2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. x) presented by Mr. Poyn- ton, read by the Clerk, and agreed to.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH.- I understand that the statement has appeared in the press upon two or three occasions that it is my intention to become a candidate for the Chairmanship of Committees. With the permission of the House I wish to say that there is no authority for that statement.
– Has the Department of Trade and Customs yet drawn up the regulations which have so long been promised for dealing with the taxation of ships’ stores ?
– The regulations referred to are in draft, but have not yet been finally dealt with.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. By way of introductory explanation, for the benefit of new members, I may say that for nearly three years this House has been transacting its business without having adopted Standing Orders, except such as are purely provisional, borrowed I do not know whence. I therefore desire to know from the Prime Minister how much longer he proposes to conduct the business of the House under Standing Orders which we have never had an opportunity to consider?
– As soon as we have made sufficient advance with one or two of the chief measures upon our programme I propose to bring forward the new Standing Orders, and to occupy in their consideration those occasions when, for one reason or another, it will not be convenient” for the House to proceed with other business. ‘ I understand that the points of difference are limited to about half-a-dozen, so that two or three afternoons should be sufficient for their consideration.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What steps have been taken to give effect to a promise made by him some months ago that additional postal and telegraphic accommodation should be provided at Port Pirie?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The plans of alterations at Port Pirie, which will provide additional accommodation, have been approved by the Postmaster-General, and the Deputy Postmaster-General has been instructed to forward the necessary requisition in order that the matter may be attended to without delay.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
Debate resumed from 9th March (vide page 353), on motion by Mr. Mauger -
That the Address be agreed to by the House.
– In the course of my observations last night, I referred to the fact that the appointment of only three Judges to the High Court Bench had been justified by a number of incidents, among them the action of one of the Judges in going to South Africa for a four months’ tour. I had seen it stated in the press, and I was under the impression that the statement was true, that Mr. Justice O’Connor was absent from the Commonwealth for a period of three or four months. Since making that statement, I have ascertained that he was absent only during the long vacation-, and therefore I withdraw all that I said based upon my misapprehension of the facts.
– Mr. Justice O’Connor was absent rather less than two months.
– I wish to offer my protest against a doctrine which was enunciated last night by the honorable member for Franklin, a doctrine which I have seen in the Age newspaper, to the effect that although New South Wales is entitled under the Constitution to have the Capital site chosen within its boundaries, the greediness of that State and the character of the bargain justifies the application to the compact of the theory of the Merchant of Venice. If that doctrine is to be applied in oneinstancein the dealings between theCommonwealth and a State, it is worth considering whether its application may not have a demoralizing effect which in the end will lead to very serious reprisals among the States.
– What was said means nothing, and the honorable and learned member knows it.
– I should not have referred to the matter, but for the fact that the doctrine I speak of was supported in a leading article which appeared in the Age a few months ago.
– The same spirit has been evinced by the Melbourne Argus.
– Perhaps so, and by a great many of the representatives of Victoria. In fairness to New South Wales, however, it should be recollected that her claim was based upon the ground that she is the senior State. Whether the compact which was entered into between the Commonwealth Treasurers who was at the time Premier of Victoria, and the leader of the Opposition, who was then Premier of New South Wales, on behalf of their respective States, should or should not have been made, is a matter into which we cannot inquire now. But it is only fair to remember, when the Victorian people and the Victorian representatives talk of the relegation of the capital to the “bush,” that that condition was imposed by the latter, who stipulated that if New South Wales was to have the capital within its territory, it must not be within 100 miles of Sydney. The relegation of the capital to the interior of New South Wales was not the action of the people of that State, but the action of the Victorian people through their accredited representatives. I therefore submit that the suggestion comes ill from any Victorian or Victorian representative that that stipu lation justifies the postponement of the question. I urge an early settlement, and not only in the interests of New South Wales. For my own part I do’ not think that if we estimated the monetary value to the Victorian people of the presence of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne, we should find it appreciable. I urge an early settlement in the interests of Australia.
– In common justice.
– No one can have taken part in the debates of the last Parliament without feeling convinced that its presence in Melbourne has given Victoria an advantage in voting power to whichit was never entitled under the Constitution. I have said before, and I mention it again for the benefit of new members, that if a careful estimate is made of the votes recorded in the last Parliament on Federal legislation, it will be found that, although the population of New South Wales entitles that State to a seventh more representation in this House than has Victoria, this State, as a matter of fact, by having the Parliament in its capital, has enjoyed a greater voting power to the extent of one-sixth. In common honesty, as the right honorable member for Adelaide says, this matter ought to be brought to a head. I have said before, and I have no hesitation in saying again, although it seems a paradox, that one of our aims in desiring the settlement of the question is that the capital may be in a place equally inconvenient to all the States. Melbourne is inconvenient now for the representatives of five States, and I claim that the capital should be equally inconvenient to the sixth State. The effect would be that instead of having a large number of honorable members with other occupations in the town in which Parliament meets, there would be a complete Parliament, with nothing else to do but attend to the legislation of the’ country.
– We shall all be professional politicians then.
– In my opinion, if the capital were in such a place there would be sittings even earlier than those we now enjoy, and the business would be transacted in a shorter time. We should be free from the influence of the local press, and each State, by reason of the inconvenience, would enjoy the proportion of representation, neither more nor less, to which it is entitled under the Constitution. What is the position ? This question has been before us for three years, and there have been frequent references to excursions. I do not desire to use the word “ picnics,” because the honorable gentleman who organized these expeditions does not care to have it so applied. I have not had the pleasure of taking part in any of these excursions at the public expense. I observe that the right honorable gentleman who has charge of the Department for Home Affairs is now proposing two further excursions.
– There was only one excursion previously for each House.
– There have been at least two excursions in the past.
– One for each House.
– Exactly j I am speaking of Parliament in a general sense. It is now proposed that there shall be two more excursions - one, I presume, for the Senate, and one for the House of Representatives j and that means an unlimited prolongation of the delay. I was hopeful that the leader of the Labour Party, who, in some of the speeches he made in his electorate, expressed his desire to have this question settled, would have already taken some steps in this direction. In these he would have had the loyal assistance of the Opposition, and, I believe, the loyal assistance of some of the Ministerial party. The question should be brought to a business head, and decided as soon as possible.
– We do desire an early settlement.
– I give the honorable member every credit for that, but what I want is some practical proof of that desire. I wish the members of the Labour Party would take some step in which the Opposition could support them to force the hands of the Government, not to organize further excursions, but to bring the question before the House. No one can deny or doubt that whatever information honorable members require with regard to the suitability of the different sites they have at the present time.
– Including the new members?
– I should say that that is the case also with new members. At all events, if new members wish to go upon a journey of inspection by all means let them go as soon as possible) but let the question of the site be also decided as soon as possible. I submit that the postponement of the settlement is creating a permanent bone of contention between the two senior States. There is an impression in New South Wales, not only rife, but bitter, that Victoria is deliberately trying to keep the Parliament in this State. A feeling to that effect Avas openly expressed during the elections, and both the Melbourne morning newspapers openly advocated that Victorian members should do their utmost to retain the Parliament in the capital of Victoria as long as possible.
– Only the minority of the Victorians advocated such a course.
– It was not advocated by any Victorian candidate.
– I only know that candidates for the Senate had the retention of the Parliament in Melbourne as one of the planks in their platform.
– But those candidates were rejected.
– That may be. But it was openly advocated in the platform of a number of candidates for the Senate that the choice of the Capital site should be postponed.
– That was the platform of the “Argus four.”
– I hope that the House will not allow the Government any longer to play with this question, which, as every one knows, was for two years, without any justification, practically hung up. If members of the Labour Party will only take the initiative in this matter, which does not involve any political principle, I am sure they will find on both sides of the House a very solid following to assist them - and it could be done very easily in the present constitution of the House - in insisting that the Government take the matter in hand at once. Since the dissolution of the last Parliament a good deal has been said with regard to the conversion of the States debts. I am bound to say that the last two years have made a great change in the outlook as to the possibility of turning the proposal to good and profitable account. I was one of those who, in advocating the union of the Australian States, pointed out that with a joint debt of ,£200,000,000 - that is about the total sum of the national debts of the six States - we might, judging by the value of Canadian stock, count on a Commonwealth stock being obtained for the purpose of converting the States debts, on terms at least per cent, lower than those which could be arranged by the States. The per cent, difference would represent a profit of £1,000,000 per annum. During the last three years, however, the aspect of ‘ affairs has undergone a great change, and, with some knowledge of the subject, I am bound to say that, if the Commonwealth . stock were offered upon the English market to-morrow for the redemption of a considerable amount of the States debts, or for even a small proportion of them, we should not be able to obtain money more cheaply than the larger States. I cannot prove the correctness of my impression, but, on the other hand, the Treasurer cannot prove the negative. With some hesitation I have formed the conclusion that, in consequence of the legislation passed by this Parliament and by the various States, Commonwealth stock would not be negotiable at any lower rate than that of the stock of New South Wales. The Treasurer, who undertook the guidance of the Conference of States Treasurers a few weeks ago, at which the subject of the conversion of States debts was considered, prepared a very elaborate paper, in which he pointed out all the circumstances which would have to be considered in dealing with a transaction of this kind. I am willing to admit that, to any one who had not hitherto interested himself in this question, that paper appeared to present the subject in all its aspects. But the Treasurer recommended to the Conference that, instead of waiting until the railways could be transferred from the States as a quid pro quo for the obligation assumed in connexion with the debts, the Commonwealth should take over the revenue of the railways in much the same way as a receiver, in the sense of the Equity Court, whilst the management should be retained in the hands of the States. I am satisfied that this House will never consent to the Commonwealth undertaking a liability for the States debts and receiving as a security merely the revenues of the railways. The railway revenues depend entirely upon the management, and it would be impossible to convince any practical body of men that they would be safe in taking over the obligations incurred in constructing the railways, unless they also had control of the management. In some of the States, by reason of the extension of the railway system into unpopulated regions, the results from a financial point of view have been very materially affected ; and if we were content to take over the railway revenues, leaving the management to the Sta’tes, we might encourage them in reckless management and reckless extensions to the ultimate destruction of the value of our asset.
– The railway revenues would be required only for the purpose of covering the ^1,000,000 deficiency between the Customs revenue and the interest on the loans.
– No doubt, but we could not mix up the two things. We could not possibly justify ourselves in holding back moneys which* would be due to the States from the Customs collections, merely because, as the result of the bad management, the railways did not produce a . sufficient revenue to meet the interest charge on the loans.
– But the Constitution says that we are to do ‘that.
– If we adopted that course, it would lead to an immense amount of friction between the Commonwealth and the States, and would, I am sure, cause us to regret that the transaction had ever been entered ‘upon. For my Own part, I think the time will not have arrived for the conversion of States debts until we are able to take over the railway systems, lock, stock, and barrel. I do not advocate that this should be done at once. I do not think it is advisable, because, although our railways, except in the case of one State, are connected, they are not combined under one system. Therefore it would be very undesirable - even if the States were willing to allow it - for the Commonwealth to undertake the difficult functions of management of the railways of all Australia, extending from the northern part of Queensland to the most southerly parts of Tasmania, until some comprehensive scheme of management has been arrived at, and the systems have become one, either by the adoption of a uniform gauge, or in some other way. I very much doubt whether in our time it will be thought judicious to hand over to one central authority the management of the railways of all these States, because it must be evident to those who understand the difficulties of management, that it will always be more to the advantage of the different systems that they should be under the control of men with a full knowledge of the local conditions. Whether that be so or not, I think that if the Treasurer expects to secure approval of his scheme under which it is proposed that the Commonwealth should take over the responsibility of ^200,000,000 of loans, merely on the security of the revenues of the railways, without at the same time having the management, he quite misapprehends the practical attitude of this or any future House.
– I do not think the Treasurer recommends anything of the kind.
– Now, leaving the question of debt conversion, I’ should like to say a word or two about the present condition of parties in this House. We have all had it dinned into our ears that we are in an almost unique position as a House, with three parties of practically equal strength. And it is very interesting for any one who takes an interest in political matters below the surface of things to speculate as to the possibilities of the future. Last night I endeavoured to point out the anomalous position which was occupied by the Government last session, and although I may have done so with more acrimony than was desirable, I hope it will be understood that, although I spoke with some warmth, it was not because I wished to display any anger or bad feeling towards any honorable member of this House. In one’s earnestness of advocacy, however, one is apt, perhaps, to express oneself more vigorously than is necessary. I pointed out last night the extraordinary position of subordination which the Government have presented to Australia during the past three years, and urged that it would be a sad spectacle indeed if this Parliament were to witness a similar condition of affairs. No one can study the history of any measure which was passed by the late Parliament without feeling that the whole spirit of responsible government was completely ignored by the Ministry. There was not a Bill of any importance in connexion with which, if the Government had staked its existence upon the broad principles which it contained, they would not have been thrown out of office half-a-dozen times. I make the statement, not as an enemy of the Government, because I can claim that upon two or three occasions I dissociated myself from my party, and supported the Government in very close and trying divisions. I had, nevertheless, the best of feelings towards my party.
– Did the honorable and learned member’s party .reciprocate :hos: feelings?
– The members of mv party make many excuses for me. They regard me as a sort of rata avis, who abuses the principle underlying a White Australia during his election campaign, who opposes preferential trade, and who is, nevertheless, returned by the largest majority in Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that I am liable to do many strange things, and one of those strange things has been that’ upon two or three occasions I severed myself from the party with which I am associated, and supported the Government because I believed they were right. That, however, occurred in three instances’ only during three years, and I venture to say that if anyone chooses to study the history of the measures which were passed by the Government, they must come to the conclusion - if they have a knowledge of constitutional government - that the principles which are laid down by all leading and recognised authorities as to the amount of control which a Ministry should exercise over a House in order to justify them in carrying on the business of the country was violated upon several occasions. ‘ According to those principles, there was an obligation upon the Government to resign the positions which they occupied:I do not say to this party or to that - in order to enable the country by its method of government to find somebody who commanded a stronger following. I think that on a previous occasion I referred to a remarkable illustration of what responsible government really is. I remember the late Sir Henry Parkes submitting to the New South Wales Parliament a measure of which he disapproved because of some clause which had been inserted by one of his colleagues. Accordingly, he asked the House to allow the Committee to sit again, so that he might re-‘ consider the effect of the provision in question. The Labour Party on that occasion, realizing their power, resisted his request. That statesman, thereupon told them that he would have to consider his position - that there was such a thing as the House taking the business of the Parliament out of th’e hands of the Government - and the next morning he resigned. That sort of conduct seems far away in these days, especially when we contrast it with what we have witnessed in this House during the past three years. It. may be that the members of the present Government feel that on the ground of patriotism they ought to sink some of these high constitutional considerations, in order that they, specially blessed and specially qualified, may be left to govern Australia. But we ought to consider whether we are going to continue that state of things during the next three years - whether the Government is to so control the House that when matters reach a critical stage they can stand four square, and say - “We will have this, or nothing,” or whether they are merely to be an irresponsible committee of the House, charged with registering its decrees. I see no prospect of such a Government being formed from either side of the Chamber at the present time. But I should like to see the Labour Party in this Parliament come into power, because, although I am willing to credit them with as patriotic a desire to do their duty as legislators as have honorable members upon either side of the House, I hold that they are idealists. They miss the practical difficulties of life, of commerce, of industry, and of legislation. Nothing better could happen to this country - so long as it did not continue for too long a period - than that the members of that party should come into power, feel the weight and responsibility of office, and have thrown upon them the onus of conducting the business of the country in such a way as to please the people. In my opinion, they would either have to completely change their mode of thought and of action, or there would be a reaction in this country which would drive them out of political life. One of the two things - I believe the former - would happen. They would have to make a confession similar to that which a labour member once made to me in the New South Wales Parliament. He said - “ I entered this House with my mind full of beautiful theories for the amelioration of the race, but I have sat down, over and over again, with a sheaf of foolscap before me, in the effort to put some of my fine poetical schemes into practical shape. I have hopelessly failed, and I shall retire from the Labour Party and from politics altogether. If I ever re-enter public life, it will be as an independent member, who is possessed of more wisdom, more knowledge of the world, and more practical acquaintance with the difficulties of legislation.”
– He was the exception which proved that the party was all right.
– I do not know that. The party still exists, but it has never yet had responsibility thrown upon it.
– Its numbers are growing, whereas the strength of the other parties is diminishing.
– I know that the honorable members of the Labour Party are very satisfied with themselves. Thev are quite satisfied that if they could only come into power, they could teach their grandmother many little accomplishments with which she has not been acquainted. Apropos of this matter, I may mention that a very interesting account appeared in one of the Sydney newspapers the other day of the efforts to establish New Australia. I remember the initiation of that scheme some thirteen years ago. It started with a ship-load of enthusiasts, led by a poet named Lane.
– He never wrote a line of poetry in his life.
– At any rate he was a poet in thought. I have read many of his writings. The New Australia movement started with the idea of founding a communistic settlement in Paraguay. It was led by a Mr. Lane, and each man was required to take £60 with him, so absolutely did they discard the use of money. This community gradually dwindled, until it was thought that it had disappeared. The account, however, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of last week, shows that, six years ago, it had only dwindled down to seventy-five members. These settlers then found that it was advisable to divide their possessions between ‘ them, each taking a share. The account in question recorded that since the division of the property of the settlement, since each man has been placed upon Ms individual mettle, the population of the community had nearly trebled, and, strange to say, they had found it advisable to employ native labour, because it could be obtained so cheaply. Whatever moral may be conveyed bv these facts each honorable member can draw it for himself.
– Mr. Lane has nothing to do with that- settlement.
– The honorable member is really forgetful of history. I have a vivid recollection of the period when the community was established, and I remember reading the accounts of the settlement which were published in New Australia from time to time, and forwarded to Sydney. I am very familiar with the history of the whole community. I have no desire to enter into an academic discussion of socialism ; but it has always appeared to me that if the Labour Party are so thoroughly convinced that their theories are correct - and I do not think I offend any one when I credit them with being a body of socialists-
– That is quite right.
– Exactly. It has always appeared to me that if the followers of the doctrine of socialism are so thoroughly convinced that it will succeed in building up a community, it is remarkable that they do not go to the State represented by my right honorable friend, the Minister for Home Affairs, where it is possible to secure, not acres, but degrees of land, and demonstrate the truth of their theories by establishing a community and building it up in order to teach the world how it ought to be managed.
– And allow the honorable and learned member to legislate for us.
– I should be very sorry to live in such a community. I prefer to reside in a community in which I stand, so to speak, on my own feet - in which anything I do for other people is purely a voluntary matter. I do not care to feel that whatever brains I may have, whatever ingenuity I may display, or whatever energy I exert, must be for the benefit of others. I dc not mind doing many things for the benefit of others; but not by Act of Parliament. We all very much admire the Sermon on the Mount, but one would not like to be told by Act of Parliament that if a man struck him on one cheek he must, under section 400, present his other cheek to his assailant. That would be a horse of a very different colour. I say, for what it is worth, that I should very much like, in the interests of Australia, to see the Labour Party come into power.
– Let us have a majority, and we will take the responsibility. The honorable and learned member has done his very utmost to prevent us from obtaining that majority.
– I believe that the opportunity will come; that the members of the Labour Party will very shortly have an opportunity. They may take exception to the next measure introduced by the Government, and it is possible that they may succeed. If they do I trust that they will not shirk the responsibility. I hope that they will accept the responsibility that must follow upon the step which they intend to take - that they will shoulder he responsibility of Australian Government, come into power, and give the people of Australia an opportunity of seeing what they can do. i have always found, however, that persons of that school are not content to go away to a new country and there demonstrate the common-sense of their theories by building up a community. On the contrary, they seek to subvert the existing community, and to substitute socialism for that individualism that has built up the race of which we are so proud to be members. It would be a very interesting thing - although it might be a very expensive and injurious experiment - for Australia to be started upon a socialistic career. I am satisfied of this - and I say so without a particle of animosity towards the Labour Party, for I recognise their philosophical right to entertain their opinions as freely as I do my own theories - that if they attempt that experiment they will produce a reaction in Australia against socialism, and all who advocate it, that will throw them back ten or twenty years in their history.
– That reaction is a long time in setting in.
– As a matter of fact, we have not yet reached the lowest stage that produces a reaction.
– We never shall reach it.
– A lower stage has been reached by the honorable and learned member’s party.
– I trust that honorable members will allow me to proceed. I hope that honorable members will consider, in an unbiased way, the effect which our legislation has had during the last three years upon our position in England. I have taken from to-day’s issue of a Melbourne newspaper a sentence uttered in Sydney by the leader of the Opposition, which I would commend to the public as well as to honorable members of this House. It sets forth that-
Australia can never become truly great or prosperous until the ridiculous extremes of legislation which tend to destroy the confidence of the world in our common sense have ceased.
In the course of the present debate in this House he also gave expression to the opinion that-
The state of Australia calls for the most serious consideration.
Anyone who looks at the attitude which capital has assumed at the present time must be struck by the changes that are taking place. We may la.ugh at capital ; but it is part of the tools of industry, and, however much we may laugh at it, there can be no doubt that, once we recognise that it travels by cable, and not by ships,we must see that the continuance of legislation of the character we have had during the last three years will gradually impoverish Australia. I know . of many cases in which companies and capitalists have withdrawn their money from Australian sources of investment because of the doubt which exists as to how it will fare in the socialistic legislation of this country. Have we not our compulsory Arbitration Courts, which practically take the management of a man’s business out of his own hands, which decide what wages he shall pay, how many hours his men shall work, what men he shall employ or dismiss, and generally the conditions under which he shall employ his capital? I ask honorable members to apply a very commonsense rule to that state of things. Is it to be supposed that a man, having money, will come to this country to invest it here in preference to other lands in which he has a free hand to manage his capital as he thinks fit? Whether it be right or wrong, moral or immoral, we have first to consider whether we can do without capital, and, if we find that we cannot do without it, how we can retain it here ? The more capital we bring into the country, the more competition we secure among capitalists to reap the fruits of their own sowing. The more competition we obtain among capitalists, in their desire to secure a result from their investment, the more labour we employ. If the labouring class of Australia knew what was to their own welfare, instead of constantly crying out against capital as if it were a sort of bogy that was going to frighten or injure them, they would welcome it with open arms, knowing that the more capital wehave the more labour we employ. What has been the effect of the present legislation? I know, as a matter of fact, that one company - the Scottish Widows - had some millions of pounds invested in Australia, and employed a gentleman in Sydney, at a salary of£2,000 a year, to invest its funds in different ways in different parts of the Commonwealth. I also know that that gentleman was told that the whole of the company’s operations in Australia were to cease. The company is gradually withdrawing, if it has not already withdrawn, the whole of its money from Australia, and the paraphrased explanation by the directors to the manages in Australia was this - “ We can get a sure 4 per cent. in Great Britain for our money. We do not know where we are in Australia. You may get in all our money ; we give you a year’s notice, and a year’s salary.”
– That investment runs into millions.
– Yes. I am giving one instance, but there are many. Honorable membersmay depend upon it that, so long as we handicap the true use of capital, by legislation which practically, says to the capitalist, “We will allow you to invest your money, but we will not allow you to manage it,” capitalists will embark in ventures in other countries, and will not send their money to Australia. Lately a very important Commission - the Moseley Commission - consisting of twenty-five members of the working classes, left England to inquire into the condition of the workers of the United States, and upon their return they reported to their fellow workmen in England with regard to compulsory arbitration that they did not want it. They said, “ We require to be free to sell our labour as we like.” That is a good illustration of the opinion of the workers of Great Britain. In the United States there is a population of 80,000,000 people, which is twenty times as many as we have in Australia.
– The members of the Commission did not see the other side. ‘
– Does the honorable member suppose that in a population of 80,000,000 there are not persons ten times as hard-headed as he is ? Is it not possible that the honorable gentleman does not see one side and that the Commissioners saw both?
– They did not go to see the other side.
– Why does the honorable member jump to that conclusion instead of jumping to the much more likely one that he himself does not see one side properly ?
– Does the honorable and learned member see the other side properly ?
– I am not speaking of the other side. I am asking the party to which the honorable member belongs to consider these facts, and to see what bearing they have upon the possibility of their taking office in this country.
– We are always considering those facts.
– I am very glad to hear it. I hope that the honorable member will not stop at the consideration of them, but will make some wise deductions regarding them. He may depend upon it that if he has to accept a portfolio in a Labour Ministry twelve months hence, he will think very differently on these questions from the way in which he thinks now.
– No doubt he thinks very differently now from the way in which the honorable and learned member for Parkes believes him tothink.
– I know how he thinks. I know that he has had capital in his hands, and has it now. He sees the other side of the picture.
– I mean to stickto what capital I have.
– If the honorable member were not under the heel of that system of caucus which practically deprives him of the right to exercise his individual opinion-
– Rubbish. The honorable and learned member knows that that is untrue.
– It is a gross slander.
– Will honorable members of the Labour Party deny that they have to meet and take a vote among themselves to ascertain how they shall vote in this House?
– Yes ; every one of them will deny it, and the man who repeats that statement, after it has been denied, knows that he is telling a lie.
– Do I understand the honorable member for Kennedy to say that the honorable and learned member for Parkes is telling a lie?
– No. What I say is that any person who continues to repeat the statement made by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, after it has been contradicted, is guilty of saying what is absolutely untrue, and must know that he is uttering a falsehood. These statements are always appearing in the newspapers, and I have come to the conclusion that they are reiterated only from sinister motives.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Kennedy, that any one who persists in a statement which has been denied is necessarily a liar, but he certainly subjects himself to the possibility of contradiction. I wish to know from honorable members of the Labour Party whether they will undertake to say that the caucus is not exercised by them? The people of Australia will be very much surprised to learn that it is not.
– The Opposition party exercises acaucus.
– Every member of the Opposition, as I showed by my own actions during the last Parliament, has the right, if he chooses, to vote against his party. He does not by doing so risk the loss of his seat, and in point of fact, some times secures a larger majority in his constituency by showing his independence. Is it not a fact that upon many questions the members of the Labour Party take a vote ?
– The honorable and learned member is now toning down his statement.
– Because I wish to be upon solid ground. I commenced by saying all questions; I know how to crossexamine. Having failed to elicit a satisfactory reply in regard to all questions, I am inquiring now in regard to a majority of questions.
– Our answer is “ No.”
– Having failed again, I inquire in regard to some questions. It is admitted by the members of the Labour Party that upon some great political questions they take a vote among themselves in order to ascertain how they should vote in this House.
– Who admits it?
– Does the honorable member deny it? I should be quite satisfied ifI were addressing a jury with having obtained that answer in place of a direct admission. I challenge members of the Labour Party to deny that upon some great political questions-
– Name one such question.
– I challenge the members of the Labour Party to deny that upon some great political questions they have to take a vote among themselves to ascertain the opinions of the majority, in order to determine how they shall vote in this House.
– They have not to do so in any case.
– Any onewho replies “ No “ to my statement belies the whole course of the history of the Labour Party. I am willing to admit that there are questions to which they have agreed among themselves . that the caucus shall not apply ; but how can a man come into an assembly like this, and profess to represent the opinions of his constituency upon a great public question, at the same time admitting that he has arrived at a decision as to how he shall vote, by ascertaining the opinions of the majority of the members of the party to which he belongs?
– The members of the Labour Party carry out their pledges to their constituents ‘in every case.
– Their constituencies elect them, knowing what their position as members of the Labour Party will be.
– I should be prepared to take the verdict of the electors in regard to the matter. I wish to know how this process would work out if eight members of the Labour Party were chosen to form an administration to carry on the government of the country. Would the eight labour members, in framing their policy be required to consult the other members of the party, or would the party insist upon some arrangement under which the eight Ministers should not go outside their particular platform ? I should like to know what the public would think of the labour platform and of the handcuffed condition of things in which the new Government tried to carry on the affairs of Australia. I will not lay down any principles for the Labour Party ; they, like myself, have opinions of their own.
– What is the honorable and learned member’s concern about what the Labour Party would do?
– I am not much concerned.
– It would seem so.
– Not at all. I am only endeavouring to point out the extraordinary result that may be evolved from the present condition of things in the House. I say that on the Ministerial side there is not a sufficient majority to carry on responsible government, and I admit that on the Opposition side similar conditions prevail. But whether the House is going to allow the Labour Party to stand, as it were, on the centre of a see-saw, and, turning the House this way. or that, take into their own hands the management of the affairs of Australia, minus the responsibility, is a question, which the people will sooner or later have to determine.
An Honorable Member. - Let the Opposition form a coalition with the Government.
– I do not want any coalition ; any coalition between the Opposition and the Government at the present time would be unwholesome and demoralizing. There must be a new Parliament, or the party which controls the Ministerial side must come into power and take the responsibility on their own shoulders. I have no caucus to control me, but I have a perfect right to express my individual opinion; and I say that the necessary outcome of the present condition of affairs must be a state of public life which has never before been known in Australia. In Queensland,* I think, on one occasion, the Labour Party came into power, but as soon as it was announced that they had accepted office they were turned out. I believe that something parallel to that occurrred in South Australia, although I do not remember the facts.
– That was a Government of the Conservative Party in South Australia
– It is all very well to use clap-trap phrases about conservatives, liberals, radicals, labour members, or socialists, but half the.men who use them do not know what they mean. I have heard a man talking in this House about his liberalism, and telling us in the same breath that he is a conservative. From an historical aspect this sort of thing is a farce. If Ave look at the history of the Corn Laws it is found that the whole of the people, and the members of the House of Commons, with a very few exceptions, who voted for the abolition of the Corn Laws belonged to the Liberal Party, and that those who voted to retain the duties were Conservatives. I have heard the Prime Minister over and over again talk of his party as a Liberal Party, and yet he is a rabid protectionist. What does “ liberal “ mean ? If we look in Webster’s dictionary or any public work which enables us to determine the question, we find that a liberal is not a man who indulges in liberality with other people’s money, but is an advocate of freedom - freedom of thought, freedom of action, and freedom of commerce. How can the word be applied to a man who advocates the shackling of industry and commerce at every turn by a compulsory Arbitration Act, by duties, by bounties, and all .the rest of the socialist paraphernalia which the head of the Government wants to introduce into this country? I am saying all this perhaps strenuously and forcibly, but with no bitterness. I perfectly well acknowledge the right of a constituency, if it likes, to send a Nihilist into this House, and I am perfectly willing to admit that that Nihilist would have the right to express his opinions here. I do not care whether a man is a protectionist, a free-trader, a socialist, a labour representative, or an individualist, so long as he honestly advocates principles in which he believes. With such a man
I am willing to treat and endeavour to settle political questions on the well-known principle of majority, which is the only principle we should observe. But, while I put no bitterness into my speech, I am entitled to comment on the extraordinary position in which we are placed - a position so extraordinary that I cannot get any man in the House to give me an idea which commends itself to my mind as to what the future is going to be. We are for the moment marking time ; nobody knows what is going to happen. The party in power does not know from day to day when some divisional bombshell may burst and compel them to abandon office. I have always thought that it would have been much better for the honour and dignity of the last Government if they had made a stand long ago, and vindicated the principles of responsible government in Australia. That Government might now, in the change and whirligig of events, have been back in their places, and they would have established in the national Parliament of Australia a sound principle for the guidance of the people.
– Does the honorable and learned member not admit that all Governments are more or less in the position he describes?
– No ; I make no such admission. I can only tell honorable members that in the modern history of English government we do not find a leading statesman who would remain in office a moment after he had discovered that his Government had not a working majority.
– Gladstone did so.
– I ask whether Gladstone, Disraeli, Balfour, Rosebery, Salisbury, or any other of the modern statesmen who occupied the position of Prime Minister during Her late Majesty’s reign, would have humiliated and degraded public life by coquetting with another party, in order to remain in office after it had been ascertained that he had not an honest and substantial majority with which to control the House.
– Lord Salisbury did it in 1885.
– If any work on constitutional government or practice be consulted it will be found laid down by leading men, and accepted by all the best authorities, that no Government is justified in staying in office unless it has a substantial working majority - not a majority of one or two, keeping it in a condition of trepidation from night to night lest the required number may not be present; but a majority, which may be relied on to loyally assist in carrying out legislation believed to be in the interests of the country which they have undertaken to govern. What does responsible government mean? It does not mean that the Government are irresponsible - that it may do just what the House wishes, the House itself being practically an irresponsible committee. When a Government brings in a measure which is negatived, or so amended that the vital principles in it are killed, can it be said there is responsiblity when the Government goes on with the business of the House after it has been thus demonstrated that they do not possess the confidence of honorable members?
– Why not put that to the test?
– It is of no use our party putting the question to the test. We know very well, and I am sure every member of my party will agree with me, that there is not on this side of the House a working majority, unless we become dependent on the third party.
– Which is the third party ?
– The Labour Party.
– That is the first party.
– I thought it fair enough to admit the Labour Party to be the first party when they come into office. At all events, I admit that the Opposition might have, a majority if it were content to depend on the intermittent and moody support of the Labour Party. But I should be very sorry to be a member of such a Government, or to see any of my friends participate in the formation of an Administration which would be dependent on the favours or the good-will of a party bent simply on securing the advantage of the class it represents. I shall not deal further with this point, on which I think I have expressed myself pretty freely.
– The honorable and learned member was glad enough to have the support of the Labour Party in New South Wales when he was a member of the Ministry in 1891.
– That Ministry resigned because the Labour Party refused to’ allow the Chairman to leave the chair after a certain clause had been introduced into the Coal Mines Act unknown to Sir Henry Parkes.
– The Ministry with which the honorable member was connected . accepted the support of the Labour Party for a long time.
– Whatever may. happen in this House or in the States Parliaments, I hope that we shall endeavour to exhibit broader views and a larger love of Empire than we have done in the past. I am sure that no impartial critic of our legislation could look at the history of our last Parliament without feeling that we have done almost all we could to embarrass the British Government in its dealings with other countries. In the first place, we have shut out England’s own goods as foreign merchandise. Our newspapers have talked freely about English manufacturers as foreigners. We have shut out England’s own people, under the impression that it is injurious to the people of Australia that an employer should make a bargain with an English workman to pay his passage to Australia - instead of allowing the Government to do it - and to gradually receive the money back from him in instalments. We have embarrassed the mother country because we have irritated most of the nations of Europe by stopping their citizens from coming to our shores. We have refused to recognise the friendship and alliance of the mother country with her best friend, Japan, and have insulted the people of that country in classing them with barbarous peoples. We have absolutely turned our face from some of the residents of New Zealand, the very Colony with which we recently tried to federate. We have stopped the introduction of England’s goods, we have stopped her people from coming here, and, altogether, have done our best - although, perhaps, unintentionally and thoughtlessly - to embarrass her in her diplomatic relations with her best ally. Yet we hear from the Prime Minister, that
Our fortunes are bound up with the mother country. We must stand or fall with her, we must rise or sink together.
If the Prime Minister had endeavoured to compose an ironical speech, having regard to the character of the legislation which he and his Government have proposed and passed during the last three years, he could not have said anything more effective. I shall do m’y utmost to support any party, whether it be the labour, the free-trade, or the protectionist party, so long as it introduces legislation- which I can honestly, as a representative of the people, regard as being in the best interests of Australia. But, whatever party comes into power, I hope that, instead of crying “Australia for the Australians,” and building a sort of Chinese wall in order to shut off all communication with other nations, we shall remember that we are but a junior partner in the firm of John Bull and Co., and that it is our duty, in some cases, to sacrifice our local interests in order that the welfare of the Empire may be furthered. I trust that, whatever Government assumes the reins of office, will realize that the time has come for us to recognise the truth of the words which were uttered by the Prime Minister only a few days ago.
– I do not propose to delay the House for any great length of time. Honorable members must have been delighted with the speech of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. Last night he gave us what was practically a re-hash of his election speeches in New South Wales, in the course of which he strongly denounced what he considered to be the sins of the Government. Many honorable members, who are new to this Parliament, must have judged from the remarks of the honorable’ and learned member, that he was foremost amongst those who sought to re’duce the number of Judges of the High Court. That was to be inferred from the attitude which he assumed last night, when he said that the Opposition had been instrumental in effecting the reduction of the number of Judges from five to three. Any special credit in that regard, however, must be given to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who was the leader of the party in favour of decreasing the powers of the High Court in its original jurisdiction. The honorable and learned member for Parkes voted for -the third reading of the Bill, and in the course of his remarks, denounced the Government for allowing the salaries of the Judges to be cut down, and the proposed pensions to be abolished. He said -
Yet the Kyabram influence has come in here, and has practically spawned over the whole of the Bill. The measure has been emasculated, because, instead of having a larger number of Judges, with proportionately high emoluments, we have the minimum number, for whom salaries all too low are proposed.
– I voted in favour of having only three Judges.
– The honorable and learned member could not have done that, because there was no division upon that point.
– I spoke against the appointment of five Judges.
– The honorable and learned member spoke for the first time on the motion for the third reading of the Bill. He did not speak on the salary question, because he was not very often in atendance here. He stated, on the motion for the third reading, that if he had been present, he would have voted for the higher salaries, and he denounced the Government for having abandoned their original proposal.
– I should do so now, because we want the best men.
– Honorable members who heard the honorable and learned member last night for the first time, and had not read his previous speeches in Hansard, would have gathered that he was one of the foremost opponents of the measure. He denounced one of the Judges for having taken a trip to South Africa, and he said the High Court had nothing to decide except some paltry election petitions. I voted against the High Court Bill, but the honorable and learned member supported it, and, if he had had his way, would have involved the Commonwealth in much greater expense than is now being incurred.
– I should have voted for the salaries originally proposed.
– It is quite a treat for honorable members of the Labour Party to be lectured by such a talented gentleman. We are delighted to foe patronized by him even on the rare occasions on which he makes his appearance in this House. After denouncing the Government, he turned his attention to the Labour Party, and pointed to a case in Queensland, in which he stated that a Labour Government had held office for a few minutes, adding that a similar case had occurred in South Australia.
– I was not quite sure of the facts.
– That is often the case with the honorable member. The Ministry to which the honorable and learned member referred in South Australia included three members of his own party, and one of these was the honorable and learned member for Angas. J did not know until so informed to-day that he was a labour member, but we shall be delighted to receive him into the fold. Mr. V. L. Solomon, who was a member ofthe Opposition in the last Parliament, was also connected with that Ministry, and
I had noidea that he was an advocate of labour principles.
-i was not referring to thatGovernment. I understood that there had been a purely Labour Government in South Australia.
– No, there never has been a purely Labour Government there. But with the honorable and learned member any stick is good enough to use to beat the Labour Party.
– I do not think that I have been unamiable.
– We have all been delighted to hear the honorable and learned member. Personally I always like to be present whilst the honorable and learned member is addressing the House. Whilst he was speaking last night, I could not escape the impression that he aspired to become the leader of the Opposition. I was driven to that conclusion by the inconsistencies to which he gave expression, and inconsistency, it appears to me, is a necessary qualification for the position. He admitted, however, that whilst the people of Australia were in the dark at. the first Federal election as to the character of members whom they were called upon to elect, they were under no such disability at the recent elections. In this connexion, I merely wish” to say that the Labour Party has every reason to be satisfied with the choice of the people, because, notwithstanding that the whole of the press of Australia was arrayed against it, notwithstanding the misrepresentation which was indulged in, its numerical strength has been greatly increased now that the people know us better. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has boasted that he was returned by the largest majority in Australia. I occupy a similar position, so far as Victoria is concerned, but in my case I had to face the opposition of both daily newspapers. Nevertheless I managed to obtain a majority of between 7,000 and 8,000 votes. But I have not the slightest doubt that the newspapers supported the honorable and learned member, and gave his views much more publicity than was accorded to mine.
– It was a party vote in each case.
– The honorable member was very confident of the result, and the honorable and learned member was very scared of it.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the honorable and learned member knew that His position was a very safe one. During the course of this debate much has been made of the failure of the Government to obtain satisfactory tenders in connexion with our mail service. It has been stated that the reason the companies have not tendered is because of the embargo which has been placed upon the employment of coloured labour on our mail steamers. But I would point out that there are other conditions in the contract which have acted as a greater deterrent, namely, the provisions relating to cool storage.
– Why do not the companies say so?
– They have already said so. The honorable member seems to know all about these companies, and I have no doubt that, if he inquires, he will find that their refusal to tender for the contract is chiefly due to the cool storage conditions to which I refer.
– They have to provide cool storage at the present time.
– But under the new contract they are required to provide selfregistering thermometers, and to allow Government officials to inspect the accommodation f urnished at any time. The companies object to some of the conditions which are laid down in these provisions.
– Then strike out the provisions altogether.
– I would point out to the honorable member that” the members of the Labour Party do not yet occupy the front Ministerial bench. When we do, no doubt we shall deal with all classes of the community just as fairly as he desires that the farmers should be dealt with. It has been said that we favour class legislation. Thatis so. We favour first-class legislation upon every subject, and hitherto the laws which have been placed in the statute-book have not been of that character. Yet, now that the workers have an opportunity to express their views in Parliament, we are asked by the honorable and learned member for Parkes to pack up our swags and leave for Paraguay. We believe, however, that we can render better service to the people by remaining here to fight their battles. Last evening the honorable member for Franklin expressed the hope that in connexion with the Arbitration Bill which is to be introduced, the common rule would not be made applicable to Tasmania. Personally, I think that the shipping companies here are quite able to fight their own battles, and I have no doubt that they will do so. . At the same time, I am averse to imposing conditions upon Australian vessels that are not applicable to over sea ships that engage in the coastal trade. I do not believe in penalizing the local ship-owners whilst allowing oversea vessels to escape. If we are to have a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and a Navigation Bill, let them apply toall persons alike.
– Would the honorable member reduce the Inter-State freights to the rates which prevail upon the ocean liners ?
– That is a question for the steam-ship companies to decide. As I am not a shareholder in any of those companies I have no voice in the matter ; but I intend to do my best to insure that the workers upon all vessels shall get as fair conditions as possible. During the course of this debate, many honorable members have declared their intention to oppose the inclusion of State servants under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I have no doubt that, if the electorate of Yarra were polled to-morrow upon that question, 80 per cent. of the electors would vote in favour of their inclusion. No doubt the Prime Minister has studied the figures in connexion with the recent elections, particularly in regard to his own division, As he was returned unopposed, he merely had an opportunity of studying the (figures relating to the Senate. From these he is doubtless aware that at Ballarat the four’ labour candidates who advocated the extension of the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to State servants headed the poll with about 50 per cent. more votes than did the next candidate. In two electorates in the State of Victoria four labour candidates headed the poll, and in four others three labour candidates were in the first four upon the list. Out of nineteen vacancies in the Senate, the Labour Party secured ten seats. In the light of these facts, I hold that the people have unmistakeably declared that the railway employes shall be brought under the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It is our duty to see that trade is not upset by any Government which may be opposed to these men, as it was in Victoria some months ago. I am aware that some doubt exists as to whether the provision in question is constitutional. That issue, however, can be determined in the Law Courts. The question of the redistribution of the Victorian electorates was considered by the last Parliament, and the House was then told by practically every representative of this State, with the exception of myself, that, with the passing of the drought, those who had left country districts for the city would return to their old homes, and that each of the country electorates would thus re-adjust itself. We were told that the population of the drought-stricken electorates would in this way be increased, and that there would be, of course, a corresponding decrease in the population of the metropolitan constituencies. It was said, also, that the latest returns would demonstrate the truth of these predictions. The returns laid upon the table of the House a few days ago do not by any means verify them. They show, indeed, that the result has been quite the opposite. I propose to set before the House the figures relating to eight electorates which I believe honorable members will admit, represent roughly the drought-stricken area of Victoria - the electorates of Corinella, Echuca, Grampians, Indi, Laanecoorie, Moira, Wannon, and Wimmera. The returns show that afterthe proposed redistribution had been made by the Commissioner, the number of electors in these divisions increased by 5,500, while the eight metropolitan constituencies increased by 13,582. We find that at the present time there are 275,000 electors in the eight metropolitan constituencies, represented by eight members, while the twelve country divisions - eliminating Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong from the list - have twelve members and only 255,000 electors, or 20,000 less than the metropolitan divisions and 50 per cent. more representations. The honorable member for Kooyong and I represent more electors than do four country members, but we are not allowed double voting power in this House. We were promised by the Government that if the matter were allowed to stand over for a time the Commissioner would be reappointed to deal with the re-distribution of. electorates, and I trust that that promise will be fulfilled at the earliest possible mo- ‘ ment. The population of the metropolitan constituencies is growing, while that of the country constituencies is decreasing. I trust that the Government will take the matter in hand without delay, and arrange in the near future for a redistribution that will enable every elector in Victori a to have an equal opportunity to express his or her opinions, and to secure something like equal voting power. I, with other honorable members, am anxious that the debate on the Address in Reply shall be concluded as soon as possible, so that Parliament may be able to proceed with the con sideration of other business, but there is one other matter to which I ‘wish to refer. Many honorable members have made pointed references to the provision in the Immigration Restriction Act, which prohibits the introduction of contract labour into the Commonwealth, and have referred to the case of the six hatters, which occurred some time ago. I dealt with that subject during the last Parliament. If they had carefully read the newspapers they would have known that another case occurred quite recently “ in Victoria in which it is very probable that six men were brought into this State under contract. As a matter of fact the Argus admitted some few days ago that the Outtrim Company, by whom these men were engaged, was afraid to take action lest it might be shown that these men were brought out under contract. Many honorable members declare that, while they are opposed to the enforcement of the contract labour section in cases where the persons concerned have been engaged at union rates of wages, they would be prepared to prevent the introduction of men to fill the places of others engaged in an industrial dispute. I would remind them that there is a dispute in the case to which I am referring, yet from the information which has been published by the press, it appears to me that the six men were allowed to come here under contract. I trust that the Government, instead of relaxing their administration of the Act, will make it even more rigid, and that as soon as a vessel touches at the first port of call in the Commonwealth the whole of its passengers will be questioned if necessary - as is done in the United States of America - to ascertain whether any of their number are coming here under contract. Some honorable members may object to the Immigration Restriction Act. but surely as believers in law and order they must be anxious to see effect given to a law once it has been placed on the statute-book of the Commonwealth.
– When I read the remarkable list of proposals contained in the Governor-General’s speech I could not help thinking that the Government had practically omitted only one matter, and that they should have followed the example of a State Ministry in America - I believe it was the State of Massachusetts - which proposed to introduce, among other measures, a Bill to banish the devil and all. his works from that State. In their desire to placate honorable members, and to conciliate every party, the Government have scarcely omitted anything. They have included in the speech a number of measures which it would be impossible for us to pass, even if we sat for twenty-four hours a day, during the life of the present -Parliament. The Government have no reason to believe that the bulk of the people are anxious for more laws. On the contrary, the cry of the people of Australia is not that the Parliaments are not passing enough laws, but that they are enacting too many, and when we consider the actions of the Ministry, the manner in which they have introduced various measures, and the way in which those measures, on becoming law, have been administered, we must admit that the fears of the people are well founded. There can be no doubt whatever that the people really desire a rest from Parliaments.
– Then let us adjourn.
– If honorable members generally shared my view of the position, we should very soon go into recess. Nothing would tend more to clear the air than a division on the very question now” before us. It seems to me that a great deal of the confusion which exists in the minds of the people is due to the one fact that while it is possible to prophesy as to what will be done by a body of men possessing the courage of their opinions, and having a set of political principles to work upon, it is impossible to foretell what the present Ministry may do. The Government have no political principles, or, at all’ events, if they have, they have succeeded in disguising them so well that no one - not even they themselves - can say what they are. It is therefore impossible to criticise them as one could criticise a Government which had ideas that they were ready to defend, or proposals which they had thoroughly considered to make, and prepared to support by every means in their power.
– I hope that the honorable’ and learned member will not be too severe on the Government.
– Perhaps I should not be severe upon them, because to attack them seems to me to be very much like kicking jelly-fish. There is a remarkable plasticity about them which almost disarms criticism. If it were not for this policy of no responsibility, which” seems to be becoming fashionable in Parliaments, one would know what to do. It is most unfortunate that the Ministry, judging by the character of their actions, have set up no standard for public guidance. It would seem that all that they ask is that they may be permitted to act as a committee of the House, and to carry out its behests Is it a good thing? I. am sure that it is not. It is opposed to the interests of the’ country. Almost all the legislation passed during last Parliament would, if responsible government were introduced, be very considerably altered. But one of the dangers connected with our legislation is that the legislative machine is in many respects so cumbrous that a subsequent alteration of our laws is very difficult. That being so, we should be extremely careful as to what measures we place upon the statute-book. Ministers should have seen that every measure submitted to the House last Parliament was well-thought out, and every Act of Parliament should have been indorsed with, their full responsibility, so that the public could know how to apportion the blame for bad legislation. But things have been so conducted that people can only say that Parliament, as a whole, has been to blame, and that Ministers have been the most conspicuous offenders. This position of affairs arises partly from the manner in which the House is constituted, and partly from the fact that members of Parliament have failed to grasp the distinction between what matters are within the province of Parliament to legislate upon, and what are not. No doubt Parliament has many powers; it can control the observance of many laws. It has great possibilities for evil, but its capacity for doing good is not so large. A Parliament is merely a committee of men chosen by the people of the country to discover what laws are most suitable for its circumstances, to advance education, to preserve the public safety, to see that the classes of oppressor and oppressed shall not exist, and to, as far as possible, do away with class distinctions which prevent individuals from asserting their independence. Is this Parliament doing those things ? It seems I50 me that we are not. . Our legislation appears to have proceeded upon the assumption that because we have the power to do certain things, therefore, it is right to do them. Nothing of the sort. Parliament might declare murder legal, and say that no murderer shall be punished; but it could not make murder a moral act. The distinction between what is legal and what is moral is constantly being forgotten. The present tendency of members of Parliament seems to be to depart utterly from the great principles, which should animate all parliamentary institutions. Unless a law enforces a moral as well as a legal power, it is useless. We have proceeded upon the supposition that by passing laws we can increase the national wealth’ , and assist this class or the other. But the signature of the Governor-General to a Bill, while it gives legal effect to the measure as an Act, does not create a new fund out of which we can give legislative assistance to any class, so that as the national wealth cannot be increased by parliamentary enactment we, in trying to assist one class, injure another1. Parliament, however, has no right to make distinctions between class and class ; it should act only in the interests of the whole community. Honorable members who siton the Ministerial benches, however, constantly assert that protective duties should be imposed for the benefit of capitalists.
– For the benefit of the workmen.
– The Government, and those who support them, have tried to guarantee to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth a profit upon their undertakings; but why should Parliament guarantee a right of profit to the manufacturer without guaranteeing a right of assistance to the masses of the community ? So far from trying to assist the workers of the country, the Ministry are always devising new methods for extracting from their pockets a still larger amount of their scanty earnings. A great part of the first session of last Parliament was devoted to the attempt to impose upon the people of the Commonwealth duties more severe than had ever been imposed before by any one legislative enactment. The effect of these duties was particularly hard upon one State in particular, the State of New South Wales. The people, however, were told, when they cried out, that if before they had been beaten with whips, they would now be chastised with scorpions, and the threathas been carried out to the bitter end. Now the Government advocate fiscal peace. Was there ever a successful burglar who, after a midnight robbery, was not in favour of being left in undisturbed possession of his plunder? Similarly the Ministry, having plundered the people of Australia, ask for fiscal peace in order that they may not be made to disgorge. Do honorable members ever picture to themselves the sacrifices which the community have been called upon to make? Do they know the proportion of direct to indirect taxation in this country. The taxation of this Commonwealth amounts to something like£12,900,000, of which something like £9,900,000 is collected by indirect means of taxation such as Customs duties, excise, and license fees, while only £2,850,000 is collected by means of direct taxation. If we were guided by the economic principles which prevail in England, we should establish a more just principle of taxation, and raise something like , £6,300,000 by direct taxation and £6,600,000 by indirect taxation. In Great Britain the ratio between direct and indirect taxation is that between 48½ and 5 1½. It fills one with alarm to see a body of men who call themselves the Labour Party agreeing to a system of taxation under which three and a half times as much is levied from the masses as is taken from the capital of the country.
– Not all the members of the Labour Party.
– The free-trade members of the Labour Party do not take that view, but I think that the majority of the party approve of the present iniquitous system. Of course, in a young country having a sparse population, the expense of collecting direct taxation is such that the ratio between direct and indirect taxation cannot be the same as in a country like England. Probably the ratio of 35 to 65 would be more equitable here. The people themselves, however, sit down quietly under the present state of things. To my mind, that is because the real facts have never been properly put before them. I am no advocate of taxation, because I believe that the less a country is taxed the more it will produce. No Parliament can direct men how best to employ their capital, but every penny that we take from the people in taxation decreases the amount available for the employment of labour upon productive work. £13,000,000 a year would give 130,000 men £100 a year each. But do honorable members consider that a very large part of that amount is every year wasted, and that in consequence the national wealth is to that extent diminished ? It is competition amongst capital which alone brings about an increase in the rate of wages, and what we should do is to give free play to that competition. Instead of doing so, we absolutely ignore every economic law. We seem to think that we can afford to despise them. In Victoria, where I was brought up, the absolute disregard of economic facts has resulted in such a condition of affairs that the State has not been able to keep its natural increase of population. Allowing for the natural increase during the last ten years, there is a shortage of something like 110,000 souls in the population of Victoria.
– If we had borrowed £17,000,000 in three years, and spent it, we should not have had. much difficulty in retaining our population. ‘
– Does not the honorable member know that the expenditure of that money in New South Wales is destined to prove a most serious curse to the State, and that the ignorance and stupidity of the men at the head of affairs is responsible for the fact that the condition of the working man there is as bad as it is ? Those who have had charge of the affairs of that State have been ignorant of every economic fact. There are elementary books which would have safeguarded them against the mistakes into which they have . fallen, but even though they had read them they would probably be too stupid to understand them sufficiently to enable them to avoid the pitfalls into which they have fallen.
– Are not the members of the State Government of New South Wales nearly all protectionists?
– Yes ; they belong to the protectionist party, which persists, even today, in ignoring the foremost economic facts. According to the assumption of the honorable member for Gippsland, if. £17,000.000 of loan money had been spent in Victoria, it would have resulted in great advantage, because it would have been kept in the country. It would have afforded a large amount of employment, and increased the wealth of the country to the extent of the money spent. The honorable member knows, however, that if a man spends £1, and receives only 18s. in return he incurs a loss of 2s., and that the individual loss is reflected upon the community. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports argues that if a man spends £1, and gets back 18 s. worth of goods, the community has the equivalent of 38s. At the same time he admits that such an argument would not apply to farming, because if a farmer spent £1 per acre upon his land, and only received back 10s., there would be a loss to the community of 10s. We ought to be thankful for even that ray of intelligence in the honorable member. We have been told that the difference between honorable members of this House is purely of a fiscal character; but it is more. It is a mental difference, which cannot be overcome except by the spread of education. Only 130 years ago even the master minds of the age failed to thoroughly grasp the meaning of the principle of freedom. Even at present we are only fighting for one form of freedom. Do honorable memberssuppose that we should fight as we do if the matter were only one of fiscalism, if there were not a mental difference between us and the protectionists. Our opponents are mentally incapable of grasping the meaning of the word “ freedom.” Some honorable members seem to think that the question is one of socialism. I do not understand why every protectionist is not a socialist. If a protectionist is willing that the aid of the State should be invoked in order to secure profit to a manufacturer, why should not similar aid be granted for the purpose of assisting the great masses of the people ? Whilst every protectionist should be a socialist, it does not follow that every socialist should be a protectionist, for the reason that if a socialistic State were engaged in con. ducting an exchange of goods with another State, it would be ridiculous to tax the products received in return for exports. Therefore, a socialist might very well be a strong free-trader, and we know, as a matter of fact, that the socialists of Germany and France are amongst the strongest advocates of free-trade principles in Europe. We are told, in the Governor-General’s speech, that it is hoped that an opportunity will be presented for the adoption of a system of oldage pensions. If the Government felt perfectly sincere upon this question, they would tell us that we could raise by direct taxation an amount that would be sufficient to meet the outlay upon pensions. Before making any such provision, however, we should consider whether all such systems do not tend to pauperize the community, whether instead of providing for the old and helpless - which should be the sole object in view - they do not tend to create a feeling that work is not at all necessary, that we can do without thrift. The discouragement of thrift would be a very serious matter for the community ; arid if we do not take great care in the management of old-age pensions we shall find that more harm than good will result to those whom we are trying to benefit. That was found to be the case under the Poor Laws in England. Instead of tending to heighten the standard of living in England, they depreciated it, and great injury was inflicted upon the masses of the people. A full and exhaustive inquiry was held, with the result that the whole of that legislation was abandoned, and an endeavour was made to meet the necessities of the case by means of an entirely new system. The Government profess a desire to afford encouragement to the farmers of Australia. I would point out that they may carry out their object most effectively by abolishing the duties now levied upon agricultural machinery. Last season I had to pay such a large amount in duty upon farming machinery that I was absolutely prevented from employing an ad:ditional . man.
– Why did not the honorable and learned member buy a local machine ?
– I bought the machine that would best suit my purposes. I was anxious to obtain a local machine, which could be easily repaired ; but I found that the class of machine I required was not makie here. I could not discover why, except that there was not sufficient inducement to make it within the Commonwealth. The farmer who requires £100 worth of machinery has to contribute £14 or £15 in the form of duties, and the indrect taxation to which the agriculturists are subject is extraordinary. I should infinitely prefer to see the revenue raised by direct means, and if the great bulk of the people were wise, they would make the same choice. Under a system of direct taxation, they would understand the extent of the contributions, and the sacrifice required of them. The present duties fall much more heavily upon those who have limited incomes than upon others with more means. Even though the man ‘with small earnings may not be conscious of the extent’ to which he contributes indirectly to the revenue, his standard of comfort will be reduced and the value of his labour depreciated none the less. If the standard of living is low, we must expect a low tone in the community. It has been represented to us that the preferential- trade proposals which are now engaging the attention of the people of Great Britain will, if approved, secure to us an immense and reliable market. We all know that, and as I believe in the extension of the principles of free-trade, I cordially welcome any movement that would have the effect of removing the existing duties, and that would give us a market in a country with 44,000.000 people, instead of our being restricted to’ a market with a population of only 4,000,000. How different the case in England where it would mean restricting their market. But,. if by preferential trade the Government mean that we are to give a preference to the people of Great Britain, I should like to know where in Australia we are to find the people to afford that preference. Are the people of Australia willing to offer a preference to any individual in Great Britain who is willing to trade with them? If so they need not go to Great Britain to find men who are prepared to trade with them, because they can be found here. Personally, I am ready to trade with them upon those terms all day long. I am prepared to exchange eighteen shillings worth of goods for a pound upon every possible occasion. Which of us would not exchange a cross-bred sheep for a good merino ram, _ or a sucker for a fine fat pig? I should like to hear a definition of the term “ preferential trade.” If a preference is not to be extended to some one, then the term is a misnomer; if a preference is to be offered, so long as it is upon our side, we are willing to accept it.
– But is it upon our side ?
– If a preference is to be given to the other side, are we content to grant it? From the protectionist standpoint there can be no preferential market, so far as I am able to understand. The willingness of free-traders to agree to a system of preferential trade, results from the fact that it is in pursuance of the doctrine of free-trade. At the present time we are practically shut up in our own markets. Had I been a free-trader resident in Victoria prior to the accomplishment of Federation, I should have fought extremely hard for Federal union from the free-trade point of view, merely because it would secure to me a market of 4,000,000 people, as against a market of 1,250,000. In New South Wales the most ardent free-traders recognised that whilst that State would be called upon to submit to loss in many ways, as the result of Federation, the area which would be open to trade would be considerably broadened, ate far as the1 protectionist States were concerned. The task of imposing Customs duties upon a country is one which is easily accomplished. That form of taxation generally commends itself to those who are at the head of affairs, simply because it enables them to collect a large revenue with less trouble and discontent than would be experienced under any other system. But when bur protectionist friends go further and declare that the imposition of these duties results in benefit to the people, and that on that ground we may fairly be called upon to contribute to the profit of a class, it is quite another matter. When they also assert that this form of taxation benefits the community, because the money is spent in the country, I should like to know what they have to say in regard to direct taxation. We recognise the fallacy underlying that argument in one case, and why not in another? If it be wrong to collect taxation from a class of people, it is equally wrong to collect it from the mass of the people, unless the money is absolutely required. At the present time one of the most pitiable sights in this Parliament is that of a number of honorable members who profess to represent the majority of the electors sitting idly by and bringing forward no proposals whatever for the removal of taxation from the masses. I know that there are some amongst their number who favour the imposition of direct taxation. But they merely propose to add to the existing burdens. If taxation is absolutely necessary, and in that case only, a certain economic proportion should be observed.
– Does the party with which the honorable and learned member is associated favour direct taxation?
– Certainly, if it is necessary. But we believe that money should be raised in certain economic proportions.
– The honorable and learned member favours direct taxation, but never proposes it.
– What is the use of proposing something which we have no hope of carrying If any proposals for direct taxation were submitted to-morrow, in the absence of any diminution of existing burdens, I should strenuously oppose them.
– Has not the honorable and learned member’s leader declared that he will not allow the Federal Parliament to be used for the purpose of imposing direct taxation ?
– Nothing of the sort. There is no caucus in our party. The honorable member may have a leader because he needs one. but in a matter of economic knowledge I do not follow any leader. To me it appears monstrous that the very body which ought to be foremost in fighting this question relegates it entirely to the background. To call itself the “ Labour Party,” when the bulk of its members absolutely decline to bring forward any proposals for lightening the burden imposed upon the masses of the people, seems to me to be misappropriating a name.
– Does that not apply to a good many of the honorable and learned member’s own party?
– I am afraid that it does. But whatever burdens they place upon the people, they seek to make them as light as possible. That is a great point to be urged in their favour. At least they strive to see that every penny of taxation is directed, not into the pockets of any individual, but into the coffers of the Treasury. They decline to grant the exclusive right of profit to any body of men. At the present time the Government are proposing to grant a bounty to encourage the production of iron. I am informed that a petition was recently signed in Melbourne and Sydney by all the great merchants and bankers, asking that the exclusive right of profit should be bestowed upon a certain body of men. I trust that the Labour Party will see that if that right is granted, the £300,000 which it is proposed to disburse by way of bounty, shall be paid by the wealthy, and not by the masses. I am quite sure that if we lay down that principle we shall hear no more of people coming to Parliament with a request for the granting of a bonus. How can any man who thinks that the State should guarantee the manufacturer some return upon the capital which he invests in a business, logically object to the State regulating the rate of wages ? He cannot do so logically ; but I am equally sure that it is done every day. One of the most laughable of things occurred in Sydney the other day, when two men, who are extremely well known as protectionists in that State, denounced the Arbitration Bill, which seeks to regulate the rate of wages, although only a week previously they had declared that a bonus should be granted by the State to a body of capitalists who desired to establishiron works there. I object to using the machinery of Parliament for that purpose. We are here merely to administer justice, and to do away with those obsolete laws which press so heavily upon the poorer classes. By repealing these laws, we shall accomplish far more good than by adopting any of the proposals which are to be submitted to us. Iam convinced that, in many cases, we are legislating, not against the cause of the evil, but against the results which naturally flow from those causes. We do not attempt to discover the source of those evils, but merely endeavour to regulate the evils themselves. If effect is to be given to thz principle of free-trade, I certainly advocate free-trade in land. The result of our legislation has been to create a corner in land. We allow men to tie up estates in a way in which we do not permit personal property to be tied up. At the present time, settlements of land are made in a form which was instituted in England for the purpose of protecting a generation against its own vices. We have adopted those laws, and we call ourselves democrats. Yet not one of the States has conferred upon tenants for life the same powers that are given to them in England. We si ill permit artificial corners in land to be created, and these constitute an evil to the community. We talk about the rights which we have given to our tenants; but in that respect we are not nearly so progressive as is England herself. There the agricultural tenant has rights which no tenant in Australia enjoys. The former has a right to his improvements, and he can take many of them away, whereas in Australia that right is denied- to him. What greater benefit could be conferred? We see every day the curse of land monopoly in a young community. It is one of the greatest evils. I come now to the further statement in the Governor-General’s speech in reference to the preferential trade proposals that -
My advisers are pleased to note the cordiality with which these are generally regarded in this country, and are confident that the feeling will be strengthened when the statesman who is their author is able to visit us.
It seems to me that the inclusion of this paragraph in the Governor-General’s speech is an exhibition of very bad taste. It shows a desire on the part of the Government to playone of those paltry games which can scarcely be explained save on the ground of want of taste. If we were to move the omission or the paragraph it would seem that we were attacking the individual who is named, as well as his policy. Mr. Chamberlain is of no interest to us so far as our legislation is concerned. He is not even in office - he is a mere parliamentarian. I admit that he is a very prominent parliamentarian ; but we have to remember in considering this paragraph that he is not laying down a policy for Australia. We are not called upon to deal with any matters relating to him, and therefore we should be perfectly justified in moving the omission of this paragraph, but for the fact that action in that direction might be regarded as an attack upon the man himself. No one desires that anything of the kind should be done; but the insertion of a statement of this kind in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is the extreme of vulgarity. Nearly every honorable member whom I have consulted in regard to this paragraph, agrees that it shows a great want of taste on the part of the Government. Perhaps it is desirable that I should state why I decline to speak of Mr. Chamberlain as a statesman. Let me give the House his own definition of a statesman. He said on one occasion -
I say that only those are entitled to the name of statesman who can foresee what is to happen, at all events, in their own world, and can provide for it.
Let me apply that test to Mr. Chamberlain, and the House will see how miserably he fails to come within the definition. When he first entered public life he came forward a> a rabid republican; to-day there is no man whose platform is more strongly supported by earls and dukes than is his. Possibly the support he receives from that quarter is due to the propositions he has made to increase land rents. There is no other man who so cordially adopts what he describes as an Imperial tone. Is if not absurd to apply the word “ Imperial “ to a free people ? Let it be used if you will in relation to the Hindoos and the Emperor of India. But we can have only a King over a free people. A free people can have a head - a monarchial head, it is true - but not an Emperor. There can be no absolute ruler among a free people, and yet this man, if he had power to give effect to his desire, would have to-day such- a ruler. It is not surprising in these circumstances that he has gone round to the protectionist cause.
– He has a goodly following amongst the working classes.
– 1 do not say that any man who appeals to class or national bias - who appeals to ignorance or prejudice - may not secure a very large following. But we should gauge the calibre of a politician by his following of men who have had an opportunity to study questions of this kind. No man meets with greater condemnation at the hands of the great bulk of the working men of England who have studied this matter than does Mr. Chamberlain. In 1S70 he advocated popular education on unsectarian. lines ;’ to-day he is one of the chief advocates of-
– Does the honorable and learned member consider that that matter has anything to do with the Address in Reply ?
– Most certainly, sir. We are told in the Governor-General’s speech that Mr. Chamberlain will probably visit us. We know that he has been requested to do so, and I am anxious to show what manner of man he is.
– I fail to see what Mr. Chamberlain’s views on secular education have to do with the question now before us.
– Surely I am entitled to prove that Mr. Chamberlain has changed his views on these and other questions ?
– If the honorable and learned member can connect his argument with the Address in Reply he may proceed ; but I would appeal to him not to unnecessarily take up the time of the House in dealing with a side issue.
– I would ask honorable members whether a man like Mr. Chamberlain is likely to instruct us ? To-day he advocates preferential’ trade, but so bitterly opposed was he to the principle a few years ago that he brought forward elaborate statistics in relation to it, and condemned it as strongly as he could. When we apply to him his own definition of a statesman, how lamentably he fails to come within that category. If he is not a statesman, but a mere politician, what purpose can be served by his coming here to instruct us? In the year 1870 he advocated a system of popular education on unsectarian lines, but to-day we find him an advocate of a system of sectarian education. Is he, therefore, so distinguished a statesman that he should be invited to visit Australia? Need I point out that as he was prepared to change his views on the matters to which I have referred, it is quite probable that he may be equally ready to change his views in other directions’? In 1883 he advocated the compulsory purchase of land for public purposes, without compensation to the owners, and even proposed that fines should be imposed upon owners for past misuse of their property ; but during the whole of his subsequent parliamentary career he did nothing to give effect to that proposal. The compensation sections in the English Act still remain as a hindrance to the principle he once supported, so that he _ has evidently gone back upon that principle.
Then, again, he at one time advocated a tax on the unearned increment, but in 1900 he voted against the taxation of land values. Is this the man whom believers in the taxation of the unearned increment ought to propose to bring to Australia? The Ministry who do not believe in it might perhaps do so. In 1885 he was a strong supporter of the principle of betterment; but in 1895 he ridiculed the mere idea of such a proposal. Is he to come to Australia to instruct us in regard to the betterment principle? I should like to know what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who, I believe, was at one time an advocate of that principle, thinks of Mr. Chamberlain’s change of policy in this respect. In 1885 Mr. Chamberlain was in favour of manhood suffrage; in 1892 he voted against the abolition of plural voting. Is it any wonder that this Tory Government, knowing of these changes of principle on the part of Mr. Chamberlain, look forward to his visit to Australia? Possibly they wish, at .some future time, to include in their platform a proposal for a return to plural voting, and are seeking his assistance in starting an agitation for a return to the old system. In 1885 Mr. Chamberlain advocated payment of members, but subsequently, when he had an opportunity to give effect to his views of the question, he refrained from voting. He had evidently changed his mind. I do not say whether he was right or wrong in that regard, but it is a remarkable fact that he has turned topsyturvey on almost every, question. Then, again, we find that, in 1885, he supported the principle of triennial Parliaments,, but that in 1892 he voted against it. That is another reason why the Ministry may be anxious to secure his presence in Australia. In 1885 he was one of those who declared that the poor paid double their proper share of taxation. I believe that he was correct in that assertion; but when Sir William Vernon Harcourt, the leader of the Liberal Party, introduced a proposal to make wealthy estates bear their proper share of taxation by means of the succession duties, this distinguished statesman voted against the proposal. He has gone back, upon every principle that he ever professed, and apparently because of that fact the Ministry now wish him to visit the Commonwealth. Nearly twenty years ago he spoke on behalf of, and voted for the principle of, a free breakfast-table; to-day he is advocating a tax on dairy produce, and is bringing forward proposals to tax both the. bread and the meat of the people. The man who has returned to what we should regard as ultra Toryism is the very man whom the present Ministry seek to bring to Australia. Their idea is that he should come here to strengthen their position. Many people are led away by the sound of a great name; and others are attracted by the advertisement which Mr. Chamberlain has given to himself ; but I should like to know whether we are prepared to follow a gentleman of this type. Do we consider that a man who holds the views which Mr. Chamberlain professes to entertain is a distinguished statesman? Are we entitled to describe him as a statesman if we apply to him his own definition of what a statesman should be? Surely it cannot be said that he has foreseen what is likely to happen, and has provided for it? It is for these reasons that I have referred to him as being a politician rather than a statesman. Let us look at what he did in connexion with the Transvaal. He blustered and talked loudly of the new diplomacy, and then blustered into war, admitting at the same time that he believed the other side would never take up arms.
– He said that it would be only a three months’ war.
– That is so. We talk about the bluster of Russia at the present time, but was not the bluster of our own people just as great in connexion with the Transvaal trouble?
– Can the honorable and learned member point to any action on the part of Mr. Chamberlain that might fairly be described as bluster?
– I can. What did he do when he was conducting his negotiations with Kruger? At the very time that he wrote to Kruger about the squeezing of the sponge and the running of the sand through the hour-glass, he wrote to the Secretary for War, stating that he could see no further necessity for reinforcements. Although, as he now tells’ us, war was inevitable, he conducted the whole of his negotiations upon the assumption that the Boers were not prepared to fight. Major-General Butler, the man who sent home the warning, was recalled, because he had the courage to say what he believed to be true.
– He was hounded down:
– Yes. What further has Mr. Chamberlain done? If there was one thing which it would have been right to do in the Transvaal, it was to see that a white population was settled there. The immigration of white people should have been encouraged at all hazards, in order to place upon the soil white citizens, who in time would be ready to defend their own hearths and homes, and would do the work of ‘ colonization. That is not the view taken by this so-called statesman, this man to whom the Ministry think we should look for enlightenment, and whom they wish to visit us. He, or those whom he appointed, are introducing thousands of Chinese into the Transvaal, are creating discontent anew, and are uniting the white population only by the cruel bond of poverty. Yet it is proposed by the Ministry that Mr. Chamberlain shall come here, and tell us how to conduct our affairs. The Government seem to think that the sentiment of affection which now binds the Empire together, and is infinitely stronger than any other tie, should be superseded by the bond of interest; that we should consider what we can get out of our fellowcountrymen in pounds, shillings, and pence, rather than how nearly and dearly they a r, related to us. What has Mr. Chamberlain done for the improvement of the conditions of a free people, for the advancement of the world ? The Empire, which his policy would create, would not be an Empire of free citizens, it would be an Empire composed of people such as the natives of Hindustan. It is the spirit of freedom which animates the people of Great Britain, which has done more for the progress of that country than anything else. It is written in Genesis that the spirit of God moved. upon the face of the waters, and since the spirit of freedom has animated the people of England, it might be said that the spirit of God has rested upon that land. See how England has been blessed, and how she has advanced, taking any of the standards of comparison. Honorable members speak against the laws of competition; but what has brought us here? A hundred years ago freedom was practically unknown, except as a thing for poets to falk of, and the world was just learning the laws of competition. But since freedom has become a practical thing,, and competition has had fair play, conditions have changed. What brings any .of’ us here? Not our lofty lineage, our high station in’ life, or our great wealth ; we owe our position to the working out of the law of competition, of individual effort, which some honorable members so much ‘decry. There is not a man here who does not owe his seat to his own energy and individualism. Will any one here say that he owes his seat, not to his own efforts, but to those of some class or body? Such a man would be a poor creature, and would soon be wiped out of political life. I do not deny that the stress of competition is sometimes severe; but the survival of the fittest is a divine law, which runs through all the departments of nature. What are men but the most highly developed form of animal life ?’ We can no more escape the operation of the Divine law of which I speak than that of any other Divine law. It is the spirit of individualism which has developed that spirit of altruism which makes us seek to help our fellows; and when honorable gentlemen sneered at the attitude of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, I could not help thinking that the presence of each one of them here is a proof of the triumph of individualism. Our energies should be directed to the amelioration of the conditions of the community, and especially of the poorer classes.
– No one objects to individualism, so long as it does not exploit the labours of others.
– I wish I could think that that was the position taken up bv the members of the party to which the honorable gentleman belongs. The Tariff which was passed last session was aimed at exploiting the masses of the people. Was it a just measure? Parliament should first of all observe justice. What are the words of St. Paul ? “ Seek first justice, and all things else shall be added to you.”
– That is not a quotation from St. Paul. If the honorable and learned member is as much out in his political economy as he is in his scripture, he is all at sea.
– Of course I am wrong in attributing the passage to St. Paul, but it is to be found in the Scriptures in a passage related by Sf. Matthew. Is it any wonder that there is growing up in the minds of the people the belief that Parliament is an institution from which one class or another may obtain some special advantage ? Does gur legislation go. to contradict that belief? Why ‘did the women agitate for a vote ? Because it was believed that bodies of people unrepresented here could not obtain justice at our hands. Some of the clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced last session absolutely refused to recognise the rights of non-unionists. Was that just? What some honorable membersdesire is that we shall all be driven into the same groove, and regulated out of all that makes life worth living. I do not say that there are not evils consequent upon almost every form of government that can be devised ; but why seek to intensify them ? I hope that we shall hear no more of the proposal that this so-called statesman, Mr. Chamberlain - whom every reader of history knowing his past is aware will never biewritten of as a great statesman, though he may be termed a great demagogue - will visit Australia. Let me now come to another matter dealt with in this preciousspeech. If the Government really wished to assist the agriculturist they would remove the duties which hamper him. They cannot increase the value of my crops by making the machinery I have to buy and usemore expensive. They do nothing to: shield me from competition - I do not object to that, because I am ready to find out what crops best suit my land, and to send my produce to market in competition with that of every one else - but they should not make agricultural machinery so expensive that wesometimes have to do without needful implements. The price of certain machinery has prevented me from buying it, and thusfrom giving that employment which I could” otherwise have given. I admit that I get a good return for the wages I pay, and donot desire to be thanked for spending my capital in the employment of labour. I am grateful to the man who does good work for me, just as he should be thankful for having a good employer; but I do not regard myself as a country squire who should belooked upon by his employes as a philanthropist. I pay good wages, probably thebest wages, and I get the best return I can.
– The duties on agricultural machinery are not higher than revenueduties.
– If the Government wishto help the agriculturists, they will remove all these duties. Then we are told in thespeech that provision will be made for the cheaper and speedier transportation of meat, butter, and fruit to the larger centres of population abroad. Fancy this Government encouraging trade ! According to thedoctrine of the protectionist, what greater good could happen to the community than that all our exports, once they have passed beyond the three miles limit, should be destroyed, so that we should get nothing in return for them? What do protectionists regard with greater favour than the total cessation of imports ? As a matter of fact, the Government propose to pass navigation laws to discourage competition amongst shipping on our coast. Those laws are to be passed, not out of consideration of the producers, but for the benefit of a ring of local ship-owners. Here again we have a policy of class legislation antagonistic to the interests of the producing classes. I need hardly point out the inevitable effect of these laws upon the commerce of South Australia and of Western Australia. If the great steam-ship companies of the world are discouraged from sending their steamers here, Adelaide and Fremantle will probably cease to be ports of call. There is no escaping from that position. Is it to be argued that because Western Australia cannot secure the same full representation in this House that is enjoyed by other States, its claims are not to be considered? I hope that a sufficient number of honorable members will be found to insure that the producers of South Australia and Western Australia shall have the fullest and freest opportunities to make use of the great ships trading along our coasts and to the mother-land.. I wish that the number of these ships could be doubled, and that freights were reduced to one-quarter of the present rates. We have heard a great deal of talk about immigration. There is no known law by which Parliament can make an addition to the population of a country. Parliament can, however, make laws which will do very much to discourage population ; and that is exactly what we have been doing. We cannot add to the f fruitfulness of the race, but we can take great care that that fruitfulness shall not be discouraged by our laws. One of the most wonderful features of the history of the last century was the wonderful increase in the population of Europe, which commenced at the time when. the spirit of freedom, was first breathed over the. Continent. For a period of possibly 2,000 years the population of Europe gould have been reckoned at about 175,000,000. There had been very little increase until about the year 1800. Then the spirit of freedom and individualism spread; and the old socialistic laws, which prevented competition, were abrogated. The effects of competition made themselves felt, and the population increased to over 400,000,000 during the century. If the spirit of freedom did that for Europe, let us see what effect it would have upon our community. The Government who have administered a harsh law in a far more drastic manner than was necessary, and who have done so much to discourage immigration, ought not to complain of the present condition of affairs in regard to our population. It has been stated that there is no necessity for the States Governments to appoint Agents-General, and the speech promises that a Bill- shall be brought forward to provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner. It is certain that, until we make such an appointment, there can be no representation of Australian interests in London, and further, we certainly ought to afford the States an opportunity of saving some thousands a year by the withdrawal of their Agents-General. Therefore, upon general grounds, I support the appointment of a High Commissioner. We are told that the report of the Royal Commission appointed to consider the advisability of encouraging the establishment of iron and steel works in the Commonwealth will be laid before us, and that we shall be invited to give it effect. Does any one believe that if that proposal had been designed to afford help to the great masses of the people, the Government would have had anything to do with it? It is because the scheme will play into the hands of wealthy men, who are able to make their representations in person to Ministers, that Parliament is to be called upon to consider it. If any such aid is to be given, however, it should be provided for by means of direct taxation. If an amendment is carried to that effect, I am sure that we shall hear nothing more about the encouragement of the iron and steel industry by means of a bonus. Some persons are ready enough to give encouragement to manufacturers by this means, when they know that the money will be taken from the masses of the people; but if it is insisted that the necessary funds shall be raised by direct taxation, proposals for bonuses will meet with the opposition, not only of the. masses, but of the capitalists, who ought really to know better than to try to make use of the powers of Parliament in order to line their own pockets. The Government were, no doubt, quite within their powers, but in my opinion exhibited very bad taste when they protested to the Imperial Government against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal. The advice contained in that message was such as I should have given myself. I cannot too strongly reprobate the action of Mr. Chamberlain - whom I regard as responsible in the main for the action now being taken because he appointed I the officials who recommended the introduction of the Chinese - which is absolutely against all maxims of statesmanship. At the same time, we ought not to interfere in such matters, unless we are prepared to receive messages similar to those sent to others by us. That is thesole ground upon which I object to the action of the Government. I am in sympathy with the course taken by the Government, but I cannot express it officially. We may, as citizens, freely express our views, but it is a great mistake for a Parliament such as ours to interfere, in the affairs of another State. We should strongly object if the British Parliament were to send us a message expressing the hope that we would not pass the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. That would be considered an interference with our conditions of self-government. Similarly, it is not fitting that we should interfere in the affairs of the Transvaal.
– Why did the honorable and learned member vote in favour of sending a contingent to the Transvaal to interfere at the time of the war? ,
– Was I not one of those members who did not vote in favour of the contingent?
– The honorable and learned member voted in favour of the contingent being sent.
– I may have done so, but my own impression is that I was not present in the House at the time. Be that as it may, however, I would point out that there is a great difference between an occasion of the kind to which I have been referring and a case in which war has been entered upon. In the case of war, it may be the truest kindness to assist in bringing it to a conclusion, even after one may have fought tooth and nail against such a war being entered upon.
– Hear, hear. It was a cruel war, and was entered upon in order that the Boers might be robbed of their mines. Now it is proposed to hand over the mines to Chinamen.
– And yet the action was taken by the man whom the Government now invite to Australia. I presume that it is intended to ask the House to vote a sum of money to defray his expenses.
– The honorable and learned member presumes wrongly.
– Then why should the matter have, been mentioned in the
Governor-General’s speech? We are told that
The operation of the Sugar Bounty Act has fostered the employment of white labour, so that the number or growers taking advantage of it is steadily increasing.
All I can say is that the conditions in regard to sugar growing in Queensland and the payment of the sugar bounties present an extraordinary spectacle. It has been stated that the land upon which sugar growing is conducted is the richest farming land in Australia.
– Hear hear ; that is quite true.
– Then does it not seem marvellous that we should be practically paying the sugar growers £10 per acre per annum, because they are the owners of the richest farming land in Australia? We may presume that one acre of land produces two tons of sugar, upon which a bounty of £: per ton is paid, if it is grown by means of white labour. Therefore, the occupiers of the poorer lands of Australia are called upon to contribute £10 per acre to the owners of the richest farm lands. Could anything be more ludicrous ? Would it not be more reasonable to call upon the sugar planters to assist the owners of the poorer argicultural lands? If the sugar lands cannot be put to any use except with the assistance of a bonus of £io per acre, we should be better off without them. This is one of the results of the brilliant statesmanship of the members of the present Gov.ernment. Do we not deserve every misfortune that can possibly fall upon us while we allow such a body of men to continue in office? I need not refer to the discouraging effects of the sugar bounty upon the other great industries in which sugar is used as the raw material. The jam ‘and fruit preserving industries are placed under a great handicap, and the ‘ orchardists also stand at a disadvantage while sugar is protected to the extent of £6 per ton. To-day every farmer throughout Australia is called upon to contribute his quota in order to keep the richest lands in Australia under cane cultivation. How many additional hours has he to work during the year in order to do that? What is his recompense or that of the orchardist who is discouraged in his attempts to obtain a market for his fruit? What is the encouragement which is offered to the jam manufacturer? Yet the Ministry are so proud of their work that they constantly recall the granting of this bonus to our remembrance. We are further told that -
The Defence Act has been proclaimed, and regulations under it approved. The Forces of the Commonwealth are now subject but to one Act and one code of regulations, insuring their effective organization.
When I saw the statement of the Minister for Defence, that he had provided for the common defence of Australia, I naturally looked round to discover signs of it. I got them in thirteen and a half foolscap pages of regulations. How have the Government provided for the defence of Australia? They have provided aiguillettes and shoulder pads for the staff. I find that its members are to wear -
Cord¼ inch gold and red orris basket, with plait and cord loop in front, and same at back, the plaits ending in plain gold with gilt metal tags.
What a masterly stroke on the part of the Minister for Defence. Again we are told that -
The long cord is looped up on the top or front cord, the front cord and the short and lung plaits are fastened together, and a small gold braid loop is fixed thereon to attach to the top button of tunic, and to lower hook on neck of the frock coat. On the latter, on the side on which the aiguillette is worn, the arm is passed between the front plait and cord, and the back or long plait and cord.
For the General Officers the shoulder pad, we are informed, is to be of -
Plaited gold wire, basket cord, and they must be very careful about the size of the cord. It is to be three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.
– Is the honorable member reading from regulations or from general orders?
– From general orders. I do not question that they have been fully approved by the Minister. Indeed, the honorable gentleman must have spent many years in’ a millinery establishment, otherwise he could never have evolved them all. The shoulder pads are to be -
Plaited gold wire, basket cord three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, small gold gimp down the centre, strap of the shoulder knot 2¼ inches wide, terminating in a small 4 inch wing.
Probably that will give a fuller appearance to the shoulders. There is to be -
An eyelet hole next to the collar.
What is that for ? It is for -
A small gilt button.
To think that the mighty intellect of the Minister for Defence should have been engaged for so many weeks in elaborating this scheme of ornamentation.
– Is this dress intended for the citizen soldiers?
– I am quoting from “ the dress regulations for officers of the staff, militia, partially-paid, and volunteer military forces of the Commonwealth of Australia.” For the light horse the aiguillette is to be fastened on the shoulder, not ‘with a button, but with a “ screw button.” The dress of the field artillery is to be of the same pattern as that of the light horse. In the Army Service Corps a serious distinction is made, inasmuch as a blue silk thread is to be worked in, and the Army Medical Corps is to have a chocolate silk thread. The breeches were a matter of serious consideration. Men may wear them to fit their legs or loose, but in the case of officers they must be “cut loose at the thigh and tight at the knee.” They are to be laced below the knee, in the centre of the leg. The pockets are to be cut across, and the breeches are to have a waist-strap and buckle. The garrison artillery are to have -
Cord,¼ inch gold, three lines from shoulder to shoulder resting on the breast.
What would happen if a member of the artillery had two lines in his uniform, or if there were only a single line, I can only feebly conjecture.
The lines are to fall one inch apart in the centre, and meet at the ends of the shoulder pads, being sewn on to the right shoulder pads, and fastened to the left with hooks and eyes.
Does the Minister intend to hire out these officers for the next pantomime? The engineers’ shoulder-pads are to be -
The same as above, but with red and blue silk threads worked in.
The militia are to have dark green silk threads worked in ; the Army Ordnance Corps, blue silk threads; and the Veterinary Department, maroon silk threads. Coming to the officers, I learn that a captain is to have two rows of chevron lace, a lieutenant-colonel three rows of chevron lace and four rows of braid alternately. I find, too, that the Minister for Defence himself is not observing the regulations, which provide that linen collars are to be worn buttoned on to the collar-jacket, so as to show one-eighth of an inch above. I learn also that -
Knee boots of black leather will be worn, and black spur leathers and steel chains, whilst the collar badges, where worn, must be of metal. For the general officers the peak cap is to be of “ patent leather, embroidered all round with oak leaves in gold,¾ inch wide.” Coming to the hat, how is it to be carried ? Some people may imagine that the members of our Defence Force may cock it jauntily upon their heads just as they please. Nothing of the sort. It is to be -
Set at an angle of about sixty degrees, and carried well back to protect the temples.
There is also to be -
A brown leather chin strap,3/8 inch wide, buttoned on to two brown bone buttons, placed immediately behind the corners of the peak, with the badge in front. Such caps will be worn straight on the head.
We have heard a good deal about the feathers of the Rocky Mountain eagle, but the feathers which are to be worn with the service hat outshine these altogether. For example, I find that the staff are to have
Red and white cock’s feathers drooping on left side of hat. measuring, when out of socket, from base of feathers to point, fourteen inches, six inches across widest part.
I find that in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania the officers are to wear emu feathers and regimental badge, but in Western Australia they are to use ostrich feathers and regimental badge. The field artillery are to wear a feather plume in their hats, with red and blue rosette and grenade. The Army Corps are to have “ a chocolate ostrich plume, banded at base with chocolate vulture feathers.” The height of the plume is to be seven inches. Let honorable members think of the hours of study which the Minister must have bestowed upon these regulations. Probably the whole Ministry were called upon to consider them, because the effortinvolved would surely be too great for any one man. I find again that the gorget button is to be “1 inch from the point.” I might go on quoting page after page of these regulations.
– Were they issued after the present Minister came into office ?
– I am astonished !
– They were published almost immediately after the Minister’s celebrated declaration that he had provided for the national defences. A mind that could evolve a system like this could not accept a correction, and therefore I have not thought it necessary to protest. I felt, after reading these regulations, that it would be useless for me to attempt to protest against them, but I made up my mind to bring them prominently before honorable members. I sympathize with the Minister for Defence. The reading of these details appears to have dumbfounded him, because, for the first time in his political life, I find him unable to make a reply. Apparently this is the first occasion on which these regulations have been brought under his notice. Turning again to the list, I find that a sash is to be worn. What would these men be without one? It is provided that the sash for the staff shall be-
Gold and crimson silk net, 2¼ inches wide; two crimson stripes3/8 inch wide, the rest gold ; round loose gold bullion fringe tassels, with crimson threads, 9 inches long, round heads.
It is to be -
Fastened with buckles round the waist, the tassels hanging from the left side on the hip, the ends not to reach lower than the bottom of the skirt of the jacket.
Coming to the sash to be worn by the Director-General of Medical Services, we find that black silk net is to be substituted for crimson silk net, and that for light horse, other than lancers, a white silk net sash is to be worn not 2¼ inches wide but 21/8 inches in width. I wonder whether these men measure the width of their sashes as soon as they meet, in order to determine the company to which they belong. When the Director of the British Embassy, Colonel McCartney, went to China, he had to be particularly careful that he and his staff did not sit on chairs lower than that provided for the Emperor himself. If he had sat on a chair even an eighth of an inch lower than that occupied by the Emperor, it would have been accepted at once as proof of degradation of rank. The staff had to carry with them a pocket rule with which to measure their seats, and as an assertion of British authority, care was taken that none of the members of the Embassy used a chair lower than that occupied by the Emperor. Here it. appears we have adopted the Chinese fashion. We provide not for a seat, but for a sash which is to be 2¼ inches wide in one case, but only 21/8 inches wide in another. The artillery are to wear a sash of golden silk net, 21/8 inches wide, with round loose golden silk fringe tassels,9 inches long, round heads, and fastened as in the case of the staff sash. There are pages and pages of these regulations, and the list is only kept within nine or ten pages by such condensations as, for example -
Engineers. - As for artillery, but with red and blue silk threads in tassels.
Infantry. - As for artillery, with dark green silk threads in tassels.
The Defence Act has been proclaimed ; regulations under the Act have been approved, and the Ministry are so proud of their success that they have placed this list of regulations before us, and have asked us to approve of it. I confess that I have never had any strong regard for a military system. If we have to rely only upon paid men for our defence, we shall be in a poor position, for paid men have nothing to fight for. The best defence that a nation can have lies in the possession of a bold spirit by its people. I would give our men the arms necessary to enable them to show the possession of that bold spirit, but I would not call upon others to defend us. If a man’s country is not worth defending, it is time for him to leave it and make room for others who will be prepared to light for it. We should not condemn a man who is destitute of courage, because, after all, it is his misfortune; we can only hope that men of that stamp will quietly die away. Turning again to the Governor-General’s speech, I find it is stated that -
A Conference of representatives of the Governments interested in the Pacific Cable will shortly be held in London for the purpose of considering its financial management, and the provisional agreement entered into between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Eastern Extension Telegraphic Company.
I believe that the Ministry will at least do me the justice of admitting that when they entered into the agreement with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and set aside the opinions of the New Zealand and Canadian Governments, I declared in this House that they had been guilty of a gross outrage, that their action was distinctly against equity, that we were bound to consult the other parties to the agreement, and that to do anything else was to befoul the fair name of the Commonwealth. I am glad to see that even at this late hour the Government have repented of their action, and are seeking now to repair the mischief which they then did. I do not say that we should not endeavour to make the best possible arrangements for an effective service; but when we cannot be forced to do something that we are asked to do, we ought to be most anxious to appear before the world as a people ready to observe, not only the letter, birt the spirit of the law. No such anxiety was displayed by the Government in the case of the agreement entered into with the
Eastern Extension Company, and it is humiliating to think that the House did not condemn them for their action. Some of us did so, but although our protest was of no avail, I am pleased to think that the Government now recognise the force of our objections. We are told also in the GovernorGeneral’s speech that -
The removal of vexatious restrictions upon commercial intercourse between the States of the Commonwealth has received attention. It is hoped that Inter-State certificates upon the transfer of goods between New South Wales and Victoria will soon be dispensed with, or at least greatly modified.
I should like to know how long the Treasurer believes it will be necessary to continue the system of inter-State certificates. Were not accounts to be kept for only two years after the establishment of the Commonwealth Tariff? Bv the Tariff Act itself we declared that it should date from the 8th October, 1901, but, in my opinion, we had no power to make that provision. I feel satisfied .that the High Court will decide that when we made the Act retrospective we did something that was entirely beyond our power - that the time at which the Act really came into existence, so far as the other purposes of the Constitution are concerned, was the date on which it received the Royal assent. Western Australia’s special tariff will run five years from that date, and not from the date of the introduction of the Bill, which had then only the sanction of the Executive behind it. ‘ Every step in the direction indicated in this paragraph has my warm and hearty approval, because it is another move towards that free intercourse which we all so much desire. If the imposition of inter-State duties would make New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland wealthy, and add to the industries of Western Australia and South Australia, why is it that the Federation, which was brought about for the well- being of the people, found it necessary to do away with them? By all means let these “ vexatious restrictions “ be continued, if they really add to the wealth of the community. But it is one of those inconsistencies from which the protectionists find it impossible to escape, that they have to admit that every step taken in the direction of freeing trade is really to the advantage of the people. It is set forth in His Excellency’s speech that -
The consent of the Parliament of Western Australia has been given, and that of the Government of South Australia sought, for the construction of a railway to connect Western Australia with the Eastern States, and you will be asked to make provision by Bill for a survey of the line.
I yield to no honorable member in my desire that a measure of the kino* mentioned in this paragraph shall be considered by us at the proper time, and I should like to see the coming of that day expedited as much as possible ; but while we are seeking to make provision for a line of this character, it is equally clear that we must. either have the power to build other railways to connect it with the coast, or that those branch lines must be constructed by the States themselves. The transcontinental line must be tapped, for example, by a line running from Eucla, which must be part of the one general scheme. If the State itself does not construct it, we must retain the power to carry out the work ourselves.
– Where does the honorable and learned member get that theory ?
– It is my own opinion of the situation. Then, again, we must have power to construct a line from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay or Israelite Bay, or otherwise the cost of the goods conveyed to the people there will be absolutely prohibitive.
– Western Australia has the power to construct those lines.
– I am aware of that; bur we must take care either that she constructs them herself, or gives us the power to make them. The Commonwealth, before undertaking the construction of a transcontinental railway, involving an expenditure of about ^4,000,000, should take power to construct at the same time connecting lines from at least two of the ports on .the southern coast, as feeders to the main line. Otherwise the people will have to pay an enormous sum of money for a railway which it will be impossible to put to the best use.
– That would be a good thing for the Commonwealth, perhaps ; but how about Western Australia?
– If the traffic of the main line were increased by the construction of these feeders it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth, and as the States have now federated, a good thing for Western Australia, too. I cannot understand the contention that a thing may be good for the Commonwealth, and not for Western Australia or any other State, though I could understand .the contention that it might be good for the Treasury of the Commonwealth, but not for the Treasury of Western Australia.
– That is what I meant.
– What is good for the Commonwealth must be good for Western Australia, because it would do injury to the Commonwealth for harm to happen to Western Australia, or to any other State; but the Treasury of a State might be affected without harm being done to the Treasury of the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable and learned member make those feeders without the consent of the States concerned ?
– No. I would use every means possible to persuade the authorities of those States to construct such lines as I spoke of, and, if possible, would obtain from .them the promise that they would be constructed, but if this were not given I would not construct the lines. I would leave it to them to choose the ports with which the feeders should connect. For instance, I believe that the surveyed route of the . proposed transcontinental line lies about ninety miles to the north of Eucla, and apart from the traffic advantage, it would probably pay to construct a branch line from Eucla to the main line merely to provide for the transport of materials required for the construction of the main line, instead of taking everything from Port Augusta or Kalgoorlie. We are told in the speech that a Bill will be submitted for the purpose of creating the Inter-State Commission. I admit that the Constitution provides for the creation of the Inter- State Commission, just as it empowers this Parliament to create a good many other bodies; but I submit that it is not wise to create these bodies one after the other at the present time. The honorable member for Gippsland referred to the strong liking of the Minister for Trade and Customs for making appointments. If the honorable member is really sincere in what he said, I consider it his duty to vote against the adoption of the Address in Reply, in order to give effect to his Opinions. Seeing that the Minister for Trade and Customs, in introducing this Bill, will be doing only what the Constitution provides for, there appears to be no need for such a vicious attack upon him. I am not in favour of the Bill ; but I am forced to admit that the Constitution provides for the creation of the Inter-State Commission. Then we are told that the Government intend to introduce a short Bill to enable the Executive of the Commonwealth to assume the direct control of New Guinea. I can hardly conceive of a measure to which more attention should be given by us than such a Bill, because it will provide for the government by the Commonwealth of nearly 250,000 black subjects, and will raise many problems for us to face. Is it proposed that the natives, of New Guinea shall be allowed to freely enter the Commonwealth, and to accept employment here? I am afraid that once New Guinea becomes part of the Commonwealth, the High Court will decide that trade intercourse and commerce between it and the mainland must be absolutely free.
– But will New Guinea become part of the Commonwealth?
– If it does not, I think it will be injurious to our interests to take control of the British possession there. I look forward with dismay and apprehension to the possibility of the creation of what in time may become a serious racial difficulty. In the Southern States of America there are now nearly 13,000.000 negroes, between whom and the whites the racial feeling is so strong that it is interfering with the administration of justice, and has brought about what is almost civil war hi one part of the country. When the New Guinea Bill comes before us, we shall’ have to consider matters like these. Still, as the Bill is not to be introduced until “ inquiry now being made is completed,” I presume that it will not be submitted for our consideration during the present Parliament. I find, too, that it is intended to improve the steam-ship communication between Australia and the New Hebrides, the Gilbert and the Ellice Groups. The Postmaster-General recently pretended to rejoice at the position in which he found himself when the big English steam-ship companies refused to tender for the conveyance of mails to Great Britain, and told the country that it was a foolish thing to pay subsidies to mail steamers. Now, however, we find the Government proposing to subsidize a steam-ship service to these islands. We, on this side of the House, welcome everything that tends to the development of trade, and, as we believe that Australia must become the mistress of the Pacific, we rejoice that steps are to be taken which will tend to increase our influence there and add to our national wealth. I cannot understand the position of honorable members opposite, however, who at one time say that they think subsidies should not be given, and immediately afterwards propose to give subsidies to increase our trade with the Pacific, while they have retained duties upon importations f rom abroad which very seriously hamper that trade. But, of course, that . is only another example of their inconsistency. We are told in the speech that it is intended to examine the experience gained in the recent elections, with a view to the amendment of the Electoral Act. The members of the Opposition are willing that the Act should be amended, but we also are desirous that its main provisions shall be carried into effect. -All parties in the House are aware of the serious discrepancy which now exists between the distribution of electors and representation. We cannot blame the new members of the House for the votes given by their predecessors last session, but the action taken then in refusing to ratify the distribution of electorates submitted by the Commissioners appointed by the Government will always remain as a monument to record what to my mind was the very worst thing ever done within this chamber. If we destroy the purity of representation, we weaken the strength of the foundation upon which Parliament rests. We are also promised bills to regulate copyright, and relating to trades marks and merchandise, which, of course, will be complementary to the Patents Act. I have no objection to those measures, though I do not think that there will be time to pass them during this session. If only half of the programme submitted in the Governor-General’s speech is carried out, we shall do well. Of course, if the House were divided into committees, and the legislation of the session distributed among them, we could get more Bills through, but they would not be. the enactments of a representative Assembly. I cannot too strongly urge the Government not to sit more than three days a week. If we sit more frequently it will be impossible for honorable members to thoroughly consider the measures presented to them. The Electoral Bill was brought before us at a time when we were hurrying and rushing through other legislation, so that I had only a couple of days to give to its consideration. I was able to show, however; that it was framed upon half-a-‘dozen different principles, and that its provisions conflicted to such an extent that it required to be practically re-drafted. I felt that, if passed into law, it would certainly be a failure, and I said that I washed my hands of all responsibility in regard to it.
– The High Court knocked the stuffing out of it this morning.
– Yes. I was told that there were plenty of other honorable members who were ready to undertake the work of dealing with the measure, and my reply was that if I, who am able to work twelve or fourteen hours a day, could not find the time necessary to thoroughly consider it, other .members could not do so either. I have experienced the melancholy satisfaction of finding that I was quite right in the strictures which I passed upon the Bill when it was before us. If we follow a similar course this session, we ‘cannot look with any confidence for sound legislation. As a legislative body we cannot proceed any faster than the slowest of our individual members. We are maintaining a rate of speed in our work, with which no man can keep pace. There is not one of our Acts through which a coach and four could not be driven, and it is highly desirable that we should change our methods. It must be borne in mind that the mistakes we make bear most heavily on the poorer classes of the community, because they are frequently unable to afford the expense that would be involved in correcting them. Therefore, we should be most careful to avoid inflicting disabilities upon them. There is a mixture of good and evil in everything. The old fight between what the Persians of old called Ormuzd and Ahri’man, in other wor-ds, between good and evil, is still going on, and there is an admixture of both good and evil in all our legislation. The more we examine what has been done in the past, the more clearly must we see that legislation has seldom been attended by the results expected. I believe that, unless legislation recognises great moral principles it will never come up to the anticipation of those who pass it. We should never do evil in the expectation of good results. Good never does result from evil, and the history of legislation shows that any departure from great moral principles always involves some evil. If we try to correct a great evil by substituting what we regard as a lesser one, the results will still be disastrous, and, I believe, that only when a thing is morally right, does it become financially and politically right. We are told, in the Governor-General’s speech, that it is intended to introduce Bills to regulate copyrights, and to deal with trade marks and other similar matters. These proposals may be very good in themselves, and will no doubt have to be considered in due time, but I hope that we shall not be asked to deal with them during the coming session. It will be physically impossible for honorable members to attend to the amount of work mapped out by the Government. It is not for nothing that the Judges and barristers in the Law Courts have regular vacations. They would be anxious to get on with the work of the Courts if they could. But the experience of hundreds of years has shown them that mental work involved in arriving at just decisions upon matters involving intricate points of law, imposes so serious a strain on the brain that those engaged in the work are absolutely unable to carry it on in the same way as if it were merely physical labour. It must be remembered that the reasoning power which we are now able to exercise is the result of one of the most wonderful developments of the human mind. So far as our physical nature is concerned, we are called upon only to exercise our muscles, and can perform work to the extent to which our muscles respond to the calls made upon them. But it has been found impossible for the mind to keep pace with the body. We must not, as a legislative body, place ourselves entirely in the hands of the parliamentary draftsman, Parliament is .practically a committee of the public, intrusted with very extensive powers, and capable of enforcing its advice by the aid of civil and military forces. I am sorry to say that Parliament is rather too ready to give such advice. Its powers should be more discreetly exercised. I had hoped that the Government would at least have devoted some attention to the question of the allowance made to honorable members, The experience of last Parliament taught us that the allowance ought either to be abolished or considerably increased. The allowances .made to members of the State Parliament may be quite sufficient, because the members of those legislative bodies are able to engage in their ordinary avocation at times w/hen Parliament is not sitting. Honorable members of this House are, however, placed in a different position. The representatives of such distant States as Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania are absolutely compelled to give up their private businesses for the time being, and therefore the allowance which is now made must be regarded as entirely inadequate for them. At the time that the Constitution was framed it was foreseen that the allowance provided might be found insufficient. Therefore it was fixed at ^400 per annum until Parliament otherwise provided.
– Parliament might decide that the allowance should be reduced instead of being increased.
– Quite so; but I contend that the time has come for a revision.
– In what direction ?
– In the direction of increasing the allowance. I was not sure at one time that payment of members would not lead to the introduction of a class of agitators who would be much more concerned in stirring up the people than in studying the best interests of the Commonwealth. But the experiment has withstood the test of experience. We must presume that the representatives in this Parliament are fairly distinguished in certain walks of life, and that they represent the best intelligence of the community. If that be the case, the allowance is quite inadequate. It must be admitted, also, that present conditions do not permit of full and free competition for the representation of the people in Parliament. Many professional men are under present conditions precluded from taking up a legislative career. In this connexion, I might point out that the ranks of professional men are recruited from the labouring classes as well as from other sections of the community. If we went through” our universities we should find that the greater number of our professional men had fathers who earned their living by their daily labour. The reason why more of these men do not’ seek to enter Parliament is that the allowance provided for representatives of the people is inadequate. How much of it is consumed in electioneering expenses alone?.
– One hundred pounds.
– I trust that the honorable member for Gippsland was able to secure his re-election for that sum. I know that, in order to avoid exceeding the limit which was imposed under the Electoral Act, I had to abandon my intention to visit certain portions of my electorate, because not for a dozen seats in Parliament would I place my name to a false declaration. I should have felt that I was debasing my manhood by so doing. Taking into account the cost of their election, the demands which are made upon honorable members, and the expenses which are incurred by. them, especially by representatives who come from other States, I. am unable to see how they can possibly retain even £150 of their parliamentary allowance. I’ know that I sat here throughout the whole of the first Parliament, and was never able to overtake my expenses. The honorable member for South Sydney and two or three others occupied a similar position. I. do not object to that state of things. If there were no parliamentary allowance whatever, I think that I should still remain in politics; but if the allowance is to be considered as payment for our services, I hold that it is utterly inadequate. I wish to see such an allowance offered as will insure competition for seats in this Legislature. At the recent elections, in New South Wales we could not induce men of the professional class to offer themselves as candidates - men who by their intellectual work had shown that they were fitted to take part in the deliberations of Parliament. The same difficulty, I know, was experienced in Western Australia and Queensland. Where is there a man mentally fitted to take part in the legislative work of the community who would regard the present allowance as adequate? Men of that type, when appproached upon the matter, usually reply : “ I should like to enter parliamentary life very much, but I cannot afford to do so.” The conditions which are applicable to the States Parliaments are very different from those surrounding the Commonwealth Legislature. If the members of the Labour Party are all worthy of a seat in Parliament I should like to witness competition amongst’ them. This is no new matter with me. Some two and a half years ago, when the question arose as to whether Ministers should be permitted to draw their allowance as representatives, in addition to the salaries attached to their portfolios, I declared that their remuneration was far too small. I repeat that statement now, although I do not say that it has’ not been infinitely too large for the members of the present Ministry. If, however, the people choose to elect those who are unfitted to occupy such high offices, that is their affair. Our duty is to see that an adequate allowance is provided. The work of a true parliamentarian does not consist merely in discussing the measures which are submitted for consideration. I could name at least three members of the Labour Party whom I met during the recess, and whom I found engaged in reading works which reflected the greatest credit upon them. Were they not fitting themselves to receive an adequate remuneration? Of course all my remarks are based upon the assumption that there should be some parliamentary allowance. Honorable members evidence their belief in that principle by accepting the allowance. If I thought that the principle was not a right one, 1 should refuse to accept my payment.
– The honorable and learned member is not much in favour of it.
– I am in favour of it. It is a subject which honorable members must consider for themselves. Let me point to the Bank of New South Wales as an example. I suppose that that institution has at least a couple of hundred officers, to whom it pays far larger salaries than the whole community pays to the members of this Parliament. If capitalistic institutions find that it is to their interest to pay substantial salaries to their officers, surely it is in the interests of the Commonwealth that a substantial sum should be paid to members of this Parliament. If we take the average duration’ of the political life of men in Australia-
– They take a lot of killing.
– The extraordinary feature is that very few of them average a political life of ten years. I am bound to say that, so far, in spite of many temptations, we know of no instances of men growing wealthy by the prostitution of their political principles. That is a wonderful tribute to their strength of principle. Let honorable members recall the occasion when the Tariff was under discussion. One of the most marvellous features in connexion with that period was that no one could place his finger upon any instance of corruption. I am bound to say that some of the lobbying which was indulged in was positively disgraceful, and it afforded me intense pleasure to find that in most cases where direct lobbying had come under the notice of honorable members, instead of the duties being raised, they were lowered. Any one engaged in certain industries could make it well worth the while of Ministers and honorable members generally to impose heavy duties on certain articles. But I do not know that Ministers or honorable members generally are making a great display of carriage; I do not know that they are making thousands of pounds as members of Parliament, although it is perfectly clear that because of certain mistaken notions which some honorable members entertain they have allowed many manufacturers to dip their hands into the public purse. The Government should have taken care to provide an adequate allowance for honorable members. I expressed this opinion when I was before the electors, and
I shall continue to give utterance to it, although whether any alteration will be made is quite a different matter. We have now realized that what might be regarded as an adequate allowance in the case of a representative of Victoria is entirely inadequate in the case of an honorable member who has to come here from another State, who has to incur the expense of travelling to and’ fro, and bear the cost of keeping himself here, as well as of maintaining his home in another part of the Commonwealth.
– The present allowance is not even sufficient for an honorable member representing a Victorian constituency.
– I agree with the honorable member. I do not see how it would be possible to discriminate; but if we Could do so, we should certainly discriminate in the favouring of honorable members representing other States. Another remarkable feature of the GovernorGeneral’s speech is the intimation that the Government propose to introduce a Bill dealing with rings and trusts.
– It will be the old Bill - at all events it bears the same title.
– Perhaps so. What is responsible for the formation of rings and trusts? I reply unhesitatingly that the imposition of Customs duties to the inordinate extent to which they have been placed on the people of Australia has already led to the creation of trusts. When the tobacco duties were under the consideration of the House I and other honorable members pointed out that the proposed margin between the Customs and Excise duties on this commodity would put a profit of from £180,000 to £200,000 a year into the pockets of certain manufacturers in Australia. The suggestion was ridiculed by many honorable members who had not considered the matter carefully, and they were misled into making an enormous difference between the Customs and Excise duties, and this has resulted in private persons appropriating large sums which should rightly have gone into the Treasury. In defence of the attitude which I then took up, I would mention that about a fortnight ago I learned that the various tobacco manufacturers had amalgamated. Messrs. H. O. Wills and Co., the States Tobacco Co., Cameron and Co., Dixson and Co., Kronheimer and Co., and some other firm, have formed themselves into one body. A trust has been formed, and it is anticipated that a profit of about , £150,000 will be divided as the result of the year’s operations. Last year one firm alone made a net profit of £80,000. I am not blaming these gentlemen. They have a perfect right to conduct their business as they think best. As a private individual, I might say to them - “ The law permits and encourages you to do certain things, and you ought to go on and prosper.” They have prospered, and they will make larger profits from their business than honorable members on the Government side of the House ever ‘ imagined possible. If honorable members opposite had recognised that, as the result of the wide margin allowed between Customs and Excise duties on tobacco, such large profits would be made in this business, I am sure that they would have supported honorable members of the Opposition, who declared that no one should be allowed to dip his hands into the coffers, of the Treasury; that manufacturers should depend for their livelihood, not upon the plundering of others, but upon the fruits of their own labour.
– “ Blundering “ is rather a hard word to use.
– What term would the right honorable gentleman have me employ ? I might describe it as “ legalized taking,” but the fact that it is legalized does not prevent it from being rightly described as plunder.
– It is only profit.
– We have no right to compel other men to contribute to such profits.
– The Minister does not smoke.
– That is all the more reason why he. should not have assisted in compelling others to give to a fund to which he himself does not contribute. A ring has also been formed in the jam-making trade. Every tin of jam that one sees in Australia is practically under the domination of the one trust.
– Then there is the sugar monopoly.
– I do not propose to deal with that monopoly, although it is probably one of the worst. Some of the jam manufacturers did not ask for the imposition of duties on imported jams, and they are fully entitled to take what the law gives them in this respect. They are entitled to carry on their business in their own way ; but what right have we to insist that there shall be guaranteed to them a profit that we cannot grant to the rest of the community. Can we guarantee to every man out of work a right at all times, to the interest on his labour ? Can we, by any Act of Parliament, give a man at all times the right of employment? If we cannot give to the worker the right of employment - or, in other words, if right, at all times, to the interest on his capital - what right have we to say to the moneyed man - “What we cannot grant to the poor we will grant to you, although you do not need it. We will take from the one the little he has and give to the man who hath much.” To what an extent has the policy of the Government been based on those lines, and to what extent do the members of the Ministry disgrace the name of statesman when they adopt such a system ? What can be said of honorable members who profess to come here as the representatives of labour when they allow such a state of affairs to continue? Can they expect the support of men who, like myself, say that they represent not organized, but unorganized labour, and fight the more strenuously for that unorganized labour becauseit has no direct voice in this House? How many unionists are there in Australia? We know that there are about one in every eight of the population. The Labour Party seeks to represent only the organized interests ; but what about the u iorganized interests? What about the men who lie helpless under our laws - who cannot fight against them because they have not the means at their disposal? Are they not to be considered? It makes one’s blood boil to think that we have honorable members usurping to themselves the name of representatives of Labour who yet assert that, because a man has not joined an organization - has not come under a certain form of rules - he is not to be considered a labourer. What is to be thought of those who assert that because a minority - an organized minority, it is true - has obtained representation in this House, the great mass of the people are not entitled to direct representation? Is that the way in which to improve the conditions of the community ? What is the object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill? What will it provide? Will it not declare that the man who does not come into line with these organizations, who will not yield up his right to sell his labour where he thinks best, shall be thrust aside?
– What about the union of the honorable and learned member’s profession ?
– Two wrongs do not make a right. The course pursued in my profession, may be absolutely wrong. I believe that it is ; but no man should be permitted to represent himself as the master of a profession when he has not undertaken the study necessary to qualify himself for it.
– To which profession does the honorable and learned member refer ?
– It is true that I am a member of two professions, and I think that if a man is entitled to receive credit for his labour I am ; but I have never belonged to a union.
– The honorable and learned member belongs to the strongest union in Australia.
– Does the honorable member think that I have ever yielded to the dictates of leaders ? I have never done so. Honorablemembers of the Labour Party will probably say that I am not a Labour man, and yet at one time I worked for seventeen, eighteen, . and nineteen hours a day in order to raise myself above the condition of life in which I was placed.
– But the honorable and learned member is a unionist.
– I would tell the honorable member that I have worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day with an axe, and at the close of my day’s labours sat down to study. Nevertheless it is said that I have no sympathy with Labour. Can I not enter into the feelings of a man who is anxious to obtain work but cannot find it ? I have accepted as little as10s . a week in return for my labour, and it would be impossible to find a man possessed of a more fiery spirit than I had when I was anxious tor work and could not always obtain it. Would it have been possible in such circumstances to find a man with stronger feelings of revolt in his heart against the. laws which I believed kept down the masses? Because the Labour Party represent one man out of eight, and will not give any consideration to others, am I to be shut out? Is it to be said that I do not belong to the representatives of Labour? Those who say so speak what is not true. There are thousands who, like me, seek for an alteration of the law, not in the direction of enabling one class to plunder another, butto secure simple justice for all. We do not believe that the exaltation of any one class can lead to the exaltation of the community generally.. It is only by improving the conditions of all - unionists and non-unionists alike - that it is possible to secure that elevation of the community which alone can bring about true prosperty. We have men on this side who, like myself, have always worked in some way or other for their daily bread, and are we to be considered as other than Labour men? Are we to be regarded as a class shut out from the great bulk of humanity ? God forbid !
– We will take the honorable and learned member into our party next week.
– But for the fact that the Labour Party holds caucuses, I should have been with them long ago. I differ from them, not in regard to their aims, but in regard to their methods. I would give no consideration to any man who would take upon himself the right to determine what course of action I should pursue. I seek to represent, not the opinions of a section of the people, but the interests of the great masses of the community. For what other reason do we give ourselves to the study of such works as come within our ken but that we may be able, as far as God has given us strength, to do our best in the legislative work of the community ?
– I am afraid that my contribution to the debate will appear somewhat tame in comparison with the very interesting performance of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. May I commence by saying, in acknowledgment of the incidental lectures which the Labour Party received from him during his somewhat lengthy speech, that we are always glad to obtain advice from our friends, though of late we have had so much advice from friends and opponents that it has become difficult at times to distinguish one from the other. However mistaken we may consider the views of the honorable and learned member, we are sure that his utterances were sincere, and that, if he understood the position, the aims, and the aspirations of the Labour Party, he would have omitted a great deal of what he has just said. He has assured the House that he has of late been reading in certain directions. May I suggest that he should continue in that course. I believe that there is hope for him if he will take the trouble to read some of the statements which we have written about ourselves, in preference to those which our opponents have written of us. I listened’ with extreme interest to the utterances of the leader of the Opposition, especially in regard to the fiscal question, of which so much was heard during last Parliament. We have been assured that that question has been disposed of, and the right honorable gentleman himself told us that he was prepared to enter into an armed truce in regard to it. But no sooner had he done so, and left for his home, than those who are supposed to be his followers broke out into what appears to be open rebellion.
– That shows the freedom allowed on this side of the chamber. There is no caucus-driving here.
– Then may I offer the members of the Opposition a word of advice ? I am sure that they will agree that no other system of Government is possible in Australia than what is known as the party system, and I suggest that for a party to be successful there must be loyalty among its members to each other, and, above all, to their leader.
– There is loyalty to principle upon this side of the chamber.
– That comes first.
– Loyalty to principle is implied. It is understood that when a member joins a political party he does so because he believes in the principles which bind that party together, and the leader of the party must stand for the embodiment of those principles. If the leader of the Opposition spoke on behalf of his party, as I believe he intended to do, I do not wonder that he begins to tire of his position when a day or two afterwards he finds them rebelling.
– There is no rebellion. He gave us a free hand.
– Then I cannot understand the position. I do not wish to speak in a party spirit, and I hope that what I say to-night will be taken as coming from one who is sincere, and who has no wish to provoke bitterness. I admit that sometimes I say things which I would rather not have taken literally.
– We all have that weakness.
– I believe that we have, and it is well that it should be understood that sometimes we do not mean quite what we say. The criticism to which the Labour Party has been subjected during this debate is due partly to a misunderstanding of the basis of the party’s organization. I do not intend to enter upon a defence of its actions or of its principles, because I do not think it is necessary to do so upon this occasion ; but if those who oppose us would try to understand the foundation upon which the party is built they would learn something which, if applied, would conduce to their own prosperity and success. When the result of the recent elections became known, I, in common with other honorable members, no doubt, anticipated with considerable interest the meeting of a House in which there would be three parties of almost equal strength. I heard the comments of public men of considerable experience in political life, as to the impossibility of legislation being carried on by an assembly so constituted. Indeed, the Prime Minister, at a banquet recently held in Melbourne, referred to the difficulty of carrying on business in a House where a majority could not be obtained for any one party, and stated that responsible government would be impossible unless there were some form of coalition between two of the three parties. But the position in which we find ourselves is only a repetition of what has repeatedly occurred in the Parliaments of the States. The right honorable member for Adelaide, whose political generalship I acknowledged for some years, was in office as Premier of South Australia for more than six’ years, during which time he did excellent work for the State and for the cause of democracy. But I think I am correct in stating that he never had a majority of pledged Government supporters. It was always a House of three parties. What, then, was the secret of his success ? It was that, in spite of what might be called the mechanical lines which separated the -three parties, there were live principles which forced members together. It does not matter how many parties there are in an assembly ; everything must depend upon the principles for which those parties stand. I shall not anticipate what may happen in this Chamber, but I am quite sure that a majority of honorable members, whatever their party, will, if they respect, as I believe they do, the general democratic sentiments of the electors, find a way out of any difficulties that may be caused by the existence of three parties here.
– The Government party must be holding a caucus now, judging by the emptiness of the . Ministerial benches.
– They are represented by the Minister for Trade and Customs. It must have been gratifying to the Prime Minister, who applied to the position of parties in this House the simile of three cricket elevens, to have the assurance of the leader of the Opposition that when the first test match comes to be played his eleven will help the Government. After that declaration from the gentleman who is supposed to be his keenest opponent, the Prime Minister must feel that the situation is not impossible. A good deal has been said during the; debate about the responsibility of honorable members. It has been contended that the members of the third party, as the Labour Party has been called, have no responsibility. I cannot understand what is meant by that statement. I hold that every member of the House, to whatever party he may belong, is responsible for the legislation enacted here, and for the’ administration of the Government of the day. Would any member of the Opposition try to shelter himself at election times behind the plea that he was not responsible for something done by the Government? Would not the natural retort of the electors be - “ You were sent into Parliament to see that the Government did not do anything outrageously bad, but that they acted in the best interests of the mother country?” What’ is true of the members of the Opposition is true of the members of the Labour Party. We are all equally responsible for what may be done in this House, and, to a less degree, for the administration of the Government during the recess. Honorable members who sit behind .the Ministry bear no greater responsibility than those who occupy positions opposite. They may ally themselves with the Government at election time; but as soon as the Ministry do anything of which they do not approve, that alliance comes to an end, and they are free to join with the Opposition in visiting punish-, ment upon the offenders. We have been told that a crisis is approaching. I do not know whether it will be quite so serious as some honorable members would have us believe - particularly after the very kindly overtures which have been made by the leader of the Opposition. I am glad to hear that the crisis, if it does occur, will not involve a principle of vital importance to the democratic and progressive members of this House. I am aware that the Government claim that by their action in reference the proposal that States employes shall be brought within the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, they are upholding States rights. I do not consider that they have very solid ground for adopting that attitude. I am an upholder of States rights; but I do not admit that by adopting the proposal referred to, we should invade States rights in any waywhatever. The Minister for Home Affairs recently told a large meeting at Perth that the extension of the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to States servants Would involve an interference with States rights, but he did not favour his audience with ..any proof of his statement.
– I issued a manifesto in which I made a plain statement of the matter.
– The Minister said plainly enough that States rights would be interfered with, but he made no attempt to prove his statement. The sam(e remark applies to the speech of the Minister who introduced the measure in the last Parliament. I read that speech with close attention, and all that it contained upon this point was a timid expression of opinion that in including States servants within the scope of the Bill; we might bring ourselves into ‘conflict with the doctrine of States rights. ‘ Upon that statement the press have based the whole of their objections. No arguments have yet been brought forward that would serve to convince even the most moderate objector that the proposal would involve any invasion of States rights, and I believe that the objections raised are to a very large extent due to recent events in Victoria. I desire to say a few words on the subject of immigration. Too much is now being made of what I regard as only a temporary stagnation in our population. During the last five years the events in South Africa have tended to greatly interfere with the stream of immigration into Australia. We have sent away to that country some thousands of the flower of our own people, of whom many have remained away. Since the war, also, hundreds and thousands of other men have flocked to that part of the world. I believe that the reaction is now setting in, and that hundreds of those who left are returning to Australia. We shall be glad to welcome them back.
– What the honorable member says applies more to Western Australia than to any other State.
– I do not know whether that is so or not. I know that we have gained immigrants from the other States to a greater extent than has any other part of Australia. The question is, what can Australia do, more than at present, in order to induce immigrants to come here from the old land?
– If we could all give immigrants the same inducements in connexion with land settlement that Western Australia is offering, the results would be very different.
– I was about to remark that if all the States could do what is now being done in Western Australia, we should have no reason to reproach ourselves with failing to offer every inducement to immigrants to settle here. According to the last official report of the Minister for Lands in that State, it appears that during the last twelve months i,ioo families have been settled upon the land. There is plenty of land available there yet - good virgin soil, capable of producing abundant crops. The average return from the wheat crops, according to last year’s statistics, was thirteen bushels per acre. We have a sufficient rainfall, a perfect climate, we are free from land or income taxes, and in addition to that we give assisted passages to certain classes of immigrants. Whilst all this’ is being done in any part of Australia, we cannot be charged with neglecting our duty, so far as holding out inducements to immigrants is concerned. All that can be expected of us as a Parliament is to advertise our resources, and then look to the State Parliaments to make available land on which people can settle if they come here. A few days ago I joined my colleagues from Western Australia in forming a deputation to the head of the Government, to request that, owing to her peculiar conditions, Western Australia should receive special consideration when certain proposals in the Navigation Bill are submitted to the House. The honorable member for Grey, when addressing the House recently, spoke rather warmly of our action, and the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide interjected that what we asked for was grossly unfair. Neither I nor my colleagues admit that anything that we asked for deserves to be so characterized. This is not the time at which to enter upon a lengthy discussion of the matter, but I desire honorable members to avoid being prejudiced by any remarks which have fallen from the honorable members referred to. The objections raised by the representatives of South Australia, although ostensibly in the interests of the seamen, have something more behind them. I do not yield to any one in my desire to conserve the interests of our seamen. I am prepared to go as far, and to do as much, as any one to protect the men who are engaged in a precarious and dangerous calling, and to make their conditions as comfortable as possible by legislation. I think, however, that I am now only doing my duty when I call the attention of honorable members to the fact that there is an object behind the proposal which, although it has not been mentioned, is well understood. It is an attempt - and I speak advisedly - on the part of some honorable members to aggrandize the chief port of one State at the expense of the ports of another State.
– I represent that port, and I have never heard a word about it.
– I am surprised at that. I do not intend to come into conflict with my honorable friend. We have sat together in another place for many years, and in spite of differences we have always been the best of friends. I am sure that that state of affairs will continue. My honorable friend is now representing the chief port of one State, whilst I represent the chief port of Western Australia. I am sure he will admit that I am merely performing my duty by pointing out what I regard as an attempt, under the guise of legislation in the interests of the seamen, to deprive the ports, not only of one, but of several States, of the trade which legitimately belongs to them. When the matter comes before the House, I am convinced that honorable members of all parties will see that no injustice is done to any one State as against another. I was very pleased, indeed, to hear the sympathetic way in which the honorable member for Franklin spoke last night. He realizes, perhaps, as some honorable members cannot realize, the peculiar position of Western Australia. Like Tasmania, that State is practically cut off from rapid communication with the rest of the continent. Indeed, her position is infinitely worse than that of Tasmania. I think it was the Federal Treasurer who stated at St. Kilda during the recent election campaign that up to the present time the people of Western Australia had derived no advantage whatever from federation. He pointed out that they occupy exactly the same position as do the population of New Zealand, inasmuch as they are cut off from the rest of Australia by 1,200 miles of sea. I am sure that the honorable member for Franklin echoed the sentiments of all Tasmanians when he declared that such States ought to receive at least sympathetic consideration when any legislation is submitted which may have the effect of interfering with their present means of communication. I believe that the other members of the House will take that reasonable view of this question, and will see that no obstacle is placed in the way of their development, as the result of legislation, the effect of which, although the object may be a very worthy one, may be to do great mischief in another direction. I cannot resume my seat without saying a few words upon a topic which is ever uppermost in the minds of Western Australian representatives. I refer to the transcontinental railway. I am glad that the Government have included a reference to that project in the Governor-General’s Speech, and that they are pledged to seek the sanction of the House in providing a certain sum, which is to be devoted towards a survey of the route. I am perfectly certain that when the time comes to discuss that matter Ave shall be able to convince the reasonable members of this House that Westem Australia has, at least, a right to expect this first step to be taken in that great project upon which her future prosperity so much depends. If I thought that anything which I could say now would assist the project, I should continue my remarks. I feel certain, however, that honorable members will keep an open mind upon the subject, and that when the Bill is introduced they will do that justice to Western Australia which her position demands. Before concluding, I desire to make a few observations in reference to the last Parliament. I watched its opening and its work, particularly during the first session- a session unparalleled in the history of Australian Legislatures - with very keen interest. I confess that I was disposed to Be somewhat critical, because I shared, to some extent, the feeling of hostility which existed then, and which still exists, between members of the States Parliaments and representatives of this Parliament. As time went on, however, I saw the nature of the work which the Federal Parliament had to perform, and the application which was necessary on the part of honorable members to solve the very difficult problems with which they were confronted. When I saw them sitting month after month at the sacrifice of their own comfort, their business, and sometimes their health, I felt convinced that, altogether irrespective of what opinions may have been previously formed, there was no need to feel ashamed of the work of that Parliament. The reaction which set in soon after the accomplishment of Federation, and which is evident to-day, would -have caused any serious mistake which might have been made to be eagerly seized upon by the oppontents of union. The fact that it has received only the- ordinary criticcism to which Parliaments are subjected at the hands of the press and the public, is conclusive evidence that the people of Australia are satisfied with its work. That work, both as to quality and quantity, was such that no legislative body need be ashamed of it. I trust that the labours of this Parliament will be equally productive of good. If they are,. I am sure that we shall commend ourselves to’ the people of Australia.
– I was an opponent of the Constitution under which we federated, as the Minister for Trade and Customs is well aware. I opposed it because of the principle of State rights to which it gives so much prominence, and because I realized that we were asked to federate under a provincial Bill, and not under a national one. Its main purpose, it seems to me, is to raise revenue, to accept all the responsibility for so doing, and then to hand over that revenue to be spent by irresponsible bodies. Consequently, I fought the Bill with all. the strength which I possessed, and as a result I was defeated in my own constituency. Our experience of. Federation, however, has been such that if the people of New South Wales had to vote upon the question to-morrow, the Constitution would be rejected by- a majority of ten to one. However, we have federated, and it behoves us, therefore, to do the best we can for the people whom we represent, and to pay regard to the nation as a whole. I know that that is not easy. I realize that it is extremely difficult to destroy the provincial spirit which to a large extent has been created by the Constitution itself. In New South Wales there never was such a strong feeling against the other States as there is to-day. There, the spirit of antagonism has grown and has been intensified since the accomplishment of Federation, by reason of the course which has been taken. Quite recently the States Treasurers met in Conference in Melbourne, and practically decided in favour of the perpetuation of the Braddon section of the Constitution. Instead of seeking to improve our position, they adopted exactly an opposite course. In the GovernorGeneral’s speech I notice that reference is made <o the question of the transfer of the States debts. The sooner we take them over to the extent of getting rid of the obligation to return any portion of the Customs revenue to the States, the better will it be for the nation as a whole.’ I advocated that step in my first campaign for a seat in this House some three years ago. My friends advised me not to adopt that attitude. They urged that if I continued to do so, the electors would still regard me as an anti-Federalist. I acted upon their advice. To-day, however, anything which will have the effect of preventing the Commonwealth from raising money for the States will receive my, hearty support. In that, however, I foresee many difficulties. The States will be constantly appealing to us to find them revenue to spend. That so much money has been returned by the Federation to New South Wales has proved a veritable curse to that State. Those who, like myself, were opposed to union, repeatedly assured the people that under Federation their taxation must be increased. Others who have now retired to the quiet of the judicial bench affirmed the opposite. To-day, however, the people of New South Wales recognise who told them the truth and who deceived them. The honorable member for Fremantle spoke of a want of loyalty on the part of free-trade members to their leader, because we have made interjections which indicate that we hold opinions of our own. Those who are responsible for the interjections in question have sat behind the leader of the Opposition before, and no more loyal followers ever existed. But in those days the present leader of the Opposition knew the independence of the men behind him. We would not follow any leader into a morass or difficulty, and the right honorable gentleman, if he were in power to-morrow, would find that his supporters would be just as independent as they were in the days that are past. In matters of principle we will be loyal to him and loyal to the country. Individually, he may choose what course he will take, and we individually will take good care to be true to the principles in’ which we believe. I listened with some degree of pleasure to the speech of the Prime Minister. I had heard him spoken of in New South Wales as the “ silvertongued “ orator, and I was pleased with his utterances. At the same time, I do not agree with him, and I am not likely to. Indeed, I am afraid that I am one of those who can never be converted to the belief that we can legislate people into prosperity. The thing is utterly and ridiculously absurd. The prosperity and advantage of human beings depend to a large extent upon themselves, and no legis lation can accomplish these results for them. I stand here to-night the opponent to a large extent of restrictive legislation. I yield to no’ honorable member in my sympathy for humanity. I am in favour of giving the workers the highest remuneration for their labour. I have no sympathy with the idea that we must force wages down in order to ‘produce cheaply. I contend that it is impossible to effectively fix the wages of workmen by Act of Parliament, and I fail to understand why the honorable and learned gentleman should have adopted such a proposal as this. No State in the Commonwealth has endeavoured as Victoria has done to legislate to that end. The Victorian Parliament has passed Factories Acts, providing for Wages Boards and various other measures, designed to make men prosperous by artificial means, but they have had to make amendment after amendment in those Acts, only to find that the object in view cannot be attained. Many men imagine that it is possible by printing a few lines on a piece of paper to alter human nature and vary the laws that govern production, but in that respect they make a most serious mistake. The GovernorGeneral’s speech sets forth that-1-
The reaping of bountiful harvests over the greater part of the Commonwealth revives the problem of insuring to the agriculturist a return which will repay his labours and encourage increased efforts.
How is this to be done? Do the Government propose to obtain for our farmers an increased price for their produce at the expense of the rest of the community ? I presume that is what is suggested. Then the speech proceeds to make reference to the question of preferential trade, and to state that if we can secure it, it will give us “ an immense and reliable market.” Protection is mean, and this proposal is a piece of superlative meanness. Protection simply takes the money out of the pockets of one set of men -and puts it in the pockets of others. It takes it out of the pockets of those who ‘ can ill afford to bear any burden, and gives it to those who are already rich. The proposal foreshadowed in this paragraph is superlatively mean, because it suggests a desire to take money out of the pockets of the masses of England and put it into the pockets of the farmers of the Commonwealth. Could there be a more selfish proposition ?
– It is better to do that than to allow their money to go to the foreigner.
– Ten thousand times no. The honorable member says, in effect, that it is better to starve the poor of England than to allow the money to go to the foreigner. Are there men in the community with souls above pounds, shillings, and pence, who accept the position -of the honorable member?-
– And this is the expression of their loyalty !
– Is this loyalty? I am loyal to the King as the head of the nation - as the representative of the nation; but I am also loyal to the people. If loyalty to the King meant the starvation of the people I should not be loyal to the Throne. We do not give away anything to the foreigner. It is from the foreigner that Great Britain obtains a portion of her food supplies, and it is better that she should do so if, by drawing her supplies from us, her people would obtain less than they would otherwise do. The gentleman who has brought forward the preferential trade proposals is, of course, to be spoken of with bated breath. He stands amongst the great people of the world. He occupies a foremost position in the minds of the people. People everywhere look towards him, and one must say nothing but nice things df him. I, for one, have had the courage to criticise Mr. Chamberlain in terms which do not come within that definition, and I assert that when he entered upon his crusade he was either suffering from softening of the brain or was prepared to occupy a position that is not creditable to him. He commenced his crusade by pointing to the people of England, and declaring that they were failing in the race for trade - that from 1872 to 1902 the value of the trade of Great Britain had increased to the extent of only some £20.060,000, while its population had increased by some 30 per cent., and that it could not bear this increasing burden of population unless its trade expanded. That was the statement made by him in his Glasgow speech. It is true that, according to the returns that are available, the population of Great Britain between 1872 and 1902 increased by a little over 30 per cent. ; but let me point out that- 1872 was a boom year - that from 1870 to 1872 British trade increased, as the result of the FrancoGerman war, to the extent of some £60,000,000. Why did Mr. Chamberlain choose these years for .the purposes of his comparisons? Was he aware of the fact that I have just mentioned when he selected the year during which England’s trade was booming for the purposes of a comparison with a year in which she had just emerged from a war as severe perhaps as any in which she had ever been engaged. He would have us believe that this is a proper comparison-
– Mr. Chamberlain made a comparison with alb the subsequent years, and showed that the result was the same.
– The comparison does not show anything like the same result.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon.
– If the values which prevailed in 1872 had ruled in 1902 the value of British trade in the last-named year would have- been £r 50,000,000 greater than it was. Great Britain’s trade has enormously advanced, and the man who dares to say that it is decaying is either ignorant of the facts or is influenced by reasons which cannot be explained. Honorable members may take whatever estimate they please, they will find that my statement is correct. I shall mention one or two items in order to show how Great Britain’s trade is affected by the question of values. In 1872 England imported 1.135,832,432 lbs. of raw cotton, the value of which was £42,720,000. In the same year the . value of the cotton piece goods exported by England was £63,466,729, while the value of yarns exported by her was £16,607,426. In 1902 England imported 1,541,574,832 lbs. of cotton, or, in round figures, 400,000,000 lbs. more than in 1872, but the value of that importation was £8,529,000 less than that of the cotton imported in 1872. Then, again, the export of cotton piece goods in 1902 was nearly £2,000,000 in excess of the exports of 1872. Any one can understand that if the price of the raw material which England imported in 1902 had been the same as it was in 1872, the value of her export trade in cotton goods would have been immensely greater. An examination of the statistics from first to last shows that the seemingly small increase in England’s trade is due really to the reduc-tions in value which have taken place, and that, as a matter of- fact, the actual bulk of her exports in 1902 was immensely larger. I do not desire to labour this question, but I trust that honorable members will see for themselves the true position in which
England’s export trade stands. Mr. Chamberlain has also compared the trade of England with that of other countries, and has declared that in the race for trade she is drifting behind. Let me take the greatest country of all, the United States of America, and see how England stands in comparison with her. Strange to say, in making these comparisons, our protectionist friends always desire to deal with the figures relating to the export trade, and Mr. Chamberlain, although he does not admit that he is a protectionist, appears to be adopting the same system. ^Protectionists invariably tell us that the volume of a nation’s export trade is the criterion of its prosperity - that the more a nation sells, and the less it receives in return, the richer it is. According to them, the more a nation exports, and the less it imports, the greater is its prosperity. Unfortunately, I cannot recognise the wisdom of that doctrine If I part with my goods, and receive nothing in return, I find that I am so much the poorer; but, nevertheless, we have protectionists declaring that if a country’s export trade is large, while its import trade is small, it must be growing rich. I wish honorable members to see that other nations cannot in any way compare with England, so far as their total trade is concerned ; but in order to please the supporters of the Government, I shall deal, first of all, with the figures relating to exports. La’st year America’s exports were about equal in value to those of England. That, to many men, seems to be a proof that England’s trade is not keeping pace with that, of other countries ; but, to me, it conveys no such impression. I find that the 40,000,000 on the one hand have the same trade as have the 80,000,000 people on the other. Per head of the population, England has exactly double the trade of the United States of America ; and yet we are told that the trade of the old land is decaying. Honorable members are, doubtless, aware that the great bulk of the trade of the United States* of America relates to agricultural productions - that it deals, for example; with live cattle, meat, mineral oils, and timber. Do honorable members imagine that England can compete with the .United States of America in that respect?Is it possible for England to graze on her pasture lands as many cattle as America can run on her vast prairies ? Is it possible for her to take out of mineral oil wells that she does not possess the oil which America is able to send abroad ? Is it possible that she. should be able to take out of her forests the same quantity of timber that America can obtain? The answer must be, No. And if we exclude these sections of America’s trade, we find that England is placing on the markets of the world four times the exports, per head of population, that the United States of America is sending forth. I wish honorable members to give this matter some consideration, and to say whether the figures I have quoted indicate any sign of decay on the part of the grand old land. England possesses no advantage over- the United States of America. In order to secure this immense trade she has to levy tribute upon the whole world for her raw material. Last year she imported £34,191,000 worth of cotton - much of it coming from the United States of America - worked it up in her factories, and sent it abroad again to compete in America, and other parts of the world, with the products of other countries. “ Our industry,” . they tell us, “ is assailed; you can see that there has been a change in the trade.. Away back in 1872 our iron and steel trade was not as much as it is today.” But some £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 worth of our. exports in that year were raw material. If honorable members will look at the statistics for the present time, they will see that the export of raw material from English ports has almost ceased, and that what is exported now is the finished article. Indeed, England imports raw material - bar iron, scrap iron, steel blooms, and so on - very largely. Last year she imported .£5,000,000 worth of iron ore, which shows how largely she is dependent upon other countries, even for the raw material needed for the manufacture of steel. ‘We have been told that the dumping of foreign goods is ruining England. To my view, that is a foolish statement. Honorable members wonder why England keeps her position. That position has come to her because of the freedom of her ports, because she says to the other peoples of the world - “ Send us your goods; we are ready to admit them free of duty.” By doing this, she has had at her command the products of other countries, and has gained an advantage which has placed her in her present unequalled position. To say that the dumping of foreign exports upon her shores has ruined her is absurd. My trouble is that, people will not dump enough into -my home. I should be very pleased if they could dump everything for nothing. I would soon grow rich if that happened ; but, as it is, I have always to pay for what I get. During the recent electoral campaign, I saw the statement published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that one of the iron manufacturers had called together his men and told them that he would have- to reduce their wages, because of the quantity of raw material being imported into England, and I saw .that steel blooms could be purchased for less in England than in America. ‘ I admit that the state of affairs was a bad one for those who had to submit to a reduction of wages j but the raw material imported into England increased employment in very many other industries. The English shipbuilding industry stands in front of all others to-day, and will occupy that position so long as other countries keep sending into that country the steel and iron required for building ships. It is the foolishness of other nations that has helped England. Would it be surprising if America, with her population of 80,000,000 of people of the cutest intellect and. the highest industry, and her magnificent resources, were doing a greater trade than that of a little country like England ? Would it be a thing to be wondered at if they got in front in the race ? It would not surprise me at all. But they have, by their restrictive legislation, kept themselves behind, and allowed’ the little land of freedom to forge ahead. The position of England in the markets of the world is an astounding one. The Prime Minister, speaking last week in this Chamber, said -
To our thoughts the doctrine of free imports is essentially distasteful, because it -means to us as to some of its most outspoken advocates in the text books, a reduction of the conditions of life and labour to the irreducible minimum, an abolition of every consideration, than the power of the purse, coupled with a refusal to look beyond superficial cheapness.
I am sure that every free-trader desires that the living of the people employed in industries shall be of the best, and when the Prime Minister spoke of free-trade, or free importation, as he called it, to escape certain difficulties, bringing wages down to an irreducible minimum, he made an assertion that has never been proved, and, if I may be pardoned for using the term, employed a piece of pure claptrap. A few years ago I read in one of the Victorian factory reports that fifteen factories in Melbourne, employing 339 hands, were I paying their workpeople no wages at all. I do not think they could do much worse than that, unless they charged them for working.
– Does the honorable member understand what those factories were?
– Yes ; I shall he perfectly fair. I do not think a man helps his cause by being unfair. I admit at once that they were dressmaking and millinery establishments.
– And the employes were what are called improvers?
– They must have been apprentices ; but that is the irreducible minimum under protection.
– It would be the irreducible minimum under any policy.
– I am not saying that protection was responsible for that state of affairs. My point is that to say that protection keeps up wages is not correct. Protection never did and never will assist the workers.
– The honorable member’s other point was that legislation will not assist them ; ‘but by legislation we compelled those factories to pay their improvers.
– The Inspector of Factories, in reporting upon this state of things, recommended that a minimum wage should be provided for to put an end to it, and a wage of 2S. 6d. per week was accordingly fixed upon. The Victorian Government did its level best to help these apprentices, ‘but twelve months later the inspector reported again that the factories were still being carried on without these apprentices receiving anything. At the time I was fighting against the introduction of protection into New South Wales, and therefore I kept myself abreast of what was taking place here.
– The honorable member’s statement only shows that the employers did not respect the law.
– It shows how ineffective laws are to remedy these things. Employers “under protection learn to be much smarter than they are under freetrade. So the employers of these persons said - “We cannot take you into our factories unless you pay us a premium.” And when the apprentices replied that they could not pay a premium, they were told that they could pay it by instalments ; that they would be given 2s. 6d. every Saturday night, which they must pay back on the following Monday morning. After that, the Victorian Government passed more legislation to deal with the matter ; but if the Prime Minister will read that legislation, and the reports of the inspectors upon its effects, he will find in it a text-book which will show him the utter impossibility of increasing wages by Act of Parliament. The honorable and learned gentleman no doubt will tell me that they did increase wages. I admit that they may have increased the wages of some of the employes who were retained, but, to counterbalance that, other employes were dismissed to starve.
– That statement has been contradicted by the Inspector of Factories. Victorian legislation has raised the wages of thousands of employes, .without leading to the dismissal of any.
– I read the report of the inspector to-day. He says that there are still places in which men who find that they cannot do as much work as their fellows have agreed to sign for certain wages and to accept less.
– It is time that the State interfered to prevent employers from taking advantage of the necessities of their workmen.
– Laws may alter conditions a little, but they only lead to the creation of other conditions which, in my opinion, are worse.
– What the honorable member complains of is being very largely done in New South Wales.
– Yes. I could name places where it is done.
– The sweating has been worse in Sydney than in Melbourne
– It could not be worse.; but in any case the Government of New South Wales has not put its hands into the pockets of the people arid pretended that it was making things better when it was really making them worse. Honorable members opposite pretend that protection helps the workers, but it does not. Wages are lower, and their purchasing power is less in protected Germany than in free-trade England. The advantages enjoyed by the people of Great Britain under free-trade are immensely greater than those at the command of the people of Germany. It is only necessary to go to Germany and see the the people eating their black bread, and the poverty in which they live, to realize the difference between the two countries, and the advantages enjoyed by free-trade England.
– Was it not very much worse in Germany before protection was introduced there ?
– What has the honorable member to say about English pauperism ?
– English pauperism is not so great to-day as in years past. There is pauperism in Melbourne and Sydney, where there ought not to be any. Our people are crushed down into deeper poverty than they should be, because of the restrictive conditions under which we live. What has made the Social Democrats of Germany so strong ?
– Not only that, but the fact that the general community has been called upon to bear the burden of the bonuses granted to farmers and others, and because of the heavy duties placed upon foodstuffs. Every increase of Customs duties in Germany has led to an accession of power to the Social Democrats.
– How does the honorable member explain the fact that, according to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, there are 12,000,000 persons in the United Kingdom who are on the verge of starvation.
– First of all I do not believe it. How was that result arrived at? The plan adopted was to take the numbers of the ‘poor in the slums of London to ascertain the proportion they bore to the population of that city, and to use that as a basis of calculation applied to the whole population of England. It was not arrived at by noting the facts disclosed in the returns of the Poor Law Boards, and therefore the estimate is utterly unreliable. The Prime Minister has referred to the fact that, so far as the free-trade party is concerned, conditions have altered since the time of Cobden, particularly in regard to sanitary and industrial legislation. Cobden was a free-trader, but he did not advocate freetrade only so far as commerce was concerned. If he had lived and could have carried out his crusade to the fullest degree, the condition of affairs in England would have been very different from what it is today. He stated just before his death that, if he were a young man thirty or thirtyfive years of age, he would start a league for free-trade in land with a view to ameliorate the conditions of the people. We are seeking to improve the conditions of the . people by legislation which is taking an entirely wrong direction, and is gradually making things worse. Reference has been made to the fact that the Labour Party are supporting legislation for the benefit of their own class, and who shall blame them. I do not agree with everything they have done; but before there was a Labour Party in politics what course was adopted by those who had the power? They legislated for their own section, and for them alone. If the legislation in times gone by had been of a different class there would have been no LabourPartyto-day. We have created huge monopolies and conferred great benefits upon them, not deliberately, but owing to our misdirected legislation. So far as immigration is concerned, the land question is the key to the whole position. Land is the one element from which wealth is produced. It is upon the land that every man should be able to find employment. There are broad acres in all directions, which, if men were free to till them, even with a spade, would yield livings for themselves and their families. Yet we find that the means which nature has provided for man’s sustenance have been legislated away from him, and given to monopolists. Restrictive legislation such as that passed in recent years will never benefit the working classes ; but the doctrine of freedom carried to such an extent as to afford full and equal opportunities to every man to sustain himself by profitable employment, presents the only means of salvation. Every man is entitled to what he earns or produces. No man is entitled to take from him any of the product of his labour without giving him a fair equivalent, but there are hundreds of men in this country who, under existing conditions, are able to take from the working classes a share of the wealth they produce. Whilst I recognise all this, I believe that the legislation which is now being submitted to us is not of the class calculated to remedy existing evils.
– What would the honorable member substitute?
– I would substitute something if I had my way, but I recognise that in this Parliament we are very much hampered. In the State Parliament of New South Wales, I have throughout my career advocated a certain course which would take me beyond the sphere of Federal politics at the present stage. Some of the members of the Labour Party have spoken of the necessity of providing for the payment of old-age pensions. I am in favour of pensions being given only to the deserving poor. I do not regard every man as being entitled to a pension; but I am looking forward to the old-age pension scheme for my own benefit, because I am not a wealthy man, and I may have to take advantage of the system. When deserving men go down in the struggle of life it is right that we should make their conditions as pleasant and easy as possible.
– How would the honorable member discriminate between those who are deserving and those who are not?
– That could easily be done. I know of one case in New South Wales in which a man who has £130 in the bank - that is more than I have - and also his own house, draws a pension from the State because he is over the age of 65. Will any honorable member say that that is right ? I am afraid that State rights will stand in the way of the adoption of the suggestion that the funds necessary for the payment of old-age pensions should be raised by means of a land tax. I would point out that we could not impose a land tax in Western Australia, for example, and leave other States untouched in that regard. Whilst our financial conditions remain as they are we are powerless to do anything in the way of raising funds. Until the Braddon blot is removed, and the federation can exercise a free hand in regard to its finances, we cannot provide for old-age pensions. I am an advocate of land taxation. I believe that all the revenue that we require should be raised by means of a tax upon land, and I have industriously promulgated that doctrine throughout my State electorate, although not in my Federal electorate. The true friends of labour should avail themselves of every opportunity to denounce the present system of spoliation under which we live, and endeavour to so adjust the incidence of taxation that when the State spends large sums of money it shall receive an adequate return, that when the growth of population increases the value of the land the increment shall go to the people who make it. The Labour Party in New South Wales crippled the land tax when it was first introduced into the State Legislature. They supported an exemption with the object of saving the poor man.
– So did the leader of the Opposition, who was then the head of the Government in New South Wales.
– But I did not.
– No, I grant that.
– I suppose that I may term the honorable and learned member for East Sydney an opportunist, because he went for all he thought he could get. Some halfdozen honorable members of the State Legislature voted against the provision for the exemption, but it was inserted in the Bill at the instigation of the Labour Party, and the honorable and learned member for East Sydney had to submit. I wish to say a word or two with regard to the doctrine of cheapness. Cheapness is bad if it results from the sweating of labour. It is a curse to the community that wages should be kept down in order that commodities may be made cheap. But if cheapness results from the lessened cost of production, and is obtained by fair and right means, it is one of the greatest possible blessings to the community. Is it right to make goods artificially dear? Was it right that fodder should be made artificially dear, as it was last year when so many farmers were upon the verge of ruin ?
– Ask the South Australian farmers about that?
– In my own electorate there are farmers who made fortunes out of the necessities of others. I faced them upon the public platform, and told them exactly what I am saying tonight. It was absolutely wrong that they should have enriched themselves as the result of the misery and distress of others. That is an instance of artificial dearness, which was good for the South Australian farmers, but extremely bad for the men who were suffering, and who ought to have been considered. South Australian farmers would have obtained a good price for their wheat without the operation of the fodder duties. Now they cannot get a good price, even with the aid of these duties. Such imposts can prove of assistance only in time of famine or scarcity. If we desire to produce dear wheat, let our farmers use the primitive plough, which was used by my father in the early days, before the outbreak of the gold-fields. The improved methods of production have cheapened the cost, and as’ a result our farmers derive a fair price for their produce to-day. Any attempt to increase that price by means of the payment of a bonus is equivalent to robbing the people. It will be gathered from my remarks that I am opposed to granting a bonus for the production of iron. Neither Mr. Sandford nor any other gentleman will secure my assistance in any effort to exploit some one else’s pockets. I desire, nevertheless, that the fullest avenues of employment shall be opened up. When we have done that we shall have accomplished all that legislation can do for the purpose of benefiting the massesof the people. So far as New South Wales is concerned, our factories under free-trade employed only a thousand hands less than did those of Victoria. The main difference was that the former State employed men, whilst the latter employed women and children. I thank honorable members for the very patient hearing which they have accorded to me.
– As a new member in the fullest sense of the term, and as one who is unaccustomed to the usages of this House, I can assure honorable members it is with considerable diffidence that I rise to add my quota to the debate. To-day the honorable and learned member for Parkes remarked that it was not only right that new members should take an early opportunity of addressing this Chamber, and thus introducing themselves to the old members, but that the latter should give the former a taste of their quality. I feel very much like the little boy who stands shivering upon the bank of a stream, and is afraid to take the plunge. However, I have been advised that the best thing I can do is to take it and get it over. I feel my position all the more keenly because I have the honour to represent a constituency which for three years was represented by the first Prime Ministerof Australia. The electors of the Hunter felt themselves highly honoured when they found that they were privileged to be represented by the late Prime Minister. But I regret to say that many were disappointed when they discovered that the policy which he advocated in his celebrated Maitland manifesto was not to be given effect to in the way they had anticipated. The fact that an untried man has been returned by a considerable majority to represent that particular constituency is conclusive evidence that it favours free-trade. I am not prepared to discuss the merits of the Government policy, but I utterly fail to see how they can reconcile the two questions of preferential trade and fiscal peace. In my judgment these things can scarcely coexist. I cannot understand why the Government throughout the recent campaign made the question of preferential trade their battlecry, when it is apparent to everybody that.it cannot come upon the tapis for threeyears. We must await theverdict of the people of
Great Britain upon that subject, and when we receive an offer from them it will then be time enough for us to discuss it. We have heard a great deal about the “ crimson thread of kinship “ and the “ silken bonds,” but I fancy that to a certain extent we deceive ourselves. True, we are loyal to the mother country, but I cannot but feel that there is a good deal of the sordid element in connexion with our loyalty. We sent our soldiers to South Africa to assist the Empire, but many of them were not animated by feelings of loyalty alone. They recognised that in South Africa we had a market for our goods, and that consequently we could not allow that country to pass into the hands of foreigners. Concerning the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I merely desire to say that we cannot possibly progress unless we have a union between the two great forces of capital and labour. Consequently, I am favorable to giving the principle of arbitration a fair trial. Of course, we must regard legislation of this kind as largely an experiment. We have recently had examples in which it seems likely to prove a failure. That, however, should not deter us from endeavouring to produce unity between these two great opposing forces. I have an opinion upon the proposal to extend the provisions of the Bill to the public servants, but I have no intention of expressing it at the present moment. If we bring public servants under its operation, I fail to understand why it should not be made to embrace the members of our defence force. Then possibly we might witness the spectacle of the Justices of the High Court accompanying the troops in time of war, in order to be upon the spot in case their services might be required’. We might also be spared the sight of 500 soldiers disobeying the orders of their superior officer - as was the case in Tasmania a few days ago. In regard to the Navigation Bill, I shall say nothing about the propriety of excluding black labour from our mail steamers. I have had some experience of the sea, and I know that when vessels are travelling through the Red Sea, with the thermometer registering 120 degrees in the shade, and the wind’ aft, the stokehold is about the last place in which one would wish to see his friends. Nevertheless, the stamina of the British race is such that it is quite able to endure these extreme temperatures. Whether or not we desire to prohibit the employment of black labour upon our mail steamers, I think that, as a matter of expediency, it is to be regretted that the Commonwealth enacted such legislation. We behold the fruits of it to-day. We find the Postmaster-General placed iri a most awkward dilemma. He has called for tenders for a mail service under the new conditions, and no satisfactory replies have been forthcoming. It must be admitted that the exclusion of black labour from these ships has a tendency to dislocate the trade of the great shipping companies which are interested, and we must recognise that” they have their vested rights. Moreover, the policy which has been adopted in this connexion is not pleasing to our neighbours. One question which in my judgment should be settled this session is the selection of the Federal Capital site. I made it one of the planks or my platform during’ the recent election campaign. I think that the mother State is merely asking for her rights when she demands that it shall be settled at the earliest possible moment, and I must congratulate the Prime Minister upon having recognised that fact. I see no reason why we should not establish the Federal Capital, not in the bush, but in the country. It is admitted that one of the evils from which we are suffering to-day is the concentration of population in a few large cities. For example, Sydney contains five-fourteenths of the population of New South Wales. The honorable member for Franklin claims that it would be wise on our part -not to create any more large cities. But I would point out to him that Washington has a population of 200,000, and covers an area of seventy square miles. I fail to see why we should not make another addition to our great cities. It need not necessarily be a city of the magnitude of Sydney or of Melbourne, but it would be an advantage to this country if we had, as in New Zealand, a number of smaller cities scattered throughout the Commonwealth. Why should we not, at very little expense, erect Houses of Parliament, in which to conduct our business, somewhere in the neighbourhood of a fairly large town like Tumut or Bombala?
– Or Lyndhurst?-
– I prefer Lyndhurst to either of the other sites, because I recognise that it could readily be connected with the existing railway systems. I see no reason why we should not, at slight expense, establish our Houses of Parliament in a Federal Capital, and live in the neighbouring township in the greatest of comfort. I come now to the question of Immigration. I favour the encouragement of immigration, but the question before us is, how can we best give effect to our wishes. I have travelled over mile after mile of beautiful arable land in my own electorate - land most suitable for settlement, but devoted entirely to the production of wool. It seems to me that there is nothing to prevent the cutting up of large estates of this description, or, at all events, of those portions of them which are suitable for agricultural purposes. The present holders incur no great expense in carrying on operations. Most of them work on the land themselves, and employ but few men, and it seems to me that there is nothing to prevent the throwing open of such areas to suitable settlers. If the present holders were compelled to make their land available for settlement, they would find in the end that it was much to their advantage, and that they would secure a much better return than they now obtain.I am wholly opposed to the entrance of coloured races into this fair land of ours. We are of Anglo-Saxon blood, and it would be regrettable if that blood were contaminated by that of coloured races. Considering that we have enormous coloured populations in close proximity to our shores, I feel that we are well within our rights in refusing to allow the unrestricted admission of coloured races to the Commonwealth. There are, for example, the 400,000,000 of China, and the 40,000,000 of Japan, and it would be a serious matter to the country if those people once gained a foothold here. I should encourage the immigration of men with small capital, and also of artisans and labourers, and I hold that we make a great mistake when we erect on our shores a notice-board bearing the warning - “Trespassers will be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law.” It is a matter for regret that we do not hold out open arms to immigrants of a desirable class.
– That is what we are doing.
– Canada and the United States, as well as Australia in the golddigging days, were most prosperous when they had a steady stream of immigrants flowing in. There is one class, however, which I would not encourage. I speak now with a certain amount of hesitation, because we must all entertain naught but feelings of sympathy for those who suffer from illhealth. For many years, however, Australia has been made a dumping ground for persons from other lands who suffer from consumption. I am glad to see that the people, in common with the medical world, are beginning to recognise that consumption is a disease which is communicable, and I think that our laws for its prevention cannot be made too stringent. I would not wholly restrict the admission of consumptives to the Commonwealth, but if they choose to come here, I should make them reside within certain reservations, where they would be able to enjoy the beneficial influences of our climate without fear of contaminating our people. One constantly sees consumptives on board the large mail steam-ships coming to Australia, and not only are they a menace to the whole of their fellow passengers, but to the people of the Commonwealth. There is another subject with which it is somewhat difficult to deal, but which I desire to bring under the notice of honorable members. It seems to me that, although we ought to encourage our native born, that Australia is beginning to resent the appearance of its own people in its own land. One can scarcely pick up a newspaper without seeing in it advertisements which suggest the keeping down of the population.
– We have an Act to prevent the publication of such advertisements.
– I know that we have a means of preventing the publication of such advertisements. I refer to the provision in the Post and Telegraph Act. If the PostmasterGeneral did his duty he would cause a very close censorship to be exercised over mail matter, and refuse to allow the postoffice to be used for the distribution of these advertisements, full as they are of matter of a dangerous nature. Only a few days ago I received through the post a communication which was of a nature inimical to the growth of population. It was enclosed in an envelope in such a way that it might readily havebeen opened by any one. It was addressed particularly to medical men and chemists, but was really intended for any one to read. Immediately upon receipt of the communication, I brought it under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and he assured me that in future no letters of that description would be allowed to pass through the post. I regret that it was necessary for me to draw attention to this correspondence, because matters of this kind should be attended to in the first instance by the servants of the Department.
– They cannot open letters.
– This was not a closed letter. The flap of the envelope was turned in, and it was possible for any one to open it.
– The Department has prevented the circulation of many undesirable publications through the post, but it requires to be informed of them. Unless the Department has reasons to suspect that a letter is an improper one, it cannot cause it to be opened.
– I regret that the PostmasterGeneral is not present.
– I gave a similar letter to the Postmaster-General a day or two ago.
– The letter which I received bore an attractive stamp, setting forth the name of the company which sent it out, and on the whole it was got up in a way that would have encouragedany one to open it.
– Numbers of such letters have been intercepted when passing through the post-office, but we look to the public to assist us.
– Many of these undesirable advertisements appear in newspapers which are transmitted through the post. The Department is entitled to open any newspaper, and I do not think that journals containing such advertisements should be allowed to passthrough it. Quite recently a Commission sat in New South Wales to consider the question of the declining birth-rate, and I know that the matter to which I have referred is a growing evil. People in ordinary walks of life have not the opportunity to learn these things that is open to members of the medical profession ; but honorable members may take it from me that the matter is one of the most supreme importance. I trust that now that I have brought it forward; the Postmaster-General will do what he can to prevent the dissemination of this class of literature through the post.
– Hear, hear.
– I have now but to thank the House for the very kindly way in which my remarks have been received. I confess that this has been somewhat of an ordeal for me ; but I have determined to make myself a politician. I have learned a great deal by listening to the debate in this House during the last few days, and I am satisfied that, if I continue to improve at the same rate, I shall become a very clever politician.
– As most of the newly returned members from the Northern parts of New South Wales have to-night commenced their career in this House, I think that the honorable member for Cowper, like the honorable member for New England, and the honorable member for Hunter, might very well be pardoned for seizing this opportunity to make his maiden speech. The Governor-General’s Speech is of so general a character that it enables one to speak on almost every subject relating to the heavens above, the earth below, or the waters beneath, and with so much latitude allowed him, it should not be difficult for an honorable member to find suitable subjects for a speech extending at least over half-an-hour. During the last election campaign, the people of New. South Wales were favoured by a visit from the Prime Minister. I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech which the honorable and learned gentleman made last week on the Address in Reply, and I could not help feeling that the trip made by him to New South Wales had been very beneficial to him. I am sure that we shall always welcome him to New South Wales, and that we shall eventually be proud of him, for I feel satisfied that he is veering round more rapidly than ever to the fiscal views of the people of that State.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is somewhat of a free-trader.
– When listening to him the other day, it seemed to me that he was as’ much a free-trader as are some honorable members of the Opposition. He is certainly working very well in the direction of free-trade. He visited New South Wales to. preach the doctrine of fiscal peace and preferential trade, and made no allusion to many other great matters to which reference is’ made in the Governor-General’s Speech. His cry was - “ Drop the Tariff ; let us have fiscal peace, and let us also have preferential trade.” But the preferential trade which he now advocates is of a brand different from that which he advocated when in Sydney.
– It is of the same brand, but the honorable and learned gentleman is not pressing it so strongly as before.
– If it is of the same brand, it has at all events been improved. The Prime Minister is now coming more into harmony with the views which New South Wales entertains upon the question. We as free-traders have fought the preferential trade question, because of the aspect in which it presents itself to us. We fought it in the interests of the producers of New South Wales and of the Commonwealth. They wish for no assist - ance in their competition in the English markets with the other nations of the world. They do not ask the British people to tax themselves to put money into our pockets. If we are to have preferential trade, let us follow the good example set by Canada. That country gave concessions to the mother land without asking for anything in return, and I hope that the Commonwealth of Australia will not be found behind the Dominion of Canada. The Government policy of preferential trade, however, is a selfish one. The honorable member for Gippsland spoke of the necessity for giving encouragement to the dairying and kindred industries of the Commonwealth. In this State, at all events, the dairying industry has been encouraged from the very beginning. But what did the Federal Parliament do for its encouragement? They placed a duty of - 3d. per lb. upon butter, but the irony of the position is that the duty is ineffective, because our dairy farmers export their produce to England, and its price is not increased to the extent of a farthing. It would be only in a time of national distress, arising from an unprecedented drought, that such a duty would be of advantage to dairy farmers. Then, to assist the wheat-growers of the Commonwealth, this Parliament imposed a duty of1s. per cental upon wheat, and again the irony of the position is that the wheat-growers last year were the very men who had to pay it, because they had to import their seed wheat. But now that a good harvest has come, and they have wheat enough to export, they get no advantage from the duty. Wheat is worth only 3s. a bushel within the Commonwealth, and cannot be brought here from any other country for less than 3s. 6d. a bushel. No real encouragement is given to the farmers of the Commonwealth by the Tariff. What we should do to encourage them is to remove the obstacles which make it difficult for them to compete in the markets of the world. “ I do not agree with what the honorable and learned member for Werriwa said about Mr. Chamberlain. I have a very high opinion of Mr. Chamberlain. I consider that he has done more than any other Englishman to consolidate the British Empire. He was the first Secretary of State to recognise the value of the Australian Colonies and the other possessions of the Crown, and to endeavour to bring together the various parts of this vast Empire. I have followed his career from the time when he was the greatest of Radicals.
I remember when he broke away from that grand old free-trader, Mr. Gladstone. The people then hissed him, and called him a traitor and a Judas; but he has lived it down, so that to-day they almost worship him, and are glad to call him their “ Joe.”
– Right or wrong, he is the biggest man in. England to-day.
– Yes. He stands head and shoulders above every other public man in England. His reason for advocating preferential trade is that the commercial supremacy of England isin danger, and he considers that a policy of preferential trade will help to build up its failing industries. But a greater economist than Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, has stated that if England ever loses her commercial supremacy, it will be because of the terrible amount of drinking done by her people. Her drink bill amounts to £170,000,000 a year, and Mr. Carnegie has appealed to the Scottish workmen to remove that stigma from their land. I am of Mr. Carnegie’s opinion, and Mr. Chamberlain once spoke in the same strain. Now, however, he has allied himself with the brewers of England, and we know that their trade is their politics. The fight will therefore not be a fair one. Preferential trade will not receive a fair hearing. As has been pointed out by the Prime Minister, it is very difficult to obtain the opinions of the people upon any policy that may be put before them, no matter how much it is forced upon their attention. They persist at times in considering other matters of greater moment, and in voting upon those matters to the exclusion of policies advocated by prime ministers, leaders of oppositions, and other political persons. Some honorable members object to Mr. Chamberlain being invited to come to Australia. I am not one of them, because I know that if he comes here he will see and learn for himself what is meant by the preferential trade offered by the Government. He will see that selfishness is at the bottom of it. Notwithstanding that cablegrams have been sent to England to support Mr. Chamberlain’s preferential trade proposals, is the Prime Minister ready to take an active part in the fight himself? No. He says that the matter must be allowed to stand aside for a time. Perhaps he wishes it to stand aside until the next general elections, so that the patriotic cry may be raised again. When he visited New South Wales recently he said that those who were opposed to the policy of preferential’ trade were not true patriots.
– I was returning the customary free-trade taunt.
– When the call to arms was made in South Africa, New South Wales sent as many soldiers as all the other States put together. That is my answer fo the honorable and learned gentleman.
– New South Wales did not send more per head of population than were sent from the other States.
– Are comparisons of this sort ‘fair?
– Years before, she sent to Egypt the first contingent ever sent from Australia.
– A great many honorable, members are concerned about the state of parties in this House. Members of the Opposition and members of the Labour Party .are both wondering what the Ministry will do.
– Not a bit.
– I believe that the Ministry will try to carry out their programme, and that the members of the Opposition and of the Labour Party will support them or bppose them as they think proper. That is the course I shall take when the ‘time comes to vote upon the several measures which are to be submitted to us. Some honorable members have made a great deal of capital out “of the fact that the Government have not received tenders for the English mail service. I believe that the days of mail subsidies are over. But what the Ministry should require is the provision of proper cold storage upon the mail steamers. We know what a monopoly the steamers have had hitherto, and what high freights -they have charged. But if the Government were to take the matter in hand, I think that the dairy farmers would get their produce carried for id. per lb. ; and that no subsidy would have to be paid to bring that about. That is a way in which assistance can be given to the producers. Our farmers have had to carve their own pathway to success, and the less we interfere with them the better. But where we can help them we should. The employment of coloured aliens upon mail steamers seems to me no great concern of ours. I think that the Commonwealth should mind its own business. Personally, I have no objection to a black fellow doing a black fellow’s work. With regard to the proposed Navigation Bill, I understand that some of its clauses are likely to put an end to the competition in the coastal trade, and thus seriously injure the interests of Western Australia and Tasmania. We should pause before we pass any Bill which is likely to. lessen the opportunities of producers for sending their produce to market, and should take great care that our legislation does not press heavily upon the people of the States. It is all very well to try to confine the coastal trade to Inter-State steamers. Certainly the mail steamers do not pay the’ same rate of wages, and if the coastal steamers have to compete with them it seems that their rates of wages will have to come down. But at the same time we must be exceedingly careful in dealing with the navigation laws. Many honorable members have spoken about the prospect of a speedy settlement of the Federal Capital question. We should approach this question without’ any provincial feelings. The New South Wales members, at all events, will not approach it in a provincial spirit. New South Wales is agreeable that the Commonwealth Parliament shall choose the site which appears to honorable members to be most suitable. The New South Wales Government appointed Commissioners to examine sites, and a report was furnished to the Commonwealth Parliament. Not satisfied with that, the Federal Government appointed its own Commissioners. New South Wales has afforded every facility for the selection, and I thoroughly’ believe that honorable members will act loyally to the Constitution and fix the capital as soon as possible. When the question is settled there will be a great’ deal more harmony amongst the members of this Parliament. Sometimes there is a feeling of irritation arising out of unsettled questions of this sort. Such feelings are not in the best interests of this Parliament. Of course, according to the Constitution, the capital must be in New South Wales. I do not know whether that was altogether a wise provision, but still it is there, and I am certain that ‘ honorable members will loyally endeavour to carry it out. I trust that the decision will be a wise one, and that we shall be unanimous in endeavouring to bring about this great consummation. I observe that the Papua Bill is to be intro:duced once more. I hope that this time it will not be thrown under the table, as was done last session because certain clauses were put into it. I hope that it will be passed, and that the clause prohibiting th& sale of intoxicating’ liquors in New Guinea will form part of it. The Commonwealth should set an example in the management of dependencies. One of the charges that has been levelled against British colonization has been that, when Englishmen went to civilize a country, they took the Bible in ohe hand and the whisky bottle in the other. I earnestly hope that the Commonwealth will not permit the whisky bottle to be taken to New Guinea. As to the Arbitration Bill, I intend to give careful consideration to its principles and its details, and will endeavour to record a vote that will be in the best interests of the community. Referring to the Defence Forces, I wish to impress upon the Minister for Defence the advisability of providing our rifle clubs with rifles, instead of expecting them to buy their own weapons. When men volunteer to fight for their country, . they ought not to be called upon to buy their own rifles. We do not know when we may require the services of our volunteers. A number of farmers are practising with the new rifle. I know of two or three clubs that have been started. The trouble, however, is the cost of the rifle. I hope that the Minister will give favorable consideration to the suggestion I have made. As for the Electoral Act, I am satisfied that when it was passed the members of this Parliament’ tried to make it as complete and as liberal as possible. They wished it to be a model Act; But what have been the facts concerning its administration ?” The Minister in charge must Have been thoroughly ashamed of it. The honorable- member for Bland, speaking about it, -said that the administration bordered on’ criminality. If be had been in the Cowper electorate he might have heard a bullock-driver loudly declaring that he would like to put the lash- of his whip around the Minister for allowing his name to be left off the roll. There were men in New South Wales whose names were on the. rolls as at first prepared, but were removed when the rolls were revised. Why they were taken off is a matter that requires serious consideration. Indeed, the whole subject deserves investigation by a committee of this House. There is a feeling that names were omitted purposely. I do not believe that, but still that idea prevails. I am certain that the Minister for Home Affairs will be able to clear away all innuendoes so far as the Government are concerned. But every member of the House has condemned the way. the rolls were made out, and I think there ought to be some further inquiry.
– It is the best Act we ever had in Victoria, and the rolls were prepared better than they ever were before.
– They did very well for the honorable member.
– Personally I have reason to be satisfied, but large numbers of electors are very discontented. I am sure that there was no desire on the part of the Government to omit any man’s name from the rolls if he was entitled to be on. I thank the House for listening attentively to me. This is my first attempt in politics, and whilst I am here I. will certainly do my best for. the country. I may have to oppose the Ministry with regard to some matters of policy, but ‘ I shall endeavour, so far as my efforts go, to make all the legislation which is .brought up for our .consideration successful and beneficial.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kingston) adjourned.
House adjourned Bt 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040310_reps_2_18/>.