1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The House met at noon pursuant to the proclamation of His -Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
Mr. Speaker took the chair.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
Mr. Speaker read prayers.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral requested the immediate attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly.
Bill read the first time.
– I have to report that I have attended in the Senate Chamber, where His Excellency the Governor-General. - was pleased to deliver his opening speech, of which, for greater accuracy, I have . obtained a copy. (Speech, p. 5.)
Resolved (on motion by Sir Edmund Barton) -
That a committee, consisting of Mr. Clarke, Mr. L. E. Groom, Mr. Hume Cook, and Sir Laugdon Bonython, be appointed to prepare an address in reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament.
The committee retired, and haying reentered the chamber, presented the proposed address.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON presented a petition from the committee of the Hobart Public-house Trust Association praying that . the elimination of private profit in the liquor traffic may be the principle exclusively adopted in the federal capital and territory.
Mr. A. C. GROOM presented a petition from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures praying for the repeal of sub-section (g) of section 3, and of section 11, of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.
Petitions received and read.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a notice in reference to the next elections for the House of Representatives, which stood on I the business-paper in my name last session, and to ask him if the Government have determined that those elections shall be held on the same day or the elections to the Senate.
– The answer to that question must depend, to some extent, upon, amongst other things, certain action being taken or not taken in the States ; but I should like my honorable friend to give notice of the question, so that I may prepare a more satisfactory answer.
– Last year we were told that the price of Hansard to subscribers would be 4s. a session, but I understand, from what I have read in thepress,that in future 1 0s. 6d. is to be charged. I want to know why, and on whose authority, this alteration has been made? A number of would-be subscribers have sent tome - and no doubt other honorable members are in the same position - the sum of 4s., in order that I may procure copies ofHansard fur them, but I do not know whether to incur the extra expense on their behalf. ‘ In view of the unreliability of tho newspaper reports from time to time, I think that we should encourage the distribution of Hansard, and even provide for a daily Ilansard.
– I understand that what is to be done is to charge for Hansard the price which waa charged last session, together with the postage required by the provisions of the Post and Telegraph Rates Act. The matter is one which comes within the jurisdiction of the President and Mr. Speaker, who have acted within the powers conferred upon them. If the honorable member desires further information upon the subject, no doubt Mr. Speaker will be willing to afford it. ,
Mr.WATSON.- Is it within the powers of the President and Mr. Speaker to fix the price of Hansard f
– I think so.
– I think that the opinion, of the House should be taken upon such a matter.
– It is proposed that the rate of subscription charged last session - 4s. per annum - shall be charged this session, together with tho necessary postage fixed by Parliament. There is to be noalteration in the price of Hansard.
– Will the Prime Minister cause to be printed and circulated as soon as possible a copy of the agreement between the Admiralty and the Government of the Commonwealth 1
– That agreement is attached to a Bill which is in draft, and which will shortly be laid upon the table. It will also be found among the papers relating to the proceedings of tho Imperial Conference, which I shall shortly lay upon the table.
– Can the Minister of Defence lay upon the table, before the discussion of the Address in Reply, any agreement which has been entered into, or which it is proposed to enter into, with the Colonial Ammunition Company of Victoriafor the supply of ammunition to’ the Commonwealth 1
– I do not think that the matter is sufficiently far advanced for me to do that, but I shall look into the question. I donot think that an agreement has yet been arrived at. It was always intended that before any agreement was entered into its’ terms should be submitted to the House.
– Have any steps been taken by the Minister or Government to carry into effect an intention indicated on their behalf some considerable time ago to establish a Commonwealth Ammunition Factory!
– No steps in that direction have yet been taken.
– When does the Minister for Home Affairs expect to receive the report of the commission appointed to inquire into the proposed federal capital sites T
– I am informed that the report will probably be ready about the middle of next month.
– When will the Prime Minister lay acopyof the agreement between the Eastern Extension Cable Company and the Government upon the table 1
– Almost immediately. It is my intention to invite the sanction of the two Houses to that agreement.
– Copies of all these agreements should be laid upon the table as quickly as possible, lt is the business of the Government to see that honorable members are provided with the fullest information in regard to these matters.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Conference between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Prime Ministers of the selfgoverning colonies, June - August, 1902.
British New Guinea, annual report, 1st July, 1901- 30th June, 1902.
Regulations under Customs Act. dated 30th October, 27th November, and 9th, 13th, and 15th December, 1902.
New sugar regulations under Excise Act and Excise Tariff Act, dated 8th January, 1903.
Return of (a.) persons refused admission to the Commonwealth under Immigration Restriction Act 1901 during the year 1 902 ; [b) persons who passed the prescribed test during the year 1902; (t) persons admitted without being asked to pass the education test during the year J 902.
Papers relating to the arrival within the Commonwealth of six hatters under contract to Mr. Charles Anderson.
Regulations under Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902.
Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the table
Annual reports of the Commissioner for Audit for the years ending 30th June, 1901, and 30th June, 1902.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to repeal that section of the Elections Act which prohibits members of State Parliaments from contesting seats without resigning?
– The matter will be considered.
Mr. Speaker left the chair at, 12.35 p.m.; sitting resumed at 3.30 p.m.
– May I ask the Prime Minister if he would be good enough to supplement the papers with reference to the admission of six hatters into the Commonwealth, which he has just laid upon the Table, by the further papers relating to the admission of three Mamies into New South Wales?
– I shall procure the papers referred to as soon as possible, if they are of any interest to my right honorable friend.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending that an appropriation, be made from the consolidated revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
– I desire to know if the Minister for Home Affairs can explain the exact position in which Queensland, representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament stand with regard bo the passeswhich they now hold over Queensland railway lines ; also, what action is being taken by the Government 1
– Some time ago the railway commissioners of the States affected met and agreed to a certain division of the sum voted to meet the expense of conveying members of the Commonwealth Parliament over the railways. The Governments of all the States, excepting Queensland, indorsed the agreement then arrived at. TheQueensland Government refused to ratify the action of their officer, and the amount to which they would be entitled under the arrangement made has been placed to a suspense account. In the meantime, I have issued orders to honorable, members which will enable them to travel upon the Queensland railways. The Government of that State say that they are willing as an act of grace to convey members of the Commonwealth Parliament over their railways free of cost, but I object to having honorable members placed in that position. I think that they should travel free upon the railways as a matter of right, and not as the result of a concession on the part of the State
Government. I have given orders to honorable members which they may use if they desire.
– But what is our position in regard to the passes ?
– They are of no value if the Queensland Government refuse to accept them.
– What do the Queensland Government ask for ?
– An amount somewhat larger than that agreed upon at the conference of railway commissioners.
– Why not give it to them ?
– The Government left the whole matter in the hands of the railway commissioners, but the Queensland Government refused to acknowledge the agreement arrived at, although they were represented by one of their officers. The course I have adopted in giving honorable members orders is intended to protect them against being placed in what I regard as a false position.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the promise made by him in Sydney with regard to the remission of80 per cent, of the fine imposed upon a young sailor named Tingey has been carried out?
– I was represented in the press as having stated at the meeting which I addressed in the Sydney Tosvn Hall that I had decided that the goods taken from the man referred to should be returned, and that 80 per cent, of the fine should be remitted. That, however, was a slight inaccuracy on the part of the press. What I did say was that I intended to take measures to insure that result, and what has happened since has been this : I had not the Customs papers before me, and had not put any direction upon them, and, in the absence of such direction, the fine has not been remitted. I shall, however, make representations upon the subject to my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs. I think that the Comptroller of Customs, when he intimated that the fine could not he remitted, rather overlooked the powers possessed by the Minister for Trade and Customs. I am informed that whilst my colleague, the Attorney-General, was for a time administering the Customs department, he gave directions in accordance with the promise I made, and I have no doubt that the fine will be remitted.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs why he allowed five sugar companies in Queensland to escape the payment of excise duty amounting to £27,000 ; also, what has become of the money?
– I can assure the honorable and learned member that I have not to my knowledge allowed any person or company to escape the payment of duty. If any persons are attempting to escape I shall be only too glad to be supplied with particulars which will enable me to enforce payment.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that six boilermakers recently entered, Western Australia under a special contract with the Western Australian Government, and whether he will kindly explain to the House the circumstances under which they were admitted ?
– The papers dealing with the subject mentioned by the honorable and learned member fully explain the matter, and 1 shall lay them on the table.
The Address in Reply was read by the Clerk as follows : -
May itplease your Excellency -
We, the House of Representatives of the Par-, liament 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 Speech” which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).It is with some considerable emotion that I rise to move -
That the Address in Reply to His Excellency^ Speech, as read by the Clerk, be now adopted.
It affordsme much pleasure to submit this motion and to emphasize the continuance of a great deal of that federal legislation which I believe has done much to cement the union of these States into one splendid Commonwealth. At the beginning of the federation much was said of a hostility towards the union. Hints were made, and suggestions were repeated, that the people as a whole were not in sympathy with the federal compact which had been adopted. After having moved about considerably amongst the citizens of my own and other States, my own impression is that the federal feeling throughout the Commonwealth is stronger now than at any period of our national life. The legislation which has been enacted by this Parliament - and I do not say that the Ministry can claim the whole of the credit attaching to it - has done much to accentuate that ‘ feeling. Even persons who formerly were opposed to federation have, by reason of the work accomplished, now become ardent federalists. Further, I believe’ that the spirit of the Constitution itself is becoming deeply implanted in the very lives of our citizens, in the laws of the community, and in .the trade and commerce of the Commonwealth as a whole. I think it is a happy augury that we can start the legislation of this second session of the Commonwealth Parliament with the consciousness that we have the good will of the people at our backs. Fortunately, too, the general outlook is considerably better now than it was some little time ago, inasmuch as the serious drought which worked such terrible devastation has passed away. My experience is that it is very difficult to dissociate the results which are said to have flowed from federation, from those which arose from the drought alone. Most of the evils under which Australia laboured are alleged to have been caused by federation, whereas a majority of them, I believe, are entirely due to the drought itself. However, good rains have now fallen throughout the Commonwealth, and in Queensland and the other States there is greater promise of prosperity than there has been for many years. I believe that this Parliament by its legislation will promote the peace, welfare and good government of the people as a whole. In the GovernorGeneral’s speech the Ministry have foreshadowed certain measures of vast importance to us. Foremost amongst them I place the Bill dealing with the establishment of the High Court of Australia. Until that tribunal is established we have not fulfilled the whole of the federal plan. The idea underlying the scheme of federation as devised by the Federal Convention was that there should be three distinct branches of government - that legislative, executive, . and judicial functions should each . be discharged in their proper sphere. But all that we have done is to establish our Legislature and Executive. Until the High Court is established we have not fulfilled the design of those who drafted the Constitution. It is an absolute necessity that that tribunal should be set up. It is not for this Parliament to say whether or not it shall be established. The Constitution which provides for its creation was submitted to the people, and it was part of the scheme which they adopted. Therefore, we have an absolute mandate from the people of the Commonwealth to establish the High Court. The experience of the last few months has emphasized the need which exists for its creation. During that time a feeling of uncertainty as to outlaws has been operating throughout the various States. Various decisions have been given by various State Supreme Courts, and consequently those responsible for administering the law do not know whether they are bound by those decisions. The question of whether the Commonwealth has power to tax State goods has been decided, so far as New South Wales is concerned, by the Supreme Court of that State, whilst as to whether or not the federal agencies can be taxed has been decided by the Supreme Court of Victoria. These are questions which strike at the very foundation of our Government, and upon such important and vital matters, involving the interpretation of the Constitution, serious doubts and perplexity exist in the minds of those administering the law. It is our duty to put an end to that condition of uncertainty at the earliest possible moment. I would further point out that as the result of the recent conference of the Premiers of the various States claims have been set up by them in respect of State rights. We are told that this Parliament is invading State rights, and I hold that it is highly unsatisfactory that under existing conditions the Legislature has to decide for itself upon matters involving the interpretation of the Constitution. The States AttorneysGeneral are putting forward other claims. They have raised the question of whether or not the section in the Commonwealth
Electoral Act which deals with the time and place for holding elections for the Senate is valid. We think that we have legislated properly upon that subject, although, personally, I .do not express any opinion upon the matter. There may be considerable room for doubt upon it. But what is the position? We have antagonism existing between the States and the Commonwealth, where, instead of recrimination, we ought to have co operation. Therefore, it is absolutely incumbent upon us to establish the High Court in order that these matters may be determined. The very idea underlying its creation is that we should have a body which is absolutely impartial, ‘ which cannot be controlled either by this or any other Legislature so long as it interprets the spirit of the Constitution, and the Constitution itself, in accordance with the oaths of its members, “ without fear, favour, or affection.” The idea underlying its establishment was that it should be a body set apart - that it should keep each Parliament within its own distinct sphere, and that it should decide as to the jurisdiction of each of the respective sovereign bodies. The position of the States which Chief Justice Chase laid down, in his judgment in the case of Texas v. White, was that under the Constitution of the United States there was an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States. That probably is the correct interpretation of our Constitution at the present time. But we are in the position that we do not know how the Constitution will be interpreted. Is the interpretation -to be left in the hands of our own Parliament, a body which, I submit with all deference, is not constituted for the purpose of deciding delicate constitutional questions 1 And it should not be left in the hands of the States Parliaments, which are also unfit for the performance of such a duty; nor should it be left to the Executive Ministers of either Commonwealth or States. The idea of the Constitution was that we should have a judicial body to decide such questions, thus allaying friction, and putting an end to all antagonism by a fair and impartial construction of the Constitution. Further, I believe that, constituted as we i are at the present time, it is highly unsatisfactory not to have an Australian Court of Appeal. It was urged that there should be an Australian Court of Appeal composed of men trained under Australian law, versed in Australian history, and appointed by an
Australian Parliament. Our position now is that if we want a question of our own Constitution interpreted, so that it may be binding on the whole of the Commonwealth, we have practically to first get a decision by a State Court, and then take that decision across the seas in order to have it interpreted by the Privy Council. The idea above all others was that when we were constituted an Australian Federation, with an Australian Parliament, we should have an Australian Court of Appeal. If we are to have a High Court constituted, that court must be composed of the very best men the Commonwealth can produce.
– That is a matter which the honorable and learned member may discuss presently. It often happens, however, that eminent politicians have made excellent’ Judges, and in the old country the Attorney-General is frequently appointed to the Bench. I believe that the legal profession has the advantage of making its members conscientious by reason of the etiquette which binds them, and that they can throw off the political garb and assume the role of J udge with benefit to the community.
– If they be honest politicians.
– The average lawyer is, I am glad to say, an honest man.
– What of the Queensland Chief Justice? How did he get to the position ?
– The Queensland people have reason to be proud of their Chief Justice. If we are to have a High Court, it must be composed of men who have the respect of the public and tlie confidence of the profession. If there is to be a Court of Appeal to which . Australians may go from the State Courts, it must be a Court of which members of the Australian legal profession will advise their clients to take advantage ; und if we appoint nien of the proper stamp, the court will be a success from the very jump. We are asked - What is the use of creating this costly Court of Appeal in view of a probability that weshall have only a few cases for decision ? It is possible that there may be only a few cases, but I do not believe that will be found to be so. The fact that there were only a few cases for decision did not deter the United States from starting their Court of Appeal. When that court was constituted there was not a single case on the docket, and from 1790 to 1800 there were heard, only six cases involving important questions of constitutional interpretation. When Chief Justice Marshall was appointed in 1S00, he found only ten cases listed for trial. The position I put is, that if there is only one case of constitutional importance to be decided, and that one case strikes at the very foundation of the principles of the Constitution, it is our duty to appoint a court of the highest authorities in order to have a correct interpretation.
– A number of the decisions given by Justice Marshall in the first years of the United States Court have been cited.
– -That is so ; and Justice Marshall had a peculiar advantage in that he retained his seat in the court for, I think, 34 years. In my opinion the High Court should be composed, not of fluctuating Judges, but of permanent Judges, because only in that way can be obtained that continuity of interpretation which is essential to the safe and proper administration of the law. One of the great advantages of the position on the Privy Council of Lord Watson was that, by sitting there year after year, he got such a thorough grasp of the underlying principles of the Constitution of Canada that he was able to give interpretations which harmonized with the sentiments of the Canadian people. For these and many other reasons which could be adduced, it affords me considerable gratification to see that a Bill for the creation of a High Court of Appeal has been put practically in the front rank of the measures submitted by the Government. Another part of the federal scheme was that there should be constituted an Inter State Commission ; that was part of the scheme adopted by the citizens when the referendum was taken. But I hope that when the Inter-State Commission is constituted its duties will not be confined merely to the regulation of railway matters, but that powers will be given to regulate the rates for shipping. Queensland has felt the inequalities in the matter of shipping rates. A rate has in times. past been charged from Sydney to ports north of Brisbane different from the rate charged from Brisbane to the same ports. As a matter of fact, in the evidence given the other day before the commission sitting at Brisbane, an illustration was afforded in the fact that coal is carried from Newcastle past
Ipswich and other collieries at a much lower rate than that at which coal is carried from Brisbane, owing to certain peculiar conditions.
– Natural conditions, I suppose ?
– Possibly natural conditions ; but my point is that we ought not to have those natural conditions affected by artificial combination. The idea is that Inter-State trade should be all on fair terms. Now that we are a united community no one. portion of the Commonwealth should in matters of trade be preferred to any other portion. I hope that when the InterState Commission is constituted, full powers will be given, in order to regulate such abuses as those to which I have referred. I have alluded to the High Court, which will settle matters between individuals, between States, and between the Commonwealth and States, and I have mentioned the Inter-State Commission, which is intended to regulate commerce and trade, and to enforce those sections of the Constitution which deal with such matters. I am pleased to notice that the Government have gone further, and said that there is another class of disputes which seriously affects trade and commerce, and that it is proposed to constitute a court of arbitration and conciliation to deal with them. I notice with pleasure that that is part of the Government scheme for this session. After all, what does this question come to ? To me a strike, like a war, is a break-down of our civilization. When we consider the discoveries which have been made in science, and when wo see the advances in industries and in production, . it seems to me an admission of weakness on the part of those who administer the affairs of government if they cannot devise some means of settling an ordinary labour trouble or dispute. I hail with pleasure the announcement that the Government are going to do their best to remedy grievances in this direction. What is the principle underlying the whole question ? What right has the State to interfere? The State has the right to interfere for the reason that a strike is a matter of public concern. A strike does not affect only the particular parties interested, but it disorganizes trade, causes pain and suffering, and, what is worst of all, it leaves for years a feeling of class hatred in the community. If the Government provide a scheme which will prevent this class feeling, they will have done good service to the Commonwealth. The first principle is that it is in the interests of the public that the State should step in .and say - “ This dislocation of trade and commerce and business shall absolutely cease.” If strikes and lockouts are to be made illegal, as they should be, the workmen and employers must be given some other method of solving disputes. We know that the right of combination has grown up in years past. The right of combination and the formation of unions has steadily advanced year after year, and also the building up of funds by workmen. England may have gone further than have some of these States, but the right of combination is recognised throughout, and further recognition is given to the enforcement of combination by that industrial warfare, which is practically the legalized method of settling disputes. But I repeat that if we take away from the men this right of industrial warfare we must of necessity substitute some other means of settling disputes. I acton the principle that the persons who are concerned in a strike or lockout are not always the best judge of their case. In ordinary affairs if two persons cannot come to an agreement as to the meaning of a contract, they go before a court of law, and the Judge decides as to the true purport of their contract or agreement. Let us adopt a similar method in industrial warfare. Let us conciliate, by all means, if we can: but if we cannot obtain conciliation, let our Courts of Arbitration come in and say to the parties - “Stop! This warfare shall not go on! You are causing untold misery in this community.- State your case, take it to the proper tribunal and let the matter be impartially decided.” That court, of necessity, must be a court that can command the confidence of the whole community. I believe that if one of the Judges of the High Court were appointed chairman of that tribunal, and were assisted by arbitrators, we should obtain happy and excellent results. There is one matter to which I regret the Governor-General’s speech makes no reference. I am sorry that it floes not allude to the desirableness of establishing a department of Agriculture. I think honorable members remember with pleasure the very able speeches upon this question which were delivered last session by the honorable and learned member for
Bendigo, and the honorable and learned member for Indi. They put very strongly before the Government reasons why the Commonwealth should set up a department of Agriculture. I do not for one moment contend that the Government is in a position to establish a department of Agriculture, as fully equipped and as fully manned as is the department of Agriculture in the United States of America ; but I do believe that a great deal of good could be done if they were to create at an early stage some central federalizing agency. In the past, splendid work lias been done by the various departments of the several States. We know that excellent agricultural colleges have been established at Dookie in Victoria, at Hawkesbury in New South Wales, at Gatton in Queensland, and in other parts of the Commonwealth. We know also that the State departments have disseminated excellent bulletins, by which means useful instruction has been given; But we ought to go a step further. It is absolutely necessary that we should have some central federalizing agency, by which the experiences of any one State could be brought to bear upon the experiences of another. In Queensland we have at the present time an absolute shortage in the supply of seed wheat, and we have been compelled to draw our supplies from South Australia. ‘ If there had been a central agency to afford us some practical information as to the various kinds of seed wheat which we were drawing from that State, that knowledge would have been worth many thousands of pounds to Queensland. But we have not,’ at the present time, that centralizing agency. I submit, further, that we ought to have a central department of the description T have named, for the reason that a great many of the powers which the States formerly possessed, and which could have been used to encourage “ agriculture have now passed over to the Commonwealth. Take, for instance, the Telegraph department. One of the features of the department of Agriculture in the United States of America, is the Weather Bureau. We have weather bureaux working on common lines in the various States, and my hope is that we shall have, at no distant date, a Federal weather bureau in Australia. If that bureau were established it would.be able to supply to all parts of the Commonwealth information in regard to approaching storms and tempests, many of which have caused so much loss to agriculturists. It -would also be able to supply information with respect to the likelihood of frosts in different localities, so that agriculturists would, be in a position to take precautionary measures. Such precautions have been taken from time to time in Queensland. But the whole matter must be placed upon a sound basis. It is essential that we should have centres throughout the Commonwealth taking simultaneous observations, acting simultaneously, and sending their reports to the one centre. The Telegraph department has passed over to the Commonwealth, and honorable members know that without the telegraph a weather bureau is impossible. Another point to be remembered is that we have methods of encouraging agriculture by means of protective duties, or by granting bonuses, and it is well that -we should have a department to advise us with respect to productions which might be assisted by bonuses. Laws regulating trade and commerce have also passed into the hands of the Commonwealth, as well as laws relating to external affairs - powers probably carrying with them the appointment of agents abroad to supply us with information with regard to produce grown in other lands, and also as to produce imported into the Commonwealth, but which could be grown here. Even the power to make mail contracts has passed over to the Federation, and honorable members must realize to what an extent the pastoralists and the agriculturists can be assisted by us if in making oversea mail contracts we see that ships are selected that can be made available for the conveyance of our produce across the seas. I have mentioned only a few of the powers which have been taken ‘over by the Commonwealth ; I dare say there are many others which will occur to honorable members. If we take all these functions, gathered together, and also add to them such an important matter as the collection of statistical information, we shall see that there have passed over to the Commonwealth large powers that could be exercised for the benefit of the agriculturists, if a department such as I have suggested were created to assist them. I was pleased also to observe in His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s speech a reference to the fact that the Government do not intend to allow the burden of a «hite Australia to fall upon Queensland and New South Wales alone.
I think that when the question of a white Australia was before this House, honorable members were practically unanimous in the opinion that the citzenship of Australia should be preserved for European races. It was felt that Queensland, owing to her peculiar position, had thrown in her midst black races, ylaich honorable members representing the southern States considered were practically a menace to the citizenship of Australia. Honorable members from the south said that such a state of affairs should no longer be .tolerated ; and those who represented the north discussed the question with them, and appreciated their action. We contend, however, that as Queensland has come into the federal union, and is joining with the south in its demand that the country should be rid of black labour, she can turn round with justice and say to the south - “ If you are going to have an equality of benefit, there should also be an equality of burden.” I propose to quote some figures bearing on the subject from a letter which was written by Sir John See, on 3rd February last. As to the accuracy of the figures, I must ask the House not to rely upon me for the authority. Sir John See said that the burden of a white Australia fell on the States as follows : - In South Australia it was practically equal to 6d. per ton of sugar consumed ; in Victoria it amounted to ls. 9d. per ton; in Western Australia, 3s. 9d. per ton ; in Tasmania, Ss. 5d. per ton ; in Queensland, lis. 3d. pelton ; and in New South Wales, 16s. 2d. per ton of sugar consumed.
– Sir John See was referring to something that was going to be done.
– E. GROOM. - I hope that what is going to be done by the Government will rectify that state of affairs.
– The letter quoted by the honorable and learned member referred to something that wass going to be done at that time.
– Although the proposal may not have been on exactly the same lines as this, it involved somewhat the same principle, lt was on somewhat the same lines. That is to say, the bulk of the burden fell upon’ New South Wales and Queensland, although, as a matter of fact, the benefit of a white Australia is one in which all Australia is interested. There are many other measures named in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech to which I should like to refer, but I have simply taken a few matters which I think are of urgent importance. Judging from the general tenor of His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech, and the list of Bills which are proposed, I believe that if we act as we acted during the last session of Parliament we shall do a great deal to cement the Australian union.
– I have very much pleasure indeed in seconding the adoption of the address in reply to His Excellency’s speech. My task is rendered somewhat easy, owing to the very patriotic and learned speech which has been delivered by the proposer of the address. I do not intend to enter into the details of the various measures which are forecasted in His Excellency’s speech ; but, as this marks the second stage in the work of the Federal Parliament, I should like briefly to refer to what has taken place in the past session. In their cooler moments honorable members can now look back upon it, possibly, with varying degrees of feeling. We have passed through what may be regarded as a very stormy session, but the contentious matters which were, bound to occupy the attention of any Federal Parliament during its first session have been disposed of, and I take it that, whatever feelings of irritation or soreness may have been created as a consequence of the legislation passed during that session - feelings which were bound to have been created where our system of party government prevails - have happily passed away, and that we may now join together in keeping up a record which I believe this Parliament is fairly entitled to claim. I. was very much pleased the other day on reading a summary of the work of the first session of the Federal Parliament, published by » newspaper in the old country. After briefly enumerating the measures we had passed, the verdict given by that particular journal was that the’ work of the first session of the Federal Parliament was a world’s record of democratic legislation. Coming as it does from quite an independent source, I think that declaration is very gratify ing. The speech before us contains references to measures which are of a distinctly non-party character, and I can only reiterate what the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has suggested in his speech, that it is our duty to comply in every respect with the terms of the
Constitution. It is our duty to establish a. High Court, and the other measures which are strictly laid down in the Federal Constitution, because federation will, not, indeed, be complete until those matters havebeen fully dealt with, and any postponement, or dallying with them would be a violation of the Constitution itself. I desire to say a. word or two upon the question of the selection of a site for the federal capital. That is a matter which particularly affects theState from which I come, but it is not on that account so much that I wish to refer toit now. I am pleased to see that it occupies a prominent position in the GovernorGeneral’s speech. I am anxious to see thesite of the federal capital selected as early as possible, so that the terms of the Constitution may be complied with, and so that at-‘ least one serious cause of provincial jealousy may be removed. The matter is one which no doubt requires a good deal of consideration and care, as the site chosen is to be thesite of the capital of the Commonwealth forall time. It is, therefore, not advisable to rush hastily into the matter ; but, at thesame time, I cannot agree with those whosuggest that the selection of the site should be indefinitely postponed. With regard to the naval defence subsidy which we shall be asked to consider, whilst I am quite prepared to support the proposal for an increased1 naval subsidy, in our present financial condition, I can only regard that proposal as a. temporary expedient. I hope that the day will come, and that it will not be very longin coming, when we shall be able to equip and maintain an Australian navy of our own. We should, I think, be placing ourselves in a false position, and in a position which no self - respecting peoplecould submit to for any length of time,, if we allowed ourselves to be regarded bv some prominent public men in the old country as occupying the position of mendicants, by paying what is thought by them to. be an insufficient sum for our naval protection. Whilst I admit that thesum is very small, it is not so much a. question of the amount paid as of theprinciple and sentiment underlying its payment. We cannot expect to go on in this, way, paying a subsidy from year to year, and making no attempt whatever to encourage and foster the desire for the selfprotection of our own country. I hope thatencouragement will be given to the growth of volunteer naval reserves. The principle- has been laid down, and I think rightly laid down, with regard to our military forces that we should rely to a very great extent upon our citizen soldiers. If that principle is good as applied to one branch of our defence, I think it should be equally good as applied to the other. I am pleased to see that the Government have been able to announce in His Excellency’s speech that they will shortly introduce a uniform patents law. We know the troubles which have existed in the past, and which exist, at the present time in connexion with patents. AVe know that if any of our mechanics of an inventive turn of mind, wish to secure a patent for their inventions, they have to make application in the six different States of the Commonwealth. That is the cause of a great deal of trouble, irritation, and delay, to say nothing of the expense involved. I hope therefore, that this Bill will shortly be introduced, and will be such as will give satisfaction to the people of Australia. Like the honorable and learned member who preceded me, I may regret that the time at our disposal is so short. If the life of the Parliament were to last five years, I think we should still have some matters of urgency that we would like to have considered. But there is one matter which I should like to see the Government take in hand at the earliest possible moment. I do not think it is a matter which requires legal enactment, but it is one which may properly be dealt with by regulation. I refer to the adoption of a uniform system of postage throughout the Commonwealth. By that I mean the adoption of a uniform Commonwealth stamp which may be legally used in any part of Australia. With regard to the banking laws also, to which some slight reference is made in the speech, I hope that in time to come it will be considered the function and the duty of the Commonwealth to take over the bank-note issue. It does seem to me an anomalous thing that the bank notes of one State are not negotiable in another State unless an exchange is paid. That is a handicap and a cause of irritation which should not exist within a Commonwealth, and could be avoided by the Government taking over the issue of bank notes. We have sufficient work outlined in His Excellency’s speech to occupy our close attention during the time which remains before the dissolution of this Parliament. I hope I shall not be thought guilty of insincerity
when I say that I feel quite sure that it is the earnest desire of every member, no matter upon which side of the House he sits, to expedite legislation as much as possible, and to make this Parliament one which can be looked up to by the other Parliaments of Australia, and one also which might be considered a credit to any part of the world. I have very much pleasure in seconding the adoption of the address in reply to His Excellency’s opening speech.
– I should like to begin my .remarks by making an observation which I think will meet, not only with the concurrence of the honorable members of this Chamber, but also with the approval of the people of Australia - that is to express the sense of satisfaction I feel that in selecting a successor to the first Governor-General of Australia, our most distinguished and highlyesteemed friend, Lord Hopetoun - His Majesty has exercised a most agreeable choice in selecting the present holder of that distinguished office, Lord Tennyson. With reference to the speech delivered by my honorable and learned friend the member for Darling Downs, I think that, in one sense, he may be said to have set a parliamentary record by it. During my experience of public life - extending over 23 years - I think I never yet heard a speech in which the subject of the motion was more cleverly eluded. I had some vague idea that we were discussing the GovernorGeneral’s speech, but I did not discover that until my honorable friend the member for Cowper began his observations. My honorable friend the member for Cowper sets us all such an honorable example b)’ the rarity of his speeches that, even in listening to him, I had a painful anxiety lest it should happen to be the last address which he would make to us in the present Parliament. But it is an honorable record which I am sure we might all endeavour to imitate as far as possible. The House will, however, I am convinced, feel, that in what I consider it my duty to say, I cannot altogether escape from the responsibilities which attach to the position which I hold. I think that honorable members of this House, and the public too, will expect that, upon an occasion of this sort, I should review the political situation, I am afraid at some length. My hope is, however, that the remarks which I make will be taken as representative of the party which I have the honour to lead, and that in that sense they may help after all to shorten the general discussion. I trust that the conditions Under which the members of this House listened to the Governor-General’s speech to-day will not be repeated upon another occasion. I do not know what the ruleay h have been in the Parliament of Victoria, but I do know that so far as my own State is concerned the arrangements are very different. I think we all found ourselves in a very novel position - as if we were suppliants at the doors of another chamber. I understand that the procedure which was followed to-day imitated the procedure of one State, but, with every admiration for the procedure of that State, I do not think that it should be repeated on another occasion in connexion with the opening of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Now, Mr. Speaker, I wish also to say that I unfortunately am afflicted with a pretty good political memory, and when I listened to the Governor - General’s speech today I could not help remembering that very notable occasion when the Prime Minister and my honorable and learned friend, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Attorney-General, and the Minister for Home Affairs assembled in a country town in New South Wales upon the occasion - the memorable and historical occasion - upon which the first Prime Minister of Australia delivered a manifesto speech to the people of these States. It was a very great occasion, and the speech was one - although I might differ from some of its contentions - that was fully worthy of the position which my right honorable friend the Prime Minister holds. But if on that occasion there had been present some flashlight photographer gifted with the power of prophecy, who could have thrown upon the wall of that chamber that night the remarkable results of two and a half years of practical experience, the effect would certainly have been startling. Because there were two measures which the Prime Minister and his colleagues that night, in that considered address, put before the people of Australia as of supreme urgency. There were two other matters which the Prime Minister put before the people of Australia as matters which should not- be hastened - as matters concerning which there should be great care and deliberation. The first matters I allude to were the High Court and the Inter-State
Commission Bill. The Prime Minister described the High Court as the bulwark of the rights of individuals in this Commonwealth, of the rights of the States, and of the rights of the Commonwealth also. He described the measure for its establishment as a Bill which should be passed through Parliament with the least possible delay. In making that statement I think that the Prime Minister was absolutely correct, and appreciated, thoroughly and faithfully, the duty of his Ministry. But we are told in this House to day that the Judiciary Bill was pushed aside by measures of greater urgency. I consider that without the High Court we have no Constitution at all, and that the rights of the people of this country are absolutely in a position which is a disgrace to the Government and to this House.
– Of course I am only expressing my opinion in saying that, and I am fortified by the remarks made by the Prime Minister in that speech. But there is another authority equally high. I look toward ray honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General - I feel almost inclined to say my right honorable friend, so great is my personal esteem for him. The Attorney-General in that brilliant and masterly address which he made in moving the second reading of the Judiciary Bill in March, 1902, laid down in’ words which would suffer if I endeavoured to condense them, the position of affairs in this Commonwealth in reference to that subject. He said that there are “three fundamental conditions” of any federation.
First, the establishment of a Supreme Constitution.
That is our Federal Constitution, which we have.
The next is a distribution of powers under that Constitution.
And then he added this remark -
The third is an authority reposed in a judiciary to interpret that Supreme Constitution, and f.o decide as to the precise distribution of powers. ….. The first and second absolutely depend for their effect upon ihe third.
Now, that is a statement of the AttorneyGeneral in moving the second reading of that Bill in March last year. The Attorney-General stated upon that occasion that the Bill had been drafted for twelve months. That is, it was drafted in March, 1901, and the fact that the Ministry did not make that the first measure of their last session was a singular departure from their duty, and their declarations to the people. I do not wish to impute any motives, but, if any member of the Ministry is to occupy a seat on that Bench - and J am proud that there are Ministers absolutely fit for any such position, who would reflect honor upon it–
– At any rate that’ is my opinion, and I do not wish to conceal it. It is a measure which should never have been allowed to fall into the list of remnants, as it was. At the rate at which it was dealt with, it would have been passed last session no doubt before we prorogued ; but I think there was such a strong feeling in the House that, since so great a delay had occurred, it would be a wrong thing that it should go into law under those conditions. The greatest of the duties of a first Federal Ministry is the selection of the occupants of that High Court tribunal, and I suppose there is not a man in this Chamber who will not admit that if ever there is an occasion upon which the ability and patriotism of Ministers will be tested, it will be in the selection of the High Court Bench. ‘ There was a strong feeling in the House that such a selection should be made in the presence of the Parliament, and not during a recess, and that feeling I think was honorable to the House.
– The House would not trust them.
– I hope that my honorable and learned friend will allow me to speak. 1 wish it to be distinctly understood that the remark would equally well apply to any Ministry that happened to hold office. I am not making any personal reference to present Ministers. I am speaking of the matter entirely apart from them. However, the House felt that it should not be done in that way.
– Was not the Bill withdrawn to keep Senator O’Connor in the Senate? I understood that that statement was made in Tasmania.
– I do not wish to say or to impute anything of the sort.
– The honorable member did in one of his speeches in Tasmania, if the press is correct.
– If I said so, it is all right ; it was the source of the quotation that inspired me with want of confidence. My observation, if I made any, with reference to that distinguished man, was one of the most friendly character. There is no man in Australia of whom I have a higher opinion than that distinguished man, and, without being personal, I’ think he is the only Minister who has shown a capacity for navigating the vessel of State. I can understand even a Ministry led by myself yielding to the temptation of retaining the services of such a man as long as possible. But if we succumbed to temptation, as the honorable and learned member for Corio once did, when he flew at an advancing brigade, I hope we should be pardoned. There was another matter of supreme urgency, which the Prime Minister put before the people of Australia as a second bulwark, which was to guarantee equality of trade throughout the Commonwealth - it was to be the other great measure which must be passed without delay. We know the melancholy history of that Bill : it got into the hands of the Minister for Home Affairs, and we know what happened after that. There were but two things which ‘ the Prime Minister insisted should not be expedited, should hang fire. He pointed out that it would be a very difficult thing to incorporate .the post and “telegraph systems of six States, and to bring the military forces of six States together, and that time must be taken, the utmost care and deliberation must be exercised before those two departments were taken over, so that when they were taken over the Commonwealth could manage them efficiently. Now, five weeks after h made that statement to the people of Australia those two departments were taken over, and the result has been nothing but chaos ever since. I do not wish to reflect for one moment upon the Ministers in charge of the two departments. If they were the best administrators in the world - Ido not say they are - the same result might easily have followed. If, instead of doing what the Ministry did, they had done the wise thing which the Prime Minister said they would do, and had given these two Ministers a chance of working out a scheme for those’ great services before they were taken over, there would have- been a vast difference in the experience of the people of the Commonwealth. There was no necessity to delay appointing the Ministers, because they could be very fully employed long before the departments were taken over. So that the two great things which were to be done at once have not been done, and the two great things which were to be done slowly, were done at once. Passing away from that, I have to express my regret that the Ministry have dropped one of those measures which were paraded before the people of Australia two and a half years ago in the forefront of the Ministerial programme. The old men of Australia were told that the Government intended to establish a Commonwealth old-age pension system. It was a deliberate bid for the support of those people all through Australia. Any man who had the slightest knowledge of the Braddon clause knew that it was impossible to establish a national system under a provision which compelled the nation to pay away 15s. of every £1 it raised through the Customhouse. If a million a year were required, as it well might be, for a national system, under our Constitution it meant raising £4,000,000 in order to get £1,000,000.
– Not by direct taxation, surely !
– I am not speaking of the Ministry that is to be. I am speaking of this Ministry, whose platform is indirect taxation - only taxation through the Customhouse. My honorable friend will see that it is on that basis I am criticising the conduct of the Ministry in putting out that bait to the people of Australia before the general election. A measure was mentioned in the first Governor-General’s speech ; it is not mentioned to-day, and it cannot be mentioned for the next seven or eight years, as long as the Braddon clause remains in the Constitution. That is a bait still, and it will not come up again until the general election after next.
– It is dead !
– I hope it is not dead, because the idea is a good one if it can be carried out ; but it is of no use to deceive the people with promises about Bills which it vis impossible to carry. I do not consider that sort of electioneering creditable to any Ministry. I want now to refer brief!)’ to one or two events of the recess. Honorable members will admit that I urn entitled on this occasion to make some reference to the actions of Ministers whilst parliamentary observation has been withheld. I intend to exercise that right now, and I hope onlyupon this one occasion during the session. This is the time in which to do it, and, having done it, I think we can get on with business. During the recess we have had a number of Ministerial addresses. I cherish no sort of vindictiveness against the Ministiy for their choice of the Minister of Home Affairs as my political follower. It seemed that he was thought by the Ministry to be the proper man to follow me wherever I went. But he labours under some honourable disqualifications. He is so profoundly sensitive as to the accuracy of every statement he makes that he invariably becomes exceedingly dull, so that when he finishes an address his auditors go away with the feeling that after all there is little to be said in favour of the first Federal Ministry. That being so, I look upon my honorable friend as a very agreeable personage to meet in political encounters. But as for the Prime Minister, the eminence of his position, and the gravity of his manner in dealing with public affairs, gives a weight to his utterances which cannot always be disregarded. Many of his statements, of course, are not worthy of attention in this House, because in all political addresses there is a great deal of attack and criticism which should not be referred to here. But the statements to which I am about to refer were of a serious character, and set me absolutely in the wrong light before the people of Australia. In the first place, the Prime Minister, in the course of his addresses to the people of Tasmania, made a number of statements which were unfair, not only tomyself, but to the party whom I lead. He charged the Opposition with having caused the loss of the proposed duty on tea. It is said that the tea duty is a strong line in Tasmania. The Prime Minister had not much to say about it when he at last ventured to speak in the Town Hall, Sydney. He is, I know, the last man in the world to make in cold blood a statement which he does not believe to be absolutely correct ; and in dealing with his remarks I wish it to be understood that I do not question his desire to be accurate - I only lament his inability to be so. It was only because a number of his own followers voted against the proposed duty on tea that the duty was not agreed to by the House. A large number of Ministerialists voted against the duty, while a large number of members of the Opposition voted with the Government.
– Proportionately, the members of the Opposition voting with the Government were more than the followers of the Government who voted against the proposal.
– Yes, yet the Prime Minister put the Opposition in the position of having defeated the proposed duty. Personally, I >do not mind it, because I am proud of the vote, though I think that, under proper circumstances, a duty on tea is one of the fairest revenue taxes in the world, since all the money collected goes into the Treasury. That is a great recommendation for a tax intended to obtain revenue. But why did the Prime Minister forget facts to such an extent as he did 1 May I remind him how tenacious the Ministry were- in regard to “the duty on salt. There is a salt mine in the State which the Minister for Customs represents, and honorable members surely do not forget the terrific conflict which occurred here between those who wished for a heavy duty upon salt and those who did not. There was quite a balancing of forces, so that several gentlemen whose amiability exceeded their sense of straightness more than once, I believe, voted on both sides of the question.
– Some of the members of the Opposition voted for the duty upon salt.
– Some of them did, though, ais a whole, the Opposition tried to reduce it. Whilst the Ministry fought to the death for a heavy duty upon salt - and not for the amount of revenue they expected to receive from it - when the Treasurer proposed to recommit the proposed duty on tea, from which £400,000 or £500,000 per annum could have been obtained, the honorable member for Bland told him that if the tea duty were included in the items to be- recommitted he would divide the House upon the question, and the tea duty was not recommitted. Why had not the Ministry the pluck to do for £500,000 of revenue one tenth of what they did for the saltpan men of South Australia? In the second place,, the Prime Minister, knowing that Tasmania had just gone through a fever of income tax, and was in a condition of ferocity in reference to all proposals for direct taxation, forgot that it is as much a plank in the platform of the Opposition as of the Government that the Federal
Parliament shall not be used for the introduction of measures of direct taxation. I have made the announcement half-a-dozen times.
– Oh !
– I have, and I cannot help it if the honorable member has not heard it. I have made the statement time after time in a most public manner. I have said that it was much better to leave each State to manage its own affairs in that respect. That being so, and there having been a fever regarding the income tax in Tasmania, the Prime Minister did not hesitate to associate the policy of direct taxation with the Opposition. Now, it is bad to have a forgetful memory, but it is good to forget when it . happens to be useful at a particular time. Following upon this, the members of the Opposition and myself were accused of trying to draw the colour line in Australia, and the Prime Minister spoke of some of his own followers in tones of regret. He said that he regretted that some of his own followers had supported me in this respect. I regret to say that another remark was made by the Prime Minister at the meeting which was held in the Town Hall, Sydney. This did not come under my notice till yesterday. I was in Tasmania when the Prime Minister spoke in Sydney, and as I am not so keen as I used to be about reading reports of speeches, it was only when I was looking over some papers yesterday that I came across the statement to which I wish to call the serious attention of the House and of the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman is reported as having spoken of the action of the Opposition in reference to the Immigration Restriction Act in this way-
The Opposition tried to detent the Act because they were leagued with those who want’ cheap labour throughout the Commonwealth. That was the game which I detected, and which I thank God I defeated. The leader of the Opposition, who could enter into that unholy combination, is the man who talks to you about thimble rigging.
That is a statement which, if it came from an honorable member below the gangway, would not demand any great attention, but coming as it does from the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth it calls for serious notice, and I desire now in the warmest manner and in the strongest terms to repudiate it. It was an infamous statement to make, and if the right honorable gentleman has any authority for it I hope he will produce it.
– From what newspaper is the ‘ right honorable gentleman quoting ?
– From the Sydney Morning Herald. If the right honorable gentleman denies the accuracy of the report, I shall be glad to accept his denial. The statement, however, is made at considerable length and repeated more than once. I wish to point out - and it is only right that Ishould doso - the kind of company in which I found myself at the time when, according to the Prime Minister, I was in league with the capitalists of Australasia in order to bring cheap labour into the Commonwealth. Every member of the labour party voted upon the same side as I did.
– Hear, hear; and they will do so again.
– This remark of the Prime Minister’s is a kind of boomerang. If I am in league with those who wish to bring cheap labour into the Commonwealth, and the labour party voted as I did, they must also be in league with the capitalists of Australia, or they cannot have sufficient intelligence to know what they are doing. Either the labour members were allowing themselves to be made use of by those who were in league with the capitalists, or they were not. The remark was unworthy of the Prime Minister. No man in Australia has pursued a more independent course than I have done in reference to the capitalists. When I had the powers of State in my hands in New South Wales, I took a course in reference to the capitalists’ interests - I say this without egotism, because it is simply an historical truth - which no public man had had the courage to adopt before. . I opposed that interest with a” land tax and an income tax, and J. never refer to such matters without feeling that the last reproach that should be cast upon me is that I am an ally of those who wish to bring cheap labour into the Commonwealth. The object of making such a statement does not redeem it. The object is not a good one. It is intended to injure my public character, and I say that charges injurious to a man’s public character should not be made unless there is proof behind them. To attempt to say that I have had any sort of an alliance with the capitalists of Australia in relation to the introduction of cheap labour is to utter an absurdity. In my public career T have been singularly free - perhaps owing to my poverty - from any kind of political or business connexion with thecapitalists’ interests, and it is one of the consolations of poverty that a man’s independence seems to be greater the poorer he is.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– It is remarkable that thePrime Minister also took this ground in Sydney. He claimed great credit for the Government for facing the prospect of defeat in connexion- with the Immigration Restriction Act. He could not face actual defeat with equanimity ; that would be too trying to the nerves, but he said, “We faced almost defeat in our determination to carry that Bill.” But I pointed out that there was a reason why the Government had a backbone for once. It was because Mr. Chamberlain had putit there. The Ministry had rendered it impossible for them to listen to the suggestions of honorable members, because they had previously announced to the Secretary of State for the Colonies that hisviews were theirs. I objected to that statement at the time, and the answer given by the Prime Minister was that the Government were not influenced by Mr. Chamberlain’s views, because they had the Bill in type before his despatch was sent. That, however, was not the point. My point was. that a Ministry, coming face to face with this Parliament in connexion with a matter of great national importance, should not havegiven themselves away to a British Minister before the discussion began. And it is. rather singular to read the statements madeby the Prime Minister in view of the declaration of one of his colleagues who - with the exception, perhaps, of the Ministerof Defence - weighs his words more carefully than any other member of the Government. I shall show the House that the policy for which the Opposition voted in. reference to the colour line, as it is called, was outlined in the Senate by the VicePresident of the Executive Council soon after the meeting of Parliament. My honorable and learned . friend SenatorO’Connor is not given to rash statements, and it is very extraordinary that we should find in the report of the debate upon the Governor-General’s speech, at page 127 of Hansard, the following remarks : -
Senator Charleston. Will the honorable gentleman explain to what extent the Government, intend to restrict the immigration of Asiatics* Hindoos, and Japanese ?
Senator O’CONNOR. The principle that is intended to be followed is that all alien coloured labour is to be shut out.
There is notalk about dodging these unfortunates with the language test, which actually enables them to secure admission to the Commonwealth if they can pass it. Senator O’Connor tells us that -
The principle that is intended to be followed is that all alien coloured labour is to be shutout.
Senator Charleston. Aliens only?
Senator Sir Josiah Symon. How about British subjects’ ?
Senator O’CONNOR. British subjects are dealt with in many places as coloured labour. It is impossible to deal with Britishsubjects on the same footing as you deal with other coloured people-
That is to say, they cannot be shut out. Senator O’Connor continued - but there is a wayof dealing with them by the education test, which is known to operate very successfully in some Countries.
That is to say that the alien coloured labour would be shut out absolutely, and that the educational dodge would shutout coloured British subjects.’ Here we have a statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council at the opening of, last session. He goes on to say -
It is only a question of the assent by the King to legislation dealing with British subjects. However, that is a matter which does not affect the question put to me by Senator Charleston. His question is in regard to Asiatics.
Thus, at the beginning of last session, a statement of the policy for which we voted and fought was given by theVice-President of the Executive Council ; so that it really seems to me that a line of criticism has been followed that is scarcely fair to the Opposition. The Prime Minister also spoke of an intention on the part of the Opposition to rip up the whole of the Tariff which has just been passed, and expose the House and the country to another twelve months of fiscal wrangling. Now, with reference to a statement of that sort, I do not make any complaint, because it is quite open to the Prime Minister to form that view of what our course would be in the absence of any explicit statement on the point. But I wish to take advantage of this opportunity - which I suppose is a very good and fair one - to put in the most deliberate way the true position of the Opposition upon this question of the Tariff. It is more satisfactory to both sides to have the position cleared up as much as possible. Of course, it is impossible to clear it up absolutely, but I wish to purify the atmosphere as far as I can, and I desire it to be understood that, so far as the Opposition are concerned, we have no policy of that sort. We do propose, however, to deal with items in that Tariff which were intended to destroy revenue - not to produce revenue - and to reduce the duties upon them to a more reasonable limit. ‘
– Could that be clone without opening up the whole question ?
Mr.REID. - I think so, because there are a large number of items in the Tariff which are revenue producing items. With reference to other items, the duties upon which range beyond that point and become in our estimation destructive of revenue, our principles compel us to endeavour to put the Tariff upon what we conceive to be a sound basis.
– The only duties which were not opposed by the Opposition were those imposing 10 per cent. ; consequently 90 per cent. of the Tariff would be opened up.
Mr.REID. - I do not know that every vote which is given in committee upon a Tariff is an infallible index to the policy of the Prime Minister, or of the man who aspires to occupy the position in the due course of nature. The remark of the honorable and learned member, however, scarcely deals with the matter to which I was referring. So far from having any desire to waste the time of the people in wrangling about the Tariff, I wish to minimize that wrangling as much as I can. But I want to answer the statements made by the Ministry to the effect that I should take another course. Of course the Ministry would be content if I got up and said - “I will not interfere with the Tariff for a few years ; “ but honorable members will see at once the absolute unfairness of the adoption of sucha course, on my part, to the manufacturing industries of Australia. How can I as a man who possesses at least the rudiments of a desire to be fair, even to those who are not with me - how can I as a public man, in view of an impending election, postpone an’ attempt to interfere with that Tariff until industries have been affected by its operation? It would put me in an absolutely unfair position. I want to interfere as little as possible with flesh and blood. Undoubtedly, one of the hardest tasks of financial reform is when it takes the aspect of unfairness of that sort. I do not want to multiply those difficulties by standing by and holding my hand. If either the original or the amended Tariff had been before the people at the last election I should have felt absolutely bound by -their decision. But our position is that the Prime Minister conveyed - I do not say intentionally - a wrong impression to the people of the character of the Tariff which he intended to introduce. I make that statement and I appeal to the electors either to justify me or to justify him. If they justify him, then I can fairly and honourably leave this question alone. Then the tribunal which I acknowledge, and to which I have appealed, will have pronounced against me, and I shall feel it a matter of honour to respect its decision. When people build upon the faith of such a decision, I should be very slow, indeed, to raise the question again. That is the position occupied by the representatives of Victoria, but it is not my position. I feel that [ have no right to twist the policy of Australia merely for the purpose of assisting those who have been parties to a protective policy in any one State. But other men who have been parties to that policy are in a very different position, and I make full allowance for them. I wish it to be distinctly underStood that that is the policy of the Opposition. I suppose I shall meet with the general assent of honorable members upon both sides of the House when I say that I have no desire to hold back and keep my opinions upon important subjects until the Government have, perhaps, made a mistake, although in the matter to which I intend to refer, I do not say they would have done so. But it is only candid on my part, before the Government have announced their intentions upon the subject, to express my view with reference to the appeal to the people, which cannot be very long delayed. I do not think there are many honorable members who would allow any personal feeling or private interest to interfere with the public convenience. I feel absolutely sure they would not. Knowing that, I strongly put it as a matter for consideration on the part of the Government, that it would not conduce to the public convenience to have two great political contests within a comparatively short space of time - that it would be a glaring breach of every sound principle of economy to spend £50,000 twice in three months when one expenditure of that amount would suffice. There is no necessity to dissolve this House until the proper time. But I do say that since the Senatorial elections must take place in December - and I am now merely expressing my own opinion - it would be well if members of this Chamber went to the country at such a time as would enable the two elections to be held simultaneously. I do hope that that is the decision at which the Government will arrive. I wish to add as a corollary of that statement that if there is to be an election in December it would be grossly unfair to honorable members who are compelled to remain here attending to their parliament1ary duties to keep the House sitting at a time when they have a right to be appearing before their constituents for the purpose of explaining their conduct and justifying their actions. It would be the reverse of just to allow other candidates unlimited opportunities for opposing them at a time when they were tied to attendances in this Chamber. From what I have said it follows as a matter of fairness to their constituents as well as to honorable members themselves - because if there is one right which constituents have more than another, it is to demand at the hands of their representatives a proper account of their stewardship when they seek re-election, and that cannot be forthcoming in some electorates in any brief space of time - that the prorogation should take place early in October. I have absolutely no desire to display any’ sort of factious opposition during the interval which must elapse before the close of this session. So far as the last prolonged session is concerned, I may fairly say that except as to matters of vital principle about which we were very seriously concerned, the Opposition did not show any venomous or factious spirit. Honorable members on the Government side will make great allowance for the Opposition when we are fighting principles in which we keenly believe, and which we think are closely and vitally associated with the interests of the country ; and if occasionally, under the circumstances of last session, the Opposition got to a pitch which might seem undue, I feel sure that will not be remembered against us by any fair-minded man. I wish most earnestly to cooperate with the Government in passing some of the measures which have been mentioned. It is only fair, however, that I should venture to ask the Government to be instructed by the experience of last session. The Government must admit that it is a failure of the grasp of parliamentary business not to make up a proper programme at the start, and to adhere to and carry that programme. There are circumstances in which, I admit, unexpected events may cause some alteration in a Ministerial plan; but there is absolutely no excuse for a Ministry taking up a large measure such as an Inter-State Bill, a Judiciary Bill, or a Defence Bill, and, after wasting several nights in its consideration, dropping it for the rest of the session. That is sheer waste of time - of effort. It is effort which may be useful in the sense that honorable members become advisory clerks to the Ministry as ‘to how a Bill should be drawn up on another occasion ; but that is not a use to which Parliament should be put. The Ministry should frame a policy clearly and sensibly, and put the most important measures in the forefront of their programme, keep them there, and pass them. If the House shirks the measures, the Government should compel the House to deal with them : and I hope the Government will not repeat the mistakes of last session, but will definitely make up their minds - and adhere to their plan - as to the Bills to be passed in the limited time at our disposal. In reference to the Judiciary Bill I heartily approve of the course which the Government are taking - late in the day as it is - of placing the Bill in the forefront for the session ; and I ask the Government to act fairly by the House. It is of no use putting this Bill in the forefront of the speech of the Governor-General, and after beginning its consideration at the commencement of our labours, allowing it to drift away until the end of the session. This is a Bill which Australia in every direction is demanding.
– I have not heard any demand for it.
– That is because the honorable member has no grievance. If the honorable member felt that the Government had been wronging him he would desire such a tribunal to be established : nobody seems to want a High Court except those who are wronged. But this Court was intended as a vital part of the Constitution - as vital a part as the existence of the Ministry : and I do not think any one could take up any other position. I have to refer to one or two questions of administration which have arisen during the recess. In the first place, I want to deal with an important matter in which, again, I think both sides of the House are equally interested - that is, the necessity for careful, prompt, and efficient work in connexion with the Electoral Act. And in this connexion I have a serious charge to make with reference to the conduct of the Government. Honorable members will admit that it is very necessary the head of the Electoral department for all Australia - on the creation of such a department for the first time - should be a thoroughly competent man. I am sorry to say that the appointment which the Government has made has excited in my mind a feeling of astonishment ; and for this I shall give my reason. I do not vish to repeat newspaper gossip, but it is stated that some other gentleman was recommended’ for the office by the Minister of Home Affairs, and that a minute went to the Executive Council, but was sent back.
– That is not correct.
– I did not wish to make a statement of the kind until I was in a place where it could be answered at once ; it is of no use making a statement, and then allowing a day to elapse before it can be answered. I am very pleased to hear that the statement is wrong, and I now come to the officer who has been appointed. I wish it to be clearly understood that I speak with every feeling of respect for the individual - for the personal character and standing of the gentleman concerned, my observations being based entirely on official experience. This gentleman, Mr. Lewis, was retired on a pension in New South Wales about twenty years ago.
– I do not think that is so.
– It is not half that length of time.
– My authority is better than that of either the Prime Minister or the Minister for Home Affairs ; it is so absolutely sufficient for me that I cannot at this moment accept a correction. Of course, I may be willing to accept it afterwards but my authority is such that it justifies me–
– The right honorable member is making some very wild statements.
– I take the responsibility for ‘ my statements, and I took pains to get the information’ before I spoke. The pension of the officer I speak of was decided, and he was to have retired from the Lands office during the Premiership of Sir Alexander Stewart, who held office twenty years ago. After the pension was fixed, Mr. Lewis was employed in some other capacity ; and during the long period since - and perhaps this is where the Minister for Home Affairs may be mistaken - his pension has been held in abeyance subject to certain work he was doing in the public service of New South Wales. Mr. Lewis was for many years a draughtsman. He had been in the Lands department, and it happened in some way that he was made an officer in connexion with the administration of the Local Government Act. When Premier, I was repeatedly brought into official contact with Mr. Lewis in connexion with a Local Government Bill which I tried to pass through Parliament ; so that it will be seen I am not speaking lightly, but from absolute personal experience, and, I may say, without ‘any feeling of unkindness to the officer. But I must say that I regard him as absolutely unfit for the position to which he lias been appointed under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
– Mr. Lewis has done his work very well.
– I do not think my honorable friend is a judge in some matters.
– I am a better judge than is the right honorable member.
– The attitude of the Minister for Home Affairs is that which he usually assumes in regard to the individuals whom he appoints or tries to appoint. Mr. Lewis was Chief Electoral Officer in New South Wales, and was absolutely retired several years ago by the Public Service Board - the members of which may, I suppose, be considered to have some.knowledge of the officers of the service - and a subordinate promoted to his place. Yet we find Mr. Lew is appointed as Chief Electoral Officer for the Australian Commonwealth. It is the most singularly bad appointment the Federal Government have made, and I express that opinion without the slightest feeling of unkindness to Mr. Lewis. The mere fact that this gentleman was finally retired by the Public Service Board from a similar position, is surely pretty good proof that he is not the person to solve the great electoral problems which now face him. Of course, I admit that the Minister is equal to working anything, and perhaps, with his assistance, Mr. Lewis may do remarkably well. But the man I should like to see associated with a vital matter like this is one with the requisite vigour and strength of purpose - one who could talk even to his Minister when it was necessary to do so. Mr. Lewis, however, has passed the prime of life, or, at all events, if he has not done so, he has passed that phase of energy and vigour which are absolutely required in such’ a department. He would not have been retired from the office which he held in New South Wales if he had been efficient. Surely, if he was not considered to be efficient enough to De kept in office in New South Wales - and the New South Wales Government paid him a pension in order to get him out of the service - this is not the way in which the Commonwealth should begin in such a matter as the appointment of its chief electoral officer. It is a bad beginning for us. I come now to a matter which the Prime Minister has anticipated would be interesting by laying on the table of the House to-night the papers referring to it. It brings up once more the Immigration Restriction Act. I take all the blame which can be fairly attachable to me if I happened to be away from the House when the Bill was being discussed. I ought to have been here, and Ministers can say that if I had been here I could have pointed out these things. But Ministers will admit that they often become wiser after the event. I do not know whether I shall express the opinion of the House in reference to paragraph (</) of section 3 of the Immigiration Restriction Act, under which the trouble arose with the six hatters; but I am not bringing the question forward as a matter of political capital against the Government in office. I do not desire any political controversy I am prepared to leave it to the electors to deal with byandby. I wish, for the time we have left at our disposal during this session, to deal with the matters that are before u3. Honorable( members will recognise, however, that I am entitled to refer to these questions on this occasion. To’ do so clears the atmosphere in every way,, and this is the only proper occasion on which to deal with them. I desire to say, with reference to the paragraph in the Act to which I have referred, that I do not believe there was any considerable number of honorable members in this House - certainly not a majority who intended the section to work as it was supposed to work in the case of the hatters. Mr. Watson. - -Question ?
– We shall see. It is a matter of opinion. I desire to define my position, and it is much better that I should do so now, and publicly. This is the first opportunity we have had to consider the matter in Parliament, and I wish to say in the strongest terms that if that Act was intended to prevent such men in such circumstances from landing in Australia, it should no longer stand on the statute-book of the Commonwealth.
– Why not?
– I arn going to give my reasons, and I desire to be perfectly plain iind clear in stating my position. Even those who differ from me will thank me for doing so. I absolutely believe in a provision of this kind which will prevent deceptive, fraudulent representations being made to people in other countries. I am not at all averse to a provision which would prevent the introduction of any sort of undesirable labour under any circumstances.
– How would the right honorable gentleman draw the line ?
– I shall tell the honorable and learned member. Under this Act, if an agreement of the kind contemplated is entered into, it ceases to have any force the moment the man who comes here under it lands in Australia. Honorable members should not forget that fact. I do not speak of the man who is specially exempted. He is all right. I mean that, taking the case of the man who lands here, and who has not been specially exempted by the special proviso, by operation of law his agreement goes. The only question is one of deception - of a man going round the world and endeavouring to obtain cheap labour by false pretences. To keep any honest English, Irish, or Scottish artisan out of Australia in the way the hatters were treated is a disgrace to our national character. Let me tell my honorable friends, whose main principle is one which I am just as keen about as they are - I have been associated with it as long as they have been - that when you have great principles that you fight for, it is often as well not to expose those great principles to unmerited abuse and prejudice by going to a fanatical extreme in matters of detail. I assert that it shocked the conscience of the British Empire that a man who came out under perfectly honorable conditions, with his trade union introduction in his pocket-
– Accepted by the Sydney unions.
– Yes. The papers which the Prime Minister has laid on the table of the House show that the hatters each brought a certificate for admission to the Australian union.
– They did not do so.
– They were simply asked to show their bona fides ; that was all.
– One moment. I have the papers here. I know that the honorable member for Yarra, as a gentleman who is a hatter, takes a keen interest in this matter, and probably took a keen interest in it when the trouble arose, although his name does not appear.
– It is an extraordinary thing that six men were discharged from the factory in question.
– That is a branch of the question with which I am not now dealing.
– But the right honorable gentleman will not inquire into that point.
– How can the honorable member say that I will not inquire into a matter of which I never heard before ?
– Because the right honorable gentleman objects to. inquiry being made by the Government: I understand that is all the Government did.
– I think the honorable member had better wait a moment.
– I read tho right honorable gentleman’s Maitland speech.
– I am glad that the honorable member did so.
Mr.W atson. - I had to do so in view of what the right honorable gentleman said.
– If those men had been coming to a Melbourne factoiy, would they have been stopped ?
– Yes; the unions would have stopped them.
-A copy of the introduction to the unions to which I referred is to be found in the papers just laid upon the table of the House by the Prime Minister. The certificate is headed -
Amalgamated Society of Journeymen Felt Hatters
Then follows the motto, and the words -
Established at Denton -
That is in the old country–
March, 1872. Amalgamated June 14, 1879. Re-organized at Denton, February 1, 1884.
Then follow these words -
This is to certify that the bearer, William Gee, is a member of the above society, and entitled to be asked for.
I do not know what the words “asked for” mean. The certificate is signed by “ John Bennett, Secretary,” and the following words are attached : -
This ticket must be presented to the National Secretary on arrival abroad, without delay.
Surely that is a quittance from one trades union to another trades union in Australia.
– I do not want the honorable member to misunderstand me. I have no desire to deal with two things at the same time. I am not considering that aspect of the question at the present moment, but I shall do so later on. I am dealing with a statement which I made, and which was contradicted, that the men were trades unionists, who came out with an introduction from one trades union to another. The papers which the Prime Minister has laid upon the table show that to be the case. They include a copy of the certificate which was given to them in England. The wage at which they were engaged was £3 per week, and 1 suppose that even in Australia JE3 a week does not represent a fraudulent offer. I shall deal now with the matter to which an honorable member opposite has referred. Before doing so, however, I repeat that I am responsible for this provision, because I am a member of the Parliament that passed it. If I was not here when the Bill was before the House, and did not think of it as I ought to have done, I must take my share of the blame. But I wish to say that I refuse to be a party, now that I see how the provision operates, to the policy of that paragraph in the Act. That is all. That is a clear declaration.
– The right honorable gentleman was present when the Bill was read a third time.
– The honorable member knows what third readings are. We do not generally touch Bills at that stage. Moreover, this was a minor matter. We were not considering the sub-sections so much as the broad question involved in the main provisions in the Bill. That overshadowed everything, but if I had had a technical trade knowledge, I might have thought more about these matters. I desire to say, in the most open way, that I will not be a party to the continuance of this provision, in its present shape, on the statute-book of Australia. I come now to another point, and it is a very proper one to consider. Men who are familiar with these official documents will be able to read between the lines. If honorable members, when they have these papers placed in their hands, will look at the documents dated 3rd, 4th, and a number of other documents of about the same date, they will see this. It is no credit to an Australian trades union - -and I do not believe the unions are responsible for it - but it is not a credit to Australian unionists that when these Englishmen were landed here, they should be driven round about and treated in a hospitable way, that a copy of their agreement should have been got from one of the men, and that it should have been sent to the Prime Minister, in order to secure the exclusion of these men from Australia. I say that no labour man believes in a sneaking course of that sort. Not one member of the labour party would do that. If he wished to keep a man out of Australia, he would not take him by the hand and get a copy of his agreement from him in order to do it. It is a contemptible thing, even for a hatter to do.
An Honorable Member. - Who did it?
– I do not know ; no one can tell. I do not believe the hatters’” union is to blame for it,, because it was the act of an individual man-; but it is a contemptible thing, and that it was done is shown by these documents. Listen to this : The secretary of the union writes to the right man, the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston. I suppose he thought that this English subject was a species of goods and chattels imported into Australia. Here is a letter addressed- to the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, and dated, Trades Hall, Melbourne, 4th December : -
Dear Sir, - -Re my memo, of yesterday’s date, I have the honour now of forwarding to you a copy of agreement supplied by one of the nien who lias come out to work at the Sydney Hat Mills.
That is from the secretary of the union. That agreement forwarded to the union in Melbourne was used against them. Surely that is not the way that working men stand by one another? It is not in our part of Australia, at any rate. It is a contemptible feature in this matter.
– How does the right honorable and learned member know that the hatter was not a party to it ?
– That is worthy of the honorable and learned member for Corio. The suggestion is that a man having come all the way to Australia under this agreement desired to get himself treated as an objectionable person, to be bundled out of Australia and back to England again. I cannot take up time by further references to these papers. I shall only make this general observation, that the subsequent action of the Prime Minister himself showed that these men were entitled to be admitted to Australia, and that the interval between the time this was brought under the notice of the Government, on the 4th December, and, I think, the 13th, the date when the order for release was given, was an unjustifiable delay in settling a matter which ought to have been settled with lightning despatch. It was a cloud resting over Australia all that time.
– It was a cloud that the newspapers made - nothing else.
M r. REID. - I tell the honorable member that these papers show the communications to be of a character quite other than that which he suggests if he means to disparage them. There are communications from persons in the highest official position representing the injury done to Australia by this very act! There are representations from the Premier of New South Wales in response to a communication from the Agent-General of New South Wales.
– The Prime Minister only did what the honorable and learned gentleman told him to do by passing the Act.
– What I told him to do in pissing the Act? Which Act?
– The honorable and learned gentleman admitted being here on the third reading of the Act..
– And there was a special resolution and amendment.
– I take all the responsibility involved in that extraordinary state of things. Why, the Denton Hat Mills contended that these men were absolutely entitled to land here. Surely that is a sufficient authority for the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Is it not an extraordinary thing that while these six hatters were kept all this time in a ship at
Sydney, twelve boilermakers - and surely there will be no suggestion that they are geniuses in a professional line - were openly imported into Western Australia by the Railway department of that State under contracts made in England ? Advertisements were published in English papers for twelve boilermakers, who were to enter into agreements to come out to Western Australia. Every man in Western Australia knows now that they came out under agreemonts, but no one dares to put a finger upon them, though they have incurred certain penalties, I think, under this Act. It only shows the extraordinary sort of administration we have when the Government of Western Australia can import twelve men under contract and the Federal Government will not say a word about it, whereas, in the case of the hatters, the hatters’ society and the Cabinet were evidently cheek by jowl for days over the matter before those men could land upon Australian soil. I say that if there is any intention to shut out men who come out at union wages, good unionists, coming from one union to another, I shall be no party to it.
– Nor will anybody else.
– Let them come out as free men, and they are welcome.
– Free men ! They were free men, according to these papers.
– Were they ? Let the right honorable and learned gentleman ask them now.
– I must ask that these repeated interjections should cease. One interjection while an honorable member is speaking may not, perhaps, be objected to : but when a number of interjections are fired across the chamber they become most disconcerting, and are most disorderly.
– I desire to refer to another ridiculous light in which this Act is being put. Surely honorable members who are concerned for the main principles of the Act do not desire that those principles, which are of magnitude, should excite opposition and reproach throughout Australia? Surely they do not desire that a good thing should be discredited by bad management? The men who are responsible for this change in the law are surely interested in seeing that things are done with a certain show of discretion, at any rate, at the beginning. We should remember that these things are all new. and great allowances must be made until the provisions of the law are thoroughly well known. Three Maoris came from New Zealand for three months, I understand, in connexion with an entertainment being given in Sydney at Fitzgerald Bros.’ circus, and it was made a matter of State as to whether these three Maoris were to land. A few instances like that would expose Australia to the utmost ridicule. Now, I come to something worse as to these . matters of administration. I come now to the administration of my right honorable and learned friend, the Minister for Trade and Customs. I do not know whether my right honorable friend appreciates the logical abilities of the members of this Chamber. If he thinks there is a logical faculty in them, as I am sure he does, I ask him to remember that I do not wish him to vindicate his severity in cases of fraud against the Custom-house. There is not a hard hand which he can lay upon an act of fraud for which every man in this Chamber will not heartily applaud him. I want to avoid that aspect of the question. His is a painful position, we all must admit. We must make allowance for the Minister in that respect, because no matter who is at the head of the Customs department, the position is a most painful and difficult one. I never questioned in all my life the thorough honesty of purpose of the Minister ; but still I do think’ that matters have gone to such a length that even he might consent to look -at them in a reasonable light. Let it he understood that I find no fault with the Minister for what he has done in the case of any man who has tried to rob the Customs of a single penny. I am coming to another matter altogether, so do not let us waste time in dealing with a question concerning which there is no dispute. But I say that the action of the Customs department in showing its own inability to understand the Tariff ought to lead the Minister to show a certain amount of consideration to other people ; because the fact that two or three thousand separate decisions have been given by the Customs Minister does lead us to believe that it does not know what the Tariff really means.
– The decisions are contradictory.
– I quite expect that. In so large a number of cases the best decisions would be so. But I want to point out to my right honorable friend that if, as he knows is- the case, the department itself has discovered so many perplexities and difficulties about the Tariff that they have had to issue more than a thousand decisions with reference to the meaning of it–
– I thought the right honorable member said two or three thousand ?
– At any rate there is an enormous number ; and that should lead the Minister to be a little more reasonable with people whom he does not even suspect of a desire to defraud the Custom-house. He does not seem to think that there is a distinction between a police court and other courts, but he scarcely does the situation justice there. It should be the policy of the Customs department to work hand iu hand with the merchants whom it trusts. If it trusts no one it can work hand in hand with no one, but if . my right honorable friend would join with anybody with the object of preventing the sort of competition that is effected by fraudulent conduct on the part of certain merchants, he could have no stronger allies than the honest merchants. . Is not their interest the same as the Minister’s t My criticism of his general administration is that it does not create that distinction which should exist between the great mass of honorable merchants and the fraudulent merchants. I would not put an honest man in the police court for anything, except, perhaps, his criminal negligence. Now, I come to something worse than that. The Minister for Trade and Customs knows that this House insisted oh certain articles being admitted free of duty. I am coming to a case where the Minister set himself against the law and against Parliament.
– What firm benefits from it?
– That is a wrong observation.
– I shall give instances later on.
– If my honorable and learned friend wants to insinuate anything dishonest against my right honorable friend the Minister for Trade and Customs, I absolutely repudiate it.
– Wait until the House hears the instances I shall give.
– There is no man in this Chamber - and I have a number of friends here - in whose integrity I have more absolute confidence than I have in that of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I hope that the right honorable member will wait and hear me before he makes that statement.
– I shall have to hear the honorable and learned member a long time before I alter my opinion in that respect. It is one of the gratifying features of my parliamentary life in this federal sphere that we are able to get on in such a way as to- observe the ordinary courtesies of life, to say nothing of the privileges of friendship. At the time when I came into this Parliament I had been in rather stormy seas, and it took me some little time to adjust myself to the altered position. But it has been a source of the greatest possible pleasure to me to preserve those courtesies of life of which I have spoken, and I think that honorable members will admit that I have endeavoured to do so. I do not want to touch upon a matter that is sub judice at present, but at the same time I cannot be deprived of my rights as a Member of Parliament in this matter. There was upon the Tariff a line -called cartridges. The Government decided that instead of being dutiable cartridges should be free. The members of the Senate sent down a suggestion that a duty of 10 per cent, should be put on cartridges. The Minister for Trade and Customs moved in the House of Representatives that that suggestion should be rejected. Cartridges, therefore, on the Tariff to-day are free. But in every cartridge there is a certain proportion of shot, and because there is a duty of 5s. per cwt. on shot, the Customs department actually insists that people who import cartridges should pay 5s. a cwt. for the shot contained in the free cartridges. It is one of the biggest curiosities in customs administration that I have seen. My right honorable friend must be a perfect genius in getting revenue if he will not stick at that.” But actually the Federal Government has gone to the expense of resisting an action at law in another State- .-which makes me more -free to allude to the matter - brought by an importer who maintains his right to have his cartridges brought in free.
– The right honorable member will recollect that the point was raised, and I promised to look into it. I took the advice of legal advisers of the Crown in reference to it.
– That accounts for everything the Minister has done ! But if I learn that the Attorney-General expresses the opinion that such a charge should be- made, I admit that it must be a matter that is arguable.
– Does any one suppose that the shot should be dutiable out of a cartridge and free in it ?
– In other words, if whisky is dutiable outside of a man it is dutiable when it is inside of him ! That is a novel idea ! Even the Minister for Trade and Customs could not follow whisky then! It is the funniest thing I have ever heard. Then there is the case of an unfortunate cook who had not the advantage of the flood of light which has been thrown upon the Customs laws of Australia by the AttorneyGeneral. He was an humble cook in a foreign ship, and he had an humble perquisite. That was, that the slush in the slush cask of the vessel was his ; and in an unhappy hour he became a criminal by selling his perquisite to a man on shore. The Customs department decided that the slush went under the heading of unrefined tallow in the Federal Tariff.
– Unrefined fat ! This slush was brought, by the genius of our friend, under the item of unrefined fat ! This cook was not a fraudulent importer, but an honest working man.
– He seemed to live on “ the fat of the land.”
– Only when he was in gaol. He was fed on “the fat of the land “ there, I suppose. It seems to me that when the attention of this Federal Government, instead of being directed to matters of high State importance, is devoted to dealing with the sale of slush and things of that sort in foreign ships that come alongside, the science of Government has assumed a comical phase. It brings the law into disrepute, and surely our gaols were not intended for servants on foreign ships who make such a fearful mistake as did this cook ! Now I come to a still worse case than that. It is the case of a sailor who was intrusted with some silks and a Bible as a present to some people in New Zealand. They have such ideas at home as that New Zealand is next door to Australia. This young sailor was intrusted with these presents for people in New Zealand, and when he was going on shore he arranged for sending them to their destination. For that he was arrested and taken to the lock-up. He was accused of having committed a fraudulent act in defrauding the customs of duty, and was fined. The law places the magistrate in such a position that he had to fine the man £5, an amount representing a month’s wages, or perhaps more than that. He was fined for trying to send on to New Zealand something which would not pay a penny to the customs of Australia.
– Who fined him t
– The poor magistrate, as his duty is : he cannot help himself. Your innocence is a fact against you under the Kingston administration, not in your favour. When you say you did not know you were doing a certain thing, the inference now is thatyou are guilty, and you are fined £5. It is a most extraordinary sort of legislation. When theBill was before theSenate there was an assurance given that such cases would never occur, that they would be dealt with otherwise than by the police courts. I appeal to the Minister to endeavour to avoid such occurrences as these. They tend to bring into discredit not only the Government - I do not mind that - but the whole community. Here is another instance of the eccentric way in which our government is administered. The Prime Minister thought the matter was of sufficient importance to make some observations at a very large meeting in Sydney.
– I did that because, in a letter in the morning’s paper, Senator Pulsford challenged me to say something about it.
– It was very fortunate that my right honorable and learned friend arrived at last in order that he might take up the challenge. In his observations he condemns his own colleagues for once. I do not know that it will lead to any trouble between them.
– The honorable and learned member cannot suppose that it was my colleague who did this ?
– No ; I am sure of that. If the Minister had every desire in the world, according to the view which the Customs authorities take, he could not help himself : the law compelled him to do it.
– It was the policeman who acted in the beginning.
– When my right honorable and learned friend puts the thing in such a clear way - that it was a sheer mistake - the House will be considerably amused tofind that days after he assured the peopleof Sydney that the goods would be returned and the fine up to80 per cent, would bereturned to the man-
– I said that I would give directions, and I did.
– I think it would take up a lot of time at a public meeting if the right honorable and learned gentleman had to refine in that way.
– I have already corrected that matter in answer to a question put by, I think, the honorable memberfor South Australia, Mr. Poynton.
– I would like my honorablefriend to remember my object in makingthese remarks. At a public meeting in Sydney he said, with reference to the case of that unfortunate young sailor -
It would have been better if he had been summoned instead of arrested.
There is a reflection on the Customs authorities. Of course the poor policeman will be brought into the matter ; but that sort of thing will not do. A policeman does not arrest a man for carrying a Bible. Surely even the Customs authorities do not cause the police to do that.
– We shall not attempt to get behind the policeman, if that is what the right honorable and learned member means.
– I am sure that Ministers do not wish to do that. A policeman acts on the instruction of a Customs official toarrest a man. We may be sure that he does not do the thing for fun. It is only Customs officials who do these things forfun -
It would have been better if he had been summoned instead of arrested. Under the wholecircumstances of the case–
I assume that the Prime Minister knew what they were when he spoke - there was not sufficient evidence of guilty knowledge to warrant even the maximum fine.
This sailor who had been prosecuted by the Customs department had been in gaol, and the Prime Minister says to the people of thecountry that there was not sufficient evidence to cause him to be fined. Is it a matter of indifference that His Majesty’s, subjects are imprisoned and charged with offences when the Prime Minister himself asserts, against the action in this case, that- there was no ground for inflicting any punishment? He goes on to say in his speech -
I have now given instructions that the goods seized shall be returned to Tingey, and that the penalty shall be reduced by about 80 percent. The only thing we can do when we find that the Act has been administered -
You see, it is the administration of the Act- with a little too much severity -
When an innocent man is put in gaol, he is treated with a little too much severity. That is quite in a line with the genius of Customs administration. We are getting quite nsed to it - notwithstanding our efforts to be lenient -
I think that the Prime Minister had better not go near Sydney again after making that statement - is to modify the penalty or remit some of it, and that is what we intend to do.
The Prime Minister spoke in Sydney on the 30th April, and on the 15th May the ComptrollerGeneral of Customssent to the person representing the sailor, who in the meantime had gone away in his ship, a letter in which he said -
I am directed by the Minister for Trade and Customs to inform you that the forfeiture of the goods will not be enforced, but that the penalty cannot be remitted.
– That is my doing.
– My right honorable and learned friend is getting infected by the example which he is following. Was that deliberately done ?
– Done deliberately on the facts of the case.
– The poor sailor! I am glad to get a poor man into this business, because, so long as the accused is a big importer, there is no mercy for him. People forget that the merchants are a sort of advance agent for the Government. Any man might remember that they have to plank down £9,500,000 for the Treasury! That is a fact which might be mentioned to their credit. I only wish to show that the department which has branded men who make simple little mistakes in complicated entries as criminals make the most egregious blunders, the most silly mistakes. The Prime Minister makes a public declaration that he intends that 80 per cent, of the fine shall be remitted, and fifteen days after that his colleague says it cannot be remitted.
– I dealt with the question on the papers without knowing anything of what the Prime Minister had said.
– Exactly. Of two Ministers, both lawyers, one says the case shows that the man should never have been prosecuted, and the other says that the fine should not be remitted. Here is a galaxy of legal talent in the Ministry ! A little consideration might be shown for men who make mistakes, when the gentlemen who put them into gaol make the most egregious blunders over the same matter. It is net a very edifying thing that one Minister of the Crown should tell 5,000 people in Sydney that the man had been wrongly treated, that the fine should never have been inflicted, and that 80 per cent, of it would be remitted, and that then the Deputy Minister for Trade and Customs should state officially that the fine cannot be remitted. That meant that the man had been seriously to blame. But who expects these people to know the laws of Australia 1 Fancy punishing a sailor, travelling round the world in his ship, for trying to do a kindly action for a friend. There is one matter referred to in the speech of the Governor-General which I desire to notice in passing. The paragraph is a very Jong one, but I cordially agree with the statements it contains in reference to railway, communication withWestern Australia. My only regret is that the Government did not feel themselves justified inat least making a trial survey of the line ‘without incurring all the delays involved in appointing commissions and obtaining State legislative authority. I am not an expert, but I understand that a trial survey is not an expensive affair, but is, on the other hand, a very practical proceeding, and the importance of the proposal requires that we should at least have a trial survey before any scheme is finally decided upon. The effect of the course now being adopted by the Government will be that after a number of difficulties are overcome a trial survey will have to be made, but it seems to me that that is a step which the Government might well take without waiting any longer.
– Has not a trial survey been made ?
– No, I understand not. A flying survey has been made, but there has’ been no trial survey in an official sense.
– The State Government are putting down bores for water.
– It seems to me that the project is one which at least deserves the test of a trial survey. I have made my views upon this subject pretty well known, and, as I said before, my only regret’ is that the Government have not been able to move a little more rapidly than they are doing. I observe that the Governor-General is made to congratulate us upon the state of the federal finances. We are told that in spite of the drought - perhaps it might be because of the drought - the finances are in a very satisfactory condition. Now, that statement affords one of the strongest justifications I can conceive for the action which the Opposition took in connexion with the Tariff. The Government stated that they did not expect to receive more than about £8,900,000 in a normal year from the duties levied under the Tariff as introduced. They complained that by our alterations we reduced the revenue they might have expected by £1,000,000 or £1,500,000, and yet the Tariff as reduced by us is yielding a larger amount of revenue than the Government estimated to be required. Instead of receiving £8,900,000 - I suppose we can consider last year as a normal year - the revenue amounted to about £9,250,000. I am stating the figures very moderate!)’. That gives the Government from £200,000 to £300,000 more than they expected from a Tariff which we reduced by from £1,000,000 to £1,500,000. Could there be any stronger justification for the attitude of the Opposition? We had not the great advantages enjoyed by the Government in their officials amd the manifold opportunities of obtaining information ; but, in spite of all these drawbacks, we were able to forecast the effect of the Tariff with far greater accuracy. If their statement as to the effect of our reductions had been accurate the Tariff would have yielded something like £1,000,000 less than they required. This statement in the Governor-General’s speech is a thorough justification of our refusal to vote unnecessary revenue. I notice that the Government look for an expansion of our industries, in consequence of the better seasons which are returning to the country. A singular state of affairs prevails at the present time. The Government admit that the Tariff is not a proper protectionist Tariff. They acknowledge that it is not satisfactory from their point of view, and yet they say - “ We ..will not allow it to be altered or to be improved, even by honorable members on our own side.” That is a clear-cut attitude and an easy attitude to assume. All people who have that “tired feeling” naturally lean towards a policy of leaving things alone, but, from a protectionist point of view, I cannot understand that attitude. If the Government; believe in a protectionist policy they cannot believe in the Tariff, because it is admittedly neither one thing nor the other - it is a mixture of both free-trade and protection, and bad at that. I can understand a man who really believes that a Tariff can bring ‘ prosperity and provide employment fighting for his policy, and, if he is defeated in the Parliament, going to the country, and saying - “ We must have revenue. We are disgusted with what Parliament has done. They have mutilated our policy, and we ask this great democracy of Australia, which believes in it, to give us the strength to put matters right in the new Parliament.” Instead of taking this stand, however, the Government are so afraid of the result of adopting such an attitude that, as at the last election, they curry favor with the freetraders of Australia by putting forward their policy in the aspect which will be least offensive to that section of the community. Now, I can appreciate a straight-out protectionist or revenue tariffist, but I ‘have no kind of admiration for men who try to obtain position and power by currying favour with both sides at the same time. That is the attitude of the Government over the Tariff. I have never had much good to say of a certain leading Australian newspaper published in Melbourne, but I must at least admit that if it has been true to one thing it has been faithful to the protectionist policy of Victoria. It maybe, as I think, utterly mistaken ; it may adopt the most questionable means of advancing its views; but the fact that it has been true and faithful to the protectionist cause is undoubted. Now, what does this organ of public opinion say this very morning? It declares that the Federal Tariff is ruining Victorian industries, that in the year 1902, the first year of the operation of the Tariff, the importations of goods which used to be manufactured in Victoria rapidly increased. I do not, as a rule, and I do not now, accept as facts any figures which that newspaper publishes, but it cannot complain if I accept its figures in order to deal with its policy ; and I must invite the attention of the House and the people of the whole continent to the statement made to-day in that newspaper.
Mr.O’Malley. - What is its name ?
– It does not need an advertisement, because, according to the sign-boards, it is read by about 5,000,000 people every day. It is called the Melbourne Age. This newspaper has been distinguished by its clever and earnest advocacy of the protectionist policy. Now what, according to the Age, is the result of this very Tariff which the Government say must not be altered - which must stand without alteration? That newspaper selects about a dozen articles which were largely produced in “Victoria under the State Tariff. Take boots, to begin with. The manufacture of boots is a very large industry everywhere. The Age points out, I suppose truthfully - I do not know, but it may be so on this occasion - that from 1899, which is considered by the Treasurer, and I think very properly so, to be the last normal year before the effects of the federal financial arrangements were felt, till 1902, a period of three years, the importation of boots into Victoria has doubled despite the operation of a 30 per cent, duty under the Federal Tariff. It will be remembered that the Government brought down a sort of twin-screw duty which taxed boots at so much a dozen besides imposing upon them an ad valorem rate. They thus concealed duties ranging up to 80 per cent. It was a very clever piece of manipulation, but I now see that such duties were really required. No human being, save an expert, could tell what their original proposals meant. But we now see that they were necessary, because under the operation of the 30 per cent, duty im - posed by the Tariff the Age points out that twice the quantity of boots is imported that was imported three years ago. Upon hats another twin-screw duty was submitted by the Government ranging up to 150 per cent, ad valorem. Upon these goods there is a duty operating of 30 per cent., despite which the importation of hats has increased by 50 per cent, within the same period. Similarly the quantity of furniture imported has increased by 200 per cent., notwithstanding the effect of a 20 per cent, duty, together with very expensive freight charges. Let us take the industry of agricultural implement making, which was represented as the glory of a Victorian protective policy. We were told what a magnificent industry had been established here by means of the adoption of that policy. Yet, what do we find - that in the three years indicated in spite of the operation of a 12½ per cent, duty, there has been an increase of 30 or 40 per cent, in the quantity of these implements imported. Similarly the imports of machinery have increasedby 75 percent., and thoseof woollens by about 30 per cent. There has been a decrease in the quantity of blankets imported. In thecase of apparel, however, there has been an increase of 130 per cent, in the imports, despite the operation of a 25 per cent, duty, whilst the quantity of brushware imported has increased 70 per cent., notwithstanding the effect of duties ranging from 15 to 25 per cent. In earthernware goods there has been more than a 20 per cent, increase in the imports. The Age points out that, in spite of the federal duties, the imports in respect of these dozen articles have increased enormously. Surely that proves every word which has been uttered by this side of the House to the effect that these industries after 30 years of this peculiar method of intoxication were reduced to such a precarious state that they required an exceedingly strong stimulant to keep them on their legs at all. The stimulus afforded by the Federal Tariff is evidently not strong enough, and consequently they are going down at an alarming rate. That is the strongest justification for anything which honorable members on this side of the House have said.
– Has any allowance been made for re-exports ?
– The Age does- not make any. I have not time to follow out all its figures, but occasionally when it suits me I take them upon trust. It suits me to take them as they are upon this occasion, and I believe there may be about 50 per cent, of truth in them.
– I admit that it may be a question. However, that is the position taken u p the by Age. Let honorable members recollect what was predicted when the Tariff was under consideration. All the fences have been down since 1902. In New South Wales we were told that for 30 years past Victorians had been equipping their factories under a protective system, and that the moment their market was extended by the adoption of Inter-State free-trade, the grand manufacturing industries of Victoria would sweep the continent, and New South Wales industries would be heard of no more. Yet now that all the fences are down the people are leaving Victoria, and still its importations are growing bigger than ever. The people have been going out and the goods have been coming in more than ever. That is an extraordinary result for the magnificent descent which the Victorian system was to make upon Australian simplicity. The Ministry will have to turn round upon this point, because the Age is evidently determined to compel them to go to the people upon a straight fiscal issue. The policy of leaving the Tariff alone will not suit the Age. In defence of the infant industries of Victoria, which that journal has been affectionately nursing, for so many years, the protectionists of this State must renew the fiscal struggle. How can the honorable member for Melbourne Ports- - it is a remarkable thing that he is the representative of a port, but still the fact remains that he is - view this 50 per cent, increase in the importation of hats with any sort of philosophy ? It seems to me a personal insult to him as one of the great triumphs of this policy that, in spite of my honorable friend’s preeminence in that particular line of industry, the importation of these odious foreign articles is steadily increasing whilst the population is steadily vanishing. Of course I can understand a protectionist saying - “This Tariff represents nothing. It does not give my policy a fail’ chance. How can my policy stand well with the people of the Commonwealth when it is so mutilated that the moment it comes into force, in spite of an all-round Australia for Victorian enterprise, there are these calamitous, figures ‘t “ The Ministry will have to change its attitude upon this question. I could understand them declaring - “We will not allow the Tariff to be touched because it is a good Tariff,” but I cannot understand them going before four millions of people and saying - “We want this Tariff untouched because it will take a little time to remedy its deficiencies.” If we can spend months upon trivial matters, surely we can spend a few days in adjusting a Tariff which affects the whole of Australia. The Government will not be able to continue its nebulous attitude upon this matter. They will not be able to conciliate the people of Australia by declaring that the fiscal question is all moonshine. That would not go off this time. ‘ I do not think that protectionists will allow the Government to stand before the electors and say that the present Tariff is one of which they are proud, and which they will stand by.
– They say that it is the very best they can get.
– That is what impotence always says. It takes the best that it can get, but that is not the attitude for the great men in the Ministry, to say nothing of their supporters at the back, to assume. This “ tired feeling “ will not suit the progressive life of Australian democracy, and the people will not allow such an attitude to prevail. Although I differ so much from the Age, I can well understand its position upon this matter. If this Tariff is ruining Australian industry then it ought to be improved. Personally, I think it is interfering in every way with the well-being of Australia, and I wish to put it upon a sound footing. Now, I come to matters of a wider range than those of party politics - matters which are suggested to us by several references in the Governor-General’s speech. There are only two other subjects with which I wish to deal, but they are of very great importance, not only to ourselves, but to the people of the Empire generally. I hope the House will pardon me if I deal with those questions. In the first place the Government intend to ask us to adopt a naval agreement which was arrived at in conference in London. . I confess that that agreement is not in the shape which I should like, but after giving the matter the most careful consideration - after fully informing myself of the nature of the additional strength which is involved in the agreement- and upon a view of the whole of the circumstances of the case I feel, that the Parliament of Australia cannot, with any sense of fairness or justice, refuse to make the slight concession asked for by the Imperial authorities. No man has a stronger desire than myself to see the beginning of an Australian navy, and I do not mean any support which I give to this agreement to be interpreted as hostile to that view. But it appears to me that we cannot justify a refusal to subscribe £200,000 a year to the burdens of the Empire in connexion with defence. I should be glad if our opportunities were greater, and we were in a position to take a larger share in connexion with the burden of Imperial defence. I “feel that so long as we think it right that Australia should remain within the bounds of ths Empire - and I hope that time will always remain - we must, so far as our means allow, do all we can to recognise our share in the duty of defence. If we were independent, I do not believe that, we could get the present defence for anything like the amount I have mentioned. Our own system of defence would,, in my opinion, be infinitely more costly, and perhaps not quite so efficient ; and, on review of the whole of the circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that it is’ our duty to accept the proposition which is made. Another matter, which the Government propose to postpone till a later period - practically until after the elections - is one which was discussed in the Imperial Conference with reference to a modification of our trading relations. I think the Government have acted wisely in not pressing this matter on the House this session. I have always expressed the view that if there is to be a revenue- tariff policy, such matters become insignificant, but that if on the other hand there is to be a policy of protection, and the people of Australia declare for a protective tariff, then the least that a protectionist self-governing State in the British Empire can do, if it is determined to shut the door against the mother country to a great extent, is to leave the door a little more open to the mother country than to foreign countries. Therefore, if the decision of the people of Australia is in favour of a protectionist tariff, or of the maintenance of the present tariff, in either event I shall be prepared to give my support to a measure distinguishing between the industries of the motherland and the industries of other countries ; but only on that basis. It would not be my act ; it would be a corollary of the act of those who believe in a protective policy. What is the essence of a protective policy ? It is the interfering with the industrial expansion of every other country in the world, in at any rate a certain number of lines of industry. Related as we are to the Empire, it always has seemed to me to be one of the proofs of the majestic generosity of a great people that they should not only hand over to us rights which enable us to treat this as our own country and our own independent property, but that in doing so they should also hand over to us the right to shut our own doors in the face of the country that has made us what we are. It is one of- the most majestic proofs of generosity that the world has ever seen. “Where would such countries as Australia be if they were under the flag of German)’, France, or the United States? I cannot forget the development of Imperial policy in the history of the British race There was a time in the history of Great Britain when the protectionist doctrine was not only fashionable, but when it permeated all the laws of the mother country. What was the colonial policy of England then? It was an odious phase of the protective principle, so odious that none of the British colonies could import a single article made outside Gre;it Britain unless it had first been landed on the shores of England and exported in British ships manned by crews which were three-fourths British. No colonial possession could sell one pound’s worth of produce to a man in a foreign country unless that produce had been laid down on the shores of England and re-shipped to the foreign country. That was the colonial policy of the Empire in the protectionist days. But we have had a marvellous expansion since then, and the people at the heart of our marvellous Empire have formed more enlightened opinions. The time was when . these protectionist laws were thought to be essential to the stability and security of the United Kingdom. The time was when the navigation laws were considered to be so vital to the stability of the Empire that brilliant men like Disraeli - some of the keenest intellects the mother country ever had - denounced the change from protectionist legislation as one of those disastrous steps which would lead to the immediate ruin of the British race. But we have had 50 years of this expansion of a generous policy. As the great Mr. Gladstone said, the self-governing colonies were left to buy their own experience in whatever market ‘they chose. If the colonies thought protection a good thing they were left free to adopt the policy. Under the POliCY of giving freedom, and of minimizing the ties of trade and business which existed between the central power and the dependencies of the Empire, the singular phenomenon developed that just as every official tie was removed - just as every artificial means of preserving Imperial trade was removed - just as, according to all the theories of a certain school of political economists, the whole Empire was in danger of dissolving by the mere looseness of the bonds which kept the different parts together, never* was the Empire stronger in point of fact, and never was loyalty more practical. We see now that whatever may be the history of other countries, that policy which is suited to the genius of the British race, whether in the mother land or in. her great dependencies scattered throughout the world, is such that the more the freedom and liberty the grander has been the union, the greater the loyalty, and the more unassailable the strength and stability of the Empire. On theory, all those statesmen of the past would be aghast at the spectacle of the parts of this majestic system revolving in independent orbits without any visible tie or control to keep them in their places. But still they do revolve without collision or collapse. .Day after day in spite of loose ties, and in spite of discordant policies, the Empire has grown stronger and stronger. With all respect to Mr. Chamberlain, whom I consider one of the greatest patriotic, statesmen of English public life, and who, I believe, is not a man to advocate great changes in the Empire merely from suggestions of political convenience, I cannot help thinking that, when upon his return to England from South Africa he made the significant remark that he found the people of Great Britain engaged so much upon matters of domestic concern, and so little upon matters of Imperial policy, he was unconsciously endeavouring, to make them forget the things which are threatening the downfall of his Government and of his party. The secret of the greatness of the Empire has been the loyalty and devotion of the people of England to their own affairs. It is the municipal instinct within the British race rather than the Imperial instinct of high policy which have made it great. High policy describes magnificent curves, but it may lead to great disasters. It is from the steady, practical common-sense of the race, which has developed with all its might the things near at hand and within its power, that we get the grand results of the British Empire to-day. In a certain sense we are responsible for the . burdens of the Empire, but we forget that I this Empire, with most of its burdens, has: been constructed upon principles and policies with which we have had nothing to do. When Mr. Chamberlain appeals tous on behalf of an Empire which isstaggering under its burdens, we cannot forget that, for good or for evil, he is one of a party of statesmen who within the last fifteen years have added 4,000,000 squaremiles of territory to the burdens of theEmpire, and have increased by 50 per cent, the area for which the flag is responsible. Under a similar policy the expenditure which the British taxpayer has to meet has been increased in six years by £54,000,000 per annum, the expenditure in the year 1896-7 being £75,000,000, and the estimated expenditure for the year 1903-4, £129,000,000. Who is responsible for the enormous increase in the territory of the Empire ? Are we ? When people talk of the burdens of the Empire they must remember that, whilst we are strong in the defence of the Empire, if it comes to large money contributions we must be regarded asbeing in the position of pioneers. Australia is a pioneer of the Empire. Australians, by their enterprise, are making this great continent the -source of renewed health,, strength, and prosperity for the whole British race. That is our task in the building up of the Empire. If you measure our loyalty by the amount of money we contribute, we must occupy but a very humble and insignificant place. But true statesmanship does not look at young, struggling communities in that light. Amongst the marvels of patriotism displayed by such communities were the great sacrifices of our busy peoples when the mother country was in difficulty in South Africa. It is not in money contributions that Australia can help the Empire; it is in the maintenance of a spirit of thorough accord, loyalty, and affection. Those thingsare not to be got by business adjustments. They are not promoted by the multiplicity of self interests which you endeavour to invent. It seems to me that in trying to inrent new ties, we are very apt to invent fresh sources of disaffection and trouble, and that when in those dark official days we were bound by a thousand ties to Downingstreet, there: was a feeling of disaffection, distrust, and dislike which in these days is. not heard of. In carving out a place for ourselves, as our fathers did before us, we are doing that which is right by the parent land and the parent race. We cannot help the Empire much with money contributions, but we are prepared to help it in every (;on.ceivable way which will be beneficial to the mother country and to ourselves. No one has a keener desire than I have to turn the back upon unjust foreign systems of trading such as the mother country has suffered from in the past. I am not a believer in free-trade because I think it helps the enemies of my country, but because I think it helps my country. I would hit Germany and any other country which competes unfairly against us, if I did not fear that in trying to hit” them I might hurt our own people. When I was Premier of New South Wales, I opened the doors of that State to the people of Victoria, without the slightest symptom of a generous response. Why did not I retaliate ? I should have retaliated had I not felt that in so doing I should expose my own people to suffering and loss. If I had to choose between Germany and the mother country, I would have very little of Germany. I would come to the rescue of the mother country in the matter of trade as in anything else. But I do not wish to see the mother country, after she has emerged from artifical methods of protection, go back to them. Must not such a course make one fear that the indomitable spirit of the race is beginning to fail ? What chance has the mother country on the hostile paths of commerce abroad if she cannot fight the foreigner at her own door ? What method of preserving the majestic strength and development of the Empire is it for her to shiver on her own hearthstone ? If Britain cannot master these problems of competition and unfairness by other methods her day has passed. It is a false policy which seeks strength behind barricades. A barricade is a grand thing for a weak force, but not for a force which is going forth to conquer. Where would the majestic achievements of Great Britain be if that had been her policy in the past? In spite of hostile Tariffs, in spite of attempts to shut the doors of the world against her, she has a trade infinitely larger than that of her competitors. She has a trade about twice as large as that of Germany. Her export trade, small island as Great Britain is, is 20 or 30 per cent, larger than that of Germany. I speak of Germany because public men are not insensible of’ the advantage of singling out obnoxious individuals as a means of advancing an argument. But what is the competition of Germany to the competition of the United States? German commerce is a mere incident compared with that of the United States. There is a trade of £140,000,000 a year between the United Kingdom and the United States ; but the exports from the United States to the mother country are worth £120,000,000, while the exports from the mother country to the United State’s are worth only £20,000,000. Out of £140,000,000 of’ trade only £20,000,000 is sent back to the United States. In regard to Germany, the ‘ balance between our exports .and imports is trivial. I do not like the method of solving vital questions upon which the welfare of this great Empire depends, by appeals to prevailing passions. Do we not know that if there is ft wrong in this kind of thing the great author of that wrong is the United States ? Surely a customer that buys £120,000,000 worth a year from the United States might receive some show of generous treatment in return. If we will make this British Empire a close corporation, if we will have this doubtful Imperial spirit the vital principle of our Empire, we had better begin to establish a system of universal conscription. The countries which shut their ports have millions of soldiers behind them. If those little countries, mere spots on the face of the earth, have this backbone of military power in carrying out their selfish and unfriendly policy, then, if we are going to establish similar lines of public policy, we must consider the enormous amount of reserved power we must have. I do not say for a moment that I would not do anything. Make any departure you like. I agree with Mr. Chamberlain. Let us cast aside phrases. Let us cast aside the terms free-trade and protection. If this thing were a good thing for the Empire I should be one of the foremost to urge the change. One is open to conviction. I am only addressing these remarks to the House because I feel that I ought to make some contribution to an investigation of this kind. I have felt it more respectful to do so in this Chamber than through the columns of the press, and I feel that when such matters are brought to our attention it is our duty as members of an important part of the Empire to consider them. . I hope the House will pardon me if I occupy a little time upon this subject. I admit that it is against all the theories of the world as they are understood, but still it is a fact that when the navigation laws of England were in full force - when they were of the kind I have described - the foreign shipping that entered and cleared the ports of protectionist England represented the proportion of 30 per cent. In the dark days, when all these artificial restraints were put upon foreign shipping, the shipping from abroad that still came into the shut ports of the United Kingdom constituted 30 per cent, of the total shipping entering and leaving the United Kingdom. That was in 1840. Sixty years have passed. The British ports have been defenceless. The ports of the other countries have still been shut against them, and enormous subsidies have been paid to French and German lines of shipping to enable them to fight this helpless rival. And what is the result ? After 60 years of open ports and of this open policy, the proportion of foreign shipping that now enters and clears the ports of the United Kingdom is only what it was then. Some people make England responsible for decay if she is not able to resist the law of development in other countries. It is the greatest absurdity in the world. The greatest calamity that could happen to England will occur when these other countries open their ports. The great opportunity of British manufacturing genius and enterprise is secured when the manufacturers of all the other countries of the world have to pay toll on their raw material, whilst the British manufacturer can buy all over the world, and bring the raw material of all the world into his own factory upon the cheapest possible terms. There is no magic in these marvels of industry. Let us consider the matter for a moment. If we put all England under wheat to-morrow ; if we revived the glories of agriculture in England to-morrow, how much would all the wheat of England come to 1 We are dealing with a people who upon that little speck of earth are earning, either in the country or from foreign sources, an annual income of £1,700,000,000. That is the country which opes to improve its strength by artificial methods. I am open to be convinced. If I could believe that there was any sort of contrivance which would enable us to help the mother country against unfriendly nations, I should be prepared to support it. But it is a singular thing that no practical scheme was submitted to the conference. Mr. Chamberlain invited the Prime Ministers of the Empire to meet him in conference upon these matters. Had not our Prime Minister a right to expect that that great practical statesman, with his enormous acquaintance with the problems, not only of ‘ Empire, but of trade - with all the resources of the British Government behind him - would have some sort of scheme to submit to the conference? The greatest difficulty must come in the case of the mother country. The imports of the mother country are nearly all composed of two lines - food, and raw materials for manufactures. Those are the two vital elements to the British people to-day. It does not pay them to grow wheat; they make too much in other directions. Food and raw materials ! Put duties on food 1 It was done under the glamour of that great patriotic outburst when the British Government was so miserably opposed by a very able man, no doubt, who missed the greatest opportunity in the history of the British liberal party when he did not loyally go behind the Government in the hour of England’s trouble, reserving to himself the right to deal with her failures as a leader of a loyal party. I attribute the position of the liberal party in England to-day to the unfortunate attitude which its leader took in a time of great national trouble. There is one thing the people of no country will stand, and that is, when it is engaged in a bitter wai’, to find its leaders critics, instead of friends and allies. The time for criticism comes afterwards. I consider that we are in a critical stage now in connexion with the British Empire. There are times when our attention may well be devoted to a subject which covers the whole range of the Empire - one that is not bounded by Melbourne and suburbs. The British Government, at a time when they were powerful enough to do anything, imposed a duty on wheat. That was hailed as a proof that the British Government were determined to begin a policy of protection. The answer is shown now. The same British conservative protectionist Government is taking the first opportunity of removing that tax, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in announcing his intention to take it off, intimated that it had been proved a disappointing and inelastic tax. Thus the first little experiment which had even the suggestion of a protective motive had not been on the statute-book for two years before the old tory party of England removed it. What is the use of one member of a Cabinet talking about readjusting the fiscal system of the Empire one day, and the next day the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing that the Government would not tamper with protectionist suggestions until the heart and soul of the people were roused? In this matter, as I said, believing in the policy which has prevailed for so many years, which perhaps will not stand analysis by the academician, but which, in the actual development of national life, has made this a greater and a stronger Empire than it over was before, I feel so deeply concerned for the stability and strength of this Empire that I think most people will follow my example in requiring the most absolute proof of the wisdom of a change before the change takes place. As you .will have observed, I have not been talking about Australia. Australia is a young country. It can afford to make mistakes, and can recover from them. But, speaking of this mother country of ours, this majestic heart of the great Imperial frame, if in the great powers which Imperial statesmen use, some new and daring departures of policy come on, we do not know into what difficulties they may land us. There is a strong presumption in favour of the state of things that has produced such marvellous results as those to which I have referred, but I say that so long as Australia persists in a protective tariff there is absolutely no reason in the world why we should not give the mother country a preference over other countries. If you will shut the door upon her, as I have said, I should be prepared to shut it harder upon other countries. But all these projects are alien to my view of the sound relations which should exist in governing countries. I believe in a power of taxation which is used only for the legitimate necessities of the State, and I feel so strongly the danger to which the Empire is exposed that I have felt it to be my duty upon this occasion to mention fully and frankly to this House the sentiments which I entertain.
– In dealing with the attack which my right honorable friend has made upon the Government, I should like to point out that unless his comments upon the six hatters’ case, which I shall refer to presently, are to be taken as an exception, none of the legislation passed by the Government in the last session, nor a particle of that which can be reached according to the Governor-General’s speech in the present session, has been the subject of his criticism. _ So that so far as our legislation and its policy are concerned, .always, of course, excepting the Tariff, the right honorable gentleman has found no point oE attack. That is a significant commentary upon the. whole of his speech. Not that I take the speech altogether too seriously, because having listened carefully and attentively to it, I am not honestly able to credit the right honorable gentleman with having said anything which in any sense seriously weakens the position of the Government. He has alluded to the fact that the High Court and the Inter-State Commission Bills were two of the measures included in the programme of the Government before the last session began. That is true. They occupied prominent positions in our speeches, and though neither were promised as first measures, I freely admit that they occupied equally prominent positions in the Governor-General’s speech. Any one who thinks for himself will be able fairly to come to. this conclusion at any rate : That however necessary it was to pass a High Court Bill, it was necessary in the first instance to carry out such measures as the regulation and amalgamation, so far as we could during the bookkeeping period, of the post-offices of all the States. It was necessary to regulate the public service of the Commonwealth. And as we had to bring in a Tariff during the first session, lest by any chance we should be outside the limitation of two years imposed by the Constitution, it was necessary to bring down along with it a comprehensive Customs measure. Honorable members know that the Tariff was not out of hand for a a period of just about eleven months. That, with such business as could be by any chance introduced whilst the Tariff was not under immediate consideration, occupied two-thirds of the session. The measures that I have mentioned with those for the establishment of a white Australia policy were measures which were not only necessary, but which were urgent. The carrying out of the white Australia policy was a subject of this prime consideration. You may talk of legislating for your people how you will, but your first care, I think, should be to take care what your people are. And though they may be in some cases very efficient in industry, if you do not wish to be in a continual course of legislation for races which are ‘in one sense or another, according to our notions, inferior to the race to which we belong, it will be your prime . consideration to take such steps as will preserve the national characteristics which we hope to be everlasting in this part of the world.
– The right honorable gentleman did not legislate for races, but for people who could not pass an educational test.
– I shall come to that educational test and to my right honorable friend’s part in it before I sit down. The right honorable gentleman may be sure I shall not blink it, because he has made references to it to which I find it quite proper’ that I should make an answer. But I claim, as I think I shall be able to show by the returns, that the measures passed for this purpose are working out their end and doing it satisfactorily. I am not at one with those who think that legislation of that kind could well and properly have been postponed until the second session. It would have been a matter of very great gratification to the Government indeed if time could have been found in that very prolonged session for the passing of the High Court Bill. But we must not forget the circumstances which surrounded us. Some of them I have already detailed. Let us now come to others. Has not my right honorable friend constantly represented during the recess ‘ that, for fear that we should make appointments to the Bench during the recess - and he claims by inference some God-given right to be the monopolist in these appointments - he and his friends prevented us from carrying the High Court Bill in the first session ? Has he not, in speeches here and there, stated that he, with the patriotic assistance of his friends in the Opposition, took care that we should not pass a Bill - earlier or later in the session does not matter - that would give us the right to make appointments in the recess, while Parliament was not sitting? Well, if we had passed that Bill so late in session that appointments could only have been made in the recess, we should have had the onus of doing that, and should have done it with this knowledge - that ought to be constantly before our eyes, and before the mental vision of every Government - that if we did wrong in making this appointment or that we should be subject to the censure of Parliament immediately it met. That is a responsibility which we were not likely to shirk, and could not have shirked if we wished to do so. So that all this talk about these motives for delaying or keeping back the High Court Bill - or, rather, these motives for saying that we could not pass it in the first session - vanish into moonshine when once we recognise that the perennial responsibility of Ministers would have attached to them whatever they did under that Bill. Myright honorable friend has given that reason, and he has also given another. The difficulty of his position is that the two reasons cannot stand together. Let me read to the House what he said in an interview or a speech - I forget which - -during the last recess. The right honorable member speaks of what he deems an unworthy turn of mine, which I shall come to directly.
– What has the right honorable gentleman got there 1
– Some cuttings, some of which will grow into very thriving plants directly. The right honorable gentleman has charged the Government with neglect over the creation of the High Court, and has, at the same time, posed as though we wanted to pass the Bill, but he would not let us. Now, as reported in the Argus of 8th May, he charges us with neglect, and those two points cannot stand together. He said -
It was generally believed that Senator O’Connor would go on the High Court Bench. There was no one in Australia but would applaud the appointment of such a distinctly able man, but the Goverment had no right to play fast and loose over it. Senator O’Connor was the one man who stood out for the conspicuously able and businesslike way in which he had discharged his duties in the Senate.
None of that praise is too much.
He was too valuable to the Government, and it would have been inconvenient for them to lose such a good man in the middle of the session, so they selfishly put the Bill aside.
So that the Bill was kept back for three causes - first, because the right honorable member would not let it be passed ; next, because the Government was neglectful ; and thirdly, because they wanted to keep
Senator O’Connor, and therefore did not want to pass the Bill until they could dispense with his services. There is . a variety of reasons. If any honorable member can find any one of them that will stand together with the others, he is welcome to come and take the place which I occupy, because he has far more ingenuity than I credit myself with.
Mr.Reid. - I referred to the matter of the delay in not going on with the Bill.
– The right honorable member referred to delay in not -going on with it, but he knew full well that that delay was inevitable. He knew full well of the measures which occupied this House, including the Tariff, the debates on which did not suffer in the way of length for anything which he and his friends did ; he must have been aware, when he made that charge, that the pendency of the Tariff! and the pendency of the other measures which it was absolutely necessary to pass in that session, had been such that the hope of passing the Bill was much less than we had expected. Did the right honorable member prevent the Government from passing the Bill, because he could not trust them to make appointments in the recess? If that be true, it cannot be that the Government sacrificed the Bill for the selfish motive of retaining the services of Senator O’Connor in the Senate. I have often during last session given answers to questions which ought to have saved the Government from that unworthy insinuation. _ Again and again I have stated that the Government have refused as a Ministry to consider appointments under the High Court Bill, the Inter- State Commission Bill, or any other of those great measures under which offices must be created, until those Bills were either passed or as good as passed. And for these reasons - that wherever in the effort to pass such legislation you allow these matters to be too closely discussed beforehand, and a set of people outside, we will say, are on the alert for the purpose of securing offices for their friends, you may create an undercurrent of feeling which renders it difficult to pass your legislation in the impartial form which it should assume.
– Surely that would not happen in connexion with the Judges of the High Court ?
– I say that it is a general principle of legislation that the Government upon whom it devolves to make appointments should not make known beforehand who are to be appointed, but should wait until the legislation is practically secure before it mentions names in that connexion ; and I have repeatedly said - and this applies to Senator O’Connor as well as to any one else - that not a name has been allowed to be mentioned in Cabinet in connexion with any one of those appointments. Therefore, so much for the alleged delay with respect to the High Court Bill. The Inter- State Commission Bill stands much in the same position. But we must recollect this with regard to both of them - that there was an amount of opposition displayed towards them in the early stages of the session. But now that events have developed in the Commonwealth’, and that their nature has been more closely examined, they stand in a different position. We approach these questions now in a much cooler temperature, and both of them have a much better chance of passing as satisfactory measures. But we were told that while we failed to push on these two measures, about one of which my right honorable friend has given forth three such remarkably variegated opinions, there were two others which we unduly hastened. That was, the taking over of the two transferred departments which have passed into our hands in addition “to the Customs department. Our view on that subject after full discussion in Cabinet was this : The question was - was it better to pass Bills regulating the transferred departments before assuming their administration, or to take over their administration as a prelude ; to passing the Bills? We decided, after having fully considered the question - and this has been explained over and over again, but the explanation seems to have been forgotten or lost sight of - that it was rather futile to expect to have a sufficient knowledge of the working of any transferred department unless some Federal Minister were in the position to administer it, and to gain a practical knowledge of what was required in the way of legislation. I take it, that in doing that we have acted upon a sound and wise principle, and that in the case of departments involving considerable study, such as those of the Post-office and Defence, it was light and just to take them over and investigate their working before bringing forward any measure that would afterwards stand or fall by its application to the needs of the community:
– That is what the Government did not do.
– That is precisely , what we did do. The honorable member forgets that, although the Post and Telegraph and Defence departments were taken over on 1st March, 1901, it was months afterwards before measures were introduced to deal with those departments, and they were not introduced until the Ministers had endeavoured to satisfy themselves of what was required. Although we got no further than passing the second reading of the Defence Bill without a division, still there was a valuable discussion of its provisions - a discussion which elicited opinions which were an additional guidance, no doubt, to the Minister, superadded to that which he could gain from administering the department ; and perhaps one is not sorry that the opportunity of further consideration has been gained. But if that is so, it again emphasizes the wisdom of a Minister being permitted to familiarize himself with a transferred department from six States before he begins to legislate about it.
– Will the same thing apply to patents ?
– It may not apply to patents, because the determination of the principles to be laid down in such a measure do not involve the same amount of actual daily experience in the working of the department, which needs much less administration than the others. But it does involve the laying down of certain broad principles under which inventors may beneficially exercise their talent and their ingenuity. The Customs department was automatically transferred by the Constitution. It was possible to take over before legislation four other departments - Postoffice, Defence, Quarantine, and Lighthouses, with their adjuncts. Patents are not included in that list, and it is impossible to effect a transfer of the Patents department without legislation. That, therefore, places the Patents department in a totally different position from the others to which I have been alluding. If we wish to take over any other department besides the Customs and the four others named in the Constitution, we can only effect that transfer by legislation, and until then we cannot administer the department in any shape or form. That is the clearly understood line of demarcation between what was possible with the transferred or transferable departments, and those which can only be transferred by legislation. I am indebted to my honorable friend for calling my attention to. that point, because it helps to make matters clear. The leader of the Opposition has made some references to my speech in Tasmania, which, out of fair play and by way of balance, I have already counterpoised by making reference to one speech of his. He says that I charged the Opposition with having caused the loss of the tea duty. What I pointed out was that a large number- of members of the Opposition voted or paired against the tea duty, although according to their tenets it was one of the most legitimate duties which could be imposed.
– Did not the right honorable and learned gentleman say that the leader of the Opposition, iri combination with the labour party, threw out the tea duty?
– I said that a number of the members of the Opposition voting with him, combined with the labour party, for that purpose, and that that was the main reason why the tea duty was defeated, and so it was.
– That the leader of the Opposition combined with the labour party to defeat the tea duty ?
– Undoubtedly. I do not mean to say by any treaty or compact. The air is full of accusations against us of combining with the labour party, when we had neither compact, nor treaty, nor negotiation with them ; and in the same sense Ave can charge the right honorable and learned member and a number of his supporters with combining in the same way, and that is - to put it politely to them - taking their opportunity whenever they found it to defeat the opposite party by such a combination of votes.
– The acting leader of the Opposition made a strong speech in favour of the tea duty.
– Who says not 1 He could be relied on.
– Then what is the use of saying these things ?
– I have not the slightest doubt but that the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, will always vote for a tea duty. It is put before the House that it was by the defection of a number of our own supporters that the tea duty was lost. Let us look and see what element had the stronger effect in producing the result. I am now quoting the names of gentlemen who are not in the third party so as to show what the result was as between the Government and the direct Opposition. Of the members who voted against the tea duty, and who belonged to the protectionist party, counting pairs, there were eight. Of the members of the direct Opposition and acknowledged free-traders who voted against the tea duty, counting pairs, there were ten.
– How many of the steerage party ?
– I do not know, and I have only one remark to make about the question of steering from the steerage - that, judging from some of the things we have seen in the press in the recess, and a little of that which we have heard to-night, there is a more malodorous part of a ship than the steerage, but from which the other ship can just as easily be steered, and that is the bilge. I have shown that the number of votes and pairs coming from the direct Opposition against the tea duty was larger than the number of defections from the Government side, so that their action was more than counterbalanced by the action of the right honorable and learned member and his friends. But he admitted that it was a legitimate duty. If it was a legitimate duty, and his desire was to adopt legitimate duties, and try to knock out what he called illegitimate duties, why did he not vote for the tea duty and redouble his efforts to knock out the illegitimate duties?
– The night before the Treasurer came down with a statement to the effect that the Government were going to receive under the Tariff £475,000 more than was originally estimated, and that is the reason why the Opposition voted against the tea duty.
– That is a totally unnecessary interruption, because it does not affect the argument I am addressing to the House.
– It is true all the same
– I notice that the honorable member becomes peculiarly lively in interruptions whenever he is disconcerted, and he is following his usual policy to-night.
– I only know that you tried to rob the people by imposing taxation.
– Is that a parliamentary expression, sir ?
– The honorable member for Macquarie will have an opportunity of speaking later on.
– I do not make charges of that kind. I do not even say that anybody in the House who makes certain unworthy and disgraceful references to a political opponent is trying to cheat the people.
– I did not wish to say anything offensive to the right honorable and learned gentleman. What I wished to imply by my statement in regard to his robbing the people was this–
– The honorable member can only offer an explanation when there is no honorable member addressing the House.
– We are told ‘ that I made that reference in my speech in Tasmania because tea is a strong line in that State. It may be a strong line there. I know that Tasmania has a very considerable shortage of Customs revenue having regard to what she requires. . That shows very strongly that the present Tariff is not higher than that formerly in operation there.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the matter.
– Then the Tariff revision phrase has no application. Now if tea is a “ strong line” in Tasmania, the railway is a “strong line “ in Western Australia, and I shall show honorable members what the right honorable gentleman, who has attacked the Government, has had to say about the Western Australian railway project. If I recollect aright, he said that he had always spoken, in favour of thisrailway, and yet I remember a time when he expressed certain other opinions to an interviewer of the Sydney Daily Telegraph as reported in that newspaper on the 15th January, 1901. Before any Ministerial manifesto had been largely discussed, but after I had made some statements to an interviewer, this report appeared in the Daily Telegraph -
Mr. Reid .regards Mr. Barton’s assurance that the Government will shortly consider the question of building a railway from Western Australia to South Australia as nothing but a political trick intended to influence the Western Australian vote.
That was a splendid way for the right honorable gentleman to express himself in favour of the project.
– I believe there is a good deal of that element still. I should like to see a little less talk and a little more work.
– We can understand the right honorable and very disorderly member when he says before this matter comes into the Ministerial manifesto, that any mention of it is a trick to deceive the electors of Western Australia. We can understand him and his sincerity most perfectly when, after this matter has been made the subject of a Ministerial pronouncement, he goes to Western Australia and accuses the Government of not being sufficiently expeditious, at the same time telling the people that he would build the railway, engineer or no engineer. His utterances on this subject are even more variegated than his statements regarding the High Court Bill. One’ day the mere mention of the matter is a political trick to deceive the electors, but when the right honorable gentleman goes to Western Australia, where the railway is, to quote his own words, a “strong line,” he represents that if he had anything to do with it he would build the railway without reference to engineers or any one else. This is the gentleman who talks about a political trick. Now I can reply to the right honorable gentleman in his own words - “ Why should he forget facts so far?” In reference to the tea duty, the right honorable gentleman charges the Government with subservience to the labour party because the honorable member for Bland said he would divide the House against the Government on the question of the recommittal of the duty. The answer to that charge is that the Government considered the question for themselves. They considered whether they had a reasonable chance of securing the recommittal of the duty during the then current session.
– What about the salt duty ?
– The honorable member can talk to the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Solomon, about that. The position of the Government regarding the tea duty was that they very carefully examined the whole question. Although a statement had been made by the Treasurer as to the probable results of the Tariff, the honorable member for Macquarie, if he looked into federal questions as federal questions, would soon con.prehend that the revenue raised under the Tariff must be relative to a large extent to the financial needs of the various States. With a tea duty the financial positions of Queensland and Tasmania would have been very largely improved, and, although the duty would give much larger returns to some of the States which did not need revenue, it was the anxious desire of the Government to so adjust the revenue with duties like that on tea and other articles, that the more necessitous States would receive a greater financial return, and be relieved to a large extent from the effects of the shortage that would otherwise ensue. The Government were very anxious to recommit the duty with this object, and I now frankly confess, as I did at the time, that when we came to consider the matter, we thought that it would take a very long time, and that it was very doubtful whether the recommittal would be agreed to. What the Government felt, therefore, and what I then stated, was that we should wait until we could see whether the revenue returns showed any necessity for the duty. We were prepared to await the result of the operation of the Tariff without the duty for some months. Our intention, therefore, was not to bring it up again .during that session, but to observe the working of the Tariff. If it showed, as we were afraid that it might after a time, a diminished revenue, we could then ask the House to reconsider its determination. The Tariff returns, however, as the Governor-General’s speech has shown, are very satisfactory.
– That shows that we were right after all.
– It does not show that the honorable member was right. The Tariff receipts have turned out very satisfactory, and it is anticipated that sufficient revenue can be secured and that unnecessary financial embarrassment to the States can be avoided, although we were very much afraid that without the tea and other duties such embarrassment would ensue.
– That shows that we had a better knowledge than had the Government.
– I do not think so. The honorable member for Macquarie is one of the best oppositionists of whom I know. I never knew him to neglect an opportunity of embarrassing the other side, irrespective altogether of financial forecasts. I am not sure that it may not transpire at any time that there are occasions when a gentleman who may be absent from this House, and who does not quite know what questions may turn up in his absence, acting in full reliance in the sagacity of the whip of his party, allows that whip to decide how his pair shall go. In reference to the Immigration Restriction Act, the honorable member for East Sydney has fallen foul of a passage in the speech which I delivered in Sydney about a month ago. The right honorable gentleman has purported to quote from the report in the * Sydney Morning Herald.* I shall give honorable members the full quotation of that part of my speech as it was reported in the newspaper referred to. I stated -
The attempt to defeat the Immigration Restriction Act was no attempt on behalf of the labour party -
I think I said “ no insidious attempt,” because they acted on what they thought was a just principle.
As far as they were concerned, they were al ways in favour of direct exclusion. I then” went on to say -
But the Opposition tried to defeat the Act, because they were leagued with those who want cheap labour throughout the Commonwealth.
The phrase which I have quoted is the right honorable gentleman’s subject of attack, and it is supposed that I am accusing him of entering into a combination–
– An unholy combination.
– I do not find the words “ unholy combination “ in the report.
– I saw them there yesterday.
– It is very strange that I do not find them. However, they may be there, and in the meantime I will allow that they are there. What I wish to say is that it was as easily understood by my audience as* it will be easily understood by those who sit. around me, that one constant ground of opposition by protectionists to the policy of free-trade is that the industries and the manufactures of a country cannot be well carried on without cheap labour unless there is a Tariff to protect them. With such a Tariff we could do without cheap labour, and in the absence of such a Tariff we could do without cheap labour ; but in the latter . ‘ case we should not have the manufactures which our country desires and needs. There is a choice of two things - protection, at a reasonable rate of wages, and free-trade, with cheap importation, which must necessarily drive wages down. In this connexion nothing could have been better expressed than was the utterance of the Secretary of State for the Colonies the other day, when he referred to the fact that it was immaterial whether the people of England could secure goods cheaply, if their workers had not the money with which to pay for them.
– The workers were never in a better position than they are to-day.
– Again st the conclusion of the right honorable member I prefer to take that of’ the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I hope he will excuse me for making the preference, because I do so in no disrespectful spirit. Every protectionist regards the free-trade party, unless its members are false to its tenets, as being anxious to obtain the benefit of cheap labour. With cheap importations endangering their manufactures, how can they carry them to a successful conclusion without importing a class of labour which enters too cheaply into competition with their own, and which, while it enables their manufactures to be carried on for the benefit of the manufacturers,- does not in any sense allow their own working people to participate in those benefits 1 That is the position of the protectionist . as against that of the free-trader. When I speak of the right honorable and learned member being in league with those who desire cheap labour throughout the Commonwealth, it is because I cannot conceive of a free-trade policy being carried out in this country without its necessarily having the effect of decreasing the rate of wages in manufactures to such an extent that it is impossible to carry on those enterprises with our own people, and only possible to do so by importing those below our own standard. That may be a wrong view to take - probably it is, in the opinion of my right honorable friend - but it is honestly my view, and one which I took leave to express. If my right honorable friend thinks it conveyed any personal imputation, I can assure him that no such thing was intended, and if it had that effect on the minds of my hearers I should be very sorry indeed.
– If it was merely a protectionist wheeze I do not mind a bit.
– A protectionist wheeze is sometimes better than a free-trade gasp. What I was saying of the right honorable and learned member was this - that, he had really allied himself in speech and division with those who, honestly enough on their part, proposed an amendment which he, from his own experience, must have seen would have endangered the passage of the Immigration Restriction Bill. I wished to pass an effective measure. I knew that the passage of any measure in which the colour line was sharply drawn - that is, a measure the object of which was direct exclusion - would, if we could place any reliance on the statements made to my right honorable friend and the other Premiers who were present at the Imperial Conference in 1S97, be endangered, and that even if it were passed it would be only at the price of embarrassment to the Empire in its internal and external relations. That was my honest opinion, as it was also that of my right honorable and learned friend, because when he went to England in 1897 he had already submitted to the New South Wales Parliament a Bill containing a distinct provision for the exclusion of coloured races. I think that he had actually passed the measure, and that it was reserved for the Royal assent. If my recollection be correct, it had not been distinctly disallowed b)’ the Home Government when the Imperial Conference met. At that gathering, however Mr. Chamberlain made a speech to the assembled Premiers pointing out that the internal and external relations of the Empire would alike be embarrassed ‘by the passing of any immigration restriction measure which drew an express colour line. He referred to the Act which had been passed in Natal - unfortunately too late for many practical purposes - and suggested to the Premiers from the self-governing colonies that upon their return, if they wished to pass any measure of the sort, it should be upon the lines of that Act, instead of containing provision for the direct exclusion of. coloured races.
– He never made any such remark to me.
– That does, not matter if what I have stated is the substance of that which the Secretary of State for the Colonies declared and published for the benefit of the Australian Premiers.
– He never said that an Actwould not be passed unless we did what hetold us.
– No. But. that the right honorable and learned member himself entertained grave doubt whetherany such measure would be assented to is. evidenced by the fact that upon his return to Australia he introduced and passed a. Bill upon the lines of the Natal Act, despitethe fact that he had previously carried in the New South Wales Parliament a measurecontaining provision for the direct exclusion of coloured races, and one which had not. been assented to by the Imperial authorities. That the right honorable and learned member apprehended what the fate of that measure would be unless he acted upon theadvice which was ‘tendered to him is perfectly clear from the fact that he came back to Australia and passed a Bill on the linesof the Natal Act.
– As a mere makeshift.
– The right, honorable and learned member says that he> did so because New South Wales was tooweak to insist upon the passage of a Bill containing provision for the direct exclusion of coloured races, whereas the Commonwealth could have insisted upon the passage of such a measure. But I would point out that if the effect of such action on the part of the Commonwealth was likely to embarrass theEmpire within and without, that was not a laudable ambition. After what the right honorable member has said to-night about the Empire; after the glowing periods in which he has praised its progress, and offered up his deepest vows and wishes for its integrity, is it conceivable that in the face of an assurance from Mr. Chamberlain of the nature I have indicated - an assurance which did not depend upon Mr. Chamber. Iain’s strength or weakness, but upon theinternal and external relations of the Empire - he should, having done one thing when he was Premier of New South Wales, be ready to do another as leader of the
Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament ? Surely that position could not be justified. When I hear talk about “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain,” who was it, I ask, who said “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain” in 1897 ? Who was it that came back to Australia and passed the very measure which the Secretary of State for the Colonies had advised 1 If that was not a case of “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain,” then from what mouth does such a statement proceed? The right honorable member said - “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain “ in practice, but when an amendment was moved from the Opposition, it was then “ Yes, Mr. Watson “ came in. When the right honorable member was near Mr. Chamberlain it was “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain,” and he was very close to Mr. Watson when it was “Yes, Mr. Watson.”
– I often say “ yes “ to the honorable member for Bland ; he is a very decent fellow.
– No doubt the right honorable member would like to see a little more of the honorable member for Bland. Of course there was no compact ; it was only that the right -honorable member and the honorable member for Bland fortuitously and extraordinarily happened during five years to vote the same way. That, of course, was not “ steering from the steerage.”
– No, it was not.
– It was not, because what the right honorable member calls “ the steerage,” he had cheek by jowl with him in the saloon.
– That is where labour ought always to be.
– Then why call the labour party “ the steerage ?” However the right honorable member tries to change about, it only means that every further reference causes another wriggle.
– Oh, that is evident.
– It is true, and cannot be denied. So much then for this attack on the Immigration Restriction Act. We all know the right honorable member’s history in relation to this matter. It is like all other parts of his history - and I say this in all kindness - in that it is absolutely consistent and true to the prevailing description of his acts and policy - it is a “ Yes- No “ policy.
– I have done more in two years in a straight line than the Prime d 2
Minister could do all. his life. I have done something for the country to which I belong.
– I must ask honorable members not to so frequently interrupt speakers. I have called attention to this breach of order once before to-day, and do not wish to have to do so again.
– I should not mind the interruptions so much if they did not take up time. AVe are told that the Government acted in subservence to a British Minister - that we adopted the policy we did in this Act because of an intimation received from that Minister. But it was conclusively shown by the AttorneyGeneral last session that this charge was absolutely unfounded, and I am more than astonished that it should be renewed. The right honorable member was told, and it was proved - I believe the draft was brought to the table - that before the despatch was received from Mr. Chamberlain the Bill was in draft containing this clause.
– It was in print.
– And when the proof is in cold print and the right honorable member has been confronted with it, what excuse is there for renewing a charge of this kind?
– I did not make any such charge. The Attorney-General is quite right in what he says regarding the facts. What I said was that no Government should come to this House to discuss a Bill, having previously submitted themselves to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for his approval of the lines on which it was to be carried out.
– The answer to that is that the Government had “committed themselves in one if not more drafts of the Bill long before Mr. Chamberlain’s despatch came. The Government had thinkingly and deliberately adopted the policy before the despatch, which was supposed to have influenced it, was ever penned. That, I think, is a complete answer to’ the charge. As a matter of fact, the right honorable member based his criticism on a note which I had written on the margin of the despatch, and which I showed him. That note was made on the receipt of the despatch, and it was to the effect that the Government did not contemplate in the intended Bill to lay down any lines other than those mentioned in the despatch. But why did I say that? Because the Bill was there in print, and when we. had already adopted a policy which was in consonance with the despatch, it is too bad to renew an accusation which has already been refuted in clear and set terms by a Minister of tho Crown. Reference has been made to what Senator O’Connor said as reported on page 127 of Mansard; and his speech was correctly quoted. All I have to say is that that speech was made ou the 10th of May, shortly after the beginning of the session, and at that time, as I have stated, the Bill was already in draft and in the same form as now. Senator O’Connor, in replying to a question, seems to have made a mistake in saying or implying that there would be a direct exclusion of aliens, while there would be an educational test applied tocoloured people who were British subjects.That was not the policy of the Government as laid down in the Bill ; and the matter escaped my attention, or I should have pointed out the provisions to Senator O’Connor. We all knowthataMinisterinthe opening days of the session may, in the same way as an oppositionist, have a somewhat confused idea of a measure which he has only once read. At the same time I can repeat the assurance to the House that the policy of the measure was actually settled before the session began. 1 come now to my right honorable friend’s utterances in reference to the Tariff. It is rather peculiar how as time goes on the policy of the right honorable member undergoes the “ sweating process ‘’ - how intended devastation is expressed in lurid terms at the beginning! how the policy is whittled down a little as it is seen to be unpopular, and how at last, ‘when he comes into the House, and when hehas probably reflected that he has no more chance of carrying a policy of the kind here thanhe would have out of doors, it becomes attenuated. What has the right honorable gentleman said previously on this matter ? When he came back from Western Australia on the 1 2th of January he gave an interview ‘to a representative of the Sydney Morning Herald. In that interview he said -
He was going to make free-trade his battle cry.
That does not mean a reduction of some of the protective duties, but means freetrade.
– It means a revenue Tariff.
– No j freetrade is the . wiping out of protective duties, and this is what the right honorable member for five year* in New South Wales constantly defined as free-trade. While the wiping out went on merrily employes began’ to think, “It is a good thing because it makes goods very cheap : but I wish we had a little more money to buy what we see in the shops.” In the course of the interview the right honorable member went on to say-
He was going to make “ free-trade “ his battlecry, and from that policy he had resolved to make no deviation, not even if it cost his party defeat at the next general election. He did not want to get into office by anyside issue.
There the right honorable member was like the policeman in the Pirates qf Penzance, who sang - ‘
We find the wisest thing
Is to slap your chests and sing -
Then in reference to the Tariff the right honorable member said -
If returned to power at the next electious, my object will be to disturb the Tariff as little as possible.
That is very nice !
But there are so many duties on the present Tariff which are clearly imposed in order to . destroy the revenue, that drastic alterations would bo necessary.
Does the right honorable member mean to assert that what he has said to the House to-night implies that there will be “ drastic alterations” in the Tariff if he his the chance of making them ?
– Absolutely; that is to say I should bring the Tariff down to a revenue basis.
– It is a good thing that I have read those extracts, because the right honorable member did not venture to say anything like what he has just now said until he was challenged by the printed testimony to his two attitudes.
– It is the same thing.
– It. is not the same thing. If duties in the Tariff are to be deprived of their protective effect, we shall surely have the assertion from my right honorable friend that he will be consistent. Let him carry out his policy if he gets a chance, though I do not think that that is coming yet. Then the first thing he would have to do would be to balance the import duty on sugar by an excise duty of £6 per ton. That would be a splendid thing for the revenue. All the sugar that -would be used would be imported sugar, and would pay the import duty. But not even the kanaka would be able to grow sugar-cane then. If the sugar-growing industry would not be a white man’s industry, it would also be too poor to be a black man’s industry. There would be plenty of revenue coming in from the import duty upon sugar, but there would be no utilization of the cane fields, which were surely destined by nature to be of use to us, unless, perhaps, the right honorable gentleman thinks they may be turned into dairy farms. Under his system, there would be no chance of carrying out a white Australia policy unless the perennial and eternal barrenness of the cane land was coupled with the exclusion of coloured aliens. As a freetrader, he must make his excise duty equal to his import duty, and to do such a thing would put an end to the sugar industry. Of course, it would have this advantage, . which should not be readily forgotten, that the cane fields could not be utilized for sugar growing by black labour, since not even the black man could then live by sugar growing. We have taken different measures - measures which’ secure the employment of our own people and the exclusion of those whom it is not thought desirable to have in our country. We have . found that the only effective way to do that is to allow a margin between the excise and the import duties, which will give an opportunity to our brothers and fellow countrymen to ply their avocations and receive a profitable return for their labours. Now we are asked to adopt, by the revision of the Tariff, a policy which, if carried out with the smallest spark of honest)’, would reverse what we have already achieved, and destroy the sugar industry. When the right honorable gentleman next addresses the House upon the subject of free-trade, let him definitely state his position upon this matter. He may be inclined to say that he would justify what he proposes on the ground of high policy. Those words are often used to cover a multitude of sius. I heard them used a little while ago in Tasmania, when a certain distinguished gentleman from that State, who sits upon the opposition benches, and consequently supports free-trade to the best of his ability, was asked whether, if his party came into office, they would remove the duty upon
New Zealand potatoes and oats. His reply was - “ No. We should be against the removal of that duty from motives of high policy.” So the farmers of Tasmania are compelled to derive their notions of “ high policy “ from the prohibition of the importation of potatoes and oats.
– Who said that?
– No doubt the statement will be owned by the right honorable gentleman who will probably follow me.
– Is the right honorable member referring to me ?
– It is “ only a little one.” We and those who support us shut out New Zealand potatoes and oats from this market, and we do so because we say that that is part of our policy. But when the free-trader is asked if he would shut them out he says “Yes”; and when asked “Why?” he answers, “From motives of high policy.” That is not protection ! We have this policy applied to potatoes and oats in one State, and to- sugar in another. No wonder theirs is a threelegged policy, which has not the virtues even of a quadruped. The right honorable gentleman who made the utterance to which I refer was not asked any further questions ; but he might have been asked whether, if they grew potatoes and oats in a place as far off as Buenos Ayres, he would shut those productions out of the Commonwealth. Perhaps if he had been asked that question he would still have replied “Yes.” The “ high policy “ on the Tasmanian coast is the interest of the farmer there. He is to be protected on that ground, while every one else may be left to starve. That is not my view of an Australian policy, though my notions on the subject are pretty high. However, we can leave these excuses to be dealt with by the operation of the opposing acids and alkalies which they contain, which may form new chemical combinations, but will not lead to a successful political combination. Referring to the Tariff question, the leader of the Opposition said that -
They proposed to take items in the Tariff which were intended to destroy revenue,and reduce them so as to raise revenue.
He was reading certain figures from a protectionist journal, at which he is obviously not afraid to laugh, so that it cannot have the terrors for him which he supposes it to possess for others. There is no doubt a high moral courage about the right honorable gentleman which is apparent sometimes when he wants to gird at a political opponent, but is not so apparent when he wishes to enter into a combination which may be of advantage to his party. Leaving that matter alone for a minute, he wants to raise the fiscal question, because.it was not a fair issue at the general elections, and he raises what he has dignified by the title of an “old wheeze” with reference to my utterances at Maitland. I have remained silent long enough in this House on the subject of my Maitland speech, because I did not want to join in an absolute saturnalia of waste of time. Those utterances were before “the public, and the assertion that I have deceived the public required no refutation from me. But let me go back to those utterances to see whether it is not true that the issue- was fought out, and fought out fairly, at the general elections. Take one of the utterances which have been most quoted -
Revenue we must have - that is the allimportant consideration - because without that revenue the State will not be advantaged but cursed by federation.
That we must all admit -
The Commonwealth must pay its way, help the States to pay their way, study their every detail, distribute the barden justly, and do no mischief. That is the task now before my honorable friend, Mr. Kingston. He is capable of performing it. But it cannot be pei formed with any such notion of revenue Tariff as we have been hearing of in all the capitals of Australia. The situation forced upon us can be forced upon any Government. Do not mistake me when I say that the situation forces itself upon us. I am a protectionist, and so are nearly all my colleagues. But if we are to raise a great revenue for the security of the Federation, then we cannot be prohibitionists, and our protection must be moderate, because prohibition or exclusive protection would lead to a prevention of that access of revenue which is necessary for the proper government of the country.
It is the constant cry of my honorable friends opposite that the operation of the Tariff, reduced as the duties have been, is to raise a revenue sufficient for the needs of the country. If, as they say, protection prevents the raising of revenue for the needs of the country, how can they assert that this is a Tariff the revenue from which would be increased by great reductions in the rate of duties ?
– May I ask which of the right honorable member’s colleagues are not protectionists? He says that “nearly all “ of them are protectionists.
– I say that nearly all of them are so,more or less. I have already shown that the right honorable gen tieman and the leader of the Opposition are free-traders only more or less, and decidedly less when local interests are concerned. I know at whom the shaft is aimed, because it comes from an old rival and political opponent of one who was sometimes a Ministerial colleague of my right honorable friend, Sir Edward Braddon. The right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, believes in a duty on potatoes and oats, only against New Zealand of course, because that is a matter of high policy. My honorable friend and colleague, Sir Philip Fysh, believes in the Tariff which we brought down, because as it was introduced it fulfilled the proposals of the Maitland speech in providing for the necessary revenue without destruction of industries. How can any one argue for a moment that a man who lays down a policy of obtaining sufficient revenue, coupled with moderate protection, is not putting before the country the fact that he intends to bring in a protectionist tariff? Let me read a few lines more from my Maitland speech : -
But if we are to raise a great revenue for the security of the federation, then we cannot be prohibitionists, and our protection must be moderate because prohibition, or exclusive protection, would lead to a prevention of that access of revenue which is necessary for the proper government of the country. Australia has known tariffs for many years in sill the States. There has been more or less protection even in New South Wales, and there is still £3 per ton on .sugar. Who left it there ? What is it there foE ? Are we to abolish that protection now, and begin the prosperity of the union by ruining our northern farmers ?
The policy that was laid down was this : In the first instance, it was pointed out that direct taxation would be no part of the policy of the Government, because it professed its desire - and very sincerely professed it - that the States, as far as possible, should be left the opportunity of imposing direct taxation to make up any shortages which might occur in their own finances. It was not that direct taxation was an undesirable thing, but that it ought to be a reserve and resort for the States to make up any shortages that might occur under the Tariff. The Government also laid down the principle that it would not only try to raise all the revenue that the Commonwealth required for its own government and for the necessary returns to the States out of the
Tariff, but that it should couple with that a policy of refusing to destroy industries which had grown up in the States. It must be remembered that, with diverse tariff policies in half-a-dozen States, it must happen that industries have grown up in one State which under a different policy have not grown up in another. If it were possible to make six tariffs, it would be possible to maintain an industry in the State where it existed. When we have, however, to make a policy for the whole six States, it follows as a matter of course that, while maintaining protection to an industry which has grown up in one State, we are giving the very opportunity for its creation in another State where it has not previously existed. That must necessarily be the result of any tariff which pursues the two objects of revenue with protection, and the refusal to destroy an industry in one State must mean the encouragement of a similar manufacture or production in the others. From this it must have been perfectly obvious to any one with any degree of fairness in his composition who read my speech, that we intended a protective policy, and that we, being protectionists, did not desire to see that policy operating in one State and not operating in another. The Tariff must be uniform, and the things which could not be produced in a State owing to its former Tariff may, in the future, constitute new industries in that State, although not new to other parts of the Commonwealth. That was the course of reasoning which lay behind all the argument to which reference has been made, and an assertion that the Tariff, even as it was brought down by the Government, was in any degree in opposition to that course of reasoning, is not only unfair, but is one of those many statements which people try to convince themselves and others are true by the frequency with which they make them.
– Why did the right honorable gentleman’s chairman give up his policy ?
– Because he was not as intelligent as he might have been.
– He resigned from the right honorable gentleman’s committee.
– He was the only member of my committee who left it, and therefore, with one exception, the whole committee understood the speech which I made, and adopted the principles laid down in it.
– But the chairman of the right honorable gentleman’s committee resigned.
– Has the honorable member never lost a member of his committee 1 He has had from time to time’ a good many of them on the committees of his opponents. The honorable member voted against federation, and he lost his constituency. We can leave it at that.
– I won back my constituency, notwithstanding the right honorable gentleman’s opposition.
– No imputations of motives, if the honorable member pleases. Having read that passage from my speech, it now remains for us to consider whether those who, with their leader, cried out, were ever misled. Let us find out whether they were.
– I was not misled.
– I shall utilize that confession in a minute or two in a way that the right honorable gentleman may not like. My right honorable friend, on the 7th March of the same year - after this speech had been delivered - said -
But look at the unscrupulous attitude -
I do not like to say that this is a case of Satan reproving sin - which the Prime Minister of Austrafia adopts. He chooses a red-hot protectionist Ministry to carry out protection to the bitter end - if chey are strong enough - aud yet he is constantly trying to persuade the free-traders that really if they support him everything will come out in the end just the same as if they supported me.
I did not attempt to persuade the freetraders ; but I do say that a policy such as I laid down, and such as was embodied in the Tariff which I introduced, might well have commanded the support of those who desire to sec the union of this country continued with justice to the history and the future of the several States. This was the object with which I brought forward that manifesto. It was equally the object with which the Tariff was brought down, and that Tariff as introduced was lower than any other known protectionist Tariff in the world. Honorable members of the Opposition said, “ Why don’t you do as Canada does % There is a free-trade Premier in Canada. He has carried out free-trade in that important
Dominion. Why do you not follow in his footsteps in this Federation ?” We published our Tariff side by side with the Canadian Tariff, and one was about twice as high as the other. Suddenly, after that publication, all the talk about Canada ceased. Up to that time the free-trade Prime Minister of Canada was being belauded to the skies because he had adopted a policy which was practically the only policy that could have held that State together and protectee! it from destruction. Free-trader as he is in theory, he is that sort of protectionist ; and I am that sort of protectionist. The passage which I have quoted shows that the leader of the Opposition knew that a protectionist Tariff would be brought down. The right honorable gentleman did not mistake my words, and my words convey no other implication than that. The right honorable gentleman said much more- as he generally does - than I have quoted. He made this statement -
Mr. Barton is still half hearted
I do not know how he found that out - but his position is unmistakable, if his language is not. He figured at the protectionist- gathering at the Australia Hotel the other day, and witnessed the large subscriptions handed in by protectionist manufacturers in support of the campaign, and surely he did not take those moneys other than as a contribution tax in support of a protectionist compaign.
Why, in every speech in that campaign I said that the policy of the Government would be a protectionist one -
The manifesto of his own association has now been published. It is the manifesto of the association formed by Sir Edmund Barton at the Hotel Australia, an association of which he is the president.
That manifesto was a protectionist one and I claim as I have claimed all the time from the day of its utterance, that the Maitland speech was a protectionist one. But what is more to the purpose is this : That the honorable gentleman was not misled, as he said the issue must be free-trade and protection. Now what does that involve? On the 9th January, 1901, before any of these utterances, and even before my manifesto, the right honorable gentleman used these words in an interview at Launceston, and we shall see how they contrast with the attitude he has assumed this afternoon -
It was the desire on all hands, and it was in the interests of every one connected with industries, that the fiscal question should be settled as soon as possible, and settled finally now. If it was. not made the issue of the first election, the defeated party could claim that the matter had not been fought out, and could keep up an incessant feeling of unrest that would seriously affect commercial interests. The general desire is to fight the question out once and for all, and so leave future sessions free for such matters of pressing concern as may come up for consideration.
What was the right honorable gentleman’sopinion then? Even before I made my speech it was that the clear issue was freetrade and protection, and after I made it he raised the same issue, and in another speech,, which it is, perhaps, unnecessary to quote, he said that any free-trader would be a traitor who did not vote against the Government. Did he expect, then, any other policy than that which was brought down ? From his own confession he did not. How, then, do the right honorable gentleman and his friends stand with reference to their charge against me of having deceived the country ? They knew, from my references to the composition of the Ministry and to the fact that there must be protection, though it must be moderate - and it was moderate to the extent of being lower than any other protectionist Tariff we know of - they knew from these facts that while there would have to be a large revenue collected, the Tariff must be a protectionist Tariff, and from that position from that day to this neither I nor any of my colleagues has ever wavered. .How, then, can it be said that the issue was not before the country ? And if the issue was fairly before the country, what is the answer to be made by any one, including himself, to the words of the right honorable gentlemen, when he said that if it were not made the issue of the first election, the defeated party could claim that the matter had not been fought out, and could keep up an incessant feeling of unrest that would seriously affect commercial interests. It has been made the issue of the first election, the defeated party cannot claim that it has not been fought out, and the members of that party are, therefore, not justified, in the words of their leader, “ in keeping up an incessant feeling of unrest, which will seriously affect commercial interests.” Isa’, therefore, that to talk of making this Tariff the issue of the general election over again, and to talk of making alterations, which will be drastic, no matter how the right honorable gentleman tries to whittle away his words, is a policy which stands condemned in the extract which I have quoted from his speech. The right honorable gentleman Said enough in that interview to show that it would be a most injuriousand improper thing for this country to have to go through the fiscal struggle again. He has shown in what he said there, and from his own confessions at this table to-night that he cannot complain that he was misled or that he understood the issue in any sense other than that in which it was raised and fought out ; and having been so raised and fought out, he will deserve every condemnation which he has stated if he attempts to raise it again at the next election.
– It is the people who will raise it, and not the right honorable gentleman.
– The honorable member has got into a very bad habit. He makes so many speeches, many of them very interesting ones, in this House, that he has got into the habit, which persons get who are talking all the time, of thinking that he isthe people. Now I may leave that question of the Tariff issue, except to point out that it is not a justification for saying that the country should be torn asunder again by the fiscal issue being raised at the general election, to admit that this Tariff is not all that this Ministry could have wished it to be. There are some of the duties which have been reduced which we could have wished had not been reduced. Some duties have been abolished which, for the sake of some of the States, the Government could have wished not to have been abolished. But it is still a Tariff which raises a large revenue. It might be more beneficial to one or two of the States if it raised something more–
– Hear, hear !
– My right honorable friend cheers me very properly, but it is a Tariff which combines, although not so fully as the Government could have wished, the double principle of revenue without destruction. We find it in accordance with our policy to that extent, and we are therefore perfectly consistent with that policy in refusing now to allow it to be disturbed. As the honorable member for South Sydney has said, the people can make a revision and they can enforce it. The whole question may be raised at the general election, when that comes, if the people wish it, but those who raise it improvident!)’, and those ‘ who raise it to the injury of the country, and against the fair meaning of their own utterances, will be judged by the people, and I have no fear of the result. My right honorable friend was, if I may use an every-day simile, “ barking up the wrong tree” with reference to the gentleman named Mr. Martin. It is enough to ‘ say that neither is Mr. Martin nor was he ever a chief electoral officer. He never was proposed as a chief electoral officer, and Mr. Lewis is acting so far in that position only temporarily. Mr. Lewis is in receipt of a pension from the Government of New South Wales. He receives only a very slight addition to that pension, and for the work he is doing for the Commonwealth he is certainly not overpaid. The Commonwealth pays him, I think, some £300.
– That is sweating.
– No, it is not, because he is in receipt of his pension, which amounts to about £300. I fully admit that it may be necessary in making a permanent appointment to this position to grade it somewhat higher and to give a little higher salary, but taking things as they are no one can say that this gentleman is being pampered.
An Honorable Member. - Do you give him an allowance1!
– Nothing but the ordinary travelling allowance - actual expenses. I need not, I think, make any further reference to Mr. Lewis, but I may say that it does not follow that he will be permanently appointed Chief Electoral Officer. He is, however, a man of long experience in dealing with these electoral questions, as well as with questions of local government. He has had wide experience in that respect in New South Wales, and his services have been found to be very useful in his present temporary capacity.
– He was acting in that capacity in New South Wales just previously.
– He was recalled, I think, to the New South Wales service to render services in that capacity. Now I come to the all-absorbing topic of the six hatters. My right honorable friend says that he takes his share of the blame. It is interesting to know whether he was in favour of the section as passed. I give him whatever credit is due from the fact that he was absent from Parliament when the clause went through. But it is interesting to inquire whether he was against that clause when he saw that it had gone through, because he was here in subsequent stages of the Bill before it went to the Senate - and at not one of those stages did he take exception to it.
– I never observed it.
– From which remark it follows that my right honorable friend spoke about it though knowing nothing as to what was in the Bill.
– lt was a subservient matter.
– The proviso was one of the longest provisions in the Bill. However, we will take the assurance of the right honorable member that he did not read the Bill. Although it was “swellin’ wisibly” before his very eyes, like the fat boy in Pickwick, yet he did not observe it. But there were others who did observe it. The honorable member for Wentworth gave it something which I can scarcely call opposition or support, but I think he expressed the opinion that it was too drastic. The honorable member for Macquarie gave it his whole hearted support, arid it was carried without a division. I do not think that, except in what I have mentioned, there was any word of disapproval from the opposition benches. It went through in the Senate and came back to us ; and from the first to the last, after that clause had been implanted in the Bill, it did not provoke - except the comments which were raised against it in the Senate - any opposition from Parliament, and certainly it provoked none from this House. Consequently that clause may be regarded as not being the work of one side or the other. It was not the work of one side or the other, being a proposal not originally contained in the Bill, but in an amendment emanating from the Opposition side of the Chamber.
– Was it not in the Bill originally ?
– That is how I missed it.
– Now we have got it ! My right honorable friend is in this habit - which accounts for the inaccuracy of some of his statements - that he only sees what exists in a Bill when he reads it as laid upon the table ; and if he bestowed a little more care upon measures, he would, according to his way of thinking, read them in the original draft !
– It is enough to look at them once.
– Now we find this position - that the right honorable member and his party are in the same boat. The amendment came from that quarter. There was no more subserviency in this quarter of the House in voting for it than in that. I do not accuse any party of subserviency in voting for it. I explained at the time that the amendment was quite in consonance with the opinion expressed by me in the Legislature of New South Wales, and when I was afterwards spoken to, in an interview with the press, I gave the very quotation from the New South Wales Hansard that showed that I expressed that opinion ten years before. So that I cannot be accused of any sudden conversion in this respect. Whatever my light honorable friend may say, I have been reasonably consistent in my opinions. When I do change them it may be at intervals of something like fifteen years or so, like my change to protection, but it is not on the same day, and it is not caused by a visit to England.
– The right honorable gentleman changed in about seven days on one occasion.
– That -is not a fact, as I have explained over and over again. But it is natural enough, coming from the lips of gentlemen who never read anything except from their own side. Now, amongst prohibited immigrants under this measure - that section having been passed with the common consent of the House - is placed -
Any person under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth.
Then comes this proviso -
Provided that this paragraph shall not apply to workmen exempted by the Minister for special skill required in Australia or to persons under contract or agreement to serve as part of the crew of a vessel engaged in the coasting trade in Australian waters if the rates of wages specified therein are not lower than the rates ruling in the Commonwealth.
Now, referring to this particular case, the position arose in consequence of a telegram which I received from the Sub-Collector of Customs in Sydney, Mr. Baxter. He intimated to the secretary of the department that there were six felt hatters landing under contract. They were bound for Sydney, and were about to arrive under contract to perform manual labour. There was not a word then about any special skill. ‘ I gave the usual direction. It was to exclude them, because such persons must be excluded under the law until special skill required in Australia is proved. The fact that that applies to artisans and workers of skill, and not to mere manual labourers, is clear, because if the condition applied only to persons of special skill, there would have been no occasion to insert the proviso that it should not apply to them. That is enough to show that persons of some degree of skill were aimed at under the proviso in ‘this section of the Act if the English language means anything. That law being in existence, it was my duty to administer it, not from any party aspect, but as carefully and impartially as though I were a Judge on the Bench. That is what I did. I could not let the hatters come in until they or those with whom they had agreed were prepared to show that they possessed special skill which was required within the Commonwealth. That assurance could have been furnished as soon as their employers knew that the vessel had arrived at Fremantle. It was not furnished ; and it appears that when they landed there they were examined as to whether they were under any contract or agreement, but the Customs-house officers examining them could not find out that they were. They came round, and this telegram came from the Sub-Collector of Customs before they reached Sydney. I gave the -necessary order that, being under contract to perform manual labour, the hatters should not be admitted. At that time I had no knowledge whatever of those applications or suggestions from outside quarters to which my right honorable friend refers. A letter was written to the Minister for Trade and Customs by one of the labour organizations. It was dated the very day I gave that order, but I did not see it for some time after. It was sent to the department of my colleague, and a note appears upon the papers to that effect. There is a note of mine on the papers, which I put upon them soon after I saw the letter referred to. The note was to this effect -
Not before rae at the time I directed that the men, being under contract to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth, must .be regarded as by law “ prohibited immigrants” until it was shown to me that they possessed *’ special skill required in Australia.” At time of decision to that effect no representation wa= before me, except an official one from Customs, Sydney - namely, Mr. Baxter’s telegram.
That disposes of the suggestion that the Government were influenced in any way in excluding these men by any outside representation. What an absurdity it would have been - if it were true that the Government were influenced by outside representations to shut them out under an)’ circumstances - that nevertheless they afterwards admitted them. If those outside representations had their influence as suggested, the men would not have been admitted afterwards. That is enough to show how absurd that outcry is.
– It is more than an outcry.
– If the honorable member says that the Government were so influenced I give the statement my distinct denial, and I wish that he would be more accurate in future. Whether in pursuance of the outcry or not will be plain to every unprejudiced reader of these papers, and if it is not plain to the honorable member after reading them, he is not unprejudiced. I have, as I have said, administered the Act as if I had been.a Judge on the Bench, and when the honorable member knows the facts of the case - which it is obvious he does not now know - he will agree with me. What I did then was this : I gave that direction consequent upon a telegram from my own officers pursuant to information which of course came from a private quarter. Afterwards - some days afterwards - an application was made to me. There was a note from my under- secretary to say that he had been waited upon by the president and the secretary of the Felt Hatters’ Association, who informed him - that was, on the 5th December, whereas my decision was given on the 4th - of a telegram having been received stating the names of men on the Orontes in possession of agreements to work for Mr. Charles Anderson - the names of the men follow - and that other men were to follow in the next Orient steamer. They said that they had reason to believe that the men were under a similar agreement. A protest was handed to me undated, but received on the 9 th, by the Victorian branch of the Australian Association of Felt Hatters, giving reasons why, in their judgment, these men should not be admitted. Two days afterwards - that is to say, eight days after the telegram came from the Collector of Customs in Sydney - there was an application in writing from Mr. Anderson, the employer, for their admission. That was the first application for the exemption of the men. It was impossible to exempt them until some evidence was brought before me that they were entitled to an exemption by. reason of possessing special skill required in Australia. The reason why I waited was that I had to wait. How could I, without the necessary evidence, admit them when primd facie they were within the law, and so must be excluded? I had to exclude them until the evidence was brought before me. But that evidence could have been submitted on that day or the next day ; and if there was delay which resulted in inconvenience to the men, at whose door does it lie? Does it lie at my door, when I had not the opportunity of finding out anything, or at the door of those who knew the facts and did not bring them before me ? The employer knowing the facts at last made an application in writing to me, and it was supported by statutory declarations. Again acting from a sense of impartiality after considering those declarations, I wrote to those who had protested against the admission of the men, and pointed out certain questions upon which I wished them to give me information so that I might have the full facts on both sides. They answered the queries I made and produced certain other papers. I considered the statutory declarations and other evidence brought before me by Mr. Anderson, and with the same open mind the representations which had been made to me by the Pelt Hatters’ Union here, and having given full consideration to both, I decided that, under all the circumstances, these men were possessed of special skill that was required in Australia ; and after writing a long memorandum in which I explained the whole of my opinions, I gave orders, by telegram, for their admission to Sydney. I submit to this -House that it was impossible for me to have given those orders before that date. I venture to say, from all that went on at the time, that the noise which was made about this thing originated from some party source, and was got up without regard to the interests of this community by those who wished to gain a party advantage. One would think that those who dealt with matters of this kind coldly and impartially were deserving of the support of all sections in the community and of both sides in this House. But I found to my bitter experience it was not so. I found that a turmoil was got uphere, followed by another turmoil got up by some men in England, and obviously arising out of telegrams which were sent, which caused the Agent-General for New South Wales to write to Sir John See that it was affecting Australian credit. Whose fault was it if it did affect Australian credit? That the exclusion of the six hatters brought down the value of our debentures by about 10 pei- cent, is a kind of fiction which exists in the imagination of those who act in this manner. But if it did seriously affect Australian credit, it could only have been owing to the guise in which the facts were sent to England by those who were interested. If the facts, as I have detailed them, and as they appear in the “papers, had been telegraphed to England - I tried to counteract the inaccurate reports afterwards, but my telegram was too late - there would have been no talk from Mr. Copeland or any one else about- an injury to Australian credit. The idea of saying that because we require that persons who come here should be free men absolved of contracts which they might have entered into in other lands, and free to make their own arrangements, we wish to shut out reasonable and decent immigration, is as wicked a fabrication as ever was invented against a Ministry. Now, at last, I have had the opportunity of defending myself in this House. The attack is a disgrace to those who uttered it, and one which, when the whole of the facts have sunk deep into the public mind, will bear its refutation and its retribution. The right honorable and learned member who has challenged me on this subject says that he would have legislated in a different way. Well, he did not try to legislate in a different way when he had the opportunity. He says that he did not read anything about this matter, that he preferred the Bill in its antiquated form to its up-to-date form. If he is going to draw up an amendment to put the provision on what he deems the right footing, why did he not suggest the form of it in his speech ? Will he sit down at the table on any day of this week, before the debate is closed, and draft the form in which he would put the provision so as to do justice in a fairer form than it now does ? I wish to assure the House that I am the last man to be accused of any attempt to shut out any reputable European from these shores. But when I find that from a good and correct motive a provision of that kind has been passed, even if men ultimately turn out to be entitled to come in, I must, if they are under contract, refuse to allow their admission until they prove their title. The proof of the contract, the admission of it - and they did admit it - was prima facie evidence that they could not come in. That evidence could be entirely rebutted by proving that they were possessed of a special skill that was required here. In the interval, before that proof was given, prima facie, they were not entitled to admission. The moment it was given, and given to my satisfaction, I was bound to let them in, and I did, and on similar evidence I Jet in six of their successors. But what is the reason for all this hubbub if it is not a party move? Let my right honorable and learned friend attempt to draw out the clause which he says he will draw out, and then do not let him talk any more of this. Let him try it on 60 or 600. That is the way to test it. This is not a question of six hatters ; it is a question of whether men are to enter Australia free, or whether they shall be stopped if they are under contract to perform .manual labour, with this one exception, that if they are possessed of a certain degree of skill which is required, they will even then be entitled to admission. That is the point of this law. I submit that the law is reasonable, and if the case came before me again to-morrow, I should act in the way I have done, and in no other way. If the case occurred 50 times in a year I should act in that way. And to prove that I was right in so acting, when the six successors of these men came forward in a fortnight, what happened? The necessary proof was given before they reached Sydney, and I was enabled to allow them to land without obstruction. Does not that of itself show that if aright course had been followed under the Act in the first instance by others than myself, the men, having their title proved,- would have been admitted just as their successors were? And, therefore, is it not clear that the whole blame of this transaction rests upon those who could and ought to have done that which was necessary in the circumstances, and brought forward the requisite information ? “Without that it was absolutely impossible for me to act. I reiterate that I shall administer the Act irrespective of clamour, irrespective of pressure from one side or the other, in the future as I have done in the past, and I shall do that even if it causes half-a-hundred of these telegrams to go to England, of which it may be said, as Tennyson says, that -
A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.
Now, with regard to the question of the boilermakers. In a day or two I shall lay upon the table some papers whicli will save me the necessity of making any further reference to this matter, and show that the’ Government have acted quite rightly in what they have done. Although it is unfortunately a fact, if I recollect rightly, that these men did slip past the inspection of the officers appointed for the purpose, it is nevertheless a fact that they were imported at a time when it was impossible to get other persons to do the work ; not under strike conditions, but under conditions in which it was reasonable that men with their special skill should be admitted. But there is another point in connexion with the matter. The Supreme Court of New South Wales has decided that to tax the imports of the State is to tax the King.
– That is foolishness.
– 1 do not propose to criticise the decision of the court, although I may be permitted to remark in passing, that I could understand it if there were seven kings instead of one. There is no doubt, however, that if the law as laid down by the Supreme Court of New South Wales - and it is the possible diversity of decisions in different States that constitutes so strong an argument in favour of the establishment of the High Court - is good, the point might be raised that we were stopping the King by stopping the boilermakers from coming into the Commonwealth. However, I shall leave this matter and pass on to that of the three Maories, regarding whom almost as much fuss has been’ raised as in reference to the boilermakers.
– Was exemption applied for in their case?
– I am not quite sure, but I shall lay the papers on the table, and honorable members will then be able to see for themselves. The Maories were detained on lv pending reference by the man who saw them arrive, to his superior officer. It is not a fact that any instructions from the department over which I preside had to be awaited, but the moment the matter was explained to the Collector of
Customs in Sydney, it was quite obvious that the men were not intended to be affected by any section in the Immigration Restriction Act, and therefore they were granted exemption for three months. I do not think that there is anything in the Immigration Restriction Act that is intended to apply to persons, whether they be coloured or not, who come here under short engagements as members of a theatrical troupe, and who do not intend to stay in the country. I do not regard “as immigrants persons who come here under such conditions, and who remain here for perhaps three months, but the term applies to those who come here for the purpose of settling permanently, and making their living here. I do not intend to refer to the diversity of cases connected with the administration of the Department of Trade and Customs to which my right honorable friend devoted attention. I am of opinion that the administration of my right honorable colleague in the Customs department - whatever criticism is passed upon it - is open to this justification : That it at any rate forms an exception to some of the administrations that we have seen, because it is absolutely and sternly just to all alike, and that whatever my right honorable colleague does for the protection of the revenue against one class of people he does against all. It is not a fact that the Customs Act is intended to allow gross blunders and gross negligence to escape punishment. The first object of the Act is the protection of the revenue. There are two things against which protection is required - one is fraud, and the other is negligence. Negligence may exist in the employment of a dishonest clerk, or a smart one - I prefer to use the latter term. 1 1 may exist in the employment of an incompetent clerk, or in the employment of one who, though competent, is careless. It was not intended, I take it, that revenue prosecutions were not to be entered upon against any persons except those who were believed to be guilty of crime. Revenue prosecutions bear on their face the traditional usage that they are applicable alike to those who commit crimes, and those who are guilty of breaches of the law, although such breaches may not be criminal. As to the remarks which have been made with regard to respectable merchants and traders being dragged to the police courts and being compelled to sit “ cheek-by-jowl with criminals,” and to “hob-nob with drunkards,” the experience of our courts is sufficient to show that there is no ground for the suggestion. The proceedings are conducted in two divisions. There is the summons court for those cases in which no criminalty is imputed, and the charge court for those who are brought up for drunkenness and criminal offences. The suggestions that have been made are intended only as a little kerosene kindling to brighten the fire of discontent.
– What the right honorable gentleman has stated does not apply to all the States. In South Australia all offenders have to appear in the same courts.
– Not at the same time.
– At the same sitting.
– Not “cheekbyjowl with criminals.”
– I do not say that.
– That is the charge. Those who are prosecuted by the the Customs authorities are brought up in accordance with, the law, and although I know that hardship may sometimes be caused when .persons devoid of criminal intent are punished for broaches of the law, it would be very difficult for the Minister to discriminate. It would be very difficult to administer the Act so as to secure that accuracy which is necessary for the protection of the revenue, without exposing the authorities to charges of unfair, if not dishonest, discrimination. I am not disposed to enter upon an inquiry into the matter of the shot in cartridges referred to by the right honorable member. I only wish to say, regarding the distinction he drew, that the Attorney-General determined that while shot was dutiable and cartridges were free, if cartridges contained shot that was dutiable, . such shot did not become divested of its dutiable character by being passed into the cartridges. My right honorable friend suggested that on the same principle if there were a duty on whisky before it was drunk, it should also be subject to duty after a man had swallowed it. The answer is that a man’s digestion will pass away whisky, but a cartridge has no digestion to enable it to pass away shot. That is where the difference lies. Now I desire to refer to the case of the man Tingey, whose youth was amongst the pathetic considerations urged, not on his behalf, but against the Government. Tingey is a quartermaster employed upon a mail steamer, and I need only remark that the shipping companies do not usually appoint boys as quartermasters. There is a constant practice which compels much vigilance on the part of the Customs officials. I refer to that habit which prevails - it may be innocently sometimes - amongst people who come off ships in the harbors of bringing parcels with them. It may be, in some instances, that a present is brought ashore with instructions to have it passed on, say, to New Zealand, as in the case under notice. Again, we have many cases of men who are charged with receiving uncustomed goods, and who say that they do not know the people from whom they received them. What happened in the case under notice was this : A strict watch having to be kept, a police constable saw the young man Tingey - we call him young in order to satisfy honorable members opposite - coming ashore with a suspiciouslooking parcel under his arm. He was taken by the constable to the Customs officer on the wharf, and the parcel on being opened was found to contain some silk, braid, linen and other dutiable articles, of the value altogether of about £5. To the eternal condemnation of the Government, there was also a Bible. That, of course, ought to have consigned the Government to everlasting perdition. The Customs officer, finding that the goods were dutiable, acted as he would in any other case. He laid a charge against the “young” man, the charge was investigated, and the minimum penalty was inflicted, the goods being forfeited. On the morning of the day on which I spoke in Sydney, Senator Pulsford’, through a letter in the newspapers, challenged me to make some reference to this case. I sent for the Collector of Customs, - there being no Minister connected with the Customs then in Sydney - and I read the papers. I saw that this young man was liable to prosecution for the offence of bringing ashore - not actually smuggling - dutiable articles without making any declaration, and that, of course, he had been rightly prosecuted within the law. I was of opinion, however, that it would have been better not to lock him up pending the hearing of the charge, as the officials did. I am sorry that they did so, but of course .the Ministry have to bear whatever burden attaches to their action in that connexion. As they knew that the young man had come off a mail ship, it would have been better to have summoned instead of arresting him upon discovering that the package contained dutiable articles. Therefore, I said that the goods should be returned to him, and not forfeited, and that the penalty should be reduced by at least 80 per cent. At that time I had seen only a portion of the Customs papers relating to the case, but they were enough for the purpose. It is my principle in matters of this kind - as, indeed, it would be that of any Premier who values assistance from his colleagues - to refer them to the department to which they properly belong, and I therefore intended to communicate with the gentleman who was administering the Customs department upon my return to Melbourne. Unfortunately, owing to the delay of a day or two, the Treasurer, who, with sublime confidence in his leader, had not read my speech in Sydney, had, in the meantime, directed that the parcel should be returned - thereby revoking its forfeiture - but had declined to remit the fine. However, I had formed the opinion that it would he right to remit four-fifths of the fine, and as the Treasurer’s instruction was given in opposition to what was on my part a virtual promise, I will see that the latter is given effect to, and I have no doubt that the Minister for Trade and Customs will cheerfully acquiesce in carrying out my direction. Of course, cases will sometimes occur in which officers exhibit a little over-zeal. These cases cannot be avoided. They occur in every port in the world, and under every Customs law in the world. Sometimes there are cases of remissness, and sometimes of over-zeal. This may have been a case of over-zeal, but inasmuch as the action of the officers who took part in it was a natural one, I do not think that any punishment should be . awarded them. They erred in an honest endeavour to prevent the petty evasion of Customs which is rampant in every port in the world. So far as the case was before them, the young man was treated only in the ordinary way. They had before them facts which led them to believe that the Customs were being deliberately deceived, and consequently I can make an allowance for their action in having the young man locked up over-night. I admit that it would have been fairer to havesummoned him instead of arresting him, but I cannot find it in me to pass any harsh criticism upon the officers for the part which they played. Therefore I take the whole of the responsibility for their action although I was not present. These are the whole of the facts connected with the arrest of this young man Tingey. Those who desire to attack the Government upon petty matters are so eager in the hunt that while they have been spending months, perhaps years, in attempting to show that my right honorable friend the Minister for Trade and Customs is making a dead set at the well-to-do importers, the moment they can make a charge against the Government they assert that the directions of the Minister had brought a poor young quartermaster to grief. In the case referred to the offender was a poor man, but they are so hot in their desire to pull my colleague down for what he does to men of much more substance and means, that they forget he draws no distinction between rich and poor, and that when a poor man brings himself under suspicion it is equally incumbent upon him to clear the matter up. I think I can leave that case at the point to which I have brought it. Now, I wish to utter a word of hearty commendation of my right honorable friend for having, after giving his close consideration to the naval agreement, come to the conclusion that it deserves tobe passed by this House. Time is running on, and I have no desire to detain the House till a late hour. It is not my purpose to make a speech in defence of that agreement to-night, lt was arrived at after long and careful consideration as the best that could be madeunder the circumstances, having regard to our position financially and otherwise. It is of a temporary character only, and may be terminated at the expiration of ten years, when the financial conditions of the Commonwealth will be vastly different from what they are to-day, and when certain provisions in our Constitution will have ceased to exist. The whole field will then be open for the adoption of any policy which the Commonwealth finds itself strong enough to undertake. In the meantime, if no other consideration prevails, I am convinced that under the present constitutional limitations, our financial resources will not allow us to obtain any such adequate defence as is proposed. When I reflect that there are few, if any, in this House who would wish to sever our connexion with the Empire, while it continues and while our financial and other conditions remain as they are, I think that this agreement embodies a reasonable adjustment of the relations between us and the old country in the matter. I am not one of those who believe that we should pay exactly the same proportion to naval and military defence as do our countrymen at the other end of the world. There are conditions surrounding us in our development, and conditions consequent upon the numerous functions of government that we undertake, which place us in a totally different position from that of countries where much is carried out by private enterprise. These things render us unable to contribute as much as do our countrymen at the other end of the world. But I would point out that the cost to the Commonwealth of the existing naval agreement is only about 6d. per head. . If the proposed agreement be carried, our contribution will be a little less than double that sum. In other words, there will be an addition of less than 6d. per head. The £106,000 which we already contribute represents a little over 6d. per head, and the proposed addition of £94,000 represents a little under 6d. per head, so that the total cost will be about ls. per head. When we compare that with the burden which rests upon our countrymen in the United Kingdom and other parts of the Empire, it will be recognised that whatever objections can be urged against the agreement, from the point of view of principle - and upon that I hope we shall have a good debate - the objection as to cost will not hold water.
– Has not Canada the same financial difficulties, and has she not refused to join in the agreement 1
– Canada has many similar financial difficulties. I am not here to criticise the policy of Canada, although it may be said for that possession that it is more contiguous to the scene of operations in past warfare, while we are nearer the scene of operations which may be expected in future warfare. There is, therefore, not much to choose between the positions of the two countries. I could, however, wish for myself that Canada would recognise some responsibility in the matter of naval defence, and it is my honest belief that she will do so. I have very little to say to-night on the question of preferential trade, mainly because the interruptions to which I have beer* good- humouredly subject have spun out my speech to some length. I do not agree with the leader of the Opposition that, because it is not possible to deal with the question this session, our disagreement for the time being is somewhat academical. But I do believe that the time has come, or is rapidly coming, when the Empire will have to consider whether its cohesion will not be promoted by trade arrangements which, as between the goods of our countrymen of the Empire and the goods of foreigners, will give the preference to the goods of our own kith and kin. I am not affected by vague threats of retaliation, or by that dread of retaliation which some public men express. The leader of the Opposition objects to the intrusion of the passions into this question. I have no desire to see that intrusion, but I say that the Empire was never made by too much concession to the views and opinions of those who already do their best against us, and it will never be held together by too much fright. It was not by any cowardice that Britons won the Empire, of which we have helped to win our share. It will not be by cowardice or fear of the opinions of others that the Empire will be held together. It is not only, though largely, the interests of the component parts, but the interests of the Empire as a whole, which we are bound to consider in the future unless we mean to leave the Empire. If we do not mean to leave the Empire, the general and common interest must not be ignored. That need not prevent us looking after our own interests. It may be a moot question for this part of the Empire or another whether preference should be given by reducing the Tariff in favour of Great Britain, or by increasing it as against the foreigner, while leaving the duties as they stand to operate in reference to the mother country. This is a matter affected not only by considerations of policy, but is also affected by considerations of revenue. So far as I can see, considering the position of the States as they stand under federation, it would be more possible for us, while doing our duty to our own country, to give a preference by raising the duties against the foreigner, while not raising them against our own kith and kin, than by the converse process. But it must always be recollected that “these questions are entirely relative. If a country has an average 10 per cent, set of duties, and it is considered that the financial needs of that country are no more than met, she can increase her duties by 5 per cent. That would be called an increase of 50 per cent!, but nevertheless the duty is only one of 15 percent. In the same way another country may have 30 per cent, duties and reduce them to 20 per cent., showing a decrease of 33 per cent. It will be seen that all these matters are wholly and solely relative. We may turn a 15 per cent, duty into a 20 per cent, duty, or vice versa, and so. long as the proportion is the same it does not matter whether we call the basis on which we operate free-trade or protection. It is better to keep the words “ free-trade “ and “ protection “ out of connexion with this matter, for the reason that the cohesion of the Empire is a. question far away and beyond that of’ any fiscal theory. I do not think there is any free-trader in the country, or at any rate in this House, who would rathersacrifice the Empire than sacrifice freetrade, or run any danger of sacrificingthe Empire. I do not think that at a. pinch there is a protectionist who would not say that the safety and cohesion of the Empire are above all considerations of fiscal policy. But we have to work in accordance with existing conditions. Our first duty is to our own people - to raise the requisite revenue, and if possible to see that our people obtain reasonable opportunities of employment. ‘ When we have done that we can take into consideration the question of preferential trade. If the day arrives soon - I shall be very glad to see it, because I think that common action on the part of the various divisions of the Empire in this direction might possibly be come to without too severe a battle between fiscal theories - -and if the necessities of the Empire require it, we shall be gratified and delighted to see that consummation. If it is not possible to do this by agreement, those who are for Imperial cohesion will sooner or later haveto do it in spite of disagreement. Thestrongest Minister that England has, perhaps, seen in recent years is of opinion that it is a higher consideration for people tohave money to pay for what they want than to see goods cheapening day by day and find them further from their reach whenthey are cheapest. That is an utterance coming from a free-trade source. I do not profess to give the words with extreme accuracy, but that is at any rate their meaning ; and when an opinion of that kind is expressed from a free-trade source, it is premature to judge the statesmanwho makes it as having joined the ranks of the protectionists. I do not profess to say that the Minister has joined the protectionists, but at any rate the utterance gives reason for hope that in considering this Imperial problem some common ground of platform may be come to whereon, even at the expense of some of the academical opinions we have expressed in speeches, we may do that which would help us to remain “one and indivisible.”
– That Imperial Minister’s chief said the very opposite at the conference.
– I do not think that the Minister’s chief did say the very opposite. If the two utterances are carefully considered, it will be found, I think, that they are not in disagreement. If two Ministers like Mr. Balfour and Mr. -Chamberlain were in entire and irreconcilable disagreement on a question of this kind, it would not be in accordance with British practice for them to remain in the same Cabinet. Finally, I would ask honorable members in regard to the Naval Agreement to which I have alluded, to be kind enough not to make up their minds until they have heard the whole of the facts. The leader of the Opposition was not at first entirely inclined to adopt the agreement, and it is only on closer consideration and with a fuller acquaintance with the facts which surround it, that he has come to the opinion, that under our conditions, it is the best agreement we can adopt. 1 I ask honorable member’s to wait until the agreement is explained, and all the facts and circumstances are before them. If they will do so, I have every confidence that the agreement will be adopted. I have to thank honorable members for the kindly patience which has allowed me to reach the end of my speech, after the subsidence of the little storm of interruption which went on for some time.I cannot but feel that although the pungency and iteration with which the leader of the Opposition adverted to some topics called on me to make some answer, there has not to-night been any serious attack made on the position of the Government. I cannot think that the attack, such as it is, comes from a gentleman who sees that he has ground on which to displace the Government.
– I do not want to do so at present.
– Then I cannot congratulate the right honorable member on his consistency, because I do not think that until the present moment there was ever a time when he did not want to put out the Government to which he was in opposition.. The right honorable member has stated in many speeches which I have not quoted that the Opposition would do their best to oust the Government ; but, if he has lost that desire, then we may hope he is in the happy position of a convert. That position would be only consistent on the right honorable member’s part, because it would in his speech to-night be “ Yes “ for the Government staying in, while in his speeches outside it is “ No.”
– I will try to put the Government out at the general election, which is the proper time.
– There is an old saying, which, although it may be brought from the nursery for the occasion, is none the less a truth - “ Strong words off weak stomachs.”
– I have a pretty strong stomach.
– I allow that to be so, in regard to some of the things which the right honorable member swallows, mainly opinions. , I have been labouring under some disadvantage, because I feel that, notwithstanding the many interruptions - which have caused me to take a longer time than I intended - I have no real and serious attack to which to reply. And so long as the causes of discontent with the Government can be summed up in such a speech as we have had from the leader of the Opposition, I may conclude that the Government retains the confidence of the House.
Debate (on motion by Sir Edward Braddon) adjourned.
Resolved (on motion by Sir Edmund Barton) -
That the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at half- past two o’clock.
Motion (by Sir Edmund Barton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to suggest to the Government that if we could manage in some way or other, without occupying too much time,’ to pass our permanent standing orders, . it would be of great advantage to do so. I -have seen the proposed standing orders, and they do not appear to contain a large number of debatable subjects. I do not suggest that their consideration should take the place of pressing business, but if I can co-operate with the Government in passing them through with a minimum consumption of time I shall be willing to do so, because I think it . would be a proper thing to pass them. We might devote a Friday or two to their consideration.
– In reply. I shall, of course, give consideration to a suggestion made by the right honorable gentleman in so friendly a manner; but, having compared the provisional standing orders with those passed by the Standing Orders Committee, I must say that the points of difference do not seem so many or so great as to justify us at the present stage in occupying time by their discussion, and a conversation which I had on thesubject with Mr. Speaker this morning left me with no other impression.
– Were the standing orders by which we are now governed passed by the House ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 May 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030526_reps_1_13/>.