2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question, without notice. Is it a fact that the Victorian Marine Act exempts from pilotage Victorian owned and registered ships boundoversea which are commanded by masters who possess an exemption certificate, while levying pilotage on steamers trading under similar conditions, but owned and registered in other ports of the Commonwealth? If so, what steps does the Minister propose taking to terminate this unconstitutional practice? Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, the facts are as stated; but I am not now in a position to say what steps will be taken to terminate the practice. The matter was brought prominently under my notice a short time since by, I think, the manager of the Adelaide Steamship Company, and I advised that the company should refuse to pay. the pilotage and allow the legality of the practice to be tested in the Courts. That is the only course which can be taken’ until there has been a repeal of the present law.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs when he will lay upon the table the report of the Iron Bonus Commission ?
– The report has been laid upon the table; and will be circulated to-morrow morning,
asked the Postmaster -General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether there has been any correspondence between the Government and the Imperial authorities or any other body or individual with reference to -
The adoption of a decimal system of currency by the Commonwealth?
The securing by the Commonwealth of some portion of the profits at present derived by the Royal Mints on the coinage of silver and bronze token money ?
The relations of the Commonwealth to the branches of the Royal Mint in the States of the Commonwealth?
The adoption throughout the Empire of the metric system of weights and measures ;
If so, are there any objections to tabling such correspondence for the information of Parliament?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1.None with the Imperial Government, but letters have been received from various individuals on the subject. 2 and 3. Correspondence is now in progress with the Imperial Government on these subjects.
asked the Minister for Defence,’ upon notice -
– The answers to the. honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Brigadier-General Gordon states that he “ has informed Geelong residents that when funds were made available, and the establishment permitted it,” he would recommend the formation of a Light Horse Squadron in Geelong.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member, I beg to state -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Statement showing the number of electors on the rolls, the votes recorded, the percentage of votes to electors, and the expense incurred at the last general elections, with a comparison of the cost of the first Commonwealth elections.
Reports of the permanent head of the Department and the recommendation of the Public Service ‘ Commissioner in . regard to the promotion of Mr. W. H. Barkley, senior clerk, central staff.
Debate resumed from March 4 (vide page 169) on motion by Mr. Mauger -
That the Address be agreed to by the House.
– We heard a great deal during the recess, and we have heard a great deal during the present debate regarding the position ofparties in this House. The present position of parties is, undoubtedly, such as to justify anxiety in the minds of all who are interested in the welfare of the Commonwealth, as 1 trust we all are, but the existence of three distinct parties in a legislative assembly is by no means a new or unusual occurrence. Three parties have existed for a very long time in the House of Commons, and I think there are three parties in the Parliaments of most of the States of the Commonwealth. But the existence of three parties of practically equal numerical strength is by no means so usual, and it is somewhat difficult to foresee what will be the final result of such an arrangement. Suggestions have been made as to the desirability of a union between two of ‘the parties, but, when we look at the position, we see that it is surrounded with very grave difficulties. It has been said there should be no great obstacle in the way of the Liberal Party coalescing with our friends on the corner benches ; but I can see a very grave one. In the first place, the members of the Labour Party have subscribed to a platform which was framed by organizations outside Parliament. It would be unreasonable to expect them, without consulting their organizations, to so modify their platform as would enable them to unite with either of the other parties in the House. Although it has been said that, in regard to a great many matters, the difference between the platform of the Labour Party, and that of the Liberal Party is not very great, I think that it is very wide indeed. In the first place, the very soul and essence of liberalism is equal political power for every section of the community, or, in other words, government of the whole people by the whole people.
– For the whole people.
– We know that the policy of our friends is “ government of the whole people by a section of the people.” Therefore I cannot see how it would be possible for them, without consulting with, and obtaining the concurrence of, their organization outside, to so modify their platform as to enable them to unite with either of the other parties in Parliament. With regard to the question of a coalition between the Govern- ment and the Opposition, there is no doubt that the removal of the fiscal issue disposes of the principal element of contention ; but, at the same time, I think that there would be very great difficulties in the way of an immediate union of forces. The members of the Opposition are in the position of a bashful maiden who has only her charms to offer, whereas the Government are in possession of the loaves and fishes, and are not likely at present to propose a redistribution. Therefore it appears to me that it is our duty to go on with the business of the country as if there were no difficulties in the way, and await developments. It is the duty of the .Government to act precisely as if they had a good working majority. If they are subjected to undue pressure in matters of first importance, or upon questions involving vital principles, I am sure that they will recognise their clear duty, viz., to break rather than bend too far.
– Would the honorable member kindly furnish us with some proof of the truth of his statement that the Labour Party represent only one section of the people ?
– The name of the party is a sufficient indication of that fact.
– But there are also a Tory Party, a Liberal Party, and others ; in fact, there is no limit to the names applied to various political sections.
– This is not the place in which to enter upon a long disquisition upon that subject. Will my honorable friend say that he and his associates are prepared to modify the policy upon which they went to the country ?
– We appealed to the whole of the people, an3 represent the whole of the people.
– I would ask the honorable member if he is prepared to so modify the platform of the Labour Party that it can be rendered acceptable to either of the other parties in Parliament. If my honorable friend will tell me that- I am mistaken, I shall be delighted to hear him, because no one has more respect for him, and for those associated with him, than I have. I respect those honorable members personally, but T recognise that they are bound to adhere to the platform prepared by an organization outside of Parliament, and that they are not in a position to materially modify that platform.
– Our platform -does not require modification.
– Four of the States have indorsed the policy of the Labour Party.
– Do not the pledges- of all honorable members bind them in much the same way?
– Certainly; but other honorable members are not subject to the direction of outside organizations. We are bound bv pledges, it is true; but we ‘are at the same time free to do anything that is not in violation of our pledges if we think it will be in the best interests of the country
– It is the same with members of the Labour Party.
– I have yet to learn that members of the Labour Party would be in a position to modify their programme, even though they might consider it best in the interests of the country.
– Like honest men we should appeal to the electors.
– That would be the proper course to adopt, and I have no doubt that my honorable friends would take that step if occasion arose.
– Then there is really no difference between the honorable member for Gippsland and the members of the Labour Party.
– Referring to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, I am very pleased to see such a prominent position assigned to the all-important question of preferential trade. I believe that that policy, if well and wisely carried out, will do a great deal to promote the interests, not only of Australia, but of the other outlying portions of the Empire and of the United Kingdom. At present the Empire, throughout all its parts, is united by the bonds of kinship and sentiment, and although these are very powerful, Ithink it will be well to add to them the ties of closer trade relations and mutual selfinterest. If we did so, the union of the Empire would be established upon a solid and enduring basis.
– Namely, that of pounds, shillings, -and pence.
– It may be some time before the mother country is in a position to negotiate with us, but I believe that matters will assume a practical shape before long. Mr. Chamberlain is playing a winning game, although I doubt if he willsucceed at the next general election. The very fact that attention has been prominently directed to the condition of affairs in the mother country must, in spite of all the old prejudices, ultimately waken the nation to the advantage of the policy nowbeing advocated.
– What is that policy ?
-My honorable and learned friend will have plenty of opportunities of expressing his views upon that point.
– We knowthat it is a policy of robbery of the poor.
– The people of Great Britain cannot long ignore the fact that at present the demand for the products of British labour sold in foreign countries is not increasing, but is rather diminishing from year to year, whilst the products of foreign labour are displacing those of Great Britain in British markets by leaps and bounds year after year. These are facts which the nation cannot long refuse to recognise, and I believe that they will have their full weight in due time. It would be very difficult to overestimate the advantages of preferential trade to the outlying portions of the Empire. If a substantial, or even a moderate, preference in the British markets were given to our dairy, agricultural, and viticultural produce, a very great boon would be conferred upon us, and we should take a great step forward in the direction of making the Empire selfsupporting. It is humiliating to reflect that the mother country is dependent for her food supplies upon nations with which she may possibly . become involved in hostilities. It is not difficult to realize the position in which she would be placed if there were any combination against her by those nations which supply her with food. The consequences of a stoppage of supplies would be very serious - such as one does not care to contemplate. The present state of affairs should not be allowed to continue.; particularly in view of the large portion of the world’s surface that is occupied by British possessions and the vast resources of such territories. We know that within itself the Empire has sufficient means to produce all the food supplies required by the mother land. Therefore, it will be of the very greatest advantage, not only to the outlying portions, but to the heart of the British Empire, if a wise system of preferential trade were established. Iam very pleased to observe that in the viceregal speech prominent reference is made to two all-important questions. I refer to the proposals to assist the development of our rural industries and to encourage immigration. These two matters are closely connected, andI do not think that the importance of either can be very well overestimated. As we are all aware, the population of Australia at the present time is practically settled along a small fringe of our coastline. Our resources’ are but imperfectly developed, and we all recognise that Australia cannot take her proper position amongst the. great nations of the earth until she possesses a -very much denser population, and until her output of products has been very materially increased. In my opinion, the best possible way in which to attract immigration to our shores is to so expand our industries that they may afford profitable employment for labour and profitable investment for capital.’ The two things should go hand in hand, and there is no doubt -whatever that the State can do a very great deal in both of these directions.
– It cannot create wealth. The people themselves must make it.
– If my honorable and learned friend will curb his impatience now, he will have abundant opportunity to reply to my observations at a later stage. I always listen with pleasure to him, even though he speaks continuously - as he occasionally does - for hours. At the same time I ask him to give other honorable members a fair opportunity to address the House. I do not object to reasonable interjections if they are relevant to the matter which I am discussing. Perhaps I should apologize to the honorable and learned member for saying so ; but I really fail to see the relevance of his interjection. I need scarcely point out to honorable members that throughout the world the agricultural industry employs more people, and produces more wealth, than does any other industry even if we exclude eastern countries, such as India, China, and Japan, where intense culture is carried on to an enormous extent. There it is a common thing to find individuals cultivating only a few square yards of land. That fact will give honorable members some conception of the extent to which agriculture is practised amongst these eastern nations. I regret that I cannot find any available statistics relating to the area under cultivation in these countries or to the number of persons who are engaged in this industry. But, excluding them from our consideration, I find that in other countries, whose statistics are available, it employs 80,000,000 of peasants, and that the product of their labour represents- a value of ^4,000,000,000 per annum. That is a very large sum, indeed ; but as the figures are taken from .Mulhall, I presume that they are approximately correct. Since 1840 this industry has considerably more than doubled its proportions. -A great deal of that development is due to State action in those countries, where agriculture .is most largely carried on. Probably Great Britain has done less to encourage agriculture than has any other European nation. The result is, that whilst in the United Kingdom, in 1840, there were 22,000,000 acres under cultivation, in 1888, or 48 years afterwards, there were only 21,000,000 acres. Thus there was an actual falling off of 1,000,000 acres, notwithstanding that the population of the country had very largely increased in the meantime. France and Germany have adopted a different policy. They have . encouraged agriculture by every reasonable means in their power, with the result that, during the same period, the former increased the area which was under cultivation from 55,000,000 acres to 61,000,000 acres - an increase, of 6,000,000 acres - whilst the latter increased its acreage from 45,000,000 to 59,000,000, an increase of 14,000,000 acres. Similarly the United States increased its area under cultivation from 50,000,000 acres to 201,000,000 acres, an increase of 151.000.000 acres.
– What was the increase of population in the United States during the same period ?
– The increase of population was undoubtedly very great. I have not the figures relating to that phase of the question in my possession. But I would point out to the honorable member that the increase of population in the United Kingdom was also very great - I think about 13,000,000 or 14,000,000 - notwithstanding which, the area under cultivation actually declined. As honorable members are aware, the United States Government stimulate rural production by every reasonable means in their power, and we all know that the Government of a country can encourage the development of this industry in many ways. Besides being in a position to grant bonuses in that direction, they have facilities for acquiring the latest information from all the countries of the earth. They are also possessed of facilities for disseminating that information in the widest possible manner, and at the least possible cost. They can import the most approved kinds of seeds ; they can inform the people of the countries from which they can obtain the latest and most up-to-date machinery for carrying on their avocations. It is not necessary for me to dwell upon the different means by which a Government can encourage rural production. But I have no hesitation in saying that it can be done to a very large extent, and I take it that the references which are made to these matters in the Governor-General’s Speech have been inserted not merely as indicative of the desire. of the Ministry, but for the purpose of showing the policy which they are determined to pursue. I trust that they will take decided steps to give effect to these all-important planks in their platform. If they do anything to develop our local industries, to show the people of other lands where they can find profitable investment for capital and remunerative employment for labour, they will be doing a. great deal to encourage immigration. These two matters, therefore, should go hand in hand. .But whilst I thoroughly approve of the Government proposals in this respect,, there are two matters closely related to them upon which I differ from them, and differ very widely. In the first place, it seems to me that it is ridiculous to beckon to people to come to Australia with one hand, and to repel them with, the other. So long as there remains in the Immigration Restriction Act the provision which, regardless of what the conditions may be, prohibits people from being brought here under contract, so long will it be vain to endeavour to attract this class of population. It is a declaration on our part that they are. not to come here under contract under any conditions. When we make that declaration we are simply advertising the fact that they are welcome to come to Australia to swell the ranks of the unemployed, but that they must not come to increase- the ranks of the wage-earners.
– A similar provision has been applied in the. United States of Amenca since 1887.
– Does not my honorable friend know that the conditions prevailing in the United States of America are as widely different from those of Australia as day is from night? The United States in the first place encouraged immigration of every kind - desirable and undesirable - until they obtained an enormous population. Now their population of nearly 80,000,000 is quite sufficient for them, and they_ can well afford to place any restrictive immigrat’ion laws upon their statute-book. But it is simply ridiculous for us, with our handful of population, to compare Australia in that respect with the great United States of America. I should be quite prepared to go this far with the Government in regard to the provisions to which I. have referred: I should be prepared to support legislation that would prevent any men brought here under contract from taking the place of men who were engaged in an industrial dispute, and thus temporarily thrown out of employment. I would also go further. I should be quite willing that no one should be brought out under contract to receive less than the current rates of wages prevailing in Australia. With those two safeguards I contend that every encouragement should be given to people to bring to our shores the right class of workers under contract, for that is, the only way in which really good men can be secured. We know that skilled labourers, whose time and work are valuable to the countries in which they live, can find employment there, and they are not likely to leave that employment to come to this land if no better inducement offers than that of joining the ranks of the unemployed here, and taking thei’r chance of obtaining work later on. Men of a good class will not come here unless they are assured that, upon their arrival, employment will be forthcoming. I should like, therefore, to see this restrictive provision modified in the direction to which I have referred. Another point on which I differ from the Ministry, and which bears closely upon the all important question of the development of our rural industries, relates to the provision in the Post and Telegraph Act, prohibiting the Government from entering into any mail contract with a company which employs coloured labour. That is a very important matter, and one that should be calmly and dispassionately considered. Honorable members are aware that I have always been a consistent advocate of the policy of a White Australia. I have advocated that policy, because I believe it to be necessary in the interests of the future of Australia ; but I have not closed my eyes to . the fact that it costs a good deal to give effect to it. It not only involves the large amount that we have to pay by way of bonuses on sugar produced by white labour - which is a very serious item, and one that is increasing every year - but, in addition, we know that the exclusion of coloured labour must for a number years retard to a considerable extent the development of our resources, and consequently the progress of the country. In spite of these facts, when we consider our close proximity to the teeming millions of the East, we must recognise ihat, if we placed no restriction upon their importation, they would come here in millions - that, in the absence of any restrictive laws they could overrun the continent, and that it would soon become a question of which should be the dominant race. Having regard to the future, I, therefore, consider the policy of a White Australia a very important one, and I have never swerved from my adhesion to it. But if I did hot know otherwise I should say that in pressing for a White Ocean policy our honorable, friends of the Labour F arty were not the friends of the principle of a White Australia. I know, of course, that they are perfectly sincere, yet in pressing for the extension of this policy beyond our own bounds, and to an extent so unreasonable that it can subject us only to the ridicule of the outer world, they are doing more to endanger the principle of a White Australia than could- be done by the adoption of any other course. Are not honorable members aware that the British Empire comprises more than 300,000,000 of coloured subjects? The country which they occupy is theirs by right of inheritance; it is ours only by right of conquest, and I am very pleased to know that Great Britain has never failed to recognise her duty towards those races. In every possible respect she has always treated them well. If that were not the case, does any one believe that it would be possible for a mere handful of whites to rule India, with its 300,000,000 of . coloured people ? If Great Britain adopted the policy that we are pursuing in endeavoring to enforce the principle, not only of a White Australia, but of a White Ocean, how long could she retain her hold over those races? It would be impossible for her to retain that control. And surely, whilst we claim our own rights, and insist upon their observance, we should recognise those of other people. I have yet to learn that the ocean which washes the shores of these coloured races is not as free to them as it is to us. What right have we to say what shall be the complexion of the races who choose to go upon the broad ocean?
– But we are paying for these services.
– Are we to tell shipowners who for many years- have employed these coloured men - men who have done their duty faithfully and honestly - that unless they discharge them and ^deprive them of their means of making an honest livelihood we shall withdraw our miserable subsidy? I do not wonder at these shipping companies saying to us - “ Keep your subsidy,- and your mails too.” Thev will do their duty in spite of our little subsidy. I have no hesitation in saying that this policy is cruel, oppressive, and unjust, and, indeed. I think I may say without any departure from the truth that it is a barbarous one. But even assuming, for the sake of argument, that my view of the matter is incorrect - assuming that it is just and humane to tell ship-owners who propose to contract for the carriage of our mails that they must discharge the coloured men who have faithfully done their duty, and whose only fault is that their Creator made their skins a little darker than our own - what advantage would accrue to Australia ? Would Australians take the place of these men? We know perfectly well that they would not; we know that their places would be filled by men from some other parts of the world. What benefit then could accrue to Australia from the adoption of this policy? Why should we make ourselves ridiculous in the estimation of the outer world by inserting a condition in our mail contracts which,’ to my mind, brands Australians with disgrace?
– Did the honorable member speak in this way when the provision to which he refers was before the House ?
– On the only occasion upon which I addressed myself to the subject in this House. I spoke in somewhat similar terms. The provision was suggested by the Labour Party. It was sprung upon us; I had never read it before, and it was accepted by the Government before I and many other honorable members knew what its effect would be. I have never, changed my opinion in regard to the provision, and I am satisfied that it is the greatest danger to the policy of a White Australia that could be created. We know perfectly well that these people must get a living somewhere. ‘ If we thrust them out of one ship, they must get into another, or they must go somewhere else, in all probability, within the British Empire, to earn an honest living or starve. What advantage, or disadvantage, would it be to us that they should happen to be employed upon a particular ship? We should adopt a common-sense policy. Let us insist upon cur own rights to the very last. I should be the last to abandon those rights, amongst which I include this policy of a White Australia, which I have always supported; but in mercy’s name, let us not try to sweep the whole of the British Empire, and clear it of over 300,000,000 of coloured subjects.
– The honorable member is aware that that is not proposed.
– My honorable friend is proposing a little of it.
– As applied to subsidized boats.
– What is the advantage of that ? We should not be finding employment for any of our Australian subjects. It is our duty to look to the welfare of our own people, and we ought not to interfere outside of our own bounds, where we have no right to interfere. If it is desirable to clear these people out of British ships, surely that is a question for the -British people themselves to consider? Surely they do not require our dictation as to the line of policy they should pursue? Although, to a large extent, he takes the same view as I do upon this matter, and does not approve of it, my right honorable and learned friend the leader of the Opposition said the other night that he would approve of negotiating with the British Government with a view to give effect to such a policy as this. I would be no party to going even to that length. I would not interfere in any way. I prefer to let the British Government mind their own business and govern themselves and their own subjects as they think best.
– Is the carrying of our mails exclusively their business ?
– It is their business to do that for hire. If my honorable friend were going down the street and wanted the use of a cab, would he insist upon the cabman having a horse of a particular colour? Would not that be ridiculous ? I know we have the right to do this. The Prime Minister told us the other night that we have a perfect right to attach this condition to our mail contracts. I know we have the right. I know also that the shipping companies have a right to say to us - “All right, and we make a condition that you dismiss your Government.” They could attach that condition if they chose, but it would be absurd. I consider that this proposal is not only absurd,;but something worse. It is unjust and unfair in the extreme. To connect this with the subjects I have been discussing I would remind honorable members that every barrier we place in the way of navigation is an additional impost upon the export of our products. Of what use is it for us to try to encourage the development of ‘ our industries in order ‘to increase our exports if we are to put these foolish and meaningless restrictions upon exports? That is the -way in which it bears upon this question, otherwise I should not have referred to it at this stage ; because I can tell the - Government that I am heart and soul with them in the main objects they .have in view in both these matters. It is .my duty, however, holding strong convictions, to express. my objectionsto these particular clauses in the two Acts to which I have referred, which in my opinion will largely interfere with the objects theGovernment desire to attain - that is the encouragement of immigration and the development of our rural industries.
– This is no new departure.
– What about the condition as to perishable products?
– That has nothing to dowith it. It is a question as to whether we have any right to interfere beyond our own shores.
– What about the message to the Transvaal ?
– That is a very different matter. If my honorable and learned friend the Prime Minister had sent a protest to the British Government I should have said that he had no right to do so, but it was. a very different thing to write a friendly letter to a neighbouring friendly State, pointing out what he believed to be a danger. I can see no objection whatever to the action which the honorable and learned gentleman took in that case. I should, however, see a decided objection to our interfering to the extent of dictating to the British Government the course they should adopt.
– Even the writing of a friendly letter suggesting that they should adopt it?
– A most important measure, which, I presume, will occupy our attention very shortly is the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill. Probably this will be the first question upon which the peculiar position of parties in this House will make itself manifest. I desire to say now, as I stated last session, that I support the leading principles of the Bill. I believe that arbitration and conciliation are preferable to the present method of settling industrial disputes by means of strikes and locks-out, which I consider the most wasteful and most barbarous system that could be devised for the purpose. Therefore, although I am not too sanguine of the result of this tribunal, .1 am prepared to .give it a trial. I must say that I am! less sanguine .now than I was last session. The recent act of coal miners in New South Wales in refusing to accept the award of the Courts-
-.: - They are good men, and I wish we had a few more like them.
– In my opinion that action raised a danger flag for us in dealing with the question.
– They showed that there was a spirit of freedom still left in them..
– The honorable member, perhaps, does not know the circumstances.
– I do not profess to know all the circumstances of the case, but I do know that they asked for the enactment of a particular law, and when that law was placed upon the statute-book their duty, if they did not approve of its operation., was to endeavour- to get it amended, and not to disobey the award of the Court. They could not do anything more fatal to their own cause than to proceed in the way in which they have proceeded.
– What can a Judge know of these matters?
– However, in spite of that, I am prepared to support the main principles of this- Bill. But, I may tell the Prime Minister, that I am not prepared- to extend the operation of the Bill to industries in which strikes and industrial strife have, never occurred.
– The honorable member will find that the amendment he moved last session is there.
– I am obliged to the honorable and learned gentleman. When in Committee on the Bill I intend to move an amendment to exempt- the agricultural and dairying industries from its operation. It is not that I think that people engaged in those industries are entitled to any privileges’ not enjoyed by every other section of the community, but simply because the necessity has never arisen, and I feel that it would be an insult to both employers and employes in those industries, in which strife has. never, occurred, if we were to provide a tribunal for the settlement ‘ of disputes that are not likely to arise.
– We should get an arbitrator to settle disputes in this Parliament first.
– With regard to another amendment, which I understand is to be proposed by my honorable friends who sit in the labour corner, I do not know whether they have really considered what would be its effect. If they do consider it they must certainly see that, if they are successful, their amendment will create- a. position which will be intolerable and impossible, lt will take away from the States the rights which the Constitution gives them. I do not know whether the proposed amendment will be an infringement of the language of the Constitution, but it will certainly be diametrically opposed to its spirit, and if the Constitution permits the passing of such an amendment, then, although I never considered it a perfect instrument, I. must conclude that the Constitution is very much more defective than I thought it was. The Constitution professes to give the States jurisdiction over every question that was not expressly relegated to the Federal Parliament. If the Federal Parliament can create a body of men, outsiders having no responsibility whatever to the constituents of the States Governments and Parliaments to manage the States Public Service - because that is what it would amount to - to tell them, what their hours of labour and their rates of pay are to be, and also the general conditions under which they must work; and if this body is further to be placed in a position to tell a State Treasurer to take his Estimates back, and perhaps increase them by £200,000 or ,£300,000, then surely the powers of the States Governments and Parliaments will be reduced to a farce, and those authorities will be- reduced to a position which they cannot be expected, to accept for one moment. I believe that the States Governments would snap their fingers at the award of the Court if it attempted to. make such an award. Then what should we have to do? Should we call out the military to enforce- obedience? Have honorable “members considered seriously what would happen even if everything went as smoothly as they desire? Have they considered what the duties of the Court would be? I presume that it would be the duty of the Court to take cognizance of the rate of wages that a particular industry could afford to pay. If it did not do that - if it compelled industries to pay higher, wages than they could afford - the only effect would be to close them, and to dry up the sources of employment.
– The awards would apply to’ private individuals in the same way as to the States Governments.
– Apply such an award to the States railways. Those railways are now run at a loss. The States’ are paying more wages than the undertakings can afford to carry, and the people of the States make up the loss.
– Does not that apply in the same way to private individuals?
– No; a private individual can shut up his industry if the Court makes it unprofitable to carry it on. No court in the world can compel an individual to carry on an industry at a loss. If that rule were applied to the States railways, the effect would be either the dismissal of a number of employes or the reduction of their wages if the railways were to be made to pay. If the Arbitration Court is not to do that, what powers are we going to give to it? Is the Court to be the sole judge of how much loss the States and the people of the Commonwealth can afford? The whole thing is absurd on the face of it. I sinthing is absurd on the face of it. I sincerely hope that wiser counsels will prevail. But if the struggle is to come, the sooner the better. Let us meet it, and let it be fought out. Let there be an awakening of the people to their position. I feel perfectly sure that we can trust the Government now in office to do their duty if the amendment foreshadowed is carried.
– Are not the revenues of the States subject to the decisions of the High Court now?
– To an infinitesimal extent in respect to legislation’ arising between individuals and. the Commonwealth, or between separate States, or between the Commonwealth and the States.
– Is not a. State servant an individual?
– I should like to see the Arbitration Court that would make my right honorable friend if he were at the head of a State Government obey it. My right honorable friend would be the very first to rise in all the wrath of his just indignation, as we have seen. Kim’ do when he considered that any matter under his control was assailed here. We know how he can fight. I would not desire better fun then to see my right honorable friend occupying the position of a State Treasurer, and that Arbitration Court daring to tell him to take back his Estimates and recast them. He would be the very last to do it. There is one matter about which I wish to have a word with the Minister for Trade and Customs. I see that he has put a mention of his favorite bantling - the Inter-State Commission Bill - into the Governor-General’s Speech. The proposal was strangled last session.
– -Oh, let me alone !
– There is no one who has more respect for my honorable friend than I have. I know that the introduction of this measure arises out of the largeness of his heart. He has his eye on some few individuals who he thinks would be very much better off with big salaries and in comfortable billets. My honorable friend is never happy unless he is distributing largesse.
– That is not fair.
– An Inter-State Commission at the present time in my opinion would be a cause not only of useless expenditure, but would be an absurdity. It is all very well in America, where the railways, the steam-ship companies, and all the other carrying concerns are in the hands of private individuals. An Inter-State Commission is necessary there ; but here the principal means of transit are in the hands of the States.
– It is necessary to bring New South Wales and Victoria into line in the matter of railway freights.
– Does my honorable friend mean to insult the Federal Government by saying that they are not capable of carrying on negotiations with the States Governments, so as to rectify any little anomalies .of that kind? Does he not know that when this question is once settled - and it might be settled in a few days - the Inter-State Commission would go on for all eternity, the members of it drawing their salaries and sleeping ! Is it a wise thing to establish such a body? I hope that my honorable friend the Minister for Trade and Customs will put this measure at the bottom of the business-paper, and let it be mercilessly slaughtered with the other innocents at the end of the session.
– I intend to introduce it at the earliest moment, and to stop Victoria and some of the other States from doing what they are doing now.
– Does not the Constitution say that an Inter-State Commission is to be established?
– It is true that the Constitution says that an Inter-State Commission may be established, but no sensible people would establish a body that would have a little work to do for a few days, and then become useless for the rest of its natural life”. The Constitution was quite right in making provision for such a body. Otherwise we could not create one if it were necessary. No doubt the framers of the Constitution intended that it should be brought into operation when required.
– Is the Honorable member really prepared to continue the system now carried on in some of the States of differential charges on the railways and of harbor charges, which are equal to a duty?
– No; but I think, as I stated last session, that the Government of the Commonwealth should take the trouble to negotiate with the Governments of the States. I am perfectly sure that the members of the States Governments are reasonable and common-sense men.
– The Government could have negotiated long since had they tried.
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne reminds me that the Commonwealth Government could, by way of injunction, and without an InterState Commission, stop these preferential charges, while with a Commission the law would be helpless, because the whole control would be in the hands of that body.
– The honorable member for Gippsland holds a different opinion from that expressed by many other people.
– I feel that this proposal is put on the programme only with a view to ascertain whether honorable members have changed their minds ; but I am sure that the good sense of the Minister will induce him to place the legislation at the bottom of the notice-paper, and allow it to stand over. I am afraid I have detained honorable members at too great a length, but a reference is made in His Excellency’s Speech to a proposed amendment of the Electoral Act. That, in my opinion, is one of the most important’ matters to which we can devote our attention, seeing that it strikes at the very root of government itself. Having given this matter a good deal of thought for some years past, I have come to the conclusion that the best we can do is to give, practical effect to the principles for which we have been legislating for years, and make Parliament a reflex of the opinions of a majority of the whole people. At the present time it is only some particular section of the community, with a special interest in the question, who busy themselves at an election, and thus the Parliament is not a true reflex of the will of the whole people.
– What is the good of people busying themselves if they are not on the electoral roll ?
– That is a matter of administration, whereas I am speaking of a matter of law. We ought to endeavour to make voting as easy as possible for every individual, and to this end we might extend the system of voting by post considerably further than it goes at present. Then, having given every facility to the people to vote, we ought to make voting compulsory.
– Hear, hear.
– Yes; I say that we. ought to make voting compulsory. If people do not take sufficient interest in the country in which they live to record their votes, it would toe no hardship to make them perform that duty.
– What does the honorable member suggest should be done if people did not record their votes ?
– That is a matter of detail which can be provided for, as in other cases of compulsion. The honorable member who interjects knows that at the present time we compel children to attend school. What is done if people allow their children to play truant ?
– The law also compels people to fill in census returns.
– That is so, and also to serve on juries. There are several matters or> which we bring compulsion to bear on individuals in the interests of the whole community. What great hardship would it be to compel people to give an hour or two, or perhaps less, once in three years to the most important function that can engage their attention - the function of selfgovernment? No real hardship would be inflicted, and such a law, if enforced, would make Parliament what it never has been up to the present - a true reflex of the will of the majority of the whole people.
– While compelling people to vote, does the honorable member propose to find them suitable candidates ?
– And opinions also?
– The people could vote for the candidate who in their judgment was the best;’ and there is no reason why they should not exercise their influence in trying to induce suitable candidates to come forward. Having referred briefly to the most salient matters contained in His Excellency’s Speech, I conclude with an expression of my hope that we shall be able to surmount the difficulties which seem to stand in our way at the present time, and that the results of the session may conduce to the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth.
– We have listened to the honorable member for Gippsland, as we always do, with a great deal of pleasure. However I may differ from- the honorable member, I .always feel, while he is speaking, that he is giving utterance to his matured convictions, and whether we agree with his opinions or not, it is worth while listening, to one who. undoubtedly speaks from his heart. I may say at. once that I differ from the honorable member very widely as to some of the views which he has expressed, and to which I hope a little later on to make reference. First of all, I take up the speech which the Governor-General read to us, and I find myself ‘ perusing it with a great deal of pleasure, though not with much satisfaction. The pleasure arises from the literary mould through which it has gone ; everyone, of course, knows who wrote this speech. I have heard it suggested that in ancient times persons other than the Prime Minister had to do with casting such speeches ; but there is no mistake that this speech of the Governor-General comes through the mould of the Prime Minister, as, of course, it ought to be under our system of government. One has only to read the flowing, lucid sentences and sentiments to know that no member other than the Prime Minister could possibly have, written them.
– I do not want to spoil the joke of the honorable member, but it was another member of the Government who wrote’ the speech.
– While the sentiments of the speech are very delightful in the way they are put together, they are very unsatisfactory when one, comes to treat them as a set of business propositions embodying a Government programme. For instance, I look in vain through the. whole of the speech for a definite proposal on any subject whatever. It is hoped that certain things may eventuate. It is hoped, for instance, that in connexion with the war, which is so much of a menace to the whole civilized world at the present moment, our neutrality may be maintained. It is hoped that some satisfactory arrangement may be made regarding the important question of the taking over of the States debts. It is hoped, in the next paragraph, that some arrangement may be made at some time and somewhere concerning old-age pensions. It is hoped, in connexion with the development of our resources, that something may be done to encourage immigration. It is hoped that something may be done with regard to the speedier transit of perishable products. The address goes on to say that it is verydesirable we’ should d’o something to assist in the development of our agricultural industry, in the way of growing new crops arid finding new markets, and the belief is expressed that it! is very necessary that something should be done to bring about an alteration in our method of conducting elections. Every -proposal in the speech is qualified by the hope that something, may be done; and we are further informed that if satisfactory arrangements’ can be made with regard to most- of these questions, such a result is very necessary and desirable.
– “Hope springs eternal in the human breast !”
– “Hope springs eternal” through the whole of the programme, but whether the hopes be realized will depend on something which the Government have not yet told us, namely, the propositions they will lay before the House. We have all read the fascinating book of H. G. Wells, entitled “Anticipations’?” We know how charmed we were when we read its pages, full of the most delightful anticipations concerning the future. Here we have in the person of the Prime Minister the H. G. Wells of Australia. Equally brilliant, I venture to say, but equally unsatisfactory, he persists in living in- the clouds, and when we come to try. to pin him down to some serious business proposition, we find that it is impossible. The same thing happened in the case of his speech. As I listen to the honorable and learned member I always feel constrained to jump to my feet, as I have very often done, to ask him what all the beautiful sound meant. I ask him now what does the beautiful speech of the Governor-General mean? There is not a definite proposition concerning any matter with which it deals. That kind of speaking is all very well on the platform. When the honorable and learned member was pursuing his fiery crusade through the length and breadth of New South Wales one did not mind so much his indulgence in cloudy, vague, brilliant generalities, or to be told that he was an enemy of the Empire.
– Is that a cloudy generality?
– No; but it meant nothing.
– Oh ! did it not?’
– Unfortunately it meant nothing, and the honorable and learned member has shown us in his declaration in this House the other day that it meant nothing. He has told us that the ground which he took then has been altered by recent declarations in the House of Commons, and I venture to say that’ he did mean nothing except to try to get his candidates returned to the House, and to keep out some gentlemen who had occupied seats here. However, I do not object to that, because that was the time and place for the honorable and learned gentleman, if he wishes to indulge in’ these generalities, to do so. This is a business House, and this opening speech is supposed to contain a ‘business programme; therefore there should have been more definite clear-cut propositions concerning the matters on which it so airily and lightly touches. The honorable member for Gippsland, as nearly every previous speaker in the debate, referred to the position of parties in the House. So far as my judgment leads me to view events, I am bound to say that this matter is eminently unsatisfactory. I do not make the remark because there are three parties in the House so evenly balanced as they are. I rather view with disfavour the declarations which have been made because of that fact. It does not follow at all that because there are three parties in the House, that there should therefore be an immediate coalition between’ two parties as against a third, for ‘that is the feeling in honorable members’ minds, although it is not openly expressed in the House. I therefore do not at all think that the declarations which have been made by honorable members - in a veiled and careful manner, it is true - have altogether been justified by the existence of the parties that are here. But I submit that those declarations are eminently unsatisfactory, and it is to them that I wish to address my remarks for a few moments. The last speaker told us that he did not think that there could be a coalition, that it was %’ery far distant, if at all possible. For instance, ‘ he said that the Opposition, like the maiden, had nothing to offer but their charms, and that the Government had the loaves and fishes. Does he mean to suggest that one of the insuperable difficulties in the situation is the fact that certain Ministers have certain emoluments, and that, no matter how much good they could do to the country by their retirement, they would still refuse to surrender’ them ? What else does he mean when he says that the insuperable obstacle to a coalition which might be beneficial to the country is the fact that Ministers are in possession of the loaves and fishes of office? I do not know what the Government, think about a statement of that kind, but if I were a member of the Government I should at once have risen to my feet to repudiate the implication. The honorable member, I fancy, could not have weighed his words, or he would not have so airily accused the Government of sticking to their seats, and even to their emoluments, when it involved the discredit of the country. He seemed to .go out of his way to attack the integrity of purpose of the members of this Government ; true, he did it in a jocular manner. Very often when one wishes to get in a backhander, it is just as well to speak in the pleasantest possible way. And so we find the honorable member addressing himself to the question of the Inter- State Commission Bill, and declaring that a Minister had given notice of motion for leave to introduce the Bil] with the specific purpose of finding some .highly-paid billets for some friends. These are fine statements for an ardent supporter of the Government to make, and for the Government to allow to be made without challenge. With regard to .the question of a coalition, we have had a declaration from two leaders. The leader of the Opposition says that any proposal in this direction must be perfectly open, while the leader of the Government says that the matter must be left to emergence in the future.
– That is a very good sentiment.
– It is ; but what does it mean ?
– I give it up.
– The Prime Minister says that he does not take back one word that he uttered at Ballarat. If he does not, it appears to me that a coalition is a long way off. What did he say at Ballarat? While deprecating the even position of parties in the House, he proceeded, in almost the next breath, to unfold a” platform which he knew would be specially attractive to the third section in the House. In other words, he was at great pains at that banquet to unfold a political programme for the delectation of the members of the Labour Party. Therefore, it is a safe thing for him to say, in one breath, that the present position of parties in the House is unsatisfactory, while, in the next, he’ is reaching out with both hands for support,’ and the continuance of an. alliance with the third party. If- there is no change from that attitude, it is idle for him to talk about a coalition. It is not of much use to debate the question, but if there is to be a coalition, I do not think that it should be a coalition of. two parties, pure . and simple, against a third one. Whenever the coalition takes place, it will mean, it inevitably must mean, a re-arrangement of all the parties in the Chamber, and not a mere fusion of two parties with the view of keeping under a third one. In the meantime the Prime Minister is in the happy position of being able to coquette with the question of coalition until he can realize as much of his programme as he cares to do. Whenever a difficulty occurs in connexion with a labour proposal he hopes to receive the support of the members of the Opposition on the ground that, as coalition is in the air, it would be ungenerous for us to trip up the Government. Therefore, whilst satisfying the labour members on the whole, he counts upon the support of the free-traders to get him safely over every obstacle. When all his difficulties are surmounted, we shall hear no more about coalition, and the Opposition will be left to its own devices. The Prime Minister, whatever any one mav think of the proposals in the Governor-General’s Speech, certainly stands on velvet in connexion with. them. But a question which comes into my mind in. connexion with the position is this: What have the electors said about a coalition of parties ? It is strange to hear the two party leaders talking to each other of coalition, since it is only a little while since, throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales at least, the air rang with definite proposals for fiscal peace and preferential trade from the one side, and ridicule and condemnation of those proposals from the other. Now we are told by one of the party leaders that he is prepared to close the fiscal armoury, and to that statement the response is made that the position of affairs has altered since the declaration concerning preferential trade. The honorable member for Gippsland expressed great pleasure at the fact that mention of preferential free-trade is made in the Governor-General’s Speech, though I fail to see what there is in it to give pleasure to any one, particularly to a sincere apostle of preferential trade. There is no definite proposal in the speech. All that we have is the expression of the hope that the visit of a prominent statesman from the , old country may galvanize into life and’ ‘ strength the sentiment in favour of preferential .trade which now lies dormant here; I have nothing but the strongest condemnation of the suggestion that such a visit should be made. It would be the most improper thing in the world for Mr. Chamberlain to come here upon such a mission. He had better leave us to settle things for ourselves. An Imperial statesman of his calibre and position should not be brought here to take a hand in our party warfare.
– Is the honorable member afraid of Mr. Chamberlain?
– I have some respect for him, but I do not think that any man who would plunge him into the vortex of party politics here can have the slightest respect for him. I am not at all sure that he could enlighten us upon the question of preferential trade from the Australian point of view. We must always listen to what he has to say upon Imperial questions, or upon the Imperial aspect of questions affecting the Empire, but I have to learn that he can throw light upon the Australian aspect of any question. The proposal to import an Imperial statesman to try to affect a party issue here is nothing more nor less than indecent.
– Not if he comes at his own expense.
– I hope that if he comes, he will leave us to settle a question like preferential trade for ourselves.
– It is the Government proposal to pay for his trip that I object to so strongly. I think it is a monstrous one.
– When one comes to deal with the question of preferential trade, one finds the statement in the speech of the Governor-General regarding it as unsatisfactory as the other statements in that speech. The brand of preferential trade suggested in the speech, and advocated by the Prime Minister throughout Australia, is a brand peculiarly his own. It is not the kind of preferential trade advocated by Mr. Chamberlain or by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The Prime Minister makes no definite proposal. Why? Because, he says, he is waiting for a proposal from the Home Government. That is a perfectly safe attitude to take, because he is not likely to get a proposal from the Imperial Government for some years to come. He must have known when he was speaking upon the question, during the electoral campaign, as though it were one of immediate practical concern, that he was humbugging the people of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister of Great Britain declared, just before our Prime Minister set out upon his crusade, that under the most favorable circumstances the British House of Commons could not consider the question for at least two years to come. If two years must elapse before, under the most favorable circumstances, the subject can be argued in the Imperial House of Commons, what immediate practical interest can it have for us ? We have been elected for a term of. three years, and may be sent to the country before that term expires, though I do not wish to refer to that earlier dissolution which has already been prognosticated by the newspapers. I hope that it is not one of the surprises to which a certain evening newspaper alluded last night. We do not desire to go back to thet electors just yet, and it is quite likely that the duration of this Parliament will be longer than six months. But, even if we sit for the next three years to come, the question of preferential trade cannot come before us for decision as a definite practical issue, and my complaint is that the Prime Minister tried to present to the electors, as a matter of live concern, an issue which he knew to be of no immediate practical importance to them.
– Did he succeed ?
– The honorable and learned member can speak for his own State; the Prime Minister did not succeed in New South Wales. Although our Prime Minister is waiting for a definite proposal from the Home Government, Sir Wilfrid Laurier has made it as clear as daylight that under no circumstances will he negotiate on the matter. He has given Great Britain a preference, but it has been as a free concession, and he has declared his willingness to give a further preference upon the same lines. He hopes that the Imperial Government will reciprocate, but at the same time he makes it clear that under no circumstances will he enter into a trade bargain with the old country. Sir Wilfrid takes a. position differing very much from that of our Prime Minister, who will not stir until a proposal for a negotiation is received from the Imperial Government. The brand of preference supported by the Prime Minister raises what, is a very serious question to these self-governing States. Let it be understood once and for all that if we make a trade bargain with the Imperial Government, we must surrender some of our rights of self-government. Sir Wilfrid Laurier has been careful to make it clear, in all his utterances, that under no circumstances will Canada negotiate with Great Britain, in regard to these trade matters, or surrender one jot or tittle of its selfgoverning powers.
– What about the Premier of New Zealand?
– Who is the Premier of New Zealand ? Of course, we expect him to do great things. He always does them. But we are not concerned with him just now. We are concerned, however, with our attitude on this matter as contrasted with the attitude of the great Dominion of Canada. The latest utterance of the Prime Minister of Great Britain upon the subject is that he does not wish to do anything which will help the protectionist propaganda. Mr. Chamberlain has said that he is not advocating preferential trade as a protectionist, but because he desires freer trade with foreign nations. Do our preferentialists go with Mr. Chamberlain there? Do they desire freer trade with foreign nations? By how much would the honorable member for Melbourne Ports reduce duties levied upon German imports to give effect to the policy of preference which he is so industriously advocating? The protectionist party stands to gain everything and to lose nothing by advocating preferential trade. But what surrender is it prepared to make in the interests of freer trade with the nations of the world? The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Mr. Chamberlain say that they are pursuing this policy to enable the Imperial Government to negotiate upon commercial matters with greater effect, a very desirable object. The question is - Will their proposals accomplish it? If I could believe that their result would be freer trade throughout the world, I would hold up both hands for preferential trade. Experience of the past, however, tells us that that would not be the result. It is being contended in the old country just now that if the Government were in a position to impose duties upon foreign imports, they would be able to successfully negotiate with foreign countries for the reduction of the duties levied by those countries upon goods exported from Great Britain. The Prime Minister was careful to say, in the- delightful speech which he addressed to the House last week, that things have changed in England since 1846. Of course they have. But tariffs have gone down, not up. The tariff rates of the nations of the world are lower now than they were in 1846, so that the change has been, not to the detriment, but to the advantage of Great Britain. Any one who takes an unprejudiced view must be struck with the fact that free-trade principles are steadily gaining ground everywhere. There is no retrogression. Since 1846, the States of the American Union have broken down their tariff barriers, so that, now there is freetrade between nearly 80;000,000 civilized people on the continent of America. Then, again’ in the great empire of Germany, free-trade exists- amongst 50,000,000 civilized people who previously had to submit to nothing but irritating barriers. I venture to say that the cause of freetrade is everywhere gathering strength; nowhere is it receding in popular acceptance. The idea that the imposition of duties upon foreign goods by England would help her in negotiating foreign commercial treaties is a very old one just lately revived. I should like to direct the attention of honorable- members to the fact that in 1841, and from that year onwards to 1846, Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel made desperate efforts to negotiate treaties for freer tirade, with the rest of the world. At that time they had huge duties at the back of them to help them in their negotiations. What was the result? Kris stated plainly and tersely in Bastable’s The Commerce of Nations : -
Very strenuous efforts were made by the Peel Administration (1841.-1845) to conclude commercial treaties’ on- the basis of reciprocity, but the attempt, was a complete failure. Mr. Gladstone, who, as. Vice-President of the Board of Trade, had charge of the negotiations, afterwards declared -that “In every case we failed.”
In every case where they tried to negotiate treaties of greater freedom, they failed
I am sorry to add my opinion that we did more than fail. The whole operation seemed to place us in a false position. Its tendency was to lead countries to regard with jealousy and suspicion, as boons to foreigners, alterations in their laws which, though doubtless of advantage to foreigners, would have been of far greater advantage to their own inhabitants.
Here we have the declaration of men at least as great as Mr. Chamberlain,, and with at least as great a knowledge of finance and commerce, that the present expedient of the British Government has been tried, and has failed in every instance in which it has been put to the test. So that this is a very old device, now hoary with age - a device which the experience of the. world has proved to be ineffective to the last degree. Therefore, when we consider this question, of preferential trade, we are met, first of all, by the conflicting state- ments of the prime actors in the preferential trade drama, and, also, by the further fact that it is a very old proposal, upon which we have experience to guide us. and upon which there is- no need for us to theorise. It is always delightful to; listen to the honorable member for Richmond; who in his recent speech laid down proposition after proposition, in the tone, and with the attitude, of a philosopher. He gave us some very interesting and profound, information, such as that contained in the statement, that Australia was an island continent. Both that honorable member and the Prime- Minister, tried to define the view taken by honorable members on this side of the House, upon fiscal matters,, and, also, the. view which, has been taken during the last fifty years* in Great Britain, and elsewhere.. Both honorable, members would do very much better if they, allowed us to make our own definitions.. They can make their own definitions upon the platform, as much as they like, and afterwards knock them down as if they were so many “Aunt Sallys’” ; but here they should, let us. make our definitions, after which they would be at liberty to knock them down, if they could do so.. We. were told that at the outset free-trade was regarded as a propaganda of good-will to the nations, and that when it was instituted in Great Britain is was thought that it would lead to the disarming of the nations, and that in a few years Great Britain would be relieved of the immense burden of her Army and Navy. The honorable member for Richmond pointed triumphantly to the present high tariffs in various parts of the world as results of the free-trade policy pursued’ by the mother country. He also said, that he hoped to break down the tariffs of the world. In reply to him, I would say that no one made it clearer than did Sir Robert Peel that he advocated, free imports into Great Britain without reference to the effect it would have upon other parts of. the world. It was only after attempts had been made by negotiation to reduce the tariffs of foreign countries that Sir< Robert Peel declared that he had come to the conclusion that the. best way to fight foreign tariffs was by admitting imports free into Great Britain. Therefore, it was upon this purely selfish national ground that free- trade was brought into existence in Great Britain. The honorable member should have been aware of the fact that no such results as those indicated were expected by Sir- Robert Peel, who began the free-trade fight in Great Britain. When the question of the interchange of goods between various parts of the Empire comes up for final treatment, the Prime Minister will not prove to be the most sympathetic leader that could be found. All his habits of thought, and all his political instincts for the past twenty years, are opposed to such an idea. For that period he has helped to maintain a selfish barrier around the State of Victoria against the rest of Australia, and particularly against the rest of the British Empire. When the Government introduced the Tariff we heard nothing from them except that Great Britain was a place from which we should keep as far away as possible in regard to trade relations. It was represented that Great Britain was a huge sweating ‘hole, and that was all they then had to say about it. Now, however, it is the place upon which we should look sympathetically, and which we should endeavour to bring into closer trade relations. It seems to me that the attitude of the Government is inconsistent. The honorable member for North Sydney referred- to the Prime Minister’s attitude towards the rest of Australia in the not very distant past. Upon every platform the Prime Minister has pictured the States of Australia as members of one family, between whom there should be the freest interchange of products. He has represented them as being like a -number of big brothers who have gone away from their homes and settled in different parts of the Continent. As the honorable member for North Sydney, however, pointed out, when any of these big brothers wanted to send a bullock into Victoria to .meet the requirements of the family circle he was met ‘with a duty of 30s. The .Prime Minister always stood behind the ring fence and warned off the big brother- and his :bullock.
– I was’ always opposed .to the stock tax
– Now I should like to point to another matter which should not be forgotten when we are considering the question of preferential trade. The Prime Minister now takes up an attitude very different from that assumed by him when the question of closer trade relations between the States of Australia, under a Federal bond, was first mooted. Who was it that at the Federal Convention declared that Victoria would not join the Federal household unless guarantees were given for her protection ? But the Prime Minister is now seeking to extend the family circle even to the furthest limits of the Empire. He has waxed eloquent as to his desire to extend the home market - that precious home market of which he ‘ and those who share his view of the fiscal matter have made so much- in such a way as to make it an Empire market. That could mean only Empire freetrade.
– Hear, hear.
– Is the honorable, member prepared to admit the products of Great Britain into our market free of duty ? If so, why did he make such a strenuous effort to keep them out ? Why did he quote those blood-curdling statements with regard to the sweating of the workers of Great Britain, if he were anxious to enter into an arrangement by which we could have a free interchange of products with the mother land ?
– Because the statements I quoted were true.
– Then I take it that the honorable member does not mean to applaud the proposal to admit British goods into our market free of duty.
– We are ready to enter into negotiations as to terms.
– We shall let the matter rest at that. It is in the realm of negotiation, and since there is to be a proposal from Mr. Balfour on the subject before anything is done here, we may very well dismiss the matter from our minds, so far as this Parliament is concerned. From -the statements, of the protectionists, as they attempt to explain their attitude as consistent protectionists .and preferentialists, it .is easy to gather what they really mean. For instance, the Prime Minister and the secretary of the Protectionist Union of Victoria say .that they want to send our goods to the old country, and that if we could secure preferential trade within the Empire, there would be a splendid market for our agricultural products in Great Britain.
– Hear, hear.
– This was emphasized by the Prime Minister throughout Australia, and now one of his followers applauds the statement. Here is a quotation from the message of the Protectionist Conference of Australia to the Commonwealth :
In England free imports have destroyed an English agriculture worth j£ 1,000,000,000.
That is a great deal of money, and its loss must have involved die ruin of many agriculturists.
An Honorable Member.- - So it has.
– And yet we now have a proposal before us under which we should be enabled to send our products into the British market and compete still more seriously with the British agriculturist.
– And still further impoverish him.
– Exactly ; what comfort would the British agriculturist derive from the fact that his ruin was being brought about by the competition. of Australian, instead of American, producers? If the British farmer is ruined he is ruined whether it be by the American, the Russian, or the Australian producer, and he would have no preference between them.
– If the British farmer is ruined, we cannot work him any further injury.
– Exactly ; that is precisely the attitude assumed by the Prime Minister.
– The British farmer cannot suffer ‘ any more if Australian imports are freely admitted into Great Britain, because he has nothing left to lose.
– We are told that in England free imports have destroyed an agricultural interest worth ;£i, 000,000,000. If the Prime Minister desires to substitute our products for those of America and Russia, all he is seeking to do is to change the personnel of those who are ruining the English agriculturist.
– But the honorable member says that his ruin is already accomplished.
– No; this is the honorable member’s declaration. Surely this affords -fine evidence of loyalty to the old country. I look in vain for any tender regard for the mother country in a selfish proposal of this kind.
– We cannot kill a man twice.
– But the Prime Minister proposes to continue killing him as he endeavours to come to resurrection. He is anxious to keep on the process which he says has already killed him. I always thought when we were debating this question of preferential trade, and particularly when it was’ argued with the enthusiasm and ardour of the honorable gentleman and his colleagues, some of whom even went the length of designating us pro-Boers in New South Wales because we were opposed to them and their programme-
– They use very strong language in New South Wales.
– Yes, and the Prime Minister also used very strong language there.
– Not that kind of language.
– He used language which very closely approached it. He accused us of all sorts of things, which’ almost meant that. I admit that he did not quite go the length of designating us proBoers - he left that for some of his supporters to do. When we hear honorable members mouthing loyalty and tender regard for the. mother country, as these gentlemen did on the platforms of Australia, we naturally look to see the nature of their proposals. Here they are in all their naked baldness. They propose to continue the process which has ruined the British agriculturist, and propose only to change the ruinworker. Those of our fiscal belief say - “ If there is to be any Imperial thinking upon this question, our side has always been more in sympathy with Imperial thought upon it than has the side which is represented by the Prime Minister.” He has never once thought of the people in the old country or of their industrial condition - he has always regarded it as something to be shut out, and sternly locked out, of Australia. Therefore it. does not lie with him or any of his followers to accuse us of being disloyal to the mother country, simply because we do not quite see our way to plunge headlong into these preferential trade proposals. If he is honest and sincere upon this’ question) let him define his position. Let him say what his proposal is. We will examine it with him. We are very anxious to do anything which will prove of assistance to Great Britain. May I remind the Prime Minister that quite recently he had an opportunity to show a preference for the goods of the old country. How did he exhibit that preference? By enacting in the schedule to’ the Tariff that a hat which is imported from Great Britain shall pay a duty of 100 per cent., and that a shoe coming from the same source shall be subjected to a similar impost. So it was in regard to the whole of the items embraced in the Tariff. That was the time for the honorable gentleman to show his preference, and- we repeatedly urged him to do so, but our plea fell upon deaf and idle ears. Now that the Tariff is fixed upon the ‘ statute-book of Australia they propose to take a course in regard to the question of preferential trade, which can only have the effect of still further buttressing their protectionist proposals. They are quite unwilling to reduce any of the duties which are at present levied upon British goods. The only exception which they are prepared to make is that which was mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and that is a fine, large, generous concession since it incidentally means bestowing more protection upon some of the manufacturers of Australia. Thus, while some honorable members are mouthing preference, they” simply desire to get a modicum of further protection accorded to the manufacturers of Australia. They say that they will give a preference to Great Britain by imposing higher duties upon goods other than British goods, but they will not lower any of the duties which are at present operative on articles of British manufacture. If those goods are excluded from Australia now, I hold that they will still continue to be excluded. Therefore, the only effect of these proposals will be to make Australia a still closer preserve than* it has been made by the operation of the present Tariff. In other words, whilst they talk of bestowing a preference upon British goods, they really wish to sneak in a further measure of protection. That is the proposal in all its nakedness which they make to the people of Australia. Therefore, I hold that when any matter affecting the welfare of the old country is at issue, it will be found in the final result that those who have always taken up a sympathetic attitude towards the general fiscal policy of the Empire., will be the more likely to treat sympathetically any proposals for the increase of those closer and friendly relations which are seen to be desirable at the beginning of this twentieth century. Before passing away from this question, I should like to clear up another misapprehension, which seems to obtain in the minds of honorable members opposite, and which was again given utterance to by the honorable member for Richmond the other day. He spoke of the way in which the tariffs of the world had been piled up against Great Britain. There was never a greater fallacy. It is a fallacy, because it states only half the truth. When honorable members declare that these tariffs are against Great Britain, why do they not state the whole truth, which is that these tariffs are also against each other? There is no special commercial vendetta existing in the world against Great Britain. The German tariff is as much against France and Russia as it is against Great Britain, and similarly the American tariff is as much against every one of the European countries as it is against Britain.
– No; because several of those countries have made mutual concessions, in which Great Britain does not share.
– To an infinitesimal extent.
– To a verv serious extent.
– To an extent which does not alter the point which I am now putting.
– It affects our meat and butter.
– England enjoys more advantages in the matter of trade with the world than these nations derive from each other. Whatever departures may have been made from that principle serve only to emphasize the point which I am making, that in Europe there is no such thing as a commercial vendetta against Great Britain. These nations simply raise their tariffs against each other, and the fact is that Great. Britain reaps all the advantage which is to be gained from that position of affairs. Figures show that she sends infinitely more goods into these foreign countries than they exchange with each other. Therefore, although when they shut their doors against each other, they close them also against Great Britain, the latter, by adopting a policy of free imports has been able to do more business with them than they can possibly do with each other. When honorable members opposite talk about beginning to negotiate with the help which this Tariff will give them, why, I ask, do not the negotiations which are conducted between other countries which have higher tariffs lead to increased trade between themselves? If we could find an example which has been successfully followed amongst these European nations we might consider the possibility of such a proposal in respect of Great Britain. But the fact is- that when they raise their tariffs against each other there is no thought of negotiation. There is- only the selfish idea of preserving to themselves what they call their “ home “ market. I should like further to point out that the honorable member only partially states the free-trade position when he refers to the way in which these duties have been raised against Great Britain. The position, correctly stated, is that these duties ‘are raised against their own people even more than they are against the” outside world. Why are such imposts placed upon the poor ? To prevent our people from buying their goods where they wish to purchase them. Honorable members upon this side of the House hold that when we raise these duties against our own people, and incidentally against the foreigner, we do something which cannot possibly contribute to the prosperity of the country. Therefore, throughout the whole of this debate, we have heard nothing but misstatements both as to our own position with respect to these proposals, and as to the position of honorable members opposite. They have misstated their own position in that they propose one thing and mean another. They speak of preferential trade, but they mean more protection. I claim that any proposal in the direction of preferential trade would come with better grace from this side of the chamber, and with a very much better chance of finding its ultimate enactment on the statute-book of the country. There are one or two other matters upon which I intend to touch, but not at any considerable length. The first has reference to the question of taking over the States debts. The hopeful tone which has been suddenly assumed by the Government in this connexion appears to me to be somewhat strange. It was only the other day that a State paper was issued in which the Federal Treasurer was represented as telling the Premier of Victoria that .he could not do any better in connexion with the indebtedness of that State than the latter could do himself, and that for this year, at any rate, he could not go upon the London moneymarket at all. In other words, .it was a confession that after three years of the Commonwealth rule, the Commonwealth credit is .at zero.
– That is not a fair way to put it. There is no such suggestion.
– The Prime Minister can make any distinction he chooses between zero and the inability of the Commonwealth to obtain money at any price.
– The Commonwealth could get the money, but it could not satisfactorily borrow for the redemption of States loans whilst these loans remain under present conditions.
– That is not the statement which is contained in the paper to which I referred. The Federal Treasurer distinctly affirmed that he could not go upon the London market this year.
– Because he could get no conditions in regard to future States loans at the present time. He stated that in the same document.
– No, he simply said ‘that he had received advices from those who were best able to judge of the position, to the effect that it would be exceedingly inadvisable for the Commonwealth 10 go upon the London market at the present time.
– That was because we were not in a position to approach’ the London money market with any conditions as to future States loans.
– The Prime Minister makes that statement, but it is not to be found in the paper to which I refer.
– The honorable member will find it in one of the papers prior to that.
– It comes to this, that before we can do anything with regard to State indebtedness we must resurrect the credit .of the Commonwealth financially at any rate.
– No; the Commonwealth could borrow well if it were borrowing for its own purposes.
– At what rate?
– At the lowest rate.
– I am sure that we could borrow, but.it would be at. pawn- broking rates. What a confession .that is to make.
– The same conditions applied in the case of Canada. Until she proved her title to obtain better terms she could not get them.
– There is no analogy between Canada and Australia, nor between their conditions.
– If there is no analogy between the two countries, why did the honorable member find an analogy in their conditions with regard to preferential trade-
– Because I sought to make a contrast in relation to a matter which is as different from this as daylight is from dark. I contend that the position is that the Commonwealth Government have yet to resurrect their own credit before they can do anything for the States.
– Not resurrect, but establish it.
– I apprehend that, if we had desired to float a loan upon the establishment of the Commonwealth, we could have done so on conditions very different from those- which would now be required.
– Does- the fault lie with the Commonwealth ?
– COOK. - The honorable member can form his own opinion; I am simply pointing out’ that this statement is wide of the facts:
– The slandering of the Commonwealth is responsible- for the position* of affairs.
– I trust that, in good time, we- shall hear the honorable member; meantime- his interjection does not irrevocably settle the question* I am merely pointing out that there is a change, both in the tone and the attitude of the Treasurer, as compared with the position taken up by him’ several months’ ago. The action taken by the Government in tacking on the ques. tion of old-age pensions to the readjustment of the Federal and’ States finances is the most- novel proposal of which I have ever heard. I contend that the Government should deal with a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions without reference to any of these other matters, or they should let it alone. The principle should stand on its merits,’ and should not be degraded by being made conditional upon the enactment of some other principle of party policy. The Government are either in a position to deal with the question of old-age pensions or they are not. How do they know when this transformation in our finances will take place? It seems to me that the Treasurer could have had nothing whatever, to do with the framing of this proposal, because he himself has told us that these debts could only be converted as they mature. That would take twenty years, and by this process they hope to obtain sufficient money to finance a system of old-age pensions for the Commonwealth.
– We have also to remember that it is proposed to continue the “ Braddon Blot,” which the late Prime Minister said stood in the way “of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions.
– Quite so. I say, therefore, that this careful padding of the Governor-General’s Speech with matters which are obviously fatuous does not help the position of the Government when we come to consider their proposals as business propositions;
– Would- not the honorable member support the imposition, of direct taxation by the Commonwealth in order to provide for old-age pensions?
– We already have a system of old-age pensions in New South Wales,, and there we. also have direct taxation. The honorable member should interrogate not me, but the Government, in regard to this matter. The power rests with the Government, and he should ask them, what they are prepared to do. I shall allow the question of the carriage of our ocean.’ mails to stand over for- the present. All that. I have to say, in: the meantime, is that many statements, pro and con- have been, made upon this important question which are very wide of the mark, and do not. represent the true position. I shall, wait, for- the definite proposals of. the Government, and those proposals should be their- justification or their condemnation!. If by means of a poundage rate they can. successfully provide for the carriage: of: our mails, without interference with the commercial relations, of the country,, they will accomplish a good stroke of business; but upon them alone rests the onus of showing that they can. I would point out,. in passing from this subject, that but little time remains for the Government to ‘ take action. Under the old order of things* it was considered that, at the very least, two years’ notice should be given to these huge shipping companies to make the altered arrangements necessary under new conditions of contract; but we now find ourselves within, nine or ten. months of the- termination of the existing contracts, and nothing yet accomplished. What is to be done, therefore, should be done quickly. I shall await with the greatest interest a declaration of the decision of the Government. When that declaration is made, they will be judged upon their proposals; but until then I, for one, shall not condemn them.
– Hear, hear.
– Why does the right honorable gentleman smile so knowingly ? I presume he is thinking of that Conference-
– He thinks it a happy reformation that the honorable member should propose to hear us first and strike us afterwards.
– The right honorable gentleman is thinking of the Con.ference we held, at which two of the greatest opponents of the proposal that black labour should be excluded from, our mail ships were the present Minister for. Home
Affairs and the Postmaster-General. They were invariably the two dissentients from the proposals which were made in this regard; they always argued that the Empire required the employment of black labour.
– I do not think that I said anything about the question.
– I suppose the right honorable gentleman is thinking of the change which has taken place in his attitude.
– When did I make the statement which the honorable member attributes to me?
– The right honorable gentleman will find it set out in the reports of the Conference. I admit that those reports were condensed; but if the statement is not to be found in them it is, at all events, imperishably embedded in my memory. I well remember the almost fierce attitude taken up by the Ministers I have named whenever the question was brought forward. They invariably dissented from the proposal that we should not subsidize ships which carried black labour.
– I do not remember that the question ever came forward.
– In these circumstances I presume that it is- fitting that the right honorable gentleman should smile at my very brief reference to this question. I shall leave the other matters touched on in the Governor- General’s Speech until we are called upon to deal with them as business propositions. Meantime, the speech, so far as I am concerned, is eminently unsatisfactory. I think that the present position of parties in this House - including the present declarations of leaders - is altogether unsatisfactory; and the sooner something definite is done the sooner will there be a more satisfactory state of affairs. . The sooner something of a definite character occurs, so that the party issues in the House may be re-defined, the sooner shall we be seeking the real and undivided welfare of the country, and be helping to achieve those reforms which the people desire.
– The proposals set forth in the speech delivered by the Governor-General are, in the main, verymuch in agreement with those I should desire to see carried out ; but whilst most of them are of such a nature that I should like to support them, there are, singularly enough, two items in regard to which I am very much in accord with the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. Several honorable members have referred to a certain alliance which has been suggested ; but in the Governor-General’s Speech, the Government have proposed an alliance between two of their offspring, which I consider would be unfair and improper. I refer to the association of the proceedings for taking over the States debts with a proposal for a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. The establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions would involve an annual expenditure of about ^1,500,000, and it is remarkable that that proposition should be coupled with a proposal which would secure a very large profit to certain persons. If honorable members refer to the report of the Treasurers’ Conference, which has been placed in our hands, they will see, at page 16, a statement that the mere taking over of the States debts by the Commonwealth would at once increase the value of the stock by a minimum of 4 per cent, and a maximum of 9 per cent. That would be the inevitable result. Nine per cent., or even 4 per cent., on some £230,000,000 represents a very large sum. The debts of the States amounts to about ^230,000,000, and the present market value of the stock is about ^200,000,000; so that as soon as we entered upon the work of taking over the States debts we should give the holders of trie stock a profit of from 4 to 9 per cent. ; or in other words, a sum of from ^10,000,000 to ^20,000,000. Surely we must realize that it would not be right to put so large a sum into £he pockets of certain persons, merely for the sake of providing pensions, amounting to 500,000 a year, for unfornate men and women in the Commonwealth. Such a proposal would go beyond that which we desire to carry out. It must also be remembered that the Commonwealth would derive no advantage from taking over the States debts, unless we were prepared to go on borrowing. We have to take care that our credit abroad is good when we. are ready to commence borrowing. If we do not enter upon a policy of borrowing, it is not a matter of very great importance whether the stocks of the States are at £io or £90, or £100 or more; but when we propose to enter the money market it is essential that we should have a very good name. I believe that, at present, the intention of this House is that the Commonwealth should not enter upon a system of borrowing, but that we should wait and see whether we cannot avoid having recourse to such a policy. But I desire to point out that there is a way out of the difficulty. For the last eleven years there has been a Treasury note system in operation in Queensland, and the adoption of that system by the Commonwealth would provide a sum of from £8,000,000 to £10,000,000, which would be available as a loan fund. The Queensland issue amounts to £1,500,000. It is indorsed by the Government, and although a cash reserve is_maintained by the Treasury, so that the notes may be paid on demand, the calls made on it have been very limited. A duty of 10 per cent. - an impost which is practically prohibitive - is imposed on bank notes, and it seems to me that if a similar scheme were put into force by the Commonwealth, a very substantial profit would’ be secured. It would, at all events, provide a reasonable basis, and give us sufficient to work upon for the time being. We should try to do something of that sort rather than float fresh loans. It has been stated that the Canadian system of banking is a better system than is ours ; but, under the Canadian system, whilst they issue Dominion notes, they still permit the banks to issue their own notes. One advantage which the Government secure under the Canadian system is that they require that 40 per cent, of the reserves of the banks which are used to cover the Bank notes must be in the Dominion notes. The Government secure that 40 per cent., and these notes are available for circulation, and are & legal tender. I think the Queensland system of Treasury notes is very much to be preferred to the Canadian system, because it is carried out directly by the State, and not indirectly through the banks. Under the Canadian system, for every £40 issued by the Canadian Government in notes, they give the banks the privilege of issuing £100. The Queensland system, under which the Government issue the full amount in their own notes, and so secure all the benefit, is preferable. There is one other matter to which I should like to urge attention with regard to the note system, and that is this : In Queensland, when the banks require notes, one-third of the amount must be paid to the Treasurer in cash, whilst upon the other two-thirds of the value of the notes supplied, a charge of 2 per centis made. In my opinion, instead of allowing the banks to use Government notes at such a small price, it would be better to adopt a scheme under which the Commonwealth could use its notes up 10 a certain fixed amount, and pay for the construction of public works with them. I believe that that would be a better scheme to adopt than to enter upon any more loans. I am one of those who intend to vote against any proposal to bring forward any fresh loan’ business at the present time. Another reason why it is better that Government notes rather than the notes of private banks should be circulated in the way I suggest, is that according; to Coghlan’s statistics, I find that the total liabilities of the banks of -Australia amount to £117,000,000 j whilst their capital and reserve funds amount to £26,000,000, so that before we could say that there would be enough money to meet the Bank notes issued by the private bank note system, we must find for the banks of Australia the large amount of £143,000.000. Against that the assets of the banks, according to Coghlan, amount only to £135,000.000, leaving a balance against the banks of £7,123,000. That is to say, that if the Australian banks were to-morrow to turn all their.assets into gold, in order to pay off their liabilities, some persons would have to go £7,123,000 short. In my opinion, these figures supply another reason why we should not allow the banks to issue notes when we might have a proper Commonwealth note system such as is in force in Queensland. The Queensland plan has been in .operation now for eleven years, and is working well, and it only requires a little modification to supply a system which would help us largely in our work. Although, under the Canadian system, private banks issue their own notes, there isnot the risk there which we have.. The liability and capital of the Canadian banks are about covered by their assets, and’ they are, in that respect, in a better positionthan are the Australian banks. I think I” have given good reasons why we should, as: a Commonwealth, issue notes for ourselves, and use them in a fair way, rather than allow the banks to have a note issue ; and I hold that the adoption of such a system would be preferable to allowing the Commonwealth Government to borrow money. With regard to the preferential trade proposals, we are told in the speech that if approved they will secure to us an immense and reliable market. That .may be so ; but how about the factories established in India by gentlemen who have run away from the Lancashire operatives to establish their businesses in that country? Are we to treat those people as a branch of the British Empire? I presume that they may be considered in that light, and, if so,.
I say that any preferential trade that may be approved should not be of such a nature as to allow those people to come in for a share of it. Although they are our brother Britishers, I strongly object to the nations of India competing in the benefits of the proposed preferential trade, owing to their low standard of living. 1 think we should set our faces against any proposals which would give them the benefit of any preference at alt. We have in the speech a proposal for a bonus for the establishment of the iron industry. In Queensland we have had a bonus voted for the establishment of a cotton industry, and what was the result? People set to work to manufacture cotton, and when the bonus was earned, no more cotton was manufactured. The bonus proposed must, therefore, necessarily be a perpetual bonus if the industry is to be kept going by private persons. In my opinion, instead of a bonus being provided for the establishment of the iron industry, it would be much better that we should devote a fair sum to the establishment of a State iron industry. Another point to which I should like to make reference is the proposed, amendment of the Electoral Act. I am sure there is room for improvement in the Act. Its administration in Queensland has not been just what we should like to see. Electors within half-a-mile of polling places have been allotted to districts the nearest polling places for which have been three mile’s from their residences. This has happened in the case of at least two divisions in Queensland. Something is wrong when such a thing can take place, and I should like to see such a state of things altered as soon as possible. Statements have appeared in the press to the effect that certain questions have never been before the electors. I do not know what questions are meant, but in Queensland a certain question was decidedly before the electors. That question was not - “Will you support the Ministry?” or “Will you support the Opposition?” but “Will you support the Labour Party ?” and the people answered - “Yes.”
– Unlike my friend, the honorable member for Parramatta, I -do not look forward with any apprehension to an early dissolution such as has been hinted at by some of our newspapers. I think that the condition of parties in this House at the present time augurs very ill for the welfare of this country. It seems to me that in order that we should have sound and economical government, it is necessary that the line of demarcation between parties in this House should be more clearly drawn. I regret very much that, outside of New South Wales, the electors of the Commonwealth have not properly done their duty. I say outside of New South Wales, because of the number of votes polled elsewhere and of the character of the representation sent to Parliament. Honorable members will remember that the great issue set forth by the Prime Minister was preferential trade and fiscal peace. When the honorable and learned gentleman came over to New South Wales, he came with the utmost confidence in this cry. Preferential trade was a new thing, it was fashionable, no less a statesman than the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain had fathered it, and therefore it ought to be good enough for Australia. It seemed in the condition of public thought at the time that it would be a very safe card to play, ‘ especially when it was remembe’red how easily the protectionists had gulled the free-traders, of- New South Wales into a false sense of security, and persuaded them to adopt a scheme of Federation, and a Commonwealth Bill, which to any one who took the trouble to inquire into the question, meant on the face of it the giving up of free-trade, and the adoption of a system of protection.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable and learned gentleman says “Hear, hear,” but Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. R. E. O’Connor, and those who were responsible for the approval of the Commonwealth Bill by the New South electors, assured the free-traders of that State that it did not mean the introduction of protection, that it did not mean an increase in the Tariff, but that it meant, so far as they, and the Government of which they were the representatives were concerned, the introduction of a Tariff of such a character as would be acceptable alike to free-traders and protectionists. Those gentlemen pledged their word that the Federal Tariff would in no sense be a protective one, and it was upon that distinct promise that they obtained freetrade votes. When such a ruse was successful in that case, I suppose it was only natural that the successors of Sir Edmund Barton should believe that they would be successful in playing the same game a second time. And so the issue of protection and free-trade was sought by them to be obscured under the guise of preferential trade and fiscal peace.
Those who have taken the trouble to examine carefully into these proposals know perfectly well that there can be no system of preferential trade that does not involve a sacrifice of free-trade principles. We cannot give one nation a preference over another without giving them an advantage in duties. There can be no such advantage if all are ‘treated with equal freedom, and therefore I say there can be no preference given which will not involve the sacrifice of free-trade principles. Fortunately, the bulk of the free-traders in New South Wales recognised this, and the result was that the Government candidates were defeated in that State by an overwhelming majority. . The Prime Minister took the trouble to come to the electorate which I represent in order to support the candidature’ of a most estimable gentleman - a gentleman highly-respected and well known in the district, and against whose character there has been no breath of suspicion, a gentleman who had all the attributes of a useful, successful, arid courteous legislator. He had on his side the eloquence and oratory of the Prime Minister, and, there is no doubt, made a most admirable speech, saying all that he could in favour of the Government candidate in the most florid and masterly manner. The Prime Minister spoke to an audience of some thousands of people. Later on he was followed by the Attorney-General for New South Wales, the Honorable B. R. Wise, who is at present the Acting Premier of that State, another gentleman well known for his eloquence, and as a man of learning, who commands a great amount, of respect in the community. Yet the net result of their united efforts, supported by other speakers from the same side, was, that out of some 21,000 votes polled in the constituency, the Government candidate received fewer than 2,000. That fact gives eloquent testimony to the opinions which were held as to the proposals and policy of the Government concerning preferential trade and fiscal peace. I opposed those proposals tooth and nail, with all the warmth and power at my command. Of course, I am only an” obscure individual, and I have no political record behind me. I also had the disadvantage of not having the reputation of a great orator. I simply appealed to the common-sense of the people, with results that were more or less in evidence throughout the whole State. Of course, the Government party never took the trouble to explain how they were going to secure preferential trade and have fiscal peace at one and at the same time. They did g 2 not tell us how this most amusing paradox was going to be put into operation - how, while on the one hand, raising the Tariff question by bringing in proposals for preferential trade, they could at the same time preserve fiscal peace ! I notice, in looking through the speech of the Governor-General, the extreme ingenuity that has been displayed in this direction. I think that a tribute of praise is certainly due to the Prime Minister and His Excellency’s advisers generally in regard to the preparation of the speech. It is a magnificent attempt to say nothing and to propose to do nothing. Yet that magnificent attempt covers twenty-seven paragraphs. The whole thing might easily have been included in one very short paragraph. It speaks well for His Excellency’s command over his risible faculties that he was able to read through the speech and still preserve that gravity of countenance which was necessary on such an occasion. I find that preferential trade, which was surely the great issue upon which the elections were fought, is not given the pride of place in the Government programme. Indeed, it is not even given a whole paragraph to itself, but is sandwiched into another clause dealing with the bountiful harvests. In fact, to speak metaphorically, one really has to get a pin and dig out the reference, like getting a periwinkle out of a shell. Let honorable members consider the way in which it is dealt with : -
The preferential trade proposals now engaging the attention of the people of Great Britain will, if approved - it is very wise to make that proviso - secure to us an immense and reliable market.
There is no .promise to bring forward’ any scheme of preferential trade, notwithstanding that it was made the main issue at the election. What I should like to know is this - ds it proposed By the Government to drop the matter altogether out of their programme? Is it proposed to allow the subject to die out, and to try to get the people to forget that it was raised ? It seems, from the manner in which the proposals are treated in the speech, that that must be the intention of the Government, notwithstanding their expression of pleasure at - the cordiality with which they are generally regarded in this country.
That is distinctly a humorous declaration ! If the vote recorded throughout the country on this question - that has resulted in the Government being returned to this House with a following of only one-third of the representatives^ - is to be taken as an expression of “ great cordiality “ on the part of the electors of the Commonwealth for preferential trade, it can only be classed in the same category as those “ moral victories “ of which we have so often heard from the lips of defeated candidates when the “ other fellow” has been successful! Whatever enjoyment and appreciation the Government can find in theresults of the election, I do not think we who are opposed to them shall begrudge them. The speech goes on to say that the Government - are confident that the feeling will be strengthened when the statesman who is their author is able to visit us.
By that I presume is meant, when the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain conies to Australia. If so much cordiality prevails, if the people of Australia are really in such a great hurry to welcome these proposals that have been promised, and if, as has been asserted, they have made demands for preferential trade, where is the necessity of inviting Mr. Chamberlain to visit Australia for the purpose of booming up that policy ? Mr. Chamberlain has made it appear to the people of Great Britain that it is not he who is asking for preferential trade, but that it is the Colonies that have been asking for it. We know perfectly well that the people of Great Britain are being absolutely misled upon this question - that the people of Australia never asked for anything of the kind, and that, as a matter of fact, they never even heard or dreamt of doing anything of the sort. The first intimation they had of anything in the nature of preferential trade being proposed, was when the news wascabled out that Mr. Chamberlain had’ made a speech onthat subject. Then they did not know what was meant. Many of them do not know to-day what it means That is the reason why so many members of the Government, and those who are in sympathy with them in the States, are trying to form organizations and to hold meetings for the purpose of explaining to the people the very things which Mr. Chamberlain has told the British people the Colonies have demanded. How could they have demanded something that they did not even know the nature of? Under the circumstances, either Mr. Chamberlain has been misled by somebody as to the demands of the Australian people, or he himself is woefully misleading the British people by making these’ statements. There is no doubt that something transpired at the Imperial Conference.. We do not know what Sir
Edmund Barton and others may have said to Mr. Chamberlain upon this matter. But whatever they may have said must have been said entirely in their capacity as private citizens, and not in their representative capacity, for they had no mandate either from the people or from Parliament to commit this country to any preferential trade policy. If anything of the kind was done the people of Australia are in no way bound by it, because they did not authorize Sir Edmund Barton to enter into such a negotiation on their behalf. Then, look at the character of the demands which Mr. Chamberlain alleges that the Colonies have been making upon the mother country. He wants to make it appear that we have put them forward, as a concession for our gratuitous and splendid services to Great Britain in her time of great need. He wants to make it appear to the people of Great Britain that they are called upon to show their gratitude for services which we really rendered freely and voluntarily’ without any hope or expectation of reward. He wants to put it in the light of a sordid demand for some recognition of our services, in the form of a concession for which we have never asked. I say that that is a most mean and despicable light in which to place the people of Australia, and they have a perfect right to resent it.
– Who puts it in that light? Mr. JOHNSON. - Mr. Chamberlain has told the people of Great Britain at various places virtually what I have stated. I do not say that he has done so in the words that I am using, but what I have said is the only construction one can put upon the words used - that he has called upon the British public, on account of the services which the Colonies have rendered to the mother country, to reciprocate and to draw closer together the bonds of Empire. I hold that there is no need whatever to draw closer the bonds of union between the Colonies and the mother country, so far, at all events, as Australia is concerned. They can never be closer than they are now. No later than twelve months ago Mr. Chamberlain himself admitted so much. In a speech which he delivered at the Constitutional Club, in London, he used almost those very words. He did more. He said that the Empire was never stronger, never more united, than it was at that time. If it was never stronger, never more united, and never more prosperous, where is the need for entering into any commercial union for the sake of binding closer together the bonds of Empire? The thing is all claptrap, and no one knows that better than Mr. Chamberlain himself, because for years past he has been showing by irrefutable arguments and by incontestable proofs that Great Britain has been progressing by leaps and bounds from the repeal of the Corn Laws up to the present time. He has been contending that she has been, not going back, but maintaining her lead among the nations of the world, and that she has maintained a position of unrivalled supremacy so far as trade, commerce, and industry are concerned. There is no disputing the truth of that contention, and Sir Robert Giffen, the eminent statistician, shows’ it most conclusively. So far from there being any evidence of decay, he says : -
All my life I have been hearing nothing but decay, and seeing nothing but progress.
He says that the problem that they have to face in Great Britain is not how to grow richer, but what to do with the wealth that they already possess, and that the trouble lies in the fact that wealth is- accumulating to such an enormous extent that the people do not know how to find openings for investment. Since 1885, wealth has increased in Great Britain by 50 per cent. There is no other nation which can show such a
Tate of increase, and as a matter of fact to-day she is more wealthy than any other two nations ‘ put together, even including the United States and’ Germany. But she stands pre-eminent in the matter of wealthproduction to-day, and that certainly does not look as if she was on the road to ruin. A number of our friends complain that if 6he should continue to increase her trade at her present rate, allowing her imports to continuously exceed her exports, sooner or later she must go to the wall. On this point I would like to read a page from a late production by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, in which he makes most astonishing statements. Replying to a speech by Mr. Asquith, he says : -
If he could make a gigantic mistake of this kind, at all events this question is not quite so simple as he seems to think. He tells me that I dealt only with exports, and that that is quite wrong. I ought, he said, to take the exports and imports, and that is the true test of a nation’s prosperity. Well, let us take it and see. Last year’s exports were £278,000,000, and our imports were £528,000,000. I must admit that it seems to me in my innocence, that there is no more reason - for putting these two things together, than for putting together two sides of a ledger, debtor and creditor, and adding them up and saying - “This is the splendid result of our business during the year.” (Laughter). But I am going to carry the thing further. Under these circumstances the total of the two would be £806,000,000. That is the result of the prosperous year 1902, as represented by exports and imports together. Now let me make a suggestion. Let me suppose that by a great and terrible catastrophe every mill in this country was stopped, every furnace blown out ; even the blacksmith’s shop was silent, that no atom of manufacture was any longer made in Great Britain, that we depended for everything upon . the foreigner, what would be the result of this calculation? We should have an import, as now, of £528,000,000, and we should export nothing. Therefore, the £278,000,000 goes out of the account. We should import £528,000,000, but we should .also import for our own home use that which is supplied at present by our home production.
This is putting the case as well as he can from his side -
Mr. Asquith tells us that that is five times as great as our export. I will make the calculation and tell you the result. Five times ‘,£278,000 is £.’1,390,000.- Adding this to £528,000 gives £1,918,000, which would be our total imports. There would be no export trade, and under the circumstances I have described to you, this calculation would show that we were two and a half times better than we were before. (Laughter). That comes of taking your brief from the Cobden Club, and it shows the danger of these figures. It is to our exports - I will not say entirely, but it is mainly to our exports - that we must look for the test of the progress of our trade.
Nobody knows better than does Mr, Chamberlain that that is utter nonsense. Let us suppose - if such a thing could take place - that Great Britain by some calamity or other was reduced to the position of not being able to send away a single export. Can any honorable member name a country that would be foolish enough to send any imports into Great Britain and to take away no exports in return? Can any honorable member conceive of the possibility of such a thing happening? But suppose that £528,000,000 worth of imports come into Great Britain, and that the British people were- so reduced by some calamity or other that they were not able to give anything in return. Does any honorable member think that there would be any starving people in Great Britain in these circumstances ? They would have received £528,000.000 worth of goods for nothing; and if other nations were to send in another £528,000,000 worth on the same terms, I think that the people of Great Britain would be sensible enough to ask them to repeat the order as often as they liked, because it must be obvious to even the meanest intelligence that every man, woman, and child in Great Britain would only have to sit down by the fireside and consume these imports, and send for more when the supply was exhausted. Yet this view is put forward by so great a statesman as Mr. Chamberlain - presumably before an intelligent community - and even accepted, wonderful to relate, by a very large number of them as gospel.
– He knew what he was talking about.
– If the honorable member would only read this pamphlet I do not think that he would repeat that statement. Take my own domestic circle, for instance. If I, as the breadwinner of the family, were reduced to a condition whereby I could give nothing in return for the goods which I required from my butcher, bootmaker, and tailor, and they were all anxious to supply me with them, and to take nothing in return, I should not worry about the future welfare of my family or. of myself. I should simply smoke the pipe of peace by my fireside, and every time the door bell was rung, I should say to the servant - “ Ask the tradesmen to put the things in the back yard, as usual, and thank them.” The best test of all these general statements is to take our own individual transactions in everyday life. What is a community, after all, but simply a collection of individuals? And what is the commerce of the world, but simply a reproduction of the bartering between private individuals on a large scale ? So far from there being any necessity to consider the mother country in this case, I hold that she is well able to look after herself, and that we need not trouble in the least degree about the excess of imports over exports, because whatever apparent difference there is - I do not say that there is an actual difference in the long run, because, ultimately, exports and imports always balance - whatever difference there is is difference of gain to the importing country. For the last five years the average difference between imports and exports has been something like ^”180,000,000. Our protectionist friends point to this, as an indication of impending ruin to Great Britain. But what are the facts ? When we come to examine more closely into the Board of Trade figures we find that the value of the earnings of British shipping in the carrying trade is ^90.000,000, and that the interest accruing from loans to other countries is also ^90,000,000, or a total of ^180,000,000, which makes exactly a balance. These facts do not appear in the Customs entries of imports and exports, and of course under these circumstances they are lost sight of by the ordinary man, who only goes to the Customs entries for his information. We have always to look at the other side of the question to understand the true bearing of imports in regard to exports. I would strongly recommend for the perusal of honorable members an address which was delivered by the Honorable B. R. Wise, before the Economic As,sociation. I dare say that by this time he has forgotten all about the address, because it was delivered at the Bankers’ Institute on the 30th August, 1887. Mr. Wise, as honorable members know, follows “Mr. Chamberlain at the present time, and if they do not like to hear the opinion of Mr. Wise on this subject I can quote Mr. Chamberlain on exactly the same lines, when he was a freetrader and knew what he was talking about. As Mr. Wise has taken up the cudgels here on behalf of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy, it is well that his own words on the subject should be quoted at the present time, “ lest we forget “ - “ That every import must be paid for by a corresponding export “ - he does not say that now - “is a proposition so self-evident to those who understand it, that it is difficult to realize the mental attitude of those, who dispute its truth. Yet if the. proposition be true, it is clear that a stoppage of imports must mean a stoppage of exports, and that a limitation of imports .by means of taxes must throw out of work those who were formerly employed in producing the articles which were exchanged against the imported goods. Then, is the proposition true? Certainly, if it be true, it has a wide, practical significance ; because, once let the fact be grasped that goods which come into a country are paid for with goods that go out of it, and one great argument for stopping imports tumbles to the ground. Imports then become things to be encouraged : if we take care of them the exports can take care of themselves. But, is the proposition true? If this were not an association formed for purposes of inquiry, I might be tempted to say, as we might one ask, ‘Is it true that the earth is round ?’ “
Honorable members will see that at that time Mr. Wise was perfectly sound, clear, and logical on this question. It is a remarkable thing that ever since he has crossed over to the other side he has not been clear or sound or consistent in any argument which he has used upon this question.
For assuredly there is no proposition outside the range of mathematical demonstration which has been so firmly established by every known method of reasoning, or so frequently illustrated by every available fact, as the proposition that “goods coming into a country are paid for with goods going out of it.”
That is a matter on which, I think, some of our protectionist friends should dwell upon and ponder over. It is clear that if goods are paid for. by goods,, then the goods which are imported into a country are manufactured by people who live in that country, just as truly as if manufactured in their own workshops, for the reason that they have to manufacture the goods which have to ‘be exchanged for the imported goods. In manufacturing goods to be given in exchange people actually manufacture the goods they receive, and the more they get in excess of the amount of labour they have to give the better for them, because it means greater gain. If I, for example, am able to produce something by my labour to the value of ios., and I get in exchange something to the value of j£i, it is clear to the meanest intelligence that I am an actual gainer by i os. ; and so, if by my labour to the same amount, I can get in exchange something worth 30s., I am the gainer by j£i. Every apparent excess of imports is to be encouraged, because it is’ clear that there is no loss to anybody in the transaction. The man who receives the products of my labour represented by ios., and gives me something in exchange, represented by £1 is more satisfied with the ros. worth of my labour than he would be with £1 worth of his own, and I am the more satisfied with the £1 worth than I would be with the ios. worth of my own. It is manifest that no exchange could otherwise have taken place. There is no possible means by which I could be compelled to exchange the product of my labour for the other ; and, therefore, each one gets the best of the bargain, according- to his particular light. That is the way in which all trade should be conducted. All trade is barter, and no trade can be carried on, except when it is to the mutual satisfaction of each party concerned ; therefore, I advocate free-trade - and the freer the better - because freetrade is natural trade. Seeing that Mr. Chamberlain himself, up to within the last nine months or so, was so persistent in pointing out the increasing prosperity and increasing prestige of the British nations- amongst the nations of the world, we must look for a motive in this sudden change of opinion on his part. We can come to one conclusion, and no other. Either ‘.Mr. Chamberlain is deceiving the
British people and the Australian people to-day, or he has been deceiving the British and Australian people for the. last quarter of a century. One or other must be the case, because it is impossible that Great Britain can have been flourishing all these years and at the same time crumbling to pieces. If Great Britain has been crumbling to pieces, no man in the Empire could have known it better than Mr. Chamberlain during all the time he has been talking of the great strides in prosperity she has been making. If Great Britain has not been crumbling to pieces all these years, then Mr. Chamberlain is deliberately deceiving the’ British and Australian people. He is deceiving them; because he knows - better than that the Empire has retrograded. All the alleged facts he has brought forward in the way of proof by statistics have been, line for line, item by item, and statement by statement, absolutely disproved, by the most eminent statistical authorities of Great Britain. Yet we are asked to still have faith in the principle of preferential trade, and in the honesty and sincerity of its author in Great Britain. But behind there is a deeper motive than a mere question of trade. There is, I say, a sinister design which aims at our right of self-government. That is the danger to which we have to keep our eyes open - the danger of surrendering the rights of self-government and the privileges we enjoy at the present time - of surrendering those rights and privileges under the guise of befriending and assisting the mother country and drawing closer together the bonds of Empire. I yield to no man in loyalty to the Empire. It is a piece of presumption on the part of the Commonwealth Government to assume that they and those who follow them are the only loyal people in Australia. We have given Great Britain practical proof of our loyalty, and are prepared to do so at the present time, by- tearing ‘down the tariff wall which keeps British goods out of Australian markets. Is the Government prepared to do that? That is the test of true loyalty - who will give the greater preference by removing the barriers which already exist between the mother country and Australia? The sinister motive behind is embodied in the cablegram which was .received on 9th October last year, in which it is stated -
Mr. Chamberlain, in the course of a speech at Cupar, said he hopefully anticipated that the workers would help in achieving the great closing object of his political life.
Mr. Chamberlain was then appealing to the British workers, and he proceeded -
We must look to the Colonies to share the burdens, as they, have hitherto shared the privileges of the Empire.
In that lies the germ of truth in the whole scheme behind the proposal. I do not say that Commonwealth Ministers are in the secret, but if they do not know the facts, itis time they did, so that they may not go blindfold, or attempt to rush the country blindfold, into a scheme which, sooner or later, will land us in difficulties which they cannot at present foresee. The proposals mean taking us into Imperial schemes of which we may not ultimately approve ; they mean giving the British nation the right to tax Australians for British purposes, and they mean additional burdens on the British taxpayers. The proposals mean taxing the food and clothing of the little children, not only of the present, but of future generations ; and so long as I am able - so long as I have breath and any strength or power - I shall resist every step in that direction. I know what all these proposals mean, and I am sorry that the Tariff fight is to be stopped. In regard to the latter I am disappointed, because I realize that only by a just system of taxation can we have a just system of government. The foundation of all government is taxation, and when taxation is on a wrong basis, the foundations of cor.rupt and extravagant administration are laid. The nearer we get to natural principles, and assist and encourage the natural desire of the people to barter one with another, the nearer we get to the fundamental principles of true, scientific, economical, and straight-forward government. As to the alleged decline of British industries, Ave learn from one of the eminent statisticians who writes in the Quarterly Review that -
Instead of there having been any decline in trade in recent years there has been a. large increase all round.
That is, there has been an increase not only in one direction but all round.
Between 1894 and 1900, the latest year for which figures have been issued, the following advances have been recorded : - Articles of .food and drink from .£10,700,000 to £13,622, god, an increase in six years of £2,922,000.
Does that look like a decline in these industries? Then, in yarns and textiles there has been an increase in the same period from £96,025,000 to £102,212,000 - an increase of £6,187,000. Does that look like decay in that industry ? In metals and metal goods other than machinery there has been a -rise from ,£27,979,000 10 £45>347>°°° - an increase. of. £17,368,000. The article proceeds -
Right on through the list a steady advance is recorded. During the period mentioned every mine and mill and workshop has been running full time, wages have maintained a high standard, and the income tax returns have shown a strong upward movement.
There is no better indication of the’ progress of a community than the income tax returns. When the income tax is on profits of trade, it can be’ seen how much that trade has increased or decreased, and an increase in the revenue from a tax on profits must mean that the profits have been increasing. In a foot-note to the article from which I am quoting - and I should like Ministers to note this - it is stated : -
Had the manufacturing plant of the country been capable of a larger output, the increase (of the products quoted) would have been even on a larger scale, for business had to be turned away.
And we know that business had to be turned away. Only recently Canada required some locomotives built,, and desired to place the order with British firms, but those firms had to refuse the work because their workshops contained as much work as they could undertake. Consequently these Canadian orders had to go to the Continent, and no doubt, in course of time, the Continental exports to Canada will be cited as one of the examples of marvellous progress as against the progress made by Great Britain in similar lines of manufacture. As a matter of fact, the Continental manufacturers received only the surplus trade which Britain was unable ro. accept. Facts like these are the most conclusive answer to the demands of Mr. Chamberlain and the insatiable Tories behind him, who, under the specious pretence of “binding the Empire” together, seek to drag self-governing colonies into the meshes’ of an Imperial taxation scheme which will pile up intolerable burdens on the backs of the labouring masses of the British Empire. Nobody knows better than does Mr. Chamberlain, that his proposals mean the taxation of the food and clothing of the people. . Mr. Chamberlain has himself pointed out’ times out of number that any of the proposed taxes must inevitably fall on .the people. Perhaps honorable members opposite may not believe me, but I think it just as well to give them a little more information on this point. Mr. Chamberlain at the present time is very; much concerned about the excess of imports over exports, just as the New South Wales Attorney-General and our friends on the Ministerial benches here are greatly troubled about it. I will give some of them credit for being genuinely concerned on the subject, because they think it a serious matter, but it is only for want of more information that they take that view. There is a great deal of glamour about a name like that of Mr. Chamberlain. His name would give weight to statements which would be disbelieved and regarded as absurd if made by a less eminent man. We know from experience and observation that there are thousands of persons who are always ready to fall and worship at the feet of an established reputation, and to declare that a statement must be true because So-and-So made it. Many persons in New South Wales swallowed a certain Bill because Sir Edmund Barton said that it was a good one. They did not take the trouble to inquire into its probable effects. Sir Edmund had established a great reputation, and these thoughtless persons were ready to believe anything he chose to tell them. I have met men in a large way of business, and presumably intelligent, for whom it was quite sufficient that Sir Edmund Barton had made certain statements. That was enough for them. They did not desire anything more. But it is the duty of each one of us to exercise his individual judgment. I have never believed in accepting a statement, no matter by whom made, as absolutely true, without making independent inquiries on my own account. Underlying every political and social question is some fundamental truth which must be searched for to be discovered. One of the evils which we have to face in this country is the disinclination of the people to look into things for themselves. There is a great indisposition on the part of many to think for themselves. They are content to take the opinions of others, and to vote and to act blindly. Mr. Chamberlain, speaking in 1881, said -
Passing now to more general considerations, I gather from the speeches which have been made, that it is the contention of honorable gentlemen opposite that during recent years English trade has been declining and leaving the country.
More than twenty years ago those in the ranks of the protectionists were talking about the decline of British trade, and the decay of the nation. Mr. Chamberlain was opposing the contention that trade was leaving the country. He continued - . . that wages have fallen, and that great suffering consequently exists among the working classes; that the profits of trade have disappeared, and that generally the country is on the verge of ruin. They also appear to think that foreign countries have benefited by our loss, and in proportion to it. Now, sir, I challenge all these assertions. It is said that we take too optimistic a view of the present state of English industry, and I am prepared at the outset to make some admissions. I admit that the state . of agriculture has been’ for some time such as to cause to all of us the greatest concern.
He contended, however, that the imposition of duties could in no way assist agriculture ; that the condition of the agriculturalist was worse during the period of protection which ended with’ the repeal of the Corn Laws than it had been since. Speaking of the diminution in the profits of capital, he dealt with the depression in the coal trade, which he attributed to rash speculation and over-production. He continued -
The same thing has no doubt taken place in other trades, and notably in the great iron industry of the- country. But, -a loss of profit from such a cause must not be confounded with a loss of trade, or supposed to indicate approaching ruin. It has sometimes been said that grumbling is the secret of England’s success, and, no doubt, while we are grumbling we are continually tending to improvement and perfection; but it would not be safe to accept, without further consideration, the complaints of those who are not doing so well as they think they ought, as representing accurately the general conditions of tlie country. Statistics are against them ; the irresistible logic of facts is opposed to the pessimism which sometimes prevails.
Mr. Chamberlain then went on to point out in regard to exports and imports that the interest on foreign investments had to be paid by imports. Foreign countries, he said, had to pay that interest by exporting their goods to Great Britain, which, of course, swelled the English imports. That is exactly what is taking place at the present time. Our imports are constantly in,creasing, because the outflow of English capital upon loan to foreign countries requires the continual payment of interest, which necessitates the continual inflow of foreign goods. Nobody recognised that more clearly than did Mr. Chamberlain in 1 88 1. He continued -
And, if honorable gentlemen opposite, the advocates of a. reciprocity system, were successful’ in erecting some barrier by which these importations could be arrested, what would be the result? Foreign countries must continue to pay their debts. Not- being able to pav in. goods-, they would have for. the time to pay in bullion and specie; there would be an accumulation of the precious metals in this country, and that would speedily bring about a’ rise in- the price of ali other articles. When that rise had been established, our power to. export would be diminished ; the amount” of our exports would be reduced until the balance, 01 excess of imports over exports was again re-established, although the volume of each would be lessened, to the enormous disadvantage of all concerned. In other words, the effect of an attempt to redress the balance would be promptly to lessen the value of our exports, but could not ultimately affect the difference in amount between them and our imports.
Dealing, finally, with the probable effect of the proposals which were then being made for reciprocity or retaliation, in other words, for preferential trade, he said -
Lastly, sir, is any one bold enough to propose that we should put duties upon food? The honorable member for Preston no doubt has the courage of his convictions. He has referred to the sacrifices’ which he would require from the working classes, and he does not hesitate to make the demand upon them that they should pay an extra price of 10 per cent, upon the most important articles of their daily consumption. Well, sir, I can conceive it just possible, although it is very improbable, that under the sting of great suffering,’ and deceived by misrepresentations, the working classes might be willing to try strange remedies, and might be foolish enough to submit for a time to a proposal to tax the food of the country; but one thing I am certain of, if this course is ever taken, and if the depression were to continue, or to recur, it would be the signal for a state of things more dangerous, and more disastrous than anything which has been seen in this country since the repeal of the Corn Laws. With the growth of intelligence on the part of the working classes, and with the knowledge they now possess of their own power, the reaction against such a policy would be attendedby consequences so serious that I do not like to contemplate them. A tax on food would mean a decline in wages. It would certainly involve a reduction’ in their productive value ; the same amount of money would have a smaller purchasing power. It would mean more than this, for it would raise the price of every article produced in the United Kingdom, arid it would indubitably bring about the loss of that gigantic export trade which the industry and energy of the country, working under conditions of absolute freedom, has been able to create
I think honorable members will admit that those are very strong words. Mr. Chamberlain’s language was forcible and convincing, and had the ring of .truth about it, which cannot be said of any of his recent utterances. In regard to the trade of Great Britain, it is only fair to make a comparison between its volume before the repeal of the Corn Laws, and its volume to-day. I find that in 1805 the exports of Great Britain were valued at, roundly, £39,000,000, and in 1850, two years alter the repeal of the Corn Laws, at about ,-£62,000,000, an increase in half a century of about £23,000,000. In 1903, however, they stood at £283,423,966, or an increase in the succeeding half-century of nearly £321,500,000. Those figures show most conclusively the immense strides which have been made by British commerce during the period of freedom, as contrasted with its expansion during the period in which the restrictive policy of protection prevailed. Comparing the general condition of the working classes in the two periods, it is notorious that for many years before the repeal of the ‘Corn Laws, and right up to the time of their repeal, the condition of the British worker was most unenviable. He was reduced almost to the verge of desperation. But during the next half-century wages had a steady upward tendency, which has continued up to the present time. When Great Britain is compared with European countries where the system of protection is in force, it will be found that the conditions of living there are infinitely better than on the Continent. They are infinitely better in England than in Germany, France, Switzerland, and in the protected industries of America. The wages in Great Britain are higher, and the conditions of life generally are better. I do not say that there is no poverty’ there; I admit that there is very deep and dire poverty, and a great deal more than there ought to be. I allow all that, but I contend that whatever poverty exists is not comparable with that to be found in the protectionist countries of Europe and the United States. Even protectionists admit this, because they are in the habit of- referring ‘ to those engaged in the protected industries of continental countries as paupers. “ Pauper labourers ‘’ is the invariable term which they have to apply to those engaged in the industries of protected continental countries. Fancy pauper labour in ‘ protectionist countries, when protection was brought forward as a remedy for pauperism. The fact that protection and pauperism exist side by side should be sufficient to show that if poverty is to be found in free-trade England, protection is not the remedy that should be applied. If honorable members desire proof of the truth of my statements, they need only refer to the conditions which obtain in the protected industries of the United States. It is in the free-trade industries of that country that the highest wages and the greatest prosperity ‘are to be found, and it is in those trades that “the majority of the American workmen are employed. In the highly protected industries of the United States, of every twenty workmen employed* seventeen are foreigners, and only three are
Americans. The rates of wages in such in”dustries are of the lowest, and the condition of those engaged in them is deplorable. We are entitled to regard these facts as affording further proof that protection is not. the remedy for whatever poverty may exist in free-trade Great Britain. We are told that preferential trade will confer a benefit upon the British workman. Mr. Chamberlain has specially appealed to the workmen of Great Britain, and yet they have been repudiating and denouncing his proposals as calculated to injure them. Further than this, the representatives of labour in the House of Commons, some months ago, made an appeal - a noble and manly appeal - to the workers of Australia not to assist in bringing about the adoption of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals. I have not yet seen the answer made. I have been waiting for it. I know that in New South Wales, when the appeal was submitted to the Trades and Labour Council, it was shelved for three months, until after the general election, and we have heard nothing of it since. It was not promptly dealt with, as was the request for assistance made by the London dockers. Instead of extending the hand of brotherhood, they postponed the consideration of the appeal, and the representatives of British labour in the House of Commons are still waiting for an answer. I should like to know what answer is to be sent, because it appears to me that if Australians are not prepared to work handinhand with their fellows in Great Britain they will be untrue to those great traditions which have hitherto distinguished the people of the two countries. We are offshoots of the mother land, and we should bear for her people the utmost affection. We are of the one blood, and we should not evince any desire to place obstacles in their road, or to impose burdens upon them. On the other hand we should resist any effort on their part to place fresh burdens upon us. I venture to say that if an attempt be made, by raising Customs barriers, to cement the bonds of Empire we shall take the first step towards the disintegration of the Empire. Nothing can be more clear than this, because any such course of action must give rise to bitterness and friction, which will have a tendency to weaken, rather than strengthen, those relations which we all hope to see maintained for ever between ourselves and the mother country. The way in which Ave can best cement the bonds of union is by doing everything pos sible to foster trade with the mother country and to further her interests; at the same time taking care not to injure ourselves, or to inflict injury upon Great Britain. I do not want to see anything done that would tend to the disruption of the British Empire, and that is one of the reasons why I should strongly- oppose any proposal of the character indicated by Mr. Chamberlain. Any action taken should be in the direction of pulling down the tariff walls. I do not wish to see a tariff wall erected even against the foreigner, because I should prefer freedom’ of trade with the whole world. If, however, we cannot do without a tariff, let it be directed against the foreigner rather than the people of our own blood in Great Britain. .1 should much prefer to see the tariff wall completely broken down and swept away altogether, so far as the mother country is concerned. A great many persons are afraid that serious financial embarrassments would follow a reduction of the Customs duties against the mother country. They believe that a loss’ of revenue would result, but their fears are quite groundless, because we know that the lower the duties imposed upon imports the greater the purchasing power of the people, and the greater the volume of trade. Therefore, instead of resulting in a reduction of revenue, the lower duties would actually tend to an increase; and, regarded from the Treasurer’s stand-point, the step indicated would be one in the right direction. I am not favorable to raising revenue through the Customs, but I recognise that it WO’:ic be hopeless for us as a Commonwealth to expect to obtain our revenue from any other source for some time to come. That, however, relates to another field of politics, upon which I do not propose to enter now. . Any attempt made in the direction of reducing the tariff wall will meet with the hearty approval of free-traders generally. Passing on to the question of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposed visit to Australia, I think that the House should have clear information as to the conditions under which Mr. Chamberlain is to visit us. Is he to be invited here merely as an eminent statesman, to partake of our hospitality, or is he to come amongst us as the champion of a special cause advocated by a certain political party ? We are entitled to know this, because, if Mr. Chamberlain is to come here as the champion of any particular political creed, we should have the right to express our resentment by every means in our power. It would be most improper, and even indecent, if he were to come here in any such capacity. If he appears here in the character of a distinguished British statesman, he will have a right to expect the same honour and hospitality that would be shown towards an equally eminent visitor from any country. If, however, he is coming here in order to take- an active part in Australian party politics, he cannot object if Australians go to England and take sides with his opponents. I am sure that any. action in that direction would be resented, But I am also certain that no australian would attempt to obtrude himself upon the field of British politics. If we allow Mr. Chamberlain to come here as the champion of preferential trade, what will come of our standing as an independent self-governing people? I strongly objectto Mr. Chamberlain coming here as a political partisan at the expense of the Commonwealth. The sixth paragraph of the Governor- General’s Speech reads as follows : -
With a view to giving assistance wherever possible to those engaged in the cultivation of the soil, and as a preliminary to the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau, you will be invited to consider the best means of assisting the farmer -
That is all right, provided that the farmer needs assistance.
An Honorable Member. - He needs it every hour.
– I do not deny it, but a great many other persons engaged in other industries also need assistance. The paragraph proceeds: - by bounties and otherwise, to grow new crops and’ find new markets. Speedier and cheaper transportation to the large centres of population of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions, is. much to be desired.
Most decidedly, it is to be desired. That last expression contains the only definiteness in the proposal. The same light and airy vein characterizes the whole of this remarkable production. It does infinite credit to the ingenuity and sense of humour of Ministers. Whilst it is proposed that an armed truce shall be observed during the current session with regard to the Tariff question, the Government have raised the whole issue by proposing to assist the farmers “ by bounties or otherwise,” presumably through the Tariff. If any attempt be made - and I hope it will be made if only in order that we may defeat it, because discussion of the subject must result in public enlightenment - to give the farmers, I or any one else, bounties I shall oppose it> because I regard bounties in the same light as Customs duties. Some one must pay for them, and that some one is the people.- The great masses of the people, the poorer classes of the community, are compelled to bear the heaviest portion of the burden. I do not object to the farmers being assisted in a legitimate way ; but if assistance is to be rendered to them, let it be given by removing the restrictions which are already, imposed upon their productive enterprise: Let us give them light railways to connect with the main trunk lines, light freights, and cheap transport to markets. Let us place all these facilities within their reach, and we shall then be rendering them substantial assistance.
– Surely those things are equivalent to bounties?
– They are the kind of bounties in which the whole of the population would participate, inasmuch as thev would obtain the benefit of cheap food as the result of cheap production. Further, they mean opening up a wider market for our producers; then, when our population has increased; the farmer will not have much to trouble him. All we shall have to do will be to refrain from interfering with him. The same remark is applicable to every other industry. We cannot bolster up any industry by means of bounties or of a Tariff, except at the expense of another. The sooner we open our eyes to these wholesome truths, the better will it be for the progress and prosperity of Australia. If the farmer is to be granted a bounty, why should not similar treatment be extended to the washerwoman, the shop-keeper, or the individual who opens a small refreshment-room? If the farmer is to be singled out for special treatment why should not every person who is engaged in production of any kind be similarly served ? I believe in placing all upon a plane of equality. I hold that we should mete out even-handed justice all round. Privilege is not necessary. It leads to abuses, and must inevitably result in oppression. Someone must foot the bill, and in the long run it is the widow and orphan who have to pay it. It is the foodless, hatless child in the street who has to bear the brunt of the burden. Of course I do not charge honorable members opposite with any want of humanity ; but though their intentions may be most estimable, the result is nevertheless the same. Touching upon the question of immigration, paragraph 7 of His Excellency’s Speech says -
In view of the vast undeveloped resources of this continent, and the small increase in our numbers from oversea, my advisers consider it a matter of urgency to attract the population needed to enable the Commonwealth to maintain her great and responsible position in these seas. The State Governments, as represented at the Treasurers’ Conference, have been addressed upon this subject, in the hope that united and effective means may be devised fer securing desirable European immigrants.
It will be noticed that the phrase “ in the hope “ again occurs in this paragraph, as it does in so many others, throughout this remarkable document. Paragraph 8 must be read in conjunction with that which I have just quoted. It says -
The interests of the Commonwealth in London have hitherto been temporarily in the charge of the Agents-General of the States. You will be invited to make provision for the appointment of a High Commissioner, whose supervision of all matters of Australian concern, will include the duty of directing public attention to the resources of the States, and their advantages as fields for settlement.
As bearing upon these two paragraphs, which have direct relation to each other, I should like to quote the opinion of a Scotch farmer upon Australia, which so clearly explains the position of things that it will leave very little for me to add. This gentleman writes to the Sydney Morning Herald as follows : -
I would like to make a few remarks on the impressions I have formed of Australia as a field for settlement for British men of capital and experience in agriculture. Before sailing for Australia, I was given the following piece of advice by a friend who had had experience in the colonies : - “If you want to judge things for yourself don’t disclose your identity, because if you do, you will be shepherded by land jobbers, and taken to visit only the most favoured spots. These gentlemen will pester you with fairy talcs about Australia’s vast un-
How familiar we are with that expression, developed resources,” &c.
Through taking my friend’s advice, I have been enabled to calmly look around and make many inquiries from reliable sources. Landing at Melbourne, I visited the Western, Ballarat, and Gippsland districts, and was much surprised to see, comparatively speaking, so little settlement near the large centres of population, and still more surprised to hear that many able, enterprising young men had left, and were leaving, the State. I saw vast estates near markets containing considerable areas, suitable for agriculture, used for grazing, but when I learned the prices at which owners were prepared to sell, and the rents demanded from tenants, I no longer wondered at the exodus. An Australian surveyor, of 50 years’ experience, told me that all agriculture in Victoria should be confined to the Southern slope of the Dividing
Range, where the rainfall is fairly abundant., and that the Northern slope only should be used for pasture, as the rains are uncertain, making agriculture a gamble.
Evidently the writer is a man of business, ax any rate.
In New South Wales, I found much the same state of affairs as in Victoria, the State slowly recovering from the recent disastrous and prolonged drought, the good land patchy, and almost all of it - within a payable distance of market - alienated, prices of land absurdly high, small areas of Crown land being ballotted for and men wasting much time and money running about the country looking for a place to settle on, and finding none. A gentleman I met admitted that Australia was a land of limited resources ; that good seasons were , the exception, and droughty ones the rule ; that the value of land and station properties has all along, for obvious reasons, been unduly inflated, causing the great financial crisis ten years ago ; that the problem of settling people on the land will not be solved by borrowing money to resume estates, as the Government invariably pays much more than the market value for any land it does purchase, and the settlers would thus be unable to fulfil their obligations.
When I started I had no intention of occupying the attention of the House at such length as I have done, and I shall have to curtail the remainder of my remarks very much more than I thought would be necessary. I have, at the same time, to thank honorable members of the House generally - and especially honorable members opposite - for the patient hearing they have given me, and I shall deal now as briefly as I can with the remaining items in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech upon which I desire to touch. Coming to the question of immigration, I wish to point out that it seems to me that, under present conditions, we are starting at the wrong end - and that it is useless to attempt to promote immigration to these States while our present land laws remain. We cannot find a foothold throughout Australia for many of our own people who desire to settle on the land, and become producers. This is a matter on which the Government might verv well communicate with the Governments of the various States, and see if they cannot arrange some common plan upon which the land laws of the States may be based, so that they will provide proper facilities for the settlement of the people already here who desire to engage in agricultural pursuits. I agree that population is a very necessary thing. It is most lamentable to find that- our population is steadily decreasing. Such a fact presents a very bad outlook for the country, more particularly when we remember that as our population is decreasing the national debt per head of the people is increasing. This must seriously tend to alarm both British and other investors, and to depreciate Australian stocks in the money markets of the world. But it is of little use for us to attempt to encourage immigration unless we make the conditions under which the people may come here attractive. It is useless to bring people here to swell the already over-swollen army of unemployed in Australia. We have to look about and discover those forces which have led to so many unemployed being in our midst, and I think that the remarks of the Scottish farmer, which I quoted a few minutes ago, bear directly and very sensibly upon the subject. It is our duty to see whether we cannot through the agency of the Government induce the various States Governments to seriously consider the land question as it affects the labour problem. Therein lies the secret of the whole matter. It is not a question in which the Federal Government can of itself take any active legislative part under existing conditions, for if they attempted to do so they would at once infringe upon States rights. Such action would only provoke resentment on the part of the States. But what the Government can do is to endeavour to induce the various States Governments to seriously consider this question - the bearing which land monopoly has upon the labour, the population, and the employment questions, and, indeed, upon all other industrial and commercial matters. Therein lies the root of the whole thing, and until this has been done, it will be useless to attempt to attract to this country population of _ the kind that we desire. I know of parts of New South Wales where it is possible to travel through miles and miles of beautiful rich agricultural country, which is perfectly innocent of the spade. And yet, after passing by hundreds and hundreds of miles of land of this description, one can find struggling farmers, on the top of stoney mountains, endeavouring to eke out an existence in the most impossible places, under the most difficult conditions of transport, and right away from contact with their markets. That is a state of affairs which should not exist in the Commonwealth. When we investigate the reason we find that certain individuals have a monopoly of all these good lands, which they are not willing to use for themselves, but which, dog-in-the-manger-like, they are keeping from those who wish to use them. If the various States Governments would only address themselves seriously to the consideration of this phase of the question we should not have long to wait before we should be able to get rid of the problems which now confront, us and threaten Australia with so much disaster. I know of one case in New South Wales in which Ministers of the Crown are the reputed holders of land under the deferred payment system of the State. They are paying 30s. per acre, under the non-residential sections of the Land Act, for beautiful land, which should be put to productive uses - heavily timbered land that has never been cleared. I have been credibly informed that farmers who -desire to use that land are asked by these gentlemen to pay from £10 to £12 per acre for it. But if it is worth £10 and £12 per acre to the present holders it should be worth £10 and £”12 per acre to the Government, and the Government ought to receive that amount, instead of only 30s. per acre for it. We know, however, that for farming purposes the land is not worth as much as the present holders ask for it. These men are the stumbling blocks to production, and are helping to swell the ranks of the unemployed in the States. In view of all these facts, it is useless to attempt to devise any means of advertising in the mother country in order to secure emigration to Australia until we set ourselves seriously to a proper consideration of the matter. Touching the question of navigation and shipping in relation to the coastal trade, to which reference is made in the Governor-General’s Speech, I trust that Ministers will make provision to regulate the time during which officers on the interstate boats shall remain on duty, and that they will also take care to provide that proper life-saving appliances shall be kept on board, and a more efficient system of supervision exercised.’ Any man of nautical experience, and indeed any one who is in the habit of travelling by steamer between the various States, must have been struck by the negligence shown in relation to these matters that are so essential to the safety of life. I have known, officers on some of our inter- State steamships to be kept on duty for 30 hours and sometimes longer, without any chance of sleep, and then to be called upon to put to sea with a full complement of passengers, to say nothing of a big cargo, with the prospect of a stormy sea and perhaps an allnight watch. While these things exist, the public must be in peril of their lives, from the time they sail from one port until they reach another. I notice that in dealing with the selection of the site of the Federal Capital, the Governor-General’s Speech refers only to Tumut and Bombala. I should like to see the range of choice extended by the inclusion of at least Lyndhurst as one of the sites eligible for ultimate selection. This is a matter which should certainly engage the serious attention of the Government at the earliest moment. It lis very necessary, not only from considerations of convenience, but as a mat-.er of justice to all - as a matter of preserving the compact - that the selection of the Federal Capital site should not be delayed one moment longer than is necessary. I observe that it is stated that -
The removal of vexatious restrictions upon commercial intercourse between the States of the Commonwealth has received attention.
I am very glad to know that this is so, and to learn, also, from a statement made recently by the Prime Minister, that the changes made have been attended, with great benefit to the whole of Australia. If the removal of Customs barriers - between the various States has been of such great advantage to the Commonwealth, the sooner we can extend the principle to our commercial relations with the outside world the better it will be. If inter-State free-trade is good, international free-trade will prove to be better. The testimony of the Prime Minister himself that the removal of the inter-State barriers - which, we must, remember, protectionists were always telling us were absolutely necessary - has been beneficial to the whole of Australia is a great object lesson in favor of the e:.tension of the principle, so that we may be able to enlarge our commercial relations with the outside world. Any extention of the principle should .be attended bv equally beneficial results. I have a word or two to say in regard to the recent elections. It is set forth in the Governor-General’s Speech that -
It is intended to examine the experience gained in the recent elections with a view to an amendment of the Electoral Act.
We should insist upon the Government appointing a Commission to go thoroughly into this matter. There is not the slightest doubt that the way in which the electoral machinery was worked, at all events so far as New South Wales is concerned, was a grave scandal. If an elector desired to obtain the slightest information from the Com monwealth Electoral Office in New South Wales, he was met with an absolute and unqualified refusal. If there is one thing more than another upon which our citizens are entitled to have the fullest and most complete information it is in relation to matters connected with the preparation of the rolls and the exercise of their franchise. But whenever any request was made for information the reply invariably made by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in New South Wales was that application must be made to the Melbourne office - that strict orders had been given that no information whatever should be supplied by the local office. It is well known that many people, notwithstanding that they were particularly careful to get enrolled, found when they proceeded to exercise the franchise, that their names had been left off the rolls. In my own electorate, whole streets of people who had been residents of the district for upwards of forty years, and whose names had never been omitted from the State rolls, were not enrolled. Among their number was the electoral officer himself, but the members of his family, and many of the business people residing in a main thoroughfare in my electorate had their names omit ted from the roll. When complaint was made about this neglect, the persons concerned were treated in a most discorteous manner. Not the slightest apology or explanation ‘ was offered for this gross infringement of their rights and privileges as citizens of the Commonwealth. In the face of these glaring abuses it is the duty of the Government to see that the most searching investigation is made into the working of the Electoral Office. I do not wish to encroach any further on the patience of honorable members ; but I should like to thank the House for the courtesy with which they have listened to me as a new member. Although I may have said some verv hard things of some of our protectionist friends, and have necessarily trod upon their corns, I should like them to understand that I have no personal feeling against any of them, and I have spoken as I have done only because I know that it is necessary for their welfare. If I have trodden upon their corns, it has been only with the object of letting them know that they really have corns, and that the corn of protection is the worst corn of all to get rid of. I again thank honorable members for the patience with which they have heard me.
– In rising to address my first remarks to the honorable members of this House, I desire to say that I have listened very attentively to the right honorable gentleman who occupies the position of leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister, and to those who have subsequently spoken to this address. I look to the honorable and learned gentleman who is privileged to lead the present Government, and to the right honorable gentleman who is leader of the Oppostion in particular, for those grains of political knowledge which will enable me to more worthily fill the position to which my countrymen have elected me. I listened with great attention to the criticism of the leader of the Opposition upon the position in which the Government find their party ; but I noticed that he was very careful to exclude all reference to the hopeless dry rot which has set in. so far as the position of his own party is concerned. I could not but notice the fact that, although I frankly agree that the Government Party is not in a good position, the Opposition Party is in a very bad position. I think that, under all the circumstances, it is peculiar that it should be so, when we consider that the members of the Opposition Party have always had the assistance of able journals in the whole of the States of the Commonwealth. As one who has had some little experience in fighting an Opposition press, I wish to place it upon record in my first public utterance in this Chamber that I am not an admirer of the free-trade press. It appears to me that when the members of the free-trade party find themselves in their present hopeless position, despite the assistance of a press capable of stooping to anything to gain their ends, there must be something wrong with their policy, and the people of Australia are beginning to find them out. Looking over the returns, it appears to me that although the Opposition Party is returned in a better position than the Government Party, the Labour Party is undoubtedly placed in a better position than the Opposition Party. In view of the fact that we have had all the influence exercised by the great journals in the great cities of the Commonwealth against us, it seems to me that the great mass of the people in this country must be rising, and have determined that in future they, and not the press, are going to mould the political destinies of the Commonwealth. This statement is, I think, justified by the fact that labour men were returned by such a great majority at the last .elections. Personally, I have not very strong feelings of regret for the position which political affairs is likely to assume in the near future. I refer now to the peculiar position in which honorable members of this House find themselves. ‘ We have, as most honorable members have said, three parties in this House - the Government, the. Opposition, and the Labour Party ; and, I say, that, so far as I am personally concerned, I am not particular which honorable gentlemen may place good legislation upon the statute-book of Australia, so long as it gets there. If the present Government are prepared to give me the legislation that will carry into effect the principles I have enunciated on the platform, they can continue to hold office, so far as I am concerned. I desire to refer to a compliment the right honorable gentleman who leads the Opposition was pleased to place on record in support of the Labour Party. He stated that the Labour Party have this merit : they put their principles and their platform in black and white, and when returned are loyal to those principles. I say that is the reason why honorable members of that party are placed in the position in which they find themselves to-day. The people were treated fairly when they returned our predecessors to this House, and so long as they are treated in that fashion, they will continue to trust us. Whilst the statement made by the leader of the Opposition is satisfactory from my point of view, I should like to say that it is not altogether consistent with the opinion which the right honorable gentleman expressed in Sydney on the 26th February last - that is always presuming that he has been correctly reported. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of that date, he is reported to have said -
He did not want to be unkind, but the difference was, that labour worked, and the Labour Party did not.
The Sydney Morning Herald, on the same occasion, reported the right honorable gentleman as having said -
It would be well for them to make a note that there was all the difference in the world between labour and the Labour Party, and it was that, whilst labour laboured, the Labour Party did not.
I refer to this in order to contrast it with the statement which the right honorable gentleman made in speaking to the Address in Reply, that we had political principles and endeavoured to put them in force as soon as we were returned to Parliament. Another matter to which I should like to refer, is the argument advanced concerning, class legislation. There appears to be a very strong feeling amongst honorable members sitting in a certain portion of this Chamber, that another section of the members of the House intend to go in for class legislation. I say that, so far as I know, until the advent of the Labour Party we never had anything else but class legislation in Australia. Whilst this was the case, and whilst there was every prospect of its continuing, a certain section of the community had no desire to alter the existing state of affairs; but as soon as the voice of the people has begun to make itself felt in this Chamber we find a certain section of honorable members rising to denounce class legislation. They do not want it. They believe that the ‘Labour Party are going to run this Commonwealth for themselves. As one member of that party, I say it is nonsense ; it is ridiculous for any honorable member of this House to say that we desire to get anything for ourselves that we are not prepared to give to every one else in the community. Our policy has been simply to demand justice for all parties and privileges for none, and so far as class legislation is concerned, though it has. existed in the past, if we can alter it, it is not going to exist in the future. Another statement which dropped from the lips of the leader of the Opposition was the expression of his absolute contempt for the Employers’ Federation and their representatives at the Sydney conference. I have read a few of the speeches delivered by the right honorable gentleman, and have heard him speak upon a number of questions; but never before did I hear him get up and openly denounce the Employers’ Federation. I do not wish to insinuate too much, but it does seem peculiar that such a statement should come from the right honorable gentleman just at a time when the Employers’ Federation is not popular in the county’. This is a matter to which honorable members sitting behind the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney may give their serious consideration in the near future. Next to the actual result of the elections, and the condition in which we find political parties in this House; I feel compelled, in common with other honorable members, to refer to the conditions under which the last elections were carried out. So far as I can learn, the experience in Western Australia has been no exception to the general rule. Things were not satisfactory in the Electoral Department in that State. When the rolls did at last come to hand - and that was only a few days before the election took place - we found that numbers of people had been left off. I found - and it deeply concerned me at that particular time - that a vast number pf those whose names had been left ‘ off the rolls were working men - miners resident in the constituency. The omission of their names happened in this way : The police compiled the rolls in that State, and went round to collect the names. Unfortunately, a number of people have to live in camps in Western Australia. The men go to work in the morning, and as their wives, in many instances, reside in the eastern States, the camps are’ left to mind themselves - whilst the miners are at work. When the policemen came to a camp, the miner was somewhere else, probably in the bowels of the earth, and so the policeman walked along to the next camp. In this way thousands were left off the roll. Not a few, not a dozen, but thousands in the Kalgoorlie constituency went to the polling- booths on the day of the election and were unable to record their votes. I have heard this matter referred to by- other honorable members who have spoken, and although I do not wish to tire the House, I desire to place upon record my absolute disapproval of the manner in which the Electoral Department was conducted in Western Australia. I hope this will be remedied in the near future.
– There ought to be an inquiry.
– Why did not the people look beforehand to see that their names were on the roll?
– The rolls were not there for them to see. I was unable to get “the rolls for the. district until two days before the election actually took place, and, so far as the lists of supplementary names were concerned, some did not reach . their destination in time for the election.
– The rolls had to be exhibited for a month before the election.
– If they were exhibited it must have been in some back room of a Government office in Western Australia, which was not generally known to the public. Another question upon which I desire to say a word is the Government proposal to assist immigration.
Like the speaker who preceded me, I believe that if the Federal Government intend to take this matter up, they are starting at the wrong end. I repeat the utterances of some other honorable members, when I say that, whilst I would like to see Australia supporting a larger population, at the present time, we have in Australia numbers of men having a knowledge of agriculture who are willing and ready to go on to the land, and would do so if they could get land. The honorable member for Parramatta sarcastically asked by interjection the other day whether all the applications made for blocks in different portions of New South Wales and Victoria were bond fide. I say they are bond fide, and if the land were available and men could get blocks, the honorable member would soon find that there would be teams on the road, and agriculturists ready to go to take possession of them. We require to bring about such a condition of things in Australia as will enable us to reasonably settle the people we have upon the land before we think of importing others from across the sea. I feel strongly upon this point, and I believe that Western Australia at the present time is the only State in which this question is being grappled with in a business-like fashion. The Western Australian Government is affording facilities to agricultural settlers to go upon the land, and they are giving them assistance when they get to the land, with the result that they are taking away a number of useful settlers from this portion of Australia. I say that if the Western Australian Government is progressive enough to get “ in “ on the Governments of the other Statesand entice useful citizens to that State, they deserve all the good luck they can secure is the result of their efforts. It is idle to speak of bringing people from across the ocean until such time as we are able to settle the thousands we have here who are prepared and willing to go upon the land. There is another matter in connexion with immigration to which I wish to refer. There is a cry raised for desirable immigration to Australia, but I say ; hat there is need for a protest against the undesirable immigration we are getting. I f ind, from a return placed upon the able of the House during the last Few days, that we increased our population during the last twelve months by importing into Australia 793 Italians. So far as I can see no test has been applied to these people. Representing a mining constituency, I know what it is to have to deal with Italians upon the labour market of Australia. I know the danger of a large increase of them amongst, our white population. Numbers of these fellows get off the ships at Fremantle, get on board the trains, go up to Kalgoorlie, and are employed almost immediately on arriving there, whilst British workmen are thrown out of employment. That is hard, solid fact. They say they do not come out under contract. But they are educated to that when they are coming out upon the boats, and when they get to Kalgoorlie they are gathered together by some one who knows of their landing, taken to one of the wood-sidings or one of the mines, and are given jobs almost at once. Numbers of Italians are employed in the mines of Kalgoorlie who cannot speak and do not understand a word of English.
– That is why they are employed.
-Perhaps so. They work down in the bowels of the earth, and if an accident were to occur, and if one of these Italians were to be told to go away for assistance, he would not understand what was said to him. Further, in connexion with the signalling that takes place in the mines, these fellows are unacquainted with the conditions that prevail, and are a source of danger, not only to themselves, but to the British workmen who work with them. I do not say that the language test should be applied to every person who may come to Australia, but I do think that the contract provision of the Immigration Restriction Act is being flouted so far as it concerns the Italians who are being landed in Western Australia. I hope that the Government will take the matter into consideration, and see about instituting some more rigid inquiry in that State. In connexion with the Chinese who are landed in Australia, the return which has been presented, and which is a very interesting document, shows that 986 were admitted into Australia during 1903. During the same period ninety-nine Chinese were refused admission by the application of the language test. I find on analyzing the figures that 572 State permits were granted, and there were travelling from State to State 308. It appears to me that a very high percentage of Chinese travel about from State to State, if these figures are correct. But 1 have reason to believe that they are not altogether correct. I do not say that they are not correct so far as the official returns go; but I believe that a system has been instituted in different ports of Australia for providing Chinese with the necessary credentials when they land at any particular port, to make them appear as though resident at that place, thus enabling them to gain access to any part of the Commonwealth. It appears to me that there are too many Chinese coming into Australia, and I believe that the time is close at hand when considerable attention will have to be paid to immigration restriction. I believe that, in order successfully to combat this invasion of ‘ undesirable aliens, we shall have to select one ‘ port, and one port only, in each State at which they can gain admittance, and at that port a very stringent test and searching examination will have to be applied to them. The proposal to have the Federal Capital question settled as speedily as possible will undoubtedly have my hearty assistance. A pledge has been given under the Constitution that should certainly be carried out at the earliest possible date, and I am prepared to cast a vote for the purpose of having the question settled definitely.
– Is the honorable member in favour of Bombala ?
– I hope the honorable member for Darwin will not question me on that point. Another subject to which I wish to direct the attention of the House is that of the construction of the transAustralian railway. I am very pleased to see that the Government intend to do something definite. The survey they propose is not all that I should like to see done, but it is a step in the right direction; and I hope that when the question comes before the House there will be a sufficiently strong body of opinion to authorize the survey of the proposed route. I trust that in a very few years we shall see this great national undertaking an accomplished fact. Another matter about which I desire to say a few words has been mentioned by the honorable member for the Northern Territory. That is the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department. In Western Australia it is unnecessary for me to say that we are a long distance away from our brethren in the eastern States. Consequently we rely to a very large extent upon the telegraph line for the information which is necessary to enable us to keep up to date. But in Western Australia, things have not been altogether satisfactory in that Department. Frequently telegrams take any time between two hours and twenty-two hours to reach their destination. Letters very often get astray ; so do urgent messages ; and, generally speaking, the office, if not altogether up-side-down, is certainly out of plumb. I think that one means of getting over at least some of the difficulties in the way of bringing it right up-to-date, would be to have an interchange of the heads of the Department in the different States. That is a matter which should receive consideration, and I hope that if my suggestion is eventually adopted, the officer sent over when he goes into the Western Australian office will endeavour to inaugurate ‘ an uptodate system. On behalf of the people whom I represent, I ought also to say a word upon another aspect of this question. In Kalgoorlie, during a number of months of the year, the weather is certainly very trying.. Honorable members who were over there on the occasion of the opening of the water scheme, will bear me out in that. I think that when an officer has served a number of years, or even a number of months, upon the gold-fields of Western Australia, he should be able to-get a transfer to a different portion of the State. That principle has not been carried out to any great extent in Western Australia up to the present time, but I hope that consideration will be given to it in the near future. Another question to which I wish to address myself, and one which to me is of an all-important character, is that of old-age pensions. Reference is made to it in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Upon this matter I can truthfully say that I am altogether out of sympathy with the Government in their ideas. I think it is a crying shame if the youth and energy of Australia are not prepared in these enlightened days to sanction the necessary legislation to afford more liberal conditions of living to our old and deserving poor. A number of honorable members, including the leader of the Opposition, have expressed the opinion that a system of oldage pensions cannot be inaugurated in the Commonwealth for a number of years. If that were the case, it would be a reflection upon the intelligence of this House. I venture to say that if honorable members are unable, by means of our united intelligence, to devise a scheme for improving the position of the deserving poor in Australia, they ought not to return to this Parliament when they ‘meet the electors at the next election. It is a question which is worthy of the most earnest consideration of every man in this House, no matter to what pari./ be belongs, it is in the interest of suffering humanity, and I trust that when the Address in Reply has been adopted, and we get to business, honorable members will address themselves to its settlement in unmistakable terms. Another matter upon which f will say a few words is that of conciliation and arbitration. I am pleased that the Government intend to introduce a Bill in the near future. I hope that it will be debated in a spirit that will enable us to bring forth the best measure that our united intelligence can devise, apart from party considerations, for the benefit of- the people of Australia/ This is a Question upon which no party should split, if honorable members are desirous of securing sound industrial conditions for the people of this country. Although we may differ as to how far the Bill should go, the principle of applying arbitration to the whole of the people of Australia remains almost unquestioned by honorable members; at least, I hope so, and I hope to see that measure placed upon the statute-book at an early date. I also desire to say a few words with reference tothe introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal. I was very pleased, indeed, to know that the Government had expressed the opinion which the majority of the people of Australia hold upon this subject. 1 quite understand that there are a few in Australia - there are very few I hope - who take the view that the people of Australia should not’ express an opinion upon a matter that affects only other parts of the Empire. I do not want to mouth my loyalty to the Empire, and to dilate upon the glorious work that was done by Australian soldiers in South Africa. But I do say that my own experience in. Australia - my own experience in the city where we are now meeting - is sufficient to show the disgraceful condition to which the Chinese can degrade our Australian sisterhood and our nationhood, and is sufficient to justify any man in objecting to the Chinese being introduced to a civilized community. I go no further than this one particular case, in which the evidence is sufficient to justify me in supporting the Government in their protest, as, I propose to do in a wholehearted fashion. The only other subject to which I desire to refer is one on which there appears to be some little difference of opinion, as I suppose ‘there always is in. political matters, namely, the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. I shall heartily support the Government in their endeavour to adhere in this respect to the letter of the Constitution at the earliest possible date. There are conditions in Western Australia which would warrant the visit of a Commission almost as soon as it was constituted ; in fact, I think that if the Government had carried out their duty such a Commission would have been at work in that State long before now. In conclusion, I desire to express the hope that the debates in this House will eventuate- in the best possible legislation for the people of Australia as a whole. I can promise honorable members that I shall vote in no way that will not give to all the people in Australia justice, and I shall oppose the ‘granting of privileges to any.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie does not seem to be brimming over with’ love and affection for the leader of the Opposition. The honorable member has told us that he is a keen observer, and that, though he has watched every attitude and movement of the leader of the Opposition, he never heard the latter say one unkind word against the Employers’ Federation until it became a known force in the political arena of Australia. As a matter of fact, the Employers’ Federation has not, comparatively speaking, been an active force in the political arena of Australia till to-day, and the real attitude of the leader of the Opposition in this respect was shown when he had charge of affairs in New South Wales. When Premier of that State the leader of the Opposition levied charges on the privileged classes, and had to contend and fight for the imposition of land and income taxes. I ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie whether he, as a keen observer, ever heard of that fact ? Apparently the honorable member has never heard that when these taxes were imposed for the first time in the history of New South Wales, the present leader of the Opposition who was then Premier, though only eleven month’s in office, brought about a penal dissolution as a means of overcoming the action of the Legislative Council of that State. Does the honorable member,, with his keen powers of observation, remember these facts? Does he remember how the present leader of the Opposition then applied the pruning-knife to the over-gorged Public Service, with the result of saving £400,000 per annum ?
– Who was keeping him in office?
– The leader of the Opposition, as Premier of New South
Wales; took a penal dissolution, and did not wait for the Labour Party to keep him in office, but went to the country and asked the people to indorse a radical programme. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie asks how it is that parties in this House are so evenly balanced. How is it that the Labour Party scored such a great win at the recent Commonwealth elections?
– Because the justice of their demands had been recognised.
– Let me suggest that the success of the Labour Party was due to a revolt against the Various Conservative Governments in the States. In Victoria the Labour Party held their position as the result of a revolt, and in Queensland the unmistakable verdict given may also be described as a revolt against conservatism. The free-trade party in New South Wales have always been associated with radical thought, whereas the Protectionist Party there have, with few exceptions, been identified until recently with conservative forces.
– The Minister for Defence, when a member of the New South Wales Parliament, had to bemoan his lot in being the only radical on the protectionist side. I ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, with his keen observance, whether he ever heard of the New South Wales Mines Regulation, Act, a radical measure, passed by the Reid Administratiqn in the interests of the miner? These facts do not show that there’ is any new-found love on the part of the leader of the Opposition for the working classes. I am now speaking,’ out of loyalty to , my chief, of how I have found him in the “past ; and we have now to deal with him’ as a representative of New South’ Wales in this Chamber.
– Who gave the people of New South Wales industrial arbitration and old-age pensions?
-Does the honorable member for the Barrier know that the free-trade party of New South Wales, led by the present leader of the Opposition, brought industrial arbitration legislation to fruition ?
– Why, the present leader of the Opposition “ stone-walled “ that legislation all night !
– Old-age pensions were the work of Senator Neild, and the proposals of the free-trade’ party in this connexion were stolen by the protectionist party and passed into law. But the Address in Reply affords pleasanter discussion than the events which I have mentioned. We have heard of two proposals of marriage - one to the leader of the Opposition from the swarthy. Prime Minister, and the other suggested by, the leader of the Labour Party.
– “ How happy could I be with either.”
-Weret’other dear charmer away.” That quotation represents the true position of Australian politics today. The Prime Minister wants to destroy a third party, and does not care which. He would like any lover, and if he took the leader of the Opposition he would get one “fair, fat, and forty,” while if he took the leader of the Labour Party he would get a slim partner - “ slim “ in more ways than one. But apparently the leader of the Labour Party is in the position of a young lady with prospects, who is not so anxious to exchange her lot’ as the lady of the Opposition, who is rather advanced in years, and may not have opportunities in the future. You, Mr. Speaker, have to undertake many duties during debates in this House, but I do not wish to inflict on you a re-delivery of my election addresses, though you may take my word they were very attractive. The leader of the Opposition has said that there is an armed truce; that though the stalwart freetraders of New South Wales are armed cap-a-pie, they will act in harmony with the protectionists during the term of this Parliament, but that at the end of that term they may go forth and fight the battle. That seems a very difficult position. If the leader of the Opposition is anxious to join the swarthy Prime Minister, and get into a more pretentious house, that house may be found to be too pretentious for some of the free-traders of New South Wales. As a radical, I, at any rate, may be content to live in a more unpretentious dwelling in the suburbs of this Parliament. After the verdict of New South Wales, I cannot understand how there can be fiscal peace. There were nineteen free-traders returned from that State, and both leader and rank and file declared that there could be no such thing as peace. A truce is not warranted by the state of the labour market to-day. I cannot understand how we can be armed to the teeth, and remain friendly with the Government, and assist them for three years, when we have declared emphatically that this matter shall be settled. The Ministerial party attained one result in New South Wales. They were returned with the sole and solid support of the honorable member for Richmond, and the Prime Minister must be very careful not to offend that honorable member, or the Government may lose the bulk of their support from that State. We have had two and a half years of the benefits of protection, and the industrial position in my own and neighbouring electorates is the worst known in the history of New South Wales. In the very trades which were supposed to be assisted by the beneficent policy of protection there are hundreds and hundreds of men who can obtain no work.
– The honorable member opposed the bonus for the manufacture of iron.
– Exactly, because we as a party did not want it ; but with all the duties imposed by the Tariff, the industrial condition in the electorates I have mentioned has never been worse than it is to-day.
– The honorable member and his party cut the duties too low.
– How high does the honorable member want the duties to be? There was no want of employment prior to the passage of the Tariff ; and as a freetrader I ask how I can subscribe to fiscal peace under those conditions? Then, if the issue of free-trade and protection be re* moved, a great deal of life will be taken cut of politics, and many politicians will find thmselves without stock-in-trade, while the pabulum of numerous leader-writers for the newspapers will be gone, though, doubtless, some other issue will arise. Of course, if a Reid-Deakin combination introduced radical measures I should, as a radical, support them, just as I feel compelled to support similar measures introduced by the present Government. There is, for instance, the question of the employment of lascars on mail steamers,’ a matter on which the House is very much divided. The bulk of the free-traders are radical in thought, and they supported the prohibtion of the employment of these men - at least, I did, and shall continue to do so. I have heard arguments used to the effect that the Government should “weaken,” and strike that provision Out of the Post and Telegraph Act ; but those arguments1 do not “hold water.” It is said that the Iascar is employed, in the first place, on the score of his cheapness, and, in the next place, for his amenability to discipline. Those who have anything to do with shipping matters know that engineers prefer lascars, not because they are the better ,’firemen, but because they are amenable to discipline, and while the ship is in port do not go off on ‘ ‘ benders “ or ‘.’ sprees,” as do the white stokers. He is there when he is wanted. But no engineer, will tell you that a white man, after he has been a day at sea, is not a far better fireman than a Iascar. To those who are strong on Empire questions - and that seems to be the position to-night - I would say this : that it is not wise to encourage the employment of lascars inasmuch as that Great Britain experiences great trouble manning the fleet with British seamen, and still greater difficulty in obtaining British firemen. If the mercantile marine do not train white men as stokers, how can we, in a time of national danger, expect the navy to be efficiently manned and worked. Lascar seamen we know are unfit for the position, both physically and otherwise? I hold that in Australia we are performing Empire work when we discourage the employment of lascars as firemen. Train a white man in the mercantile marine, and then in time of danger he can be passed into the navy. I notice that in the opening speech the Government suggest the early appointment of an Inter-State Commission. I trust that they will hesitate before they take any step in that direction. We were told of the danger which would accrue if a High Court were not appointed. We agreed to the creation of a High Court, and the only danger which has accrued is that we cannot find any business for the Judges to do, and that Court has now to be used as a Court of Disputed Returns to deal with electoral petitions.
– Eight cases are waiting to be heard in Sydney now.
- Mr. Justice O’Connor, after three months of weary work in the High Court, had to take a six months’ trip to South Africa to recruit his health. We who opposed the early establishment of the High Court - not its ultimate establishment - on account of the expense which it would entail, were looked upon as narrowminded persons with no powers of perception, with no idea of Australia’s future or grandeur. I trust that the InterState Commission will not be established on a similar basis to the High Court, because, in my opinion, Australia cannot afford to have fancy tribunals, and to give fancy salaries to either politicians or to privileged friends of the Ministry. The selection of a site for the Federal Capital affects New
South Wales a great deal. I hope that the settlement of this question will be hurried on, and that if there is any delay all the members from New South Wales, including the great majority of the protectionist members, will combine and oppose the passing of any measure in this House until a remedy is found. I hope that that stand will be taken if a disposition is shown to defeat the early establishment of the Federal Capital in New South Wales. I am not dealing with a particular site; I am only asking that the compact in the Constitution shall be carried out at the earliest possible moment.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad to hear that remark from the Prime Minister, and I trust that there will be no attempt made to burk or prevent the settlement of this question. I believe that if any such attempt were made there would be sufficient strength on this side of the chamber to make a stand and prevent the Government doing any business. I think that several new members who have spoken will, with very little training, make very good workers in that direction. I trust that this question of the Federal Capita] will not be kept dangling much longer before the people of New South Wales, like carrots before a donkey, and that a site will be selected this session. I notice that the Prime Minister nods his acquiescence in that expression of my hope. Referring to the question of preferential trade, I notice that in the opening speech a reference is made to the invitation to Mr. Chamberlain. If he has been asked to come here as a partisan it was a most indecent invitation to give. We shall be glad to welcome him as a well-known and highly respected statesman in the Empire - as a man who, whatever his views may be, stands prominently before the world. Those British Ministers who Have been most hated by foreign countries have always been the most powerful in the old country. And Mr. Chamberlain did undoubtedly bring down upon his head the hatred of foreign nations as much as Lord Palmerston ever did. Tor that reason, and that alone, I should offer my humble tribute of respect and admiration to him, if he should ever visit these shores. I recognise the good work which he performed in the Colonial Office. But to invite him to come here and to take up the active work of a partisan in a battle in which the members of this House are to be engaged is absolutely indecent, and is dangerous to the best interests of this Commonwealth. I think that a man of his clear perceptive faculties cannot and will not accept an invitation on those terms. I shall touch lightly on the question of preferential trade. We are told now by the supporters of the Prime Minister, and by himself, that the free-trade policy of Great Britain has not been a success, and that because it has not been a success they require to establish what is termed preferential trade. And we are told in the opening speech that if we respond to that invitation it will immediately open to us “ an immense and reliable market” - a splendid phrase, indeed. No man in Australia isa greater master of phraseology than is the Prime Minister. No man in Australia can word a sentence in a more captivating manner than he can. He says that by the acceptance of preferential trade an immense market will be opened. An appeal is there made to our mercenary instincts. We are told that immediately the doors are closed against somebody else other doors will be opened, that an immense trade will result, and that the policy of free-trade has been a huge failure in the old country. I wish now to quote a few figures hurriedly prepared in answer to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who brought the matter before the House. Assuming that100 represents the whole trade of Great Britain, she imports from foreign countries 80 per cent., from British India 7 per cent., from Australasia 7 per cent., from Canada 4 per cent., from British South Africa 1 per cent., and from other British possessions 1 per cent. The trade of Australasia to’ Great Britain represents nearly twice as much as the trade of Canada to Great Britain. In other words, under existing conditions, Great Britain purchases 7 per cent. of her imports from Australasia, and 4 per cent. from Canada. Let us now take the exports of Great Britain to foreign countries and her various possessions. The exports to foreign countries amount to 63½ per cent. Great Britain buys 80 per cent. of her imports from foreign countries, and sells 63½ per cent. of her exports to foreign countries. Of course, some persons will say that she loses on the transaction. But the position is that if she buys 80 per cent. of her imports, and sells 63½ per cent. of her exports, she has made the difference in the transaction accounted for in her shipping and her freights. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports could get 80 sovereigns out of me, and give me only 63½ sovereigns, he would realize that he would benefit by the transaction.
– It is a great stretch of imagination on my part to suppose that he could. I admit that it would be impossible for me to get 80 sovereigns out of him, and I fancy that it would be equally difficult to get 63½ sovereigns out of him. The exports from Great Britain to British India represent 14 per cent., to Australasia 9½ per cent., and to Canada 3 per cent. It will be seen that Great Britain to-day is selling us more than she buys from us. Notwithstanding the adverse conditions in Australia, and the better conditions in Canada, the exports from Great Britain to Australasia represent 9½ per cent., to Canada only 3 per cent, to British South’ Africa 6 per cent., and to other British possessions 4 per cent. The total trade of Great Britain - that is, imports and exports - under the bad conditions of 1902, amounted to the enormous sum of£87 8,000,000. Under this benighted policy of free-trade, under this policy which is bringing ruin and devastation in its train, the total volume of trade of forty odd million persons stood at£878,000,000. The total volume of the external trade of the United States amounted to£471,000,000, protected as it is by a tariff which has to be borne by a population of 70,000,000. We find that a population of 70,000,000 persons after paying a high rate of taxation, do an external trade of£471,000,000, while the little country of Great Britain, with its area of 121,000 square miles- a mere fly-speck on the map of the world - under a benighted policy of free-trade does an external trade of£878,000,000. Then we are told that there is such a thing as fiscal federation. If we are to have fiscal federation that must imply a sacrifice of the interests of the British consumer. It cannot be a one-sided trade. They cannot open the doors to Australian produce and give us a preference - whether it is in the case of butter or wool, or hides, or other raw products - without our doing something in return. To be preferential we must be reciprocal. And if we are reciprocal to what industries of Great Britain can we open our ports, even from the protectionist standpoint, unless they are of a manufacturing character? I put this argument to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, a known protectionist, and the secretary of a Protectionist Association, who now talks of preferential trade. Either he means a thorough preference, or he means a smart and close bargain. If he means a smart and close bargain, then it is not a policy which should commend itself to the Empire. And if he means a preference, he must be prepared to drop his protectionist doctrine, as it applies to manufacturing industries. For instance, locomotives are, if anything, one of the main products of British industries. Birmingham, Leeds, and other large centres, if they are famed for anything, are famed for the manufacture of locomotives. Will the honorable member take the case of the tenders for the manufacture of twenty locomotives in New South Wales at a cost of about£350,000? There is trouble in regard to the tenders. If he is a preferentialist he must say “Oh, no; you shall not manufacture those locomotives in New South Wales ; you shall not give employment to your ironworkers in New South Wales, because the price which we are going to pay for what is called preferential trade is that the Britisher shall send his manufactured goods in exchange for our raw products.” If it does not mean that, it means nothing.
– It does not mean that, and it means a great deal.
– Unquestionably Mr. Chamberlain meant that.
– He said that in his Glasgow speech.
– He has said something since then.
– In his Glasgow speech the inducement he held out to Australia was that those who are protectionists should not go further on the lines of protection, that any industries which had not yet been established under protection should not be established in the future; that industries which might come in conflict with the industries of Great Britain should not be. brought into existence.
– He withdrew that statement.
– We were told by the honorable member and others, in order to cloud the issue at the general election, that the question of free-trade or protection was not at stake. They did not defend the policy which they had imposed on the people of Australia - a policy on which the people of Australia could speak, from personal experience, with a powerful voice at the ballot-box - but they advocated fiscal peace and preferential trade.
– That is where we scored.
– If what happened at the elections was a glorious victory for the Government -Party, what would they call a defeat ? Can it be a victory for a party to be returned reduced in numbers? How can they have scored when there are ten men missing from their ranks?
An Honorable Member.’ - If they had lost another supporter, they would not have been represented here at all.
– They have scored in being able to maintain their position, and the’ Opposition cannot shift them.
– I am very glad that the members of the Labour Party have not shown much favour to the preferential trade proposals. The workers of Great Britain oppose the adoption of a system of preferential trade,’ because they are not prepared to pay- more out of their scanty wages for the food they have to buy. While their leaders are fighting against preferential trade, it is reasonable to assume that their fellow-workers in Australia will not fight for it.
– We do not wish to impose taxation upon them. It is for them to say whether they! will, or will not, have preferential trade.
– Exactly. I am glad to hear the honorable member for Bland say that. The Prime Minister made the question a burning one at the elections. He wrote . in large letters upon his banner, “ Fiscal peace and preferential trade.”
– And “loyalty.”
– Yes, though loyalty to the Empire will be found as much on this side of the chamber as on the other. The Empire, however > is not always to be spelt with a large “E.” Men have to consider the circumstances of their own families. However, the Prime Minister has given us an easy rail to sit upon by saying that nothing is to be done in the matter until a proposal is received from Great Britain. We, who are free-traders, have always been working for freer trade throughout the world. I agree with the honorable member for Lang that, as we must have a revenue tariff, if money could be raised by taxing the foreigner only it would be a good thing to adopt that course. But would protectionists agree to anything of the kind ? Is it not their proposal to maintain the rates of duty now imposed upon English imports, and to increase the rates upon foreign imports ?
– Is it not all rather a matter of business than cif loyalty?
– Exactly. But the sentimental side of the question has been put forward, and honorable members know how powerful the effect of sentiment is. Federation was brought about by a wave of sentiment which swept through Australia. We, on this side, can be as sentimental as other honorable members, and, if need be, can use our sentiment as effectively as they can. We do not wish, however, to appear to be hostile to the mother country. In Great Britain, as the result of by-election after by-election shows, the victory is falling to those who oppose preferential trade and the introduction of protection. The Prime Minister accounted for the defeats of the supporters of Mr. Chamberlain by saying that these defeats were due to the feeling of the people in regard to the English’ Education Act. I am afraid that, in making that statement, he was raising the sectarian issue. The Education Act is as much a sectarian matter in Great Britain as the fiscal question is in New South Wales. The Nonconformist Party, there is fighting against the Act as keenly as any party in opposition ever fights in Australia, and yet we never hear it said that the sectarian issue is being raised. As a representative of the people, I shall always be very happy to see in our midst, addressing our electors, the leading men of the old world; but I do not wish them to come here as partisans, or as the invited guests of the Government. The statement in the Governor-General’s Speech is apparently a declaration of the intention of the Government to invite Mr. Chamberlain here to take an active part in our political warfare. Such a thing would be a tactical blunder, and I cannot think that the intention of the Government is what we have been led to believe. If it be their intention, the Prime Minister should boldly declare it. It would be altogether a different matter if Mr. Chamberlain came amongst us merely as a distinguished statesman from another part of the Empire.
– It would be impossible for him to visit this country without speaking upon the subject nearest his heart.
– Will he be invited to speak as a partisan, or will he make his own arrangements?
– The Government cannot bind him. We cannot say how he should speak.
– It will be a militant visit.
– It will be an educational visit.
– Will the Government invite Lord Rosebery, too?
– If Mr. Chamberlain attaches so much value, to his scheme for preferential trade, and thinks so much about cementing the Empire, he will not require the invitation of this Government, or of the Governments of Cape Colony and of Canada. If the matter is one dear to his heart, and he thinks he can forward his cause by coming here, no doubt he will come. But I object to an invitation being sent to him by the Government.. I do not object to his presence among us. There is another matter to which reference has been made to which I wish to allude as briefly, as calmly, and as mildly as I can. I heard some one say that certain things were to be deprecated and regretted. Now, in Parliament we should be manly enough to express our agreements and disagreements without using the words “ deprecate “ and “ regret.” We have to face the questions which are brought .before us, and this is a matter which I do not feel the slightest delicacy about facing. I do not wish to hurt any one’s feelings; but I am resolute in referring to the subject. It was introduced into this debate by the leader of the Labour Party.
– He did not introduce it as leader of the Labour Party
– No doubt that alters the position ; but the fact remains that he introduced the subject. During the three years of which we have had experience of him in this Parliament, he has been note. for his level-headedness. I do not say that to flatter him, but honorable members will agree with me that his leadership of the party, and his public appearances in this chamber have been characterized by the quality of level-headedness. In my judgment, however, he lost his balance the other night when he attributed the overwhelming victory of the free-trade party in New South Wales to the sectarian issue. I do hot wish honorable members to think that I am trying to turn the sitting of the House into the meeting of an Orange lodge in full blast, or into the assembly of a Hibernian society in full session. This is not a rehearsal for either the 17th March or the 1 2th July. But the fair fame of New South Wales has been traduced by the honorable member’s remarks, and I think he must see that he has done an injury to that State. To quote the worst that has been said on this subject, let me remark that it has been stated that the man who works on a sectarian issue is an enemy and traitor to his country.
– I said that. It should not be attributed to the leader of the Labour Party.
– Reference has also been made to a “ sectarian serpent,” and to the “ dirty issue “ of sectarianism. If anything worse is to be said on the subject I should like to hear it now. The remarks 1 have quoted are strong, and a man must be pretty cool to bear with them. Many honorable members know the part which I have played in New South Wales in regard to this matter. I do not wish to abuse my position here, but I desire to put forward as clearly as I can, for the information of honorable gentlemen who are not acquainted with what has taken place in New South Wales, and the nature of the sectarian issue raised there, the actual state of affairs.
– We do not wish to know anything about the matter.
– The free-trade victory in New South Wales has been attributed to the raising of the “ dirty issue “ of sectarianism, and I feel bound to contradict that statement. It is a remarkable thing that sectarianism is always used as a reproach to one side only. In the minds of many public men and writers it seems to be equivalent to Protestantism, though why it should be levelled at Protestants more than at those of other creeds I do not know. A sectarian is a bigot, whatever his creed. A man’s religious belief is his own concern, and not that of any one else. His religion is a matter between himself and his Maker, between the creature and the Creator, and uo concern of any one else. Whoever raises a religious issue is undoubtedly a “ sectarian serpent,” a ‘diabolical scoundrel, and a traitor to his country. But there has been nothing of the kind. Prior to the election, however, there was in New South Wales a Protestant organization. I ask the democratic member for Bland whether he is prepared to contend that bodies of electors have, not the right to organize to secure the enforcement of any principle which they strongly support. He may think it a small principle, a dirty and despicable issue ; but, as a politician, will he contend that electors have not the right to organize for any political purpose? The Protestants of New South Wales, whether they be despicable or otherwise, and whether the’ issue be dirty or otherwise, were within their political rights in organizing for the election ; whether they were or were not ill-advised in doing so is a matter of opinion. The honorable member for Bland may regret what took place, but it is merely his opinion that it is a matter for regret. The Protestants had an organization - not a secret and despicable one, because it was open and avowed. The platform of the organization was known, published, and understood, and was accepted or rejected by candidates. There was no underground engineering.
– What was the political object ?
– We shall come to that presently. The first plank in the fighting platform of that party was as follows : -
If elected, will you support the settlement of the question of ecclesiastical precedence on the principle of priority being given to the Churches in the order of numerical strength ?
The honorable member for Kennedy may not like that, and if so, he is at perfect liberty to vote against it; but I would ask whether a man who subscribes to that principle should be called a- traitor and an enemy to his country.
– I believe that a sectarian bigot, upon whichever side, is a traitor and an enemy to his country, and the honorable member may wear the cap if it fits him.
– I do not think that I have ever shown myself to be a bigot, or that I have ever deserved the title of a traitor and an enemy to my country. Surely there is nothing wrong in the proposition which I have just quoted.. It embodies the democratic principle that the majority should rule. The Protestants simply ask that priority shall be given in ecclesiastical matters, not to one church or sect, but to that body which, has the greatest numerical strength, and that effect shall be given to the democratic principle of majority rule. Still, we are told that the trail of the “ sectarian serpent” is over all those who subscribe to that plank. The next plank in the Protestant platform is -
Will you support any measure that may be introduced to abolish absolutely State aid in any form to denominational institutions?
That cannot be called narrow-minded or bigoted in any sense. No exception is made in favour of Protestant or other denominations, but the desire is to exclude all sects from the advantages of State aid.
– What connexion has that with Federal politics ?
– The next plank is -
Will you do your best to maintain the general principles of the existing laws on education which obtain in the Public Schools Act of this State ?
I do not see anything narrow-minded in that. It simply expresses a desire that thesystem of education to which the people of New South Wales have been accustomed for many years, and which has been fully approved, shall be maintained. There has been no agitation for any change.
– The Federal Government does not control educational matters, and, therefore, that has nothing to do with us.
– The next plank is-
Will you support any measure that may be introduced to provide that all industries, homes, and reformatories, where labour is employed, shall be subject to inspection, and made to conform to the provisions of the Factories Act?
Surely no honorable member belonging to the Labour Party can oppose that, because it supports the general application of legislation of a democratic character, which has been adopted in the interests of humanity. Can a man who supports that principle be regarded as an enemy and a traitor to his country’? A further plank in the Protestant platform is -
Will you support a measure for the more effective preservation of the Sabbath as a day of rest and Divine worship?
Surely there is nothing objectionable wrong in that. The last plank is as follows : -
Will you endeavour to obtain a fair and equitable distribution of patronage and employment in the Public Service to persons of all denominations ?
I do not see what objection can be raised to that. It applies to all denominations, and does not ask that preference shall be given to any. The only one of these planks which applies to matters within the sphere of Federal politics is the first.
– There is not a word about free-trade in the platform.
– The honorable member is quite right, but from what the honorable member for Bland said, one might have imagined that free-trade and sectarianism were synonomous terms. The honorable member would have led the House to believe that the “ dirty “ sectarian issue and freetrade were practically the same.
– I did not say anything of the kind. I did not say a word about freetrade.
– One would have gathered from the remarks of the honorable member that sectarianism had become indissolubly associated with the free-trade cause. The honorable member also said that the Labour Party had not touched sectarianism. All I can say is that if the Labour Party has not touched sectarianism, sectarianism has touched them. It is my duty to prove that statement. I find that Cardinal Moran, the leading prelate of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, was interviewed by the Rome representative of the Cork Examiner, an important Irish daily, and that he stated that twenty-five of the twenty-eight members of the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament were Catholics.
– That is not true, and I do not believe that Cardinal Moran ever said it.
– But the statement has not been contradicted.
– It is so palpably untrue that there is no necessity to contradict it.
– Does the honorable member think that that question has anything to do with the Address in Reply?
– It applies to this extent : the honorable member for Bland stated that the Labour Party had not touched sectarianism, and my object is to show that sectarianism has touched the Labour Party.
– The honorable member cannot follow up an irrelevant interjection by making it a matter of debate.
– The remark of the honorable member for Bland did not take the form of an interjection ; I am replying to statements made in the course of the honorable member’s speech in this debate.
– The honorable member is not entitled, on any ground, to travel beyond the question under debate.
– The point is that it was stated that the free-trade majority in New South Wales was secured by the introduction of the sectarian issue.
– I did not say that, but. quite the contrary. .
– The honorable member suggested that the sectarian issue was a dirty issue, and had been introduced by the free-trade party.
– I did not say that the free-trade majority had been secured by its means.
– The honorable member said that the sectarian issue had been introduced by the party, and I now wish to show that the Labour Party are not so free from the taint of sectarianism as they wish people to believe.
– Will the honorable member give us some instances in which the Labour Party have been associated with the sectarian issue. I do not know of any.
– That is what I am now endeavouring to do. I wish to show that the Labour Party are not so free from sectarian influences as they represent. The honorable member has the right to exercise his private judgment in regard to sectarian matters, and If I exercise a similar privilege no one is entitled to tell me that I am a traitor and an enemy to my country, or that I am making undue use of the “ serpent of sectarianism, which is like a hydra-headed monster worming its way through a morass of prejudice and hatred.”
– Why does not . the honorable member adopt the definition of sectarianism given by the leader of the Opposition ?
– I shall refer to that. The report to which I have just referred has not been contradicted, and it is clear from that statement that sectarianism has touched the Labour Party, who have not reprobated the sectarian influence exercised on their behalf. If the LabourParty had expressed their disapproval of the sectarianism shown on the other side as well as of that shown by the Protestant organization. I could have understood them. I could have fully entered into their position if they had said “ a plague on both sides,” but I cannot understand their regarding everything done by one side as vile and despicable whilst looking upon the actions of others as fair and legitimate. The Catholic Press, the official organ of the Labour Party-
– I mean the official organ of the Catholic party. That was a slip of the tongue. As a matter of fact, the Catholic Press is the official organ of the Labour Party; and although my first statement was a lapsus linguoe, it was substantially correct. Two and a-half years ago the conductors of the Catholic Press advised their co-religionists to swarm the labour leagues, and as they swarmed in, the other side swarmed out. The honorable member for Bland contradicted my statement that the victories of the Labour Party at former elections had been due to the Protestant . vote, but I would point out that in 1891 and1 894 the main support received by the Labour Party came from the ultra-Protestants.
-Whom does the honorable member describe as ultra- Protestants?
– I mean the Orangemen.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that he and Mr. Sydney Law secured victory for the Labour Party ?
-No, but I claim that the victory of the Labour Party in those years was due to the exertions of the Orangemen of New South Wales, to which body I happen to belong. The Roman Catholics were, at that time, opposed to the Labour Party, but they were afterwards recommended to swarm the labour leagues, and, as they did so, the other party swarmed out. Ido not wish to gloat over the probable consequences of mistakes made by others, but I venture to think that’ the remarks made by the leader of the Labour Party during this debate will do his party incalculable harm at the next elections in New South Wales. With regard to the candidates who were selected by the Protestant organization, I find that out of twenty-two Protestants who were chosen, seventeen were returned.
– I do no think that the honorable member ought to refer to that matter.
– I shall be very pleased to refrain from any further remarks upon that point. I do not wish to labour the mat- ‘ ter, but simply to defend myself and others against the aspersions of the honorable member for Bland. It is just as well, when matters of this kind are introduced, to grapple with them as strongly as one is able. The right of people to organize for the purpose of securing the adoption of that which they regard as a vital principle must be conceded, and, further, every one must grant that they have a right to make such principle an issue at an election. If the honorable member for Bland has such lofty ideas and such exalted notions, that he can refuse to. indorse the platform of an organization like that referred to, he is at perfect liberty to take his own course. But I would point out that, at least, one member of the Labour Party carried the banner of the much-abused Protestant organization in New South Wales.
– Who was that?
– The honorable member knows that it was the representative of one of the Sydney electorates, who is not present to-night.
-No; he disowned the Protestant Defence League.
– He did not disown it publicly.
– Yes he did; he had his name withdrawn from their lists. ‘
– His name was published and circulated. ‘. However, I do not wish to deal any further with this matter. I have no desire to introduce a discussion upon religious matters. 1 do not pretend to have any spiritual fervour. I have no wish to enter into a. disquisition upon the old politics of. the skies. We are told -
The Cherubim know most,
The Seraphim love most; - The gods shall settle their own quarrels.
I do not desire to appear as the champion of any religious belief. On the other hand, I do not disown the organization to which I belong. It is a political organization, and has had work to perform in New South Wales of which the story is unknown to others. I see no reason why a politican should not stand upon the issue put to the country by such an organization, or why, upon subscribing to its platform’ and receiving its support, he should be accused of. doing something inimical to the best interests of the country and contrary to one of the foremost of democratic principles. Personally, I shall not allow any man to so accuse me without trying to refute the charge. It is not true that sectarianism, so far as it manifested itself at the recent elections in New South Wales, was “ a hydra-headed monster worming its way through a -morass of prejudice and hatred.” I admit that the freetraders in that State worked more in harmony than those of any other State ; but the fact is that the free-trade cause is strong, not only because of the soundness of the principles underlying it, but also because a large number of its adherents are associated with the radical thought of the community. It appears to be impossible for Victorians to understand that a free-trader can also be radical, and that is the main cause of the difference that exists between us. Whether the political marriage, which has been the subject of so much suggestion, is consummated or not - whether the Prime Minister in his amorous mood pays his addresses to the slim Miss Watson or to some other lady - I am prepared to await events. If the fiscal issue is not raised, we cannot vote upon it ; but there are proposals for bounties and other things which hinge upon protectionist principles, and upon these I shall vote in strict accordance with my fiscal professions. I should like to say that the experience of protection in New South Wales has not been such as to render its population anxious for fiscal peace. There the workers to-day receive less employment than they ever did. The honorable member for Bland attacked the leader of the Opposition for not having sunk the so-called sectarian issue. But even had the right honorable member attempted to sink it, he would have failed to achieve his object.
– He would have sunk.
– Whether that be so or not, the leader of the Opposition is quite capable of defending himself. So far, he has not declared himself from the public platforms of New South Wales upon the sectarian question. I regret that he has not done so. He must hold opinions upon it in common with every other man. I had hoped that he would have expressed those opinions freely. He should either say “Yea” or “Nay-“ To abstain from doing so does not evidence much moral courage. To my mind there ave responsibilities attaching to politicians of to-day from which they cannot escape so readily as they could . in the past. I trust that honorable members who may fancy that I have a “bee in my bonnet” upon this particular matter, will not imagine that it is like Macaulay’s broth, and that I wish to introduce it upon every conceivable occasion. That is not so. At the same time I deemed it my duty to reply to the statements which have been made by the honorable member for Bland. I do not think that this Parliament ought to be an Orange Lodge in full blast, or a Hibernian Society in full session. But there are times when men are compelled, to speak their innermost thoughts. I trust that the ill-advised remarks which have been made about the Protestants will not be repeated in this House. Passing from that question, I desire to say that to my mind the Governor-General’s Speech, like Bleak House, starts in a fog and ends in a fog. Indeed, it is in a perpetual state of fog. The phrase “ awaiting developments “ occurs throughout very frequently, as if the Ministry are awaiting a turn in the political tide. If the Prime Minister can wait, I can wait. If the leader of the Opposition sees his way to sink the fiscal issue and to combine with the Prime Minister, then my feeble support shall go in the other direction. If it goes in the other direction, I suppose I shall have to live in the suburbs, but if my yellowgreen friends will allow me, I shall be found sitting not far away from them. We know very well that the people of Australia desire to obtain radical measures such as the Con.ciliation and Arbitration Bill. The electors in my division require that measure, and in an endeavour to interpret their wishes aright my vote shall be cast in support of it. But how any coalition of opposing political forces such as that which has been suggested is to be brought about, I utterly fail to understand. I trust that the Prime Minister will adhere to the radical side, and allow the railway servants to be brought within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I thank honorable members for having permitted me to refer at such length to the sectarian cry which has been raised in this House. The desire of those Protestants in New South Wales who organized during the recent campaign was not to breed sectarianism, but to scotch it, in order that people for ever afterwards might live in harmony, and that, in the words of King John, they might “tell this tale” - That the dominance of the. priest shall not continue.
– I have listened with “a good deal of pain to some of the remarks of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. In reply to an interjection in regard to the sectarian cry which I regret has been raised in this House, he said that it would work much damage to the Labour Party at the next election in New South Wales, which is a clear indication that he believes that issue will be raised, and that he is anxious to raise it. Having listened with close attention to the speech of the clever but tortuous leader of the Opposition, and the brilliant reply of. the Prime Minister, I have a” certain amount of diffidence in taking part in this debate. I followed the remarks of the Prime Minister with very great interest, especially when he gave a fine exposition to this House of the new development of fiscal thought. With consummate skill and subtlety, he endeavoured to induce honorable members to believe that the gulf between the free-traders and the protectionists had now become so narrow that one could step over it. In listening to him I almost anticipated that he would fall upon the neck of the leader of the Opposition as though he were a long-lost brother, and weep tears of joy that they had found each other, and need be separated no longer. But though there were bright passages to both deliverances, they seemed to me to constitute only the little by-play of contending lawyers. It was only when the leader of the Opposition attacked the Labour Party that he “flung forth his foam, impatient of the wound inflicted upon him.” I resent his imputation that that party is ready to enter into any dishonorable bargain. It has not done so in the past, and I am satisfied that its members will never use anything but legitimate and honorable means to secure the enactment of its platform, which has been approved by such a large number of the electors of the Com monwealth’. So far as South Australia is concerned, the principal issues which were placed before the people at the recent elections had reference to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Navigation Bill, and the question of old-age pensions. These were considered the matters that most urgently . required to be dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament this’ session. Personally I exceedingly regret the attitude which has been assumed by the Government upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I am sorry that they cannot see their way to make that measure1 applicable to public servants. I am’ surprised that a Ministry with such a radical head should be willing to compel private employers to submit to terms which they will not impose upon public employers. That is a piece of sectional legislation to which I am sure the Labour Party will not subscribe. In the matter of the employment of coloured labour upon subsidized mail steamers, I trust that this House will also refuse to make any exception. I see no necessity for departing in the slightest degree from the great principle of a white Australia. I do not believe in having a white land and an inkyocean. We wish to have a white Australia and to insure that our factories and ships shall be worked by white labour.
– Are thev “our” ships?
– -At any rate, we have to pay the subsidies. I would point out to the honorable and learned member that the legislation which has been enacted in reference to this matter does not go so far as the law in either Germany or the United States. In the latter country, as honorable members are aware, they refuse to allow oversea vessels to carry a single passenger or pound of freight from one port to another. In Germany, all vessels which are subsidized by the Government must be manned by white crews. I think that is an example which might with advantage be copied by the Commonwealth.
– But it is not a German colony which makes that law.
– The German Government insists that all subsidized vessels shall be manned by white German crews - a piece of legislation which might with advantage be emulated by us. We do not propose to prohibit white sailors from any part of the world from obtaining employment on these vessels-
– Is such a condition attached to the German subsidy ?
– I understand that all vessels subsidised by the German Government are required to carry white German crews.
– The honorable member is mistaken.
– It would be a good thing if that were the law of the Commonwealth and of the British Empire. At the present time we find that our vessel’s are manned by seamen from all parts of the world, not because the shipowners are anxious to employ the sailors of other nations in preference to our own, but simply because they can command, their services at a cheaper rate. There is not much patriotism in that. When we find that year after year . the number of British seamen engaged in our mercantile marine is seriously diminishing, and when we reflect that trouble may arise in Europe upon almost any day, surely it is about time that we looked round to ascertain if we are in a position to man our own ships. A good deal has been said concerning the question of old-age pensions. If it be the intention, of the Government to indefinitely postpone dealing with this matter, it seems to me that they have adopted the very best method for securing that end. If we are to make it a condition that old-age pensions shall be granted only upon condition that the States allow the ‘Federal Government to take over their indebtedness, the position so far as South Australia is concerned, resembles that of holding up a red rag to an infuriated bull. The South Australian Treasurer, I regret to say, is the bull. He is continually belittling the Commonwealth Parliament, and constantly misrepresenting it by endeavouring to induce the people to believe not only that the Federal Government is extravagant, but that Federation is costing a much larger sum that it really is at the present time. If we are to make it a condition that the States shall have power to say whether or not we shall have a national system of old-age pensions, undoubtedly the South Australian Government and Parliament will oppose it. I. should have thought that an important question of this character would have been placed in the very forefront of the Government programme, and that they would have been prepared to provide the money necessary to successfully carry out any such scheme. How should the money be found ? I do not think that this question is surrounded with the difficulty which so many people anticipate. I find that out of the 3,750,000 people who in round numbers comprise the population of the Commonwealth, 2,500,000, representing those who have already reached the age at which- they are entitled to receive old-age pensions, have been provided for ; so that in reality we have to provide for only 1,250,000. That should be quite a small matter. If the Ministry are in earnest all that they have to do is to bring in a Federal absentee land tax. I am satisfied that there is no greater curse to any country than is the absentee land-owner. He contributes nothing through the Customs to the revenue. In South Australia Ave have recognised that absentee individuals and companies are very undesirable, and have imposed upon them a tax of 20 per cent, over and above the land taxation levied there. . If the Government were to impose a similar tax - and, in passing, I might say that I would favour an increased one - upon the absentee landholders of Australia they would .be able not only to provide old-age pensions, but to do something of far more concern to the Commonwealth. In that way they would prevent the aggregation of large estates in the hands of persons who have no thought for the country - who have no regard for the way in which the people live, but who care only for what they can squeeze out of the people earning a livelihood on their estates. If the Government were in earnest they could thus find a way to provide for old-age pensions without imposing any further burden on the people living in the Commonwealth.
– And at the same time help immigration.
– Quite so. I quite agree with an honorable member -who has already spoken, that the Government ha’e viewed this question -from the wrong end of the telescope. We have not the power at the present time” to deal with the lands of the State ; but I would mention that every Land Board dealing with an estate purchased by the South Australian Government for closer settlement purposes is rushed by applicants. We are losing our population in scores, and unless something be done we are likely to continue to do so. We have our unemployed trouble in South Australia. The same trouble exists in Victoria, and I regret to learn that it is very intense in New South Wales. In’ these circumstances, before Ave talk about encouraging immigration, our first duty should be to see that proper provision is made for those WhO are already here. We have artisans in the Commonwealth who are willing to go on the land, but have no opportunity to do so. I am glad to notice that the Western Australian Government is now offering land for settlement upon easy terms ; but, at the same time, I should regret to see any of the people of South Australia leaving for the sister State, because we have already too small a population there. I should heartily welcome the arrival of deserving persons of good character, whether they had a shilling in their pockets or not, as long as I was assured that employment could be found for them when they reached our shores. Until Ave are able to secure that assurance from the Governments of ihe States, I trust that nothing whatever will be done in regard to immigration. I commend the Government for their protest against the introduction of Chinese labour into South Africa for the purpose of WOrKing the mines of that country. I- do so for the reason that scores of our countrymen are walking about the streets of the different South African cities, not only out of employment, but, according to statements “>f recent arrivals - and I have it from the mouths of some of my own friends - -in a state of semi-starvation. In view of what, we have done for the British Empire, it would have been a disgrace had not theFederal Government entered a protest at this juncture ‘ against the importation” of Chinese labour into South Africa. In referring to the situation in South Africa, the leader of the Labour Party has had something to say upon the question of borrowing. South Africa’ has no Labour Party, and is devoid of socialistic legislation worthy of mention, but Ave find that it has just as much trouble in borrowing money as have the Australian States. This shows, therefore, that there is nothing in the bogy which has been raised that thetightness of the money market, so far as Australian borrowing is concerned, is due to socialistic legislation in this country. I desire now to refer to a very great question, involving a large expenditure of money, and one which has not yet been very fully dealt with during this debate. Paragraph 17 in the Governor-General’s speech states that-
The Defence Act’ has been proclaimed, and regulations under it approved.
I hope that honorable members will take the trouble to go through the regulations framed under the Defence Act.
– Life is too short.
– It was regarded as the natural corollary of Federation that the military forces of the States would be dealt with under a system -which would render them cohesive and effective in time of war. It was necessary to do this, or chaos would have been the only result. It is against our instincts as a free people - against the instincts of the children of generations of free men, who have not only defended their own country, but have liberally assisted the people of other countries to gain liberties to which they were strangers - to consider ourselves in a happy position of safety, and to believe that we shall never have our liberties attacked in this country. We know that the day may come when our liberties and the land that we have inherited from our forefathers may be attacked, and it has been the policy, not only of the States individually, but of Australia as a whole, to see that our stalwart men are trained and ready to defend these privileges. But when ! glance at the regulations under the Defence Act I am amazed at the extraordinary task which has been undertaken by the Commonwealth. I feel assured that if this House had only considered what its action in sanctioning trie appointment of an Imperial officer to organize our forces would mean, it would have hesitated to bring that officer here. The House is perfectly familiar with the record of the General Officer Commanding, and knowing that record, I feel satisfied thai it would have refused to sanction Eis appointment had if known that the regulations now before the country would be the result. It is very difficult to deal with this important question without throwing a considerable degree of blame on certain persons. But it is the duly of a critic to apportion the blame, and I shall endeavour to do so. On whom does the blame for the present position rest? On the General Officer Commanding? I might answer - “ Partially ‘ no ‘ and partially ‘ yes,’ “ because as this Parliament was responsible for the appointment of
Major-General Hutton to his present position, it must certainly take part of the blame for the way in which the task he was called upon to undertake has been carried out. I find that Major-General Hutton has his own personality, his own habits of thought, and his own methods of work. He is an Imperial soldier with all the prejudices and disciplinary ideas of a machinemade and mechanically-guided officer. The regulations that he has drafted may be excellent for an Imperial service - indeed, they may be absolutely necessary for such a service - but they are certainly not suited for a citizen soldiery of the Commonwealth. What the General has been trained to do he must naturally drag into the task placed in his hands. He has been trained in a certain way, and we can see the result in these regulations. Let me draw attention to one or two points in regard to them. As a unit of the British Army I wish to say that I have a very high opinion of Major-General Hutton. If he ‘ were drafting these regulations for the British Army - and they are based upon British Army regulations - they might be necessary. They might be necessary if the Commonwealth had what I hope it never will have - a permanent force.
– The honorable member has noticed, of course, that the Defence. Act provides for certain regulations, and that the King’s regulations have also to be embodied in the regulations of the Commonwealth in order that they may be brought into force?
– Yes ; I understand that the King’s regulations have been embodied in them.
– That makes the bulk and the character.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned gentleman; but I propose to point out a good many regulations for which there should be no necessity in the Commonwealth.
– Several honorable members desired to have a reservation inserted when the Bill was before the House.
– I desire to show that the General Officer Commanding either I iws in an atmosphere removed from the forces, or is not gifted with that common-sense which should be the distinguishing characteristic of a gentleman holding that position. Possessed of that common-sense, he must have known before his recent visit to Tasmania that there were good patriotic men in the forces in that State who had given much of their time to the service of their country, and men possessing judgment as good as his own ; he must have known, too, that there was something radically wrong, and that these men would not be prepared to dance to any tune that he might call. They wanted justice and fair treatment, but that they have not received. The forces, not only in Tasmania, but in South Australia and the other States, have been kept together by a patriotism which is becoming strained to the breaking point.
– Is the honorable member aware of the grievance of the forces in Tasmania - that, at the request of their own State Government, they were not paid?
– To my own knowledge they have many more grievances, jus’ as have the forces in South Australia. I served for over ten years as a volunteer in Scotland. I served also in the old South Australian Volunteer Force of eighteen years ago, and as a member of a volunteer company in that State. It will thus be understood that I have always taken an enthusiastic interest in military affairs. It is for that reason that I am anxious to see the military service placed on a fair footing and contented, because we cannot have a dis contented and a patriotic force at the same time. The question is, is there room for’ discontent? The honorable and learned member for Corio says that one of the -reasons for discontent in’ Tasmania relates to the question of pay. That is a cause of discontent throughout all the States, and is, a matter which’ will have to be re-opened inthe near future. If I were able to march the forces of South Australia into this chamber at the present moment I should be able to show the House men wearing uniforms are a disgrace to a decent soldiery; f should Be able to show men who went through their recruit drill six months ago but are not yet supplied with uniforms ; and I could show others who, notwithstanding all the vaunted advantages of the staff of drill instructors, are not nearly as well drilled to-day as they were when the non-commissioned officers of the various companies had to perform that duty. I believe that the sister States could tell the same tale. What do the regulations mean? They mean the Head-Quarters Staff - a staff that is mopping up a very large share of the military vote that ought to be spent on the men. It is a staff that could very well be wiped out altogether, and if we were to wipe it out we could immediately reduce the whole of the district staffs by at least two-thirds’. Let me tell honorable members that at the present time we have at work in South Australia a sta’ff of fifteen officers and clerks - I believe I am understanding the number - and the work is very indifferently done. We can get nothing quickly done there. I remember a time, some eighteen months ago, when we had a force of 3,000 men, as against a force of a little under 2,000 at the present time, and though we had a staff of only two officers and a -boy, we never had any trouble whatever., Speaking figuratively, I may say that if you go to the present staff for a pencil you are told that they must send over to Head-Quarters in Melbourne. They do send over, and the Head-Quarters Staff in Melbourne reply, inquiring whether it is a black or a blue pencil that is wanted. Then they would like to know whether you require that it should be sharpened. You are afterwards sent to some one else to get it, and finally you may get it. If you require 100 rounds of ammunition, you go to one official and he sends you to another, then you are sent away down near the gaol - I may say that that is where the magazine is situated - and ultimately you get the 100 rounds of ammunition. There was no difficulty of this kind in the old days when we had a staff of two, and there’ was very little complaint. I maintain that the old condition of things could be secured if we had the forces on a different footing. I have no desire to say one word against the personnel of the South Australian staff. It is composed of valuable officers, who are, I believe, overworked. I am sure they are working late at night very often. Only the other day I heard that one officer was kept until 1 o’clock in the morning getting instructions, and it cost him half a guinea for a cab to take him home. There should be no necessity for overworking these men. There is no doubt that they have plenty of work to do, but a very poor result is shown. If the work were reduced I am sure the result would be very much better. The clerical work demanded at the present time is simply enormous. I maintain that not 10 per cent, of the officers of the Commonwealth can possibly find time to carry out the instructions set out in these regulations. They could not possibly fill in the books. The HeadQuarters Staff have produced regulations which really require every officer commanding a company to be provided with a clerk, and I am sure the clerk would find his time fully occupied. He has not only to fill in an enormous number of books, but is expected to be able to drillhis own men and to know his own duties, and the duties of every officer above him. He is expected to do the work of an ordinary drill instructor, and at the same time to know the work of a Brigadier-General. I should be very loth to advise the abandonment of a scheme so lately devised, but I think it could be worked very much better than it is being worked at the present time. It is bristling with imperfections, many of which might be easily remedied. If we are to maintain a military force - and we must do so - and if we do not have a citizen soldiery we must adopt a system of militarism. I have always been a” citizen soldier because I hate militarism, and because I recognise that the only way to check it is for every man in the State to be ready to take his share in the defence of the country when the need for it arises.
– How would the honorable member man the guns at the forts ?
– We have men in South Australia thoroughly capable of” manning the guns at the forts. They were sent to South Africa, and earned the eulogy that they were the smartest artillery officers amongst the whole of the artillery engaged in South Africa, including the regulars. I understand that the honorable member wishes to know how we are going to provide a continual look-out and be ready at any moment to man the guns.
– Hear, hear.
– I have no objection whatever to our having a small permanent force to man the guns and be on the look-out, but that is all that is necessary. These are so ridiculously few that they will be easily manned. In regard to the HeadQuarters Staff, I maintain that all we require is that the six District Commandants appointed by the Minister for Defence should be an advisory council, that a uniform plan should be drawn up, that each State should have its own administration, and that the administration, equipment, and pay should be uniform.
– And the drill.
– And that the drill, of course, should be up to the proper standard. I believe that there would be no difficulty in that. I may say that the imperfectionsto which I am referring are, perhaps, imperfections only from the point of view of the citizen soldier. For a perma- nent force, I believe that the bulk of the regulations would be found to be necessary and workable. I believe that they do work well at the present time in the British Army, but in the case of thosewho have to earn a livelihood, and who do soldiering only in their sparetime, it is impossible for either officers or men to become acquainted with the duties there laid down, let alone carry them out. The number of books to be entered up is appalling. And yet all that is required is a simple statement ofthe duties expected of each District Staff, and that the duties should be uniform. There would then be no difficulty whatever in carrying them out. I do not know that it would not be wise, as I see has been suggested, to have an Inspector-General of Forces, but the senior of the six District Commandants could occupy that position, as well as attend” to his ordinary duties. I am not here to lay down a complete scheme. I admit the difficulty of doing so, but I am giving an outline which I believe practical men could work out, and which would be more effective and far less expensive than the scheme we have at work at the present time.
– It is just the same.
– I wish to tell honorable members what has been done in South Australia, and if I speak of my own State it is because I desire to speak of that of which I have had experience. We had there an active force, the members of which were paid £5 a year for their services. We had also a reserve force, to which the company I belong to is attached, the members of which received £2 10s. a year for their services. I may say that I belong to a Highland Company. Every man who joined’ it had to pay£2 entrance money to go towards paying for his Highland uniform. He drew no pay from the company, because the pay to which he was entitled went towards the cost of his uniform, and also to pay the cost of an orderly-room, a secretary, printing, and general expenses. When Major-General Hutton came to Adelaide twelve months ago he gave permission to raise a second company, and led us to believe that we should be placed upon a better footing than we ever had been before - on the same footing as the active force. This would have given great satisfaction, but what do we find ? After raising half the new company - I am speaking of, admittedly, one of the best bodies of men we ever had in South Australia, and the only company that kept up its full strength all the time - how were we treated? After getting a number of recruits, and taking £2 each from them to provide for an expensive uniform, which cost the country nothing, we were suddenly told that we were to be volunteers for the future and should receive no pay at all.
– There is the capitation allowance.
– There is really no capitation allowance now. We receive only 30s. a year for clothing - and we must pay for our khaki uniform out of that - and£1 per man to cover incidental expenses ; every penny of which is required for an orderlyroom, secretary, and printing.
– That is what I said : a capitation allowance of £2 10s. is given.
-No, we previously received £2 10s., besides having a uniform free.
– I know that £210s. per man is paid towards expenses.
My-. HUTCHISON. - But the right honorable gentleman must see that we now get £210s. per man less than we got before, because previously we got uniform provided free and £210s. per man in addition.
– You are treated in the same way as every other volunteer throughout Australia.
Mir. HUTCHISON- That may be so, and I believe that every other volunteer throughout Australia is dissatisfied. At any rate, the volunteers in Adelaide are dissatisfied. I can tell the Minister for Home Affairs that one of the finest companies, admittedly, in South Australia, was so contented that it has been disbanded. I refer to the company at Port Pirie.
– Because they did not wish to be volunteers. They desired to be paid.
– I am satisfied that Major-General Hutton wished to destroy t he reserve force of South Australia. In giving effect to his Imperial instincts, and that is what I am talking against, he desired to destroy the reserve force, and then when we had not a citizen soldiery we must have a permanent force, and that would suit him better. I can show the Minister for Home Affairs how he could get the cheapest force possible, and yet have a most effective force.
– We must make the honorable member Commander-in-Chief.
– I propose to tell the right honorable gentleman what he did not make me. I can inform him that we have had a company at a strength of over 100, though the required strength of a company is only sixty. We have had as many as 1 20, and have been up to our full strength during the whole of the four and a half years we have been in existence as a company. We have received no new uniforms during that time, although the South Australian Defence Act of 1895 says that we must be provided with new uniforms every three years, and we have made no complaint. Further than that, whilst an officer of the active force got £10 for his uniform, an officer of the reserve force only received £5. What has happener now? Let me tell the right honorable gentleman that the Government has now actually compelled an officer of the reserve force to accept 30s., the same as a private, though he has to provide an expensive uniform.
– They want to confine the commissions to rich men.
– No rankers are wanted.
– In referring to the interjection made by the leader of the Labour Party, I was delighted to see that the Federal Parliament had decided that in promotion preference should be given to men from the ranks, provided that the applicants . for commissions proved that they were capable. But what has been done? If honorable members will look up the regulations, they will find that it will cost a man £50 or £60 to provide himself with what is demanded, and Major-GeneralHutton tells officers that they must getwhat is demanded, though they protest that they are not able to do so. Amongst the smartest officers in the service are civil servants, earning from£310s. to £4. per week, and how can they possibly do this?
– They are not wanted.
– They have done worse than that. They have created us volunteers, and though some of the cleverest officers in the Commonwealth belong to the reserve forces, they have been made junior to some of those who have only lately received commissions, and who are not nearly so capable. Simply because they have to be volunteers, some old officers who have worked hard in the service of the States must now work as the juniors of these men.
– Not under the regulations. The regulations provide for seniority according to the date of the commission.
– The honorable and learned member does not see that while that is exactly the position with regard to the active force, officers of the volunteer force must rank junior to officers of the active force.
– Is the present Minister for Defence permitting all this?
– I do not see how the honorable gentleman can possibly deny it, when it is in black and white before him in the regulations.
– The reserve is different from the volunteer force.
– I desire to tell the honorable and learned member that there is no difference whatever. There is no difference in the drill. The volunteers were expected to attend fewer drills, but as a matter of fact they put* in more drills than the active force, while in the matter of rank some of the oldest and best officers are junior to those who only lately joined the service. The Minister for Home Affairs talked of making me Commander-in-Chief if 1 could only show the Government a simple scheme. Let me tell the right honor- . able gentleman that’ although we had a company that was always up to the full strength we had only one officer, a thorough enthusiast, and one of the most capable men in tHe Defence Force of South Australia at the present time. He has not had a single subaltern to work with him. About two years ago an application was sent in on behalf of another enthusiastic member of our company, a man occupying the highest position as a non-commissioned officer - a colour sergeant - ;and a man of . good social standing, as he was a solicitor, As in four months’ time nothing whatever was heard about his _ appointment, he left the force disgusted. My own name, at the desire of the officer commanding the company and the unanimous desire of’ the company, was sent in for a commission along with that of another member of the company, and though that was eleven months ago I heard nothing of it until the other day.
– After the honorable member was elected ? They found him out then.
– Yes, after I was elected, and after I had sent in a letter withdrawing my application because of the keen disappointment I felt that I should have been so treated after doing my utmost for the company, and after having been partially responsible for its formation.
– The whole system * is rotten.
– The other applicant for a commission has dropped out, nothing having been heard of his application. Here we have one of the best officers in the service working without a subaltern for twelve months; and though during that time I acted as subaltern I was refused official sanction. Is there not something wrong in the forces when I can point out these undeniable facts? That is not the only cause of discontent. Some men say, further, that they cannot afford to pay for the whole of the uniforms, and that they were induced to join under false pretences, because they were led to believe that they were to be treated exactly as are the active forces. I do not think that it is possible efficiently to work a volunteer force alongside a partially-paid force which is doing precisely the same work, and to have the men contented. It would be better to do away with the volunteer forces altogether, and make the rifle clubs into volunteer forces, giving them a trifle more encouragement. They were promised a good deal of encouragement by the late Commandant in South Australia, Colonel Lyster, but very little has been done. The most outrageous bungling and wasteful expenditure I have ever witnessed have been exhibited in South Australia in connexion with the rifle ranges. Some time ago the Department erected about thirty disappearing targets. They had to dig shelter pits, and make ranges involving the expenditure of a large sum of money. I asked one of the officers - because, of course, being only a non-commissioned officer, I never interfered where- I had no business to do so - if he would try to induce the Commandant to inspect a target of the description of those erected on the rifle range. He did so, rightly deciding to have no other kind of target. A boy can work that target. The man who erected the target is one of the champion shots of the Commonwealth. I refer to Mr. Lake. He took a great deal of trouble in showing his specifications indicating how the targets ought to work. Then he sent in a tender which was only a trifle higher in amount than the lowest tender sent in. But they discovered that Mr. Lake had no patent for his target, and accordingly they took the matter out of his hands, and erected the targets themselves. What has the resultbeen? Instead of being targets which a boy could work, two men had a difficulty in working them at any time. They could have been erected just like the specimen target that was inspected. Mr. Lake has erected one since at Glenelg, and a boy can work it. But two strong nien can hardly work at times some of the targets which were erected in the manner I have described. Sometimes they go out of action altogether, and the shelter pits are so badly constructed that they are very dangerous to occupy. Two men have already been wounded to my knowledge, and it is a common thing to find bullets dropping into the pits beside the markers when there is firing at over 700 yards. I believe it is proposed to spend a further sum of money to put this bungling right. I am sure that if we had not had a staff of the description that we have had - if we had had less militarism and more com.monsense ideas in our Head-Quarters Staff - these bungles would not have been possible. I have felt it to be my duty to put these matters before the House, so that honorable members may know exactly what is going on at the present time. I think- it possible that the Minister for Defence may be able to save further useless expenditure. It is just a question whether the targets to which I have referred” will ever be able to work. I have seen them weighted with bags, and even tins of sand because the men could not pull them down. I have gone down with a team of men to shoot, and we have had to wait five minutes between the different shots before we got them signalled, because the men at work could not pull down the targets. I do not wish to touch upon other debatable subjects which are dealt with in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech; because I shall have further opportunities of dealing with them in the subsequent debates. But I do wish to support the claim of the honorable member for Grey in regard to the treatment of some of our Commonwealth public servants, especially in South Australia. I find that some officers entitled to increases have not received them. That they are entitled to them is admitted from the fact that the money necessary for their payment has been placed upon the Estimates this year. I believe that one of the reasons given for their non-payment is in connexion with the re-classification of the service. But I want to point out that any lowering of status would be a breach of faith. It is clearly admitted in the Commonwealth Constitution, in the Public Service Act, and in the Act passed in 1901, that these civil servants have all’ their accrued rights preserved to them. It would not be right to re-classify these men when they have a maximum or minimum wage fixed by Act of Parliament - an Act that has to be adhered to according to the Commonwealth Constitution. Surely, in all fairness, they should receive their increases. No Government should attempt to get out of its contracts with its servants. Whether the work which the men are doing is paid for at too high or too -low a rate has nothing to do with the matter.. That is a question that can only be dealt with when those who have accrued rights leave the service and others take their places. With regard to the travelling allowances paid to railway sorters, I must say that those officers appear to me to be badly dealt with. I wonder whether, if the members of the Government were absent from their homes for thirty-two hours at a stretch, they would consider that they were well paid for their keep and accommodation at 2s. 8d. per day. If the men are away on Sundays - and that means fifty-six hours’ work in a week - they get 4s. extra. I now- find that, for the ordinary trips, in travelling allowances they received 6s. 5d.’ a week, and including Sundays ios’. 8d. Under the State regime they used to receive for. ordinary trips 14s., and, including Sundays, 22s. I am not saying whether the State scale of payment was too high or too low ; I think that the men ought to demonstrate to the Government whether it was a necessity that they should spend the higher amount. But, at any rate, I maintain that 2s. 8d. per .day is altogether too small a sum for travelling allowance.
– It is the honorable member’s State that is always complaining of the expenditure upon the Public Service.
– And always unreasonably complaining.
– The complaints are not made in this House. The Government take more notice of the State Government than of the representatives of the State in this House.
– Let me tell the Prime Minister that the civil servants in South Australia are in a different position from those of any other State. We have had a “ pro. and tem.”’ list, and a fixed list ; and some of the “pro and tem.” officers have been on that list for as long as twenty years. They have been much longer in the service than some of the officers on the fixed list. I was a member of the Royal Commission that inquired into the state of the civil service, and we found that no ‘department was more bristling with anomalies than the Post and Telegraph Department. Of course we cannot blame the Commonwealth Government for the anomalies which they found In the service, and there is every reason to reclassify the officers ; but, at the same time, we have to deal fairly with the officers whose rights are safeguarded by the Constitution. More we do riot ask. We ought not to expect men to be out of pocket for doing work for the Commonwealth, and -I am quite sure that if honorable members had to do the work which some of these sorters do. they would not be very well pleased if they received only 2s. 8d. per day for meals and all expenses. I ask honorable members to look into this matter, and to see that justice is done. As regards the position of parties in this House, however -much the ranks of the free-trade party may have been split up, and however much the ranks of the Ministerialists may have been decimated, I feel sure that as far as the members of the Labour, Party are concerned,’ nothing will be done but what is for the best interests of the whole Commonwealth.
– I would ask the Prime Minister to consent to an adjournment of the debate at this stage.
– It is very early, but I do not like to refuse the request of a . new member, particularly on a Tuesday evening, when we know that honorable members from other States are somewhat exhausted by travelling. If we adjourn the debate now 1 trust it will be understood that we do so only out of consideration for their position, and that such a request will not be entertained on any future occasion during the session.,
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webster) adjourned.
– I have received a return to the writ issued by His Excellency the Governor-General for the election of a member to serve in the House of Representatives foi the electoral district of Wilmot in the State of Tasmania, in the place of the Right Honorable Sir Edward Nicholas Coventry Braddon, deceased, and from the indorsement upon the writ, it appears that Donald Norman Cameron; Esquire, has been duly elected in pursuance thereof.
House adjourned at io.ia p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 March 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040308_reps_2_18/>.