House of Representatives
17 March 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers;

page 664

NEW MEMBER

Mr. HUGHES made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the electoral division of West Sydney.

page 665

PRINTING COMMITTEE

Report (No. 2) presented by Sir. John Quick, read by the Clerk, and agreed to.

page 665

QUESTION

ELECTORAL ADMINISTRATION

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I desire to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether, in view of the irregularities which occurred in several of the electorates during the recent elections, and which caused considerable loss and inconvenience, not only to the candidates, but to the public generally, be will cause some inquiry to be made, and supersede such officers as are found to have been responsible forthe mistakes committed ?

Sir John Forrest:

– The honorable member’s question is invery general terms.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– What I wish to ask is whether, in the event of its being found that certain officers are responsible for the trouble which occurred, the Minister will cause them to be superseded before another election takes place?

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– Every case is being dealt with on its merits. The honorable member has not mentioned any specific instances, and unless definite complaints are made, it will be impossible for me to make an investigation. If the honorable member is aware of any causes of complaint, and will bring them under my notice, I will see that they are fully inquired into.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does the Minister know of any complaints having been received at his office?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I believe there are several.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The Minister is no doubt aware of the remarks recently made by theChief Justice of the High Court, and of the irregularities which have been brought to light in the course of the inquiries before that tribunal. I now ask him whether he will make full inquiry with regard to these irregularities, and whether in the event of its being found that they were due to the neglect or incompetence of any officers, he will see that competent men are appointed in their places, in order to as far as possible prevent a recurrence of such irregularities?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I shall be very glad to do what I can. It must be remembered that the officers may, in some cases, have erred, not from want of capacity, but from lack of experience or knowledge. In such instances they will, no doubt, soon become efficient.

page 665

PRIVILEGE : ORDER OF BUSINESS

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

– I desire to direct the attention of the House to a matter which I consider involves the privileges of honorable members. Standing order No. 98 provides,with regard to notices of motion, that -

The notices shall beentered by the Clerk on the notice-paper in the order in which they were given.

On the very first sitting day of the House I gave notice of motion as follows: -

That in the opinion of this House, the honorable member for Wakefield, Sir Frederick William Holder, K.C.M.G., has, by his acceptance of a fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth between the 23rd day of November, 1903, and the 2nd day of March, 1904, vacated his seat as a member of the House of Representatives.

That notice has had precedence on the paper, for the day for which notice was given, upon every occasion until to-day. Now, however, I find that notices of motion which were subsequently submitted by the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Kennedy have been given priority. The honorable members referred to only recently gave notice of the motions standing in their names, and therefore it is my impression that somebodyit may have been the Government or some one else - has been gerrymandering the notices of motion.

Mr Deakin:

– It certainly has not been the Government.

Mr MAHON:

– I protest against my notice of motion, which was given in accordance with the Standing Orders and the rules of Parliament, being required to yield precedence to notices of motion subsequently given.

Mr Deakin:

– The honorable member’s notice will be taken first, wherever it may appear on the notice-paper, because it raises a question of privilege.

Mr MAHON:

– Then why should it be placed in its present position upon the notice-paper? There is another Standing Order, No. 240, by which it appears that -

The Committees of Supply and Ways and Means shall be appointed at the commencement of every session, so soon as an Address has been agreed to in answer to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.

I contend that there is nothing to prevent the House from dealing with the motion of which I have given notice, before it proceeds to appoint the Committees referred to, because the necessity for having a Chairman of Committees, immediately after the Address in Reply has been disposed of, does not arise. The words used are “ as soon as,” and honorable members will agree that if it were intended that the Committees should be appointed immediately, the word “ forthwith “ would probably have been employed. I do not wish to’ detain the House, but I merely rise, to protest against any one tampering with the notices of motion, and to also express the wish that my notice shall be placed upon the paper in the proper order of precedence.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– The honorable member’s vigilant scrutiny of the Standing Orders is justified; but I think that if he had considered the purpose of the motions which precede his upon the notice-paper, he would have seen that in this instance their position is also justified. When interjecting, I had not looked at the notice-paper, and thought that the honorable member was objecting to some notice of motion dealing with a matter of substance being placed before his. That would have been indefensible. In this case, however, I think that the honorable member will see that the notices of motion to which he has referred, ought to precede. His motion raises a question of privilege, affecting the present occupant of the Chair, and it would be highly undesirable for Mr. Speaker to be obliged to occupy the Chair during the discussion of that subject.

Mr Mahon:

– There is an objection to Mr. Speaker occupying the Chair in the interim.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I think that the honorable member will agree that, putting the matter upon no higher ground, the notices of motion relating to the appointment of the Chairman of Committees should take precedence in the present case.

Mr Mahon:

– If that is the only point, I am perfectly agreeable to yield precedence.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The honorable member is quite correct as to the right of priority he possesses, and also in saying that no one has authority to tamper with the notice-paper. The Government have not done so, but in this instance there was a special reason, which I felt sure the honorable member would recognise when it was pointed out to him.

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QUESTION

DUTY ON BRITISH IMPORTS

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What was the total amount of duty collected in the Commonwealth on goods, the product of the United Kingdom, during the year 1903?
  2. What was the total value of such goods ?
  3. What was the total value of free goods,the product of the United Kingdom, entered inwards during the year 1903 ?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

-I regret that I must ask the honorable member for North Sydney to postpone his question until tomorrow. I had the matter before me today, but some further information is being obtained, and I hope to be able to answer the question to-morrow.

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QUESTION

INSTRUCTIONS BY ELECTORAL DEPARTMENT

Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

Whether he has any objection to lay upon the table of the House the original copy of the instructions given by the Electoral Department with regard to the use of Form Q -

To the Returning Officer for Wimmera, if sent to him direct;

To the Electoral Officer for Victoria, if sent through him ;

In the latter case, also the original copy of the instructions sent by the Electoral Officer for Victoria to the Returning Officer for Wimmera ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I beg to state -

  1. The instructions were sent direct to the

Chief Electoral Officer to the Divisional Officer for Wimmera. (Copy, with replies, laid on the table.) (b and c) Answered by (a).

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QUESTION

PREFERENTIAL RAILWAY RATES

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Whether he has made any, and if so what, suggestion to the Governments of the States with a view to an agreement being come to between the Railway authorities of the States to put an end to preferences and discriminations within the meaning of the trade and commerce sections of the Constitution ?
  2. Whether he will respectfully suggest to the Premiers of the States that the question of the abolition of such preferences and discriminations should be considered at an early date ; if possible, at the next meeting of the Premiers or Treasurers of the States concerned ?
Mr DEAKIN:
Protectionist

– In answer to the honorable member’s questions, I have to say: -

  1. Communications were sent to the State Governments in 1901-2 suggesting that the Railway authorities should communicate with each other, with a view to the nearer assimilation of rates than then existed.
  2. It has now been suggested that a Conference is the only way of meeting the difficulty. The honorable the Minister for Home Affairs has requested that the attention of the States Governments be invited to the previous correspondence, and asked whether further consideration will be given to the matter.

page 667

QUESTION

PAYMENTS ON BEHALF OF THE IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT

Mr KELLY:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

Whether the Commonwealth Government was paid anything in the nature of a commission by the Imperial Government on moneys expended by the Commonwealth in connexion with the equipment, &c., of the Commonwealth South African Contingent, in addition to the repayment of such moneys.

Sir GEORGE TURNER:
Treasurer · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– The follow ing is the answer to the honorable member’s question -

Nothing in the nature of a commission has been charged by the Commonwealth Government to the Imperial Government in connexion withthe matter referred to.

page 667

QUESTION

GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH : ADDRESS IN REPLY

Debate resumed from16th March (vide page 643), on the motion of Mr. Mauger-

That the address be agreed to by the House.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– I do not propose to take up much of the time of the House, because I quite understand that the debate has dragged out probably to a greater length than most honorable members expected. Had it not been for one or two speeches which have been made I should not have spoken to the address at all. As I have decided to say a few words I shall briefly mention the points I wish to make in connexion with the Speech made by the Governor-General. One of the first matters brought under our notice is a reference to preferential trade. I shall not deal with the subject at any length, because the question is not before us in any practical form. I desire, however, to say that so far as Australia is concerned, the only question is whether it will pay. Considerations of sentiment and the “ dear’ Old Mother Country “ do not enter into the matter.. The person who tries to run fiscalism on sentiment will have a very bad time, and the country adopting preferential trade on purely sentimental grounds will have the worst of the bargain. It is a cold, matteroffact business matter. I presume that as a reference is made to the subject in the Governor-General’s Speech, it is the intention of the Government to bring it forward in some practical form during the session.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Is it?

Mr McDONALD:

– If it is not the intention of the Government to do so, why is any. reference made to the subject in the Governor-General’s Speech ?

Mr Hughes:

– Does it not help to fill in the Bill ?

Mr McDONALD:

– It certainly does, and in that respect it is, I am afraid, like many other matters submitted by the Government. We require something more than that. We should have a practical motion with which we can deal. I may say that I regret very much that this paragraph should appear in the Speech, if it is inserted merely to assist a certain section in England, who will use it for party purposes. The same kind of thing is being done here ; in fact it would appear that the protectionist parties in both countries are playing into each other’s hands. I regret that any reference to the subject should have been made in an underhand way in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, when the Government do not intend tosubmit any definite proposal dealing with it. I enter my protest against the. invitation to Mr. Chamberlain to advocate preferential trade here. If that right honorable gentleman comes to Australia for that purpose he will have a bad time. If he comes outhere as an English statesman, he will no doubt get a very good reception in Australia, but if he enters upon party politics, as he certainly will do, if he advocates preferential trade, I am afraid he will return to England with but a poor opinion of the principles he advocates.

Mr Conroy:

– What principles will he advocate; there is time for him to change his views on the voyage.

Mr McDONALD:

– I quite realize that the right honorable gentleman, referred to may change his views a dozen times before he arrives in Australia. . If the Government are sincere in their references to immigration, the only way in which they can do any good is to bring about some development in the agricultural industry of this continent. One of the best things which they can do would be to relieve the agricultural community of a number of the iniquitous duties which now stand in the way of their getting the implements necessary for their industry. If they were sincere in this matter the Government would submit direct taxation and put a thumping big land tax upon the large estates in Australia. At the present time in the State of Victoria hundreds of thousands of acres, within even a few miles of this building, are unutilized, though they might be made the means of settling thousands of families.

Mr Skene:

– They are under very heavy taxation.

Mr McDONALD:

– The whole of the direct taxation of the State does not amount to 14s. per head.

Mr Skene:

– There is a very heavy land tax here.

Mr McDONALD:

– The indirect taxation of Victoria amounts to something like £2 6s. per head. Of what use, therefore, is it for the honorable member for Grampians to suggest that direct taxation bears a fair proportion to indirect taxation in this State? It is most extraordinary that the moment an attempt is made to make those interested in landed property in Australia bear a fair proportion of taxation they begin to make a noise. Members of the Labour Party are accused of advocating class legislation, but these people have, as a class, legislated in the past for their own ends, and have made the general public bear the great burden of taxation. If we are to do any good in the settlement of people on the land in Australia we must first break up the big landed estates, and that can best be done by a substantial land tax. When such a tax is imposed we shall get at the normal value of land, and then, if it is necessary, the Government can buy back some of these estates, and lease the land to people who will be prepared to make proper use of it. So long as we allow individuals to hold these large estates, we cannot accomplish much good in the direction of settling the people upon the land.. I quite agree with the remarks of the right honorable member for Adelaide that the question of the Federal Capital site will never be satisfactorily solved until the Government are prepared to take it up as a party question. The sooner that course is adopted the better it will be for the Federation as a whole, and for New South Wales in particular. Undoubtedly that State entered the union upon the distinct understanding that the Federal Capital should be located within its territory, and I hold that it is our duty at the earliest possible opportunity to give effect to the provision in our Constitution which relates to that matter. Of course, I recognise the difficulty in which the Government find themselves in that two Ministers are interested in rival sites. The result must be to prevent a settlement of the question so long as the present Government hold office, because if either Tumut or Bombala were selected the resignation of a Minister would naturally follow, and the Cabinet would thus be weakened. Consequently the Government will never submit any definite plan for dealing with the question. That being so, I have a suggestion to offer to them. I desire to know if they, will allow any private member to introduce a Bill designating either Tumut or Bombala as the capital and whether they will promise to afford the necessary time to enable that measure to be carried through this Chamber? I£ the Ministry are not prepared to deal with the question themselves, surely they cannot reasonably object to a private member undertaking that responsibility. Again, the speedy settlement of the question is likely to be delayed by other complications. As honorable members are aware, this House last year selected Tumut as the site of the capital. If the Seat of Government Bill is again brought forward - and the Government has not yet intimated their intention to resubmit it to the House - and if a majority of honorable members decide in favour of Tumut, whilst the Senate declares for Bombala, will the Ministry promise to advise the GovernorGeneral to dissolve both Houses, so that the question may be definitely settled ?

Mr McColl:

– There are several other matters which require settlement in addir tion to that. We could deal with them all simultaneously.

Mr McDONALD:

– Of course if several other matters require to be settled it would be wise to dispose of them simultaneously. I know of one question which the honorable member for Echuca desires to submit to the people of Australia, namely, whether the Labour Party shall he wiper out of political existence?

Mr McColl:

– There is no justification for that statement. It is a very improper remark, and a very untrue one.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Echuca must withdraw that remark.

Mr McColl:

– I withdraw the remark, but the speech which I delivered last week is a sufficient contradiction of the honorable member’s statement.

Mr McDONALD:

– I do not regard the interjection of the honorable member as in any way offensive. “ I know what are his feelings towards the Labour Party generally

Mr McColl:

– It will be better for the honorable member not to say anything more about it.

Mr McDONALD:

– I know the class outside the House to which the honorable member belongs. Its members have never lost an opportunity of attempting to prevent members of the Labour Party from being returned to Parliament.

Mr McColl:

– Will the honorable member mention what that class is? He is only a slanderer.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member for Echuca withdraw that remark ?

Mr McColl:

– I shall have to do so.

Mr McDONALD:

– When an honorable member makes a charge of that sort I think he should withdraw it unconditionally.

Mr McColl:

– It is the honorable member who is making a charge.

Mr McDONALD:

– I am making no charge. I simply say that the class to which the honorable member belongs-

Mr McColl:

– What class is that?

Mr McDONALD:

– The employing class generally. I know that the honorable member is a farmer, and that if he could possibly prevent it, he would not allow a solitary labour member to sit in thisHouse. That is no charge at all. We fight the honorable member, and the party with which he is associated, outside the House in the same way that they fight us. Ido not say that in any disparaging spirit, and when the honorable member loses his temper I am sorry for him. Another familiar item in the Governor-General’s Speech has reference to the question of old-age pensions. At the opening of the first Parliament reference was made to the same subject in the Vice-Regal Speech, although the Government were perfectly well aware at the time that there was no possibility of giving effect to such legislation. .

Mr Deakin:

– They stated so in the speech.

Mr McDONALD:

– Then why attempt to delude the people of Australia? The reference is intended to induce people to believe that the Government desire to do something in that direction. Yet, when the honorable member for Darwin submitted a motion affirming the desirableness of establishing a system of old-age pensions, and setting out that the passing of the resolution should be regarded as an instruction to the Attorney-General to draft a Bill to give effect to it, who were its strongest opponents ? The present Minister for Trade and Customs and Sir Edmund Barton. It seems to me that no serious attempt was made on that occasion to grapple with the question. If the Government honestly desired to deal with it in an effective way, they could do so by submitting proposals in favour of direct taxation. In regard to the admission of Chinese into South Africa, I must compliment the Government upon the action which they took. I exceedingly regret that it should be necessary for us to interfere in political matters outside of Australia. It is a deplorable state of affairs. Nevertheless, the Government themselves set the ex ample in this respect when they submitted a resolution in this House indorsing , the policy of Mr. Chamberlain. Whilst it is undesirable, as a general rule, to interfere in politics outside of Australia, I think that the proposal to introduce Chinese labour into South Africa constitutes an exceptional case which justifies us in our action, more especially when we consider the amount of treasure and human life that has been sacrificed there. What was the object of that sacrifice? It was ostensibly designed to benefit the British residents there. But it now appears that it was really intended to benefit a few speculators, who dragged the honour of England into the mire for the purpose of robbing the unfortunate Boers of the gold which they had in their country. Now it is proposed to work these mines with Chinese labour.

Mr Conroy:

– Is there much distinction between a Chinese Africa and a Black Africa ?

Mr McDONALD:

– There is no difference whatever from the point of view of white labour. I wish now to draw the attention of the House to a paragraph which recently appeared in one of the newspapers, and which sets, out some, of the evidence given before the Royal Commission that was appointed to inquire into. the. labour conditions prevailing in South Africa. I particularly wish to emphasize the testimony of Mr. Creswell, manager of the Village Main Reef gold-mine. The paragraph in question states -

Mr. Creswell recently engaged white unskilled labour for the mine at10s. per day. The experiment, has proved a success, but yesterday he informed the Commission that the chairman of his London board had privately written to him, stating that Messrs. Wernher, Beit, and Co. and other leading mine-owners had been consulted regarding the new departure. They expressed the fear that the engagement of a large number of white labourers on the Rand would cause troubles similar to those that prevailed in Australia. It would enable a combination of labourers to dictate wages, and would give them a political power when responsible government was granted to the Colonies.

To my mind that evidence constitutes one of the strongest reasons why we should compliment the Government upon having taken such timely action. As we shall shortly be called upon to deal with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill,’ it is unnecessary for me to discuss the matter at the present stage ; but I desire to intimate that if that Bill ever reaches the Committee stage, I shall move an amendment extending its provisions to the railway servants of the States. I wish now to make a few remarks relative to the effect which ‘ certain legislation, passed by this Parliament, is said to have had upon the credit of Australia. We are told that this legislation has been passed practically at the bidding of the Labour Party, and that if it has not ruined Australia, it has, at all events, led to the depression from which the States are now suffering. What does this charge amount to? It simply means that in the opinion of those who decry this legislation, section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act, and the contract labour section in the Immigration Restriction Act, have been detrimental to the interests of Australia. Is there any one outside a lunatic asylum who would assert that two isolated provisions in two Acts of Parliament have frightened capital away from Australia? Section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act dennes the class of labour which shall be employed on vessels subsidized by the Government of the Commonwealth, and declares that white labour only shall be employed on such steamers. We are told by one honorable member that the question at issue is not whether the shipping companies require cheap labour, but whether they desire to obtain reliable labour. My. own opinion is that what they desire to secure is cheap and servile labour. Considerations of expense enter very largely into the question of employment, so far as these companies are concerned. Capitalists care nothing for the black man ; they use him,- just as they employ the white man, in order to secure a profit to themselves, and that is all they are ever likely to do. One honorable member has asserted that white sailors are not reliable, and that it is for that reason that the shipping companies prefer to employ black labour. I would ask that honorable member whether he would prefer to depend upon a black or a white population. I am beginning to think that the loud cries that we hear against the exclusive employment of white labour on our mail steamers are hypocritical. We hear opponents of legislation of the class to which I have referred, singing from time to time about the “ Boys of the Bulldog Breed,” and talking loudly of the readiness of our men to defend the Empire; but, as soon as their pockets are touched they assert that white sailors are not reliable, and that they prefer black labour. In these circumstances we are justified in believing that there is a great deal of hypocrisy associated with the protestations of loyalty on the part of those who prefer to see black labour employed /ed cn our steam-ships. We have also been !old that the incident of the six hatters has caused the British investor to look upon Australia as a place to be avoided, and that, because we considered that certain men who had violated our laws should be detained here for several days, there is not a capitalist in the old country who would lend us a farthing. In my opinion, the British investor does not care a continental rap for section 1 6 of the Post and Telegraph Act, nor for the provision relating to the employment of contract labour in the Immigration Restriction Act. I have here an interesting quotation from the London Daily Mail, of 3rd December last, which puts the whole position in a nutshell. Referring to the Immigration Restriction Act, it sets forth that -

The commonly-received talk about the Act being the work of the Labour Party in the Commonwealth is only talk. The Act is the Commonwealth’s ; there it is, on the’ statute-book, with not the faintest indication of a disposition in the Legislature or the people at large to wipe it off again. The Act is certainly in the interests of Australian labour, or what Australian labour takes to be its interests ; but if labour has the power to pass such laws, it has the ruling power in the Commonwealth) and nothing practical is gained by denouncing labour. If a sweeping measure of disfranchisement is what is at the back of the minds of the people here and in Australia who talk in this way about the enormities of the Labour Party, let them speak it out plainly, and see how ridiculous the notion is. If they do not want that, they may as well make the best, instead of the worst, of things as they stand. What it all comes to is that Australia is the most perfect Democracy in the world, and naturally legislates for the Demos; if it consoles any one to call Demos bad names, he is at liberty to do so. But the better plan would be to attempt to enlighten and improve him.

The London Daily Mail cannot be regarded as a labour journal: but it certainly, puts the position in regard to legislation of this kind in a proper light. I am one of those who believe that the great depression from which Australia has suffered for some years past has been- due, not to any legislation passed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, but to the severe and unparalleled drought through which we have passed. During the course of my travels through Queensland, I have seen many instances of the terribleeffects that the drought - which was most acute during the first three years of the existence of the Commonwealth - has had upon the country, and it is to that cause, and not to any legislation which we may have passed, that the depression now existing must be attributed. We are told that apart altogether from the effects of the drought, Australia is passing through a period of depression, and I think that we are justified in asking our opponents to furnish us with some specific evidence in support of their assertion. The honorable and learned member for Parkes spoke of the ruin and disaster which, in his opinion, had been caused by Commonwealth legislation, but, on turning to Coghlan, I find that the facts do not warrant such a statement. Coghlan shows, for example, that the plant used in productionin 1899-00 was of the value of £18,202,724, while in 1902-3 it was of the value of £20,534,436 - showing an increase of £2,331,7 12. Coming to the question of output, I find that the value of our production in 1899-00 was £28,666,000, while the value of our production in 1902-3 was £32,118,000, an increase of £3, 452, 000. Another test of the effect of Commonwealth legislation is a comparison between the value of property in Australia prior to Federation, and since our Commonwealth legislation was passed. I find that the value of property in 1899-1900 was £879,391,000, while in 1901-2 it was £908,762,000, an increase of £29,371,000. Surely the capitalists of the community ought to be satisfied with that increase, unless nothing short of the whole product Of labour is enough for them. Taking the earnings of the investments of non-residents and the incomes of absentees in excess of the incomes obtained by residents from investments abroad, I find that in the year 1899-1900 it was £149,144,000, in the year 1901-2 £164,400,000, and in the year 1902-3 £183,152,000, showing an increase since Federation of £44,008,000. The only periods in the history of Australia during which capital has been withdrawn from the country to any large extent are those between 1872 and 1.875,and between 1891 and 1894, in the first of which the capital withdrawn in excess of the capital sent here was about£2,000,000; in the second it was about £1,500,000. My comparisons have dealt only with the period which has elapsed since Federation, in which period, we have been told, Australia has been deprived of capital which would have been invested here but for Commonwealth legislation. The only specific instance of a withdrawal of capital was that mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who told us that the directors, of the Scottish Widows Fund, who had invested £2,000,000 in Australia, and were employing a manager at £2,000 per annum, had paid off their manager and would withdraw their money. I regret that the honorable and learned member made such a damaging statement against so estimable an institution. He should have had more tact than to disclose such a state of affairs in connexion with an institution of that character. If the money was invested, it was brought here before Federation.

Mr Fuller:

– It was invested years before Federation.

Mr McDONALD:

– If the investments have not paid they must have been badly made, for which the directors were to blame ; but, if they have paid, and the withdrawal is being made for political purposes, it is a disgrace to those who hold honorable positions in connexion with the company.

Mr Fuller:

– A large part of the money was invested in station property.

Mr McDONALD:

– I regret that the honorable and learned member for Parkes went out of his way to instance that case. I do not believe that the state of affairs is as he depicted it. The information I have gathered since is that the institution is in a very flourishing condition, and that its Australian investments bear favorable comparison with its other investments elsewhere. Then we have been told that capital is not now flowing into Australia.. As a matter of fact, however, those who have come here within the last few years, have brought with them no less than£1, 772,000. The last, but not the least effective, of the comparisons I shall make is with regard to private investments. During the three years which have elapsed since Federation, the amount of private investments has greatly increased. In1899-1900 the value of these investments was £92,296,000. In 1901-2 it was £94,861,000, while in 1892-3 it was £114,282,000, so that since Federation £21,976,000 has been invested in Australian industries, notwithstanding the legislation which the Labour Party have assisted to pass. Any one who doubts my figures can check them by reference to the last edition of Coghlan, just issued. Of course, comparisons to be fair, must be between normal years. During the recent drought the number of sheep carried in New South Wales was reduced from 61,000,060 to 23,000,000, and the number carried in Queensland from 21,000,000 to 8,000,000. Legislation could not be held responsible for that, and it would not be fair to compare such a period with a period during which the condition of things was normal. I have shown, however, that there has been a wonderful increase in the value of property and of investments under Federation, notwithstanding the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act, under which the six hatters were stopped, the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and the sixteenth section of the Post and Telegraph Act, which requires that mail contracts shall not be made with companies employing black labour upon their steamers. What then becomes of the statement that those measures are driving capital out of the country ? It is not the legislation of the Commonwealth, and the fact that the Labour Party is gaining ground in all the States, that is responsible for losses of capital. Whatever losses have occurred are due to wild speculation. It is that which has tended to destroy the confidence of the British investor. I need only mention one case, namely, that of the Chillagoe mines in Queensland. Three gentlemen, who had three prominent mine speculators behind them - two of them were in the last Parliament - obtained a concession from the Queensland Government in connexion with these mines. What was the result? Although they paid their manager £10,000 per annum, and they erected smelters at Chillagoe at a cost of £100,000, they knew very well from the outset that there was nothing in the mine. One gentleman, who had 48,000 shares in the company - and this is a matter of ancient history, because the information appeared in the Argus some time ago - quietly unloaded the greater portion of his holding, some 40,000 odd shares, at prices ranging from £1 to 38s. per share, after which the price of the shares suddenly dropped to 2s. I afterwards met a gentleman who was in London when the news of the failure of the Chillagoe enterprise reached England. He told me that he believed that if he had had the best mine - gold, coal, or anything else - in Australia, and had mentioned it on the London Stock Exchange at that time, he would ‘have been mobbed. This is the kind of thing that is bringing Australia into disrepute, and injuring her credit. When I hear honor able members telling the Labour Party that the policy which they are pursuing is ruining Australia, I think that it is time that that section of the people to which they belong should be told a few home truths. At the last elections the Labour Party fought one of the biggest battles that has ever taken place in Australia. We had arrayed against us the united employers’ associations, the united chambers of commerce, the united chambers of mines, the united chambers of manufactures, and a number of auxiliary organizations, which had been brought into existence to assist in breaking down the Labour Party. No less than £10,000 was raised in Queensland for the express purpose of wiping out the Labour Party. In New South Wales, judging from the statements of the secretaries of the various organizations, some £20,000 odd was subscribed for a similar purpose; and in Victoria it was reported that the employers and kindred organizations had a fund amounting to £23,000. All this money was used in the interests of that section of the community which wishes to rule the. destinies of Australia without let or hindrance. I must congratulate the leader of the Opposition upon having spoken out. so strongly against the action of these people. I think that his remarks upon that point are well worthy of being published in every labour newspaper in Australia.

Mr Frazer:

– The remarks of the right honorable and learned gentleman came a little bit late.

Mr McDONALD:

– I do not care about that. It is sufficient for me that the right honorable gentleman, holding the position he does, and being opposed to the Labour Party, acknowledged what had been done by the employers’ organizations, and condemned their action in the very strongest terms.

Mr Frazer:

– He was very careful that he did not act or speak in that way before the elections.

Mr McDONALD:

– -Ido not care when the statement was made. Everything possible was done to prevent members of the Labour Party from being returned to this Parliament. . Last evening one honorable member thought he was very clever to obtain from the Labour Party an acknowledgment that they were socialists. We have never denied that, and any one who does not realize that the labour movement is of a socialist character cannot know very much about it. ‘ So far as Queensland is concerned, the election struggle was essentially a fight between socialism and antisocialism, and the result was a pronounced victory for the Labour Party. The lowest labour candidate upon the poll for the Senate had a majority of 16,000 votes over the highest representative of the other side. The members of the Labour Party have just as strong a desire as any others in the community to see Australia progress, but do not wish that result to be achieved at the expense of the great masses of the people. It is” true that the labour movement is a class movement, but not in the sense that our opponents would have it understood. As a party, we represent 90 per cent. of the community. 1 do not say that we polled that proportion of votes, but those who toil with their hands or their brains represent 90 per cent. of the population.

Sir John Forrest:

– They represent the whole of it.

Mr McDONALD:

– In the past a small section of the community - the other 10 per cent. - have ruled the legislation of Australia, which was of a purely class character. It was only when matters reached an acute stage, and the oppression of the working classes became unbearable, that it was realized that something would have to be done to combat the influences at work. The Labour Party wasthen brought into existence with a view to secure to the working classes a fair share of the products of their labour.

Mr Conroy:

– If Parliament had not passed class legislation there would not today be the feeling there is.

Mr McDONALD:

– That is perfectly true. The Labour Party would not have gained its present strength, but for the unjust laws previously passed. We are prepared to fight until such time as we can exercise a very strong influence over the destinies of Australia. I hope that time is not very far distant. There seems to be great uneasiness on the part of some honorable members as to the- intentions of the Labour Party. If our opponents think that we are inclined to legislate in a manner detrimental to the welfare of Australia, why do they not combine their forces and place us in direct opposition? That is where we want to be. Some honorable members are greatly agitated, and in some cases have almost been reduced to tears over what they regard as the present alarming condition of affairs. I do not see that there is any cause for alarm.

We got along very well during the last Parliament, as we shall during this Parliament, if the Government will only act reasonably. We do not ask them for concessions; but we say that if they do the square thing for the people of Australia we . will support them. When I describe the members of the Labour Party as socialists, I should, perhaps, define my own position in the matter. One honorable member, in defining his position as a socialist last night, spoke in such vague terms that I found the honorable member for Kooyong quite in accord with him. In the circumstances, I should not be surprised if honorable members did not know where they are. It may subsequently be said that I do not know where I am, but I shall give my idea of socialism as clearly as possible: I take this to be a correct definition. We wish that the source of life, namely, the land, and the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth, shall be as far as possible in the hands of the people, and used for the common good. I think that covers the whole of the doctrine, aims, and desires of the Labour Party. We wish to bring about that condition of things, and we are prepared to fight until our object is accomplished.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– At this late stage in the debate the few remarks I have to make will probably not be so much upon the text of the Governor-General’s Speech as upon some of the comments which have been made concerning it. It has been said that the Speech is a colourless one ; but that cannot be said of the comments upon it. There has been a great deal of colour in them, and it is perhaps upon that account that I have been induced to speak. I think we are to be congratulated upon a general feeling in the House that the fiscal question should remain in abeyance at least for a time. Most of those who have spoken have suggested that it is held in abeyance merely in order that some combination may be made against the Labour Party. That is not my idea. When we had concluded our very long Tariff discussion, and had formulated a Tariff for the whole of the Commonwealth, I came to the conclusion that it would be well, in the interests of trade and commerce, that there should be fiscal peace for a time. It is well that this bone of contention should be laid aside.

Mr Conroy:

-What ahout the plundering of the bulk of the people that is going on daily?

Mr SKENE:

– I know nothing of any plundering. The honorable and learned member may be aware of something that is unknown to me. The leader of the Opposition has described the position between parties as an armed truce. Necessarily it must be an armed truce, because I feel that there are certain parties who will take advantage of the earliest opportunity to return to the fray. With respect to the attitude of the Government, I have to say that, notwithstanding the fact that some three or four honorable members in this corner gave in their adhesion to a policy of financial peace and the maintenance of the status quo during at least this Parliament, we had a Government candidate run against each of us in our electorates. Apart from the fiscal question, we had rendered a great deal of support in this House to the Government, and yet a Government candidate was run for every electorate for which a Victorian free-trader stood. I take it from this that what the Government desired was that the electorates should return thick-and-thin supporters.

Mr Page:

– They do not want “shandygaffers.”

Mr SKENE:

– I will not retort upon the honorable member, because last night he asked us to forget a certain incident in his political career. I take it that if fiscal peace is to be maintained, and there is to be a redistribution of parties in the House, it must be upon some basis which, if there is a change upon the Treasury benches, will provide some balance between parties.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Are the people asking for a coalition ?

Mr SKENE:

– I do not know, but I have heard it suggested in a good many quarters. I do not feel sogrievously disappointed with the Tariff adopted by this Parliament as do some of my honorable friends from New South Wales. As five or six of the, States had previous to Federation adopted a policy which was more or less protective, I recognised that the Commonwealth Tariff must be a compromise. Although the compromise did not go as far in the direction of free-trade as I expected in some instances, it is acknowledged, even by the leader of the Opposition, that there were only some five or six items which he would challenge if he came back from the country with a majority.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– When did he say that ?

Mr SKENE:

– He said that in this House in the last Parliament.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Five or six groups of items.

Mr SKENE:

– No; I think the right honorable gentleman referred to 20, 25, and 30 per cent, duties.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member is wrong.

Mr SKENE:

– I may be wrong, but that is my impression. So far as I am concerned, I think there are not more than halfadozen items which I could regard as excrescences upon a compromise Tariff. It would be better from the point of view of those who advocate protection that those excrescences did not exist, because the objectionable features of the Tariff would not then attract so much notice. So far as we in Victoria are concerned, the policy proclaimed at Maitland by the late Prime Minister indicated a distinct advance for this State. A policy of moderate duties for revenue purposes, and for the preservation of industries worth continuing, was something of which we had not heard before. The idea here was to keep high duties on for all time. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo emphasized that in spaking upon the Address in Reply in the first Parliament, when he quoted certain passages from John Stuart Mill, in which he said that whilst assistance might be given to industries temporarily, the persons interested should not be led to suppose that it would be continued for all time. If that is to be the policy adopted in future, we have made an advance upon the attitude of protectionists in Victoria in the past. I would like to say that while there should, for the present, be an armed truce upon the fiscal question, we should have some authoritative tabulated information upon the working of the Tariff for the next few years. A revision of the Tariff will have to take place sooner or later, and statements upon the subject are being circulated in the newspapers which are entirely misleading. The right honorable member for Adelaide, in his very excellent speech, drew attention to certain figutes affecting New South Wales, and certain deductions drawn therefrom. He declared that the effect of the Tariff in New South Wales had been so to check imports that there had been a vast expansion of local industries. Yet in the case of Victoria I have seen it stated time after time that imports are coming in so freely, that local industries are languishing, and that they will assuredly be wiped out.

Surely there is a contradiction involved in those two statements.

Mr A McLean:

– No. Under the Federal Tariff the duties previously operative in Victoria were lowered, whereas those of New South Wales were increased.

Mr SKENE:

– AmI to understand then that Victorian industries, which have been established so long, are not able to hold their own with the industries of New South Wales, which are of yesterday’s growth?

Mr Mccay:

– That is not the question.

Mr SKENE:

– It is the question. If the industries of New South Wales, which have not beenestablished nearly so long as have those of Victoria, can thrive under the present Tariff, why cannot the Victorian industries thrive equally well? Is it right to say that they are bound to be wiped out?

Mr Kennedy:

– Some of the industries in Victoria have been materially injured, and the cost of the article which they produce has not been reduced one penny.

Mr SKENE:

– That may be so.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The industries have been injured in this way : that Victorian manufactures were exported to the other States during the past year to the vaule of £3,000,000 more than they were previously.

Mr SKENE:

– Still I cannot recognise that my argument is unsound, because if New South Wales industries can thrive under the operation of the Tariff, certainly the Victorian industries ought also to flourish under it.

Mr Kingston:

– It is one thing to increase a duty, and quite another to diminish it.

Mr SKENE:

– I do think that, instead of these unauthorized statements being broadcasted throughout the country, we should have some properly -constituted body to report annually to Parliament concerning the operation of the Tariff. Then, in case of its revision, we should have authoritative data at our command.

Mr Kennedy:

– The Customs returns will show the increase that has taken place in Victorian imports.

Mr SKENE:

– Yes; but I desire to have something more definite to go upon than the statements of those interested individuals who infest the lobbies and throng the galleries when a revision, of the Tariff is taking place. Seeing that the people of this country contribute from 3s. to 6s. in the £1 upon the output of these industries, I think that they have a sort of partnership interest in them, and that they are entitled to information as to what becomes of their money. ‘ Concerning the question of preferential trade I am of opinion that we ought to know exactly wherewestand. I shall not dwell upon the subject ; but I do think it would be wise to institute some inquiry into the working of our Tariff so that we may be in a position to deal with that matter when it is submitted for our consideration. I have read most of the speeches which have been made by able men in the old country upon it, and in my judgment preferential trade will not mean much to us. I find in His Excellency’s Speech a reference to “ the immense and reliable market “ which the establishment of preferential trade relations with the mother country will insure to us. Personally, I would not give much for the “ reliable market “ which will be created by the imposition of a duty of 3d. per cental upon corn, and a 5 per cent, duty upon the other side. Honorable members will remember the sneer with which Ministerial supporters regarded proposals to levy a 10 per cent. duty upon certain articles when the Tariff was under discussion. They persistently claimed that a 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. duty was absolutely necessary. What is the use of a 5 per cent. duty upon the small quantity of wheat which we send to England ? It would not influence the market one iota, and’ as for our wool, that will enter Great Britain as raw material. Regarding the question of immigration, I have very great sympathy indeed with all the efforts that have been made to settle the people upon the land. Nevertheless, I agree with my friends of the Labour Party that we ought to do something in that direction for the people who are already here before we introduce more. If we introduce more my idea is that we shall still have the same number of unemployed in the community. Whilst the honorable member for Kennedy was speaking upon the subject of a land tax, I made an interjection which he did not seem to regard seriously. Victorian representatives, however, will recognise that in this State we have one of the heaviest land taxes that is operative in any new country.

Mr McCay:

– It is not a land tax; it is a class tax.

Mr SKENE:

– If the. honorable and learned member chooses, he can call it a “ class “ tax. But still my argument remains good. If that tax will not successfully burst’ up our large landed estates, certainly the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy would not accomplish that end.

Mr Watkins:

– The land tax in New South Wales has burst up some of the estates.

Mr SKENE:

– The tax operating in New South Wales is very light compared with that which is levied in Victoria. Moreover, it is an absolutely fair tax.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– In New South Wales it is simply a municipal tax.

Mr SKENE:

– The difference between the tax in New South Wales and that in Victoria is that in this State we are taxed not only upon the land, but upon the incomes which we derive from it.

Mr Mauger:

– It is an altogether unscientific and bad tax.

Mr SKENE:

– In connexion with this question of settling people upon the land, I wish particularly to refer to a remark which was made by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. He declared that any scheme for attracting a desirable class of immigrants to Australia would require to be worked through the States–that it would be absolutely impossible for the Federal Government io adopt any system for settling people on the land. In that contention I think that he is wrong. There is a simple way to assist settlement in that direction, which is quite as open to the Commonwealth Government as it is to the States Governments. In the past the States have committed an error by endeavouring to accomplish too much. They have adopted methods which are much too cumbersome. Before any person can secure a piece of land upon liberal terms from them, they have to purchase a large estate. Having done that, their practice is then to afford men an opportunity to settle upon that estate. To my mind a much simpler method of encouraging settlement would be for the Government, instead of purchasing a large estate, to assist any man to buy a small piece of land in any part of the country.

Mr Bamford:

– Where can we obtain the land ?

Mr SKENE:

– Anywhere, throughout the country.

Mr Bamford:

– At £60 an acre?

Mr SKENE:

– No, at a much less price than that, because the system which I advocate would insure fair competition all over- the Commonwealth. Under the

Credit’ Foncier system the Savings Bank advances money to farmers who have borrowed on the security of their land-

Mr Thomas:

– That is a piece of socialism.

Mr SKENE:

– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question. What I desire to bring under the notice of honorable members is the fact that the Melbourne Savings Bank now lends money, under the Credit Foncier system, to any individual who is able to comply with its conditions as to valuations and so forth, and that the repayments are allowed to extend over a period of thirty years. It is true that the bank requires a margin of about’ 33 per cent, in respect of its security, but under the system of subdividing large estates for closer settlement - a system with which the honorable member for Gippsland is more familiar than I am - a very small cash deposit is required.

Mr Mauger:

– It is a kind of timepayment system.

Mr SKENE:

– Quite so. Why should we not place men on the land in any district in which they wish to commence operations? We should give a man who has been employed on a farm, and who desires to secure a piece of land in the same neighbourhood, an opportunity to gratify that desire by purchasing land on the same easy terms that are given when an estate is purchased by a State Government for subdivision. No difficulty would be experienced in making the necessary valuations. It would be infinitely better to put a young man on land adjoining his father’s farm, or a’ worker on land close to the farm on which he has been employed, than it would be to require him to go to other parts of the country. By the adoption of this system the Commonwealth would give effect to a very beneficial policy. Some honorable members may ask - “How are we to find the money?” The answer may be readily given, that it is open to us to borrow on the security of the lands proposed to be settled in this way. Propositions of this kind are generally suggested to my mind by something, of which I have heard amongst my own friends. I have employed men who, when they desired to settle down for themselves, found it necessary to search for land, often at considerable expense, in other parts of the Commonwealth. It would be far better if workmen were given an opportunity to acquire land contiguous to that on which they have been employed, instead of being required to settle on some large estate, subdivided for closer settlement purposes in another part of the State. The Government should secure land for such men adjacent to that on which they have been working, and so enable them to commence operations without any delay.

Mr Ewing:

– Why has not the honorable member sold . some of his own land to these men?

Mr SKENE:

– Simply because I cannot afford to give them such easy terms. If I were to sell land on thirty years terms, the purchase money . would be of very little service to me at the time when the total became repayable. But Governments go on for ever, and can arrange such terms without any difficulty. There is another matter in connexion with which, I think, mistakes have been made. I refer to the class of men who have hitherto been placed on the land. There is, as some one has said, a submerged tenth, and they are not the people to be settled on the land. We should rather take off the top layer. The curse of this country is that we have not a sufficient number of people with a taste for a country life, and I contend that those who have gone into the provinces, and who have shown a predilection for a country life by working on stations and farms, should be the first to be assisted to settle on the soil. By removing the top layer we should raise others; the submerged tenth would gradually rise, and they in turn, having served a certain apprenticeship, would be able to go on the land themselves. Our object should beto endeavour to cultivate that country taste to which I have referred among the people of the Commonwealth. If we can give a man an incentive to work tinder such conditions, and show him that there is a chance of his securing a farm for himself, the battle will be half won.

Mr Spence:

– We need better management.

Mr SKENE:

– I agree with the honorable member. With reference to the much vexed question of the settlement of the Northern Territory, I think that recent events must have caused most thinking men to regard our position in that part of Australia as calling for very grave consideration. The question of whether we are in effective occupation of the Northern Territory is one that demands our attention. We have no prescriptive rights to the waste lands of the earth, and I doubt very much whether we can show that we are effectivelyoccupying the Territory. There are people of other nationswho are casting about for more room for expansion, and they may cause us some trouble in this regard. Honorable members will remember that, some time before the war between Russia and Japan broke out, a newspaper, which was supposed to voice the opinion of the Russian Admiral in the East, stated that the Japanese, instead of looking to Asia to find room for expansion, would look south - to the Philippines and Australia. If Russia eventually secures a victory over the Japanese, she may still further encourage them to look in this direction. This is the only reference which I propose tonake to the question of the employment of Iascar crews on our mail steamers. It appears to me to be a matter for regret that, throughout our legislation, we heap contumely on people who are our own fellow-subjects.; Some day we may have to rely on these very fellow-subjects of ours, to an extent that will bring home to us the true significance of whatwe are now doing.

Mr Fowler:

– Does the honorable gentleman imagine that the lascars would fight for us?

Mr SKENE:

– I do not say that the lascars would do so. But I would remind the honorable member that we have in India some of the finest fighting men in the world.

Mr Fowler:

– But the honorable member referred to lascars.

Mr SKENE:

– Only in the sense that if we heap contumely on them they may be likely to spread dissension amongst the other races of India with whom they mix.

Mr Conroy:

– We have legislated not only against lascars, but against all coloured races.

Mr SKENE:

– Exactly. There are many who think that we are a fighting people. I consider that that belief is well justified, and should be sorry indeed to imagine that we had lost the fighting qualities of our ancestors. If we had to resist an invasion of the Northern Territory, . however, we might have to call upon the Indian troops to help us. If Japan ever contemplated the invasion of Australia she would attack not those ports in which, we have ships and forts, but the Northern Territory. Her forces would endeavour to effect a landing as near as possible to her own base.

Mr Conroy:

-And her people would settle there.

Mr SKENE:

– Exactly. If we required the assistance of the mother country in repelling an invasion of that kind where should we look for reinforcements? We could expect assistance only from India, and with Russia probably intriguing on the frontier of that country, we. should have to fall back on Indian soldiers.

Mr Thomas:

– Does not the honorable member th’ink that we should be able to defeat the Japs ourselves?

Mr SKENE:

– That is very doubtful. At all events I am not prepared to thrust aside very useful assistance. The British forces in India must always be maintained at a strength bearing a certain, relation to the number of native troops, and whilst we should not be able to obtain British soldiers from India we should have no difficulty in securing any number of Indian troops to assist us. The honorable member for Perth, who has referred to the non-fighting capacity of lascars, will probably remember that when the European population of Pekin was beleaguered in the British Legation, at the time of the Chinese Rebellion, the first British troops to fight their way to their assistance were the Sikhs.

Mr Fowler:

– There is as much difference between a Sikh and alascar as there is between a Britisher and a German.

Mr SKENE:

– I agree with the honorable member that the Sikhs and the Ghoorkasare the fighting races of India. But if we spread dissension among one race we may spread it among many.

Mr Fowler:

– The lascars have nothing in common with the Sikhs and Ghoorkas.

Mr SKENE:

– I am aware of that fact. I was informed a few days ago that patriotic associations are now being formed in India, with a view to put the question to the British Government - “ Are you going to stand entirely with your 4,000,000 of British subjects in Australia, or to have some . regard for the 400,000,000 British subjects in India?” Can we wonder at the proposal to put such a question to the Imperial Government? I have no desire to deal with this matter in any parochial sense. I wish simply to consider it from the standpoint of our relations with the rest of the Empire. As a matter of fact, in the absence of those relations we should not be able to exist for one year. I should like to ask those honorable members who some time ago advocated the formation of an Australian Navy of two or three ships, what they now think of their proposition, in view of the way in which the vessels of the Russian fleet at Port Arthur were recently destroyed.

Mr Page:

– What about the half-dozen Japanese torpedo boats that brought disaster to the Russian vessels at Port Arthur?

Mr SKENE:

– I am familiar with the incident to which the honorable member refers, and I believe that a torpedo flotilla at Sydney and Melbourne would be one of our best means of protection. Such a flotilla, however, would be of no assistance to us in the case of an invasion of the Northern Territory. We have a coast line of 8,000 miles to defend, and sea-going vessels would be required to repel an attack on the Territory. I do not wish to deal with this matter at any great length, ber cause it will probably come before us when the Navigation Bill is under consideration. Taking a general view of the case, I think that we are living in a fool’s paradise. To my mind, though I regret to say it, Australia’s attitude towards the Empire is sometimes that of the unwhipped cub, and some day we shall suffer for it. I have not much . to say in regard to the Federal Capital question, except that I still think that to have a bush capital will be a mistake. I feel that if the question whether the capital should be in the bush or in Sydney were referred by referendum to the people of Victoria at the next State elections, a majority of them would vote for having it in Sydney.

Mr Mauger:

– No.

Mr SKENE:

– I am certain of it. Every one I meet express that view. I would rather see the consideration of the matter delayed for some little time. Last session I moved an amendment, which was not seconded, to give an opportunity for further consideration, by doing away with the 100-mile limit and with the provision which makes it imperative that until the site is determined upon, the Commonwealth Parliament shall meet in Melbourne. If the Constitution were amended in respect to those two matters, we might meet in Sydney for a couple of sessions, and then go thoroughly into the whole question. I know that the people of Sydney are determined to have the capital.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Not the people of Sydney ; the people of New South Wales.

Mr SKENE:

-. - The people of Sydney are those who are moving most in the matter. However, I shall not discuss the subject further now, because no doubt we shall have another opportunity to speak upon it. The construction of the transcontinental railway has been so often urged upon us, that I have not been able to prevent myself from giving attention to the arguments used in support of it, and as I should be very sorry to be connected with any sort of repudiation, even of an implied contract, I feel that it might be well for the Government to authorize a survey to give us a better knowledge of the character of the country to be traversed. I do not see the need for a survey in which every level would be taken and every peg put into position, because that would be too expensive.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member would like to see a flying survey made.

Mr SKENE:

– Something a little more definite than a flying survey.

Mr McLean:

– A trial survey?

Mr SKENE:

– Yes ; but I do not wish to see an expensive survey made. I understand that well inland the country is better than it is along the coast. I have received very bad reports of the country on the coast. I recently met two gentlemen who have lived at Eucla for twenty-five years, and they gave me very poor accounts of the surrounding district. They said, however, that the country is better inland.

Mr Conroy:

– My information is that it is not good within100 miles of the coastline.

Mr SKENE:

– If there is a chance of passing through better country by adopting a route further inland, it would be well to survey such a route.

Mr Page:

– Would the honorable member vote £20,000 for a survey?

Mr SKENE:

– No doubt the amount is a large one, but the distance to be surveyed is very long.

Mr Fowler:

– We voted more than £20,000 to provide sugar bonuses for Queensland.

Mr SKENE:

– I think that, so far as the last Parliament was concerned, we hardly came up to the expectations of the country. I should like to see this House settle to business in a somewhat different way, though I do not sympathize with all that has been said against the last Parliament. It is a matter of great regret that the whole tendency of the public mind is now to run in what I consider a wrong direction. People say - “ There are too many Parliaments. Let us have one Parliament instead of seven, and thus save expense.” But I say deliberately, that I would sooner see disruption than unification. The’ States have federated under a system which we knew thoroughly, from the experience of the

United States of America for over a century. Our Constitution preserves the individual rights of the States, and the people would make a great mistake if they did anything to abolish those rights. The cost of an extra Parliament is nothing to what might be the result of such a mistake. Considering the diversity of interests in the various parts of the Commonwealth, such as Tasmania and the Northern Territory of South Australia, for example, or Queensland and Western Australia, one Parliament could never properly deal with local questions. I hope, therefore, that the desire for unification will not grow. One of the reasons why we have not got on so well as we might have done under Federation, is because the population of two of the States is very much larger than that cif the other four. No federation has ever succeeded under similar conditions. Mill, when he wrote his Representative Government, a few years before the war between Prussia and Austria, pointed out the difficulties of the Germanic Confederation. He showed thiat that Confederation would be Prussian if it were not for Austria, “and Austrian if it were not for Prussia. In 1866 Austria was driven out of the Confederation, and it then became Prussian. That is a position which I hope we shall not be unfortunate enough to come to here. After the failure of the Convention of 1892, I made public, through the press, the idea that Victoria and New South Wales are too large relatively to the other States, and that it would be better to subdivide them, not only to secure community of interest, but also to give a more equal representation in the Senate. I approve of the States having equal representation in the Senate, but I think that it would be better if the populations of the States were more equal. I hope that the representatives of New South Wales and Victoria in this Chamber will recognise that they are practically all powerful in debate and voting strength, and will not create difficulties by being too assertive of their State interests. I do not say that there need be any briniging together of parties; if as the Minister of Home Affairs said to his friends of the Labour Party last night, and as I have told the honorable member for Bland before, the members of that party are prepared to go quietly, and do not push things too far, they may get as much of their legislation as is good for them. Their ideals are worthy, but some of their methods are old, and fusty. Other members are accused of being conservative, but some of their ideas are fossilized in the ancient schemes of Grecian philosophers and other bygone nations. Those ideas have failed, and have been exploded time after time, and nothing but failure can come from them so long ‘ as humanity . is what it is. The members of the Labour Party do not take sufficient account of the frailties of humanity. That is my quarrel with them. They depend too much upon legal enactment. I wish io see the character of the people altered. . Let us have ‘more sympathy, with each other, and then we shall not have- this trouble <.f different parties crying for reform.

Mr CAMERON:
Wilmot

– I rise principally to express my deep appreciation of the kindly manner in which honorable members received me yesterday on my return to this -House. - It was extremely -gratifying to :me to know that after having been in the House for the greater part of three years no ill-feeling had been engendered. I was particularly pleased at the greeting I received from the Prime Minister. He was the first honorable member whom I met on entering the Chamber, and I almost fancied from the warmth of his welcome that .he recognised in me either a kindred spirit,- a long lost brother, or a new PostmasterGeneral.

Mr Deakin:

– Did I not tell the honorable member that the letter written by the honorable member for Darwin to the Launceston Examiner had secured his election?

Mr CAMERON:

– The Prime Minister must- have been suffering from temporary aberration of intellect when he made the statement. I desire to reply to some of the remarks made yesterday by the honorable member for Herbert. He referred particularly to Tasmania as an example of the way in which a State might decay if a comparatively few men held the greater portion of the land within it. He instituted a comparison between New Zealand and Tasmania, and spoke of the manner in which New Zealand had advanced under the socialistic legislation passed by the Seddon Government. I do not think that it is fair to draw a comparison between a very small State like Tasmania and a Colony like New Zealand. The honorable member should have compared two States of as nearly as possible equal area, the one governed by a socialistic Government and the other by a conservative Government. . I have taken considerable trouble to find outwhether the statements made by the honorable member could be borne out by facts. I find that a comparison between Tasmaniaand New Zealand is, after all, fairly favorable to the former. New Zealand has about four times the area of Tasmania, but one really needs to inquire whether or not New Zealand is the more fertile? According to the idea of the honorable member, the progress of Tasmania is being retarded by the fact that the greater part of the land is held by very few persons. Naturally these land-owners would desire to make the best use of their properties, and if they thought sheep were better than men they would make their land carry as many as possible. Tasmania, which, as-. I have already explained, has only, aboutonefourth the area of New Zealand, carries- 1,700,000, whereas New Zealand possesses 20,000,000 sheep. It is, therefore^ evident’ that, from whatever point it may be viewed, Tasmania is a very poor country com-, pared with New Zealand.

Mr Fowler:

– There may be something in the extent to which farming is carried on.

Mr CAMERON:

– I shall deal with that point presently. Although New Zealand has been for some years under the radicalgovernment of Mr. Seddon and his party,it still carries 20,000,000 sheep, whilst Tasmania, under a conservative’ government, possesses only 1,750,000. Let us go a little further, and ascertain how many persons are engaged in agriculture in Tasmania and New Zealand. New Zealand has a population of nearly 800,000, whilst Tasmania has only 177,000. Yet we find that New Zealand has only 67,000 men engaged in agriculture, whilst Tasmania has 20,000. According to the line of argument adopted by the honorable member for Herbert, New Zealand should have 80,000. agriculturists, instead of 67,000. In the production of minerals, Tasmania occupies the second place on the list. Western Australia stands first, and Queensland occupies third or fourth position. The honorable member for Herbert made a great point of the fact that the population of Tasmania, instead of increasing was decreasing. Before the honorable member made such an observation he should have looked at home. Last year Tasmania lost 98 persons by theexcess of emigration over immigration.; but Queensland, whose population all told is only 512,000, lost nearly 4,000 in the same way. In view of these facts, I think that before selecting Tasmania for the purposes of comparison and holding it up to ridicule, the honorable member for Herbert should have made himself acquainted with the facts. If ‘ the owners of land in Tasmania are not willing to sell their properties they can be forced to dispose of them, because, as in the other States, the Government has power to resume land for the benefit of the people upon paying the ordinary valuation, plus io per cent, for forced sale. Therefore the remedy lies in the hands of the people of Tasmania, and is a matter of no concern to the honorable member for Herbert or any one else. I desire to make a few remarks with regard to the Electoral Act. The present Ministers are as responsible as were the former occupants of the Ministerial benches for that measure. The Government is practically the same as during the last Parliament. The tail may have been cut off, or the head removed, but the rest of the dog is there. I say emphatically that the Electoral Act is a disgrace to a Government which embraced four members of the legal profession. I do not know whether I shall have the support of the House in this matter, but I intend to spare no effort to secure an amendment of the Act. Honorable members have plainly indicated their desire to secure purity of election. When the Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister that was one of the points upon which he laid the greatest emphasis. Under the present law,- however, it would be perfectly possible for any man, by the lavish expenditure of money, to secure his return to Parliament - always provided the electors were amenable to the influences of bribery. We should either let it ,be clearly understood that the longest purse shall be permitted to win by means of bribery, or take means to insure absolute purity of election. It is provided in .the Electoral Act that a candidate for election to this House shall spend only £100 upon his election. Instead of adding, “ And if he exceeds that amount he shall be unseated,” the Government made no provision for a penalty. It is little to the credit of the four members, of the legal profession among Ministers that they had not sufficient brains to understand that a provision of that kind, which carried no punishment, would be inoperative. I venture to say that I could buy a seat at any time if I were prepared to do so. Having declared that we desired that elections should be pure, the severest penalty should have been imposed for a breach of the Act. Then those who were returned could have honestly said - “I represent those who elected me; I have not bought- my seat.” .

Mr GIBB:
Flinders

– It appears necessary for every honorable member - especially a new member - to say a few words on the question now before the House. I do not propose to detain honorable members long, but I wish to give expression to a few thoughts that have passed through my mind while listening to the debate. The kind attention which has been paid to new members has made me feel somewhat nervous. Although I occupied a seat in the State Parliament of Victoria for a short period, I have not had an opportunity of addressing an assemblage of this kind for some time past, because I have been quietly farming. The events which occurred in the first Federal Parliament induced me to endeavour to secure a seat in this House, and I have done so. I am afraid that the opinion now held with regard to Federation is not so favourable as that entertained before the Union was established, and that the results have not been so satisfactory as was at one time anticipated. I do not think that the Labour Party are altogether responsible for this. Too much has been made of their influence. There has also been great wailing because of the equal strength of the three parties in the House. I maintain that the present Government are responsible for the present position of affairs. They placed their policy before the House, and were not able to carry it through; but did not place the responsibility upon the Opposition, who were able to defeat them. The readiness which they showed to effect compromises led to the present state of parties ; and I am pleased to observe that the Prime Minister has promised to turn over- a new leaf. I was very pleased to hear him say that he wasdetermined to put his policy clearly beforethe House and to go straight on. I hope that going “straight on” will mean that he will not deviate too much to the right or to the left, or in the direction of the Labour Party. I trust that he will go straight on, and that if that course necessitates his resigning office he will do so, and let parties settle down to their proper positions. The Government brought forward an extremely protectionist Tariff, upon which they were defeated over and over again. The Tariff was torn to pieces by members of the Opposition, assisted in some cases by the Labour Party, and the Government should, under these circumstances, have thrown the whole responsibilitv upon the Opposition, and have given them an opportunity to introduce something more in keeping with the desires of the House. The whole of the legislation passed has been in the nature cif a compromise. I do not blame the Labour Party for securing all they could. Their declared object is to push forward their policy by every means in their power. They have been instrumental in passing legislation which, I think, has proved detrimental to the Commonwealth, and is still proving so, but, from their own point of view, they were quite justified in getting all they could. The Ministry which allowed this to be done, and not the Labour Party, are to blame. I do not propose to detain honorable members long, after having listened to the flood of talk with which the House has been deluged. It may be good policy on the part of the Government to open the safety-valve and let the surplus steam escape before settling down to practical work. I am rather disappointed with some of my friends on this side of the House. I was delighted with the speech which was delivered by the leader of the Opposition. He frankly admitted that he had appealed to the country upon the fiscal issue, and had been defeated, and that he accepted the decision of the electors. So far as he was concerned, therefore, the fiscal issue was to be laid aside during the currency of this Parliament. He is a leader of our party, and I think that it was our duty to follow his leadership. The speech next in ability made during the debate was that which was contributed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes. It was practically a motion of want of confidence in the Government, and the Address has been debated ever since upon those lines. It may have been good policy to endeavour to weaken the Government, but, seeing that the Prime Minister has attempted to bring about a coalition of parties for the benefit of the Commonwealth, and has failed, I shall be very pleased if he will go straight on with the Government programme.

Mr Conroy:

– To destruction.

Mr GIBB:

– I do not know where he is going, nor does any one else. We are informed that the very first measure which is to be introduced is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. To a certain extent I think the Government are to blame for having put up Minister after Minister to de fend their policy and administration, and thus to prolong this debate. Concerning the suggested amendment to bring the States civil servants under the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I intend to support the Government. . I represent one of the largest farming districts in Victoria, and I stated on the hustings that if the Ministry attempted to include the farmers and producers of the Commonwealth within the provisions of that measure, I should do all that I possibly could to oppose them. So far we have never experienced any trouble with the farm labourers of this country. Our agriculturists and their employes have always got on very well without the application of any system of compulsory arbitration. I say unhesitatingly that if the Ministry apply the provisions of that Bill to the farmers of this country, they will absolutely destroy the agricultural industry. I haye also -the honour to represent the coal-fields of Victoria. I am sure that if honorable members were aware of the position of affairs which obtains there at the present time, they would do all that they possibly could to secure industrial peace. But whilst I am anxious to prevent strikes, I shall never support an attempt on the part of any Ministry to interfere with the farming community, thereby imperilling the very best industry that we have in the Commonwealth. I do not propose to traverse all the items which are contained in the viceregal speech. I am of. opinion that we ought to get down to practical business without further delay. We have already wasted much valuable time in the discussion of trivial matters, when more important subjects await our consideration. We have occupied a long period in debating such small questions as the selection of the Federal Capital site, and the employment of lascars upon our mail steamers, whilst great subjects, such as the conversion of the States loans have been relegated to the background. The Treasurer deserves the thanks of the entire Commonwealth for the able manner in which he placed that matter before the Treasurers’ Conference, and I am satisfied that much good will result from his efforts. The sooner the problem is satisfactorily disposed of, the better will it be for the whole of Australia. As far as the selection of the Capital site is concerned, I left no doubt about my attitude upon that question during the recent elections. The opinion in my constituency is that Victoria has no desire whatever to break faith with New South Wales. The electors, however, object to the expenditure of millions of money in establishing a Federal Capital, when there is no necessity whatever for it. Personally, I believe that the people of Victoria would welcome an amendment of the Constitution to permit of the seat of Government being located in Sydney.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It would cost six times as much money to establish the capital there as it would to locate it anywhere else. *

Mr GIBB:

– There is no necessity to build a Federal Capital at all. Why could not arrangements be made in Sydney similar to those which obtain here? I regret to say that that is not the worst feature in connexion with this proposal. I need scarcely remind honorable members that the leader of the Opposition attended the opening of this Parliament and made a big speech. He then disappeared, and has not since been seen in this House. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has done precisely the same thing. If we establish the Federal Capital at Bombala or Tumut, we cannot expect able professional men to devote their time exclusively to politics.

Mr Cameron:

– That is rather a reflection upon the rest of honorable members.

Mr GIBB:

– It may be a reflection upon the Victorian representatives; but those from Tasmania, Western Australia, and Queensland must necessarily be absent from their respective States under any circumstances. We .require a few able’ lawyers in this House ; although I fear that at the present time we have too many. We do want some one to represent the farming and producing classes of this country, as we also require some representatives of labour in this House.

Mr Cameron:

– But not too many of them.

Mr GIBB:

– I repeat that rather than vote for a huge expenditure to establish a. Federal Capital, I would support a proposal to transfer the seat of government to Sydney. Of course, it is only natural that the representatives of the different States should have a special list of grievances to air. I have listened patiently to a recital of them. So far, however, I have been able to acquire no information which would warrant me in believing that the construction of the projected transcontinental railway would be likely to prove remunerative. When the Federal Treasurer suggested that the Com monwealth should take over the railway revenues of the different States, in order that he might be in a position to meet the interest upon the States debts, I was certainly in agreement with him. Indeed, in my judgment we shall never have a true Federation of Australia until the Commonwealth ‘is charged with the entire management of the railway systems of this Continent. I am afraid, however, that it will be many years before the proposed transcontinental railway would pay even working expenses. If the Minister for Home Affairs can assure us that there is a considerable area of good land which would be developed by that railway, of course the aspect of affairs would undergo a complete change. But, from what I can gather, it would be simply a desert railway. It would merely connect Perth and Adelaide, and it would not develop any country worth developing between those two cities. I am satisfied that the Commonwealth could manage the railway systems of the different States much more efficiently than they are being managed at the present time. We shall never secure the consolidation of our States debts until we acquire complete control of those railways. We have had a debate upon what was practically a want of confidence motion. The speech of the honorable and learned member for Parkes constituted one of the most severe indictments which I have ever heard delivered in any Parliament. The Tariff has also been discussed again and again. I trust that the Government will submit their measures to the House, and definitely declare their policy in regard to them. If they are defeated, they should give members of the Opposition an opportunity to do something better. I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Southern Melbourne express a hope that the Government would compromise upon the proposal to bring States .civil servants within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. If Ministers suffer defeat upon an attempt to apply the provisions of that measure to our farmers, I trust that they, will regard it as vital to their existence. I should be only too delighted to go to the country upon that question.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 683

SUPPLY

Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-

That the House will, on Tuesday next, ‘ resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.

page 684

WAYS AND MEANS

Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-

That the House will, on Tuesday next, resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising Supply to be granted to His Majesty.

page 684

CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES

Mr McLEAN:
Gippsland

– I move-

That the method of election of the Chairman of Committees of this House shall be open exhaustive ballot.

If the members of this House were all old politicians it would be unnecessary for me to make any explanatory remarks; but, for the information of those who have recently entered the House, I would mention that in proposing an exhaustive ballot my desire is that, instead of our proceeding to a division after the nomination has been made, every honorable member shall have a paper handed to him bearing the names of the candidates.

Mr Thomas:

– Why not have a division ?

Mr McLEAN:

– If there were only two candidates the position would be different.

Mr Thomas:

– The position would be the same if there were three.

Mr McLEAN:

– No. In that event the candidate whose name was first submitted would be opposed by the supporters of the other two. . I propose that the successful candidate shall be elected by an absolute majority of honorable members voting, and that if there are more than two the honorable member receiving the lowest number of votes shall stand aside so that the House may proceed to make a final selection.

Mr Cameron:

– If there were only two candidates it would be unnecessary to adopt the system proposed by the honorable member.

Mr McLEAN:

-Inthat event I should be quite prepared’ to see the House go to a division.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I can assure the honorable member that the Opposition do not propose to nominate a candidate. If more than two honorable members were nominated for the position it would then be open to the honorable member to submit this proposal.

Mr McLEAN:

– In view of the honorable member’s assurance it is unnecessary for me to press the motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. McLEAN (Gippsland). - I move -

That the honorable member for Laanecoorie, Mr. Charles Carty Salmon, be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.

It is unnecessary for me to speak at any length in support of the motion. I may say, however, that I have closely watched the honorable member’s career from the time that he first entered the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and that I have also had the advantage of his counsel in Cabinet. I have likewise observed the manner in which he has, from time to time, discharged the duties of Deputy Chairman, and I have no hesitation in saying that, in my opinion, he posseses all the qualifications that are necessary for the effective performance of the duties of Chairman. I believethathe has the requisite amount of firmness, courtesy, and tact, and that if he be selected he will conduct the deliberations of the Committee with dignity, despatch, and thorough impartiality. In view of the fact that the honorable member acted as one of the Deputy Chairmen of Committees in the last Parliament, it is unnecessary for me to say more. I believe that his fitness for the position will commend itself to the judgment of honorable members much more effectively . than would any argument I might advance in support of his candidature.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– I beg to second the motion. The honorable member for Gippsland has said all that it is necessary to put forward in support of the motion, and I shall therefore refrain from making a speech.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– I move -

That the words “ Laanecoorie, Mr. Charles Carty Salmon,” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Boothby,.Mr. Egerton LeeBatchelor.”

The honorable member whom I propose shall fill the position, of Chairman of Committees is well known to this House. He has also had a long political career, has been a member of a State Ministry, and has served with great credit to his party and to himself in that capacity. I feel satisfied that he possesses the tact and ability which are requisite in one who undertakes the responsible duties of Chairman of Committees. The honorable member has acted in the capacity of Deputy Chairman for the last three years, and I believe that most honorable members will agree with me that he has invariably discharged the duties of that position with credit to himself and with honour to the House.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– I beg to second the amendment.

Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 29

NOES: 27

Majority … … 2

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). - I desire now to move a further amendment. My impression is that in the State Parliament of Queensland it is the practice to elect the Chairman of Committees from session to session. It is a very good rule, and I think it should be followed by this House.

That the following words be added : - “For the current session.”

Mr SPEAKER:

– It will not be competent for the honorable member to move the amendment that he has indicated. Standing order 215 provides that -

A member shall be appointed by the House, each session, to be the Chairman of Committees, who shall hold office till his successor is appointed, ana who shall take the chair of all committees of the whole.

Any motion that would alter the terms of the standing order could not be accepted by the House.

Mr Watson:

– Another Chairman will have to be elected next session.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Standing order 215 provides that the Chairman’s appointment shall be “ till his successor is appointed “ - and under that provision a successor might be appointed at any moment. The honorable member’s proposed amendment would, however, enable a Chairman to be elected for the whole session, and would practically remove from the House the power to make any change. It would be contrary to the standing order to accept the amendment.

Mr Fisher:

– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I desire to point out that all that I desire is that the Chairman shall hold office during the current session or until his successor is appointed.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That is precisely what the standing order provides.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Mr SALMON:
Laanecoorie

– I desire to thank the House very heartily indeed for having placed me in this very responsible position, and I hope that I shall alwaysmaintain the dignity of the very high officeto which I have been elected. I trust that with the kind assistance of honorable members, recognising, as I do, that I cannot accomplish it without their aid, I shall be able to justify the choice which the House has made.

Mr BATCHELOR:
Boothby

– May I take this opportunity to thank honorable members for the very generous support which they gave to me in connexion with my nomination for the Chairmanship, and. at the same time congratulate you, Mr. Salmon, most heartily upon the honour which has been conferred upon you. I am sure that youwill perform the duties of your position, as the honorable member who moved the motion upon which you were elected said in addressing himself to it, with dignity, promptitude, and despatch.

Mr Deakin:

– The only regret honorable members have is that they could not elect both candidates.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I shall be glad if the Chairman of Committees will take my place for a few minutes as Deputy-Speaker.

page 686

QUESTION

POSITION OF MR. SPEAKER

Mr MAHON:
Coolgardie

– In accordance with notice, I beg to move -

That, in the opinion of this House, the honorable member for Wakefield. Sir Frederick William Holder, K.C.M.G., has, by his acceptance of a fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth between the 23rd day of November, 1903, and the 2nd day of March, 1904, vacated his seat as a member of the House of Representatives.

While congratulating you, Mr. Salmon, upon the dignity to which you have attained, I would point out that, according to my reading of the Constitution, you have no right to occupy your present position of DeputySpeaker. Of course, no one will imagine that I am now voicing any personal objection. I merely wish to point put that under the Constitution it is only in the absence of Mr. Speaker that any other member car. be appointed to take his place. Section 36 of the Constitution provides that -

Before or during any absence of the Speaker, the House of Representatives may choose a member to perform his duties in his absence.

Although I am not prepared to defend the grammatical construction of that section, I contend that as, from the strictly legal point of view, the Speaker is not now absent from the House, we have no right to choose another member to take his place. I understand that Mr. Speaker merely requested you to do so.

Mr Kennedy:

– The Standing Orders make the necessary provision.

Mr MAHON:

– I know what is provided by the Standing Orders ; but no standing order can override a section of the; Constitution.

Mr McCay:

– The Constitution does not declare that there shall be no other way in which a member may be appointed to occupy the chair in the place of the Speaker.

Mr MAHON:

– I shall be very glad if the honorable and learned member will show me the section of the Constitution which makes provision for that. The section I have read provides for the choosing of another member to perform the duties “in the absence of the Speaker.” What does that mean? Is the Speaker now absent from the House in the strictly legal sense? Moreover, it -is this House, and not the Speaker, who is to choose a substitute.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER.- I will read the Standing Order bearing on the subject. I think that it will dispose of the matter. Standing Order 25 says -

The Chairman of Committees shall take the chair as Deputy-Speaker whenever requested so to do by the Speaker during a sitting of the House, without any formal communication to- the House.

The section of the Constitution read by the honorable member does not prevent the Chairman of Committees from taking the chair as Deputy -Speaker on other occasions than the absence of the Speaker. I have been duly elected as Chairman of Committees, and have been requested by the Speaker to take the chair as Deputy-. Speaker. I think that the honorable member will see that the proceedings so far are quite in order.

Mr MAHON:

– Personally I am very pleased to see you in the chair and presiding on this occasion, but I am perfectly well acquainted with the Standi ig Order which you have read, and my point is that no standing order prevails against a section of the Constitution. Can it be strictly held that the Speaker is at the present time absent from the House ? If that’ can be seriously argued, I shall not press the matter further.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER.- Does the honorable member contend that section 36 of the Constitution precludes the House from passing a standing .order providing that the Chairman of Committees shall take the chair as Deputy-Speaker on other occasions in the absence of the Speaker?

Mr MAHON:

– I am not here as an interpreter of the Constitution. All I can do is to read its provisions, and to ask honorable’ members whether the conclusions I have drawn are not reasonable. If the Speaker choses to leave the chair and to retire to another room, he can not be said to be absent from the House within the stirct meaning of the Constitution.

Mr Conroy:

– Suppose he were ill, and wished to retire for a time?

Mr MAHON:

– Then the House could appoint a substitute. ‘I do riot wish to go into the matter any further now. With reference to the motion which stands in my name, I do not think it necessary to offer any apology for my action in submitting it to the House. If this House has elected to the position of Speaker a gentleman who is not qualified to be a member, then nearly all its proceedings will be invalid. Section 35 of the Constitution enacts that -

The House of Representatives shall, before proceeding with the despatch of any other business, choose a member to be the Speaker of the House, and as often as the office of Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall again choose a member to be the Speaker.

Those being the words of the Constitution, I submit that my action in calling attention ‘ to this matter on the first day of the session, before a Speaker had been chosen, was perfectly justified. To show the seriousness of the matter, if the gentleman occupying the position of Speaker is not qualified to be a member of the House, >and it is afterwards discovered that he is not so qualified, every election held in pursuance of writs issued by him will be invalid, and the validity of the proceedings of this assembly will, I take it, also be open to dispute. My object is that this House shall erect and maintain on a solid foundation the traditional independence of the office of Speaker. I should not like to see the Speaker of this House dependent upon one party or the other for any favour. From the time he reaches that Chair until the day he finally leaves it, he should feel that he has done nothing to hope for and nothing to fear from any party in this House. Again, I would say that I am justified in submitting this’ motion as a protest against the slipshod methods by which the Government carried the vote to Mr. Speaker through Committee. I would go further, and say that, if we condone these slipshod methods, we shall be establishing precedents which may lead to dangerous innovations later on. It is not my intention to cast any blame upon Mr. Speaker for having accepted this allowance. I say that the first wrong, if any, has been done by the Government, and the next wrong by the House which condoned their evil action.

Mr Fisher:

– A majority of the House, not the whole House.

Mr MAHON:

– That is so; but the majority is the House for the time being. Those who condoned that action are guilty of the greatest error ; and the smallest error is that committed by the Speaker in accepting the money. I regret that some person better qualified, one with more legal knowledge and fuller training, has not taken up the question. I have, however, with what small abilities I possess, applied myself to the study of the matter, and I can assure honorable members that I should not have taken the extreme step of submitting this motion if I had not been absolutely convinced that the position I am taking up is correct. When the Prime Minister spoke upon the opening day of the session, he said that if my argument held good it went much further than I had pressed it. He suggested ‘ that if the allowance ;at the rate of £1,100 yearly drawn by the honorable member for Wakefield between the 23rd November and the 2nd March had been illegally voted, no provision which this House could make for the remuneration of its Speaker would be constitutional. I cannot see how this view is to be sustained. Though the Speaker is the mouthpiece - if not the master - of this House, he is in another sense its servant. Upon him devolves the duty of giving effect to some of our decisions. He is our first executive officer. No one questions the right of the House to make provision for the payment of its other officers, and therefore I conclude that it has inherent power to make a proper allowance to its Speaker. It is probably in recognition of this inherent ;power that the Constitution avoids any specific authorization of a grant to the Speaker. But this authority may be inferred from section 48, and is, I think, indirectly conferred by section 49. Section 48 directs the appropriation, until Parliament otherwise provides, of an .’allowance of ^400 per year to each member. May it not be fairly inferred from this that Parliament can, in addition, make special allowances to certain of its members who have discharged duties in and to Parliament outside those duties imposed on every member in common? Will the Prime Minister say that it cannot be fairly inferred from section 48 that the House has power to vote additional remuneration to certain of its members? I do not think that it can be doubted. Then section 49 endows this Parliament with “the powers, privileges, and immunities” “of the Commons House of Parliament if the United Kingdom.” Now one of the powers exercised by the House of Commons from immemorial times is the remuneration of its Speaker. This remuneration was fixed in the reign of William IV. (2 & 3 Wm. IV. c. 105) at ^6,000 per year, payable quarterly, free of all deductions whatever. I think that this provision should serve as a good hint to the Prime Minister in connexion with the demands made upon honorable members for the payment of the Victorian income tax. There he has a good precedent for exempting the allowances of members of Parliament from all taxation. A subsequent statute in the same reign reduced the allowance to £5,000, but apparently made certain salaries - previously payable out of the Speaker’s allowance - a charge on the revenue. I conclude, therefore, that this Parliament has been partially invested with the power of the House of Commons in this regard, and that we have the right to remunerate our Speaker for his services to Parliament while he remains Speaker. But we have no authority to extend this provision beyond the life of a Parliament. This inherited power is necessarily subject to any limitations in our Constitution. We cannot put our Speaker in a position parallel to that of the Speaker of the British House of Commons, because the Constitution forbids it. Section 35 of the Constitution provides that the Speaker of this House “ shall cease to hold office if he ceases to be a member.” I take it that the word “ if,” in this connexion, is equivalent to “ when ; “ and, therefore, that thehonorable member for Wakefield ceased to be Speaker on the 23rd of November, when he ceased to be a member by the dissolution of the first Parliament. Now, the Speaker of the House of Commons is in an entirely different position. By the Statute 2 and 3 of William IV. c. 105, it is enacted - “ That, in case of any dissolution of the Parliament, the Speaker of the House of Commons, at the time of. such dissolution, shall … be deemed to be the Speaker of the House of Commons until a Speaker shall be chosen by the new Parliament.” And this retention of office by the Speaker of the House of Commons over a dissolution and until his successor is elected, was confirmed by 9th and 10th Vic. c. 77. It is, therefore, apparent that, since the full power of the House of Commons has not been transmitted to us, we have no authority to continue a Speaker’s allowance during the interregnum between a dissolution and the election of a Speaker by a new Parliament. It is contended that, if the honorable member for Wakefield has vacated his seat by accepting a Speaker’s allowance when he was not Speaker, every other member who accepted his membership allowance before taking his seat has subjected himself to a similar disability. This contention is based on the supposition that our Parliamentary Allowances Act is ultra vires. This Act provides that a member’s allowance shall be reckoned from the date of his election, whereas section 48 of the Constitution stipulates that the allowance shall be “ reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.” But this direction, as well as the amount of the allowance, is governed by the introductory words, “until Parliament otherwise provides.” Parliament, therefore, is able not merely to increase or diminish the amount of the allowance, but may also vary the time when the allowance begins. And this is what Parliament has done in the Parliamentary Allowances Act. I am unable to see any similarity between the position of the honorable member for Wakefield, as recipient of a Speaker’s allowance, and that of an ordinary member who has benefited by the Parliamentary Allowances Act. That Act gives no authority for the payment of a Speaker’s allowance during the interval between the dissolution of one Parliament and the creation of another. The authority is found in a footnote to the Appropriation Act, which footnote some authorities regard as a direction, rather than a command. Section 83 of the Constitution very clearly provides that no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under an appropriation made by law. Now the question is, wasthat footnote a part of the law?

Mr Deakin:

– No.

Mr MAHON:

– By that admission the Prime Minister gives the whole case away.

Mr Deakin:

– I do not think so.

Mr MAHON:

– I am not prepared to enter into a legal argument as to whether a footnote is or is not part of the Act to which it is attached. Authorities differ, though our Acts Interpretation Act seems decisive. The footnote is certainly part of the schedule, and the schedule is part of the Act; but section 13 of the Acts Interpretation Act says that no marginal note or footnote is to be regarded as part of an Act. That point appears to have been recently brought under the notice of the Ministry. If they knew that a footnote to an Act would not be regarded as a part of the statute, what possible reason had the Prime Minister for inserting the footnote? Why was a provision not inserted in what is known as the corpus of the Bill as one of its main provisions? If there was any doubt upon the point, why was not the provision made in the ordinary] way ? It is not, at any rate, necessary to my argument to place any great reliance on mere technicalities. Whether the grant was legally or illegally made, its acceptance by the honorable member for Wakefield has brought him within purview of section 45 of the Constitution. That section declares vacant the seat of any member who “ directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth.” Superficially this might be considered to forbid the Parliament from making any provision for a Speaker, because, although his services are rendered directly to the House, it is difficult to understand how a service can be rendered to Parliament which is not at the same time a service to the Commonwealth. But in view of the inherent right of every legislature to pay its own officers, and of the transmitted powers conferred upon us by section 49, it seems to me that such a rigid interpretation is unreasonable. This opinion is strengthened by the latitude conferred on Parliament by section 48, which, while providing a uniform allowance, does not prohibit extra remuneration to certain members. I should like the House to consider for one moment the position of the honorable member for Wakefield. During a period when he was not Speaker, he drew the Speaker’s allowance. I do not think that fact will be challenged. If it is, I believe that evidence can be produced in support of my statement. What I wish to know is, “Was this allowance a fee or honorarium, and if so, for what was it given?” Was it. a gratuity for services rendered to the Commonwealth ?

Mr Conroy:

– The honorable member for Wakefield was not a member then.

Mr MAHON:

– He was a member on the 3rd December, and the present Parliament did not come into existence until the 16th December. There is no escaping from the position by any quibble of that character. However, I should prefer, if the honorable and learned member for Werriwa will permit me, to preserve the continuity of my remarks. In my reply I shall be prepared to answer any points which may be raised in the course of the debate. , During the period I have specified, the Speaker received a fee or honorarium. - For what was it given? Was it a gratuity for services rendered to the Commonwealth ? What is the definition which is laid down by Webster of the word “ fee “ ? That authority says a fee is “ a reward for services performed, or to be performed “ ; and “ an honorarium “ is “a fee offered to professional men for their services.” I scarcely think it will be denied that the allowance which was drawn by the honorable member for Wakefield does not come within one or other of these definitions. The only question which remains to be considered is, “ What was this fee or honorarium paid for?” I think the allowance fairly comes within these definitions, and, further, that it is that character of payment which this section of the Constitution penalizes. The only -question remaining for our consideration is “ For what services was this allowance paid to the honorable member for Wakefield?” Speaking off-hand, I would say, that if Parliament chose to vote a sum of money to any gentleman as a gratuity, it would be perfectly within its rights, and the individual concerned would be equally within his right in accepting it. But when this allowance is bestowed upon a member of the House, the obvious conclusion is that it was given for some service. Was that service rendered to Parliament? How could it possibly be? Upon the 23rd November, the first Parliament was dissolved. This service was continued from 23rd November until, I presume, the 2nd March. Was that allowance granted for any service rendered to this Parliament ? That could not be so, because, strictly speaking, this House did not come into existence until the 2nd March. At any rate, the conclusion is irresistible that it did not exist before the 1 6th December. Therefore, I hold that the honorable member for Wakefield, having drawn an allowance between the 3rd December and 16th December, has placed himself within the penal sections of the Constitution. Now, I desire to show that this money was not, in any sense, a gratuity to him. . I shall prove that by the Hansard reports of speeches which were made in this House by Ministers and other honorable members. The Appropriation Bill first, came up for discussion - or, at least, the particular portion of it with which I am now dealing - upon the 15th September last year. On that occasion the honorable and learned member for Angas drew attention to a certain footnote. He said -

I hold that this is unconstitutional. If it is to be done, it should be. done by Act of Parliament. Even then I doubt whether an Act can override the Constitution. .

There is no doubt that no Act which we can pass can override the Constitution. Then follows a statement from a gentleman in an authoritative position. I refer to the Treasurer. What did he say in regard to the item which was challenged by the honorable and learned member for Angas? He said -

I would point out that there is nothing in the Constitution which prevents the payment of his salary to Mr. Speaker during the general election.

The Prime Minister entertained a doubt as to the power of the House to pay the Speaker while he is Speaker, whereas the Treasurer thought that we have a right to pay him when he is not Speaker. That is a most extraordinary position for two Ministers to occupy. Then the Treasurer added -

It is quite competent for Parliament to vote this amount if it thinks that it is a fair, reasonable, and proper thing to do. I have been actuated in placing the item upon the Estimates by the fact that the difference in the case of the President and Mr. Speaker would otherwise be very marked. The President would be entitled to receive his salary for the full period, while Mr. Speaker would not. It is said that honorable members lose their salary during a general election. So does Mr. Speaker. He loses his ordinary salary as a member, but we propose that he shall not also lose his salary as Speaker.

Mr A McLean:

– As Speaker he does not receive his ordinary member’s salary ?

Sir George Turner:

– Yes. He receives ^400 a year as a member, and £1,100 a year as Speaker.

I invite the attention of honorable members to what follows : -

Of course the salaries of Ministers are paid after a dissolution of Parliament until the meeting of the new Parliament, because they must continue to carry on their administrative work. In the same way it will be necessary for the Speaker, during the interval between the dissolution of one Parliament and the meeting of the next, to attend to his share of the business connected with the Departments of Parliament.

There is a statement by the Treasurer that a gentleman who ceases to be Speaker when a dissolution takes place is entitled to discharge the duties of Speaker, although he is not even a member of the House. As evidencing the wide difference of opinion which existed between Ministers . themselves, I would direct the attention of honorable members to a question which was put by Senator Matheson to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, on 18th August, 1903.

Mr Groom:

– Does the honorable member contend that the Speaker had no right to receive remuneration during the time that he was not a member of this Parliament ?

Mr MAHON:

– I am not referring to his member’s allowance at all.

Mr Groom:

– But the honorable member says that he performed certain duties when he was neither member nor Speaker.

Mr MAHON:

– I say that the honorable member for Wakefield incurred no penalty by reason of receiving money for services rendered when he was not a member of this Parliament. From the 23rd November until the 3rd December, he could not incur any constitutional penalty for having accepted an allowance, because, at that time, he was not a member of this Parliament. But, on 3rd December, he became a member by reason of his re-election, and by receiving the allowance from that date onwards he undoubtedly exposed himself to the penal sections of the Constitution. When the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs interjected, I was emphasizing the difference of opinion that existed between Ministers themselves. The Treasurer had declared that the gentleman holding the office of Speaker was entitled to discharge all Executive functions. Only a month previously, in the other Chamber, Senator Matheson had put the following questions to the Vice-President of the Executive Council: -

  1. Do not the functions of the President and Speaker under the Public Service Act only appertain to them while lawfully President or Speaker?
  2. By what legal right, power, or authority can duties vested by law in the President or Speaker be performed by a person who by the Constitution is no longer President or Speaker?

To which the Vice-President of the Executive Council had replied as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The .administrative functions of President and Speaker will be exercised as the circumstances arise in accordance with the law, and no payments will be made to them except in accordance with the law.

I think that a payment has been made to the Speaker which is not in accordance with law, and I shall be very glad to hear the Prime Minister defend the legality of his action. When this matter was again under review, on 21st October, 1903, the Prime Minister himself said -

I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to an item which relates to our own Chamber. Upon a former occasion the Committee decided to strike out the footnote upon page 8 which relates to Mr. Speaker, and which reads - “If again returned to Parliament, salary to continue, notwithstanding the dissolution, until the meeting of the new Parliament.” That has been re-inserted in order that Mr. Speaker may be placed in the same position as the President of the Senate and certain Speakers elsewhere.

At another stage, when the honorable member for Kennedy questioned the right of the House to vote this amount, the Prime Minister interjected -

We have power to vote salaries to honorable members in respect of the same period.

That is, the period between the dissolution and the creation of the new Parliament. The Prime Minister said later on -

We are asked to vote £1,100 - which represents a full year’s payment to Mr. Speaker. The money will be paid to Mr. Speaker, but, if he is not returned, his salary of course will cease on the day that he fails to secure re-election. On the other hand, if he be returned, he will receive the full sum of £1,100 for his twelve months’ service, notwithstanding that there will be a month or more during which he will be out of office. The foot-note is simply a beacon-light to honorable. members, so that they may not be taken by surprise.

These quotations, I imagine, dispose of the suggestion that this grant was intended as a gratuity. Then, for what was it given? As I explained on a previous occasion, the allowance could not have been drawn for services rendered to the last Parliament, because it was dead ; and any duty which the honorable member for Wakefield had performed as Speaker was obviously fully paid for by the allowance which he drew up to the date of the dissolution. If this dictum be disputed, why was the allowance to honorable members summarily stopped when the House was dissolved? Section 48 directs that members “shall receive an allowance of ,£400 a year.” I say that those who defend a payment, as Speaker, to a person who is not Mr. Speaker, must logically advocate payment, as members, to persons who are not members. If it be proper to pay a person who filled the office of Speaker the salary of Mr. Speaker until his successor is appointed, then it is equally proper to pay members their constitutional stipend until some other persons take their places. The notion that members have no duties to perform outside this House or until they take their seats in it, or even before they secure re-election, will be repudiated by every person possessing the most elementary knowledge of the facts. This is my case. I contend, in the first place, that Parliament had the authority to pay Mr. Speaker, and I think I have proved that contention. My second point is, that it has no authority to pay Mr. Speaker’s allowance to any person not acting in that capacity.

Mr Conroy:

– It can make a grant to any person.

Mr MAHON:

– It can make a grant by way of a gratuity, but if it makes to a mem ber a grant which he accepts, then his seat becomes vacant. My third point is that the grant made to the honorable member for Wakefield during the period from 23rd November last to the date of his re-election was illegal, since it is in conflict with section 83 of the Constitution ; and, lastly, I hold that the honorable member, by accepting this money, has vacated his seat. I desire to thank the House for the kindly hearing that has been given to a very dry argument, and to say that I have not been led to take up this matter by reason of any personal feeling. I consider it to be the duty of every honorable member, however humble his position, to endeavour to see that the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth are upheld. That is what I have endeavoured to do; and having done it, I am content to remit the issue to the judgment of the House.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– I do not think that the honorable member owed the House any apology for having addressed it on this subject, or at such length. It is very evident that he has taken pains to qualify himself to express his opinions on the question by a careful, elaborate and thorough study of the whole matter. Indeed, he appears to have unnecessarily involved himself in a number of inquiries, all of which, I may say in passing, he has conducted with great skill. That he has, as far as possible, mastered all the issues which he believes to be involved, no one who has heard him can doubt, and I am sure that the House will admit that he has discharged his duty in a worthy manner. He. has shown, if I may say so, a great deal of judgment in the manner in which he has framed his proposal. At first sight one - would have been tempted to attack this question rather on the ground that the breach of section 49 related back to that part pf section 45 whichrefers to an office of profit under the Crown. I dare say that the honorable member examined that proposition, and finding that it could not be sustained concentrated his attention-

Mr Mahon:

– I did not mention it.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I was under the impression ‘that the honorable member referred to it on the first occasion upon which he brought this question before the House. Like a skilful general, he has now marshalled his- forces against what he saw to be the weakest position. He has this ground for his contention that, so far as my knowledge goes, no such provision as that on which he relies is to be found in other statutes relating to the office of Speaker. The history of the section throws a good deal of light upon its meaning. The provision of the Constitution that, if a senator or a member of the House of Representatives takes any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, his place shall thereupon become vacant, was adopted by the members of the Convention after an earnest and, at times, somewhat heated discussion. Their object was to prevent members of the legal profession who might be members of the Commonwealth Parliament, from appearing for the Commonwealth in the High Court, or in any of the Courts of the States. It was alleged that this privilege which is possessed by the legal members of most other Parliaments of appearing in the Courts for the Crown, had been abused, or was subject to abuse, and the Convention therefore decided to lay down a new rule, and to ‘ prohibit members of this Parliament from accepting Government retainers. As no doubt honorable members are fully aware, the term “ honorarium “ is the customary word for describing the payment made to a barrister. The ancient doctrine was that he was not paid for his services, and the little pouch at his back was the receptacle for any honorarium a grateful client might be pleased to offer.

Mr Kingston:

– The provision in the Constitution is aimed at preventing the giving of Government patronage in the Courts.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes. But, of course, it is possible to aim at one particular mischief, and to bring down a great deal more than is aimed at. The honorable member for Coolgardie has quite legitimately argued that the words, “ fee or honorarium,” should be taken to have their natural and ordinary meaning. It is very gratifying that at every stage of his remarks he showed that his action is absolutely impersonal. He has drawn his bow, not at the honorable member for Wakefield, but at what he considers a possibility of abuse arising out of the relations of the Speaker and Parliament. He recognises that no demerit or error of any kind is to be attributed to Mr. Speaker, because the payment was made to him with the sanction of Parliament, upon the proposition of the Government, and the whole transaction had the fullest publicity. There is no suggestion of anything underhand or improper. The question is simply one of technical law; whether the payment to the Speaker for services rendered to the Commonwealth between the date of the dissolution of last Parliament and the meeting of this for services rendered during that period is, or is not, a contravention of paragraph 3 of section 45 of the Constitution. The honorable member has admitted, and it helps my argument a little, that provision for the payment of the Speaker during the time that elapses between the dissolution of one Parliament and the meeting of the next is customary elsewhere. It is provided for by law in England, and in one or two of the States, and by custom in. others of the States. Moreover, it has been recognised as a reasonable payment. Therefore, it was not a new departure for this Parliament to sanction. Moreover, it is not a special payment to be made to this Speaker and to no other ; it is a payment to be made to all Speakers. The only question is, as to the way in which it has been made. The solution of the question appears to lie in a rather stricter reading of the language of the Constitution than the honorable member has given to it, though he touched upon all the readings. The interpretation which’ it seems to me necessary to place upon this part of the Constitution requires close attention to two sets of words - “ fee or honorarium,” in the first place, and “ services rendered to the Commonwealth,” in the second place. First of all, is this payment a fee or honorarium? The honorable member brought to bear upon that point a variety of considerations; but he did not deal with it from what I thought would have been his main ground. It must be remembered that the foot-note in the Estimates is not a legal enactment, and was not intended to be so. It was placed there to challenge the attention of Parliament to the item to which it referred. The appropriation of the money was sanctioned and made available by the Appropriation Act, and it would have been competent for the Government to pay the Speaker ^1,100, even if no foot-note had been inserted.

Mr Watson:

– And the ^1,100 could be paid in a lump sum.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes. on the first day of the year, if it were thought proper to so pay it. The foot note was, as I - said at the time, a mere beacon-light, so that there should be no secrecy about the matter. It was intended to call the attention of honorable members to what was proposed. The words used were -

If returned again to Parliament, salary to continue notwithstanding the dissolution until the meeting of the new Parliament.

The foot note had no legal effect. It merely indicated the intention of Parliament. It must be noticed here that the amount paid is not a fee or honorarium, but salary. If my honorable friend will refer to the speech of the Treasurer he will see that, throughout, the word “ salary “ is used. The money was voted as salary. Whatever was received between the date of the dissolution of last Parliament and the meeting of this was part of a salary, and not a fee or honorarium. The next point is that to render a member’s place vacant a fee or honorarium must be taken “ for services rendered to the Commonwealth.” The honorable member for Coolgardie stated very fairly that it is hard to discriminate between the Commonwealth and Parliament, or between the Commonwealth and any other agency of the Commonwealth. There would be a difficulty if the section did not itself discriminate by showing that where it refers to services rendered in Parliament it does not refer to services rendered to the Commonwealth, and where it refers to services rendered to the Commonwealth it does not refer to services rendered in Parliament. I submit to the honorable gentleman’s considerationthatthe money paid was for services rendered in Parliament, as distinguished from services rendered to the Commonwealth. The assumption of the honorable member is that Parliament was not in existence after the dissolution; but I think that such an assumption is not supported by fact. In the first place, half the members of the Senate were not compelled to seek re-election, and, therefore, did not cease to be members of Parliament, and in the next place the Governor-General, as representing the King, ispart of Parliament, and. he, of course, remained in office. Then from 3rd December those who, like the honorable member himself, were fortunate enough to be returnedby appreciative constituents without opposition, were members of this House. Consequently I think that it cannot be said that Parliament had ceased to . exist.

Mr Mahon:

– Was there a complete Parliament until the 16th December?

Mr Johnson:

– There is not to-day.

Mr DEAKIN:

– That is so, because at the present time the Melbourne seat is vacant.

Mr Fisher:

– Does not a quorum constitute a complete Parliament?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No. A quorum is the number of members necessary to constitute an effective meeting of one branch of the Legislature.

Mr Mahon:

– My point is that this House did not come into existence until the 16th December.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The services were rendered to a part of Parliament.. Parliament itself under our system of government, has a continuous existence. Even if there were a dissolution of both Houses, it might be argued that Parliament still continued to exist, because the Governor-General, who is part of Parliament, would still remain in office. The services rendered by Mr. Speaker were distinctly services rendered to Parliament. They had to do with the administration of the Parliamentary Departments - the control of the officers of the House, the management of the library, the building, and so forth. To pay the salaries of these officers special appropriation is made for Parliament, whereas advocates appearing in the Courts on behalf of the Commonwealth would be paid out of the general purse. Although at first sight, especially when supported by his arguments, the contention of the honorable member seems difficult to answer, when account is taken of the difference between a fee or honorarium’ and a salary, and between services rendered to Parliament and services rendered to the Commonwealth, the difficulty disappears. The only services rendered in Parliament for which it is forbidden to take a fee or honorarium under section 45 are services to any person or State. That is, members are prohibited from appearing in Parliament as the paid agents of a State or of private individuals who have interests which. they wish represented and advanced. The honorable member fairly admitted that, although there is no provision for the payment of Mr. Speaker under the Constitution, it may be fairly contended that, under section 49, and in accordance with the general custom of Parliaments, that payment is legitimate in the same way as are the payments made to the President and the Chairmen of Committees in both Houses. There is no specific authority in the Constitution for the payment of those salaries ; but they are sanctioned by the general practice of Parliament under section 49 of the Constitution. Having admitted so much, I think that the honorable member admitted all that is necessary to meet his own contention, taking the words of section 45 strictly into account. Services rendered in Parliament, when they are distinctly such, are not services within the prohibition of section 45. I might dwell at greater length upon this argument, but it appears to me that this statement of the central point is sufficient. If I do not follow the honorable member in all his arguments, it is because I think that having admitted so much, his remaining contentions are unavailing. From his own stand-point, however, and without that admission, they were, of course, logical and effective.

Mr Mahon:

– What is a salary paid for?

Mr DEAKIN:

– For services rendered.

Mr Mahon:

– What is a fee paid for?

Mr DEAKIN:

– A fee is paid where the relationship between the person paying and the person performing the service ismerely temporary. It is paid generally for special services performed only at special times or on special occasions, services such as those of a doctor or lawyer. A salary is paid to a person whose service and remuneration are constant.

Mr Mahon:

– Is not the feealso paid for services rendered ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Both are payments for services rendered ; but, whereas a salary is regularly paid for continuous services, a fee or honorarium is a payment for occasional services. Each payment terminates a contract, and leaves the person who makes it free to choose whom he will employ on the next occasion. Where a salary is paid there is a contract on the one part to serve for a certain time, and on the other to. employ to the exclusion of others. Such a contract is made in the case of the Speaker.

Mr Mahon:

– How could Parliament make a contract with the Speaker extending beyond the date of its dissolution?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Easily. By an Act of Parliament we could provide for the payment of a pension to the Speaker for a period of years, or for the term of his natural life even though he should cease to be Speaker or to be a member of Parliament. The real point, I submit, is that which I have just stated, though it is hardly fair to ask the honorable member to conclude upon it immediately, he not being a professional man. To listen to him, however, one might have supposed that he was, so close was the attention he gave to the subject. But if he takes time to look at the matter again, and places a reasonable, plain, and ordinary interpretation upon the words of section 45 of the Constitution, he will see that the general power to which he has alluded supports the contention that we are justified in paying the Speaker of this House in the same way as the Speaker of practically every other Parliament of Australia, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, are paid. We are not forbidden by the Constitution to do what has been done.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I must dissent from the motion moved by the honorable member for Coolgardie. I think he overlooked section 1 of the Constitution, which provides that -

The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called “The Parliament,” or, “The Parliament of the Commonwealth.”

We must give a strict reading to that section, or we can give no meaning to section 48, which says -

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of four hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day- on which he takes his seat.

If the strict reading adopted by the honorable member for Coolgardie were applied to section 48 it would have no meaning whatever. Section 45’ refers to “ any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth.” The services rendered by the honorable member for Wakefield are not rendered to the Commonwealth ; they are not even rendered to the Parliament, but to the members of this House. Furthermore, the duties discharged by the honorable member for Wakefield do not come within the scope of the phrase “ services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State.” Therefore, it seems to me that the objection raised by the honorable member falls to the ground. Section 1 of the Constitution furnishes us with a definition of the Commonwealth. It provides that -

The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called “The Parliament,” or “The Parliament of the Common weal th. “

The services of the Speaker are, therefore, not rendered to the Commonwealth, but to the members of this House, who are perfectly within their rights in determining what fee or honorarium shall be given to him for such services. If the extended construction suggested by the honorable member for Coolgardie were given to section 48 it would have no meaning, because we could not make any allowance to honorable members. In cases where, in the event of an extended meaning being given to one section, another would be deprived of all meaning, the limited meaning must be given in the first case, so that both sections may be allowed to have force. If the House agreed . ‘to give a person some consideration for services rendered whilst he was not a member and the payment were deferred until he became a member, we could not say that his acceptance of the payment would involve a breach of section 45. If, on the other hand, the honorable member for Wakefield received consideration for services rendered whilst he -was not a member section 45 could not in any way apply to him. A payment made to an honorable member would come within the scope of section 48. There is nothing in that section to disentitle us, as a House, to vote what we like to any individual member as an allowance for special services. The words of the section are -

Until the Parliament otherwise provides each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of four hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.

Parliament has otherwise provided, and it appears to me that it has acted quite within its rights. If it be contended that we ought not to single out one member for special treatment that is an entirely different question. I submit that we have done nothing contrary to the Constitution Act, but if we had placed the honorable member for Wakefield in a false position I take it that we should not, under the circumstances, stultify ourselves by making him suffer from a fault that was not his, but ours. There is no necessity, however, for us to fall back upon that. We cannot apply to the Constitution the narrow meaning claimed by the honorable member for Coolgardie, unless we at the same time agree that not one member of this House is entitled to any allowance from the day he becomes a member until he takes his seat. I am very thankful to the honorable member for having brought this question before the House. When the Appropriation Bill was before us I thought there was a very sound constitutional objection to be taken to the course proposed by the Government, and it was not until I had referred to section 1 of the Constitution, which defines the word “ Commonwealth,” and had read sections 45 and 48 in conjunction, that I formed a different opinion. I commend section 1 to the honorable member’s attention. - If we had placed the honorable member for Wakefield in such a position as the honorable member for Coolgardie would have us believe, it would be our duty, in justice to the Speaker, to strain the law if necessary. That, however, is not necessary, so far as I can see. I have no hesitation in voting against the motion.

Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie).- I am afraid that I have not been able to follow the honorable and learned member for Werriwa through his argument. I see nothing in section 1 of the Constitution, except a definition of the repository of the legislative powers of the Commonwealth. There is nothing in that or in any other section of the Constitution which entitles us to whittle down the prohibition contained in section

  1. Section 48 is also very clear. It allows this Parliament a certain amount of latitude in regard to the payment of allowances to members - both as to the amount and also as to the time at which the remuneration shall commence.
Mr Conroy:

– Suppose that the honorable member for Wakefield takes his allowance as a member who has been specially singled out, but still as a member.

Mr MAHON:

– An honorable member under the Parliamentary Allowances Act, is entitled to his allowance from the date of his election.

Mr Conroy:

– The Speaker simply receives more than do other members ; that is the only difference.

Mr MAHON:

– Not at all. Whilst I appreciate the Prime Minister’s skill in dealing with this matter, I am not able to accept his conclusions. Whatever the reasons were for inserting in section 45 the words “fee or honorarium,” he has not conclusively shown why in this case their plain and obvious meaning should be disregarded. The Prime Minister has endeavoured to draw a distinction between a “ fee or honorarium “ and salary, but the main point is” that the money, whatever name we may give it, paid to the honorable member for Wakefield, was given for services rendered to the Commonwealth by a member at the time when he was not qualified for the position to which that particular allowance was attached. That is the whole point. I do not think that I need discuss the other aspects of the question, because the Prime Minister has admitted that the foot-note to an Act is not part of the law. Therefore, from my point of view, that amount has been illegally paid. The Speaker’s ‘allowance is fixed in the schedule at £1,100 per year. The authority for paying portion of it during the period when he was not Speaker is the footnote to which I have referred, and the Prime Minister himself has admitted that that authority is illegal.

Mr Conroy:

– No; the Appropriation Act itself is the power which grants it.

Mr MAHON:

– Can the honorable and learned member point to anything in that Act which declares that the Speaker shall be paid during the interregnum between the dissolution and the creation of a new Parliament, when he is not Speaker?

Mr Conroy:

– Then no penalty can fall upon him. He is paid the salary as a member and not as Speaker.

Mr MAHON:

– I beg to differ from that view. If the honorable member for Wakefield had been paid his salary as a member he would have drawn only £400 a year.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The Prime Minister stated in a previous debate that the honorable member for Wakefield was paid as Speaker, and not as a member.

Mr McCay:

– He was paid because he was Speaker.

Mr MAHON:

– When the honorable member for Wakefield drew his allowance up till the period of the dissolution, he drew full payment for the services which he had rendered.

Mr Conroy:

– Those services were rendered to the Commonwealth.

Mr MAHON:

– No; the services rendered up tillthat period were rendered to the former House of Representatives. Any services performed by him after that House ceased to exist, and before this Parliament came into being, must have been services rendered to the Commonwealth. That is the point which has not been fairly grappled with. The Prime Minister has contended that as the allowance in question was salary the House had power to continue it.

Mr Deakin:

– Either to continue it, or to pay it in advance, whichever it preferred.

Mr MAHON:

– That might be so, had the money been paid before the dissolution took place. Seeing that it was received in instalments, and that portion of it was paid after the honorable member for Wakefield had been re-elected, I contend that his action in accepting it has brought him within the penal sections of the Constitution. However, I brought this matter forward, not with a view of forcing it to a division, and of placing any honorable member in an unpleasant position. I recognised that if I failed to prove my case to the satisfaction of the House, no more need be heard of it. If, on the other hand, I had made out a good case, and nothing satisfactory had been advanced upon the other side, I felt sure that the fine sense of dignity and honour possessed by the honorable member for Wakefield would have induced him to do* what was proper under the circumstances. Therefore, there is no necessity to press the motion to a division, and, with the concurrence of the House, I shall withdraw it. Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

page 696

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Mr WATSON:
Bland

– I understand that the Government are willing to now afford the House an opportunity to discuss the motion of which I have given notice, in reference to the proposed introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– As I mentioned last night, if a resolution on the subject to which the honorable member for Bland refers is to be arrived at, it must be arrived at at once; otherwise it will be fruitless. At all events, it is at present apposite ; and, under the circumstances, in order that there may be no interruption to the consideration of the Arbitration Bill when it has been once commenced, I have pleasure in acceding to the request of the honorable member. I move -

That the consideration of the remaining business be postponed until after the consideration of Notice of Motion No. 8.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 696

QUESTION

CHINESE IN THE TRANSVAAL

Mr WATSON:
Bland

– I move-

That this House records its grave objection to the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal, until a referendum of the white population of the Colony has been taken on the subject, or responsible government is granted.

My object in submitting this motion is to supplement, in as emphatic a form as is consistent with the position we are permitted to take up on a subject of this character, the action of the Government a little while ago. During the debate on the Address in Reply, I took the opportunity to congratulate the Government on the fact that they had assumed the responsibility of protesting to the Transvaal Government against the proposal to introduce Chinese labour ‘into that part of South Africa. In making that protest, the Government, without doubt, spoke for the vast majority of the people of the Commonwealth. Personally, I should have liked to see the communication directed to the British Government, believing that possibly that course might have proved a more effective form of remonstrance ; and the representations made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand had, in my view, sufficient force behind them to justify that step. In any case, the fact remains that the Government have placed on record their’ protest, and it is proper that- this House should be given an opportunity at the first available moment of ascertaining whether the feeling on the subject is as strong within this Chamber as we believe . it to be outside, and as strong as the Government assumed it to be when they took the course they did. It may be contended. that we have no right to interfere with the affairs of another portion of the British Empire; in fact, some people go so far as to say that action of that sort may have a reflex effect,, and possibly injure ourselves in some contingency of the future. . But I do not think that such a result is at all likely. In the first place, we have a right to make known our views on a question on which we in Australia are peculiarly able to speak.

Mr Kelly:

– The honorable member will, I think, see that to make an objection is different- from stating our views ; it amounts almost to a direction.

Mr WATSON:

– It is rather a refinement to make such a distinction. After all, the fact is that, in the interests of the Empire as a whole, we view with apprehension the introduction into South Africa of largebodies of coloured aliens. If we hold that view - if we think it is against the interests of the .white people of South Africa, and against the interests of the Empire of which we form a part, and in regard to which, whether we like it or not, we have to take some responsibility - if we must always share to some degree in the trials and possible future troubles .of. the Empire, surely we have a right to make known our views as well as to mentally register amongst ourselves any< objection to the course proposed.

Mr Kelly:

– Can the honorable member not frame his motion so as to simply register our .conviction, and let the British Government know it?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not know whether the honorable member is aware that the wording of the motion as proposed is some-‘ what different from its wording as it appears on the notice-paper.

Mr Kelly:

– I understand that the mo-‘ tion, instead of emphatically protesting, now simply records our grave objection to the course proposed. I do not think, however, that we have a right to record our objection, although we may have a right to record our opinion.

Mr WATSON:

– That aspect may be considered later. At present I do not see sufficient importance in the suggestion made, to justify my accepting it on the spur of the moment. In any case, the honorable member will have an opportunity to address the House. My main contention is that we have a partnership interest in South Africa. It was demonstrated only recently throughout Australia that, not only have we an interest in the concerns of the Empire, but that that interest may go so far as to involve the sending of our own people to take part in -a war in which the Empire is engaged. Although there may always be doubts as to the propriety of taking action in any particular instance - doubts as to whether the circumstances are serious enough to warrant our interference, or assistance being offered by us - there does not seem any possibility of doubt as to the general responsibility we hold as an integral portion of the British community. Therefore, I think that we have some right to express our views, and, if necessary, represent those views to the British Government. One circumstance seems to me to make this peculiarly a case in which we have the right to interfere, even if the other circumstances did not warrant our taking action. While we certainly ought to consider seriously before raising any objection or taking exception to a course proposed by a self-governing community, we know that the Transvaal is administered by Crown nominees, and that it is impossible, under present circumstances, for the people of that Colony to express any views of a coherent or clear nature on a matter of such grave importance in its eventual results to themselves. Therein it seems to me lies a distinction between the people of the Transvaal and ourselves. It has been said that if we once admit the propriety of any portion of the Empire interfering in the concerns of another, we in Australia may render ourselves liable to a protest being made by some portion of the British community against any action of ours, and in this we may hamper our independence. But we in Australia have been granted by the British Government the right to control our own affairs, in that we have the fullest measure of self-government ; and whatever course may be decided on in the government of the Commonwealth, it is fairly reasonable to assume has behind it the united weight of the people of Australia. The circumstances are so different in the Transvaal, that we are safe from the possibility of any action of ours operating in boomerang fashion against ourselves ; and I contend that the phraseology of the motion should free us from any danger such as has been anticipated. We do not say in so many words that the people of South Africa shall not have Chinese if they want them, but simply that until a referendum of the people of the Transvaal shall have been taken, and their will ascertained, or until the people have been granted responsible government, and thus afforded an opportunity, by ordinary methods, to give expression to their views, we have grave objection to the course proposed. I have taken care, as far as I can, to put the motion in a form to which no exception can be taken on the part of any one who believes that it is inimical to the interests of the Empire, and to the interests of South Africa that Chinese labour should be introduced. There is one feature which I think requires the attention of honorable members. When trouble occurred between the Boer Government and the British authorities in the Transvaal, we were told by Mr. Chamberlain and those associated with him, that the sole concern of the Imperial Government was the welfare of the Uitlanders, and a desire to see justice done to people who had gone to South Africa, and who, while endeavouring to develop the country were being subjected to conditions utterly inconsistent with freedom. We were told that it was essential to counteract in some way the Boer conspiracy, which had for its object the driving of the British people out of South Africa. Yet, after all this grave anxiety for the welfare of the Uitlanders, we now find an endeavour being made by the deputies of the Imperial Government, and assented to, so far as the principle is concerned, by the Imperial Government, to drive the British out of South Africa, or, at any rate, out of, the Transvaal. The British Government, it seems to me, are taking a step which must inevitably result in driving all the white proletariat, at all events, out of the Transvaal. It will be practically impossible for any large number of white people to settle in South Africa if this immigration of Chinese workers is permitted to the extent we are assured is necessary in order to carry on the mining industry.. It may be said that this is not likely to be the case. , We must remember, however, the political motives which, on the part of the mine-owners, underlie this movement. It has been said by the manager for Mr. Eckstein, a director of the South African mines, that as soon, as the Chinese arrive on the properties under his control, he will be able to dispense with the services of 1,000 unskilled white labourers.The Rand Mail, which is looked upon as one of the organs of the Chamber of Mines, states, in fact, that this question of Chinese labour arises out of the determination of the mine-owners that they cannot allow the Transvaal to be flooded by white labour, who will introduce there all the political difficulties that exist in Australia. That is one of the underlying features of this movement on the part of the mine-owners.

Mr Hughes:

– They do not want to have a democracy, but an oligarchy.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so; the,” mineowners want to have an oligarchy to serve their turn. But from the stand-point of the future of the country, and the welfare of the British race, how will it serve the turn of the British people to have an oligarchy of mine-owners, reaping dividends running up to 180 per cent, on boom flotations - that is to say, on nominal capital, out of all proportion to the actual amount spent in the development of the mines ? When we find the mine-owners reaping rewards of that magnitude, I ask the question: how is it going to serve the turn of the British Empire to have the Transvaal’ inhabited by a few individuals, the largest proportion . of them foreigners in every respect so far as concerns British blood and sentiment, and by a large body of servile .people? I maintain that that cannot be of any advantage from the standpoint of the advancement of the .British Empire. Bleloch, in an excellent work recently published - The New South Africa - points out that the only manner in which the Transvaal can be kept permanently in touch, in sentiment, with the people of Great Britain, is to insure that British immigrants shall be encouraged to go there. It seems to me that those who take that stand have struck the keynote. It is useless to expect to have in the future - that is to say, probably, twenty years hence - any real bond existing between the people of the Transvaal and the people of Great Britain, unless a large proportion of the population is comprised of those who are either immigrants from Great Britain or the descendants of immigrants. Therefore, it seems to me that the general welfare of the Empire is concerned. The only safe method in the planting of colonies and the acquirement of territories now, as in ancient times, has been that they may grow and increase in strength, and be populated by immigrants from and descendants of the parent people; so that, even if they do not form the whole population, they may be the ruling force in regard to the political and industrial life of the country. That almost goes without saying. And it is there that the interest of Australia comes in. Because, if we have to take a share in the duties and responsibilities of the Empire, surely what is required of us will be much less if the Transvaal and South Africa are able to look after themselves in the event of difficulties arising. Surely, we, in Australia, shall be better able to attend to the affairs of our own corner of the Empire, if we are free from any anxiety as to what is likely to occur in any distant portion of the territories that go to make up the sphere of British influence. We are told that it is impossible to carry on the mines nf the Transvaal without coloured labour. A great number of statements have been put before us, copied from the London and South African press, as to the enormous cost of mining in the Transvaal. As far as I can learn, both from reading standard works, and from investigating the columns of the South African newspapers, and the reports of those who have had experience on the Rand, they certainly have to deal with low-grade propositions, but at the same time they are of. no lower grade than those which are successfully worked in Australia, and in other parts of the world. In some respects, indeed, the South African mines are worked under conditions which are naturally far superior to those existing in the extreme north and the extreme west of Australia. For instance, as compared with the mines at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, there is in South Africa no trouble with regard to the supply of water. The only real factor that should go to make the cost of living higher, and therefore the cost of white labour greater, is that the distance inland is fairly great, and that the duties and other charges imposed in conjunction with the high railway rates cause prices to be exceedingly high at Johannesburg. But it seems to me that so far as the cost of living is concerned, the remedy is largely within the authority of the British Government themselves. The people of the Transvaal complain, and with a good deal of justice, of the high railway rates which are still being maintained, and they further object to the number and amount of the duties, which have the effect of raising the price of commodities. But apart from those aspects of the situation, there is no reason at all, so far as I can judge - and certainly no reason expressed in the opinions of many men who are of the highest qualifications, and who have had experience in South Africa - why the mine owners should not employ white labour to work those mines. I wish it to be clearly understood that, so far as I am concerned, I have not the slightest objection - nor, so far as I know, has the party with which I am associated the slightest objection - to the employment, under legitimate conditions, of the natives of South Africa in the mines. We cannot with any propriety object to the employment there of the men who are the natives of the country. But, according to the opinions of men on the Rand, including one member of the nominee Council which at present- controls the affairs of the Transvaal and in the opinion of many newspapers in South Africa, and certainly of many residents, the conditions under which the natives were forced to work were such as to prevent the mineowners from getting the full supply of native labour that they have had in the past. Evidence was given before the Labour Commission to that effect by chiefs of some of the tribes of native people who had been recruited for a very long time for the mining industry in Johannesburg. The evidence of two of the native chiefs was that the sanitary arrangements and the general conditions affecting the conduct of the mines, and the manner in which the natives were treated, were such that, so far as their influence went, they would endeavour to dissuade their people from going into the mines again.

Mr Thomas:

– Was that evidence given before or since the war?

Mr WATSON:

– The Labour Commission held its inquiry since the war, and its report was issued a short time ago - in 1902. Besides that, there is the evidence of a member of the Transvaal Legislative Council, Sir Godfrey Lagden, the Native Commissioner, who said only recently in the Council, when the matter was brought up by Mr. Hull, another member, that the mortality amongst the natives working in the mines had been most awful, and constituted a shameful incident in the treatment of the kaffirs generally. That is the evidence of one who is associated officially with the Government of the Transvaal, and is a member of the Council which has endeavoured to introduce Chinese labour into South Africa. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming as to the treatment of the natives. It is said by reputable people in South Africa that since the war a larger proportion of natives have died as a result of their bad treatment in the. mines, than the whole of the losses of the British forces during the war, either from bullet or disease. That seems a strong statement to make, and yet a reputable South African newspaper makes, it, and defies any possibility of its .contradiction. It invites an investigation into the facts. Of course, I do not pretend to know whether the statement is true or not, but, if it be true, it goes far to explain why the supply of native labour has fallen off of late to such an enormous extent. The newspaper to which I have alluded is the South African Guardian, and I may as well read the passage. It says -

Then there were the stories of ill-treatment of the natives in the compounds, and to cap all, the ghastly figures presented by Sir Godfrey Lagden of native mortality in the mines, showing that the risk the native undertakes in coming to work in the mines is almost as great as that undertaken by soldiers in the late war, the percentage mortality being almost as great.

That is inclusive of sickness and casualties.

Nor is this all, for evidence was given of natives being sent back to the kraals to die, and of’ others maimed, endeavouring in misery to reach their homes.

Mr Conroy:

– There are accidents in all mines.

Mr WATSON:

– The point of the objection is not that accidents occur - they will occur in all mines - but as to the neglect when the kaffirs were maimed through accidents. One of the native witnesses before the Labour Commission, a man of remarkable intelligence, who was crossex;amined by the representatives of the Chamber of Mines, who endeavoured to upset his statements without success, summarised the matter thus -

Treat your mine hoys as well as you do your house boys, and you will get as much labour as you want.

There is another feature which went to reduce the supply of native labour to the mines. That is, that before the war the natives who worked in the mines were getting wages up to 2s. 6d. a day. After the war the mine-owners evidently thought that, as a large number of natives had been employed as carriers and in other capacities by the British authorities, and were suddenly discharged, they would obtain their services almost without payment. Consequently, they immediately reduced the wages by one half - from 2s. 6d. as a general rule, to is. 3d. a day. But the mine-owners found that it was impossible to get labour at that price,’ and they gradually kept increasing the’ wages. But even at the present time, after all the outcry about the dearth of native labour, wages are ‘not so good by at least 6d. per day, as they were before the war. In other words, the natives are receiving today at least 6d. per ‘day less on an average than they were formerly receiving.

Mr Hughes:

– That is a 20 per cent, reduction.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so. Yet these mining magnates tell us that it is impossible to get the amount of native labour that they require. There is another aspect of the question. We must consider whether, in the event of its being proved correct, as alleged by the mine-owners, that they cannot get the requisite supply of native labour it is possible for them to employ whites and thus displace natives, so far as mining employment is concerned. On that head I have a quotation from Mr Eckstein. He is at the head of a big -concern owned by Wernher, Beit, and Co., and is at present amongst the most strenuous advocates of the introduction of Chinese. In 1898, just before the war, this gentleman said at a Rand mines meeting - I quote this from Bleloch’s New South Africa -

We have proved that we can do by machine drills in the hands of white men, much of the work formerly done by natives. . . . The hope which I said I entertained was this : That by the development of the machine, drill we can cut down our native labour to a large extent, and in place of 50,000or 60,000 natives, we may yet be able to do with 10,000 or 15,000. white miners. This would be a most desirable consummation.

That experiment was being made in 1898. I find that Mr. Creswell, who has had experience in various parts of the world, and a long experience in South Africa, and who was the manager of the Village Main Reefs, a big mine in the Transvaal, gave evidence before the South African Labour Commission. According to a cable, dated 20th October, he is reported to have said -

He recentlyengaged white unskilled labour for the mine at 10s. per day. The experiment has proved a success, but yesterday he informed the commission that the chairman of his London board had privately written to him stating that Messrs. Wernher, Beit, and Co., and other leading mine-owners had been consulted, regarding the new departure. They expressed the fear that the engagement of a large number of white labourers on the Rand would cause troubles similar to those that prevailed in Australia. It would enable a combination of labourers to dictate wages, and would give them a political power when responsible government was granted to the Colonies.

I shall make no comment on the latter portion of that statement at the present stage. Not only does Mr. Creswell say this in his evidence before the Labour Commission, but speaking in the Queen’s-hall in London on 11th February of this year, only a little over a month ago, he is reported in this way : -

His argument was that instead of. costing more, white labour cost less than yellow labour. Other mine-owners had done the same as he had done, but the fact was never allowed to come . out before the commission.

Mr. Creswell is there supplementing the evidence he gave before the commission. When we remember that the South African Labour Commission was appointed solely at the instance of the Chamber of Mines, that twenty out of the twenty-three witnesses examined were members of the Chamber, that nearly all the commissioners were members of that body, and that the Chamber is controlled by two or three large mine-owners who are not solely interested in British securities, but whose headquarters are in some cases outside of Great Britain, we can easily understand the justification for Mr. Creswell’s complaint that the evidence of mine-owners who have tried white labour and found it successful was not allowed to come out. I desire to make another quotation in this connexion. It cannot be said that the Johannesburg Star is a violently democratic newspaper, but I , must admit that it has been consistent in the attitude it took up during the continuance of the Boer war and since. The managers of this newspaper made an outcry against the troubles of the Uitlanders, and now, having asked that Great Britain should rescue the Uitlander, they continue to ask for and insist upon his employment in the country they helped to preserve for him.

Mr Conroy:

– Are the Chinese to take the place of the blacks or of the whites ?

Mr WATSON:

– From what the mineowners themselves say it would appear that the Chinese will take the place of both natives and whites. The Johannesburg Star of 19th August, 1902, says -

A fact that is within the observation of all is the greatly increased supply of boys available for employment in the town-

That fact is commented upon by many other newspapers and writers in the Transvaal. While the mine-owners are crying out that there is a dearth of natives offering for employment, as a matter of fact, for other avocations for which natives are employed there is an overwhelming supply. I suppose that the reason is that the natives, whilst willing to take any. other kind of work, will not work under the conditions which the mine-owners wish to impose on them. The Johannesburg Star goes on to say -

Both on the Crown reef and the Village main reef, we understand that the white labour experiment that is being conducted is showing the most promising results, and bids fair to demonstrate the principle that any deficiency in the labour supply, white or coloured, of South Africa, can be made good from the inexhaustible resources of Great Britain, without tapping any alien sources. . . . Experience all over the world has shown that dear labour, if efficient and intelligent, is the cheapest in the end, and the results achieved up to the present on the Rand, encourage us to believe that our experience here will be no exception.

As bearing out that contention, let me point out that we have in the NorthernTerirtory of South Australia a number of mines which are of no lower grade than many which are being successfully worked in other parts of Australia. A very productive belt of country is to be found alongside of them; they have a railway running for some distance inland, to Pine Creek, and within reasonable distance of the mines, and they have a full and free supply of Chinese labour. Yet, speaking generally, these are the only mines in Australia which do not pay to-day. With a plentiful supply of cheap labour, and conditions in other respects at least equal to those under which mines in other parts of Australia are being worked, these mines in the Northern Territory are absolute failures, whilst other mines in Australia, under no better conditions, are being worked with white labour successfully. I quote another comparison from the Sydney Bulletin -

From evidence given by consulting engineers, as witnesses before the South African Labour Commission, it is reported that the average cost of mining, reducing and treating ore’ on the Rand, is 31s. 2d. per ton - .

Honorable members will remember that that is with the aid of native labour, paid for at the very low rate to which I have referred -

While the average for the New Mine at Eaglehawk, Victoria, was 17s. 8d. per. ton.

That is to say’ that in Victoria, ore is being treated by white labour at a cost of 1,7s. 8d., as against the cost of 31s. 2d. in South Africa. We may make every allowance for increased cost of living in South Africa, and still the difference in the cost of treatment of ores is a remarkable one, especially when it is remembered that, although the ore bodies of the Transvaal may be of lower grade than those in Victoria, they are of immense size, and are comparatively easily worked. Thisis of great importance when we are considering the cost of treatment’ per. ton. There is another authority whom I should like to quote as to the possibility of employing white labour in the South African mines. I refer to Mr. Wybergh. This gentleman was Commissioner for Mines in the Cabinet of Lord Milner, but has recently retired, owing to a difference of opinion with the Acting-Governor of the Transvaal, Sir Arthur Lawley. The difference of opinion, Mr. Wybergh says, arose mainly in connexion with the new gold law, which he thought was not so libera] in the interests of individual prospecting miners as the old law under which the mines on the Rand were worked. There was also some difference of opinion with the rest of the Cabinet on the question of the employment of white labour. Having been a Commissioner for Mines for a considerable time, Mr. Wybergh speaks with some authority, and his statements are entitled to credit. On 2nd February of this year he is reported as follows in the Transvaal Leader : -

White labour could be economically employed on the mines. ‘ He stated that unskilled labour had never been given a fair trial. The capitalists, he stated, and gave as an example his experience with mine managers, did not insist that white unskilled labour should be employed for the reasons that they were afraid of strikes and of the working man’s vote.

I find that another gentleman has been quoted with approval by the Transvaal Leader, a newspaper advocating the introduction of Chinese into South Africa. This paper reports an interview with a Mr. Drake, who represents a French mining company in the Transvaal. He has had experience- in Australia and in other parts of the world, and, strangely enough, Mr. Drake, no doubt unintentionally, seems to back up the contention in favour of the employment of whites, because after showing that he made an elaborate comparison of the cost of native labour as against the cost of white labour, he gives this as the result -

I found that I had reckoned the cost of labour in, Australia at 15s. per ton, whilst the figures work out for this country at 19s. per ton.

Allowing for the fact that Mr. Drake was backing up the case for the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal, he can only find a difference of 4s. per ton in the result, and it seems to me that that constitutes a very strong argument to support the case submitted by those who are in favour of the employment of white labour.

Mr Conroy:

– Granting a case for interference, ought we to put forward a protest in such terms as the honorable member proposes ?

Mr WATSON:

– If we have any considerations to advance which would help to shape the opinion of others upon a matter of such grave importance, I think it is only fair that they should be put forward.

Mr Conroy:

– Put them strongly, but in that diplomatic language which ought to be employed.

Mr WATSON:

– We should be courteous, but we need not be mealy-mouthed about making statements which will bear investigation.

Mr Conroy:

– Unless we can back up our statement, we ought not to make an “ emphatic ‘ ‘ protest. I know what I should feel if any one were to address me in such terms.

Mr WATSON:

– It is the view of many persons in South Africa, that even if white labour were proved to cost more than coloured labour, there is still an ample margin between the present cost of running the mines and the profits to allow of the difference in wages being made up, and to still leave a reasonable profit for the capitalists. Mr. Creswell, Mr. Wybergh, The Johannesburg Star, in a lesser degree Mr. Drake, and many other authorities who could be quoted, agree that white labour will not cost more than native labour. But, assuming that it does cost them more, we have to recollect that in many cases the mines of the Transvaal are over-capitalized, as are mines in every part of the world. A man puts a concession on the market at a stated price, which is paid him in shares, and probably the working capital of a mine is only one-fifth, or even one-tenth, of the nominal amount at which it is floated. That remark applies to the Transvaal, just as it applies to every large mining field in the world - at any rate, in Australia and South Africa.

Mr O’Malley:

– Watered stock.

Mr WATSON:

– It is not watered stock in the technical acceptation of the term, but the effect is the same so far as dividend paying is concerned. Notwithstanding all that, I have a list of the dividends of a dozen of the principal mines in South Africa, running from 187 down to 40 per cent, on the nominal capital. Of course, it would require some dissection to find out how much is paid up in each instance. But, still, it is evident that a great proportion of the mines are earning enormous profits, and on the confession of many of those who are at their head, the reason why they want Chinese labour is to increase their already enormous returns, to screw the last possible penny out of the mines, careless as to whether it means the extinction of any settlement of white people in that country. I think I have said sufficient to indicate that there are good reasons for believing that the mines can be run by white labour, or, at any rate, that white labour can be employed to supplement the alleged scanty supply of natives, from which the mines are suffering at present. It is true that the mines are not working to the same extent as they were just prior to the war ; but there is evidence of a deep laid scheme on the part of some of those who are at the head of affairs in South Africa to refrain from any development, and to mark time, in the hope that by that means they will coerce public opinion in the country in the direction at which they are aiming. In my view no proper means have been taken to ascertain exactly the state of public feeling there. In their reply to the telegram of the Prime Minister, the Transvaal Government say : -

Supply of labour available from these native races is quite inadequate to meet requirements of country, and no effective means of increasing the supply which has been suggested have been left untried.

They have tried everything but raising the wages of the natives, at any rate to the point at which they stood before the war.

Mr McDonald:

– Would it ruin them to do so?

Mr WATSON:

– No ; it would still leave them with what many of us in this country would regard as handsome profits.

Mr Conroy:

– Are we concerned with the wages of people there?

Mr WATSON:

– No; except so far as they bear on the question of whether it is necessary to import Chinese to make up the deficiency. The Transvaal Government go on to say in their telegram -

Only alternative is the importation of coloured labour.

In reply to that statement, I submit that they have not insured that a fair trial shall be given to the employment of white labour. They have taken no step in that direction.

Mr Kelly:

– Where would they get their white labour from?

Mr WATSON:

– There are in the Transvaal thousands of Australians who were induced to go there by the assurance of Mr. Chamberlain that efforts would be made to settle them as Britishers in that country, and to-day they are scorned by the mineowners, who will not employ them even at “tucker” rates.

Mr Conroy:

– I know many good Australians who are receiving very high wages there.

Mr WATSON:

– It is true that the mineowners cannot afford to reject the services of men who have special skill in the direction of affairs, but I am speaking of the comparatively unskilled man - the man who has only his thews and sinews to depend upon. The advances of . these men towards getting employment have in every case been rejected by the mine owners. Does the honorable member for Wentworth assume, even if 8s. or 9s. or 10s. a day were offered - and that is low pay compared with the cost of living - that there would not be attracted to South Africa tens of thousands of persons from the overcrowded parts of Great Britain?

Mr Kelly:

– I think that the honorable member is bringing a question of Imperial interest down to a question of South African interest.

Mr WATSON:

– I am speaking, however, inefficiently, with the object of building up a case. It does not depend on one matter alone. It seems to me that one has to regard all the circumstances before it is possible to form a reasonable opinion on the main question of whether it is necessary that. Chinese should be introduced into South Africa. Surely the question of whether white labour can be introduced and successfully and economically employed is one of the most important aspects of the whole position.

Mr Conroy:

– Does it make any difference to them whether it is a Chinaman or a black boy who is employed ?

Mr WATSON:

– I think that from the Imperial stand-point it would probably make a great deal of difference, that it would be infinitely preferable to employ the natives of the country than to further mix the racial characteristics of South Africa by the introduction of Chinese. Of course, the Transvaal Government assure us that they intend to take all kinds of care to return the Chinamen to their native country as soon as their engagement has been completed. That statement was made in regard, to the importation of kanakas into Queensland. But it is well known that in that State to-day there are thousands of kanakas who are not amenable to the law, because of a sort of statute of limitations, under which the men need not be returned. Even in our Federal legislation, we exempted those kanakas from- the deportation to which others may be subjected. In any case, Chinese will have practical freedom, according to the regulations governing their stay in the country. They cannot go more than a mile from their compound unless they have a pass, but as it is compulsory that the pass must be issued when applied for, there might as well be no restriction placed on their movements.’

Mr Hughes:

– Besides, they cannot tell one Chinaman from another, and one pass will do for the whole crowd.

Mr WATSON:

– That is a consideration which did not occur ‘to my mind, but no doubt it is true. I contend that no steps have been taken by the Transvaal Government to ascertain the opinion of the. people. The Legislative Council consists entirely of nominees of the Government. Of thetwentysix members who voted for the ordinance under which Chinese are to be introduced, thirteen were civil servants, and therefore amenable to the direction of Lord Milner or his deputy, in regard to their action in the Council. Five others were what the South African Guardian terms “ renegade Dutch,” though I do not apply that term to them. Formerly they were members of the National Scouts, and were appointed to the Legislative Council after peace was declared. Speaking of the Dutchpeople, it is a curious thing that the attitude of the Dutch members of the Council is so different from that of those leaders of the Dutch people who are outside that body. A formal protest, signed by fourteen of the leaders of the Boers, was sent to the British Government against the introduction of the Chinese.

Mr Deakin:

– Only after the ordinance had been passed, though.

Mr WATSON:

– After it was passed,” but before it was assented to by the Imperial Government.

Mr Deakin:

– Why did they not use their efforts before in that - direction ?

Mr WATSON:

– That is a very fair question to ask. Certainly they might have made some effort to influence the attitude of their fellow-countrymen on this question. The ordinance was also supported in the Council by Sir George Farrar, President of the Chamber of Mines ; Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, ex- President of the Chamber of Mines ; Mr. Solomon, President of the Stock Exchange; and Mr. Hoskens, whose occupation is not stated. What I wish to deduce from these circumstances is that civil servants and the Chambers of Mines carried this ordinance. The four independent members of the Council - Mr. Hull, Mr. Loveday, Mr. Raitt, and- Mr. Bourke - ‘ voted against the proposal.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Four out of the nine non-official members.

Mr WATSON:

– Not counting the Dutch, it was opposed by four out of the nine non-official members. The Chambers of Mines had been engineering the whole business right from its initiation, and, therefore, it was unreasonable to expect that their representatives, as soon as their votes were asked in the Council, should do other than vote for the passing of the ordinance-

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Lord Milner stated that there was no Government direction to the official members.

Mr WATSON:

– I am simply referring to the steps that were taken to ascertain the opinion of the people. I contend that the division which took place in the Legislative Council was no criterion of the feeling of the people of South Africa. As to the petition, about which we have heard so much, we are assured by those on the spot that the most disgraceful coercion and intimidation were resorted to in order to secure signatures to it. The petition was taken round by mine-managers and other mine officials to trades-people with whom the mines had business dealings. In other words, the customers went to the tradespeople and put to them the question - “ Will you sign this . petition ? “ I admit that some of ‘them may have been in favour of the course suggested, but as the loss of custom would have been a very serious matter to many of them they had no option but to sign the petition when the pistol was presented at their heads. The men employed on the mines were also constrained to sign the petition, whether they liked it or not. In many instances, it was more than their billets were worth to refuse to sign it. From first to last an effort- was made to bull-doze the people - to rush them into the acceptance of the contention that Chinese were essential to the prosperity of the mines.

Mr Spence:

– Men were’ even hired to disturb meetings called to protest against the importation of Chinese.

Mr WATSON:

– I was just about to refer to that point. Attempts were made by those opposed to the introduction of Chinese to obtain an expression of opinion on the part of the public in regard to the proposal. What happened? It is proved by sworn declarations - so that it is not a matter of hearsay - that when a meeting was called, at the Wanderers’ Hall, Johannesburg, to protest against the introduction of Chinese, special trains were run from the mines to carry employes to the town to disturb the meeting. I have here a photograph which throws some little light upon the incident. Hundreds of roughs were employed at 15 s. per head to prevent the speakers from making their voices heard. This fact is attested by sworn declarations made by a number of men who received the money and did the work, and it has been published in the press.

Mr Conroy:

– -Men of that kind would make any sort of declaration.

Mr WATSON:

– I quite admit that it would hardly be right to place very much reliance in a man who would lend himself to such a scheme. But quite a number of these declarations were made, and there can be no doubt that an organized and successful attempt, was made to prevent any expression of views antagonistic to the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal.

Mr Wilson:

– That is something like that which took place at the Melbourne elections.

Mr WATSON:

– I have no sympathy with any person who disturbs a public meeting. I have too great a regard for the liberty of- speech, for which our forefathers fought, to countenance such tactics. .Whether it is a meeting held in support of, or in opposition to, our opinion, there is no doubt as to the attitude which we should take up. Every fair-minded man should on all occasions deprecate the disturbance of public gatherings. I have learned of late that in this respect the United States of America, with all their alleged political corruption, can give us a lesson. Men there do not disturb the public meetings of their opponents.

Mr Deakin:

– As a rule they do not attend them.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so; but in any case they never attempt to disturb them. The efforts made to prevent any clear expression of opinion on the part of the people against . the introduction of the Chinese into the Transvaal were successful. It -is true that shortly after the dis-‘ organized meeting at the Wanderers’ Club, a successful meeting was held by those opposed to Chinese immigration. It took place in the Market Square, and among the speakers were Mr. Wybergh, exCommissioner of Mines, and a number of. other prominent gentlemen. Resolutions. were unanimously carried, not merely protesting against the introduction of Chinese, but urging, as is proposed in the motion now before the House, that ‘ the white people of the- Transvaal should be consulted before the perpetration of this act. It was asked that a referendum of the whole of the white population should be taken, and I ‘ think that the position was put very clearly when the speakers, urged that if the mine-owners were so confident’ that the great body of public opinion was with them - if it were true that 40,000 out of some 60,000 white adults had signedthe petition in favour of the introduction of Chinese - they should have no objection to the holding of a straight-out referendum, at which every person would have an opportunity to give expression 0 his opinion free from influence, and protected by the secrecy of the ballot. In askingwhy there should be any objection to such a proposal, a very pertinent question was put to those who affirmed that the petition, the signatures to which were obtained in the manner I- have described, represented the opinion of the people of Johannesburg *and of the Transvaal generally.

Mr Conroy:

– Why should they be asked to adopt what would be to them a new method of ascertaining the opinion of the people?

Mr WATSON:

– Because that which they possess at present is certainly an old method of government, and one which even the honorable and learned member would not approve. They work under a system of government by the Crown, and do not possess any representative institutions. In a set of extraordinary circumstances, we have a right to take any extraordinary step necessary to ascertain the true position of affairs. Surely we are only asking what is right when we urge that the people of the Transvaal should be consulted in such a way that they will be able to give expression to their opinion without fear of the consequences.

An Honorable Member. - There is ^ alternative.

Mr WATSON:

– If the Government do not see their way clear to grant a referendum, the alternative is that the proposed introduction of Chinese should be deferred until the establishment of responsible government, which, according to the Imperial authorities, will take place at no distant date. With responsible government they would be able to adopt another method to arrive at the decision of the people.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– If, as the result of a referendum, it was decided to permit the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal, would honorable members have anything further to say on the subject?

Mr WATSON:

– I should feel that a wrong step had been taken, but I do not think that I should consider we had the same right to protest that we should have if Chinese were introduced without the people being consulted.

Mr Wilson:

– Should we have any right to interfere?

Mr WATSON:

– I should still feel that, not only in our own interests, but in the interest of the people of the Transvaal, and of all our fellow countrymen in Great Britain, it was a thousand pities that such a decision should have been arrived at. Still, in the contingency referred to, the introduction of Chinese would be the result of the deliberate decision of the people, and I do not know that we could raise much objection to it.

Mr Cameron:

– What right have we now to interfere?

Mr WATSON:

– We have a right to interfere because the people directly concerned have no representative institutions. So far as legal expression of opinion is concerned, they are inarticulate - they are dumb.

Mr Cameron:

– But the honorable member and those who think with him have no power to force their opinions on the people of the Transvaal.

Mr WATSON:

– It is” true that we have no power; but it is certainly a novel suggestion that the views of a large section of the people in a British community are to go for nothing; that when they protest against an improper condition of affairs, their protests are to be disregarded. The feeling in South Africa - the feeling of the people much nearer to the scene of action than we are - seems to be largely in consonance with that existing in Australia. It is true that the Natal Parliament recently rejected, by an overwhelming majority, a motion to protest against the introduction of Chinese. I have not been able to ascertain whether that motion was rejected on the ground that the Parliament of Natal did not desire to interfere, or whether it was because they favoured the introduction of Chinese.

Mr McCay:

– I have it from one of the men who voted with the majority that they felt that they should not interfere, and that they were also actuated by the knowledge that they were living in something like a glass house themselves, inasmuch as they had been introducing coolie labour. The feeling, nevertheless, was against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal.

Mr WATSON:

– I am glad to have that assurance. I was disposed to think that the motion was rejected because of an unwillingness on the part of the Natal Parliament to interfere in view of the attitude previously taken up and opinions expressed at different times by a large proportion of the members of that Legislature. In Cape Colony, however, we have had something more than an expression of opinion on the part of the South African League - or what was formerly known as the Bond - in antagonism to the proposal. During the elections recently held there a very clear expression of opinion was obtained.

Mr Conroy:

– From loyal citizens.

Mr WATSON:

– They are at all events members of the Bond. At one meeting at Aliwal North one taunt thrown at Dr. Jameson was that his party, the Progressives, were in favour of the introduction of

Chinese into the Transvaal. He is reported to have answered that question in the following emphatic terms: -

They, as a Progressive Party, had been, always were, now, and Always would be, absolutely against the introduction of one Chinaman, not only into the Cape Colony, but into the whole of South Africa.

He is reported to have said further -

No Chinaman should ever pass to this (Cape) Colony from the Transvaal, even should they come there.

In’ other words he declared that, if returned, he would take steps to see that no Chinese should pass over the Transvaal border into Cape Colony. This, taken in conjunction with the attitude of the Bond, seems to show that so far as Cape Colony is concerned, public feeling is unanimously against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Lord Milner, in his latest despatch, admits that the feeling in Cape Colony is entirely against the proposal.

Mr Conroy:

– Are we to interfere ? That is the question.

Mr Carpenter:

– We are not interfering.

Mr WATSON:

– The question is one which the honorable and learned member for Werriwa can deal with himself. There is only one other point to which I desire to refer. It is gratifying to me to find that a considerable body of feeling apparently exists in Great Britain itself, which is in consonance with that prevailing here. A meeting held in the Queen’s Hall, London, on 10th February last, and convened at a few days’ notice under dismal circumstances, so far as weather was concerned, attracted an enormous gathering of people, who carried unanimously resolutions protesting against the Royal assent being given to the Ordinance passed by the Legislative Council of the Transvaal. Amongst the apologies for non-attendance sent was one from Sir William Vernon Harcourt, who was especially caustic, as well as eloquent, in his references to the matter. He denounced the proposal as an abominable project, and said ‘ that in the interests of low-grade ores it was proposed to found a low-grade colony. That seems to me to express the situation excellently. He asked the meeting to protest against the carrying through of the code of serfdom involved in the regulations proposed. Earl Carrington was present at the meeting, and gave utterance to sentiments which I think did great credit to himself and to the education which he received on the subject in Australia. I do not mean to say that, had. it not been for his stay in Australia, he would not have expressed the views he did; but I say, as he himself admitted, that ‘his stay here gave him opportunities to learn the opinions of the people of Australia, and the circumstances which justified those opinions. He dealt in his speech with the action of Sir Henry Parkes, in 1888, in preventing the landing of Chinese in Sydney, and went from one point to another, giving those present some idea of the difficulties which Australia has had to face in regard to the Chinese question. One cannot but be struck with the unanimity, of the meeting. We find, too, that the Imperial Government were almost beaten in the House of Commons upon this question.

Mr Deakin:

– They were reduced to their smallest majority.

Mr WATSON:

– The smallest majority that the Government have yet had upon a division which was known for some days to be coming on.

Mr Carpenter:

– It was a moral victory.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes, for those who oppose the Ordinance. If the question had not been made a party one, and the members of the House of Commons had been free to vote according to their personal opinions, there would have been a majority against the confirmation of the Ordinance. We have additional evidence of the strength of the hostile feeling on the subject in the hesitancy of the Government to grapple firmly with the question. Although the King has formally assented to the Ordinance, it has been held in abeyance pending certain negotiations. I dare say the official explanation will be that it is desired to communicate with China to obtain her views in respect to the proposed admission of her people under indenture into South Africa. Still, there is the fact that delay is occuring, and, therefore, it is wise for us to come to an early decision in confirmation of the action of our Government.’ I feel sure that the vast majority of the people of Australia are quite in accord with the general terms of the motion, and I believe that the Government took the right step in making the communication which they did to the Government of the Transvaal. I am sorry that they could not have gone a step further, and made a direct, and perhaps, therefore, more weighty representation to the Imperial Government. I still think, it eminently desirable, in the interests of

South- Africa and of the nation as a whole, that we should leave no stone unturned to prevent what, in my opinion, would be a calamity to British interests - the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister foi External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– This question not only turns our attention to foreign fields, but opens up a series of issues in regard to Imperial and inter-Imperial relations, the echoes of which will travel far before they finally die away. The honorable member for Bland, who moved the motion in a speech replete with information on many phases of the subject, and in regard to the circumstances of the country with which it deals, has stated that, although his motion is to be taken as confirming the action of the Government, he regrets that our action was not more positive in form. The consideration of the constitutional issues which that statement raises is one to which I propose to invite the attention of the House for a few minutes. In the first place we shall do well to remember that this is not the first occasion upon which we have been confronted by the condition of affairs in the Transvaal arising out of the employment of coloured labour. In the first session of last Parliament the honorable and learned member for Corio and the honorable member for Kennedy were associated with proposed discussions of the’ subject, and the matter on one occasion came before the House, when, during the absence of Sir Edmund Barton, I was acting in his stead. The honorable and learned member for “Corio, during a discussion in Supply, asked the Government to intervene, and I shall quote from the Hansard report a sentence or two which summarizes the attitude then adopted by my honorable colleagues and myself. I said, and honorable members will find my remarks recorded on pages 16172 and 16173 0;f volume XII. of our Parliamentary Debates -

We may hope that the Imperial Government, with their knowledge of the consequences of such a step, will not give their consent.

The step referred to was the project of the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal.

If our opinion were invited, there can be no doubt as to what our verdict would be. But I repeat that no proper opportunity has yet presented itself to us of speaking on this question. If such an opportunity is presented, I have no doubt it will be taken advantage of. But to act as the honorable and learned member for -.Corio proposes, in regard to what, so far as I know, is at present merely a project, which may never be indorsed even in the country in which it is made, which may not be approved by the Imperial Government, and which may, therefore, merely remain a project, would not be wise. If - we were to express an opinion in these circumstances, where should we draw the line in the representations we ought to make to other Crown Colonies upon projects launched by them, which in our opinion may be as hazardous as that to which the honorable and learned member has referred?

Mr Crouch:

– Was not the honorable member for Bland then against the proposal ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– He supported the objections of the honorable and learned member to the introduction of the Chinese, but he agreed with the Government that, as at that stage it was merely a project, our interference was not justified, and we should await further developments. Now we have those developments. They are the occasion of the action which has been taken. The proposal for this action, which followed within three weeks of the elections, came, so far as this Government is concerned, from that energetic and active Liberal Imperialist, the Premier of New Zealand. At the commencement of the debate on the Address in Reply I was subjected to a not ill-humoured taunt upon the fact that Australia had once more followed the lead of New Zealand. My reply is that I object to follow no man when I believe that he is taking the right path. The fact that he is before me is no discouragement for me to follow.

Mr Kingston:

– New Zealand gave a good. lead.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The Government had scarcely time to recover from -the ‘elections, and as my colleagues were scattered throughout the States, I hesitated as to the form in which action should be taken. It appeared to me that whatever step we took was likely to form a very important precedent, with consequences ranging far beyond the borders of the Commonwealth. In our constitutional text-books the relations between the mother country and her Colonies and dependencies are fairly well established. We- have what may be termed a complete outline of the constitutional relations between the selfgoverning Colonies and the mother country; but the relations which subsist within the Empire between one selfgoverning community and another, or between one. community completely endowed with self-government and another only partly so endowed, is a question yet to be solved. Practically no guidance is to be found in the text-books. The present condition in which the expressed constitutional law upon this question stands is put in a sentence by Todd,, who, at page 254 of the second edition of his Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies, says -

Separate colonial governments have no right to communicate officially with one another, except through Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Colonies, or by direct permission first obtained from the Imperial Government.

That is the dictum of 1894. In the only more recent book to which I propose to refer - British Rule and Jurisdiction beyond the Seas, by the late Sir Henry Jenkyns, with a preface by Sir Courtenay Ilbert, published in 1902 - the same doctrine is repeated without development -

In the relations of one British possession to another, the Crown is the connexion between them. All formal communications pass through the Home Government, and that Government is the arbiter in all serious disputes.

Mr McCay:

– A Conference of Premiers is a contradiction of that dictum.

Mr Kingston:

– The Commonwealth communicates directly with the States, and they communicate directly with one another.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Exactly, but that constitutional relationship has not been crystallized into authority in the text-books. The actual facts have progressed beyond the doctrine by many leagues. In Australia we have, without noticing it, been developing the relations between allied communities under the Crown to perhaps a greater extent than they have been developed in any other part of the British Empire, by the natural and necessary communication which has- proceeded, and must go on, between communities separated only by imaginary lines, though under independent Governments. Compelled to unite to secure common action, we have for many years been accustomed to Conferences of Premiers.

Mr Kingston:

– Direct communications pass every day.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Communications on formal matters are exchanged by every post. The text writers have lagged far behind the actual facts, and have not yet formulated the practice as it exists. We had established prior to Federation, and have continued since, a practice of exchanging communications directly, not only between State and State, but with New

Zealand, and even Canada and South Africa. So that a natural and necessary system, embracing a network of communications passing from one part of the Empire to another, from one self-governing community to another, has gradually grown up, and has authorized a reciprocal interest on the part of these communities in the transactions of each other. A’ step further than that has been taken, which does not appear to have yet passed into recognition. On three occasions the Imperial Government have invited the representatives of selfgoverning and Crown Colonies to meet in London, and on one occasion the Government of Canada invited representatives of the Colonies to meet in Canada. At these conferences, particularly those held at the heart pf the Empire, matters of the greatest moment have been debated, and resolutions arrived at; but, at each and all of those summoned in London, under the auspices of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or held among ourselves, one invariable- rule has hitherto obtained, and necessarily obtained, namely, that the gatherings should be regarded as simply consultative. Their resolutions, though passed by specially authorized delegates, were recommendations. No self-governing community was sought to be bound by them, unless or until its Parliament saw fit te approve. The conclusions arrived at have occasionally found their way into our statute-books - in such . a matter, for instance, as Imperial naval defence, and in a very few instances in the Colonies themselves, before we were united - hut they have as a rule, resulted in no more than expressions of opinion tending to common action. Consequently when the new situation in South Africa presented itself, it seemed necessary that the universally accepted principle of mutual respect for the self-governing powers of each dependency should be strictly adhered to; and that whatever course was adopted by us should be marked from the very outset by consideration for the self-governing rights of the other parts of the Empire, and a full recognition of their freedom from obedience to any commands from persons beyond their limits.

Mr Crouch:

– Does the Prime Minister apply that to the United Kingdom?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I have been applying it as well as I can. The situation that presented itself in South Africa appeared to justify what might, under other conditions, have constituted an un- justifiable interference on our part. The introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal means, not only the multiplication of the local problems of that unhappy country, but the presence in South’ Africa of a new alien and dangerous influence. We regard it as a question affecting the future of South Africa, and the future of the Empire in those seas, and as being fraught with the utmost importance to a series of States with which we bid fair to be more and more closely related, not only by the ties of trade and commerce, but owing to the fact that they command one of the great highway.* of the world - perhaps the only one that would be open to us in time of war. These, and many other reasons, cause us to stand in a peculiar relationship to South Africa. But, above all, the question was Imperial, and involving Imperial results. We have seen the consequences of the attempted invasion of this country in the early days of the diggings, when the Colonies of Australia, one and all, were compelled to resort to restrictive legislation to protect their gold-mines from being captured by Asiatics. We have seen the difficulty of confining such an influx, or dealing with it. We have become familiar with the astuteness and capacity of the Chinaman, who, though excelled, no doubt, by the brilliant qualities of the Japanese, is in patient, steady persistence, and in his own particular but narrow intellectual sphere, not to be surpassed in the world. We perceived that if these people were introduced into South Africa, they would not only displace black labour, but would be quite capable of displacing white, upon far wider and more comprehensive lines. The negro had special claims to consideration as being indigenous to the soil upon which the white man had made his home, and, further, from the point of view of the white man, he was, as a competitor, far less objectionable than the. Chinaman. ‘His nature appears to be relatively childlike and simple, so that, even though every desire has been shown to extend the employment of black men in the mines, they are controllable, and have never yet been intrusted with any operations demanding even the smallest modicum of skill, or the exercise of the individual qualities of independent thought or discretion. We know that the Chinaman labours under no such disabilities, that he has a ready imitative faculty which fits him for many skilled occupations, and that his low standard of living coupled with this capacity to under- take work of a varied character, must always render him a dangerous competitor with the white man. Realizing that Aus tralia has not yet surmounted her troubles with neighbouring coloured peoples, and that she still needs to maintain a vigilant watch in order to protect herself against threatened invasions, -we thought that we had some claim to express our views regarding the policy proposed to be carried out in South Africa, even though the promised safeguards implied the virtual imprisonment of Chinamen within compounds, as has been the custom with negroes upon the diamond fields, and, for aught I know, also upon the gold-fields. Under these circumstances we felt that a false sense of security was sought to be established in the Transvaal, where the introduction of tens of thousands, or perhaps a hundred thousand Chinamen, who could not be kept in compounds, must imply a revolution, in the whole scale of their social and industrial life, followed by, and carrying with it, insidious consequences, undermining the foundations of society, and poisoning the principles of selfgovernment and progress. The step would be the most fatal that any people could take. It was not the time to stand upon nice distinctions, so there was no hesitation on the part of the Government in agreeing to take action ; but it was not the action proposed. I speak with all respect of the opinions of Mr. Seddon, the Premier, of New Zealand, but submit that when he asked the Commonwealth to join him in urging strongly the Imperial Government to use its prerogative, .he asked us to unite in taking a step which was foredoomed to failure, and therefore undesirable, and which also implied a right on our part to dictate to a community, not by any means completely self-governing, but within reach of self-government, and having the power, by means of a referendum, to ascertain, in the most decisive fashion, the will of its own white people. A request that the proposed law should be submitted to a referendum would have been perfectly legitimate, but to ask that the Imperial veto should be exercised on the legislation of even a Crown Colony, and that, as. the Secretary of State for the Colonies has phrased it, “ the wishes of one part of the Empire on any matter which it regarded as of paramount importance to its well-being, should, in deference to the representations of another part of the Empire, not directly interested, be set aside,” would involve the establishment of a precedent in our inter-Imperial relations which might will be described as reactionary. If we, in this part of the world, were to appeal to the Imperial veto, we should be reviving a power that has dwindled immensely during the centuries, and which, although it has been exercised in recent years in regard to minor questions, has never been applied even in colonial matters to any question of first importance, or to destroy a measure upon which the will of the people was absolutely clear. With the recollection that in our own States, without going any further, we have often found, and are likely to find, a party ready to appeal for the exercise of the Imperial veto against a majority, “whenever the desire of its own minority is crossed - a device which was tried in connexion with the Pacific Island Labourers Act in Queensland, and attempted in this State whenever Victorian politics reached the white heat at which some new reform was being moulded - I did not care to revive that practice save under the pressure of the most absolute necessity. In the first place, I shrank from appealing for the Imperial veto at all, and in the next was disinclined to ask for its application to a distant community, with whose circumstances one cannot pretend to be’ so well acquainted as its own people. They ought to be approached upon a footing of equality by reason and argument, and by the suggestion of our advice, but not by a demand that the strong hand of those who are in authority over them should be exercised without their consent or will. That was why - not through any lack of sympathy with the proposals of the Premier of New Zealand, but in order to attain what seemed to us a most excellent end, and to express an almost universal feeling - we refused to adopt a course which might have rendered it easy hereafter for appeals to be made to the central power against legislation which had been deliberately adopted by Colonies enjoying more or less representative government. That is a resort to be employed only in the last extremity. We still had open to us an appeal to the people of the country which will be chiefly affected by the introduction of these Chinese, and, through them, an appeal to the Parliament of the mother country and to the British Government. We reached them just as well through this proper channel of communication, although our views were reflected from the Transvaal itself.

Mr Fisher:

– It is quite as important to appeal to the British elector.

Mr DEAKIN:

– It seemed to me, therefore, that, without establishing an extremely dangerous precedent, we could attain all the results that could be expected by following the course we took, which exposed us to no risk in the future of any claim by some other part of the Empire for the exercise of the Imperial veto against any of our legislation. I think that the result abundantly justified the course we took. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, replying to the Premier of New Zealand, who made direct representations to him, which we refrained from making, very politely and properly commenced by saying that he fully recognised the title of all the self-governing Colonies to express their opinions upon so important a question, especially those which, like New Zealand, had rendered memorable service in the South African war. He then went on to say that -

Each of the States of the Empire, by reason of its direct interest and special knowledge of the conditions affecting it, is best able to deal with its own problems. … It must not be forgotten that there is much that is abnormal in the economic conditions of the Transvaal, which might call for abnormal measures, and His Majesty’s Government, consistently with the policy which it has laid down, could not refuse to accede to the wishes of one part of the Empire on any matter which it regarded as of paramount importance to its well-being, in deference to representations from another part of the Empire, not directly interested. His Majesty’s Government feels assured that the Transvaal Government will give such weight to the opinion of any selfgoverning Colony, as the exceptional circumstances of its country permits.

That is to say, while waving aside the request for the exercise of the Imperial veto, and pointing out that, under such circumstances, it could not be properly applied, he indicates that the Transvaal Government is the authority which could and’ would give weight to our representations. We had appealed to the Transvaal authorities, just as was here advised. Having regard to the path which we had to tread, the novelty of the step to be taken, and its possible consequences, I submit that the policy we adopted was as effective as any that could be taken. It produced practically the same effect as an appeal to the Imperial prerogative, and left us unembarrassed for the future by any reflection that a perilous precedent had been established. Self-governing peoples, to whom, to quote a fragment of the speech cited by the honorable member for the Barrier last evening, “liberty and self-government are as the very breath of their nostrils,” ought not to apply for the exercise of an Imperial veto upon legislation even when enacted by a State armed with incomplete selfgoverning powers. The referendum remains. I trust that I have not detained the House too long in emphasizing the significance of our representations. I need not remind honorable members of the warning which Australia communicated to the Transvaal Government. I should, however, like to read a few sentences from it, in order that honorable members may check by their own knowledge of the sentiments of the people of this country, the expression of our opinion which we placed before South Africa, and through that country before the whole Empire. We said that -

Australia., after years of experience, is convinced that practical prohibition of Chinese immigration is imperatively required in the best interests of the people of British communities, especially of those which enjoy or expect to enjoy the powers of responsible selfgovernment.

We added -

Though most reluctant to travel beyond their own boundaries, in order to introduce themselves into matters having local import, they foresee grave perils, racial, social, political, and sanitary, inevitably induced by alien influx, injurious to yourselves and neighbouring territories, with which your future is linked indissolubly and finally to the Empire of which South Africa is a great and vital part. We are aware of the safeguards which you propose, but our experience with alien races shows that, however the conditions of their introduction and. employment may be made, yet it is practically impossible to prevent the existence of many and serious evils. Moreover, such introduction creates vested interests on the part 6f employers, which render, it extremely difficult to terminate the practice when once it has been sanctioned. We earnestly commend these considerations to you as far outweighing any immediate pecuniary gain. Momentary material advantage will be dearly purchased by the introduction of a foreign element, which is dangerous while unassimilated, and which is not to be assimilated without detriment to our progress, institutions, and patriotic ideals.

I venture to say that these sentences express the deliberate conviction of the Australian people ; and I have been extremely gratified to learn, from such intimations as have reached us from South Africa’, the manner in which that- communication was received.

It is perfectly true that some score or two of those calling themselves Australians favoured me with a telegram in which they objected to interference by this Com’ monwealth. That telegram was unsigned, but it was followed by a letter, courteous and argumentative. But I also received a cablegram from another Australian, Mr. Outhwaite, whom I did know, and who was well-known to Melbourne before he left for South Africa, where he is, I believe, associated with the Guardian newspaper. This cablegram informed me that the gathering of Australians ‘was private, secret, and unrepresentative. Of course, there will always be differences of opinion amongst those faced in a new country with the fierce stress of circumstances now existing in South Africa. I have no wish to pass judgment, even by implication, upon the men who are charged with the delicate task of endeavouring to pilot the Transvaal through the initial stages of its education, up to the stage at which it will receive self-government. For the present High Commissioner, Lord Milner, we must all cherish the highest admiration, as a man whose intellectual gifts have marked him out for his present position, and whose immense courage and endurance carried him through the enormous strain of the late war. No one can read his despatches without feeling that he, and those who advise him, are thoroughly penetrated with the necessity of the step they are taking, and confidently believe that it is the best available. After such an admission it may seem reckless to venture, as we have done, and do, to challenge their judgment.’ But we do so solely on the ground of experience, such as Lord Milner has not yet enjoyed. We in Australia have had experience, in a new and sparsely-settled country in the neighbourhood of great coloured populations, of the endeavours necessary to preserve a. heritage for the white race. We have also had experience of the strain to which self-governing institutions are subjected by the introduction of a large class of wage-earning citizens, incompetent in the higher sense to join in the tasks of self-government - dangerous to exclude and still more dangerous to include in the franchise. It is the knowledge of such conditions that enables us, with all deference to their local knowledge, to venture to pass an opinion on the action of the authorities in the Transvaal. We pass that opinion, I must say, with the .greatest sympathy for those in South Africa who take an opposite view. I have been favoured with letters from residents in Johannesburg and neighbourhood telling me that the condition of affairs there during the last few months resembled nothing so much as the sickening experience in Victoria, and some of the other States, when we staggered under the heaviest blows of our financial collapse ten years ago. Their resources seem dried up, all doorways to employment closed; the immediate urgency is for work and for what work would bring - food.’ Under these circumstances - faced by the absolute necessity to find work where work is not offered, or of leaving the country when their means are too exhausted to enable them to do so - I have nothing but the sincerest pity for many of the hundreds, and perhaps ‘ thousands, who acquiesce in the demand for Chinese labour. This demand is made either because the people have been led to believe - and attempts have been made to lead them to believe - that in this direction lies the promised land with work- and wages, or because, even if they know it- is not the best course, they feel that it will give employment and enable them to live for the time, and is, so far, good. I see that Lord Milner, within the last day or two, has pledged his reputation that the employment of Chinese will lead to the further employment of white labour; and there is no doubt that Lord Milner believes what he says. Probably he is correct, if he ignores the price to be afterwards paid by white labour. From the letters which have reached me, I gather that the local circumstances are of the keenest and severest, and that a great deal is to be said in excuse for those who, from one motive or another, have joined in or consented to this agitation for Chinese labour. It is a question between the present population and the future of the country. At the same time we have to recollect some of the circumstances and conditions which impose this intolerable pressure upon a people, reduced, many to want, many to penury, and many to emigration. These conditions are not all natural or unintentional in origin. I do not propose to quote from the utterances of partisans of either side. So far as I have anything to add, I shall quote only from official documents, upon which we can rely to a large extent. I have before me the majority and minority reports furnished by the Native Labour Commission, upon which the action now proposed to be taken is sought to be supported on the one hand and impugned on the other. Both reports are extremely able documents, exhaustive in information, terse in presentation, and telling in argument. They place before us very fairly the South African situation, as it actually appears to-day, in those aspects which concern us in the consideration of the motion; and I do not propose to dive any deeper. There are spots on the sun, and there are slips, or, at all events, one slip, even in this document. For instance, I take it that it will be news to most Australians to find that a report presented in 1898, under the auspices, I believe, of the Chamber of Mines, said -

Proposals were made to your Committee to supply Chinese labour, on the ground that it is efficient and cheap, as shown in the Australian mines, where Chinese are largely employed.

Mr Fisher:

– That means the Northern Territory.

Mr McCay:

– In Victoria every mining lease prohibits the employment of Chinese.

Mr DEAKIN:

– There are no Chinese employed in the mines in Victoria, and, so far as I know, there are none employed in Queensland.

Mr Fisher:

– Hear, hear.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Speaking as an Australian to the representatives of all Australia, I am surprised to learn that Chinese labour in the Australian mines is “ efficient and cheap.”

Mr Isaacs:

– In what report does that appear ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– It is quoted in the majority report from the previous report of 1898. But it seems to me that the crucial issue as disclosed by these majority or minority reports may be placed before honorable members in a comparatively simple form. There is on the Rand what is said to be the greatest extent of gold-bearing country known. There is in sight an enormous quantity of low-grade ore waiting to have its gold extracted. The real difference of stand-point discovered by these reports lies between two parties. The, first are those who say that this gold should be extracted from the soil in the shortest possible period of time, by the employment of the greatest number of labourers of any colour, in order that the largest dividends may be paid upon mining investments, and that those who have speculated may reap the richest and quickest harvest. That is one proposal - tenable and reasonable from the stand-point of those who make it. Then there are those who say that the mere extraction of this gold within, say, twenty years, is not the best use to make of this great national treasure. It can be employed for something else besides booming mining stock or paying huge dividends. It can be worked with consideration for the territory surrounding it and its white settlers; so that instead of the area being exploited at one stroke, left at the end of twenty years an exhausted and depleted field, so far as mining is concerned,, the riches possessed there could be so employed that they could be made to assist in the development of the rest of the country. It is admitted by both sides that on the mines the Transvaal depends. The country is too far from the sea-board to permit of its agricultural produce being profitably exported. Its farming interest is said to depend on its mining interest ; and the development of its mining resources means, therefore, the development of its agriculture. Upon those two all the trading, commercial, and professional interests of the country depend. Now, if that be admitted - and it appears to be admitted in both reports - we have a fairly clear issue put before us. The majority report advocates the introduction of the Chinese, and not always quite intentionally, but still very plainly - carries on its very face evidence of bias. In a very few passages which I propose to read, will be found the position of the men whose object it is to realize upon the gold in the Transvaal in the shortest- possible space of time. I will take, first, an extract from the majority report. In that document I find set out a statement of the ambitions which are cherished by the party of exploitation. They point but that there are at present engaged in the Transvaal 181,000 natives; that to accomplish all they desire they would require 403,000 natives; and that consequently the shortage which they seek to supply is equivalent to the labour of 221,000 negroes. I take it, that, on the very face of it, the proposal to introduce either that number or a lesser number of Chinese who would furnish an equivalent labour power, must imply a revolution in the circumstances of the Transvaal. If they import 100,000 Chinese, is there any power in the Transvaal that can restrain them within compounds, that can control them or deport them from the country again? Is there any power that can deal adequately with 100,000 men of a people so intelligent, persevering, and courageous? I find that what is dwelt upon in this majority report,” page 7, is the immense importance of an early expansion of mining operations in the Transvaal. The report says -

The immense importance of an early expansion was emphasized by several witnesses. Sir Percy Fitzpatrick said that the general position of the country to-day was not to be justified on the basis of the mining industry’s position in August, 1899 ; it was only warranted on the assumption that the reasonable expectations of further development would be realized. There were properties awaiting development for which the skilled labour, machinery, and money could easily be found, and in connexion with which some £50,000,000 would be spent by way of working capital, as labour became available. The commitments of the country ‘ were heavier and more numerous than in 1899, and the superstructure reared on the industry vastly greater. The base would have to be broadened, or the building would topple.

I take that to mean, put in other language, that the statement of the honorable member for Bland is justified as to the overcapitalization of these South African mines. This passage amounts to a confession that the mines stand in the market, not at what may be termed their practical worth as they stand, but, at a speculative value. There is an attempt to claim, as their present value and for the present shareholders in those mines, something which can only be obtained, if at all, by an enormous increase of output, and by a much hurried utilization of their resources. One of the witnesses, Mr. J. A. Hamilton, who is a manager of one of the great mines in the Transvaal, said that -

The loss to shareholders through the standing idle of the 3,240 stamps, was about £3,000,000 sterling a year in dividends.

Then I find that Mr. F. Hellmann, general manager of the East Rand Proprietary mines, said that -

If a mine were laid out so that its ore might be exhausted, say in twenty years, “ if you double that time you increase the value of your claims and the shares of the company approximately 50 per cent.”

The report adds -

It is, therefore, imperative to find means to enable the mines to work to their full capacity, so that the European investor can earn a reasonable rate of interest on investment.

What is regarded as a “reasonable rate of interest” is not specified. There we have one side presented - the view of those who desire to introduce 220,000 labourers foi the exploitation of the mines of the Rand. What do thev say in regard to white labour ? The majority report says (page 15) -

No employers have continuously used white men for the rougher classes of manual labour.

I find, throughout their report, that the advocates of the introduction of Chinese always argue on the assumption that what is desired is that the white man shall work side by side with the kaffirs in the mines at the lowest kind of unskilled labour, shifting ore and other mechanical tasks of that description. They continually base their contentions on that assumption, which I shall presently show is unfounded. They say -

There are facts indeed which tend to show that an exactly contrary displacement of white by black labour has been in progress.

And they point to that as their answer to the demand that more white labour shall be employed in these mines. In regard to Mr. Creswell, whose statements have been referred to by the honorable member for Bland, they say -

With the single exception of those handed in by Mr. Creswell, all the figures adduced before the Commission supported the view that so far as the Transvaal mining is concerned, white labour cannot profitably compete with black. Mr. Creswell’s figures were disputed by competent witnesses, but it is not necessary to determine their exact value. His experiments were not carried out under test conditions; but even if they had been the results obtained in experiments of this character have little practical bearing upon the proposal to introduce white labourers in numbers for the reason that the profitable employment of white men depends upon the rate of wages paid, and the rate of wages is determined by such items as rents, cost, and conditions of living, variations in which completely alter all the factors of the experiment.

Considering that the Creswell experiment was tried on the Rand, in Rand mines, by men paying Rand rents, and buying food at Rand prices, this is rather a peculiar statement. It seems to show that the Commissioners were biased against white labour. They go on to say finally -

That the demand for native labour for the Transvaal mining industry is in excess of the present supply by about 129,000 labourers, and whilst no complete data of the future requirements of the whole industry are obtainable, it is estimated that the mines of the Witwatersrand alone will require within the next five years an additional supply of 196,000 labourers.

That is for the mines alone ; the total I gave before was for the mines and the farms.

Mr Cameron:

– How many white labourers are now employed ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Comparatively speaking, there are no white labourers employed in shovelling ore, that is to say, in doing what is called black men’s work. But there are white labourers doing other work, I think they number some 11,000. I have detained the House longer than I intended, but desire to place before honorable members the other side of the picture. This will be found in the minority report. The majority report is signed by ten members of the Commission, and the minority report is signed by only, two, Mr. Quin and Mr. Whiteside. The Commissioners signing the minority report say -

We are of opinion that a figure representing the net requirements of native labour is not to be arrived at by accepting without scrutiny the statements of interested parties, and especially of persons who have no permanent interest in the country, but desire an immediate expansion, regardless of future consequences or the permanent prosperity of this Colony.

They go on afterwards to reduce the number required to the number, either now or immediately, to be available in the country. They then proceed to say -

The principal evidence laid before your Excellency’s Commission, under the head of requirements, was that of the Chamber of Mines, an institution whose function is to watch over the interests of the shareholders in mining companies. It is composed of gentlemen who represent, and, for the most part, act under the instructions of the large financial houses, whose headquarters are in London or other European centres.. These financial houses control the mines, the majority of whose shares are held by persons whose direct interest in the welfare of this colony and its inhabitants is confined tothevalueof their share-holding. It is therefore obvious that, in carrying out their duties as guardians of the financial interests of people living outside this colony, the functions of the chamber is to see that the mines under their control pay the largest dividends possible to their absentee principals, and this without any regard to local feeling and opinion. We are far from suggesting, on these grounds, that the evidence of the chamber should have no weight; on the contrary, it would have been most unfortunate if their views had not come before your Excellency’s Commission, seeing tha t these views are the outcome of a’ policy concisely stated by Mr. Hennen Jennings, Commissioner of Mines - “White labour must come, it is absolutely inevitable; but I do not want to have it come.”

Then, referring to Mr. Creswell’s letter and other documents, they say -

In our opinion these documents demonstrate that the policy o.f the Chamber of Mines is directed to the perpetuation of the inferior race-labour system by the importation of Asiatics, and in one of oppositionto the growth of a large British working population.

The next important point the Commissioners making the minority report submit is to be found at page 3 of their report. They point out why at present white labour is so dear, and why, in some respects, it may be considered unsatisfactory. They quote the following evidence given before the Industrial Commission of 1897 by Mr. T. H. Leggett, a consulting engineer : -

Why is it then that these men are willing in one country to accept half the wages they require in another? I think the answer will be found in the simple fact that in America these men go with the idea of settling permanently. They become an integral part of the country. They say to themselves - “This country is good enough for us and our children.” Their margin of profit at the above stated wages is almost equivalent to their margin of profit in this country, due chiefly to the difference in the cost of living. - But, above all, they realize the fact that they have gone into a country in which they intend to stay and make their home. Here, on the contrary, the aim of nine miners out of every ten is to accumulate sufficient money to leave the country, which is not the country of their adoption, as in other Republics.

This evidence was taken under the late Republic -

And gentlemen until it is made so, until the labouring man - who is the backbone and sinew of any industry - becomes an integral part of the country ; until he feels that he can settle here and obtain for his family the necessaries and comforts of life, without this feeling of being obliged to save money in order to get away - until this condition of affairs prevails, we cannot hope to reduce this item of cost to a figure comparable to that which obtains in the United States.

That is an aspect of the question which, I confess, I was not in the least degree acquainted with until I read this minority report. Here is a statement as to what is hoped from white labour. It is too long to read the whole, . but I summarize it as well as I can. Dealing with tests hitherto made, the Commissioners quote the following evidence: -

The work expected from each white man was the same as that obtained from the native hammer boy.

And they add -

And throughout the whole of the evidence given on behalf of these companies appears practically the same prevailing idea, namely, that no change of organization or thought should be necessary in order to make it possible to extend the use of white labour, and diminish the number of natives required. The white men were not equipped mechanically at all ; no change was made apparently in an organization adapted to kaffir labour, which disregards the superior intelligence of the European ; and the management appear to have thought that thev had put out all the effort which could be required of them when they had substituted for each kaffir a white man at a higher rate of pay, from whom they only expected the kaffir amount of work.

Then they refer to one very important circumstance in connexion with the present condition of affairs in Johannesburg. They quote the evidence of a witness, Mr. White, of the New Goch Gold Mining Company, and the Lancaster Gold Mining Company, as follows : -

What I mean is that the question as to whether the white labourer would be employed, or whether local coloured labour would be em- ‘ ployed,, or whether it would be obtained from elsewhere, depends entirely on the wishes of the mine-owners. Primarily, they had their say, and if they say to their engineers - “We wish you to have white labour, we wish you to make a very great effort to have white labour on the mines, and the man who can show us how to use white labour will be well rewarded ;” then, I think, very good efforts would be made to use white labour, and that it might be successful. But, supposing the mineowners say - “ We would rather not have white labour ; we are not keen about it in any case,” then I do not think the engineers - I should not as an engineer myself - would have ‘any adequate incentive to put themselves out to try and draw in this white labour by making white labour a success. An engineer is a paid servant, whose business it is, politics apart, to carry out orders, or what he considers to be the wishes of his employers. I think it very natural - I do not wish to say anything against engineers, because I am an engineer myself, and have a very great feeling for them - but I do think this : that the direction in which an engineer puts forth his efforts depends upon the direction which his employer wants him to put forward his efforts. And if his employer did not hold forth an adequate inducement for him to put forth his efforts in a particular direction, it is very natural that he should not turn his attention that way, or if he does, it is in a half-hearted fashion.

Have you any reason to suppose that political affairs may influence the position as to the use of white labour? Certainly, I think it is very largely a political question. In fact, I think it is a political question of the very highest importance.

I have all but finished. I do not wish to speak for myself, because all that I know has been gained from official documents. Then they quote from the evidence of three engineers who formed a Board of Inquiry into the employment of white labour.

Taking 75 men per mine, over, say 5,000 * stamps, this would mean employment for an additional 3,750 white men, and it is unnecessary for us to point out to your Excellency what an immense benefit such employment would be at the present time, when so much is heard of the number of white men who are in want of work, and who can find no means of earning a livelihood.

They show that if the object of the mine-owners was to encourage the employment of white labour it would be done to their profit and to the permanent advantage of the whole country. They say -

We desire emphatically to state that the mineral wealth of the Transvaal is the property of the people of the Transvaal, both white and coloured, and not of the foreign investor, who is entitled to nothing more than good interest upon the capital he invests. It should, therefore, be worked in the interests of the people of the Transvaal, and in our opinion this is best secured by regulating the development of the country by the combined supply of white and African labour.

Their final recommendations are extremely moderate in tone -

  1. That there is sufficient labour in Central and Southern Africa for present requirements, although efforts will be required to obtain it.

The reason why efforts are required was given very largely by the honorable member for Bland, and it is admitted here. The sudden and drastic lowering of wages and inconsiderate treatment at’ certain mines have driven away the natives, and discouraged them from seeking employment in the mines. The native is by nature and habit an agricultural labourer. He requires to be tempted into mine labour, and taught what there is to be taught. It does not come to him as naturally as agricultural labour. Of course wages are the chief temptation to the native, who does not care about work. The other conclusions of the minority are -

  1. That the present so-called shortage in the

Transvaal is largely due to temporary and preventable causes.

  1. That understanding future requirements to mean such as, if satisfied, will benefit the country as a whole, we consider there is also sufficient labour in the territories named above for future requirements.
  2. That in many ways the supply of native labour can be supplemented and superseded by white labour.

In regard to African labour I have only one thing to say, that the majority report advocates the introduction of the Chinese, but it still aims at employing as much negro labour as at present, in fact, if possible, at extending it. In this regard it is faced by certain difficulties, which the majority report discusses. The difficulties and proposals to meet them, I think, cast a good deal more light on what I might term the policy of exploitation. The native has few wants, and they are easily satisfied. He is not, therefore, to be induced to. work for long periods, and gene- rally requires a special temptation to labour at all. The difficulty in Africa everywhere appears to be to get the native to work, and in this regard there is a slightly humorous passage from a report furnished to the German Government, and published by them in regard to their West African possessions -

The difficulty of procuring native labour still makes itself felt in many districts of the German protecorate in Africa and the South Sea, and the question of the best means to adopt in order to induce the natives to work, has not yet been satisfactorily solved. Except in the case of a few tribes, who seem more actively inclined by nature, all the efforts of the authorities, as well as the preaching of the gospel of work by the missionaries, have borne little fruit. The wants of the natives are so few that it is difficult to offer any inducement sufficiently tempting to make him overcome his natural disinclination to work, and the question whether it is justifiable under these circumstances to make him work under compulsion has been much discussed of late in the colonial press.

At the close of their report the majority make their suggestions to improve the labour supply. They reject, to their honour, the proposal to employ force. They think that something is to be done by the imposition of higher taxes, because the native would have to earn something to pay his taxes. They think that the labour tax has a great deal to be said in its favour, and that by altering the native land tenure system they might make things not quite so easy for him as at present. They consider the effect of his tribal system. They inquire whether the native social system should be attacked with the object of modifying or destroying it. Then they proceed to make recommendations, such as the abolition of polygamy, the compulsory use of European clothing, the prevention of squatting, and so on. But all means are more or less Unsatisfactory. It is on those grounds that they appeal to the public of that State to introduce yellow labour as well as black. The contention of the minority report is that the black labour is sufficient ; that it belongs to the country ; that it is labour of the simplest and lowest grade, and that there is plenty of employment for as much as can be supplied. It leaves the best openings for the increase of white labour. The introduction ofyellow labourcauses a very much greater and deeper difficulty, as has been well expressed by the. Bishop of Mashonaland, who points out that-

The agricultural industry is more important to the permanent inhabitants of these territories than the mining industry, and sufficient allowance has not been made for the fact that the native tribes are agricultural labourers first and naturally, and mine labourers secondly, and after training.

His lordship goes on to say -

There has been presented to the Government of the Transvaal two reports of the Native Labour Commission. With regard to the majority report, it must be observed that that report assumes the necessity of getting as much gold as possible out of the earth in the shortest space of time. It is not necessary for the permanent good of a community that the mineral wealth of a country should be emptied out of the earth in a limited number of years. For all reasonable permanent returns for investment, with patience, good management, and sympathy (which need not mean maudlin sentiment) sufficient native labour could be secured from those races indigenous to the country, who have been placed in our keeping, and for whom we are primarily responsible. I am further opposed to the introduction of Asiatics into South Africa, as a citizen, on economic, social, and moral grounds. Economically, it will introduce unfair competition between them and the white man and the natives of the’ country. It is easy to make laws restricting aliens to certain localities and certain work, but this is to put the political clock back at least 500 years. And, further, these new laws will have to be administered if necessary by force. With a hundred thousand Chinamen in the country, how is the Transvaal or Rhodesia to police such a horde, in addition to the increasing difficulty of looking after the present 2,000,000 natives. Secondly, the Eastern does not take long before he is easilyable to compete with the white man in all but technical work, even within the mining areas, and I hold that in spite of the most stringent regulations he will find his way out of compounds, or back from China, as a quasi settler, just as the coolie has in Natal. Socially and morally, I am opposed on physiological grounds to the mixture of such distinct types as the Mongol and the Bantu. Lastly, in view of Federation, no individual State has the right, however carefully it may be done for its own local self-interest, to involve the rest of South Africa in such a tremendous responsibility as that of the legalized introduction of Asiatics into this Commonwealth without at least securing beforehand the consent and cooperation of all the future States.

We know what Cape Colony has said. We know that the Bishop of Worcester in England has echoed this protest on behalf of the English public. I fear that I have exhausted the patience of honorable members, but thought it necessary to satisfy not only this House, but those persons who may choose to criticise us from abroad, and particularly from the Transvaal - that at all events it is not without reflection, without some inquiries, and without some knowledge of the authorities who are entitled to speak, that we now pronounce a decided opinion on this Ordinance of a country so far removed from us. It is but another version of the social problem which in One shape or other is perpetually confronting us. This is no party question, and I wish to make no party capital out of it. But the issue rises before us, and will continue to rise more and more in every development of every self-governing nation as to the extent to which all other considerations of nationality and humanity are to be ‘ sacrificed in the race for cheapness without thought of what that cheapness means. The very taproot of modern thought on this subject touches the distinction between a cheapness which may, on the one hand, be beneficial, because it springs from the development of machinery, and improved production, which make the fruits of the earth, or of men’s toil available at lower rates. These are universal benefits. But the cheapness that is bought at the expense of human flesh and blood, or, worse still, the cheapness that is purchased by the sacrifice of character, intelligence, and independence, which involves the creation of a servile caste, white or black, is the costliest ‘and deadliest drug in which any nation can indulge. I take it that the fundamental problem in South Africa is the problem that confronts civilization everywhere. It is the problem of problems that will face us next week in connexion with our Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and which, indeed, confronts ns at every turn in our social legislation. It cannot be neglected. Shall our object be merely that of tearing from the vitals of the earth all the gold that if can yield, in the smallest space of time, for distant investors united by no tie to the country, careless of its future and the waste they leave ‘ behind, and unmindful of the social system which is the result? Or shall we say that national interests and humane considerations stand higher, that they ought to be placed more and more by the statesmen and by the people, who shall breed or become statesmen, in the forefront of their policy?Shall we not say that if we are anything we are a nation, and founders of nations yet to be within an Empire which is British. It is not British in the colour of all its subjects, but in the number of its white citizens,’ who control it, who give it authority, force, and weight; whose character and courage sustain it in the day of battle as well as in its industrial tasks from hour to hour. The- Empire is great because it is British, and the stronger and more numerous our Britons, the stronger the Empire must become. We were told at the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa, that it was a war for the miners of the Transvaal. If the authorities had goneon to say that it was a war for Chinese miners, what a different aspect it would have worn. We were told also that it was a war for the enlargement of the franchise, and to secure increasing selfgoverning powers. But whose franchise? The Chinese franchise? Whose self-governing powers? The self-governing powers of Asiatics? Why were we not told of this outcome at the commencement of the struggle? We should then have said - ‘‘Keep your mines ; your cheapness is too dearly purchased. It is not to be bought with blood.” No Empire can be made strong by such means, but only by its men - its white people, and in proportion to their quality. You may multiply the total of your imports and your exports, and magnify your banking account ; you may expand your area by force, or guile; but you will impoverish your nation. . You will plant in it the. seeds of decay. Although you may be momentarily advantaged, and add to the wealth of many who have already too much, if you destroy the British manhood, the basis upon which the nation Tests, it will fall. In the . words of Sir Percy Fitzgerald, the base will not sustain the superstructure; it will topple to destruction.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– After the very comprehensive and eloquent speeches made by the mover of the motion, and the Prime Minister, I am sure that I shall best meet the wishes of the House by moving -

That the debate be now adjourned.

Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.

page 719

TEMPORARY CHAIRMEN OF COMMITTEES

Mr. SPEAKER, in pursuance of standing order 25, laid upon the table his warrant nominating Mr. Batchelor, Mr. Groom, Mr. McDonald, and Mr. Wilks, to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees.

Houseadjourned at 10.5 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 March 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040317_reps_2_18/>.