales we had an increase of 5,700. Adding the Victorian decrease of 5,100 to our increase of 5,700, we gained an advantage of 10,800. It is only right that I should give this information to the people of Victoria, because they have very little chance of getting it from any other source. Are my honorable friends, who speaks so confidently, aware that, according to the official census of Victoria, during the last 30 years more people have gone out of this State than came into it ? It is a marvellous fact that during the last 30 years 16,000 more souls left Victoria than came into it from oversea, or by land - I am leaving the births out of account. In 30 years there have been 16,000 more people who were glad to run away from Victoria than there have been people who were anxious to settle down here. That is a fact which the AttorneyGeneral would rather leave alone.
– Not at all.
– I suppose it is a sign of national prosperity ! It shows the patriotism of the true Victorian, when he is ready to emigrate abroad in order to make . things more comfortable at home. If this is a sign of progress,- let us look at what has occurred in those benighted states which must be -going to the dogs. During the same period, New South Wales had 300,000 more immigrants than emigrants. What a terrible blow to New South Wales ! What a. sign of the ruin that our policy was working there ! Queensland in the same period had 185,000 more arrivals than departures. Poor unhappy Queensland ! In South Australia the. arrivals outnumbered the departures by only 16,000’, so that that State would seem to have been doing rather well. Western Australia, however, under the reign of my right honorable friend, the Minister of Defence, went to the dogs altogether, because there the arrivals outnumbered the departures by 122,000.
– More than that.
– I believe so ; but my right honorable friend makes it a nile to say “ more than that “ to any conceivable figures that one may use about Western Australia. Then there is a little State which has been looked upon by Victoria as a sort of odd parish which ought to be annexed to Victoria. Little Tasmania, during the 30 years I have referred to, has had a gain of 16,000 instead of a loss of that number. So that, if Victoria is doing right in losing population, all Australia is doing wrong by gaining it; but all Australia is not such a fool as to think so. May I suggest, too, that during the past three years this exodus has been even more serious than it ever was before, and that during the past ten years Victoria has had 117,000 more departures than arrivals? Do you, sir, call that a sign of prosperity? Could not the versatile genius of my distinguished friend the AttorneyGeneral have discovered some method for keeping those people in Victoria? They were good men you know ; they were Victorians. You must not say you were glad to get rid of them. -What does this movement of population mean ? 117,000 in ten years means about one-tenth of the whole population of this State. Yet- Victorians - those who are all right in Victoria - rise with an appearance of self-possession and confidence to speak of the success of their policy in “Victoria. It is a new phase of success that drives people away from a country. It is worth imitating when you want to get rid of people. But we all know - and I think the people of Victoria will more clearly see now that we have representatives of all Australia here-: - that this great continent wants to be developed by a healthy growth of human industry, and that if we had to contemplate 400^000 or 500,000 people leaving Australia, we should look upon it as a national calamity. Suppose that this last census, which shows that Victoria has lost nearly 120,000 people, showed that Australia had lost 400,000 or 500,000 during the ten years by immigration. Is there a man outside a lunatic asylum who would say that that was a sign of progress for all Australia t Yet there are persons who will say it. One of the objects of this, policy in the early days was to bring to Victoria the brightest artisans in the world. But they have not come; and those who have come have been glad to get out of it. They have paid their own passages, too, and they do not seem to be in a hurry to get back. They have gone to the other States, and they have stayed there. They send money orders here in large amounts, and I am sure Victoria is glad to get them. I speak in. this plain way because we are confronted with a Government who, if they are true to their policy and do not tamper with it, must come before Parliament with a Tariff framed on protective principles. They would be false to their trust - and we must not believe that they will be false - if they did not introduce such a policy. I may say on behalf of the Opposition that our policy ‘ is going to be that which I think Ministers will consider a fair one. We propose, so far as the Tariff is concerned, to wait until Ministers place their proposals before the House. We propose to raise no party issue until then; and not even then, if Ministers frame a Tariff such as we desire. But I feel that, torn as they may be by doubt, in the end they must be true to their principles ; in which case they should have said in this speech : “ We are a protectionist Government ; we believe protection increases the happiness and prosperity of a country, and we propose to increase the prosperity and happiness of Australia by establishing a protectionist policy.” But no ! Charity for the derelicts ! We have none in New South Wales. You need not think of us. I see this reference in the speech -
Existing Tariffs have in all the States given rise to industries.
There are some spots on the sun, but I think I am fairly right in saying that the Tariff in New South Wales is the freest known to the world at the present moment. No sound free-trader believes in abolishing the Custom house unless he is a singletaxer, which I am not. But you do not need to study our industries ; they can look after themselves. Do not put 20 per cent, on the people of New South Wales under the pretence that you are keeping our industries from ruin. You may rum them by taxing them, but you cannot ruin them by leaving them alone. That is a little message from New South Wales. It is not my message, but the message which New South Wales has recorded at the ballot-box. We do not want your charity - we look after our own cripples. Just listen to the way protection conies in ! -
A Tariff which gives fair consideration to these actors must necessarily operate protectively as well as for the production of revenue.
Why cannot you have the pluck to say, as you used to say, that protection builds up new industries t In Victoria the cry was that this policy would build up new industries. Thirty years have passed, and now the cry from Victoria is not that you t will build up new industries, but “do not kill the unfortunates that are left.” That is the most significant comment upon the value of their policy that the Ministry could give. I say that no Ministry has a right to claim an alliance with the protea ‘tionists if they drag protection in the mire. It is an odious position to put a party in. When you have to cry for mercy your doom is sealed. Is that the attitude of the protectionists of Australia ? Is their pride sunk so low that there is to be only one universal whine to be spared ? I think that ‘ does bare justice to the men who really believe in protection. But it is better to be silent and wait to see what you will get. Now Mr. Speaker, I have given such prominence to this matter because I say candidly that the whole of the speech of Ministers, except the reference to the fiscal question, might have been taken from any boy’s scrap-book. For the rest of the speech, they might have taken the speech of any advanced labour member. And here I must congratulate my friends who represent labour on the remarkable impression they have made on the Fe’deral Government.
– Thank you.
– The honorable member need not thank me. Let him thank the Cabinet. I say
honorable members are to be congratulated, you gentlemen who apply yourselves
specially to the interests of labour. Probably I have had a great deal more labour
votes than all of you put together in my time. But while I congratulate you on the
force you are exercising, I would suggest to the Ministry that they have made one
mistake. They have tried to bridge over one of the chasms of eternity with a pretty
little string of vice-regal platitudes. You can get them for a penny a line from any
intelligent press reporter in Australia - from any man who has . ever reported any
speech of a public man. Of a comprehensive kind, too ! But what this House wishes to
know is not only what Bills are to be introduced, but upon what principles those
Bills are to be founded. I will admit this,
Bills for the firm restriction of the immigration of Asiatics-
What a reckless declaration that is ‘ Think of the enormous number of members of both. Houses who are clamouring for the introduction of Asiatics ! In spite of that, this brave Ministry comes forward, and for once they are firm - there is to be a “firm restriction” of the immigration of Asiatics ! Now we come in the same paragraph to a matter that is not quite so clear. That is the question about the sugar industry and the kanakas of the South Sea Islands. Let us see if they are firm about this. Now notice how the tone changes -
And for the diminution and gradual abolition of the introduction of labour of the South Sea Islands will be laid before you.
– That was written in April. I thought the honorable member would have been there in April 1
– I do not wish to intrude my private affairs into Parliament, but my honorable friend knows that there was a long criminal trial - a capital case - in Sydney, and it was postponed in a most unexpected manner, which prevented me going to Queensland. It was a long case, and one which no man could leave. That took away a fortnight of my circuit month, which I thought to spend in Queensland. But I believe the people of Brisbane will remember that I said to them - “I am against your kanaka labour, until you hear from me to the contrary.” I made no shuffle about it, nor have I changed my position.
– You have shuffled.
– My honorable friend is a judge of shuffling.
– On this question you did nothing but shuffle.
Mir. REID. - I say that the Government will find it a serious question in this Parliament whether they are going to stick to these words. I want to direct the attention of my right honorable friend to them : “ The gradual abolition of the introduction of labour.” Does the Prime Minister intend to allow any fresh kanaka labour to come into Australia? I confess that so far from having found this matter, it was brought to my attention only this afternoon. I had not read the clever language to which I now draw attention : “ the gradual abolition of the introduction of labour from the South Sea Islands.” Are we to understand that the Government are going to propose that South Sea Islanders should continue to be brought into Australia 1 That is a straight question for the Prime Minister, and I will abandon any further observations if -
– Some of these days the Prime Minister will have a chance of answering your speech.
Mr.REID. - I should like my honorable friend to remember that I am speaking to a large number of members of the House.
– I have no reason whatever to protest against the length of the honorable gentleman’s remarks. My friend gave us to understand his speech would not be a long one, and that may have influenced the House in adjourning the sitting this afternoon.
– I hope my friend will not do anything of the kind again, if it is to be made the subject of reproach to me. I did not ask for the adjournment; it was suggested by the House, and I protest against the right honorable gentleman making me responsible.
– I do not, and I never said so.
– “Well, what is the use of referring to it ? May I remind the honorable gentleman that the mover and seconder of what is supposed to be rather a formal business occupied, I think, about an hour and a half.
An Honorable Member. - They had occasion to.
– Well, surely, if my right honorable friend sat patiently while the oldest and the- youngest member of the House spoke for an hour or two, he will allow the leader of the Opposition to say a word or two.
– Certainly, I do not object to the length of the honorable gentleman’s remarks, and never did.
Mr.REID. - What does the honorable member mean by “ the gradual abolition of the introduction of labour?” Does the honorable member mean that this traffic of introducing fresh natives from the South Sea Islands is to go on under the control of the Government?
– I shall explain every phrase in the speech attacked, at a time when the honorable member cannot distort it.
Mr.REID. - Now, that is not a nice beginning.
– I am only replying in the spirit of the honorable member’s remarks.
– It is scarcely parliamentary for the honorable gentleman to say he will reply when I cannot “ distort” the speech. I think it rather offensive, and I claim your protection, Mr. Speaker.
– Perhaps it will save the House and the honorable and learned member some trouble if I say that, if the remark is in any sense offensive, I withdraw it.
– It is offensive to me, though I do not say it would be offensive to the honorable member.
– I have had lots of that sort of thing.
– And the honorable gentleman seems to thrive on it. I say these are high and important questions. The question of a gradual reduction of the South Sea Islanders already in Queensland, and the gradual abolition of the importation of fresh kanakas, are two very different things, and are matters that will have to be considered.
Knowing the sources of my friend’s explanation, I do not wish to take up time unnecessarily, but will leave the matter with that explanation, simply pointing OUt to the House that the gradual abolition of kanaka labour is one thing and the gradual abolition of the introduction of fresh kanakas is another thing. I do not know’ whether I am wrong, but I cannot shut my eyes to the significance of the verdict of Queensland herself. I confess it is a question which cannot be concluded by the Federal Ministry simply because a verdict at the general election went one way. But viewing the matter in all its surroundings it is somewhat embarrassing to any one who wishes to be indulgent in the matter, to find Queensland herself speaking in no uncertain voice as to her wishes, which, I suppose, Queensland would carry out if she had control of the subject herself.
– The sugar districts, too.
– So I understand, and this is a matter which will have to be considered,
because that is the only way of ascertaining the feelings of the State of Queensland
on the subject. I should like to refer to a phrase in the Governor’s speech with
regard to “ setting the machinery of the Constitution in motion.” There are
two ways in which you can set the machinery of the Constitution in motion ; one is
by introducing necessary Bills, and the other is by appoint.ing Mr. Fegan. There is
a cloud over the doings of a Federal Cabinet, or any other Cabinet, during the
recess, and it is convenient for all Ministers that it should be so. But we all know
that one of the most important matters in setting the machinery of the Constitution
in motion is that the permanent heads in the public service should be wisely
selected upon sound principles. No man has been more eloquent than the Prime
Minister himself on this point for many years. He has pointed out in terms which I
cannot imitate that in these high permanent offices of State you must not only have
ability, you must not only have a high range of culture, but .you must have a long
and honorable record in the public service - not merely a record of public Service,
but what is the glory of the public service of Australia as we wish to see it, the
permanent officers of the Government must be absolutely free from political
association. There should be no man appointed to a high office of State whom I
should not be able to approach with the same confidence that my honorable friends
could approach him, and one of the advantages of selecting men of long experience in
the public service of Australia for those high positions is that from the
necessities of their life and career, they have been accustomed to stand impartially
between all sections in the -political world.
– The Minister for Home Affairs said he was a fit and proper person.
– He said, I understand, that Mr. Fegan was a fit and proper person - that he was one of the wonders of the world. Mr. Fegan had been helping the honorable gentleman in an election a few days before in a district where there was a lot of miners. Mr. Fegan, as Minister of Mines, went there and helped the Federal Minister in his election, and a few days after Mr. Fegan was offered the position of Under Secretary for Home Affairs. Is that the sort of beginning we are to have in the filling of the high offices of State ? And coming from the apostles and sacred guardians of the Ark of the Constitution, how disappointing it is to ordinary individuals. The appointment was a bad one, and it marked a bad beginning. If anything could be worse, it was the way the Government were frightened out of the appointment. I hope it will be a lesson to the
Government, and that we shall not have occasion to refer to such matters again. I now wish to say one or two words in regard to some of the matters referred to in the speech. As to the Federal Capital site, I commend the spirit in winch Ministers seem disposed to deal with this matter. I think the question is one which ought to be promptly dealt with, and it is also one of great importance, about which there should be no party feeling of any kind. This is one of the subjects on which we should try even more than in other matters to work together ; and I suggest to the Premier for his- consideration that, in view of the fact that this is a matter which should never take a party aspect, whether it would not be well to appoint a small committee from all sides of the House to act in conjunction with the Government. This is not a mere matter of executive administration, but is much higher than that, and so far as I and the members of the Opposition are concerned we are prepared to do all we can in helping the Government to deal with it in a prompt and satisfactory way. In reference to the High Court and the Inter-State Commission, we are all prepared to give the fullest consideration and aid. There are some expressions in the speech which I suppose we must have in such a document, but the Bills must follow the lines of the Constitution, and cannot be wider and ought not to be narrower. With reference to the public service, that is a matter of great importance, and is again one on which we should be all anxious to assist in framing a wise and satisfactory measure. In fact, I may say that, except in regard to the main subject which is a matter of principle on both sides, I hope to, as far as I can, and I believe my friends also hope to assist the Government. We claim from our friends opposite the respect which every Opposition is entitled to. Under our present form of Parliamentary Government there must be an Opposition, and that Opposition has a high and important duty to perform. It has the duty of watching vigilantly and criticising freely the doings of the Executive Government. When we come to a measure which is not radically bad, we ought to do our best to make it better. Our object should be, when Bills framed on sound principles are introduced, to help the Government as far as we can to make them as perfect as they can be made, and to reserve our opposition for matters of a serious character. I hope that this Opposition and those who succeed them will always avoid one serious evil in the working of our parliamentary institutions ; and that is an attitude of obstructing measures, the principles of which are not objectionable. I think I speak the feelings of honorable members with whom I am associated when I lay down the rule that, where Bills are framed on sound principles, it is the duty of the Opposition to help the Government to improve and pass them. Where Bills are radically defective, it is our duty to take a different course ; also when any question arises of sufficient importance it is our duty to take a decided course. But no Opposition should waste time in the way of attacks on a Government when the situation does not call for that action, and my hope is that both parties will be able to work on these lines. With reference to the system which governs our elections, I pointed out’ the other day that the Bill to institute a uniform system governing our federal elections was put down at the bottom of the list, my right honorable friend said it was a trap on my part, but I am glad to see that the Government have thought better of it, and that the measure is to be dealt with without delay; I look upon the’ duty of altering the electorates of Australia by this Federal Parliament as one of the highest importance. I know of constituencies which have been mapped out by the local Parliaments where great discrepancies exist in regard to the number of voters, one constituency having 9,500 electors, and the adjoining one 16,000. That discrepancy is destructive of the principle of manhood suffrage and one man one vote. What is the use of talking about an equal distribution of electoral power if in one part of the Commonwealth 9,000 men can return a member to the Federal Parliament, whilst in an adjacent electorate it requires 16,000. These matters require very serious amendment. It does not at all follow that the present system should stand over until a general election comes round. We all hope that there will be no such calamity for three years, but wise men prepare even for dangers which may not arise. It certainly would be a calamity if another election occurred upon the existing basis. It is a vital matter that we should set our electoral machinery in order. We must not go on a day longer than we can help under the medley of abominably absurd laws which exist in the different States. As to female suffrage after a good many years of consideration, I came to the conclusion that it was a wise thing, and I hope to see that matter brought forward at an early date. I now come to the reference in the speech to old-age pensions. That is a matter as to which I tell the House frankly that I think it is more than a pity that the Ministry should take members for a collection of simple children. It is an absolute insult to the common intelligence of every honorable member to talk about bringing in a Commonwealth system of oldage pensions while the Constitution remains as it is. I cannot believe that there is a single member who does not know that for every pound collected through the Custom house, fifteen shillings must be returned to the States. Do not honorable members, therefore, see that if a Commonwealth Old-age Pension Bill were introduced involving an expenditure of perhaps £1,000,000 sterling, and if that million were raised through the Custom house, the Constitution would require £750,000 to be returned to the States. In order to get that million, we would have to raise £4,000,000, because the Commonwealth Government could only retain one million by raising four. Is it not a monstrous absurdity that the Ministry should seriously speak in these terms with reference to old-age pensions :
Some time must elapse before the financial conditions of the Commonwealth will admit of provision being made for old-age pensions. It is, however, the intention of my Ministers to deal with the subject as soon as practicable.
Ministers know very well that until the Braddon clause is altered we must hand back to the various States fifteen shillings for every pound raised through the customs. Of course, if the Government propose to raise the money from direct taxation, my argument will not apply. But I have understood that the clear policy of the Ministry is that the Commonwealth shall raise only duties of customs and excise, and that direct taxation shall be left to the States. I quite concur with the Government in that view. Iam speaking, therefore, on the basis of the declaration of policy and of the intentions of the Government. That being so, I say it is the most trivial trifling with the members of this House and our constituents throughout Australia to speak in this way of that measure. It is simply obstructing the other States in carrying out a scheme for the relief of their aged poor, and it will be simply used as an excuse by Ministries for postponing the matter for years. The system ought to go right round Australia. If we cannot carry it out we should not humbug the people of Australia by pretending to do so, and this reference to the question is one of the serious blemishes in the Governor-General’s Speech. It is a mere piece of make-believe intended to impose on children and not on honorable members of this House. I feel that I have taken up considerable, but not an unusual, time for a leader of the Opposition on an occasion of this sort. I hope that I have expressed myself with perfect plainness. The Government, I feel strongly, must be closely watched by those who believe as I do. If they prove faithful to the true protectionists of Australia, they must bring in a Tariff which will never pass this Parliament. The question is, “Are they going to throw the protectionists of Australia over and carry out a policy which they cannot approve 1” If they do, it is only a matter between themselves and the protectionists, for we shall be only too delighted to get our views carried out. But I do trust that the Ministry will honorably do their duty by the protectionists of Australia, and that they will bring in a Tariff that will amount to some recognition of the sturdy protectionist principles of my honorable friend, the Government whip. If the Ministry bring in a reasonable Tariff which men with the principles which I hold can support, there will be no factious opposition, and we will co-operate with the Ministry in order to carry that Tariff through as rapidly as possible. If, on the other hand, the Ministry carry out their principles and place before us a Tariff which is a protective Tariff, they may wrap it up as much as they like under the term of a revenue Tariff, but it will meet with our determined resistance. But I do trust I shall never be carried beyond the bounds of legitimate controversy, and that we will all endeavour, in the discharge of the high duties devolving upon us as representing not only the constituencies from which we come, but the whole of Australia, whilst fearless in the expression of our views, to draw the line between public criticism and personal attack.
Mr. BARTON (Hunter, New South Wales - Minister for
External Affairs). - I hope I shall show that I am, like my honorable friend opposite,
capable of drawing the line between public criticism and personal attack, and I hope
also that any remarks of mine that seem to put any matter warmly, will always be
interpreted as the exercise of my right of public criticism, until it is found that I
have done something which renders me unworthy to have that credit. T shall not delay
long with the speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address in Reply, except to say
that I heartily congratulate them on the temperate tone in which they were couched, and
also on the thoughtfulness which characterized those utterances. The honorable member
for Corio was a little mistaken in assuming that the Commission of the Duke of York,
signed by the King, as King and Emperor, was addressed to the people in this
Commonwealth. The letters patent were addressed to the Earl of Hopetoun, the
Governor-General, who is an Imperial officer, informing him of the powers intrusted to
the Duke of York, and there was no assumption in that Commission in any degree whatever, of the right to exercise Imperial
authority as an Emperor over any subject of the Commonwealth. I only say this by way of
easing my honorable friend’s mind. I would also ask him not to be too impetuous over
the question of the Monroe doctrine so far as the islands of the Pacific are concerned.
The question of our relation with the islands of the Pacific is one of the most delicate
that this Commonwealth will ever have to deal with. It is delicate in many ways, not
only with regard to the relation of the King’s Government to other States, but
delicate with regard to our future relations with the communities settled in those
islands. Any one who will take the trouble to think over the coloured labour question in
its relation to those islands will readily discharge me from the necessity for saying
another word on the subject, because a little consideration will show how very difficult
such questions are. I would ask honorable members to abstain from laying down rigidly
any doctrine with regard to these islands. There are Australian interests, it must be
recollected, in those islands which it is our duty to attempt to preserve, and there are
Imperial interests that we should all co-operate with England in endeavouring to
preserve, so long as we do not defeat or embarrass the policy of the Empire itself.
Subject to these one or two remarks, I should like to say I am thankful to the two
honorable members who moved and seconded the Address in Reply for the tone in which they
handled the matter. I wish also to make it clear that I said nothing at the Town Hall
the other night from which it could be implied that I intended being a party to handing
over the control of the Fijian Islands to the Government of New Zealand. What I did say
had reference to the Tariff question, and it was in a portion of the speech intended to
be purely jocose. It is a characteristic of speeches delivered just before the session
commences that they do not anticipate too much the declaration of the Ministerial policy
to Parliament, which has the first right to hear such declaration. As to what has been
said by the right honorable member at the head of the Opposition, there is a good deal
in his speech I need not touch, because it was not serious. From the standpoint of the
Opposition there are only two ways of treating a Governor’s speech - either on the
– If there were a joint sitting we could talk to the right honorable member.
– I did not interject when the right honorable member was speaking. Is it a fact that he holds a majority here ‘( If it is, by what warrant are we sitting on these benches’! Why does he not test the question 1 Let him bring forward his motion, and we shall be ready to meet it. It is all very well for him to indulge in strains which remind one of -
The mildest mannered man
That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat.
But I would not give my right honorable friend sixpence for his charity ; it is not worth the paper on which his speech will be printed to-morrow. If he had the slightest chance of ousting the Government by his revenue tariffist votes, he would take it. We should not be here to-morrow if he could put us out to-night. One can appreciate the extent to which remarks of that kind form part of the conventionality of politics rather than of its serious business.
– The House has to se the proposed Tariff first.
– The House has t eclarations contained in the GovernorGeneral’s speech before it. If we deserved the criticism which has been showered upon us by the right honorable member, on that ground alone the Government ought not to stay in office. If it were a fact that the Government had gone to the general elections on one policy, and had come down to this House with the declaration of another policy in the Governor-General’s speech, that alone would be a ground foi- challenging our right to remain in office. The fact is there is no possible justification for that contention, and. any one who will turn back to the speech delivered by me at Maitland in .January of this year, and will compare its tenor with that of other speeches which have been delivered since, will find that the utterances in the Governor-General’s speech are absolutely consistent with all that went before them. The Governor-General’s speech is not so full as some of those utterances, and it is not so curt as others.
– To what Minister’s speeches does the right honorable member refer ?
– I am speaking of my own speeches. The right honorable member knows that it is upon the utterances of the Prime Minister that the best political attack can be made. If . there have been Ministerial utterances inconsistent with mine, that is another ground of attack which the 56 revenue tariffists might well apply to the 47 protectionists. But what is the sum and substance of all this criticism ? It comes to nothing, but that it is a necessity, when one is in opposition, either to attack a Government upon its policy, or, if the policy is too good to attack it upon, to make up someother reason - which is, of course, a legitimate thing to do in politics - in order that the ordinary stage play of party Government may be carried on, and so that the Opposition may save its face before its supporters in the country. That appears to be the expedient to which statesmen are sometimes driven, and I suppose that, as there are a great many precedents for it, the right honorable gentleman will not think I am imputing anything wrong or dishonorable to him when I say that he lias good warrant for the course he has adopted. It was a favorite expedient of the great organ of public opinion which for a long time consistently supported my right honorable friend when he was leading a certain administration, to say that if the Opposition did not challenge the Address in Reply by taking a division upon it, or move an amendment upon it, they thereby accepted the whole policy of the Government, and the right honorable member’s Government lived complacently upon that sort of utterance for a series of years. It -was good food for the right honorable member’s party then, but it does not seem to be good food for them now. They were ready to assume, or not to in any way contradict, the argument advanced for them then, that an opposition which did not challenge a Governor’s speech accepted the policy contained in it ; but they will not say that now, although consistency might have led them to the same conclusion. However, we are brought to this position, that no serious attack has been made upon the policy of the Government. Any honorable member who listened to the right honorable member’s speech during the considerable time which it occupied - time which I do not grudge him - will agree with me in the conclusion that any one who reads a report of it in the newspaper to-morrow will wonder what reason there was for uttering it. We are told that this thing or that which seems a, humiliating thing to say about a Ministry is a fact about this Ministry, and we expected that. We are told that we have, in the Governor-General’s speech, hauled down the protectionist flag, that we have modified our utterances so that they may accord with the result of the general elections. The fact is, however, that a majority of honorable members in this House are satisfied, as the right honorable the leader of the Opposition well knows, with the utterances of the Ministry both before and after the elections, and are of opinion that they are as nearly as is humanly possible the same utterances. That is why it is of no use to make an attack upon us on this occasion, and to do so would be to invite ignominious failure. You may try to cover up these things by a thousand dexterous arguments and jokes, but the fact remains that if there were a chance of unseating the Government the opportunity would be taken. There is no chance, because a majority of honorable members are willing to accept the policy which has been laid down in His Excellency’s speech. It is a nice thing to make jokes about our speaking of a firm policy of restriction in regard to a certain class of immigration, and because we have used one or two other phrases, such as the allusion to “ citizen soldiery.” I admit that there is not much virtue in those phrases, but they express a truth which the policy of the Ministry will be found to carry out. But imagine what would have happened if a reference to our glorious citizen soldiery had been left out, and if nothing had been said about the firm restriction of Asiatic immigration 1 Does not every one know that the right honorable member, who made such a point about the occurrence of these phrases in Iris speech, would have been the first to say, if they had not occurred, that we were false to the country for not having used such expressions. We know that it is all in the game, it is one of those little things which we cannot be so offensive as to call “ dodges,” but which are usually resorted to by politicians to obtain a majority. I emphasize the matter to show the House that the texture of the right honorable member’s speech was all of one kind - “ No case ; abuse the plaintiff. There is no reason which we can take hold of for putting these gentlemen out of office. They must stay there until, with microscopic ingenuity, we can. detect them in some mistake, or until we can catch another Fegan.” I suppose it is not our fault that they must let us stop where we are. We worked as they did to put our policy before the country ; and “ the country “ now is Australia and Tasmania, not New South Wales or Victoria. We put our policy before the .country for the acceptance of the new nation ; to obtain the support of a majority of the representatives of that new nation was the object in which our right honorable friend tried to defeat us, and he has failed in that attempt. It is useless to talk now about the number of honorable members elected by the State of New South Wales who sit on this side of the House, or about the number of honorable members elected by Victoria who sit on our side of the House. This Parliament was elected for national purposes, not so that one State might rule the roost over all the others. That the accusation which I frequently made during the general elections against my right honorable friend is a correct one is abundantly proved, in that the speech reeks with references of the sort to which I refer, in which he is not able to disentangle any federal interests from the individual interests of a State. That is one point in his speech to which serious reference may be made. The right honorable gentleman speaks of the number of revenue tarifiists and the number of protectionists elected for New South Wales. After using the term “ freetraders,” and being somewhat corrected in regard to it, he adopted the term “ revenue tariffists,” and used it to the end of his speech. What then is the answer to the charge that we have hauled down the protectionist flag 1 It is that the same exigency that makes it impossible to resort to any absolute fiscal principle in raising the revenue which must be raised, to meet the needs of the Commonwealth, and makes it impossible for any protectionist to hold to his policy, makes it impossible for a freetrader to hold to his policy, in the same way and causes him to become a revenue tariffist. If the protectionist flag has been hauled down, so too has the free-trade flag. If the free-trade flag has not been hauled down, neither has the protectionist flag. In that matter both parties row in the same boat. The time has come for the patriotism of Australia to endeavour to arrive at some adjustment of policy,” which, without taking up everything that the doctrinaire has made a subject of worship, will strike out some business line for Australia, under which State interests which otherwise would conflict may be reasonably adjusted. I admit that perfect justice is impossible. It is utterly out of the question to embody in a Tariff every provision that justice would dictate in the interests of every State. That is why it is admitted in the speech that the Tariff of no one State can be adopted, because to adopt a Tariff wholly or largely framed under conditions from which intercolonial free-trade was absent, or a Tariff framed upon the needs of certain state, as the inhabitants of that State had been impressed by those needs, would have been the very childishness of which the right honorable member accuses us. We cannot take the Queensland Tariff, the Victorian Tariff, or the New South Wales Tariff, because to take any one of them as against the others would mean the perpetration of an injustice which ought not to stain the inception of Federal Government. Those are the reasons which have actuated the Ministry in this matter, and I would suggest to honorable members that we could scarcely have fitter reasons. If the right honorable member were to endeavour to force the New South Wales Tariff upon Australia he would have two difficulties to face. In the first place, he would be recklessly destroying industries which have grown up under a protective Tariff. It is all very well to talk about charity, but the industries which have been built up under the diverse Tariffs of the States - as, for instance, the sugar industry of New South Wales - were new industries when the Tariffs first brought them out; and, if some of them are not altogether new industries now, it is because they have gone on and thrived under these Tariffs, although in the case of one of them considerable injury was done by the policy of the right honorable member.
– Who-says that ?
– A good many people would tell the honorable member that. But, as he will have an opportunity of correcting me later on, I would ask him to commence his career in this Parliament by abstaining from interruptions which have not been seemly in other Parliaments. The sum and substance of the Tariff question is this : It is true that nearly all the members of the
Ministry are protectionists, and it is true that there are members in the Ministry who call themselves revenue tariffists. It is true, too, that both the protectionists and the revenue tariffists in the Ministry are content, as honorable members round them are content, to take the proposals which may be made for securing the necessary revenue to give a satisfactory return to all the States. That is true. But then there are gentlemen who call themselves revenue tariffists under Tariffs which my right honorable friend and his supporters in New South Wales would call rank protection. There is a widespread impression in Queensland, for instance, in which State the duties range up to 25 per cent., with a drag-net clause, that that is a revenue Tariff. In that State a large majority of the supporters of the existing Tariff consider it a revenue Tariff. Well, there is scarcely a man who supports my right honorable friend in New South Wales who would not, if that Tariff were placed before him, call it rank protection. These terms are, therefore, to a considerable degree relative. Something may be said of the Tariff of South Australia, under which that increase of population which seems to be impossible in a protectionist country has grown up. In the other States also, that growth of population which the right honorable gentleman seems to imply is impossible in a protected State has occurred. The fact is that the Tariffs of all these States are Tariffs which the right honorable gentleman’s supporters, if transplanted to those States, would oppose tooth and nail, as being thorough protection. There are many gentlemen representing the people in those States who have studied this question perhaps according to a system’ which entitles them to classify themselves under the name of revenue tariffists, and they are among the 57, but they are not among the supporters of the right honorable gentleman opposite. One of the paragraphs in the speech says -
The fiscal proposals of any Federal Government must be largely dependent on the financial exigencies of the State.
There is the root of the question of the federal Tariff. If, as the right honorable gentleman admits, you cannot resort to federal direct taxation for the purpose of supplementing revenue, and are, therefore, bound down to revenue from Customs and Excise duties, your fiscal proposals must consist of those duties, and they must compare in amount to the return that has to be made to the various States under this Constitution. I admit that it may be impossible to return to every State as much as it has received from Customs and Excise in the past. I admit that under the bookkeeping clause it may be a necessity to return to some of the- States, or to one State at least, more than she has received in the past. That is not the fault of union. It is one of the consequences of past disunion. The fact that the States had these varying Tariffs during the last 20 or 30 years has resulted in the consuming and producing powers of those various countries differing to a very large extent. It has also resulted in some cases in this - that a large amount of consumption has been what is called home consumption, consumption of home products not resulting in any duty. Under the bookkeeping clause - I am not speaking of the Braddon clause at present, which the two right honorable gentlemen opposite, the honorable member for East Sydney and the author of the clause, can adjust themselves, the one as opponent, the other as proposer of it - there is to be paid back month by month, to the State Treasurers, the amount collected in the State, less the amount of Commonwealth expenditure, whether by way of maintenance or of new expenditure. Unless the States get back something approximating to the amount which they have had in the past, there will be financial embarrassment to those States: It is not necessary to particularize. Honorable members understand perfectly well that unless the Tariff is sufficiently productive to enable those returns to be made, financial embarrassment must ensue ; and, as the right honorable gentleman correctly put it, that embarrassment cannot be staved off by Commonwealth direct taxation, because that means the drying-up of those sources of direct taxation that should be conserved to the States. That being the position, I will put the case of New South Wales as an instance. Does any one suppose that her Tariff would yield the revenue required for all the States ; that a Tariff yielding a little over £1 per head - it is £1 5s. per head I think, speaking subject to correction - would be sufficient for all the States ? Such a Tariff would yield about £6,000,000. Recollect that the States are now raising about £8,000,000 by Customs. When intercolonial free-trade happens, as it will on the imposition of a uniform Tariff, something- like £1,000,000 must-be lost. That must be’ made up. A Tariff of over £8,000,000 must therefore be devised in order to make proper and decent returns to all the States. Something like £8,500,000 will have to be raised. I am only giving these figures tentatively, and am not attempting to anticipate the Treasurer’s Budget speech. If honorable members take these facts they will see that if the New South Wales Tariff produced revenue in proportion to that which it has produced in New South Wales - and into that question I need not go - there will be raised a revenue of about £6,000,000 through customs and excise - perhaps a trifle over that amount - while the necessities of the occasion demand something like £8,500,000. That makes the New South Wales Tariff impossible, of course. The Tariffs of the other States must also be impossible, because they have been drawn up according to the exigencies and needs of those States, and in any case would not apply to the position of the’ Australian States as a whole. It is the position of Australia as a whole that I ask honorable members to look to. You cannot adjust this question in any sense by saying “ You must accept this Tariff, because we have had it for 20 years in Queensland,” or “You must take this Tariff, because we have had it for 30 years in Victoria,” or “ Adopt that Tariff, because we have had it so many years in South Australia.” You cannot have one of these Tariffs. It is as futile to argue for the extreme of free-trade as it is to contend for the extreme of protection. You can only get out of the difficulty by raising a certain amount of revenue, because the need of revenue for the several States stands higher than any fiscal theory. To get that revenue, you must drop fiscal theories to some extent; but you cannot help that. Some industries may receive more- protection than before, or it may be that some industries receiving no protection, and which may be languishing in consequence, may receive some. But the object will be to raise such a revenue as will give back to every State what is reasonable, and at the same time - and this is the protective part of the position of the Government - not to see any industry destroyed that is in any. way substantia], if by leaving it to a certain extentprotective, that destruction can be avoided. That is the position of the Government. It is absolutely the-position laid down in the-
Governor-General’s speech, and it is the position that I have maintained during my campaign in New South Wales. It is idle for any honorable member to say that that speech, and what I am saying to-night, is contrary to the manifesto of this Government. Now, without labouring the question of the Tariff to any greater length, because it would be perfectly idle for any honorable member at this stage to beat the old “ tomtom “ of free-trade and protection to any good purpose, when neither party can have the full meed of its way-
– The honorable gentleman told the people differently in New South Wales.
– I have not told the people differently in New South Wales from what I have done here to-night. It may happen that I was misrepresented in New South Wales. I cannot help that.
Mr.Sydney Smith. - The honorable gentleman said it was quite competent for the free-trader to have a free-trade Tariff, and for the protectionist to have a protectionist Tariff.
– If that is what I was reported as saying, it is an incorrect report. I cannot be chasing mistakes that are made in reports of my speeches. Even if I succeeded in catching one-tenth of them, I should still suffer from the remaining ninetenths.
– I can find the statement.
– Under the practice of the British House of Commons which, of course, we follow, and under any possible standing orders, interjections are disorderly. I do not object to any interjections that do not break the flow of the thought of the speaker ; but interjections such as those of the honorable member for Macquarie go beyond that, and are undesirable.
– I apologize ; but I interjected because I did not wish any such statement to go forth to the public unchallenged.
– Perhaps it will satisfy the honorable member if I say that if I endeavoured to correct mistakes made in speeches about myself, I must have worked 36 hours a day, and then could never have overtaken them. But there is no difference in my treatment of this question. No party in power could bring in an entirely free-trade or an entirely protectionist Tariff. If my honourable friend were to find 50 newspapers attributing as many different statements to me - and if they were newspapers of a certain class I could understand it - I should still say that I said nothing contrary to what I say now. In fact, I made it a point to make the position of the Government clear. I said there would be little difference between the Tariff that my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition would bring in if he had to face the situation, and that which I would bring in ; always recognising this - that there would always be more of a free-trade element in my right honorable friend’s Tariff, and more of a protectionist element in ours. But I always recognised this - that there must be to a certain extent an abandonment of the rigid theories of either party in drawing up a Tariff. I said, and I say again, that I defy any one to draw up a Tariff for the States of this continent without adopting to some extent the course we outlined. I do not wish to detain the House at any greater length to-night. It would not be of any use my continuing longer so far as the outside knowledge of my speech would be concerned. I pass by all verbal criticism of the language of the Governor-General’s speech. It can stand that criticism I trust ; and whether it can or not all honorable members know what it means. But I should like to say a few words on the criticism which the right honorable gentleman has bestowed on several measures. Reverting for a moment to the fiscal question, the right honorable gentleman says that it is a “ freak of lunacy “ to fashion a policy for the whole of Australia. I do not think it is, unless the right honorable gentleman means that the only sane course is to have no policy. If we are to have a Tariff policy for the whole of Australia, we must face the difficulty of making it, and surely we are not the men our fathers were before us if we cannot do it with credit to ourselves and our own intellect. We are not afraid to face it, or afraid of the House facing the difficulty with us, and getting Australia through any difficulty of a fiscal character that may beset her, knowing as well as we do the resources of the country and the temperament of the people. It is a pusillanimous thing to confess you cannot frame a policy for the whole of Australia. Have not policies been framed for all the other Federations of the world? Was not a fiscal policy framed for. Canada which has stood the test, and another policy for America, and another for Germany ? Are these failures ? If they are, then what is to account for the marvellous progress of the three countries under their Tariffs. They were framed by men who were ready to meet the difficulty, and not by men who wanted to shirk it. You may take it for granted that any difficulties we have to face in relation to the Tariff will be faced by this House by a larger and ever-growing majority in the very proportion that honorable members who are leaders in. the Opposition show themselves afraid to face them. As to the measures mentioned in the speech, I have given notice to-night of two Bills dealing with the Asiatic immigration, or rather undesirable immigration generally, and with the introduction of kanaka labour. It will be time enough to explain the latter Bill when I bring it down, but the title will serve to satisfy members as to the intention, the title being, if I recollect the words, “for the regulation, restriction, and prohibition of the introduction of South Sea Island labour into Australia.” That is a short statement of. the object of the Bill, and I do not think it is a statement which can be easily mistaken. The aim of the Bill will be the prohibition of the introduction of this labour; but I do not feel that that can be carried out in a crack, and I do not think my honorable friend would have the support of his party if he were to attempt to apply such a measure immediately. If he brought in a Bill of the land himself, and was so unmindful of the interests and the condition of things in Queensland as well as in other parts of Australia as to prohibit instantly the introduction of coloured labour, he would find himself attempting to carry out a policy in. which he would meet with failure at the outset. But there is a public opinion, and an absolutely just public opinion, in the country that this labour must be prohibited. I am in favour of that prohibition, and I have never wavered in any stage of my political life from the opinion that Australia must be kept pure from any racial defects, whether by contamination or by the growth amongst us of a pure black race I care not. Australia must be kept free from the dangers which surround such a growth ; but, at the same time, I decline to propose that kanaka labour should be absolutely prohibited on the day and instant. That would bring widespread ruin, and not only to black people. Of course, we knew that the pre-eminent interest is the interest of the white man in Australia, and a sudden prohibition would bring widespread destruction to large numbers of white people, as well as to black people, and therefore some little time must be allowed.
An Honorable Member. - How long?
– How long ! The honorable member will find that in the Bill, and will see that it will not be a long period. Some little time must be allowed in which thosewho have been importing coloured, or who have coloured, labour on their plantations may turn round and make arrangements in order that white labour may replace the black, which we intend it should. So far as the prohibition of the introduction of this labour is concerned, the honorable member may be sure it will be carried out; but I am not going to be party to ruining a whole industry at one stroke. If there are honorable members on the other side who would vote against me on this question, I think their action would be foreign to the whole of their careers in the past. In regard to old-age pensions, my honorable friend was very angry with us because we have made some reference to our opinion on the subject. It was demanded of us to make some reference, and my honorable friend would have been more furious at the absence of a reference than at the reference being there. Of course, it is impossible to please him. If we put a reference in the speech it has no business to be there, he says, and if we leave it out, it ought to have been in. But we are all used to that sort of thing. We were bound to say something as to our opinions. Knowing as we did that the financial condition of the Commonwealth would not allow of the immediate adoption of a Bill, we were bound to say so, and nobody can blame us if we, at the same time, expressed our opinion in favour of it.
An Honorable Member. - That is not what the honorable gentleman said at Maitland.
– I say the question should be dealt with as soon as practicable. At Maitland I said it would be dealt with as soon as the financial condition of the Commonwealth would admit, and I say so here. If honorable member’s wish to have a Tariff several millions higher than we propose to give them, they may vote for it, and then they may he able to at once consider an Oldage Pensions Bill.
– Then why not say it plainly.
– I am saying all I have to say as plainly as I can, and shall continue to do so if honorable members will allow me. “We cannot bring in an Old-age Pensions Bill under the bookkeeping clauses of the Constitution. I admit at once that, unless we are to have an enormous tariff we cannot bring in an old-age pension scheme for the whole of Australia while those bookkeeping clauses last. It seems to me that, notwithstanding the references honorable members made during the general election to the much-abused clause of my friend the member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, that clause is not so much to blame in many of these matters as are the bookkeeping clauses, which necessitate a monthly return to the Treasurers of the States. But the bookkeeping clauses themselves, I admit, are founded on justice, and were, perhaps, the only equitable arrangement that could at the time be adopted in order to obtain the agreement of the six States. Those clauses have to last for five years, but may then be dealt with by the Commonwealth by abolition or modification, or in any way the Commonwealth pleases, and at that time it would be perfectly possible, I take it, to carry out a scheme of old-age pensions ; but while the Treasurer of the Commonwealth is hampered with the restriction placed on him by the bookkeeping clauses, even if he could institute an old-age pensions scheme, that scheme could not in any sense be termed a liberal one so far as the amount paid would be concerned. As to the statement by the right honorable gentleman that the words in the Governor’s speech tend to prevent State action in the matter, I think honorable members may fairly say with me that there is no such meaning in any of the words we have used. Not in this phrase, guarded so carefully as it had to be in order to be honest and truthful, is there anything to prohibit State action in the meantime. Two States have adopted schemes, and others are on the eve of doing so, and there is nothing in the speech to deter State action if the State Treasurers can find the necessary funds. It may be necessary for us afterwards to bring in a Bill to unify and consolidate Acts of the kind, and carry them further than before, but I am constrained to admit that nobody could truthfully come before the House and say there is any probability of an immediate introduction of anOld-age Pensions Bill under the Tariff the House is likely to sanction.
– Even within ten years.
– I say within five years.
– With the Braddon clause ?
– I think even then after the five years.
– Now we know the period the speech covers.
– Of course, I am willing to admit that the Government at the end of five years will probably be in the position to introduce a Bill, should it fall to their lot to be then in office.
– The Government may be in heaven by that time.
– I admit, so long as I am not unduly hurried, that there may be better places than aFederal Parliament.
– It would be in purgatory, like their fiscal policy.
– Any policy my honorable friend is likely to introduce would go to a place where it would be speedily burnt altogether.
– That is not an orthordox idea of the other regions.
– As to the other matters which have been referred to, I think the most
interesting had better be tackled now, and that is the question which excited the
honorable gentleman so much - the question of a gentleman named Fegan. My honorable
friend is very angry about Mr. Fegan. He was
very angry that there seemed a possibility of
– Apply that argument to a case of murder.
– I am not aware that my honorable friend had any argument about murder in his speech, not even in regard to the “ Queen’s English.”
– I cannot say that of the speech.
– My friend says the speech is not in the “Queen’s English”; it is in the “ King’s English,” and that is the difference. In regard to the case of Mr. Fegan, it is not a fact that he was appointed, and the statement that he was appointed is a misstatement. It is a fact that my friend, the Secretary for Home Affairs, mentioned the matter, and discussed Mr. Fegan’s qualifications with me. I certainly did not then recollect, and perhaps I was wrong in not recollecting, that Mr. Fegan had taken an active part in local politics, and particularly an irritating part to the right honorable gentleman who criticises us.
Mr.Reid. - But a pleasant one for the Minister for Home Affairs.
– I admit the thing never entered my head at all, but when the Secretary for Home Affairs explained, as he did, that from his knowledge of the ability and administrative capacity of Mr. Fegan - and from all I know of him I am disposed to share that opinion - he thought he would be the most capable Under-Secretary he could have, I frankly admit I said that if he brought the matter before the Cabinet I would support the appointment. There was never any thought of appointing Mr. Fegan without reference to the Cabinet. The office was one of such a character that no Minister could make it without such a reference.
An Honorable Member. - He was fooled.
– Nobody has been “fooled,” except some who have “fooled” themselves by jumping before they came to the fence. I hope I am to be allowed tocontinue the explanation, which it is only fair I should make. The fact is that Mr. Fegan’s case never in any way at all came before the Cabinet until the intimation was made by Mr. Fegan himself that, in view of the criticism lavished upon his appointment, he desired not to press his claim, and that all he asked was that he might himself make the first statement of the matter to the press. On this, the matter was explained to members of the Ministry, and the permission was given.
– In the press it was reported that
– I do not know what statements were made in the press before. As I have said, I am not able to follow all that is in the press, and he would be a clever man who could do so. Mr. Fegan asked the right to make to the press the first statement of his intention not to press any claim he had, and it was freely granted. I have said over and over again that if the appointment had come before the Cabinet, I should have considered myself a mean person if I had not carried’ out the word I gave. If the appointment had been brought before the. Cabinet, and authority asked for it, I should have endeavoured to make my word good ; and if I had failed, I should have known what course to pursue as a man of honour. That is the whole history of the Fegan appointment, or so-called appointment, because the appointment was never made. If honorable members require any further details as to the facts, they can have such details in abundance from the Minister for Home Affairs, whose statement, I am sure, will bear out everything I have said to the House. That then is the whole of the Fegan matter. How there should have been such a noise over it I cannot make out. There have been cases in the past of men who have taken high places in politics being appointed to positions in the civil service. There have been cases in which they have failed in the positions to which they have been appointed, but there have been as many cases in which they succeeded. In reference to this gentleman, who I think has been very hardly used, not by the Ministry, but by others, I can say that one of the best judges in Australia on the subject is of opinion that he reads more books and better books than most men.
– What a loss we have sustained.
– The right honorable member has sustained a loss.
– Why did not the honorable gentleman stick to him?
– The right honorable gentleman has sustained a loss, because he would have found when he came into office, if Mr. Fegan by that time was not past work, that he would have had a faithful public servant. I would have stuck to Mr. Fegan. I never caused his withdrawal, nor did I make any statement which warranted any one in applying to him to withdraw; and I have been ready from the first to maintain my trust, and to keep my word. There seems to have been a too widely-spread notion that every appointment to the public service is to be reserved for those who have been in the public service of. a State. I do not think that is a good doctrine. Public servants in a State may well expect to be promoted in the service of that State, so long as there are not cases in which there are strong and just reasons for appointing other persons, and every fair advantage ought to be given to that ability and high culture of which my right honorable friend has spoken. But when we come to the establishment of a new public service, quite outside and apart from the services of the States, I know of no principle or precedent which entitles the civil servants of any one State, or of all the States, to say, “ All the appointments in this service belong to us.” It is a right thing that the qualifications of public servants should be considered; but I will not submit that it is right that there must be one dead rule of appointment from the State to Commonwealth duty, because that would not be calculated to give us the best public servants for the Commonwealth. I happen to know” that there are many civil servants who would undertake duties for the Commonwealth with great reluctance. I am not at all sure that there has been too much desire to further the interests of the Commonwealth, rather than those of the States.. I know there have been men who were prominent federalists in the various States, who are highly qualified for Commonwealth appointments, and who are worthy of consideration, so long as justice is done by appointing the best men. I do not want stones thrown at the Government about endeavouring to fill up the Commonwealth service by appointees from outside the State services. I am quite ready to recognise the qualifications of those who have done good service in the States, but I do not admit that those qualifications amount to claims, when the Government see that they can do better by taking some one else.
– Have the Government made any appointments ?
– No permanent appointments have been made, because we considered it our constitutional duty to meet Parliament, and stand our trial before we committed the country to appointments by executive minute; and we have, therefore, abstained from making appointments, except in one or two cases, where it has been a necessity.
– What are they ?
– Honorable members will recognise that it was a matter of very great difficulty, seeing that each colony has its own Hansard staff, to obtain a thoroughly efficient staff of shorthand reporters for Parliament. The positions held by those gentlemen are sometimes very good ones, and to obtain the men of the requisite experience, quickness, and capacity is often a difficult matter. We could not make a proper selection, so as to get what we deemed to be the best Hansard staff procurable unless we were prepared to make these appointments permanent by executive minute, and that is the only case in which such a course has been taken.
– And the clerks at the table.
– And the clerks at the table. There have been no appointments made outside of
the Parliamentary offices. I do not propose to prolong my remarks. I think I have
sufficiently shown the character of
– Having regard to what has fallen from the right honorable gentleman, perhaps he will allow me to suggest that the debate should be now adjourned.
– This being the first night of the debate I have no objection, but I will not promise to make a similar concession in future, at so early an hour.
Debate (on motion of Mr. J. Cook) adjourned.
– I move-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until half-past 2 o’clock to-morrow.
– I should like the right honorable gentleman to tell me when we shall be asked to deal with thestanding orders. It is very important that we should have them before us.
– Seeing that these standing orders are to be merely provisional, I have left out some that might have caused debate, so that they may be dealt with the more speedily. I shall put a notice on the paper to-morrow, butI can tell the honorable member that they will not be dealt with until after the Address in Reply has been disposed of.
– But the Government will deal with them then?
– We will then.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 May 1901, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1901/19010521_reps_1_1/>.