2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., land read prayers.
Maloney v. McEacharn.
The Clerk announced the receipt from the Deputy Registrar of the High Court of Australia, under section 202 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, of a copy of the following order of the Court of Disputed Returns : -
In the High Court of Australia.
Court of Disputed Returns;
In the matter of the Election of a Member of the House of Representatives for the Electoral Division’ of Melbourne, inthe State of Victoria.
Before His Honour the Chief Justice,
Thursday, the tenth day of March, 1904.
This Petition coming on for trial the fourth day of March, 1904, and. this day upon reading the Petition of William Maloney, filed the fifth day of February, 1904, and the appearance of Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn, who was returned as a Member of the House of Representatives at the above-mentioned election, and upon hearing the evidence of William Augustin Newman, taken upon his oral examination, and upon reading the several exhibits put in evidence, and upon hearing what was alleged by Mr. Gaunson, of Counsel for the said William Maloney, and Mr. Mitchell, of Counsel for the said Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn, this Court doth declare that the said Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn was not duty elected at the said election, and this Court doth further declare that the said election was absolutely void, and this Court doth not think fit to make any Order as to the costs of the said Petition, except that the sum of Fifty pounds deposited. with the Principal Registrar by the said William Maloney at the time of filing his said Petition be returned to him or to his solicitor, Mr. Andrew McGregor Lonie.
By the Court, (l.S.) J. W. O’Halloran,
– The High Court having declared the election held on 16th December last for the electoral division of” Melbourne, in the State of Victoria, to be absolutely void, I shall this day issue a writ for a new election for the said division. The dates appointed in the writ will be approximately as follows : - Date of nomination, Wednesday, 23rd March; date of polling, Wednesday, 30th, or Thursday, 31st March; return to writ, on or before 19th April, 1904.
– In pursuance of the order of the House, I forwarded to Lady Braddon the resolutions passed on the first day of the session, and her ladyship has sent me the following reply: - “ Treglith,” Leith, Thursday, 10.3.04.
Lady Braddon, on behalf of her family and herself, desires to convey through the Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives, her deep appreciation of the honour paid to the memory of her late husband, Sir Edward Braddon, in the resolution of the House at its first sitting, and heartfelt thanks to those who so kindly moved and seconded and so unanimously agreed to the same.
– The following telegram has been sent to me : -
Following just received from Brisbane. The Aramac has been safely towed into Hervey Bay, near Maryborough, with the captain and nine men aboard.
– I desire to present a pe tition from the president and vicepresident and executive committee of the Central Council of Employers of Australia, praying the House not to pass the proposed Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I move -
That the petition be received and read.
– I have no objection to the reading of this particular petition ; but I should like to know whether we are to continue the practice of last session of allowing all petitions to be read ?
– The practice last Parliament was to allow the first of a series of petitionsto be read, but not to read others of the same tenor.
– In some of the Parliaments of the States, the practice is, not to read petitions, but to have them printed and circulated. The reading of a petition takes up the time of the House unduly, and as, after all, any honorable mernber who desires to make himself really cognizant of its contents must afterwards peruse it in print, no really useful purpose is served. I think that if it were understood thatno petition should be read, our action in objecting to the reading of this petition could not be considered invidious.
– Are all petitions printed?
– I believe so, whether they are or are not read.
– A uniform practice is desirable. I understand that petitions are not printed in every case, but, as every petition is laid upon the table of the House, any honorable member who is particularly interested has an opportunity of having its contents published in Hansard. The time of the whole House should not be occupied in listening to the reading of petitions of which honorable members do not propose to take any further account.
– Could not the motion be made that the petition be printed ?
– I think the Printing Committee decide.
– While it was customary last Parliament to move that a petition be received and read, it was also my practice, uponthe request of any one honorable member that I should do so, to put first the question “that the petition be received,” which might or might not be carried, and, afterwards, if the petition were received, the question “that the petition be read.” All petitions, whether read or not, are passed on to the Printing Committee, and it is for the members of that body, in the exercise of their discretion, to determine whether a petition, or any part of it, shall be printed.
– I understand that the Printing Committee make a recommendation?
– Yes; but so far as I remember, their recommendation has in every case been indorsed by the House. It is not competent for an honorable member to move that a petition be printed unless he declares his intention to take action in the matter, our practice being governed by standing order 91, which says -
No member shall move that a petition be printed unless he intends to take action upon it, and informs the House thereof, and that such action will be taken within fourteen days.
If the honorable member for Bland desires it, I shall put the questions separately.
-i have no objection.
– I wish to read this petition in print, so I shall not object to its being read.
– The question of printing is not involved now. I will put the questions separately.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
The Clerk proceeding to read the petition,
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I desire to ask if the document now being read by the Clerk is a petition or a compendium of arguments against the Bill. It appears to me that the employers, having failed to secure the election of their representatives to Parliament, are now seeking to bring their views before the House by petition.
– So far as the petition has been read, there is nothing in it to which exception can be taken.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that he is issuing instructions that no new names must be added to the rolls for the Melbourne electorate upon claims, and, if so, whether he is thoroughly satisfied that he is not directly infringing the provisions of section 57 of the Electoral Act? Before taking such action, will he make perfectly sure of his legal position, seeing that it is not desirable that another petition against the validity of the election should be presented ? I may explain that this phase of the question came under the consideration of the House when the Electoral Bill was being discussed in Committee, and that I then drew attention to it. On that occasion the Prime Minister simply informed me that the Bill was no doubt ambiguous in that connexion. That was all the satisfaction which I derived from him.
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I wish to say that I have issued no instructions whatever. Of course, I shall have much pleasure in inquiring into the matter. Speaking off-hand, however–
– Do not speak off-hand.
– The honorable and learned member prefers to ventilate the matter here rather than to speak to me outside.
– It is a public matter, and this is the proper place in which’ to ventilate it.
– The question would have received just as much attention had the honorable and learned member approached me in my office. I am of opinion that those persons who are lodging claims to vote will not be able to do so unless their claims have been approved of by the Revision Court. That is the system which operates in all the States, and if it be found that the approval of claims by. the Revision Courts is not necessary, I fail to see the use of those tribunals. However,. I will closely look into the matter at once.
– I wishto ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Chief Electoral Officer has submitted a report in reference to certain alleged illegalities in connexion with the recent elections ?
– To what does the honorable member refer?
– I refer principally to the witnessing of postal votes.
– He has done so.
– Will the Minister be good enough to lay his report upon the table of the House ?
– I shall have very much pleasure in doing so. It has already been given to the press.
– I wish to ask the Minister representingthe Attorney General whether any fees are chargeable either on application for, or granting of, certificates of naturalization under the Commonwealth Naturalization Act ?
– No fees are charged; the administration of the Act in question does not rest with the Attorney-General’s Department, but with the Department of External Affairs.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he will lay upon the table of the House the opinion of the Attorney-General, which is apparently, at variance with the judgment of the High Court, in reference to the recent Wimmera election ?
– With the consent of my honorable colleague, I desire to say that I have obtained from the Attorney-General’s Department a statement in reference to the report of the judgment. It reads as follows : -
The Argus quotes the following passage from the Chief Justice’s judgment : - “At the adjourned poll the returning officer was not entitled to do more than put the prescribed questions, and if an elector not enrolled for the polling place in question made the declaration in Form’ Q,’ the returning officer was bound to receive his vote.”
That extract, severed from its context, gives a misleading idea as to the effect of the Chief Justice’s judgment. The Argus omits to quote the passage immediately following (as reported yesterday in its own report of the decision), as follows : - “ If the man was not entitled to vote there, the vote was bad. But the returning officer could not make the inquiries; that would be for the court to inquire into. If there were a sufficient number of such voters not entitled to vote, the election might have been vitiated. In the present case no such difficulty arose, because that class of persons had their votes refused. The returning officer, in refusing them, was technically wrong, but the court could not disturb the election because the returning officer did something technically wrong, but which led to right results.”
There were only 95 names on the Ni-Ni roll, and Mr. Hirsch was nearly 200 votes behind, so that the polling of all those voters could not have altered the result of the election.
The Attorney-General gave no opinion on the subject, being out of Victoria when the question arose.
No opinion to the effect stated was given at all.
The returning officer having asked the Electoral Office for advice as to whether he should accept “ Q “ declarations at the adjourned poll, an opinion was obtained from the Secretary, AttorneyGeneral’s Department, who advised that though, in his opinion, only persons enrolled for Ni-Ni would be entitled to vote, yet persons making the declaration “ Q “ might be allowed to vote, their votes being taken at a different booth and kept separate, in order that, in the event of a petition, the Court of Disputed Returns might be able to deal with the matter.
It will thus be seen that, if the course advised by the secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department had been followed, there would have been no question in either case. All the votes would have been taken, and the doubtful ones would have been set aside, so that the Court of Disputed Returns could have settled the matter without delay. That that course was not pursued was due not to any action on the part of the Department, but to the choice made by the returning officer himself, in the undoubted exercise of his own discretion.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Transfers of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council, financial year 1903-4, under the Audit Act.
Regulations under the Electoral Act, dated 19th October, and11th, 21st, and 26th November, 1903.
Chief Electoral Officer’s reply to certain remarks of the Chief Justice of the High Court in the case of Maloney v. McEacharn.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Government is willing to provide the funds necessary to cover the bare expenses (estimated at about£2,000) of sending a representative team of Australian riflemen to compete this year at Bisley for the Kolapore Cup, which has been held by Australia for the past two years, and to take part also in the Great International Match to be held in America for the Palm Trophy.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Government do not intend to ask Parliament to provide funds for this purpose.
asked theMinister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether, in making appointments to the vacancies in the Federal Patent Office, as published in the Commonwealth Gazette of 20th February, 1904, officers in the State Public Service will be on an equality with any other applicants for such positions; if not, in what order , will applicants be chosen, as from the Federal Public Service, the State Civil Services, and applicants outside of such services.
– In reply to the honorable member, I beg to state that -
For the vacancies in the Professional Division officers will, if qualified for the particular work of this office, be selected in the order of their merit as under -
For the Clerical and General Division vacancies the same procedure will be followed, but persons outside the Commonwealth or State Service are not eligible for appointment unless they have qualified by passing the requisite examination provided for under the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
Debate resumed from nth March (vide page 488), on motion by Mr. Mauger -
That the Address be agreed to by the House.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I am sure that honorable members were delighted to listen on Friday to the speech delivered by the right honorable member for Adelaide. Newspaper reports had led us to believe that he was in such a bad state of health that he would be unable to go through the ordeal of making even a short speech on the Address in Reply, but we were pleased to find that he was able, not only to undertake that task, but to succeed in occupying the attention of honorable members during an address extending over a period of three and a half hours. I join issue with much that the right honorable member said, believing, as I do, that many of his arguments were based upon false principles ; but we are all seeking, according to our lights, to do our best for the advancement of the Commonwealth, and we should not allow any little differences of opinion to interfere with that friendly feeling which I am satisfied exists amongst honorable members. During the recent elections the right honorable member for Adelaide, as well as the Prime Minister, joined issue with the freetraders of Australia, as to the progress made by New South Wales under the free-trade policy. On Friday last the right honorable member quoted statistics previously put forward by Mr. B. R. Wise, Acting Premier for New South Wales, relative to the increase which had taken place in the exports of that State, those exports being for the most part to other parts of the Commonwealth. He might reasonably have gone a little further, and have comparted the progress made by New South Wales under a policy of free-trade with that made by Victoria under a policy of protection. In opening the election campaign at Ballarat the Prime Minister, in order to please many of his supporters, referred to what he declared to be the decrease of population which had taken place in New South Wales, and asserted that under the freetrade policy of the leader of the Opposition, New South Wales had lost1,882 persons within a period of some four or five years. Had he been fair to the mother State he would have looked up the statistics, which show that, as a matter of fact, 2,400 Chinese left New South Wales during the period referred to ; and that, apart from those departures, there was actually an increase of population.
– They left New South Wales.
– A large number of them went to Queensland.
– As a matter of fact a great many of them left Australia. On the occasion in question the Prime Minister also made reference to the increase of population which had taken place in certain other States, and was then asked by an elector “What about Victoria.” I propose to reply to that question, and to show how Victoria fared under her protectionist policy. Apart from the departure of Chinese from New South Wales during the four years in which the leader of the Opposition controlled the affairs of that State, there was an actual increase in population, while Victoria lost not 1,882 persons, but 82,233 during the same time. The Prime Minister did not inform the electors of Ballarat of that fact. From 1894 to 1901 New South Wales lost 3,412 persons - mostly Chinese - whilst the loss of population in Victoria amounted to 105,137. From 1 89 1 to 1902 - both years inclusive - Victoria’s population decreased by no less than 130,063, whilst New South Wales during the same period gained 16,244. The leakage of population, so far as Victoria is concerned, is still going on. The actual loss suffered by Victoria in 1902 was 13,716, whereas New South Wales gained 6,902. Victoria parted with the policy of freetrade in 1866, and entered upon her new career with a population of 636,982 persons against a population of 428,813 in New South Wales. It will thus be seen that Victoria had an excellent start of the mother State - a lead of over 208,000. But after thirty-five years’ experience of protection what position does she occupy in contrast with New South Wales ? In 1900 the population of Victoria had increased to 1,197,000, whereas the population of New South Wales had increased for the same period to 1,364,000. An increase of 167,000 in favour of the latter is sufficient, I think, to show the Prime Minister that he was altogether wrong at Ballarat when he endeavoured to persuade his constituents that we in New South Wales had been going back under our policy of free-trade. We had, practically, always a policy of free-trade in our State, except for t wo or three brief periods until the Commonweal th policy came into force. Let me apply mother test. It has been stated by honorable members opposite all through Victoria that New South Wales had been living on her and revenue. Now, while Victoria had alienated 42 per cent. of her lands, New South Wales had alienated only 24 per cent.
– Consider the respective reas of the two States.
– Proportion- a tely, we have additional expense on ac- c ount of the larger area. It wouldpay us better to be without some immense tracts, because the cost of administration far exceeds the value of any advantage derived from their possession. Victoria also had a very good start with her gold-mines. Altogether she obtained from her mines £128,000,000 more than New South Wales obtained for all minerals - a very good start,I think - and she had that amount to play with under her policy of protection. Again, as regards loan expenditure, I know that in Victoria the press has time after time pointed out that we have been living on loan money ; that a large amount of employment has been given to the workers by reason of the large expenditure incurred out of loan account. What are the facts? The expenditure on water supply, water conservation works, and under municipal loans in Victoria is separated from other expenditure in the books, and honorable members have omitted, when quoting loan expenditure for Victoria to mention the different kinds of loan expenditure. They omitted to say that there was a loan expenditure for railways, a loan expenditure for water works arid water conservation works generally ; they separated all these items and only showed expenditure on railways in contrast with the expenditure in New South Wales. In the latter State, however, all the expenditures are lumped together. Whether the money is borrowed for municipal purposes, for water supply works, or for railways or tramways, it is all lumped together. How do the expenditures of the two States come out when they are placed on the same basis? Up to 1900 - practically the last year of free-trade - New South Wales had expended £51 4s. per head of the population, whereas in the same period Victoria had expended £54 2s., showing that as far as loan expenditure is concerned Victoria has also had an advantage over New South Wales. Again, let me take the deposits in the savings banks. In 1891 the deposits in Victoria exceeded those in New South Wales by , £372,000, whereas in 1902 New South Wales had £2,080,000 more than had Victoria. In 1891 deposits in banks, including Building Societies, amounted to £43,000,000, in New South Wales, and £50,000,000 in Victoria, or £7,000,000 less in New South Wales than Victoria; whilst in 1902-3 New South Wales deposits exceeded those in Victorian banks, &c, by £5,500,000. In 1861 Victoria commenced with an excess of trade of £14,000,000 over New South Wales, whereas in 1902 the latter has an excess of trade of £13,000,000 over the former. The export of domestic produce is, I think, a good test to apply. In 1861 the exports of domestic produce from Victoria were £5,580,000 more than from New South Wales, but in 1901 the export of domestic produce from New South Wales was £5,700,000 more than from Victoria. Is that any evidence of the great advantage conferred by protection in. Victoria? The Prime Minister endeavoured to show the people of Ballarat that they had prospered under protection, and that the people of New South Wales had gone back. I maintain that the figures I have quoted disclose a very different state of affairs. My honorable friends opposite have time after time pointed out the great advantages of protection to the factories. From 1889 to 1899 the male hands in Victorian factories had decreased by 5,064, while the female hands had increased by no less than 7,702, the total increase in the period being 2,638. In free-trade New South Wales, open to the competition of the world, during the same period the male employes had increased by 6,338, and the female employes by 4,316 ; or an increase of1 0,654, the male increase being the greater. It is well known that, owing to the low wages paid here to women, the men were driven out of the factories and women put on in their place.
– Which ‘factories were they ?
– The factories generally. I am taking the figures for all the factories of the State.
– From which factories?
– I can give a list of the factories presently, if time permits. I would ask my honorable friend to consider the fact that, from 1890 to 1900 - the last years during which the freetrade policy was in force in New South’ Wales, the output of the factories had increased by £7,000,000. whereas the output of the factories in Victoria in the same period had decreased by £5,000,000.
– Surely my honorable friend knows that his own statistician does not support that statement.
– All these statements come from statisticians; at all events, they are quoted by Coghlan in his work, and have not been denied authoritatively.
– It has been pointed out that thev were not reliable.
– My honorable friend is very good at quoting figures, but when the same authority is in our favour, he questions their accuracy. He will surely ‘not question the figures as to the number of employes in the factories. In 1890 47,958 persons were employed in the factories of New South Wales, and in 1900 - after five years’ experience of an absolutely free-trade policy - the number had increased to 66,135. The total increase of 18,177 employes included it, 733 males and 6,444 females. I wish to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the greater increase is in the number of male hands. The increase in the number of male hands was nearly twice as great as the increase in the number of female hands. In Victoria what do we find? In 1890 the hands numbered 56,359, and in 1900 66,529, showing an increase of 10,160 in this State, as against an increase of .18,177 in New South Wales. But how was that increase made up? In that period of ten years there was an actual decrease of 537 in the number of male hands, as against an increase of 11,733 in the number of male hands in New South Wales. The whole of the increase had been made up in the increased number of female hands. I think that honorable members have a right to ask themselves this question - How is it that the men of Victoria have been driven out of the factories and women put in their place?
– Which factories?
– I- am taking the figures for all the factories. I am. sure that my honorable friend will admit that if there was a decrease of 5,000 male hands in twelve years the men must have been driven out somewhere.
– I do not admit anything of the kind.
– Where have they gone to? The policy of protection has had the effect of driving the men out of the factories. The report respecting the work of the Victorian Wages Boards bears out that statement. It shows that in the clothing factories 45s. a week was the wage fixed for tailors, whilst the wage for tailoresses was only from 20s. to 30s. a week.
– Which factories?
– The clothing factories for one. Women to whom low wages could be paid rapidly supplanted the male employes. The employers considered that 45s. a week was too high a wage to pay to them, and women were put in their places, with the result, as I have said, that during the last ten years there has been a decrease of over 500 male employes of Victorian factories, and an increase of over 10,000 females. Those figures show that there has been no progress in Victoria, so far as concerns male hands. As regards population, the figures go to show that during the last twelve years there has been an exodus of no fewer than 130,000 people from Victoria. . It must be remembered that these were not old men, but comprised the cream of the Victorian population, who were compelled to’ seek employment elsewhere because they could not find profitable employment in their own State. Some have gone to New South Wales, and I am happy to say that they Have made excellent colonists, and have done well there. Others have gone to Western Australia. But these facts show pretty clearly that Victoria has not been the paradise that my honorable friend opposite wishes us to believe that it was. It cannot have been so, considering that people were driven but of the State to the extent of 130,000, and that women were forced into factories to work at about half the rates that had to be paid to male hands. What occurred in New South’ Wales during one year under protection? The only time when, according to Coghlan, we did not make any substantial progress in our factories, was during that particular period. In 1902,- the number of male hands decreased by 230, but the number of females increased by 269. So that the whole of the increase in New South Wales in one year under protection has been in the same direction as was the case in Victoria. That is to say, there has been an increase in the labour of women and’ children. That result we, on the opposition side of the House, have always pointed out as having occurred in Victoria. But free-traders believe that men and not women should be the breadwinners. That is a sound and solid policy. Women have enough to do as a general rule in looking after their homes, and they should not be forced into the factories, as has been the case in many protectionist countries for many years past. I mention these facts because the Prime Minister, in dealing with the fiscal question at Ballarat, thought it a verv strong point to put before the electors of Australia that New South Wales had lost 1,882 of her population under a freetrade policy. But to be fair to the people of Australia, he ought to have told the electors that in the same period Victoria had lost 88,000 people, and that in point of fact we in New South Wales had not lost any, unless we take into consideration the number of Chinese who left the State. My honorable friends opposite are advocates of getting rid of the Chinese, and yet the Prime Minister complains that because New South Wales sent away about 2,400 of them, there has been a decrease in her population. If the Chinese had not left New South Wales would have had an increase in her population. For the ten years, our increase was 16,000, as against a decrease of 130,000 in Victoria. Is that an evidence of the good effects of a policy of protection in Victoria? I think it is one of the best evidences to the contrary. We do not want any other evidence of the lack of progress in that State under protection.
– From which factories in New South Wales were men driven, and their places taken by women?
– I was referring to the clothing and other factories in Victoria. I have not got the whole of the details with me. but all the figures which I have stated are correct, and are taken from Coghlan. One question which has been brought under the notice of the House has given rise to a good deal of ill-feeling amongst honorable members on both sides. That is the question of the redistribution of seats. Honorable members are, of course, aware of the history of the question. They know that the leader of the Opposition felt that, in the interests of the electors of Australia, it was his duty to appeal to his constituents in order to emphasize his strong objection to the gerrymandering tactics adopted by the Government. The figures which he submitted on that occasion to show the great difference between some of the country electorates and others, and the difference between some of the city electorates anc some of the country electorates, were questioned. We were told that when the drought was over, the electors who had left the country districts would go back, I have taker the trouble to go through the whole of the electoral lists, in order really to ascertair how they compare with the statements submitted by the leader of the Opposition last session. ‘ We must recollect that the roll; were prepared in July, 1903, and tha they were revised in October of the same year. Therefore, a large number of electors, male and female, have qualified since the preparation of the rolls. But if honorable members will look at the re- . turns, they will find that there has been a proportionate increase both in the city and the country electorates, and when the actual figures are compared with those quoted by the leader of the Opposition, and by other honorable members on this side of the House, it is wonderful how closely they approximate. In the electorates of Hunter, New England, Illawarra, and Cowper, there are 106,000 electors on the new rolls, who returned four members to this House. Four other country electorates, with 71,662 electors, also had the right to return four members. There was a difference of nearly 35.000 voters. Are those facts in conformity with the prinicples of one man one vote and one vote one value, which the head of the Government claims that the present Ministry brought into force, and which other honorable members opposite have advocated? The estimate of the leader of the Opposition, made in this House, and before the elections, was 35,934, showing a difference ot only about 900 between his estimate and the actual facts. In the Hunter and Cowper electorates there are 53,531 electors. In the Darling and Riverina electorates there are 33,399. That shows a difference of 19,132. The estimate of the leader of the Opposition was a difference of 22,131. Eight electorates with 282,949 electors return eight members, whilst 156,064 electors return eight members for eight other electorates. The difference here amounts to 126,885, and the estimate of difference submitted by the right honorable member for East Sydney was 111,000. In point of fact the actual position is worse than that estimated by the right honorable member to the extent of over 15,000 electors. Yet the Minister for Trade and Customs challenged the correctness of the figures submitted by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and said that that right honorable gentleman was misleading the electors by the statement he made. Again, if we take three country electorates - Hunter, New England, and Cowper - we find that they have 79.298 electors, whilst three other country electorates - Darling, Riverina, and Richmond - have only 52.387- elecfors. There is here a difference of 26,911,. and this is not a comparison of city electorates with country electorates, but of country electorates with other country electorates.
The estimate of difference given by the right honorable member for East Sydney inthis instance was 27,774. Considering theway in which the Government acted inconnexion with the elections and the redistributionof seats, it cannot be considered strangethat the people should resent such action.The electors of Hunter. New England, and Cow per when appealed to said - “ No, wewill not have any more of a Government ofthat kind.” They rejected the three Government supporters because they resented the gerryrnandering tactics of the Government,and returned three members to the Houseto assist the right honorable member for East Sydney against the Government.
– The honorablemember pays a very poor compliment to the honorable members who have been returnedfor those electorates when he says that is the reason they have been sent here.
– They have been sent here to assist us in fighting our battles, because the people of those electorates realized that we are the true saviours of the country. They realised that we can be relied upon. The gentlemen who have been rejected are men with whom we are on the best of terms, and are men of high character ; but the people of the electorates when appealed to forgot all their good qualities. They said - “These men are reputable, kind-hearted citizens, but if returned they will vote for a Government and support a policy in which we do not believe. We shall, therefore, send three other representatives to support the right honorable member for East Sydney in his condemnation of the tactics of the Government.” . Strangely enough, before the elections took place the right honorable member for East Sydney mentioned the case of these three electorates as showing how unfair the redistribution proposed by the Government really was, giving as it did 79,298 electors in three electorates no greater voice than 52,387 in three other country electorates. The answer of the electors themselves has been to return three representatives for the electorates I have mentioned to support honorable members on this side instead of the Government.
– With a little more time, we should have had a few more.
– I quite believe we should. We will have a few more next t ime. I find that Lang, South Sydney, North Sydney, Parkes, Dalley, Wentworth, and East Sydney have 247,294 electors on the new rolls, whilst in seven other electorates, there are only . 133,239 electors, a difference of over 114,000. Yet honorable members opposite claim that this is one man one vote and one vote one value. The right honorable member for East Sydney, in the statement he presented to the House, stated that the difference in this instance amounted to 100,000. The difference has been shown to be 14,000 more, showing that the right honorable gentleman in his figures really underestimated the difference in numbers between the different electorates. The present Minister for Trade and Customs at the time boasted that he was the great advocate of woman’s suffrage. He appealed to the women of Australia to return himself and the Government of which he is a member on the ground that they had been the first to give women the right to exercise the franchise. The honorable’ gentleman said he felt sure that the women of Australia would remember that at the election. The women of Australia did remember it. They realized that while the honorable gentleman spoke so strongly in favour of giving the franchise to women he was hatching a little plot of his own in order to prevent the women’s franchise being exercised in a fair way. The right honorable member for East Sydney pointed out that between two sets of three electorates there was a difference of 38,000 female electors. He rightly contended that it was very unfair to thewomen to give them the franchise, and then to prevent them from exercising it in a fair way, and in a way in which their influence could be really felt. The present Minister for Trade and Customs grouped a large proportion of the women together, with the result that whilst in three electorates there were 61,626 women, in three other electorates there were only 17,873, a difference of 43,755. In other words it took the vote of nearly four women in the first three electorates to equal the vote of one woman in the other three elecotrates. After all the statements made by the Minister for Trade and Customs and other members of the Government, as to what they were doing in giving women this right, I ask is that a fair way in which to act? I have pointed out that in three electorates 43.755 women were disfranchised, and in order to show how wrong the action of the Government was, I now point out that the aggregate of the majorities by which eighteen honorable members have been returned to this House amounts to only 12,000 votes, or about a fourth of the number of women who have been disfranchised in three electorates. This will also show the handicap under which honorable members on this side went before the electors. It is the way in which the Government acted in connexion with this matter that showed the electors we were right, and were fighting for their interests. We advocated one man one vote, and one vote one value, and we acted in accordance with those principles; but the Government, whilst professing to be in favour of them did their utmost, by delaying the preparation of the rolls and the making of the necessary arrangements for the elections until it was too late to secure a proper redistribution of seats, to use all the machinery of government to defeat them. I warned the Minister months before that he should have a special roll compiled.. I told him that if an ordinary citizen attempted, under the law we had passed, to interfere with the franchise of any one elector in the Commonwealth, he would be liable to imprisonment for twelve months. Yet the honorable gentleman and his Government have had the audacity to interfere with the franchise of hundreds and thousands of electors, and they have escaped scot free. Perhaps I should not say that they have escaped scot free, because, whilst we were unable to deal with them in this House, the electors, when appealed to, told them that their administration was such that they could not give them support, the result being that, outside of the State of Victoria, the present Federal Government have only five supporters in the House from the whole of Australia. At the present time, the Government have fewer supporters than has either of the other two parties in the House.’ The Opposition have the largest number of supporters both in this House and in the Senate, while the Government have the smallest number when both Houses are counted. I dare say honorable members are acquainted with the exposure made by the honorable member for South Sydney as to an interview which the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Minister for Defence had with a number .of manufacturers at the Commonwealth offices in Sydney. The honorable member for South Sydney, it appears, is a partner with a number of other gentlemen in a business carried on in various States; and some of those partners - though at the time, I dare say, it was not known they were associated with the honorable member - were, by telephone, asked to meet the present Minister for Trade and Customs at the Commonwealth offices. At such a place, the manufacturers did not think that there would be an electioneering meeting, but rather that they were asked to see the Minister in regard to some question of Customs administration. When the manufacturers arrived at the Commonwealth offices, however, there was, according to the version of the honorable member for South Sydney - a version verified by one gentleman present at the interview - a demand made upon them for money. The Minister for Trade and Customs occupied the chair at the interview, and according to the honorable member for South Sydney, this is what took place -
– You have got to give us something for this election. . . . We are going to be beaten. We must have money. I want £1,000 from those in this room before you leave, to fight this election. . . . these duties have been imposed for their (the manufacturers’! benefit -
That is the point. I wonder where the people “come in,” seeing that the Minister for Trade and Customs admits that the duties are imposed for the benefit of manufacturers. According to the honorable member for South Sydney, the interview proceeded as follows: - and I think a quid -pro quo should be subscribed for those benefits. If we don’t get sufficient money we shall be beaten in the fight, and instead of the duties being retained as they are, or made heavier, you will have them reduced by the other side.
It will be seen that the Minister pointed out that there was a danger, not only of the present duties being abolished, but also of their not being made heavier. Nothing was said at the interview about the working men or the poor people of Australia being called upon to pay additional taxation on their boots, clothing, and other necessaries of life; it was, as the Minister pointed out, for the benefit of the manufacturers that duties were imposed. The Minister, it will be seen, told the manufacturers that if they did not subscribe £1,000 the elections would be lost, and that even the present duties might not be retained.
– Is that the meeting at which the Minister for Defence was present ?
– Yes; and here is what he said -
Mr Austin Chapman followed Sir William Lyne. . . . They would not win without money.. . . . Amongst other things they wanted money to lick Edwards in South Sydney. . . . They could beat Edwards for £100.
It seems very amusing, after Parliament, at the instance of the Government, had passed a law limiting election expenses, to hear a Minister asking for subscriptions in order to prevent the election of the present honorable member for South Sydney, the member for Illawarra, or the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. Nothing was said at that meeting about my own electorate, because, I suppose, it was thought that my opponent, who desired to obtain ^250,000 of the public money as a bonus, would be able to pay all necessary expenses.
– I suppose the honorable member knows that the statement he has read has been contradicted?
– The Minister for Defence very nicely and very cleverly contradicted the statement. In the first place, the honorable gentleman denied that any such meeting had taken place in Castlereaghstreet, as stated by the honorable member for South Sydney, though the fact remained that the meeting took place at the Commonwealth Offices in Macquarie-street. Unfortunately for themselves, the Minister for Defence was in one part of Australia at the time, and -the Minister for Trade and Customs in another, so that it was not possible for them to compare notes.
– It was indecent to hold such a meeting in the Commonwealth offices.
– At all events, it was a very questionable proceeding. I know that Ave of the Opposition held no electioneering meeting, except in rooms, for the hire of which we paid. .The account of the meeting, as given by the honorable member for South Sydney proceeds -
Mr. Chapman went on to say that they could win two other seats if they had the money.
I have here the full account of the proceedings, as given by the Sydney newspapers.
– Read it.
– I have often listened to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports reading columns of extracts relating to wages boards and similar institutions, but I shall not similarly weary honorable members. An appeal has been made for an inquiry into the management of the Electoral Office, and I, think that unprejudiced members in all parts of the House must admit, in view of what transpired during the recent elections, that there is need for most searching investigation. The Chief Justice of the High Court has referred to the administration of the Electoral Office in most severe terms, and has practically blamed the head of the Department for all the trouble and expense associated with the election for the Melbourne seat. Owing to the want of knowledge of the law, and of the proper mode of administration the head of Jhe Department has caused the two candidates for that seat to undergo all the expense, trouble, and anxiety of a second election.
-* Would the honorable member l;ke an inquiry into the conduct of the Macquarie election?
– I am quite prepared for any inquiry into the election in the Macquarie constituency. I know, of course, that when the “ big gun,” who hoped to get a bonus to the amount of .£250,000, was sent down to contest the seat it was thought that all was secure, seeing that he was able to spend money.
– What about the bill of £74 at an hotel ?
– There was no expenditure of that kind, so far as I was concerned. No doubt the candidate who was opposed to me was a man of good repute.
– What was his name?
– My opponent had all the advantage of the support of the Government and of a large number of people who, for the time being, believed that the expected bonus would give employment to every man in the electorate. This gentleman also apparently had a well-lined purse, because he informed the electors that the parliamentary allowance of .£400 per year was to him a very small consideration. Yet, with all this against me, my majority was about twice as great as at the previous election.
– And the State .Government was helping the opponent of the honorable member?
– I suppose the protectionist propaganda had nothing to do with the matter?
– Not in New. South Wales. The protectionist propaganda had some effect in Victoria, no doubt ; but the true state of affairs is shown by the fact that the whole of the rest of Australia has sent only five supporters of the Government to this House, while, taking the two Houses together, the
Government have thirty-three supporters, as against forty-four in the last Parliament, I do not think there could be a more disastrous result from the point of view of the Government.
– If the honorable member will move an amendment to the Address in Reply and call for a division, he will see how far his figures are correct.
– The Minister for Defence will have enough to do with figures of that kind by-and-by.
– Who paid for the fortyfour cabs at Portland?
– My honorable and learned friend has stated that the Portland Cement Company was established under protection. I have denied that statement here time and again, and to corroborate my denial I will read what one of the principals of the firm says upon the subject -
In reference to our own plant, I may say that practically the whole of this had arrived in Sydney before the duty was put on.
It was said at one time that unless a duty were imposed upon cement Portland would be ruined ; but when I went there three years ago I found that the men employed in the lime quarries were receiving from 6s 6d. to 7s. a day. That was under free-trade: When I visited them last December they were receiving only 6s. a day, notwithstanding that their industry was protected by a duty of over 30 per cent. - against which I voted ; and, furthermore, under the policy of the present Government they have to pay a tax of 2s. 6d. upon every pair of boots they buy. and owing to the nature of their work a pair of boots in many cases lasts only a week.
-But is it not argued that the foreigner always pays protective duties?
– That was what they tried to make the people of Portland believe before I went up there. I was informed that because I had voted against the cement duty I should be beaten at Portland by three or four to one ; but I received a large majority there, without hiring cabs, or incurring any expenditure at all beyond a few shillings for travelling expenses. I have always found thatno amount of money will get a man returned to Parliament. In my electioneering contests I have had to fight some of* the wealthiest men in the community; but beyond paying for advertisements and the ordinary travelling expenses, my expenditure has been practically nothing.
– Money helps a good deal, though.
– I do not think that it helps as much as some persons imagine. I believe that the electors resent the expenditure of large sums by candidates, because they realize that attempts are being made to bribe them.
– I do not dispute that.
– I have represented practically the same district, with only one. break, for over twenty years.
– Why was the honorable member thrown out in 1899?
– At that time I was a Minister of the Crown, and held a prominent position in the Ministry ; but there are occasions when public men must speak out in the interests of the people, and I felt it my duty, notwithstanding that many of my constituents had taken an active part in the work of forwarding the Federal movement, to oppose the acceptance of the draft Constitution Bill. I was told that if I persisted in that attitude I should lose my seat ; but I replied then, as I would now, that I valued my position in Parliament only so long as I could honestly express my convictions there. Without that privilege Parliament would have no charm for me. But although I was defeated on that occasion, they sent for me to represent them in the first Federal Parliament, and I then had the pleasure of securing a reversal of their former verdict. Indeed, one of the principal leaders of the Federal movement in the district, in a letter which he published in the local press, complimented me for having had the foresight to predict trouble arising out of Federal legislation which they at the time did not foresee. The Prime Minister has asked us to submit some specific cases to justify an inquiry into the administration of the Electoral Department. I think that the condemnation of the Chief Electoral Officer expressed by the Chief Justice of the High Court, who is a non-party man, and had an opportunity to hear ample evidence on the subject, is a sufficient reason for demanding an inquiry. The Minister for Trade and Customs charges the leader of the Opposition with harboring a special animus against the Chief Electoral Officer ; but neither our leader nor any member sitting upon this side of the chamber has any feeling against that officer as an individual. We think, however, that a man who is not competent for the duties pertaining to his office should not continue to hold it, and it is our duty to express our views in regard to the competency of any officer. The leader of the Opposition was right in stating that Mr. Lewis was retired from the New South Wales Department of Lands after an inquiry made in 1887. Later, he became Chief Electoral Officer for New South Wales; but when the Public Service Board investigated the state of the Public Service in 1896, they reduced the staff from fifty to thirteen, and recommended his retirement, and that of thirty-seven of his officers. Ever since, the work of the office, except in emergencies, when there has been a rush, has been done by about thirteen men, and with greater efficiency and satisfaction to the State than was given before. The leader of the Opposition was perfectly right in challenging the action of the Government in placing at the head of the Commonwealth Electoral Office a man who had been retired as unfit to control a State Electoral Office. The Prime Minister challenges us to produce individual cases? I could produce many, and I will refer to two or three which occurred in my own district. But for the fact that I obtained a very large majority, the Macquarie election might have been upset, as the Melbourne election has been upset, because between 200 and 300 postal votes were recorded there, most of which, though not cast in my favour, were witnessed by the police. Then, at Cowra, I found that a man and his family, numbering seven or eight in all, who were old residents of the district, had not been enrolled, .while at Sofala, a number of miners living outside the town drove to the polling place, and then could not record their votes, because they found that their names had not been enrolled. At Little Hartley, again, I found that a number of electors, who had previously voted in the Macquarie division, had been placed in the Parramatta division. If my attention had not been directed to the matter I should have lost a number of votes there.
– I had a batch of “ 200 electors cut out altogether.
– No doubt this sort of thing occurred in many divisions. If every honorable member were to relate his experience, it would be found that, in addition to the fact that 120,000 people were disfranchised in eight electorates by gerrymandering, and no fewer than 43,000 women in three electorates alone, hundreds of thousands of persons were prevented from voting through their names being left off the rolls. I happen to have the confi dence of the miners in the Macquarie division, and throughout New South Wales, and since the election I have ascertained that, at a mining centre which is one of my strongholds, only two votes were cast for me and one for my opponent, while in another place six were cast for me and four for my opponent.
– Notwithstanding the fact that the honorable member addressed a meeting at 6 o’clock in the morning.
– Yes. I gave my opponent ten days start, but when I commenced I made the pace. Under the regulations which were issued by the Government that numbers were not to be published except where they amounted to joo - a very wrong regulation, because there should be no secrecy about these matters - I should have known nothing of those occurrences ; but I learned through the press that in one place only ten votes were recorded, and I, therefore, made an inquiry into the reason. What did I find ? I have here the revised roll for a place named Airlie. There are 378 names upon that roll, but after revision 132 names were erased, and sixteen added, so that’ the correct number of electors was 262. But owing to the neglect of the Department in not sending the revised roll to the printer the one containing 60 names was the only one sent to the electorate, and these 262 persons were disfranchised altogether.
– I had a similar experience.
– I could name other instances in which names were left off the rolls, and the electors were prevented from exercising the franchise, and I feel sure that the experience of every honorable member has created the conviction in his mind that the time is ripe for a searching investigation into the administration of the Electoral Department. All we want is fair play and no favour. We only n.-,k that the people shall have an opportunity to exercise- the franchise conferred upon them by the law. The Act does not contemplate the adoption of the old American system of grouping the electors in- classes, but in New South Wales the free-traders were grouped together, and were practically disfranchised to the extent of many thousands. Notwithstanding that, however; the free-trade party won four seats and the” Government lost five seats altogether, and ought to have lost more. I now desire to refer to a very serious matter in connexion with our defences. We cannot foresee the results to Australia of the war which is now proceeding between Russia and Japan, and we ought to be prepared for every emergency. At present our forces are not in a fit condition to take the field. When the first Estimates were submitted, the defence vote was reduced by £120.000, because the Government failed to submit a proper scheme for the administration of the forces. When the next Estimates were brought down the Government failed to supply honorable members with such information as would enable them to judge whether the money proposed to be voted would be judiciously expended, and the vote was reduced by £50,000. The Treasurer, in his financial statement, made the extraordinary announcement that although the General Officer Commanding, who had been brought here specially for the purpose of re-organizing our forces, had applied for £125,000 for the purpose of completing the equipment of his forces, he had cut down the vote by £50,000. Honorable members will admit that the equipment of our forces is of the first importance, and yet the amount proposed to be devoted to that purpose was reduced by the Government. If the General Officer Commanding was right his requisition should have been complied with, and if he was wrong the Government should have made it clear that he had asked for too much. If our forces had been called upon, without proper equipment, to defend our shores during the last recess it would have been nothing short of murder, for which we should have been responsible. We know what occurred in South Africa with regard to the Imperial forces, and we have been acquainted with the result of the inquiry made at the instance of Lord Elgin and others. The condition of affairs disclosed was so unsatisfactory that a further Commission was appointed The Defence Forces in Tasmania are larger in proportion to population than in any other of the States. That State sent a large number of men away to South Africa, and they acquitted themselves with the utmost credit. Prior to the transfer of the Defence Department to the Commonwealth, the members of theTasmanian forces were so extremely loyal that they were content to accept a lower rate of remuneration than was paid to men performing similar services in other States. Afterwards they appealed to the Federal authorities to place them on the same footing, as regards pay, as other members of the Defence Force, and I understood the General Officer Commanding considered that their claim was justified. The State Government of Tasmania, however, represented that their finances were in such a condition that they could not afford to meet the extra demand t hat would be made upon them, and the Federal authorities took it upon themselves to withhold the additional pay to which the men were clearly entitled. The result was that 500 men, who had given full proof of their loyalty, became, in a sense, disloyal.
– They only wanted to be treated upon the same footing as the men of other States
– They were entitled to receive the same pay as members of the Defence Forces in other States. I always understood that one of the main objects sought to be achieved when the Defence Forces were placed under one control was to secure uniformity both as regards pay and administration. If one State Government is to be permitted to interfere in the matter of the pay given to the members of the Defence Forces, there will be nothing to prevent other Governments dictating to the Federal authorities in connexion with administration which they think may adversely affect their finances. The members of the Tasmanian Defence Forces have been treated most unfairly, and we shall probably lose the services of a number of men of the very class which we should encourage. The manner in which matters connected with our defences have been administered shows the necessity of appointing a Commission of inquiry, which will be able to tell us exactly how we stand, what is being done, and what is necessary to place our forces upon an effective footing. We have, perhaps, the very best material in the world, men who are ready to shed their last drop of blood in the defence of the Commonwealth, and it is absolutely necessary that our legislation and administration should be in keeping. I therefore appeal to the Government to arrange for a searching inquiry into our defence administration, with a view to the adoption of a scheme satisfactory to all concerned. Some honorable members seem to think that no such Commission is needed, but I would remind them that in England, where they have had much more practical experience, and have thoroughly practical men at the head of affairs, it has been considered necessary in the interests of the Empire to appoint a Commission to formulate a scheme for the effective organization of the military forces.
– Whom have we here to appoint to such a Commission?
– I cannot sayoffhand, but I have no doubt that many gentlemen would be competent to perform the service we require of them. If, however, suitable men cannot be obtained locally they can be secured elsewhere. The honorable member must admit that we have splendid material for defence purposes, and, as one of his sons took part in the South African campaign, I am sure that he will be one of the first to insist that our forces shall be properly equipped. According to the statement of the General Officer Commanding, the present condition of affairs with regard to equipment is very unsatisfactory, and a much larger sum than that voted will have to be expended. I believe that the Minister of Defence is endeavouring to do his best, but I would urge upon him the necessity, in view of what is being done in England, and of the requisitions which have been made by the General Officer Commanding, to institute a searching inquiry into the administration, so that we may make sure that the money voted by us for defence purposes is being applied in the best possible way.
– That is what the Minister is now doing.
– I have not seen anyresult.
– Give the Minister a chance.
– I only hope that the Minister will appoint a Commission, such as I have suggested.
– The Minister is a Commission in himself.
– I do not want that kind of a Commission, but one that will be of some service. The right honorable and learned member for Adelaide referred to the question of the Federal Capital site and spoke very strongly of the apathy displayed by the Government. With all due respect to my right honorable friend, I desire to say that, although I am very glad that he adopted this attitude, I am sorry that he did not take some energetic steps to bring about a settlement of the question when he was a member of the Government. We had no indication of any desire on the part of himself or his colleagues to expedite the matter. It was unnecessarily delayed for many months, and after members of both Houses had been afforded an opportunity of inspecting the sites suggested, a proposal was submitted at the fag end of the Parliament. No time was then available for the proper consideration of the matter, and the result was that no decision was arrived at.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs says that the Opposition delayed the settlement of the matter.
– I do not think that can fairly be said, because we did all we could to urge the importance of a prompt settlement, and some honorable members thoughtwe were too persistent in our efforts. When the voting took place for the selection of the site Lyndhurst occupied the premier position in the second, third, fourth, and fifth ballots, and the final contest lay between Tumut and Lyndhurst. Strangely enough, the Prime Minister and others, who were in favour of the Bombala site, on finding that they were hopelessly in a minority, transferred their support to Tumut, and, as a result, Lyndhurst was defeated by eleven votes. When the question was remitted to the Senate a dastardly attempt was made to exclude Lyndhurst from all consideration, but I am glad that it was defeated by the good sense and fairness of the members of that Chamber. There is no use disguising the fact that it was arranged by some members of the Government that a motion should be proposed which would have the effect of excluding Lyndhurst from the selection. We ask no favour for Lyndhurst, but I think that fair consideration should be given to all the sites. Even the Prime Minister, in response to a question of mine, said that a site which possessed such marked advantages as Lyndhurst could not be overlooked ; but what do we find ?
– The House overlooked it.
– That may be, but the Prime Minister said that a site which possessed such marked advantages as Lyndhurst must receive consideration.
– Were those the words used bv the Prime Minister?
Mr.SYDNEY SMITH.- They represent the substance of his statement, and I claim that the implied promise then given shall be fulfilled.
– I looked for the statement referred to by the honorable member, but could not find it.
– I directed the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to the promise, and he promised to give it consideration.
– I could not find any reference to it.
– I shall furnish the Minister with the exact words before I sit down. I have no right to question the opinions which are entertained by honorable members, but I am entitled to ask that fair consideration shall be extended to all the sites. I hold that honorable members should be granted an opportunity of studying their respective merits. The Government have no title to select two sites upon the borders of Victoria, and to declare that they alone shall receive consideration.
– A majority of the House selected them.
– No. This House decided against Bombala. It refused to allow it to be included in the final ballot. In that ballot only two sites were submitted, namely, Tumut and Lyndhurst.
– Did not this House decide against Lyndhurst?
– Yes ; but it also decided against Bombala. Bombala is put forward for consideration simply because it is represented by a member of the Ministry.
– The Senate recommended Bombala.
– I admit that that is so. .
– That is the reason why its claims are now being considered.
– It is the duty of this House to extend consideration to all the sites, and especially to one whose claims were considered superior to those of Bombala.
– I appeal to honorable members to say whether in the ballot before the final ballot Lyndhurst did not poll the largest number of votes.
– Which site obtained the highest number of No.1 votes?
– Of the three sites which were considered eligible, Lyndhurst secured the highest number of votes.
– We have read all about that, and it is of no use imputing motives to individuals now.
– I know that the honorable member has expressed his opinion as to what should be done, and, therefore, I do not expect any consideration from him.
– I have not expressed my opinion.
– I think so; I read the newspapers very closely. I appeal to the Government to carry out the implied promise of the Prime Minister, and to permit of consideration being extended to the Lyndhurst site.
– A moment ago the honorable member said that a direct, and not an implied, promise was given by the Prime Minister.
– The honorable gentleman’s promise was very clear.
– Then let us have it.
– In Hansard, volume xvii., page 6433, Ifind the following:
– Does not the Prime Minister think it fair to give consideration to the Lyndhurst site?
– None can refuse-
Yet my honorable friend wishes to refuse consideration -
– Does the. honorable member desire to re-open the whole question ?
– It was reopened by the right honorable member for Adelaide, and I claim that I am perfectly justified in exercising my right to discuss it. I do not think that the honorable member will complain of that.
– I do not complain, but I fail to seeany necessity for it.
– That may be so - that is where we differ.Uponthe occasion to which I have referred, the Prime Minister stated -
None can refuse to give consideration to a site which has such marked advantages as the Lyndhurst site possesses.
That statement is a very clear one.
– It is notvery clear.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs informed me that he was in favour of consideration being extended to the Lyndhurst site. In my opinion, the Government have not dealt fairly with the western district.
– What was the voting in the final division?
– Lyndhurst was defeated by eleven votes, but Lyndhurst had defeated Bombala by several votes.
– Was the Bombala site rejected before that of Lyndhurst?
– Yes. There was a ballot upon the respective claims of
Bombala, Lyndhurst, and Tumut. Bombala was defeated, and the final choice was between Tumut and Lyndhurst.
– The honorable member declared just now that Lyndhurst was defeated owing to a combination against it.
– Realizing that a majority were in favour of Lyndhurst, the Prime Minister turned round and voted for Tumut. The records of Parliament will show that.
– Lyndhurst has been defeated once; surely that is enough?
– My honorable friend has been beaten several times. He had flags flying at Bombala upon one occasion - flags which were obtained from Tumut.
– Will the honorable member be good enough to read what the Prime Minister said in answer to the honorable member for Canobolas?
– He declared that he could not make a definite promise on behalf of the Cabinet, but that the matter would be considered by the Cabinet. Nevertheless, he led me to believe that, so far as he was concerned, a site which possessed the advantages of Lyndhurst could not be overlooked.
– It has had its “show,” and has been defeated.
– Yet the honorable gentleman is anxious that another “show” should be extended to Bombala. I refer to this matter, because it has been re-opened by the right honorable member for Adelaide and by others ; and as one who represents the district in which Lyndhurst is situated, I think I have a right to place before honorable members a view which ought to commend itself to their judgment.
– Did not the honorable member say, according to Hansard, page 6434, that Bathurst is a better place than Lyndhurst ?
– I have not looked up that matter. At any rate, I did not act in a similar way to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who endeavoured to champion the claims of one site, and voted in favour of another. I did not urge that Tumut was the best site, and vote in favour of the selection of Albury. There are only about 200 voters at Lyndhurst, whilst there are more than 5,000 in Bathurst, and yet I voted in favour of Lyndhurst. As my honorable friend is aware, he advised me not to do so. I felt, however, that I had a right to exercise my own judgment, and to disregard any risk which I might incur of offending a large number of electors.
– Why does not the honorable member treat the Prime Minister fairly ?
– I do. I have given the substance of both his statements. In the first instance he declared that no one could refuse to extend consideration to a site which possessed such marked advantages as Lyndhurst. Subsequently when a question was put to him by the honorable member for Canobolas, he said that he could not make a definite promise upon the matter, inasmuch as it was one for the Cabinet to determine. Yet, the Ministry have refused to shoulder the responsibility of submitting any definite proposal. They say, in effect, “ We shall take the responsibility of refusing consideration to any site; but we decline to lead the House upon this question.” That is a most humiliating position for any Government to occupy, and one which they could not accept, but for the fact that two Ministers favour rival sites. No doubt they have put their heads together with a view to prevent consideration being extended to other places. I am not anxious to speak at any great length, because I feel that the time has arrived when this debate should close. Ptersonally, I was quite prepared to allow it to terminate upon Friday last. I offered, if other honorable members were willing to forego their right of speech, to do likewise. The right honorable member for Adelaide, however - as he was perfectly entitled to do - occupied considerable time upon Friday last in placing his views before honorable members, and when I ascertained that other honorable members desired to speak, I moved the adjournment of the debate. Repeated reference has been made during the course of this discussion to the question of the wisdom or otherwise of granting a bonus1 upon the production of iron. The Treasurer -last year made a financial statement in which he pointed out that the necessities of some of the States compelled him to defer the consideration of certain proposals which he believed to be essential. He mentioned by way of example that, for the financial year which had then just closed, New South Wales had a deficiency of £247,000; that Queensland had a deficiency of £191,000, and Tasmania a deficiency of £116,000. In these circumstances he felt that the whole of the surplus of £625,000 over and above the amount which the Commonwealth was required, under “ the Braddon Blot,” to return to the States should be distributed amongst them. Notwithstanding that statement, the Government have foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech a large number of measures, the passing of which must involve the Commonwealth in considerable expense. It is interesting to consider some of these proposals in order to see where the Government will land themselves if they succeed in carying them into effect. We find, for instance, that an expenditure of £50,000, deducted last year, will be incurred in providing equipment for the forces, and that an additional sum of £94,000 will be paid away in accordance with the terms of the Naval Agreement. The Inter-State Commission Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the High Commissioner Bill, and the High Court Additional Expenses Bill, will, if passed, involve the Commonwealth in much further expense, whilst effect has also tobe given to the decision of the Court with respect to the position of certain civil servants who were taken over by the Commonwealth, and who claimed that they should receive salaries equal to those paid to officials performing corresponding duties in other States.
– Those civil servants were for the most part taken over from the Victorian State service.
– The additional sum required to comply with the decision of the Court will have to be provided by Victoria, or whatever other State is concerned. Another important proposal made by the Government is the establishment of an agricultural bureau - a proposal which I warmly commend. I realize, as one who has had much to do with agricultural matters, that no more important proposition could engage the consideration of the Government. We have atpresent a number of State agencies carrying on practically the same class of work. There are, for instance, branches of the Department of Agriculture in each of the States, investigating diseases relating to fruit and stock - a work that could be performed to much greater advantage by a Federal body. The investigation of diseases relating to’ stock in Queensland must be of importance to all the States, and with one Federal institution to carry out work of this kind, we should be able not only to effect great savings, but to offer salaries which should secure for Australia the best possible expert advice.
– Is not centralization always more costly ?
– One of our objects in establishing the Commonwealth was to secure uniformity in relation to defence, quarantine, customs, postal, and other matters, and thus to reduce the expenses of Government.
– Have we made any saving ?
– The honorable member is now raising the question whether the Commonwealth should have been established. The States of Australia have been federated on certain lines, and it simply remains for us, as members of this Parliament, to see that the Constitution is complied with. We shall certainly be acting in that direction if we give consideration to the establishment of an agricultural bureau. Diseases affecting fruit and stock in New South Wales are also likely to affect those in Victoria, and it is useless to have a regulation for their prevention in one State if no such provision exists in the other. These diseases know nothing of the artificial border lines which separate State from State. The same remark applies to the tick pest, which has involved a loss of perhaps £2,000,000 to the people of Queensland. That disease has been prevented, at considerable expense, from extending’ to New South Wales, and I contend that we should have Federal officers to see that the regulations are rigidly enforced for the protection, not only of Queensland, but of the whole of Australia. As a State Minister, I had to take very strong measures for the prevention of the spread of the tick pest to New South Wales.
– The honorable member saved New South Wales from the pest.
– I did my best to prevent the extension of the pest, and I succeeded, but my actions incurred the displeasure of a large number of men in Queensland, with the result that I was keenly opposed at the election to which reference has been made. In the absence of proper precautions, the tick pest might extend to New South Wales and Victoria, and I maintain that we should have Federal officers to protect the interests of the whole Commonwealth in relation to these matters.
– We should have a nice little army of officials.
– No ; the adoption of a uniform system would reduce the number. We have at present five or six branches of States Departments investigating these diseases, and if they were merged into one Federal service, we should be able to maintain a department on modern lines for a greatly reduced outlay. Uniform quarantine laws would be to the advantage of all. Is it not absurd to say that regulations relating to the quarantining of stock should exist in one State under different conditions from those in others.
– Is it not the intention of the Government to take action in the direction indicated by the honorable member?
– I am not sure that it is. I refer to the question because I believe that it is one of very great importance, affecting the well-being of the people of Australia. The Government will also have to provide for taking over the control of light-houses and light-ships; for the establishment of a Statistical Department ; for a Federal quarantine service; and for the control of Papua. The last-named item alone involves an annual expenditure of £20,000. Then we have to provide for the newly-organized Patent Office, and are also asked to consider proposals relating to old-age pensions, the establishment of an agricultural bureau, the development of our markets, and the Navigation Bill. Provision has likewise to be made for the ocean mail services. We do not know at present what additional expenditure we shall incur in connexion with the mail services.
– The expenditure will be less than before, because the Government propose to adopt the poundage rates system.
– I am not prepared to say that the expenditure will be less. But, at all events, the matter deserves our consideration. We have, further, the question of the Federal Capital, which Ministers have promised to consider, while interest will have to be paid on the cost of public buildings taken over by the Commonwealth. According to the Ministerial estimate, the value of these buildings is put down by the States at £10,445,000, and although a former estimate of the value of the public buildings taken over from New South Wales was £3,200,000, a recent estimate submitted to the Minister from that State sets down the total at £4,000,000. Thus, instead of having to provide interest on a total of £10,445,000, we may have to pay interest charges on a total of £1 1,000,000 or £12,000,000. If we make the very best bargain possible, we shall have to pay interest at the rate of 3 per cent. ; and taking the total value at £11,000,000, we shall thus have to meet interest charges amounting to £330,000 per annum in respect of these properties. Provision will also have to be made to give effect to other measures which are foreshadowed. But how can we meet all these charges and pay bonuses amounting to £324,000, when last year the Government had a surplus of only £625,000, out of which it would have been possible to provide for them? I believe that I shall be able to show that the action of the Government will possibly delay the establishment of iron and steel works in Australia - that those who were considering the desirableness of commencing operations have been led to hold back because of the Government proposals, and are simply waiting to see what action will be taken by the Commonwealth. According to evidence submitted by experts to the Iron Bonus Commission, the Government cannot hope to obtain the approval of Parliament to their proposal to pay bonuses for the encouragement of the iron industry in Australia. I represent adistrict which is keenly interested in this matter.
– Misrepresent it.
– The electors at all events haye returned me to represent them in this House, although I did not hesitate when before them to give expression to my opinion’s on this subject.
– The honorable member’s majority on the last occasion was twice as large as that by which he was returned to the first Federal Parliament.
– Even then it was only a verv small one.
– My majority was twice as large as that by which the honorable gentleman was returned to the first Federal Parliament.
-The honorable member is in error; I was returned by a majority of nearly 1,000 votes.
Mr.SYDNEY SMITH.- I believe that the Minister is making a mistake ; but at all events I was returned by a majority of nearly 1,000 votes, although I did not hesitate to express my opinion on this subject.
– The whole of the bonuses would not be payable in the one year.
– The Bill submitted to the last Parliament made it possible for them to be claimed in one vear. If the stipulated output were made in one year, the total amount of the bonuses would, under a similar measure, become payable in that year. What was the position taken up by the Government? They came down to the House with a proposal to expend £324,000 by way of bonuses for the encouragement of the iron and steel-making industry, although they submitted no satisfactory financial scheme for the payment of those bonuses. They merely threw the measure before honorable members, and asked the House to give effect to it: In Committee a motion was- agreed to that the industry should be a State undertaking. Subsequently the whole matter was reconsidered, the proposal to make the industry a State monopoly was negatived, and it was ultimately decided to refer the suggestion to a committee. The decision was arrived at against the will of the Government, who, notwithstanding their firm belief that the Bill was necessary for the development of the iron resources of Australia, allowed honorable members to practically take the business of the House out of their own hands. The matter was referred to a committee, which was afterwards turned into a Royal Commission. What did the evidence disclose? Mr. Sandford, an expert, said that all he required in order to make a success of his industry, and to establish steel works, was cheap pig iron. He was asked, “ What would it cost you to produce pig iron at Lithgow?” and he. replied “35s. per ton.” He was then asked, “What can they produce pig iron for at Pittsburg?” and he replied “ 39s.. per ton.” The cost of freight from Pittsburg to Sydney is about 20s. per ton. A Commissioner then put this question - “According to your evidence, Mr. Sandford, you can produce pig iron at Lithgow and land it in any part of Australia at 12s. per ton less than it can be imported. Now, if you can do that, how is it that you did not erect your steel works long ago?” He tried to get out of the dilemma by saying - “ In my estimate I had not provided for the interest On the cost of the works at Lithgow.” The Commissioner then asked him this question - “ If you have not allowed for the interest, does not the same thing apply to the iron works at Pittsburg ?” Of course no satisfactory answer was given to that question. Mr. Sandford was next asked by the Commission to state what it would cost him to erect iron works at Lith-gow for the production of cheap pig iron, and he answered, “‘From £100,000 to £125,000,” or about one-half of the bonus which the Government were prepared to give him if they could. But for a few of us who insisted upon an inquiry being held the Government would have paid to Mr. Sandford £250,000, or twice as much as he told the Commission his works would cost. What can honorable members think of a Government who were prepared to do a thing of that kind ? Mr. Sandford told the Commission that one of the troubles he had to contend with was the minimum wage, and he said, “ That condition would make it difficult for any man to engage in the industry.” How was the report of the Commission carried? Consisting of twelve members, six, including the chairman, voted in favour of the report, while six, including the honorable member for Bland, voted against the report, and the chairman - the right honorable member for Adelaide - gave his casting vote in favour of the Bill.
– -That was the second time on which the Government was saved by a casting vote.
– Yes. A very funny paragraph is contained in the majority report,., which’ was signed by the right honorable member for Adelaide and other members of the Commission, all protectionists, except the late Sir Edward Braddon.
What about all -the duties imposed on new industries which have not been established, and which the Minister for Trade and Customs contends have never raised the price of the articles to the consumers? How does that paragraph in the Commissioners’ report fit in with that contention? Does it not give away the whole case of the Government? By accident our protectionist friends sometimes speak the truth about their policy. I have always understood the protectionists to contend that it was only during its infancy that an industry requred protection. But in the case of the iron bonus, they say, “ We are not going to put on a duty, because in the initial stage of the industry the imposition of a duty would raise the price of the article to the consumer.” The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has complained in this report about raising the prices to the iron consumers. But what about the unfortunate thousands of persons engaged in industries throughout the Commonwealth against whom he did not hesitate to impose high duties ? What about the imposition of the fodder duties, which caused the loss of millions of stock? The honorable member did not see any harm in taking out of the pockets of suffering people no less than £550,000 at a time when their stock were dying, and they knew not where to turn for food. He did not hesitate to take an extra 25 per cent. out of the pockets of the people for clothing. He did not hesitate to take out of the pockets of the miners 25 per cent. for mining machinery, and out ofthe pockets of the farmers 15 per cent. for agricultural machinery. In this report, so carefully written, after prolonged consideration, the protectionists say that they do not think that they ought to put on a duty at the initial stage of the industry, because it would raise the price of the article to the consumer.
– The honorable member is only reading part of the report.
– Here is the part which I have read. I have shown pretty clearly, I think, that the Government have no right to mislead even those who are likely to engage in the industry.
– Mislead !
– Yes, because the Government are leading these persons to believe that this House will assent to their proposal when they know perfectly well that it would be impossible for them to carry a proposal to give a bonus to individuals in that way. They have been afraid to stake their existence on the proposal. If the establishment of this industry is so important a matter to them, how is it that they did not take the responsibility of standing or falling by their proposal?
– May I ask the honorable member on what they have staked their existence ?
– Here is another of the protectionists who subscribed to the doctrine that we must not tax an industry in its infancy, but should wait until it has been established.
– I have never subscribed to that doctrine.
- Mr. Jamieson was a member of the firm ‘who wanted the bonus, and were going to carry out the works at Blythe River. He said, in reply to a question, that the Blythe River Syndicate with which he was connected had been floated into a company of £1,000,000 in £1 shares. The honorable member for Franklin knows the value of the land which they hold.
– It is quite good enough for them to work without a bonus.
– I am glad to hear that statement from the honorable member. Like myself, he has iron deposits in his electorate, and I contend that if the quality ofthe iron deposits is good enough, they can be worked without a bonus. Mr. Jamieson told the Commission that £500,000 of the capital of the company is to go to the owners of the mine. And yet the Government propose to give the shareholders a bonus of £250,000. Are they not merely playing with these capitalists and the Parliament in inserting this statement in the opening speech, when they know that they have not a possible chance of carrying their proposal through this House? Ministers have not the courage to give expression to their views, here, and to take the responsibility of their proposal.
– The owners of the land are not getting anything like the sum named by the honorable member.
– We do not usually take much notice of the honorable member’s statements.
– I am simply referring to Mr. Jamieson’s evidence; but whenever anything is said that the Minister for Trade and Customs does not like, he tries to turn it off in an insulting manner. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra was a member of the Royal Commission. He must know that Mr. Jamieson said that £500,000 out of the £1,000,000 would be allotted to the owners of the land, and that all that the syndicate had to find was £30,000 for initial expenses.
– As far as I remember, that was the evidence.
– It must have been meant that the whole of the island was to be purchased !
– Of course, I do not mean that the land only was to be paid for at the rate of £500,000. I mean the iron deposits as well. There is no machinery upon the property yet, I believe.
– No; there is none there.
– I know that my statements are correct.
– There will soon be machinery there if the company gets the bonus.
– They will never get it as far as my vote goes. Something has been said concerning the cost of Federation, and the honorable member for Franklin interjected a remark with regard to Questionable expenditure. There is no doubt that the Minister for Trade and Customs, when he was before the electors of New South Wales, and also the Treasurer, stated that the cost of Federation amounted in 1901-2 to is. id. per head of population; in 1902-3 to is. ijd. ; and in 1903-4 to is 7”rd. The Minister stated that in New South Wales the whole of the expenditure incurred in connexion with the Commonwealth amounted to £269,000. Of course, my honorable friend may justify his statement in one way, but the question I put is - what have the people of New South Wales been called upon to pay in the shape of extra taxation by reason of the policy of > the Government ? The Government submitted a Tariff, which imposed upon the taxpayers of New South Wales a contribution through the Customs of no less than £3,540,000 additional revenue for the last three years.
– The honorable member forgets that the Commonwealth reduced the Queensland revenue. He should put one State side by side with another.
– I am going to give the results for all the States. We, in New South Wales, have had to contribute in additional taxation, not £269,000, but no less than £3,540,832 in three years, owing to the imposition of the Federal Tariff. South Australia contributed £3,882 more than formerly, and Western Australia £469,930. Queensland saved in taxation £765,674.
– The Queensland Treasurer says that he lost revenue.
– All I know is that according to the statement submitted by the Treasurer. Queensland has paid in three years £765,674 less than she formerly paid in taxation. Her people were saved that amount. Tasmania has paid £322,957 less, and Victoria £455,164 less. Considering the additional taxation levied in South Australia and Western Australia, and the lessened taxation in Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria, we find that in the aggregate the .five States contributed £1,049,983 less than they contributed before Federation, whilst New South Wales contributed £3,540,832 more. But that does not show all that the New South Wales people contributed. It only shows the taxation through the Customs, and does not take account of the additional prices which the manufacturers were able to charge on acount of the high duties. I have no doubt that where the Commonwealth, imposed a duty of 25 per cent, upon a certain article, the manufacturers raised their prices by probably 20 per cent. These facts show how the people of New South Wales were misled. I am aware that mv honorable friends opposite wish to’’ make out that this is not additional taxation, but thev cannot get over the fact that the people of New South Wales have had to pay this money in consequence of the imposition of the Federal Tariff. Had it not been for Federation they would not have been called upon to pay it. New South Wales, before protection was progressing well. Industrywas thriving, and there was prosperity throughout the State. There was nothing like the dearth of employment that there is to-day. I am aware that mv honorable friends opposite contend that the Tariff has had the effect of giving employment to a large number of men. and that there are not so many unemployed in New South Wales now as there were formerly. Let them make inquiries of such firms as Mort’s Dock, the Clyde Works, Hoskins, and Ritchie Brothers, and compare the position now with the position under free-trade. I should like to know whether the working classes of New South Wales consider that they are better off to-day than they were formerly? Thev will tell any honorable member who inquires amongst them that, in consequence of Customs taxation, they have to pay more for the necessaries of life. Our system of taxation has cost the families of working men probably, in some cases, from 5s. to 1 os. a week extra. One working man with a family of seven told me that the Federal Tariff meant an expenditure of ten shillings a week extra to him. Others would give similar testimony if appealed to. The Minister for Trade and Customs is very good at making insinuations when he thinks that the evidence to contradict him is not ready to hand. I made a statement a few minutes ago with regard to the number of shares allotted to the present owners of the Blythe River iron deposits. I gave the bald statement that Mr. Jamieson had made in his evidence. I had not thought it necessary to have a copy of the report at hand. But I have a copy of it now, and I will read what Mr. Jamieson said. The extract will show how far I was correct in the statement which I made.
By Mr. Watson. - I understand that so far you have not formed the prdposed company?
To that question Mr. Jamieson replied -
The company is in existence at the present time. It contains 1,000,000 shares, 500,000 of which are issued to the owners of the mine, and we have to put up?30,000 as well.
The next question was asked by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It is a wonder that he did not know that the statement which I made was correct.
– I had forgotten it.
– The honorable and learned member should have known that it was correct.
– I thought that it was possibly correct, and I ask for a copy of the evidence to be sent for. I have it here.
– I accept the correction. I want to be perfectly fair in dealing with this matter, because, as I said before, with the exception of the honorable member for Franklin, there is no honorable member in this House whose constituents would be more affected than mine by the giving of a bonus, seeing that nearly all the principal iron deposits in New South Wales are in my electorate.
– And the iron-works are in mine.
– Yes, the ironworks are in the electorate of the honorable member for Parramatta ; yet he and I both opposed the Iron Bonus Bill. The question asked of Mr. Jamieson by the honorable and learned member for Corinella was -
What is the value of the shares ?
Mr. Jamieson said
They are ?1 shares.
I appeal to the House as to whether honorable members are not justified in condemning this barefaced attempt to rob the people of the Commonwealth of ?250,000? What I blame the Government for is that by their policy they are obstructing the establishment of iron-works without the aid of a bonus. In view of the evidence of Mr. Sandford that he could produce pig iron cheaper than it could be produced in any part of the world, and that if he had cheap pig iron he could erect a large steel plant, I dare say that if the Government had not said that they were prepared to give a bonus of ?250,000, private persons might have been inclined to look into the question. But the Government included the proposal in their programme, though there was no possible chance of carrying it, and they have really prevented the establishment of an industry which we should all like to see progressing on fair, just, and reasonable lines. Why should the Commonwealth Government pay ?250,000 for the establishment of an iron industry; what about the other industries? Why single out the iron industry ? There is no justification for it. We have reason to be thankful to the Royal Commission for the information which it elicited. The facts concerning the industry and its prospects are set out by the Commission in a better way than would have been the case if no evidence had been forthcoming. That is one of the strong reasons why I for one supported the reference of the subject to a Commission. The Government opposed it at the time, but I felt that it was due to honorable members and to the people that we should know all about the proposal. It was no light matter for the Government to throw a Bill upon the table and ask Parliament to give ?250,000 to the iron industry, because Mr. Jamieson or Mr. Sandford wanted it. We had a right to know what justification the Government had for calling upon the people to contribute to the support of this industry. The question is of great importance,” if, as has been pointed out by the Treasurer, after he has provided ‘ for all the expenditure foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech, and for the payment of interest upon the capital cost of public buildings taken over by the Commonwealth, there will be no surplus left in his hands. If he has no surplus revenue, how are the Government going to provide money to pay this bonus ?
– It will be a very bad look out for some of the States.
– The Treasurer has pointed out that there has been a big deficiency in Tasmania, and also in Queensland. There are twelve or fifteen different items referred to in the Governor-General’s , Speech which will involve considerable additional expenditure, and the interest upon the cost of public buildings must be provided for as well. This means that the surplus to which I have referred will be absorbed, and if that is the case the Government will be compelled either to propose direct taxation, in which they do not believe, and which they have said is against their policy or they will have to go to, the Customs for additional revenue.
– Is the honorable member in favour of direct taxation?
– No. I have no hesitation in telling the Minister for Defence that I believe that is a matter which should be left to the States.
– Ask the Minister whether he is, favour of it.
– No; the Government have stated distinctly to the country that they are against the imposition of any direct taxation by the Commonwealth Parliament. They prefer to depend upon the Customs for revenue. But I point out that if the surplus is absorbed, and they go to the Customs for the additional revenue required to pay the bonus proposed, they will need to raise four times the amount of that bonus through the Customs: If after providing for the various items of expenditure, from £320,000 to £350,000 for interest on public buildings, £[50,000 for Defence, £94,060 in connexion with the Naval Agreement, £20,000 for New Guniea, and so much more for the Inter-State Commission, the High Court, and expenditure under the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, and the Patents Act, they have no surplus - and I leave honorable members to judge how far the balance of £270,000 will go to meet the expense of these extra services - and if they have to go to the Customs to get the £250,000 required to pay the bonus for the iron industry they will have to collect four times that amount of revenue; £1,000,000 will have to be collected through the Customs in order to get the £250,000 required to pay bonuses for the iron industry. I ask honorable members and the electors of the Commonwealth if they are prepared to submit to the extortion of another £1,000,000 through the Customs to help this industry, when Mr. Sandford, the leading expert in connexion with the iron industry in Australia, admits there is no justification for it, because he. says he can produce pig iron here cheaper than it can be produced in any other part of the world? If he can do that, what justification has the Government for coming down with this proposal? On the merits of the case, and on the evidence submitted to the Commission, notwithstanding their report, there is no justification. I say that the people are not prepared to submit to additional taxation to establish an industry which, according to the promoter ‘of one of the principal ironworks in Australia, can -be established without any bonus at all.
I have felt it to be my duty to refer at some length to this question, ‘because I believe the Government are doing an injury to the industry, to my district, and to the district represented by the honorable member for Franklin, and to the Commonwealth, by leading people to believe that there is a chance of getting this bonus when they know that there is no possible chance of it.
– Is the honorable member in favour of the Commonwealth establishing the industry?
– No ; I have no hesitation in expressing my views upon a matter of this kind. I think there is sufficient enterprise amongst private persons in Australia to induce them to establish the industry. I believe that the iron industry can be established and developed if those engaged in it are only given a fair chance. Other industries have been developed in New South Wales by free-trade. We have never in that State required any coddling up in the shape of bonuses to establish industries. We have never required to go cap in hand to any Government or to Parliament asking for a duty upon this or that, in- order to establish an industry. I said just now that the protectionists gave up their whole case in the clause to which I have just referred in which they say that they do not propose to give a bonus to the industry in the initial stages, because to do so would mean the raising of the price to the consumer. It is a pity they did not consider that when they were levying taxation to the extent of some millions upon the whole body of consumers throughout Australia. The consideration of this matter brings me naturally to the consideration of the proposals of the Government in connexion with preferential trade. When this question was submitted to Parliament I did not hesitate to condemn it in the strongest terms. I felt that it involved the abandonment of the principles of free-trade which have done so much to advance the interests of Great Britain. The question has got into a peculiar position. We have two assertions made in connexion with it. Mr. Chamberlain has stated that the exports of Great Britain are stagnant or declining. That was his first statement. Then he has stated that the Colonies are proposing an offer which England should accept, to prevent the disruption of the Empire. The Prime Minister has wired to Mr. Chamberlain an invitation to come here to prosecute his campaign in favour of preferential trade, but he has never had the courage to submit any proposal for preferential trade with the old country, nor has Mr. Chamberlain, on the other hand, ever submitted any proposal of the kind to us. Both are using the question for electioneering purposes. That policy did not succeed here, because, as I have already said, the Government have been sent back with only five supporters from the whole of Australia outside of Victoria. Since the question was raised, there have been twenty - seven by-elections in England, in thirteen months. The electorates concerned previously returned twenty-one Conservatives and six Liberals. At the by-elections after Mr. Chamberlain had ventilated his policy, and after our friends here had told us that England was going in for protection, the appeal to these constituencies resulted in the return not of twenty-one Conservatives and six Liberals, but of fifteen Liberals and twelve Conservatives. Mr. Vicary Gibbs, one of the prominent members of the House of Commons for London, appealed to his constituents in support of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy, and he was defeated, although he had been previously elected unopposed. The Times stated that the rejection of Mr. Gibbs was the most severe defeat which the Government had received. Sir John Fowler, speaking upon the question, gave a very good definition of Mr. Balfour’s political attitude in this connexion. He said that he was like a man trying to walk down both sides of the street at the same time. He did not really know what Mr. Balfour was in favour of if it were not some such proposal as Mr. Chamberlain advocated, involving taxation of food. When the proposal to impose taxation upon food was first submitted in the House of Commons we were discussing the Federal Tariff, -and I remember the riccht honorable member for Adelaide, Mr. Kingston, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, coming into this Chamber, and, with other honorable members, glorying in the fact that at last England had come to her senses and was going in for protection. How long did it last? The Imperial Government removed that taxation, and then came out with these preferential trade proposals, involving, not only taxation of food, but retalia-. tion. Supporters of the Federal Government used this fact throughout Australia in their attempt to show how farmers and others would be benefited by preferential trade, seeing that Great Britain would be forced to deal with them for butter, meat, wheat, and other produce, as against the foreigner. But the Imperial Government has dropped that intention. They now say that they are not going to put a tax upon food or upon raw material. They know well that to impose taxation upon food would be to do what has been done in this country - to tax the people who are least able to bear taxation. We know the distress which prevailed in the old country under the iniquitous system of protection, and, in view of the experience gained there, Ave feel sure that there is no possible chance that the people of Great Britain will ever go back to that worn-out policy. The Prime Minister, on behalf of Australia, as he said, expressed his approval of the preferential trade proposals of the Imperial GoA’ernment. I say that the honorable gentleman had no right to pledge this Parliament, or the Commonwealth, to any proposal of that kind. If he is in faA’or of these proposals, his clear duty is to come down to Parliament and sav - “ I believe this ought to be done, and I ask Parliament to give its assent to it.” He Avould then be speaking for the Parliament and for Australia. Hoav can the Government speak for this Parliament, as they have done in the GoA’ernor-General’s Speech, when, as I have said, they comprise the smallest party in the House of Representatives, and their party does not number more than one-fourth of the members of both Houses of the Federal Parliament.
– The Government .have not eA’en consulted that one-fourth.
– That fact I have already pointed out, and I contend that Mr. Chamberlain is placed in an unfair position. I am not amongst those Avho en- deavour to make little of Mr. Chamberlain, because I realize that he is a man of great ability.
– And many characters.
– I shall not enter into any personal matters. Mr. Chamberlain is a man of whom, in time past, I held a very high opinion, regarding him as a cleA-er man and a great debater, and, notAvithstanding that I differ from him on the question under discussion, I should be A’ery sorry to see him out of the British Parliament. In my opinion, Mr. Chamberlain has been misled, and the CommonAvealth Government are Avrong in inviting him to visit Australia Avithout the approval of Parliament having previously been obtained. This invitation, in my opinion, subjects Mr. Chamberlain to an indignity, seeing that he is asked to interfere in our politics. Besides, it is most improper to invite here a partisan in a policy which is erroneous and inimical’ to the best interests of the people of England. The by-elections in England during the last thirteen months - and the votes of the people are the best indication - show that the old country is averse to Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals. Mr. Balfour now says that while he is a freetrader, who would not tax food or raw materia], he believes in retaliation ; and in this connexion the Minister for Trade and Customs, who is the President of the Protectionist Association, > affords a rather amusing example. The Minister for Trade and Customs, as President of the Association I have mentioned, sent home a cable message to the effect that the people of Australia are in favour of preferential trade - preferential trade, mark you, which consists not in reducing the duties as they affect England, but in increasing the duties as against the rest of the world.
– That is queer loyalty.
– It may ‘ or may not be loyalty, and I see that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has subscribed to the same doctrine. We do not know what the opinion! of the Minister for Trade and Customs is on this question, though I think we ought to have heard him, seeing that he is president of the protectionist organization. However, the Prime Minister, before the election, told the electors that he practically subscribed to the doctrines embraced by the Minister) for Trade and Customs and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Now the Prime Minister tells us that he thinks that there ought to be a reduction made in some of the duties as they affect England, though he does not tell us what duties.
– That means increased protection.
– That is a nice way in which to treat the motherland, from whom we have ever had the right hand of fellowship extended, and to whom we are indebted for all the liberties which follow in the train of responsible government. It would be poor consolation to the old country to know that if she were shut out from the markets of Australia by a high wall, other nations of the world would be shut out by a higher’ wall. Here I should like to ask, what evidence is there of the failure of the free-trade policy in England ?
Is it not a fact that the iron industry there is in a sound and solid position, and extending by leaps and bounds without protection? And so with the steel and cotton industries. Great Britain does not produce an ounce of the raw material, and yet she exports 66 per cent, of the whole of the cotton consumption of the world. The shipping trade alone gives a return of £90,000,000 a year, and I remind honorable members that these figures are from the statistics which were practically asked for by Mr. Chamberlain and his party, and were submitted to the world by the Board of Trade at the instance of the present Government. In 1862 Great Britain lent out money to the amount of £144,000,000; in 1872 that had increased to £600,000,000, and in 1882 it was £1,698,000,000, while in 1903 the total was £2,100,000.000. Is there any evidence there of decay ? Great Britain can find not only enough money to maintain her enormous army and navy, but also that gigantic amount to lend to foreign countries. As to paupers and wages, it is a well-known fact, according to the Board of Trade’s report issued by the Balfour Government in August last,»that in fifteen trades the wages average 36s. per week, as against 22s. 6d. paid in Germany, and 22s. iod. paid in France. Is there any evidence there of the great advantages of protection? And, notwithstanding the difference in wages, it costs more in protected foreign countries to buy beef and wheat - which, it will be admitted, are the mainstays of life - than it does in the old country ; our people also work a less number of hours. We are also told that the exports of England are decreasing; but from the shipbuilding returns we see that Great Britain last year built more new ships than all the rest of the world put together, and, moreover, built them at a cost 25 per cent, cheaper than that at which they could have been produced in America. In 1896 there were in Great Britain 316 tin. mills; but, according to the Board of Trade’s report, that number had, by 1902, increased to 397, the export of tinned plates being 3,000,000, as against an importation of 100,000 plates. There is no evidence of decay when such splendid results can be shown. Referring again to wages, I may point out that those of bricklayers increased it. per cent, in England between 1878 and 1902, and about 6 per cent, since 1897. The wages of carpenters also increased, as did those of coal-hewers, the latter to the extent of 25 per cent, from 1878 to 1897, and since that year 15 per cent., their remuneration being twice as much as that earned in France or Germany, and much higher than that given in America. The returns from the income tax, based on property and products, are a good test of stability. In 1882, in Great Britain, the annual value of properties and products assessed for income tax was £600,000,000, which, by 1902, had increased to £920,000,000. Then, again, the exports of British produce in the three years 1860-2 inclusive represented £384,000,000, which in the years 1880-2 -had increased to £698,000,000, while for the years 190.0-2 the total was £831,000,000. The deposits in the savings banks are also a good test of prosperity. In 1872 the number of depositors in the Savings Banks in Great Britain was 2,867,000, with deposits representing £59,000,000; while in 1902, or thirty years later, the depositors had increased to 10,803,000, and the deposits to £197,000,000. The shipping clearances of the world represent 544,000,000 tons, for .practically one-half of which Great Britain is responsible. The Prime Minister did not tell the electors that to-day the working classes of the old country are enjoying better wages, cheaper food, cheaper raiment, and working shorter hours in better conditions than are other workers in France, Germany, or Belgium. Neither did he say that where protection has been tried it has resulted in worse food, worse clothing, longer hours, poorer wages, and worse housing. This system of taxation is a small matter to the man of wealth, but to the poor man it is of great consequence. Before we respond to Mr. Chamberlain’s invitation, we ought to be shown that the policy of free-trade has been a failure ; and of this there is no evidence. At all events, I cannot subscribe to a policy which, in my opinion, has brought so much trouble to such countries as Germany, France, and Belgium. We are asked to protect British- goods against pauper-made goods : that is, goods made in countries where protection has been the ‘policy for years. If protection is so splendid a policy, how is it that there are so many paupers and so much distress in the countries I have mentioned ?
– There are many thousands of unemployed in Berlin.
– In England, to-day, there are fewer paupers than there were in 1854, although the population has increased by many millions since that year. This decrease is particularly noticeable in the case of able-bodied paupers; but I do not want to weary honorable members with figures. I feel strongly on many of these matters, and I hope that the Government, before asking .the House to deal with the questions which they say are to be submitted to us, will review the situation. I hope that they will look carefully into the state of the Commonwealth finances, in order to see where the large additional expenditure proposed by them will land us. . They say that the States are in difficulties, so that they cannot keep money back from them, and that they do not believe in direct taxation. That being so, I hope that we shall have much fuller information than has yet been given to us in regard to the probable effect of the measures which they intend to ask Parliament to pass. Some of their proposed items of expenditure are no doubt very proper, especially that relating to the obtaining of information in regard to agricultural matters, and the investigation into the circumstances under which our exports are shipped to England. Those are matters which ought to receive the consideration of the Government. I think that united action on the part of the Commonwealth and the States should bring about a substantial reduction in freights, and prevent a. monopoly, and that, of course, would be of immense advantage to our producers. The Government, however, should not have put into their programme measures which they have no chance of passing. Their action in promising to again submit a Bill providing for the granting of bonuses for manufactures’ is to be deplored for the sake of our manufacturing industries. Such a measure is not likely to be passed by Parliament, and therefore to propose to grant bonuses for the manufacture of iron is more likely to retard than to assist the development of the iron industry.
– What about the fiscal issue ?
– The honor- . able and learned member is an advocate of fiscal peace.- I admit that the members of the Opposition fought the battle of the elections on behalf of free-trade, but as we were not able to secure a sufficient following to enable us to alter the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, a revision of the Tariff by this Parliament is impossible. Still, as the Government referred in the speech to the question of preferential trade, I felt it my duty, especially after the remarks of the right honorable member for Adelaide in regard to a statement which appeared in a certain newspaper the other day, and after the speech of the Prime Minister, to give expression to my views upon the subject.
– I have been listening for now nearly three weeks to the long and tortuous debate upon free-trade and protection which has been proceeding in this Chamber. Some of the voluble gentlemen who represent New South Wales have become so accustomed to the discussion of the fiscal question in their own State that they find it impossible to abandon it in the Commonwealth Parliament. I remember that the question was a burning one in New South Wales even in my time there.
– Does the honorable member come from New South Wales?
– Yes, and I voted for the honorable member when he first stood for the State Parliament. At that time I believed that he was a protectionist. At any rate, he was a member of the party to which I now belong.
– That is not correct. I never joined any caucus party. The honorable member knows it.
– It seems to me that the fiscal question has very little to do with the subject under discussion, the adoption of an Address in Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. The only excuse for its introduction is the reference in the speech to the subject of preferential trade. Although I am a protectionist, I have sunk the fiscal question, and I shall do my utmost to prevent fiscal strife from interfering with the commerce and business of the country. Some of the representatives of New South Wales appear to wish to dominate this Assembly. They tell us that this, that,and the other is done in their State, and seem to think that nothing else is of importance. I have lived most of my life in New South Wales, but I think that members of this Parliament should be moved by the Federal spirit, and, therefore, although I am now a representative of a Queensland constituency, I shall not have much to say about my State until I wish to bring its wants or grievances before honorable members. The present occasion seems to be regarded as opportune by many honorable members for the ventilation of grievances and for the reiteration of their electioneering and hustings speeches, in order to secure their publication in the Commonwealth Hansard; but, after it all, we are not very far forward, most of those who have spoken having come out of the hole at which they went in. In my opinion, when no amendment is moved upon a formal motion such as that for the adoption of the Address in Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, it should be sufficient for the leaders of parties to speak on behalf of those whom they represent, and for the House then to proceed with the business of the country. If that had been done on this occasion, we should have saved some thousands of pounds, and the people would be all the better off. I have not been out of the chamber for more than ten minutes altogether since Parliament met, and have listened to all the speeches which have been made during this debate; but the only statesmanlike and Federal utterance which I have heard was that of the right honorable’ member for Adelaide. The right honorable member is ready even to agree to the choosing of the site of the Federal Capital at once.
– Does not the honorable member support Bombala?
– I shall not say now. I have not yet had the pleasure of making a picnicking excursion to the various sites. I think, however, that the question should have been settled long ago. I am ready to vote for the choosing of a site in New South Wales. I know the three prin-. cipal sites proposed fairly well, and no doubt the State of New South Wales is entitled to have the matter definitely dealt with. The members of the Opposition have said all the nasty things they can about the Government and about Mr. Chamberlain, and some of them have gone so far as to play the school-master by lecturing the members of the Labour Party. After all their gas, I should like to know what they would do if they were in power. They know that if they occupied the Ministerial benches they would be in no better position than is the present Government. They would have to depend upon the Labour Party for their support, because it would be impossible for any Administration to carry on without it.
– Would our consciences stretch so far as to allow us to support the Opposition ?
– I cannot say. That is a matter which we should have to decide in caucus. Thereis no doubt, however, that they would require our support if they wished to keep in power, unless, of course, they could marry the present Ministerial party. It has been sa’d that at the last elections the members of the Labour Party were supported by the Government. I give that statement an emphatic denial. In my electorate, one of the candidates, was a member of the National Liberal Union, and because he was not chosen as the representative of the party, he drew up a programme of his own, and called himself a Deakinite. His secretary, whose remuneration depended upon the success of the candidate, wired to the Prime Minister, asking him to send up some of his gladiators’ to assist him in fighting the labour candidate, who, he said, had “ no show,” and the Prime Minister sent the Attorney-General. After speaking in my electorate in vain, that honorable and learned gentleman proceeded to Brisbane, and there spoke for two other candidates, both of whom were returned at the bottom of the poll. I do not blame the Attorney-General for that. I mention the circumstance merely to show that the members of the Labour Party were not supported by the Government in several cases which came under my notice, and I know of no case in which they were so supported. I am sorry that the Government are not able to put forward a better scheme for the payment of old-age pensions. Commonwealth provision for old-age pensions is one of the principal planks of the labour platform, and I should like to see something, done towards carrying it into effect. There are many old men and women in the community who, after toiling valiantly for many years, are now, through no fault of their own, reduced to penury. Are they to be left on the road-side of life to starve and die while others pass them by? The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is a measure from which the Labour Party hope much in the settlement of industrial disputes. I do not know what the Government ultimately intend to do in regard to cbe proposed application of the provisions of that measure to State and Commonwealth public servants, including railway employes ; but, as there has been some talk of a dissolution, I say that the Labour Party cannot be frightened by a threat of that kind. I should’ not be afraid to submit myself again to the electors of Capricornia to-morrow. I do not propose to detain the House very much longer, because I really have no grievance to ventilate. I had some cause for complaint arising out of the conditions proposed for the new English mail contract, in connexion with the suggestion that the steamers should be required to call at Brisbane. But the fact that no tenders were received for the mail service has cut the ground from under my feet so far as that is concerned. My feeling is, however, that Queensland does not receive very much consideration. The representatives of New South Wales and Victoria carry on the fight in this House, and honorable members from other States act as allies to one side or the other as occasion may seem to demand. I trust that the business of the country will not be further delayed by the undue prolongation of this debate.
– I do not propose to refer to the speech of the honorable member for Capricornia, except to comment upon his remarks regarding the quantity of Opposition “ gas “ which has been introduced into the debate. The honorable member desired to know what the Opposition could have done if they had occupied the Ministerial benches. I would inform the honorable member and the country generally that if the Opposition had occupied the Ministerial benches and had come back from the country with a much reduced majority, they would have refused to hold office under the degrading circumstances in which the present Ministry now find themselves.
– What party would have filled the vacancy ?.
– The party to which the honorable member belongs.
– As a result of the appeal to the country the Ministry sustained a defeat, and they now have a smaller number of supporters than during the last Parliament. I believe that this result was, in a large measure, due to the action of the Government in connexion with the electoral rolls, and their refusal to recognise the equal rights of all the men and women voters in the Commonwealth. The representatives of New South Wales, in the last Parliament, fought night after night in an endeavour to bring the Government to their senses and induce them to follow the basic principle of the platform of the Labour Party ever since it came into existence, namely, “ one adult, one vote.” What is the use of passing an Electoral Act embodying the principle of one adult one vote and at the same time distributing the electorates in such a way that, in some constituencies - mine amongst the number - three votes are equal to only one vote in others, such as the Darling electorate. The distribution of the electorates involved a gross violation of the basic principle upon which the Constitution is founded, and every representative of labour and every Liberal in this House should regard the action of the Government with absolute scorn. The Minister of Trade and Customs has boasted that he was responsible for the introduction of womanhood suffrage. But he was no more responsible for that, except that he was in charge of the Bill, than was any other honorable member. The Constitution provided that, when an Electoral Act was passed by the Commonwealth, uniformity with regard to the suffrage should be brought about, and that in no case should the suffrage in any State be reduced. Owing to the fact that womanhood suffrage had been in existence in South Australia for many years, and in view of the restriction placed upon us by the Constitution Act, under which the suffrage could not be reduced in any State, it was incumbent upon us to provide for the exercise of womanhood suffrage throughout Australia. Therefore, the Minister for Trade and Customs, although he had .charge of the Bill dealing with the subject, was in no sense responsible for conferring the franchise upon women.
– The honorable member knows very well that he is not stating the truth.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Minister has stated that I am not speaking the truth.
– I must ask the Minister to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I accept the Minister’s withdrawal, and I appeal to honorable members who are familiar with the Constitution and with the fact that in South Australia womanhood suffrage had been in existence a number of years prior to Federation to support me when I state that it was incumbent upon us to adopt womanhood suffrage for the whole of the Commonwealth. The Minister is too much disposed to say that statements made by other honorable members are not true.
– I call a spade a spade.
– The Minister is quite entitled to do that so far as I am concerned, but he went further than that. In the first paragraph of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech reference is made to the severe drought which has occasioned grievous losses to all classes of the community. Australia, and particularly New South Wales and Queenland, has, during the last nine .or ten years, passed through the most severe drought ever experienced. But I am not inclined to think that this drought has been disastrous to all classes of the community. It is true that the farmers of New South Wales and the pastoralists of Queensland have suffered severely; and that they have also had additional burdens placed upon them in consequence of the legislation which has been passed by the Federal Parliament at the instance of the Government. In the farming districts of New South Wales and in Queensland very heavy losses have been incurred by the owners of stock. Our herds have been diminished by tens of thousands, and our flocks by millions. It was hard enough for our settlers to bear the drought, but when the additional burdens imposed by Federal legislation had to be borne, our farmers and settlers were ruined by hundreds. When I appealed .to the Ministry, during the most distressful period of the drought, to at least suspend the fodder duties in order to afford our settlers an opportunity to obtain food for their starving stock, I was treated in the most inconsiderate spirit by the late Minister of Trade and Customs, who was sup; ported by his .colleagues in the Government. In other protectionist countries duties have frequently been suspended in times of national distaste. But iri pur case the Government refused to suspend the imposts placed upon fodder by the Executive before the Tariff was adopted ; although such duties might easily have been suspended for the time being by the same power that imposed them. The right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, and Senator O’Connor, the representative of the Government in the other Chamber, stated that the disaster that had befallen New South Wales and Queensland was the opportunity of Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. We know that, in very many instances, men who had large surplus stocks of produce in the latter States made immense sums of money out of the misfortunes of their fellow-citizens in New South Wales and Queensland. Therefore, the drought was not, as represented in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, disastrous to all. classes of the community. The produce merchants of Sussex-street, Sydney, and of
Melbourne also made vast sums of money out of .the extreme necessity of the stockowners of New South Wales and Queensland. In consequence of the duties imposed by the Tariff these men -were enabled to grow rich out of the farmers and others by charging exorbitant prices for the fodder they required. How can the Government put into the mouth of the Governor-General the statement that the drought “has occasioned grievous losses to all classes of the community,” when, owing to the inhumane action of the Government, the farmers of Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, arid the produce merchants of our large cities, made fortunes, in the way I have represented. When the Tariff was introduced the Government proposed certain duties, with a view to catch the votes of the farmers, and they are making a somewhat similar attempt in the Governor-General’s Speech. In paragraph 6 we are told -
With a view to giving assistance” wherever possible to those engaged in the cultivation- of the soil, and as a preliminary to the- establishment pf an Agricultural Bureau, you will be invited to consider the best means of assisting the farmer, by bounties and otherwise, to grow new crops and find new markets. Speedier and cheaper transportation to the large centres of population of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions, is much to be desired.
The Government appear to me to be. acting in a manner well calculated to destroy that fiscal peace to which they have been so fond of referring. I look upon bounties as the natural corollary of the iniquitous . system of protection, which the Government have fastened upon the Commonwealth, and when it is proposed to assist farmers, or any other class of the community, by means of bounties, the fiscal question must be raised, and peace upon that subject abandoned.
– Does the honorable and learned member forget that that portion of the Tariff referring to the bounties, namely, section VIa., has never been brought to completion?
– The Tariff, although not completed, has served to extract money from the pockets of the farmers and settlers who are amongst the -most deserving of our people. The Opposition fought for a period of eleven months against the Tariff proposed by the. Government, with the result that the amount of revenue expected to be derived from the duties was decreased by £1,500,000. We directed special attention to the reduction of the taxes proposed to be imposed upon the masses of the people. I’ also opposed the bounties and bonuses to which the Minister for Trade and Customs has just referred and as one who had the advantage of skf ting as a member of the Bonuses for Manufactures Commission, I can assure the Minister that the particular part of the Tariff to which he has referred will not be completed if I can .help, it. I should like to know what “otherwise” means. We have had no explanation regarding this. My own feeling is that the best way in which the farmers can be assisted is by removing the duties which are pressing hardly upon them at present. Protectionists are very fond of referring to New Zealand, and ascribing the prosperity of that Colony to the system of protection adopted there. The people of New Zealand, however, although protectionists, have been .clever and shrewd enough to so adjust the burdens of taxation that they shall fall as lightly as possible upon ‘those engaged in their great primary industries. Let us compare the -New Zea-^ land Tariff with that of the Commonwealth. I have here a list of the articles used iri the primary industries which are placed upon the free list in New Zealand. It includes the following: -
All machinery for agricultural purposes, and material used in manufacturing same. All agricultural implements, including axes, hatchets, spades, forks, scythes, sheep-shears, ploughchains, &c. ; gas and oil engines, portable engines, traction engines ; fencing wire, plain and barbed ; iron of alf sorts ; machinery for dairying pur-poses ; reapers and binders and reaping and mowing machines; binder twine; jute bagging, bags and sacks, woolpacks ; manures ; butter and cheese cloths.
And so on with all those articles which are most generally used by farmers and others engaged in primary industries. How have the’ Commonwealth Government! treated our farmers? Had they been successful in their efforts, every one of the articles which are used in our primary industries would have been taxed right up to the hilt. It was only after the most severe and prolonged fighting that the Opposition, as’sisted in some instances by the Labour Party, were able to reduce the burden of taxation upon our miners and farmers. When’ our protectionist ‘ friends point to New Zealand, I should like them to realize that the Government of that country have been wise enough to’ recognise that the best way in which to assist its primary industries is by placing practically the whole of the implements used in connexion with them upon the free list. In my judgment, the best encouragement that can be given to the dairy farmers, for -whom I specially plead, is to relieve them of the burden of taxation from which they are suffering at the present time. Let me recall the way in which the Ministry attempted to tax the mining industry. It was only after a most severe struggle that we were able to secure a reduction of the duty upon mining machinery. Surely we must recognise that our primary industries are the backbone of Australia. Yet some honorable members talk about our manufacturing industries as if the wealth and prosperity of the Commonwealth depended upon them. The Prime Minister has declared that the leader of the Opposition evinced a spirit of provincialism in connexion with the recent Federal elections. I hold that the honorable gentleman himself has been the greatest offender in that respect. I need scarcely recall his visit to Williamstown, where he accused honorable members of the Opposition of having opposed every manufacturing industry - more particularly the industries of Victoria. The Opposition never did anything of the sort. It is true that in the interests of the great mass of the people we opposed many duties which were proposed in connexion with our manufacturing industries, but our action was not prompted by any regard for the fact that those industries were established in Victoria. We refused to believe that a wirenail manufactory upon the banks of the Yarra was. a great national industry, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Bourke would have us believe.
– When did we tell the honorable member that it was a great national industry?
-The statement was repeatedly made during the period that the Tariff was under discussion.
– The honorable member cannot find it in any part of the debates.
– I am convinced that if I were to refer to Hansard Ishould not experience the slightest trouble in finding it. We are also informed in paragraph 6 of the Governor-General’s Speech that -
Speedier and cheaper transportation to the large centres of population of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions, is much to be desired.
No doubt the speedier transportation of our perishable products is much to be desired. Cheapness is also very desirable, but cheapness depends upon something more than freights and steamers. It depends upon the facilities which we afford to our producers. It is useless to talk of giving them cheap transportation to the great centres of the world if. we hamper them by our legislation. What country is our greatest competitor in connexion with the butter industry? It is the little country of Denmark, which to-day supplies 42 per cent. of the whole of the butter which finds its way to the English market.
– Its people are heavily handicapped in the same way as our own.
– No. The tariff of Denmark practically exempts from duty every implement that is used in connexion with the dairying industry. It is significant that of recent years the progress of this industry in Denmark has been very marked, whereas that of Sweden has diminished since she adopted a protective policy.
– Has the honorable and learned member read the Irish Commission’s report upon Denmark?
– No. It is not necessary to go to the report of the Irish Commision to ascertain what is the true position of affairs. Our own representatives have visited Denmark, Sweden, and other parts of the world for the purpose of learning what is going on. The honorable member for Richmond has assured us that England will always provide us’ with an enormous and reliable market. But I would point out to him that the preferential trade proposed will not provide us with such a market. To-day the Australian States, including New Zealand, are. supplying only about 12 per cent. of the butter that is consumed in England. Our chief difficulty is that we cannot keep up our supplies. The year before last New South Wales exported to London and other European markets about 8,000,000 lbs. of butter, whilst Victoria exported 26,000,000 lbs. Last year, however, in consequence of the drought, New South ‘ Wales exported only 121,000 lbs., and Victoria only about 1,000,000 lbs.
– That was not the result of the heavy duties, but of the drought?
-That is so. The point I wish to make is that whilst the opportunity presented itself to them, our producers were handicapped by being called upon to pay heavy duties. Our chief difficulty has been to keep up a regular supply to London, as well as to other markets. In order to justify that statement, I would point out that in 1900 New South Wales exoprted 8,477,617 lbs. of butter to the United Kingdom, but that in consequence of the drought our exports to that market in 1902 were reduced to i2i,672lbs. A somewhat similar state of affairs existed in regard to the export of butter from Victoria, although this State did not suffer from the drought to anything like” the same extent. The statistics show that, while in the year 1900 Victoria exported 26,185,679 lbs. of butter, in 1902 she exported only 1,424,460 lbs. However strong may be the faith reposed in them by the Ministry, I do not suppose that any system of preferential trade, or of bounties to assist the agriculturists, will ever cause an abundant rainfall, and thus enable us to keep up a regular supply on the London market. When that regular supply is not forthcoming grocers and others who deal in Australian produce find it necessary to turn to the producers of other countries in order to meet the wants of their customers. The comparison shows that, in respect of Australian butter alone, the exports for 1902, as against those for 1900, were reduced by 35,000,000 lbs. That quantity, having regard to the total consumption of butter by the London market, is a comparatively small one, but it is a very large quantity as compared with the total supply sent away by us. When, by reason of severe drought, our output suffers so severely, we must naturally be confronted with enormous difficulties in placing our products on the markets of the world. We have overcome, to a considerable ex- tent, the difficulty in relation to quality, but we have still this further obstacle to face. I sincerely trust that we are now at the beginning of a round of good seasons, which will give our producers much better results than they have obtained during the last ten years. Coming to the position of the Government, I would remind honorable members that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, the existing state of . parties in this House is practically impossible. The Government appealed to the country on their administration, and were practically defeated.
– Both the Government and the Opposition suffered.
– I repeat that the Government were practically defeated. The Opposition certainly failed to improve their position; but, according to the Prime Minister himself, the present situation is impossible. It was not for want of trying, or for lack of specious promises on their part, that the Government suffered defeat. During the last Federal elections we had the same old game as was played at the first Commonwealth elections, played in the same old way, by practically the same old hands. At the first elections we had Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. O’Connor preaching to the people of New South Wales a moderate Tariff - a national Tariff - a Tariff of revenue without destruction.
– That is all that the people obtained.
– I am referring to the positions of the combatants at those elections. In Victoria we had at the same time the present Prime Minister and the Treasurer calling on the people to stand shoulder to shoulder in the interests of protection.
– And thev did so.
– Yes. The right honorable member for Adelaide did exactly the same thing in South Australia. At the last elections, however, we had the Prime Minister at Ballarat, Sydney, and other large centres of population in the Commonwealth, joining with the Minister for Trade and Customs in the cry of “ Fiscal peace and preferential trade.” That was the. cry put forward, more particularly in New South . Wales, because the Government knew that if they used the word “ protection ‘ ‘ there they would be defeated at the poll. On the other hand, the Treasurer declared at St. Kilda, on the 13th November last, that the fight must be on the .question of free-trade or protection.
– That was true.
– But in New Soutfi Wales the Prime Minister emphatically dropped the word “protection,” and called for “ fiscal peace.” He asked that the degree of protection, at present in force, should be maintained ; but, at the same time, the Treasurer was calling upon the people of Victoria to fight for protection.
– He was only defending the protection we had; he was not asking for more.
– Quite so; but if a sufficient majority of protectionists had been returned to this House to enable the Tariff question to be raised, I doubt whether the desirableness of fiscal peace would have been considered. We know that the protectionists did their best in this House to make the Tariff as high as possible. They did so because of various interests, and I doubt very much whether, if a majority of protectionists had been returned, we should not have found them fighting once more in the’ same interests, as opposed to the interests of the great industries of Australia. The Minister of Trade and
Customs dropped the cry of protection in New South Wales, and called for fiscal peace and preferential trade. He knew that it was useless for him to raise the cry of protection - that practically the whole of New South Wales was true to the principle of free-trade - a fact that was demonstrated at the ballot-box.
– What nonsense.
– The Prime. Minister in the course of the campaign visited Sydney, and I had the pleasure of hearing the magnificent speech which he delivered in the Town Hall. I always delight in listening to the addresses of the honorable and learned gentleman, and never miss an opportunity to hear him. I was very much struck by the magnificent way in which he introduced himself to the ladies of New South Wales. The platform ofthe Town Hall was beautifully decorated by some of the ladies of Sydney, and in introducing himself to that vast audience the Prime Minister, pointing to the lovely flowers upon the table, said -
Here we see the flowers of their taste and judgment; we shall see the fruit at the ballotbox.
But the fruit which the Government gathered at the ballot-box was very bitter. The Prime Minister, in his charming way, appealed to thewomen of New South Wales to support his policy, and the sole result of the appeal made by him in Sydney, Armidale, and various other centres of population in that State was the return of the honorable member for Richmond, who is the solitary representative of that State sitting in a private capacity behind the Government. The Government lost Mr.Francis Clarke,who formerly represented Cowper in this House, as well as others who were among their strongest supporters, and whose absence, from a personal point of view we all regret.
– The honorable and learned member would have been sitting on this side of the House had he given his judgment free play.
– The meeting held by the Prime Minister in the Town Hall was from o.ne point of view a notable one. The hall was crammed to its utmost capacity, and protectionists - the Prime Minister among them - left the meeting with the idea that they had converted the people of Sydney; that they had made a magnificent impression upon them.
– The honorable and learned member does not find that I ever said so.
– No, but I shall quote two telegrams which I think will show that the Prime Minister thought so, even if he did not say so. The first of these telegrams was sent by “Samuel Mauger,” of 66 Bourkestreet, Melbourne, to “ Mr. Alfred Deakin,” and was as follows : -
Friends here delighted on report of Sydney meeting. Were you satisfied ?
In return a telegram was received by “ Mr. Samuel Mauger,” from “ Mr. Alfred Deakin,” in the following terms: -
Magnificent meeting; all friends declare greatest triumph protection ever gained here.
From these telegrams it will be seen that, although the Prime Minister may not have said that he thought the protectionists had captured the people of Sydney, he certainly thought that he had made a magnificent impression on the people of that State. How far that impression was justified need not be stated by me. The result of his appeal is so well known that it is unnecessary for me to make further reference to it. The view to which I have referred was held not only by the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, forwe find that the leading organ of the protectionist party in Australia- the Age - referred to the meeting in the folloAving terms : -
The Sydney meeting, with its tumultuous acclamations of the protectionist policy, is an evidence of the advance of a great truth against a mere sophistical falsehood……… It will therefore be no surprising thing should the mother State cast a decisive vote in favor of the Deakin policy, as Victoria is quite certain to do.
Notwithstanding the action of the protectionist party in sending their great orator to Sydney to convert the free-traders -who, from their point of view are deep doAvn in the depths of ignorance - : notAvithstanding the efforts of the Protectionist Association, through the medium of the ‘ Minister for Tradeand Customs and others, the result was disastrous to the present Administration. It proves one thing, if it proves nothing else - that the stand taken in this House by the Opposition in fighting the Tariff and the present Administration, is approved by the people of that State. The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports may shake their heads, but I contend that if I and other members of the Opposition
Avere not sent back as a protest against the present Administration, their Tariff, and their electorallaws,we haA’e no right in this Chamber.
– The Tariff was not the issue.
– What then was the issue ?
– The honorable and learned member knows very well what it was.
– I know that the Prime Minister came to Sydney and spoke of loyalty to the mother country. He had the audacity to say to his meetings in New South Wales that those who did not agree with his- Tariff proposals were disloyal to the mother country. I would remind the honorable and learned member and his friends that from the day he entered the political arena, he has been engaged in putting up barriers against British manufactures. The old Victorian Tariff, higher than the present Commonwealth Tariff, was framed, not to keep out foreign manufactures, but to keep out the manufactures of the old country, which has done everything for us. When the Prime Minister was translated to the higher sphere of Federal politics, he did exactly the same thing. The Tariff, as laid upon the table by the ex-Minister for- Trade and Customs, and as sought .to be passed by the Ministry, was framed for no other purpose than to keep out the manufactures of the old country. In years gone by-in these States British manufactures were largely imported, and the Tariff was framed and supported by the Prime Minister, in the same way as he supported ‘ the Victorian Tariff, especially in opposition to the manufacturers of the old country. He talks about the disloyalty of freetraders, and says that if they do not join with him in his preferential trade proposals - which have yet to be adopted by the people of England - they are disloyal to the Empire. Great Britain has never wanted more than the open door, to which she has been accustomed. The Tariff of New South -Wales gave her that open door, and the leader of the Opposition did more for the mother country by his patriotic action in that State than has been ‘ done by the lip-loyalty of the ‘ Prime Minister and his supporters. Time after time the leader of the Opposition and his supporters denounced the Tariff as introduced by the Government as unpatriotic, and as disloyal to the mother country. We knew that it was specially designed to keep out the manufactures of the mother country. I would ask- the Prime Minister whether he is prepared, in the interests of British manufacturers, to reduce the duty on a single article. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, as representing the Protectionist Association of Victoria, told the people during the elections that preferential trade would not reduce their protection by one iota.
– I beg. pardon; I told’ them quite the opposite.
– That is the true position of honorable members on the other side in connexion with preferential trade.The cry of fiscal peace and preferential’ trade is’ raised by them in order that theymay retain the protection they have, and give local and British manufacturers the opportunity of robbing the people here by raising a wall against the foreigner. The free-traders of Australia have always been loyal to the old country. In New South Wales the free-traders have always been prepared to allow her manufactures to come in on free and equal terms, and we are’ prepared to do so now. The honorable member for Richmond made a speech which was more amusing than argumentative. We did not take it too seriously, but it looks a little serious in cold print. He asked - Did we believe in free-trade be-, tween 30ns of the Empire? I immediately interjected- “Of course we do.” That is what we have been trying to bring about all our lives; but the honorable member and his friends have been trying to erect barriers within the Empire during their political existence. /The honorable member who is the chief supporter of the Government in my State said that he would answer my interjection later on,, but he did not : he knew perfectly well that it was true. All that has been done by the Ministry and their supporters has: been to erect barriers against the British Empire from one end to the other. The British Empire has not been built up by a system of preference. It has been built up in faceof hostile tariffs - in face of the hostile Tariff put up in Victoria by the leader of this Government, and the hostile Tariff put up here by the Commonwealth GovernmentIf we were to allow British manufacturesto come in on the freest and most equalterms, as we did under the Tariff of New South Wales, then, as Great Britain has always been accustomed to a revenue Tariff of her own, she would never grumble at any Tariff which we might have for purely revenue purposes. But she does object, and: rightly objects, to a Tariff which was imposed specially to injure her manufacturing interests. I was much interested in the speech of the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide. Believing that the grant of the Federal Capital to New South Wales in the Constitution was one of the principal reasons why the Federal movement was successful in that State, I heard with delight the statement of the right honorable and learned member on this question.
– What did he say twelve months ago?
– I do not know. All that I care about is that he is a strong supporter of New South Wales, and will firmly insist on that State being given her constitutional rights. The manner in which the Government has played with this important question has been one of the worst features in its administration. Time after time the question of selecting a site was brought forward by members of the Opposition, and time after time the work was delayed by the Minister. A Commission was ‘ appointed, which further delayed the work, and it was not until the last three weeks of the last session of the first Parliament that the matter was brought to a sort of semi-conclusion. I believe that honorable members are prepared to give New South Wales her just rights. I am not provincial enough to think that this matter ought to be settled in the interests of New South Wales ; it ought to be settled in the interests of the Commonwealth. All the members of the first Parliament will remember the influence which the press of Melbourne exercised on the moulding of its legislation, and the sooner we get into our own Federal home, free from the influence of great cities, the better, in my opinion, will it be for our legislation. I was rather surprised to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs interject that the settlement of this question had been delayed by us. I feel sure that any one who looks at the records of the first Parliament will find that it was pushed forward by members of the Opposition as much as was possible. I was not surprised to hear some of the remarks of the right honorable member for Adelaide in his advocacy of protection and of the Tariff, of which he was practically the author. It is only natural that he should stick’ to his own child. But he was rather unfortunate in the quotation which he made from one of our leading politicians in New South Wales. I make no personal reference to this gentleman. I have the honour and pleasure of a slight acquaintance with him, and I must say that he is rather a discredited politician in New South Wales. The right honorable and learned member quoted his figures showing the “enormous” increase of our manufactures to .£25,000,000 per annum, but we know that the manufacturing interests of Australia had reached an output of £28,000,000 per annum, before the introduction of the Federal Tariff. We’ have been told that importers, manufacturers and the public generally are becoming accustomed to the Tariff. The importers pay down, I suppose, about £9,500,000, and pass the duties along to the consumers, and it is a very nice little operation, as far as they are concerned. We are told that now the public, instead of seeing on articles the words “raised in. consequence of the Tariff,” find that the articles are on the free list. I should like to ask the Minister - who put the articles on the free list? It was only after a . struggle of eleven months, that the Opposition - in many instances with’ the help of the Labour Party - succeeded in putting 115 groups of articles on the free list, and reducing the taxation in connexion with 139 other articles. The manufacturers are becoming accustomed to the Tariff. But the statement made as to the enormous expenditure in consequence of the Tariff will not bear investigation. The gentleman to whom the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide referred - Mr. B. R. Wise - put forward a list of new works some time ago, and when it was investigated it was found that the rebuilding of Her Majesty’s Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire, was included in the expenditure under the Tariff. We found that a number of buildings and factories, and various other’ works which had been started long before the Tariff came into existence, were also included in the list. So that all this boasted expenditure by the protectionist party in and around Sydney has been exaggerated very much. If it has given so much employment to labour - and it was only the other day that a deputation, representing, as they said, 8,000 men out of work, waited on the Acting Premier in Sydney, with the view of getting work - how is it that in the constituency of Dalley, many of the great iron industries are now only working half-time ? These facts do not tend to show that the Tariff has given employment to labour, and that money is being spent under its operation, as the protectionists would have us believe? There is one thing, however, which has resulted from the Tariff, and that is, that male employes in the factories are gradually giving place to women and children. According to the Government Labour Bureau, which is an authoritative source, last year in the metropolis of New South Wales 443 permits were given to children between the ages of 13 and 14 years - that is, under the school age, to work in factories ; while in Newcastle 47 permits were given.
– Why is it allowed ?
– I would not allow any system of legislation, be it a Tariff or otherwise, which would make women and children earn the daily bread for the families in place of the men. Surely we have not come to such a stage in this mighty continent, with a population of only 4,000,000 persons, that it is necessary to drive our women and children into factories in order to earn the daily bread for the family. That has happened under the Commonwealth Tariff, and it is only a repetition of what happened under the Victorian Tariff. The Prime Minister, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and others were on a Sweating Board in Victoria, and they gave their testimony that under the Victorian Tariff in Melbourne there was going on sweating which was equal to the sweating in older parts of the world.
– And we wiped it out.
– Does not the honorable member remember that that did not come into existence here until sufficient time had elapsed for the Victorian Tariff to get into full operation? Do we not know that when the right honorable member for Adelaide was advocating a particular item on the Tariff in 1901, of which he was in charge, he said - “ The honorable member for Parramatta can look it up as much as he likes, but he will find that what I have said is perfectly correct - that the importations from these countries are as I have stated, and that in France Belgium, and Germany protection and cheap labour reign supreme? During his speech the honorable member for Richmond said that in New South Wales the protectionists had been the bulwark of Federation, while the free-traders had been its strong opponents. Whatever may be. said in connexion with the Constitution, however disappointed many persons may be with the outcome of the Commonwealth, as administered by the present Government, the free-trade party of New South Wales is not entitled to be told, that it was the opponent of Federation, and that the protectionist party was the bulwark of Federation in that State. I was surprised to hear the honorable member make that statement, because he must well remember that the great free-trade leader of New South Wales - Sir Henry Parkes - in 1889, with the report of Major-General Edwards in his hand, in connexion with the defences of the Australian Colonies, made at Tenterfield, the speech which galvanized the Federal movement into life. It brought about the Convention which sat in 1891 in Sydney, andwhich was attended by most of the leading men from the States. After that year public interest in the matter waned, and it was not until the leader of the Opposition in this House, who is very often blamed, advocated an elective Convention, that real life was put into; the Federal movement. In New South Wales Sir William McMillan, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the honorable member for North Sydney, and many others on the Opposition side of the House whom I could mention, worked hard and honestly to bring about the Federation of the Australian States. I should like the honorable member for Richmond to remember also that a large proportion of the funds which had to be found in order to fight the question in New South Wales was raised by the members of the free-trade party, and those who were associated with their political actions. However much the people may be disappointed with the outcome of Federation, the free-traders are not entitled to the stigma placed upon them by the honorable member for Richmond. Does he forget that he was on the platform of the Town Hall, Sydney, on the occasion of a presentation of plate to the leader of the Opposition, and that he made the speech of the evening? Does he forget that he told the people there that it was George Reid, and not Edmund Barton, who was entitled to the credit of bringing about Federation in Australia? I am surprised that the honorable member’s memory is so short as to forget that he was the principal figure in connexion with the proceedings that night. I do not wish to detain the House any longer. I sincerely trust that, although the position of Federal politics may be dark at the present time, although I do not think there is a single man in this House, or in the country, who can see daylight through the situation, the outcome will be satisfactory. The responsibility of conducting the affairs of the country lies with the Government. They are responsible for the position in which they find themselves. The members of the Opposition and the members of the third party are not responsible for it. It is to Ministers that the people of Australia look to place responsible government on a higher grade in future than it has occupied in the past.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister for Trade and Customs). - For many nights past we have been listening to very long speeches on every subject that it was possible to introduce within the scope allowed to honorable members in the debate on the Address in Reply. I think, with many of those who have spoken from this side of the House and from the Opposition benches, and with the honorable member for Capricornia, who spoke to-night, that little new has been said. I should not have arisen had it not been that two or three honorable members have directed attacks towards me. I hold that unless attacks of that kind are made on a Minister personally, there is no necessity for more than one or two members of the Government to reply in the course of such a debate. The House was treated to a very entertaining, though I cannot call it an instructive, speech from the honorable and learned member for Parkes last week. He is a very superior person, I should imagine, according lo his remarks. He lectured us all round. He lectured the Labour Party, and he especially lectured the Government for continuing to hold their position. He said that it was not possible for them to continue to hold it unless they were supported by the Labour Party. My remarks upon this point may also apply, to some extent, to the leader of the Opposition. The right honorable member made a very dramatic speech - perhaps the most ludicrously dramatic I have heard him deliver. He said that he would not on any account be subservient to any particular party, nor would he be driven by any party, ‘ and that 1 he had never permitted anything of the kind lo be done when he was at the head of a Government. Though the right honorable member, as is usually the case, is not present, I desire to direct attention to what took place between the years 1895 and 1899, when he was in power in New South Wales. During the whole of that period there were three parties in the Legislative Assembly of that State. He was kept in office absolutely by the votes of the Labour
Party. Finally, he was deposed on the votes of the Labour Party. Yet the right honorable member managed to hold the position, and to pass some legislation - though not much - with the assistance of thatLabour Party.
– Did he not pass the land tax?
– Yes; it is not much of a land tax, though. I should like those honorable members who take such strong exception to a Government receiving the support of the Labour Party to ask themselves what particular State in Australia, during the last few years, has not had three parties in its Parliament, and what Government has not practically been supported, if not kept in power, by that third party ? As far as I can judge, there is nothing new and nothing anomalous in the present position. There are three parties ; and though there are those who say that two parties must join to wipe out the third, I venture to say that they will never succeed.
– We have come to stay.
– I quite understand and believe that the third party has come to stay. “Whether its strength is going to be increased or not is a question I am not prepared to answer; but if Parliament is not to be conducted and legislation is not to be enacted with three parties in the House, we had better stop attempting legislation altogether. It has been said that the Government cannot continue to carry out their programme unless thev receive the Support of the third party. ‘ The Government is not going on its knees to any party to get its support. As the Prime Minister has said, it is going straight forward with its policy. If it receives sufficient support from either of the parties in the House it will carry out that policy. I see no reason why we- should not proceed in the way the Prime Minister has suggested. When the time comes that the Government find that they cannot proceed with the fair, honest, and straightforward support of the third party, they will know what to do. This particular question is of great moment at present, and is uppermost in the minds of a large section of the public of Australia. But I venture to think that we shall be able to go on ; and, if a crisis comes, I venture to believe that the attitude of the Government will be favoured by the country. Before I deal with the criticisms of other members, I wish to refer again to the honorable and learned member for Parkes. As I have said, he has thought fit to lecture every one. But what has been his own political history? He was the greatest failure we had in New South Wales politics. He was once Minister for Works, and he was the most extravagant Minister who ever presided over the Works Department of New South Wales.
– Did he beat the honorable gentleman ?
– I was never an extravagant Minister, although I have been attacked by members of Parliament for what they deemed to be extravagance. But sometimes false economy is extravagance. I will give an instance from this State of Victoria. . Rigid economy is said to have been enforced here during the last four or five years before Federation. But there is no State in which through supposed economy more money has had to be expended on public buildings to prevent ruin during the term of Federation than Victoria. So that economy socalled is not always true economy. It is sometimes extravagance. Those honorable members who talk about my extravagance and the eeonomy of Victoria, should remember that what I have explained is absolutely a fact. When the honorable and learned member for Parkes presided over the Works Department of New South Wales, he increased the vote for public works from £600,000 to between £1,100,000 and £1,110,000 in two consecutive years. And this is the honorable and learned member who lectures Federal Ministers as to what they should do, what position they should take up in regard to their measures, and what should be their ideas of responsibility !
– Was the honorable and learned member for Parkes right or wrong in raising the public works expenditure ?
– I am not going to say in every case, but I think that in many cases he was wrong.
– The Minister did the same, and said that he was right.
– When the honorable and learned member lectures others on matters of this kind, I desire to point out that the mote is in his own eye. The Federal Capital question has been referred to. I was surprised to hear the right honorable member for Adelaide speak in the tone which he adopted in regard to that question. It is not so very long - unless I am very much mistaken - since the right honorable member, in addressing a meeting at the Town Hall, Melbourne, attacked New South Wales in regard to her anxiety to secure the Federal Capital, and said that that State was in the unenviable position of having had to be bribed by having the Federal Capital placed within her borders.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide was in the Government then.
– Whether I am in a Government or not, I shall try to be consistent. I interjected the other night that, to a very large extent, the Opposition were accountable for the delay, if delay there has been, in connexion with the Federal Capital question. The first session of this Parliament was occupied almost entirely by the speeches of honorable members opposite. Scarcely any other honorable member could get a fair opportunity of speaking or even interjecting. The speeches of the Opposition occupied about eight months. One day I attempted, as Sir Henry Parkes did on one occasion, to count up the number of miles of talk that emanated from the Opposition benches during the first session. But the task was so great that I could not get to the end of it. For that reason, and as we were required by law to enact the Tariff during the first session, and also had to pass machinery Bills, it was not possible to deal with the Federal Capital question. In the second session of the Parliament we had, to a very large extent, a repetition of the tactics of the first session from the Opposition benches. On that occasion we had them beating the air, and up to the present time in this debate we have had a repetition of the Tariff speeches we are so sick of from honorable members opposite. When the time of the House is so taken up, how is it possible for any Ministry to reach the important items of the legislation they propose ?
– Which are the important items ?
– The honorable and learned member is one of the greatest offenders, and should have nothing to say on this matter. What are the facts ? As early as possible every step was taken to advance the decision upon the Federal Capital site. Will it be said that we should have submitted the question to Parliament before it had reached a fair stage for the consideration of honorable members? We were’ bound to obtain all the information it was possible for us to obtain in submitting to this . House for determination one of the most important questions with which the Federal Parliament has to deal. Were we to act blindly without getting the information which was supplied by the Royal Commission which was appointed? That Commission produced, I venture to say, one of the ablest reports ever submitted upon a question of the kind. If honorable members will turn their attention for a moment to what took place in the United States in the early days of their union, and also to what took -place in Canada in the early days of the Dominion, they will find that no report of such importance was submitted in either of those countries in connexion with the selection of .their). Federal Capital sites. No one has fought harder or more con^tinuously to have this matter brought to” a head than I have, during the time I have been a member of this Parliament. If I had not been a member I venture to think that honorable members sitting opposite” would not have brought the question to the stage in which we find it now. Everything cannot be done in an hour or in a day. It takes time to obtain all the information necessary to satisfy the hypercritical minds of honorable members opposite. Even after the report of the Commission was presented to this House, in addition to that received from Mr. Oliver, honorable members opposite accused the Government of not having obtained sufficient information to enable them to settle the question. When we found honorable members in so critical a humour was it not to be expected that the Government would take time to obtain the most minute information upon so important a question? It was only when the report of the Commission was obtained, and not until then, that the Government were in a position to submit the question to the House. Was there any time lost then ? We are aware, that a number of the members of this House are really in n> hurry to deal with this question.
– Who are they ?
– I am not going to mention names ; but the honorable member must know as well as I do that what 1 say is a fact. I do not intend in any way to suggest that those honorable members desire to deprive New South Wales of her right in connexion with this matter. But they have not that ardent desire to get away from Melbourne that is possessed by many other honorable members who wish to s-.s-. the Federal Parliament established in its own Federal home. If honorable members will consider the time taken to settle a similar question in the United States, and will call to mind the action taken, and the jealousies aroused, between the prinicpal cities of the States before Washington was decided upon as the site of their Federal Capital, they will understand why it was found necessary there to select a place in the wilds of the’ forest as a Capital site, lt was entirely in consequence of a trouble, that is repeating itself in Australia to-day in connexion with this matter as the result of jealousies between important cities in these States..
– Between some of the electorates.
– The honorable member is a young man, and is not yet sufficiently grown up to know really what these jealousies are. This is an important consideration which cannot at the present time be ignored. I would ask honorable members what happened in Canada ? After fighting for eight years, with the result that the ‘ jealousies existing there had not decreased, but rather increased and become accentuated, the Dominion Parliament failed to settle the question, at all, and they had to get the late Queen Victoria, through the Imperial Government, to fix a site for the Capital of the Dominion.
– That was provided for in the Canadian Constitution.
– They could have settled the question if those in antagonism upon it could have come to terms.
– Is that not an example to be avoided ?
– The right honorable member for Adelaide made an attackon me in connexion with this matter, because I happened to have’ charge of it. At first the right honorable member said that the question had not been furthered, and then he admitted that it has been brought up to this position now that there are two sites only to be considered. That is a very long step to have taken in the settlement of this question. If nothing completely satisfactory has been determined upon, we have yet advanced very materially from the position in which we were at the outset of our Federal career.
– Are Ministers in agreement now as to the choice of a site?
– The honorable member raises another point, that Federal Ministers must be in agreement upon the question of the Federal Capital site. But no Cabinet that ever attempted to settle such a question was ever in agreement, and it is not likely that any Cabinet, as a whole, will be in agreement upon such a question. Even supposing that the Cabinet should be so, it is not likely they would try to dictate to the House what the decision of honorable members should be tupon so important a question.
– This House has voted upon the question, and has come to a conclusion.
– The last House has voted and has come to a conclusion oh the question, but the Federal Parliament has not. The Government are bound to consider the possibilities in regard to the settlement of .a question of this kind. There is no use in hiding the fact that if a Minister has a strong feeling in favour of any particular site he is entitled to vote for it if he thinks that any other site submitted is not as good. It would, no doubt, be very pleasing to some honorable members if they could possibly induce the Government to quarrel and to destroy themselves over this question. But Governments are not quite so simple as my young friend, the honorable member for Wentworth, may imagine. He may think that the Government will do this sort of thing without consideration, but they will do nothing of the kind. We have been twitted with the fact that we have not settled this question already during the present session. Here we are still holding our first debate, which should not have occupied more than a week, but which is strung out, by the old tactics of the Opposition, until the third week, and it may yet be until the fourth week, and can any honorable member have the temerity to suggest that when we have had no opportunity to deal with any other question, we should have brought this matter up before the present time. I have not been in consultation with my right honorable colleague, who is in charge of the matter ; but he will have my support in bringing it forward for decision at as early a date as possible. We cannot do impossibilities. We must wait until the business of the House is so far advanced that it will have become possible to deal with it.
– It must wait upon other business.
– The House of Representatives last session carried a resolution approving of the selection of Tumut as the site of the Federal Capital. That was objected to, and the selection of another place approved in the Senate. When the Bill dealing with the subject came back to this Chamber, the House of Representatives restored Tumut as the site to be selected, and returned the Bill to another place. In consequence of the early termination of the session we were not then in a position to go to the extremes that could be gone to with the Senate if honorable senators were prepared to continue the fight upon the question now.
– We can only secure a settlement of the question under the Constitution if the selection of a particular site is embodied in a Ministerial measure.
– The question may yet reach the stage when it will be possible to make the selection of a particular site take the form of a Ministerial measure. But I differ from my honorable friend if he suggests that the Government in a new Parliament should make this a Ministerial measure in consequence of a vote given in the old Parliament. In the last Parliament, when the House of Representatives decided on the selection of Tumut, and the- Senate of the selection of” Bombala, the Ministry stood by the decision of the House of Representatives, and that is all they could have been expected to do. If, when the matter is brought forward again, this House decides, on the selection of a particular site, I have not the slightest doubt that the Ministry will take up the same position as they did on a previous occasion. I again repeat that it is not fair that honorable members opposite should attack the Government on this question, which they believe is so much thought of in New South Wales, for the purpose of detracting from the position of the “Government, and in order to assist themselves in their political life. We have been told that the Opposition party is, according to numbers, the largest party in the House of Representatives. I should like to know how honorable members opposite prove that. As a matter of fact, whilst there are three parties in this House, the Government part)’ is the largest. Honorable members opposite will have great difficulty in proving to members on this side that that is riot so. I should like to direct attention to the position which ‘ New South Wales took in the last elections as the result of the extraordinary and ludicrous action of her press and of her politicians? Honorable members ‘ opposite have said that the elections there were fought on free-trade and protection, but that was the last issue in the minds of the majority of the electors in that State. To prove what I say I have only to refer to the case of Mr. Francis Clarke, who, as a member of this House, was very much respected, and of whom we were all proud. He went to the strongest protectionist constituency in New South Wales and was defeated by a free-trader. But he was defeated not on the issue of free-trade and protection, but on the other issue so ably referred to by the leader of the Labour Party. That was the issue fought in his election, and not the issue of free-trade and protection. But what position has New South Wales placed herself in as the result of the elections? She is at the present time in antagonism practically to the whole of the rest of Australia. In placing herself in this position she has been unwise in her own interests. I for a long time occupied a prominent position in the public life of that State. The people .believed in me, and were very good to me; but I say that through the action of some of her public men - supported by the misdirection of -the Sydney press - instead of being, as she is, the most powerful and the wealthiest State of the Australian group, and instead X>i being the leader of politics in federated Australia, she has placed herself on the lowest rung of the ladder in dealing with all public questions in. this Federal Parliament. The whole or nearly the- whole of the Opposition come from New South Wales, and they have got themselves into such an awful fix that they want the Government to help them by forming a coalition. The people of New South Wales will live to know that they have been misled by their public men and their leading press; it is certain that the lesson taught during the last election will not be lost. No person more strongly than myself opposed, not Federation, but the Constitution Bill submitted to the people, because I conscientiously believed it provided machinery that would work extravagantly and not in the best interests of Australia. I was not afraid to stake my political reputation and life on the action I then took. However, we are here now, not as State, but as Federal politicians. All these whisperings about retreating or retiring from Federation are so many idle words, and it is .time that New South Wales realized her true position - that she should meet the other States in a Federal spirit, and not as one State try to dictate a policy for the whole. of Australia. All efforts at such dictation will fail as sure as New South Wales is the most powerful State, and as sure as she returns members to this Parliament absolutely antagonistic to nine-tenths, or at any rate three-fourths, of the representatives of Australia as she did at the last general elections. What I am saying may not be very palatable to honorable members opposite ; no doubt I am telling them some straight home truths which they do not like. It will not be with my consent that anything will be done to get honorable members opposite out of the cut de sac into which they have landed themselves.
– Why did the honorable member not talk like this last week?
– I must ask honorable members on the Opposition side of the House to refrain from such frequent interjections. It is with the utmost difficulty that the Minister can proceed with his speech.
– Why did not the Minister make these remarks last week?
– I must ask the honorable member for Dalley to refrain from breaking the Standing Orders. The honorable member knows what the Standing Orders require, and I ask him not to interject at a time when the Speaker is addressing the House.
– I apologize to you, Mr. Speaker ; but the Minister for Trade and Customs is very provoking
– I am sorry; but home truths are usually provoking. While I speak earnestly I want to speak in good spirit. In most of the speeches on the Address in Reply honorable members have attempted, not to deal with large, broad questions, but to indulge in personalities regarding people not here to defend themselves. The leader of the Opposition made what appears to my mind to be an unwarrantable attack on Mr. Lewis, an attack in which he has been supported by the honorable member for Macquarie.
– I can bring evidence to prove my statements.
– And so can I bring evidence to prove the truth of what I say. The honorable member for Macquarie has backed up the leader of the Opposition in an attack on a public servant, who is one of the best men for his position in Australia. If this matter be more prominently brought before the House for discussion it will be proved that a great many of the little troubles complained of during the elections have been caused by attempts to undermine the position of this public servant - that there are those who, influenced by certain persons not far from this Chamber, have endeavoured to undermine what the Electoral Officer was doing. What is the position of that officer, and what has he done? He had to perform a gigantic task, the greatest task ‘ that ever fell to the lot of an electoral officer in the Southern Hemisphere. He had to bring into line the electoral rolls, and apply the electoral machinery over an area extending from the south of Tasmania to the north of Queensland, and from the east of New South Wales to the coast of Western Australia. I was the political chief of this officer for a considerable time-; but the man, personally, is to me of no concern. My belief is that he is a man who endeavours to do his- duty well, and even if there have been shortcomings, he should be protected from unwarrantable attacks. Though’ this gentleman is not without his faults, he has, as I say, worked well, and the wonder is that, under the circumstances, there were not more mistakes. I wish to draw special attention to the fact that the apathy of the public of Australia is such that it is impossible to induce them to see that their names are placed on the rolls. When I was at the head of the Department I had notices posted at every post-office and other public places throughout Australia; and, further, intimations were given through all important sections of the press begging the electors to perform their duty. When it was found that electors would not respond to these appeals, the police and others engaged in the electoral work went from house to house ; but even then in some cases those who were entitled to the franchise refused to give their names. Under such circumstances it was very difficult to prepare complete electoral rolls, and it is not surprising that numbers were disfranchised.
– At any rate, nearly 2,000,000 names were placed on the rolls.
– That was only after a great deal of trouble. I am glad to know that the right honorable memberwho holds the position I formerly occupied, 1 entertains the same opinion as myself of the head of the electoral branch. The fact that two of us, after experience, hold’ that opinion, and strongly favour him, should count for much. In any case, It would refuse to allow this man, who has done his duty, to be maligned. Those-‘ who make the misstatements concerninghim, must know that they are uttering what are not facts. It was said by the leader of the Opposition that’ Mr. Lewis was discharged - I do not think the word “ dismissed “” was used - from his> position in the New South Wales Public Service.
– The word was “retired.”
– I will take it that the leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Lewis was retired from the New South Wales Public Service about 1882 or 1883 for incompetence. At that time the business of the Public Reserves Branch of the Lands ‘ Department was all transacted at the central office in Sydney, under the direction of Mr. Lewis. .1 may say that I was one of the public men who agitated to have the business distributed-‘ in the various districts under district surveyors, with a view to enabling those whodesired to take up land to obtain information at places as near to their homes as possible. As a result of the agitation the central branch was disbanded - that was the retirement spoken of by the leader of the Opposition. Not one word was at that time said against Mr. Lewis’ competency, or the” method in which he carried out his duty; and the day he left office he was given an improved, ‘ but temporary, position at .£600 per annum by SirHenry Parkes, who had had opportunities of observing Mr. Lewis, and who certainly would not appoint an incompetent man to any post. Mr. Lewis occupied that position until Sir George Dibbs came into office, when a permanent post was found for him in the Electoral Department of the State. Despite anything that may be said, Mr. Lewis’ work was well carried out. It is true that he may perhaps have had a few clerks more than the work required ; but, however that may be, I think most honorable members will say that during the Federal elections Mr. Lewiswas, if. anything, too economical. It might have been better if he had spent £5,000 or £10,000 more in employing assistance.
– There would then have been more contradictory instructions than ever.
– I do not think so; and I am sure that if the honorable member for Boothby knew Mr. Lewis a little better he would not say a word against him. Mr. Lewis continued to hold the position given to him by Sir George Dibbs until 1895 or 1896, when the leader of the Opposition came into power as Premier of New South Wales. Mr. Lewis had evidently done something, to offend the right honorable gentleman, who gave an instruction, which he ought never to have given, to the new Public Service Commissioners, namely, an instruction to reduce the salaries of the Public .Service-by £300,000 per annum. In consequence the Public Service Commissioners, before they had matured their work of classification and reduction, or before they knew the conditions of the Public Service, carried out an indiscriminate hewing and carving of the salaries, and the mischief done had to be partially rectified afterwards; but the result was a demoralization of the service.
– That is a monstrous thing for the Minister to say.
– The after action of the Public Service Commissioners was an acknowledgement that their work had been too hurriedly done. Simultaneously with this improper and extreme reduction of salaries, Mr. Lewis, at the instigation of some influence, was swept out of the Electoral branch. That is his history ; and when I was charged with the conduct of ‘the first Federal election, I looked around for an electoral officer- who had had experience in electoral matters in New South Wales, and who, under Mr. Critchett Walker, the Principal Under-Secretary, would be able to successfully undertake the work. Previous to that I had appointed three Commissioners, one of wliom was, I think, Mr. Lewis, and another Judge Murray, to map out the electorates; and I knew none better able than Mr. .Lewis, who has been so much maligned, to perform the duties of Electoral Officer.
– The High Court, which is not a political institution, has condemned Mr. Lewis.
– Under Mr. Critchett Walker, Mr. Lewis carried out his work with honour and credit to himself and all concerned. When the Electoral Bill had to be prepared and carried through the Federal Parliament, no man could have worked harder or more conscientiously than Mr. Lewis in endeavouring to frame a measure on those liberal lines which a large majority of honorable members so strongly approved. Mr. Lewis is entitled to a pension of, I think, £380 a year, and his present temporary employment only involves a payment to him by the Commonwealth of £300 per annum, the balance being paid by the Government of New South Wales in the form of the pension I have mentioned. It will be seen that we have the services of a most capable man at a very economical salary. As to the remarks of the Chief Justice of the High Court, he was dealing with a question of technical law; and there are eminent lawyers who are of opinion that the High Court made a mistake in not quite recognising what the intention was regarding their discretionary power. As honorable members know, there are two forms provided for in the schedule to the Electoral Act, one of which is the form “ L “ for postal voting. When the Bill was before the House I was urged to adopt the South Australian system, and allow the application under this form to be witnessed by any householder, while the right honorable member for Adelaide suggested that the form might be used without the necessity for calling in any witness. This particular form was looked upon as unimportant. There is no reference in. the body of the Act as to who should witness the signature, and this form was prescribed merely to give a direction, or an idea, on the point, the foot note only being the direction. Then comes the other question, the witnessing of postal ballot-papers, which is the important matter. In the section of the Electoral Act which provides for that, power is given to the Executive to appoint, by proclamation, any one in the Public Service, to witness and accept postal voting notes. The great sin committed by the Chief Electoral Officer was that he believed that the proclamation which was issued covered the two matters. Of course/ we have to abide by the decision of the High Court, but” there ‘is grave doubt, even now, as to whether it did not make a mistake. When the Senate struck out the clauses of the Billwhich provided for the trying of election petitions by Committees of Elections and Qualifications, and substituted for the Committee the Court of Disputed Returns, the then Prime Minister and the then AttorneyGeneral submitted to me a clause, which is now section 199 of the Act, to give to the Court the power which has always been possessed by Committees of Elections and Qualifications, to put aside technicalities and to deal with the plain facts of the cases coming before them. The section of the Act to which I have referred reads as follows : -
The Court shall be guided by the substantial merits and good conscience of each case, without regard to legal forms or technicalities, or whether the evidence before it is in accordance with the law of evidence or not.
I believed at the time that that provision gave the Court the power which I thought it should have, but the High Court has decided that it does not. I am bound to say that the honorable member for Darling Downs is the only person who advised me that the provision did not do what I wanted done, and would create trouble.
– I told the honorable gentleman that the bribery provisions were ineffective.
– In spite of the remarks of the Chief. Justice of the High Court, there is not much fault to be found with the action of .the Chief Electoral Officer. Considering what a responsible position he was in, arid how he was pestered with requests for information ie.garding a new condition of things from all parts of Australia, it is to be wondered that he did not make greater and graver mistakes than were made. However, I shall not say more on the subject now. I have done my best to defend an absent mn, ard I shall be always ready to adopt a similar line of action, whether the person attacked be friend or foe. It was beneath one occupying the high position in public life which belongs to the leader of the Opposition to make so despicable an attack upon the Chief Electoral Officer. This is not the first) but the third, occasion upon which he has attacked that officer. It seems to me that if once a public servant offends the right honorable member he is ready to hound him to the death! But it is the duty of Ministers to protect public servants from “these attacks.
– Will the honorable gentleman support a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into these charges ?
– Yes. if- definite charges of a serious character are made. But I shall not vote for the appointment of a committee to make a fishing inquiry. I do not think that any statement has been made up to the present time, which warrants an investigation.
– The statement of the Chief Justice of the High Court was strong enough.
– That was merely the statement of a technical opinion. I shall always be willing, when a definite and distinct charge is made against a public servant, to order an inquiry ; but the public servants must be protected against mere vapouring when no grave offences are distinctly charged. To come to another matter, I was during the late elections subjected to the most vile abuse, and an attempt was made to affix upon me the stigma of having tried to gerrymander the electoral divisions of New South Wales. In defence of what I did last session, I shall quote the figures which I gave to the House then, and the. actual figures which have been obtained since, and will show that it was in the interests of the public that the old divisions stood. The object of the Opposition was to deprive the people of the country of a representative, because they know that their strength lies in the city. As a matter of fact, however, the power and the wealth of the States is due to the exertions of the people in the country districts. A similar attempt was made to deprive the country districts of Victoria of . a representative, but to the credit of the people and the press of this State it must be mentioned that there was not a murmur against the action of the Government in opposing that attempt. Dealing with the subject on the 3rd September last, when the Electoral Divisions Bill was before the House, I said, in’ a speech reported on pages 4609 and 4610 of vol. XVI. of Hansard -
I shall show the number of electors that would be in these districts, and I can assure honorable members that they are increasing to such an extent that by the time the Revision Court is held there will be little difference between the numbers contemplated under the new distribution and those in the present divisions. In the Darling electorate honorable members opposite were prepared to accept 18,386 electors; to-day the number of electors stands at 15,000. Each day this number is increasing, and there .will be little to cavil at when the final returns are received. It has been repeatedly stated that there are only r2,t39 electors in the Darling electorate, but I can assure honorable members that, according to the returns, which are still incomplete, there are 15,000 electors in that division. In Riverina, under the proposal which honorable members opposite were prepared to accept, there would be 18,862, whereas there are in the division we propose to Tetain, 19,234 electors. Under the scheme proposed by the Electoral Commissioner, which members of the Opposition were prepared to accept, the Barrier division was completely wiped out, and, therefore, I cannot make any comparison. The Barrier, which was the electorate eliminated bv the Commissioner in order to give an additional representative to the voters in the city, will contain, I am informed 18,177 electors. In these electorates some further figures than we had before have been obtained, whilst all the others in the list are not new, but the ones I have given before were based on the previous collection in New South Wales. It still stands as a country electorate, and the country voters have not been robbed of one of the representatives to which they are justly entitled. I intend to publish these figures, together with a number of other returns, through .the length and breadth of Australia.
The most recent figures obtainable show that” I was very nearly correct in my anticipations.
– Is the honorable member referring to figures relating to the elections ?
– To figures which have been laid upon the table and made public, showing the actual number of electors in the various divisions. I referred to the number of electors in the Darling electorate, who, it was then stated, numbered only 12,139. The Riverina then contained 14,920 electors, while in the Barrier division, which was eliminated by the Commissioner, there were 15,173 electors, Now there stands, according to the latest return laid on the table, at Barrier, 19,277 ; Darling, 15,268; and Riverina, 18,163. The Government did their duty to the country districts of New South Wales and Victoria in refusing to allow the recommendations of the Commissioners to be adopted, and the members of the Opposition are vicious because their deliberate and determined attempt to rob the country districts of each State of a representative has failed.
– The Opposition won four seats in New South Wales from the Government.
– Thev won seats upon the issue which the leader of the Opposition described so vividly the other night. Thank heaven that issue is not such a live and rampant thing in the reasonable States of the Commonwealth as it has been in New South Wales under free-trade. I do not wish to enter upon a discussion of the fiscal question, but as honorable members have blamed the Government for attempting to reopen that question. I would point out that it was clearly understood when the Tariff was under discussion that certain action would be taken under Part 6a, and in proposing to introduce a Bill to provide for the granting of bounties for the production of iron we are not raising the fiscal question. ‘ The Government, in introducing that Bill, is dealing with a matter with which the. States” cannot deal, and which must be dealt with by the Commonwealth. There is nothing, however, in our action contradictory to the statement of the Prime Minister that he went to the country pledged to fiscal peace and preferential trade. A great deal has been said about the lowering or raising of duties to provide for preferential trade. We have not yet arrived at a stage when definite proposals can be submitted.
– Then the Government have not gone very far.
– No true Australian will be opposed to the taking of measures for enabling the Colonies and the States of the Empire by any means in their power to supply the people of Great Britain with food-stuffs. At present Australia is in the humiliating position of being able to supply to the mother country only about 5 per cent, of the food consumed by the 45,000,000 or 46,000,000 people there.
– That is the fault of the protectionists.
– That is. the fault of the free-traders in New. South Wales, who share the sentiment expressed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, in the course of his speech during this debate, namely - “We must forget Australian interests in the interest of the Empire.” I shall never forget Australian interests, and if the honorable and learned member for Parkes is sufficiently a foreign trader to forget those amongst whom he is living, and to decline to give them an opportunity to produce enough food to supply the requirements of those of our own flesh and blood, at the other end of the world, neither he nor any of those associated with him are true-hearted Australians. The Government desire - and I have no doubt their desire will be carried into effect - to force this question on to such a degree, that something practical may result. It is all very well for honorable members to ask what we are going to do, whether we are going to concede 12 per cent., 10 per cent., or 5 per cent. They must not forget that an important change in the policy of the mother country cannot be brought about at railway speed, but that full time must be given for consideration. I believe, however, that the principle of preferential trade has taken hold of the people of Australia, and that, when the proper time arrives, they will take care that the Government does its duty.
– The Minister is not game to test the question in this House.
– I am so accustomed to the honorable member, who says nice things in a nasty way, that I do not heed him. No one in New South Wales ever took him seriously, and I do not propose to do so now. I wish to say one word in reference to the effect of preferential trade in Canada. In 1897, the year before preferential trade was adopted, the imports of apparel and haberdashery from the mother country into Canada had decreased to £360,228 in value. In 1902, under the preferential trade system, the imports under this head increased to £528,387. Cotton goods, which’ had represented a value of £727,170 in 1897, increased in four years to £1,309,904. I am giving honorable members practical results, and not vapouring theories, such as honorable members of the Opposition side have indulged in. The value of piece goods, jute manufactures, imported into Canada increased from £124,499 in 1897 to £183,397 in 1902. Linens increased in value from £192,625 to £298,130. Machinery and mill work increased from £61,378 to £134,943. Metals, wrought and unwrought, from £624,925 to £1,993,438; spirits from £114,183 to £216,709. I do not know that the last-mentioned increase was a good thing’ for Canada. The imports of telegraph wire and apparatus rose in value from £49,824 to £832,735; and woollen and worsted goods from£1,083,918 to £1,821,574. These figures are absolutely correct. They were compiled in the Customs Department, and I am sure honorable members will not say that they are “ faked,” because I had nothing to do with them, except to give the instructions for their compilation. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra was, I think, ungenerous in his references to my action in regard to the extension of the franchise to women. I do not wish to take undue credit to myself in regard to that matter. When, however, I took up the question in New South Wales, I did what the free-traders never attempted to do. I brought in a Bill, and carried it through the House of Assembly, the measure being defeated bv only three votes in the Legislative Council. I afterwards left the State Parliament, and joined my colleagues in the Federal Government, and I think that they will admit that I stood firm upon this principle, until it was embodied in our laws. Some honorable members say, “ I am in favour of this, or that, or the other,” but they never do anything. It requires something more than professions of good intent to effect important reforms. The honorable member for Capricornia said that he was not satisfied with the way in which the question of old-age pensions was referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. In regard to that matter, I may mention that when I was in the Parliament of New South Wales I carried through a measure dealing with old-age pensions. I rejoice to say that, in regard to this and other democratic measures, I had the assistance of the Labour Party, and that success was achieved in spite of the opposition of many honorable members who are now doing their best to discredit the Government. The question of old-age pensions is one of great difficulty, in consequence of the Braddon section in the Constitution. I cannot at present say how the difficulty will be obviated. No doubt there is a way out of it, and so far as I am concerned, I shall go with my colleagues to almost any length in order to carry into effect a humane provision such as that referred to. ,
– The Minister said that three years ago.
– The honorable member for Macquarie and the honorable and learned member for Illawarra made somewhat nasty references to the question of the fodder duties. They flapped their wings, and patted their breasts, and generally plumed themselves upon the fact that the attitude of the Ministry in regard to this matter was one of the influences which operated to bring about the defeat of several supporters of the Government. I happen to be sitting here as the representative of the largest farming district in Australia The produce grown in my electorate during this last season exceeded that of any electorate in Australia. Although I was opposed by the Sydney morning newspapers, and was subjected to the most bitter sectarian hostility, and although the leader of the Opposition, Sir William McMillan, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and Senator Gould all scoured my electorate, and a special edition of the Daily Telegraph was distributed to every elector in the division, I gave the freetrade party the biggest smacking they ever had. There is the answer to the statements that the Government supporters failed to secure election because of the action of the Government in regard to the fodder duties. The remission of the fodder duties would have conferred no advantage upon the farmers, because the duties were a mere bagatelle compared with the reduction in railway rates conceded by the States Governments. In New South Wales, the fodder duties did not represent more than one-twentieth part of the concession made by the railway authorities, and if we had removed the fodder duties the chances are that such extreme reductions of freight probably would not have been granted. Therefore,- we did no harm, but rather good, to the owners of stock. It is admitted to-day that in certain parts of Australia, in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and possibly in other States, an opportunity that otherwise would not have been open to them, was afforded to farmers to dispose of their surplus produce. It would have rejoiced the hearts of the free-traders if we had opened our ports’ to the produce of cheap black labour in India and America, instead of giving our own farmers an opportunity to dispose of their surplus. In my own electorate, which returned me by such a bumping majority, the farmers had to buy fodder at high rates, but they did not blame me or the Government. They held the view that we had done right, and had proved our ‘ stability by standing- to the policy in which we believed, in spite of the loud tongued attacks * of the Opposition. The Government do not propose to raise the fiscal issue, but I intend to maintain my principles. At the same time, I shall adhere to the statement of the Prime Minister, that fiscal peace is to be preserved. That utterance is in no way affected by the proposals to be submitted for granting bounties to farmers and others. I have devoted my attention almost entirely to repelling the attacks made upon the Government and upon me personally, and I hope that I have convinced honorable members that there is nothing in all the talk which has been indulged in by way of adverse criticism ofthe Government.
– When I listened to. the speech, as read by the Governor-General, I must say that I was impressed by the extent of ground which it covered, and, although I may not be able to indorse the remark of the leader of the Opposition that there is work enough in it to last for all eternity, I am convinced that it is a programme in the carrying out of which we shall all do well to pray for the Divine guidance to which reference is very properly made in the closing para-‘ graph. I have been much interested in the debate, especially in the speeches made, by the new members. There can be no doubt that in political knowledge and speaking power they will prove an acquisition to tfiis Chamber; but, at the same time, one cannot but regret the absence from both sides of the House of old members who in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, won our respect and cordial good-will. It was my intention to have spoken earlier in the debate, and to have dealt with the various’ matters referred to in the speech at some’ length, but as it is desired, seeing that the debate has run into the third week, toclose it as soon as- possible, I shall only touch on three or four topics, and my references shall be brief. Really nothing more is necessary, as the matters will come up later on for .full discussion. From the Imperial stand-point, one of the most important subjects referred to in the sgeech’ is that of preferential trade. I am with the Government in regard to that matter. I firmly believe that an arrangement may be made which will be advantageous both to the old country and to Australia. The arrangement which I favour is a business arrangement - not an arrangement based entirely on sentiment. We should be prepared to treat Great Britain generously, but at the same time we should expect similar treatment from Great Britain. I am not at all sure that I should be disposed to vote for any reduction in the present duties. I may vote in that way in some special cases; I do not know, and L am not prepared to commit myself.
– That is a silent sort of preference.
– As honorable members are aware, our averageduty upon imports from Great Britain is only about 7 per cent.
– Sixteen per cent.
– I repeat that our average duty upon imports from Great “Britain is not more than 7 per cent. There is no margin there, especially as we must have revenue. The average duty in Canada, after making reduc-tions in favour of Great Britain, is 16 per” cent., and I notice that the Canadian Government have announced- that they intend; to do no more in. the way of reducing duties. The trade between Australia and foreign countries has been rapidly growing. In 1901 the total imports into the Commonwealth from the United Kingdom were valued at .£25,237,032, as compared with £26,453,841 in 1891. In this latter year the value of foreign imports was £6,927,941; but in ten years the value of these imports had risen to £12,412,336.
– Will the honorable member be good enough to give the House the figures relating to the imports from British possessions?
– I am not prepared to do that.
– The honorable member omits them because they do not suit his argument.
– Not at all. The figures which I have quoted prove that a preferential tariff may mean much to Great Britain, as illustrated in the case of Canada. I am sorry to see, by cablegrams published last week, that the British Government do not propose to touch the tariff^ question until after the next elections, and that there is no certainty of these elections taking place in the near future. I shall support the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It may provide for legislation which is to some extent experimental ; but I am quite willing to make the experiment in the interests of industrial peace. Anything is better than strikes and locks-out, which are so often such terrible calamities, causing suffering and disaster to innocent women and children, and also to people who are the victims of circumstances which have arisen entirely apart from themselves. But, as I did last session, I shall oppose the amendment, which, I understand, it is intended to propose, providing for the inclusion in the operation of the measure of members of the State civil services and ..railway employes. Conceding that this Parliament has the power to in-sert ‘ such’ a clause would it be a wise proceeding? If the Federal Parliament wished to create friction between the Commonwealth and the States, I do not think it could do anything which would be more effective in producing that result. But 1 do not intend to elaborate this point. The case has been remarkably well stated by several honorable members ; and. I quite agree with one honorable member who said . that even the honorable member for Adelaide - and I know something of that honorable gentleman - would, as Premier of a State strenuously protest against such a provision as an encroachment on State rights. I am entirely for the principle of arbitration, but in this case I really think the Labour Party will be wise to make haste slowly. I am as enthusiastic as ever I was on the subject of a White Australia. I am convinced that Australia must be kept white in the interests of future generations, and for the well-being of the Commonwealth. But I am not sure that this Parliament is wise, as a matter of expediency, in insisting on the exclusive employment of white labour on out mail steamers. Still, I have no intention of changing my attitude. In this matter I thought my friend the honorable member fqr Gippsland, who is usually so scrupulously just, was unfair. He spoke as if Australia were attempting to dictate to Great Britain as to how the merchant marine should be manned. Nothing of the kind. All that Australia does is to announce that she will not pay mail subsidy to steamers which employ black labour. This may not be good policy, but there is nothing unreasonable about it, especially if Germany insist on vessels having the same relation to the Fatherland being manned by Germans. I am entirely in agreement with the Prime Minister in regard to the Chinese in South Africa. The recent war was an Empire matter, in which Australia played no unimportant part, and that fact gives her the right not to protest or (dictate possibly, but certainly to express an opinion. Was the war in South Africa waged in order that the country might be occupied by Chinese? Is the labour trouble really as serious as represented? Admitting that there is no exaggeration, may riot too big a price be paid for the development of the mines on the Rand ? To me this matter presents aspects of great importance. I sometimes think that it contains elements which may threaten dismemberment of the Empire. I am sure the House will forgive me if I read two or three sentences from a letter just received from London. The writer is a wellknown man - not a Little Englander, but an enthusiastic Imperialist. This, is what he says : -
The question as to the Chinese in South Africa is a nice comment on the adjuration to learn to think Imperially. Soon everybody will be cursing the war, and Australians will feel foolish when they awaken to the fact that the introduction of coloured races into the Northern’ Territory has been brought within measurable distance. I quite expect to see a capitalistic agitation for this to arise soon.
Is there no justification for the alarm expressed in the sentences which I have read? I think that there is, and there are many who will agree with me. There is one clause in the Governor-General’s Speech to which some honorable members have taken exception. I refer to that which declares it to be the intention of the Government to introduce an Inter-State Commission Bill. Honorable members have taken exception to this proposal upon the ground that it means adding to the expenses of the Federation. Personally, I would be one of the last to desire to pile up those expenses. They are already heavy enough. Nevertheless, I say - and I do so emphatically - that such a tribunal as is contemplated bv the Commonwealth Act, let it be constituted as cheaply as may be, ought to be brought into existence so as to regulate railway rates, wharfage dues, ‘and similar matters, in order that the Federation of Australia may be a Federation in fact as well as in name. There is one clause in the speech in which can very clearly be seen the hand of the Minister for Home Affairs. I refer to the clause in which the Government promise to introduce a Bill providing for the survey of a railway to connect Western Australia with the eastern States. Well, South Australia will not oppose the survey, nor will it offer any obstacles to the construction of that railway-
– Hear, hear.
– When there is satisfactory evidence that it will be a fairly profitable undertaking.
– Hear, hear. That is a good ground to take.
– It is just as well to act with caution, especially as Australia is already carrying a sufficient burden of debt. This reference to the indebtedness of Australia reminds me of our relations with England. I think it a great pity that some temporary arrangement was not made for the representation of the Commonwealth in London pending the appointment of a High Commissioner. It is within the knowledge of many honorable members that an arrangement might have been made which would have been greatly to the advantage of the Commonwealth. As it is, I am afraid that Australia has suffered seriously through having no one in England who could, with authority, correct the misrepresentations which have been so prevalent and so persistent. We all deplore with the Government the fact that the population of the Commonwealth is not increasing as rapidly, as it should do, but unfortunately it is much easier to do this than to suggest the means by which a better state of things may be brought about. - In this connexion it should not be forgotten that for many years the Dominion of Canada was in much the same condition. With the return of more prosperous times Australia may offer greater attractions. Wonderful things are contemplated in Egypt as the result of comprehensive schemes of. irrigation. Would it not be possible to do equally great things for Australia by locking the waters of the Murray arid Murrumbidgee, and possibly those of the Darling? Much may be done by advertisement, but there is no advertisement so effective as a prosperous community. Give us prosperity, and we shall soon draw to these shores people of the best type from every part of the world.
– In discussing the Governor-General’s Speech honorable members have given expression to their .opinions on the result of the recent elections, and although I have no desire to -raise contentious issues, I think I may say that, so far as Queensland is concerned, the electors have spoken clearly, on two points. Queensland has shown most emphatically that she supports the decision of the first Parliament of Australia, that the citizens of the Commonwealth shall be people of European extraction. In that respect her people have spoken with no uncertain sound. They have also emphasized the attitude taken up by this House in dealing with the sugar question - a question which incidentally arises out of the policy of a White Australia; Recent experience has clearly proved that the view whicff the House expressed on that question is the right one - the view that it is possible by a system of duties and bounties to gradually bring about the breaking up of large estates, and the settlement of a farming population on the sugar-growing lands who will be able to grow sugar-cane by the aid of white labour alone. Experience has proved that fact most exclusively, and it is now admitted bv many who were at one time of opinion that it would be utterly impossible to grow sugar cane by white labour. We were asked, when the matter was under discussion in this House, whether we could point to any case in which the. work was being successfully performed by means of only white labour,; and those who have travelled in the northern parts of Queensland can refer to many such instances. ‘ So far as this Parliament is concerned, these are issues of the past ; but they need on the part of the House a continuance of sympathetic treatment to show that the policy of a White Australia is a wise and right one. Another question which has been definitely settled, so far as Queensland is concerned, is that there shall be no alteration of the Tariff. The remark was made by the leader of the Opposition that the. Tariff question was emphatically settled in so far as it related’ to this Parliament. The honorable member for Bourke was present when the right honorable member made the statement in Melbourne that he was going to have that issue settled once and for all
– He made that statement publicly.
– And said that he would accept the verdict of the people.
– Quite so. He then spoke apparently as the leader of his party. The issue was definitely taken up by the honorable member for Bourke, who was present when the statement was made, andalso by the press, and I believe that the whole of Australia regarded the issue as being whether the Tariff was to remain settled at least during the bookkeeping period.
– The leader of the Opposition was. referring to a referendum.
– He was asking for the decision of the people, and he has obtained a decision which is clear beyond all doubt.
– The position is very clear in New South Wales.
– New South Wales is a yerv important part of the Commonwealth, but when we have to determine national issues we must look at what has been the decision of all the States in order to gain the national opinion. In every State of the union, with the exception of New South Wales, the people have decided to rest for some time on the present Tariff. We do not want our industry and our labour unsettled, and above all, we do not desire that the six States Treasurers shall be continually called upon to readjust their finances, owing to tariff alterations. They say, “ Above all things give us certainty.”
– “Giveus peace.”
– No; they ask for certainty. Alterations mean that every time a State Treasurerdesires to prepare a statement of Estimates, the Public Service and the whole of his State machinery must be readjusted, or else he must have a complete revision of his system of taxation.
– Has he no certainty when he knows that the Commonwealth must return to him three-fourths of the Customs revenue collected in his State?
– He knows at present that whilst we have a Tariff with certain fixed duties, he has some degree of certainty, allowing for the ordinary law of averages, as to what his returns will be. But if we were going to have a complete alteration of our Tariff every few years, we should’ have continual friction between this Parliament and the Parliaments of the States ; we should have one Parliament raising the revenue, and giving to other Parliaments varying amounts. Each fluctuation would give rise to discontent between the different parts of the Federation. But I think that the people have declared that it is desirable that, until the Bookkeeping perio.d has closed, we should adhere to the existing Tariff.
– New South Wales has not spoken in that way.
– New South Wales must not dominate the whole of the Commonwealth. It is a very important part of the Federation, and is, of course, entitled to express its opinion; but the leader of the New South Wales party called upon the peopleof Australia to give expression to their opinion on the Tariff issue.
– The right honorable member did not put the matter in that way ; he sought a referendum, but the Government would not agree to his proposal.
– The honorable member was not in Victoria at the time. He was then engaged in canvassing, very properly, for the seat he now occupies.
– But the honorable member knows all about it.
– If he does not, I am putting the. facts before him for his information. If he questions representatives of Victoria sitting on the Opposition side of the House - if he questions the honorable member for Parramatta - he will learn that the statement to which I have referred was made in Melbourne by the leader of the Opposition.
– The Melbourne influence had temporarily taken possession of the right honorable member.
– If he remains here much longer, he may possibly become a protectionist. It is clear, from his own state^ ment, which, apparently, is not accepted by some of his followers, that so far. as this Parliament is concerned, he considers that the Tariff issue is dead.
– The leader of the Opposition made that statement on the floor of this House.
– He spoke of “ an armed truce.”
– He admitted that practically, in so far as it related to this Parliament, the matter was dead. When certain issues have been disposed of,’ no doubt my honorable friends of the Opposition will be found sharing the same opinion. Other issues of more or less importance were raised. We know that each State has its own particular grievances. In Queensland questions were raised during the election campaign which we should voice here, one of them being a matter in regard to which the people of that State think they are entitled to equality of treatment. I refer to the mail contracts. The Prime Minister visited Queensland, and referred to the question in no uncertain terms. He declared that if the Government, having a fair regard to the consideration of cost, could see their way clear, they would be quite prepared to extend the mail service to Brisbane, provided that a tender of that kind were received. I believe that I am correctly stating the views expressed by the Prime Minister. ‘ ‘
– In a condensed form.
– The Government were very “ wishy-washy “ over it.
– I believe, further, that if such a tender had been received the Prime Minister would have acted up to his promise, as he always does.. We felt that we were entitled to have Brisbane included as a port of call for our ocean-mail steamers. Under the existing contracts Sydney and Melbourne had had that right conserved to them, but iri the new conditions of - contract particular -prominence was given to the question of cold storage, and all that we contended was that, seeing that those conditions related to cold storage for Australian produce, Queensland, who has to contribute to the cost of the service, was justified in making a demand to participate in its benefits. We did so, and do not ask for any special consideration.
– No contracts have been accepted.
– I am pointing to the issue which was , raised.
– I admitted that that was a fresh factor.
– That is so. At present we do not know whether fresh contracts are to be entered into, but we feel justified in again voicing at this stage the feelings of the people of Queensland. Considerable ex:pansion has recently taken place in the industries of that State. With a view of securing some systematic method of conveying our produce to the markets of the old world, the State Government made a conditional arrangement with the Aberdeen Ship-: ping Company, and the result has been ex:ceedingly gratifying to our producers. With the knowledge that steam-ships, possessing cold storage accommodation, and capable of carrying- our produce to the British markets, will call at certain prescribed times, new industries arise. It is the uncertainty as to vessels of this class being available which to some extent hinders the progress of our industries. Recently as many as 50,000 boxes of butter were exported by Queensland within the course of a few months,, and, as our exports are increasing, we de-; sire that our producers shall have some certainty as to suitable vessels calling at ourports at certain specified times. If Brisbane were a port of call for our mail steamers, that certainty would be assured. It is not the consideration of the mere ‘ carriage of mails or of passengers to Brisbane - with which we are so much concerned - and the desire that Brisbane shall be the terminal port of call for these vessels - so that the money, at present expended in connexion with them at, Sydney shall be spent in the Queensland capital, that influence us. All that we claim is that, now that Queensland is expanding, that her lands are being opened up and occupied, that large sums of money, are being expended in the erection of cheese and butter factories, and that products which are at present attracting Imperial attention are likely to be cultivated in Queensland, we should surely be entitled to participate in the right which other States enjoy, of having these mail steamers to carry away their produce to the old world markets. It is, I think,- a Federal claim, and I am sure that it will receive just treat-‘ ment at the hands of this House. Thereis another matter relating to the export of. produce which I regret to see has not been more specifically dealt with in the Governor-General’s Speech. In the opening speech a promise is made of certain bounties on agricultural! produce, as a preliminary to the establishment of a Department of Agriculture. With all due deference I feel inclined to take up the position that we should first establish a Department of Agriculture. The producers feel the need of having a properly-organized Department of Agriculture. In the six States we have six Departments of Agriculture, working on their own lines. What we need is a system by which we can federalize the experiences of those six departments. In Queensland an experiment is taking place with respect to one class of produce ; in New South Wales an experiment is taking place with respect to another class of produce ; and so on in South Australia and Tasmania. Recently, in Queensland, our supply of seed wheat ran out, owing to the drought, and we had to import fresh varieties of seed wheat. We need a central Department which could generalize the experience of the States, so that the producers in each State might have the advantage of the experience in any part of the union. In Queensland we should derive a considerable benefit if we could get the experience of South Australia and New South Wales in connexion with a good many varieties of wheat which they have been growing. We feel that there is a need to have a Department of Agriculture which would inform us as to the state of the markets in the various States. Now that we have Inter-State free-trade we have considerable markets within the Commonwealth, and there are large quantities of produce which Queensland could supply to Victoria, and which Victoria could supply to Queensland. The same thing applies to New South Wales, Tasmania, and other States. With a properlyorganized Department, if we had officers in each State who could centralize the information and advise the growers, a great deal of the produce which is being imported could be grown in the Commonwealth, and in this way we could give material assistance to our producers. We need a Department to work in conjunction with a High Commissioner whose duty it would be to assist us in our markets abroad. If we could get a Department to work on the same lines as the American Department of Agriculture, if we had our officers abroad to inform us of the condition of the markets, if we had an officer to whom we could send samples of what we produce, and an officer who could tell us how those samples would take on the English market, we should render material assistance to our producers. In Queensland we have been producing certain classes of barley. A trial shipment of 50 tons is being sent home, and the report which has been received as regards the samples is that in that State we are growing the best barley which is producible in the world. That illustration ought to show that, if we had had our officers abroad, who could act not only on behalf of one State, but on behalf of all the States, a Department of that kind could be doing a very great and useful work for the Commonwealth. There are other kinds of work which the Department could do. It could be disseminating literature ; it could be publishing reports similar to those which are published by the American Department ; it could> publish reports of the different experiments which are made in various parts of the world, with the view of producing a class of produce which’ would give higher and better results. Take, for instance, sugar-cane. Experiments are being made abroad, with the view of getting a class of sugar-cane which will give a higher percentage yield than those which exist. If we had similar reports given to us it might be of great advantage to the grower’s in our northern sugarfields. Another very important matter which is affecting us in the need of having a Department of Agriculture, with regulations such as have been made in the United States, to deal with various pests. In Queensland we can deal with an- evil as far as our border, and there we are stopped. New South Wales can deal with an evil up to its border, and there the authorities are stopped. At the present time we have a fruit fly which is causing incalculable injury. Suppose that we deal with that pest effectively, it pays no attention to the border, and crosses into New South Wales. In America the States- have just the same powers as our States have, but by a series of executive regulations the States are encouraged to act on those regulations, and so they have a uniform method of dealing with the eradication of various pests. These are the lines on which our Department of Agriculture could work, and work successfully. I notice, with regret, that in the opening speech no reference is made to the establishment of a weather bureau. In Queensland we feel the need of a bureau. I think that most of the shipping people are feeling the need of proper weather forecasts for the whole of Australia. Queensland is subject, perhaps more so ‘ than any other of the States, to heavy visitations of storms from the sea, from which very serious consequences result. When we had our own weather forecasts done in the State, flood signals were issued right along the coast, and shipping people were able to act upon them. It is to be deeply regretted that this matter has not been further advanced. . I notice that some time back in Victoria it was stated that they were holding their bands pending the Commonwealth dealing with this question. I hope that the Government will see if it cannot take some action at the earliest possible date, seeing that it has control of the telegraphs and all the machinery required for the’ purpose of the weather bureau. There is another matter which I think ought to be mentioned, and that is the recent action of the Health Department of New South Wales in connexion with a shipment of produce from Brisbane. It appears that in 1900 all the States entered into a compact that they would enforce certain regulations with respect to shipping, in case of plague. In New South Wales the authorities have absolutely set aside this agreement, and enforced new regulations, which have not been agreed to by the States ; and by their operation they have practically prohibited the import into the State of large quantities of Queensland produce. That is causing a great deal of irritation in Queensland, and some talk is made of taking retaliatory measures. I notice that in the opening speech reference is made to the question of Federal quarantine. I hope that it will bo quite possible in the measure for that purpose to make general regulations, so as 10 prevent such treatment as our State is subjected to by New South Wales.
– That is rather a matter for the Inter-State Commission.
– The Government are going to deal with quarantine regulations generally as regards shipping. The action of which I complain arises purely out of shipping. New South Wales will not allow any grain or fodder of any description to be imported from Queensland ; while Victoria, Western Australia, and the other States set up no such barrier. Retaliatory measures are being taken in Queensland. It is unfortunate that they. have to be taken, and I sincerely trust that the matter will be amicably arranged, and it could be arranged under a Federal Act. I am heartily in accord with everything the Prime Minister said on the subject of immigration. Some time ago I brought this matter under the notice of the -late Prime Minister, who, I think, handed my letter on to his successor, with a view of seeing if something could not be done to attract additional population to the Commonwealth. It is not, I think, necessary to import a large number of artisans. What we ought to dois to advertise throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom the opportunities which Australia offers as a field for immigration and investment. Great prominence is given to the position of Canadian immigration. Queenslanders have gone over to Canada with a view of bettering their conditions, and I am very glad to say that they have come back with the opinion that Australia is as good a land in which to establish a home as any they have visited. Their advice to Australians is - “You have a good land; stick to it. There are some hardships to be borne here, but in every land it is the same, and Australia offers as good a field for enterprise as any other country.” A great many unkind aspersions have been cast on Australia on account of the attitude which we - have taken up in the Immigration Restriction Act. Iri passing that measure we simply recognized that law of self-preservation which, every organized community recognises. We merely said - “ We shall exercisethe right of admitting to the Commonwealth only such citizens ‘ as we feel will -add to the strength and welfare of the community as a whole.” We are told that we are adopting an extreme attitude; but I will refer honorable members to the recently issued report of a Royal’ Commission on Alien Immigration in the United Kingdom, which consisted Of Lord James of Hereford, Lord Rothschild, the Honorable Alfred Lyttleton, Sir Kenelm E. Digby, Major W. E.. Evans Gordon, M.P., Mr. Henry Norman, M.P., and Mr. William Vallance, and which was appointed to inquire into -
If honorable members will turn to part 2 of the report they will find a very interesting summary of the whole position, in which the Commissioners show that various nations exercise that right which every nation possesses, of excluding from its midst those immigrants whose presence would be a source of weakness. International .law, the report says, recognises the right of any nation to expel foreigners, and it would seem, unless the action is in contravention of a treaty, that no nation can complain of having its subjects returned to it by a foreign Government. The Commission proposed that there should be formed for the United Kingdom an Immigration Department, with officers whose duty it would be to inspect immigrants, to make such inquiries as might be possible from the immigrants on their arrival as to character, condition, and so forth, and to act on the information which they would receive in that way. In their recommendations they suggest that -
Any alien immigrant who, within two years of his arrival, is ascertained or is reasonably supposed to bc - a criminal, a prostitute, a person living on the proceeds of prostitution, a notoriously bad character, or, shall become a charge upon public funds, except from ill-health, or shall have no visible or probable means of support, may be ordered by a Courtof summary jurisdiction to leave this country, and the owner of the vessel on which the immigrant’ was brought to this country may be ordered to re-convey him to the port of embarkation.
The report deals with the question of overcrowding, arid of how aliens oughtnot to be allowed to live in certain areas, suggests that inquiries should be instituted as to the way in which they live in those areas, and discuss very fully the way in which these people should be treated. Unfortunately Australians have proved to be our worst enemies. In the old country they have talked about our exclusive spirit, and yet we find that in the United Kingdom a Royal Commission recognises the evils which result from an unrestricted flow of an undesirable class of immigrants.
Mr.Crouch. - The Balfour Government have promised to bring in an Alien Restriction Bill.
– That may be so. It will be clearly seen that in Australia we are not exercising a power which is unusual amongst civilized communities. We are merely exercising that power which is exercised for the preservation of the purity of national life. The opening speech deals with other matters of importance, to which I should like to refer, but I shall not delay honorable members any longer titan to express the hope that the Government will be able to carry out even a few of the leading measures which they have foreshadowed. We are told that there is nothing in their programme ; that it is lacking in positive sub-; jects. I hope that the Parliament will be able to see that there is something in the programme, and something which will lead to the welfare of the Commonwealth as a whole..
Debate (on motion by Sir John Forrest) adjourned.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for
External Affairs). - In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I would ask honorable members to join with’ the Government in making a determined effort to close the debate on the Address in Reply to-morrow night. I had hoped that it would be finished this evening.
– They will all be. short speeches. I think that we can easily pack them into one night if honorable members will lend us their assistance. We have business of importance awaiting our attention, and the gamut of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech has been pretty well run already.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040315_reps_2_18/>.