2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker took . the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WATSON laid upon the table thefollowing paper : -
Copies of telegrams between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Western Australia, with reference to the kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the attention of the. Prime Minister been directed to the following statement which appears in this ‘morning’s Argus?
Labour ‘ Ministers -and members, who weretreated as persons of no importance, buttonholed all the disaffected radicals, and showed them official labour league letters, promising that’ they would not ‘be opposed at the next election if they- supported the Ministry in its hour of need.
If so, I wish to know if that statement is correct, and if he will give the House full . particulars of these “official labour league letters.”
– I think that notice might be given of that question.
– I wish to repeat the. question I put to the PostmasterGeneral yesterday as to whether he is in a position to say what stage has been reached in the negotiations for penny postage between Australia and Great Britain.
– Since the honorable member mentioned the matter yesterday, I have obtained the following statement from the Secretary to my Department : -
Beyond what has recently appeared in the newspapers with respect to a statement that is said to have been made by the Government in the House of Commons, nothing is known in this Department as to any recent developments in connexion with the penny postage rate on letters.
From the statement referred to, it appears tihat the British Government is now disposed to accept the offer made by that of the Commonwealth, viz., to accept and deliver as fully prepaid letters from Great Britain bearing the penny rate, while maintaining the existing rate of 2½d. from Australia.
The estimated loss that would accrue to the Commonwealth by the adoption of the penny rate to the United Kingdom and British Possessions is£21,000 per annum.
The estimated loss that would be caused by the adoption of a penny rate for letters within the Commonwealth is about£265,000 per annum, of course in addition to the loss sustained in Victoria by a penny rate confined to the State, which has been estimated at various amounts, but cannot be placed below£55,000 per annum.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs if he will obtain and plac’e on the table reports upon the administration of the Electoral Act at the last Melbourne election and simi!ar information regarding the Riverina election now taking place. My desire is that honorable members may know how the Act is working.
– I will do so. ‘
– I wish to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs whether,’ since attention has been drawn to the extraordinary and undesirable delay which now occurs in the passing of entries in the Sydney Customs House, ap parently owing to a shortage in the checking staff, he has taken, or will take, steps to remove the causes, of complaint. The delay I speak of is not merely a matter of minutes, but, in some cases, has amounted to hours. It is highly desirable that the evil should be removed.
– The matter has come under the notice of the Department, and I have asked that inquiry be made to ascertain whether the staff ‘is undermanned. I shall be glad to give the honorable member further information at a subsequent period.
– Immediately after the adjournment of the House last month a paragraph appeared in the Melbourne Age which contained this statement -
It is the intention of the new PostmasterGeneral, Mr. Mahon, to order a strict investigation into the circumstances in which the construction of the telegraph line from Port Augusta to Tarcoola was ordered.
Has that investigation been made? Has the Minister called to his counsel the two South Australian members of the Cabinet ; and, if so, is he prepared to report the result ?
– I did not authorize the publication of that paragraph, nor have I given information which would justify its appearance.
– In view of the practice which has arisen in foreign countries of measuring vessels by a system which gives them an extraordinary gross tonnage in order that they may claim the largest bounty, and an exceptional net tonnage in order that they may obtain lower dues in British ports than are paid by British vessels - a state of affairs with which the Imperial Government has had to deal - will the Minister for Trade and Customs see that the matter is dealt with in any legislation, such as the Navigation Bill, introduced by the Government, so that in Australian ports British vessels may be on an equality with foreign vessels?
– Would it be possible for us to’ deal with the matter under the Merchant Shipping Act?
– It may be, and it will be desirable to do so, if it be possible. At any rate, the matter should be dealt with, and I hope that the attention of the Government’ will be given to it. There can be no objection to following the British Government in the steps they have taken
– The honorable member was good enough to notify me upon this subject, . and I have, so far as opportunity has been afforded to me, investigated the matter. I find that what he states is correct, that foreign vessels obtain an undue advantage over British vessels trading to our ports, and I am entirely with him in the desire to prevent this. I am advised, however, that the matter is now largely one for State action, and that until we get legislative authority to interfere, it is not advisable for the Commonwealth Government to do anything. So far as the policy of interference is concerned, we are with the honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman means that the Government will seek authority to interfere?
Debate resumed from 19th May (vide page 1350), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the letter from the Secretary of State for the Colonies regarding the use of the title of “Honorable” by members of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia be printed.
– I think that the arrangement made by the Prime Minister, under which his Ministerial statement is open to the full consideration of honorable members, is a wise one. The course more sanctioned by usage is for a Prime Minister to state his policy, and for some person on the opposite side of the- House to make observations upon it, members generally being deprived of the opportunity to discuss it. That is a usage which, I think, would be more honoured, as a rule, in the breach than in the observance, since Ministerial statements affect every member, and upon an occasion like the present are of a very far-reaching character. One . of the best features of the present most trying situation, out of which political battles must follow throughout the Commonwealth, is that the advent of the present Administration to office has not been taken advantage of by any honorable member sitting on the Opposition side of the House to indulge in unpleasant attacks. There has been no attempt to sneer at this Ministry because it happens to be constituted entirely of inexperienced men - a fact which I suppose is’without precedent in the British Empire. There has been no attempt to make political capital out of that fact.
– There was a similar Ministry in Queensland.
– Did it last very long?
– It is lasting now.
– My honorable colleague is referring to the Coalition Government.
– However that may be, as I said on a former occasion, that sort of imputation against men at the beginning of a responsible career is of the most ungenerous character. It could be levelled against men who afterwards become perhaps the greatest figures in political history, and consequently even on that score, upon which the public might, without any bias or unfriendly feeling towards the Ministry, have some degree of anxiety, there has been no ungenerous word said on this side. Then again, so far as I am concerned, it has been my happy privilege throughout the whole’ of my connexion with labour members and Labour Parties to testify, from the knowledge I have gained of them and of their methods behind the scenes, that they have uniformly been honorable and straightforward. My quarrel, which is a serious one, with the present Ministry, in no sense touches questions affecting their straightforwardness as men, or their integrity as politicians. It is one of the distinguishing merits of the Labour Party, viewing them as a parliamentary party, that, possessed as they have been for a number of years of sometimes overwhelming power, and always a serious power, they have not attempted to exert undue pressure upon those in office. I was Prime Minister in New South Wales for five years in alliance, practically, with the Labour Party all the time, “ and with perhaps one slight exception towards the close of my Ministerial career, which was repudiated by the party, and which was absolutely a mere individual case, no member of the party even - and that is putting the matter more broadly than if I referred to the Labour Party as a body - ever endeavoured to exercise the -slightest pressure upon me in the performance of my public duties. There is another merit which the Labour Party have always had, and that is that they have never exposed themselves to the slightest suspicion of any desire for personal advantage. Although they have possessed a large amount of political power, no man can truly say that they have ever endeavoured to intrigue themselves into office, or into positions of emolument. Perhaps I might make a slight mental reservation with regard to an incident at the beginning of this session in another place, but I do not blame the party for what then occurred-
– Nearly half of the representatives in the other Chamber are members of the Labour Party.
– Of course, that is so, and I do not attach any blame to the party for what was done on that occasion. I am speaking generally. It is also a fact, to the credit of which the Labour Party are entitled, that so far from seizing with avidity an opportunity of going on the Treasury benches, they showed every anxiety to avoid bringing about the crisis which has resulted in their, being placed in office. Of course. I do not know everything, but I believe, as the late Prime Minister said last night, that the Labour Party, so far from endeavouring to take advantage of the division amongst members of other parties in the House, had only one anxiety, and that was to endeavour to prevent the necessity which has arisen for a change of Government. To the eternal credit of the late Prime Minister, he refused to listen to the multitude of suggestions which offered him a continuance in the distinguished position which he occupied, probably for the whole of the life of this Parliament, as an alternative to the surrender of principle. He has, in my opinion, become an infinitely greater man by that defeat than he ever was before, and I do not think that my honorable friends” opposite have ever uttered one word of complaint as to the course which he followed. I have recently had some negotiations with the honorable and learned member, and since he has had to refer to this matter, I suppose the House will pardon me if I do so. I wish, in justice to myself, to say, at once, that I had no knowledge of the commission which the honorable and learned member possessed from his party to open negotiations with more than one other party. If I had been aware that my honorable friend was in a position to negotiate either with myself, or with Mr. Watson, I should never have entered into conference until that question had been settled, and I wish, in justice to myself, to say that I have no sort of sympathy with that attitude in these crises, which makes it a, matter of indifference which party any man joins. I should have absolutely refused to sit at the table with any negotiator whose commission was of the open description to which I have referred.
– It was publicly stated in the press reports in the course of the meetings of our party, that it was decided that
I should be left free to negotiate with either side.
– No doubt, but I live hundreds of miles away from Melbourne, and there are some newspapers published in that city which I never read. My honorable friend had a perfect right, owing to the publicity which I now learn was given to the fact, to believe that I was just as well aware as himself of his position.
– Would the right honorable gentleman say that the fact was not brought under his notice?
– Absolutely and emphatically no. Not only was it not brought before me in an official way, but I had not the slightest suspicion that such was the case.
– Every other honorable member knew it.
Honorable Members. - No, no.
– The fact was common public property.
– We are -in the happy position in this House, and it is a credit to us, that we generally accept personal assurances, even despite newspaper assertions; and honorable members, and my honorable friend, the late Prime Minister, will readily accept my assurance that at the time we began to negotiate, which was long before we met, in order to understand whether there was any prospect of an agreement - because we both felt, as men of experience, that before any formal meeting took place, we should by some preliminary interchange of views, arrive at an opinion as to whether there was any prospect of agreement - 1 was unaware of the fact which is now stated to have been publicly announced before that stage was reached. Our preliminary communications were of such a nature that both the honorable and learned member and myself felt that we could meet together with a reasonable prospect of arriving at an agreement. My knowledge qf any communication with the Labour Government or Labour Party was gained after that conference had far advanced. I learned of it at a time when there was no doubt whatever about our ultimate agreement. I wish to put myself in a plain position before this House, and therefore I repeat that at no time did my course of action depend upon the contingency of a coalition of any kind with the present Government.
– How long did that ignorance of the situation on the part of the right honorable member continue?
– Until the conference had practically arrived at an agreement, and the matter then became to me one. of no importance. I simply desire to clear the ground as to the position I occupied when the conference took place; and wish it to be understood, even in a more public arena than this, that from first to last I never held out the slightest chance, overture, or prospect of a coalition with the Labour Party or the present- Government.
– Quite so.
– It might have been a mistake. It might have been because of a conviction that if I did hold out such an overture there would not be the slightest hope of success. The critics are free to adopt any alternative they choose, but the fact remains that I. held out no such prospect.
– The feeling which’ prevailed at the elections did not give rise to that idea.
– It is a source of the greatest pleasure to me that the Labour Party is in the hands of a leader who in the bitterest fights has given an example of courtesy and fairness which the most matured statesman might well imitate. There has been some talk about the Labour Party consisting of men who” were at. one time manual labourers. I think, and every man who has any feeling of humanity must ngree with me, that if there is one phase of success in life that is grander than another, it is when that success is achieved by men who began under every difficulty, who were confronted at the outset by a bitter wall of prejudice, to say nothing else, and who knew that their unhappy fate was such that if they rose to the highest -altitudes by their merit and ability, there would still be a wide circle o’f persons - people who are unworthy of much admiration, whose feelings belong to a darker time in human history - who would look upon them with contempt. One of the greatest triumphs of the Labour Partyis that; although as a body they sprang suddenly from the humblest walks of life, without generations of training and the influences which that training exerts upon heredity, the members of it have shown, in all the trying situations of public life, a degree of ‘ fairness and courtesy that is worthy of the highest standards of the public” life of this Empire.
– Like the Japanese, as a nation we have accomplished all this in one generation.
Mr.REID. - I am anxious that throughout the whole of the great battle of which this is but the first preliminary engagement, the same fairness and courtesy shall prevail. We may meet in conference, we may accept or reject bases for union, but the present situation is ‘too large for our ultimate arbitrament. If I thought it were a mere question of administration, I should say that the members of the Government, being in office, are entitled to a fair trial, and that no such trial can be given to them unless they have a fair and legitimate opportunity to show their mettle and demonstrate their administrative capacity. If I viewed the position from any such standpoint, I should refuse to take part in any movement, public or private, to displace the present Administration. Then, again, if it were a mere question of majority rule in this House - a matter relating merely to our own individual ideas and methods of solving the political situation to our advantage, as a majority, irrespective of our political principles - I should say that the Labour Party was just as much entitled to sit on the Government benches as ther late Government were entitled to remain in possession of them during the last threeyears.
– Then the right honorable member differs from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– That is one of the advantages of not being pledged.
– Is there to be no coalition then - is there no pledge ?
– I am coming to that point- Even the late Prime Minister and I - al-‘ though I believe we are at the present moment more in accord on all matters of principle bearing on this situation than are any other two honorable members - are free to stand up one against the other in this ‘ House. One of my grave objections, which I shall elaborate at a later stage, to the principle upon which the Labour Party is founded as a part of this Parliament is this : That whilst pandemonium may rage in their caucus, whilst individual opinionmay fearlessly and strongly assert itself, as it always does, in a healthy atmosphere,, the moment a decision is arrived at a change takes place. The voice which we hear in this Chamber is not the voice of the man” who speaks; it does not necessarily represent his own principles and his own opinions ; it represents the view, not of an individual conscience Or an individual intellect, but of a collective conscience and a collective’ intellect..’
– The right honorable member’s party holds caucuses.
– We have a caucus, and, as in the case of the Labour’ Party’s caucus, it is a secret one. I wish to deal with this matter fairly, for I desire, in justice to my opponents, to frankly and fully state the whole of my objections to the present Administration. I am happy to say that there is not one of them which will bear the tinge of a personal imputation. But when we come to deal with a situation which seems to me, although I may be wrong, to place the destinies of this Commonwealth in the balance for all time, it is useless to talk to me of a programme put forward by the Government. A statement by the Prime Minister as to what is to be done this session is put before me, but I laugh at the programme; I repudiate it. Why? Because I know their platform. Who is authorized in Australia to put forward a policy for the Labour Party ? The present Ministry ?No ! I am going to give utterance to many opinions from which my honorable friends opposite will differ, but’ I trust in fairness to me and to the Labour Party, some member of the Ministry will follow me and clearly put the other side of the position before the House.
– The right honorable member need be under no misapprehension.
– I think that we have in the Cabinet a Minister who, when other matters do not intervene, is one of the most affectionate gentlemen of whom I know - a man with whom I have alwayshad, happily, the most pleasant relations, and I trust the accession to dignity which he has experienced will not break the cordiality of our political intercourse. It is my misfortune that my action threatens his political’ position. My stand is taken, not on personal, but on public grounds. I was saying that when this Ministry puts forward a policy for next session they do not put before the House and the country the policy to which they are pledged as forcibly as one link of an anchor chain is pledged to another. The platform set forth in the document which I hold in my hand is not a policy for a session ; it is not a policy for a period ; it is not a policy to disarm opposition and to allay fears.
– Hear, hear.
– I am alluding to the labour platform, and not to the . honorable member’s policy.
– Nor is ours such a- policy as the right honorable member has described.
– We shall see by-and-by.
– We propose to do what is practicable to-dav.
– My’ honorable friend will allow me to analyze it. He will, I am sure, permit me to go behind the programme he has submitted here, to the platform of the party.
– Hear, hear; we do not depart from it.
– My honorable friend will admit that I have not indulged in any language that is not straightforward.
– Is the right honorable member referring to a platform adopted in Victoria? Is he responsible for the’ State politics of Victoria and for Mr. Bent?
– I must ask my honorable and learned friend, before he makes an interjection, to wait until he has heard what I have to say about it. I do not propose to refer to the State politics of Victpria.or to Mr. Bent, but to the Federal fighting platform and the general Federal platform of the Labour Party. I do not know what distinction honorable members opposite make between them.
– Our programme is what we put first.
– That is right; and mayI say that one of the misfortunes of a minority Government in a House of Parliament is that the weakest thing is always put first. The thing that will disarm opposition is always put . first. The Prime Minister, in the difficult position in which he is placed, keeps one eye on us with a milk and water programme for six months, or twelve months, until he can get real strength, whilst he keeps his other eye open upon the power outside, to whom he says - “ Wait until I get strong with these milk and water men, and then I will come on with the true national issues afterwards.” ‘
– What is the right- honorable member going to. do?
– My honorable and learned friend will have his opportunity, later. I do hope that the honorable and learned gentleman, who is nothing if not enthusiastic, will just quietly take a note, which he -is sure to forget after he has taken it, . and allow me to go on. I am. happy to. think that -in all. these remarks I receive - no expressions . of resentment from honorable members opposite. The moment they cease to be a fighting, straightforward party their existence will be destroyed.
– And properly so, too.
– One thing I always admire about labour and labour unions. You may differ from them, but they are thorough. They never sacrifice one another; they act loyally together. That is a tribute of admiration which cannot be applied everywhere.
– The right honorable member realizes that?
– I do not desire that my speech should be broken up.
– I was only giving my right honorable friend a hand along ; I desired to help him.
– I do not want my honorable and learned friend’s help on this occasion ; he always gives it to me when I do not want it. What I desire to emphasize now in the strongest manner of which I am capable, is this: If I differ from the open declared policy of the party set forward in black and white, and which is binding on every member of that party to the last generation - an everlasting bond-
– I hope so.
– Well, I am putting it, I think, fairly. The bond is one which honorable members opposite have solemnly signed, not for an election, not for three years, not for ten years, but for all the period, it may be of a life-time, during which they can honestly remain attached to it. So that when my honorable friend talks about a mild programme for this session, I, as a public man, before I give this Ministry an opportunity to develop strength, want to know what’ their ultimate and real policy is. If von addressed the political labour leagues, who hold this Labour Party in the hollow of their hands, with the Ministerial programme which we are asked to accept for this ses- . sion, they would rise in revolt. They would say to. this Government, “ Why our sacrifices ? Why our unions ? Why have we put you forward into the high places of the earth whilst we have worked loyally and honestly in the common walks of life ? Was it not because you impressed us with the view that if you got political power you would come out with a fearless policy which would bring universal happiness and equality to the homes of the masses of Australia?” Was not that the inspiration of the great labour movement which honorable gentlemen opposite represent to-day ? They might have followed a more politic course. They might have done what older parties have often done. They might have shrouded their real principles in a convenient mist, as the present Ministry is doing now, but these labour bodies never stooped to that. Even when they were a mere struggling minority without unions, and without power, the few men they had were men of fearlessness and men of principle, whether right or wrong. They were not ashamed to put their names to and to stake their lives upon a definite programme which, when we examine it presently, we shall find does not aim at reform, but amounts to revolution.
– Evolution, according to my honorable friend’s view, I -admit. I am satisfied that every honorable member opposite believes that is an evolution, and if 1 believed it represented an evolution it would be my duty to stop talking about what the majority is in this House, where it sits, and of whom it is constituted. My duty would be to stand loyally behind the Labour Party. That would be my place.
– Not a bit of it.
– Some people do not put such a low value upon my personality in Australia, and my honorable friend the Minister for Trade and Customs will perhaps find that his estimate is a mistaken one. The honorable gentleman should not allow himself to be carried away by sudden accession to power. My honorable friend, who has always appeared as a fair, candid, and courteous man, as a Minister ought not to lose those virtues. I am not belittling the labour leaders of Australia. I say that the men who made this “party, and who made this labour movement, with a degree, perhaps, of political recklessness and want of experience, but with absolute fairness, put a policy in black and white, so that every man, woman, and child in Australia could read it. Do we hear any echo of that national policy in which they believe, in the speech of the Prime Minister? For once this dense mass who have been kept out of the ruling powers of civilization, who for centuries have been under the heel of this tyranny or that tyranny - for once labour stands before the world triumphant, in a position not only of political advantage, but of national power. And the labour of Australia is looking on. What is the millennium which this new Labour Government now offers to the people of Australia ? A tobacco monopoly !
Even in this matter they have not the courage of their convictions, because they will not sell by retail. Surely the glamour of ministerial surroundings has not so suddenly infected my honorable friends that they see anything undignified in the nation assuming the position of a retailer? The theory of a national monopoly in tobacco is an absurdity, if any benefit to the consumers is involved, unless the State itself sells every ounce of tobacco to them.
– One step at a time !
– I am very glad indeed that my honorable friend, again perfectly straightforward, says “ One step at a time “ ; but I ask honorable members who see this ominous advance step by step at a time, which is to lead up to a revolution of all our industrial conditions, to decide - and they will have to decide - whether the first steps in the march of this destructive policy are to carry their sanction with them. People outside do not understand political strategy, possibly they do not understand the attitude of a member of Parliament who suspends his action on a matter of national policy, from a feeling of personal hatred. Are these announcements true which represent me as an object of hatred to the Labour Party ?
– Has there been anything in our intercourse, has there been anything in their statements to me which has indicated that?
– We have a political objection.
– Exactly, as I have to my honorable friend; but I hope that my intercourse with the men of labour, not only here but in New South Wales, has been such as not to earn their hatred, at any rate.
– The right ‘ honorable gentleman may be with us to-morrow.
– I only wish to clear the atmosphere from these personal and sinister reports which are aimed at driving me out of the public life of Australia. Let us know before the public whether I am hated by the Labour Party. If they think so, let them say so. Let me know whether there is a man here who hates me so strongly that he makes that an excuse for performing, or not performing, a great national duty. If I am a stumbling block, let me go. If I am a sort of outcast whose presence in this Parliament impedes some great national development, let me go. I am prepared to make the sacrifice; but I shall not be driven from my duty by my enemies. I am not made of that stuff that the men who wish me ill will cause me to betray my trust. Let those who are not my enemies say that I can do anything to bring men who think alike into one party, and I shall do it. Let the honorable and learned member for Ballarat be Prime Minister, let any man here have that or any other distinction. They can have them all. I submit that the time is coming when these personal issues, if they are to prevail over national interests, must be brought out in the light of day. I am prepared to meet them. Not looking at the members of my own party, but addressing all those honorable members on this side whom I have opposed so long, I am prepared if they wish it to retire from any position in this Parliament, or in any possible combination; but I am not conscious of anything in my public life which makes me an object of hatred. I have pursued from my boyhood, on a line of perfect truth and consistency, the subject which has dominated the politics of Australia for thirty years. During the whole of my manhood, have I ever changed on it, or betrayed it? In my hour of power, when it came, did I put forward some milk and water programme to attract support? ‘ I immediately came forward with the radical policy of my life ; I immediately staked my Ministerial life on a system of free trade and land taxation, and when the House of Privilege stood across my, path and threw out my first measure .with contempt, did I pursue the orthodox course of talking at large and swallowing the insult? No; I immediately used the power I had, and dissolved the Parliament.
– They do not do that in Victoria.
– Well, I have the honour of having done it, and to the eternal credit of every man, whether in the Labour Party or out of it, I have never been met with trie slightest reproach on the subject. So that I do not think I am quite the man to be made a target for malicious attack. An attack which’ comes from men who fear my influence, who wish to destroy the weight of my career, is one that does not move me ; but to be put before the people of Australia, after my career, whatever it has been as a man whom this party hates and that party shuns is a treatment of a public man which I think is not fair. There is another matter which I should like to mention, and I think that my honorable and learned friend the late Prime Minister will allow me to do so. Perhaps I may be allowed to mention that the attitude which he has taken up with reference to himself has been in no sense brought about by any desire or anxiety of mine to supplant bim. I do not wish to raise the veil from private confidences ; but my honorable and learned friend, I am sure, will pardon me if I say that those who represent me as striving to make any condition for this union of parties, who represent me as pressing my claims on him, as forcing him to take any course which he had not previously resolved on taking, put me in an unfair light.
– Hear, hear !
– I pass away from these personal matters to come to what is the real point at which I must join issue with the Government. Whenwe were in alliance the alliance was not to destroy, principles in which I believed, but to carry them into Jaw. Is there any dishonour in accepting assistance from the Labour Party to pass a free trade Tariff or a land tax ? There is no dishonour in support of that sort. They and I believed in a land tax, and many of them put the land tax above the fiscal question by . their votes. But it was an honorable alliance on honorable lines. And I think that my honorable friends’ will admit that there never was any talk amongst us of what we would do to one another when an election came round. We never made any secret compact of any kind. When the election took place, as a matter of fairness to these gentlemen who were fighting this great battle with me, side by side, I told my party - I do not mean the parliamentary party, but the election party - that if any man-
– The outside organizations.
– Yes, the organizations of the free-trade party; I told them that if any man wanted to come out against a labour man who had been fighting my battles, I would not have! it. It was a fair alliance.
– Did we not treat the right honorable member in . the same way?
– Absolutely. Have I not said over and over again - and I say it once more - that a more generous body of men in their treatment of a Prime Minister whom they often held in the hollow of their hand I. never knew. A more generous treatment of a Prime Minister no unpledged party ever gave. I
– And this is the return for it.
– Then there was minority rule?
– It was carrying out a majority programme.
– That is. the case to-day.
– All these objections about minority rule are mere personal considerations. The main point is the principles that are carried out.
– Hear, hear.
– That is a fair challenge, and I am going to test it. But before I test it, I want to clear the ground in the, view df honorable members who are not so familiar as some of us are with events in which I have been concerned. All through that friendly alliance with the Labour Party I was fighting for great principles in which I believed, and they were helping me to carry them out. That is an honorable position.’ Well, now, I should like to come to the most important point of all. The position of honorable members sitting -on this side of the House, whether they form a party or do not, is an absolutely different situation. All the observations, all the analogies, that might be made or constructed from the past, as if they would throw any light upon the present, would be waste of time. We are not dealing now with a party which, conscientiously believing as they did in most of the measures of the late Government, honestly supported them. We are dealing with an entirely different situation. And I say this : that if there are any members sitting on this side of the House who honestly believe in the national policy of the Labour Party, the proper course’ is open to them. They have no right to sit in opposition at all. They need not join the Labours Party. That ‘is another matter. But how can a man sit here as a man opposed to a Government whose policv he believes in ? I do not put such a strain upon any friends of mine. If there is any man in the party which I have the honour to lead, who in his heart believes in this - Labour policy, let him honestly, like a man, go over and take his place on that side of the House. It is not necessary, surely, to ask whether a member can be admitted to the party.
– There is the open door.
– Surely he can be admitted if he will accept the programme. If he can pass the tyler, the open door is always there. Any one of us, if we believe in their policy, can decide for ourselves whether he will join their party or not. But we have no right to oppose them if we believe in them. We have no right to intrigue against them. I do not want any intrigue against this Government.
– What, never?
– I do not call an honest conference an intrigue. Surely, when honorable members opposite say that the door is always open, they cannot object to a conference. Surely those who send frenzied telegraph messages to their masters, to ask them to relieve them from some disabilities which will enable them to get men to give them support, must not talk about negotiations. There is one advantage about the conduct of my honorable and learned friend, the exPrime Minister, and myself. The first condition of our understanding when we met was this : - Everything we agreed upon must be put before the public of Australia in black and white.
– Rest assured that the same course will be adopted by the present Ministry.
Mr.REID.- There is a stage in all negotiations which must be private. But what the public want to know is not what members talk about, but what they have agreed about. Because very few . will agree with the whole of a speech that a man will make, whilst they mav perfectly agree with the things he is going to do. And that was our position. Whatever we did our party and ultimately the public must know. Everything we agreed upon was drawn up in written form. There is only one matter that was left to the ex-Prime Minister and myself. A condition of these negotiations before we met in conference was that all personal questions between him and myself should stand aside, and not even be discussed - that our only discussion in the conference should concern itself with a basis of public policy. My right honorable friend, the member for Balaclava, who was there, and my honorable friend, the member for Macquarie, who was there, will confirm what I have said - that all conversations between the ex-Prime Minister and myself as to the personal matter, did not form any part of the proceedings of the conference. Well, now I have come, as’ I have said, to this question of the programme of the Labour Party. In the first place, it is only right ‘to ask - because any inaccuracy just now will be unfortunate - whether I am right in this assumption : that the Federal platform of the Labour Party is faithfully published in a book circulated in Melbourne, and issued by Mr. Prendergast, who, I suppose, is an authority on the subject? I hold the book- in my hand. It is “ compiled and published by G. M. Prendergast, M.L.A., under the auspices of the Political Labour Council of Victoria.”
– Any one can get a copy.
– I am not asking about that. Is this copy correct? Will the Prime Minister kindly look at it and tell, me?
– I will get the right honorable member an official copy, if he likes.
– I wish the honorable member would, because we do not want to have any misunderstanding at: this or any other, stage. The Prime Minister very fairly. is going to compare the publication of which I am speaking with the published platform, and willtell me presently whether there are any inaccuracies.
– Why not take the official platform ?
– I am quite agreeable to do so. except that I want the two compared. Of course, this platform is issued only by the Political Labour Council of Victoria ; but the Federal platform is common to all the States.
– Yes; with slight exceptions.
– I am not now speaking of pledges, because I know there are some differences in that respect; I am merely referring to the platform.
– The last plank in the platform, No. 10, has not been adopted federally, but the others have.
– I am much obliged to the Prime Minister, who, very fairly, enables me to speak with the first essential to an understanding, in order that there may be no dispute about the matter which we are discussing. Some honorable members have made reckless statements about what the Labour Party are pledged to do, and what their platform is. But that is absolutely unfair, because the Labour Party, by publishing this platform in black and white, give no excuse for such a course. I am sure that: my honorable friends will admit that I am? acting fairly in taking their own platform instead of listening to what people sayMy opinion of that platform, put in a fewwords, is this : The Labour Party, as a party; are pledged to acquire all the political power and prestige they can, whether by sitting in office or out of office, but especially when in office. People may talk of platforms and programmes to all eternity so long as they are not in office - so long as they represent propaganda and not statesmanship. But when men come into power - when men take up the reins of Government, and the executive functions of the whole nation are placed in their hands - we approach a time when diplomacy ought to cease, and when we have to consider our position. Taking this platform without the plank which has already been mentioned, and to which I shall make special reference presently, I say that every man who takes the responsibility of continuing this Government in office practically indorses that platform. The man who proposes to fight another mail some other day - who proposes to challenge that man some other day and in the meantime allows him to- develop his muscle and power for victory when the struggle comes, is the sort of man whom the people will suspect of “ having his money on the other horse.” In all honest, straightforward life, if Ave ha’e to fight a man Ave do not train him in order that he may beat us. That sort of business may suit some veteran politicians, but it does not suit me, and I do not think it suits the commonsense of ths people of Australia. The people of Australia ought to know from us now that this platform is represented by a Government of which the GovernorGeneral, who represents the people of Australia, is, constitutionally, a mere figurehead, and is in their hands. That is the constitutional position. Some people outside talk about the Governor-General as if he were some marvellous method devised by human wisdom to protect the Constitution. With the utmost respect to His Excellency the Governor-General, Ave all know and admit that whilst he has a high prerogative which may lead to the calling of a Labour Government to his counsels, the moment that is done his supremacy is gone and theirs begins.
– Is the GovernorGeneral not bound to respect the people’s wishes ?
– That is just the question with which Ave are dealing. Are Ave not bound to respect the people’s wishes? Is there an obligation on any member of this Government which does not rest on us? We are humble individuals now, but I Avant to emphasize the point that there is one wish of the people which it is our duty to gratify - the wish that they may know what Ave are going to do. It may suit this or that man to hold back and temporize, but, while the people may be accustomed to such a position, they do not like that sort of treatment. I say again that the entrance of this party into power, as the Government of Australia, makes their platform a national policy, unless Ministers are defeated. The test of every man’s sitting in the Chamber to-day is this : the
Ministry are men-
– Oh !
– I have never said anything inconsistent Avith such a statement. Some- how it is always clergymen who say illiberal things; I do not, of course, mean clergymen of the right kind - no one has a greater veneration for them than I have - but clergymen of the wrong kind. If there be such a clergyman in a meeting he is sure to be more illiberal and ungenerous than any other man in it ; but there Avas nothing to jeer at in my remarks.
– I am glad to hear that.
– That is unless the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, in hi own case, doubts the accuracy of the application. I wish to put it plainly to my fellow members that this platform has become the policy of the Government of Australia. Are Ave going to support the Government, or are Ave going to oppose them? It is perfectly immaterial to me or any one els’; what honorable members do, but they have to do something; they cannot hesitate, and say, “Well, this requires a good deal of consideration ; there is a good deal that is harmless in the platform, and I approve of planks Nos. 1 to 6, but when Ave come to plank No. 7, I shall make a stand.” But by that time they are inside the tiger. If honorable members believe that instead of a tiger it is, after all, only a tame cat, let them go and nestle alongside it ; but if they believe that it is a tiger, Avith tigerous proclivities, and a tigerous policy, do not give it even milk and water. I now come to deal Avith this platform. My first objection to it is this : I do not believe that such a platform ever before existed in connexion with a constitutional party in the Empire. We are told in reply, “ Oh, well, all parties work together, and all parties have their caucus meetings - all parties feel the pressure of Government influence, and all parties make concessions in order to attain greater objects; and to support the Government in whom they generally believe.” But the Government represents the one party that ever existed in the Parliaments of
Australia or of the Empire, which is in the position that one cannot be a member of it without indorsing every plank in the platform. In that platform there are seventeen planks, and if a man is prepared to solemnly swear to loyally advocate and support sixteen, he cannot become a member of the Labour Party. He must adopt the whole seventeen, “ lock, stock, and barrel.”
– There are only nine planks.
– But seven or eight others are set out.
– Nine are picked out as a fighting platform, and thus there is some repetition in the document before the honorable and learned member.
– The planks are repeated categorically, and I thought there were seventeen. However, the principle is the same whatever the number, and I shall take it that there are nine planks You can swear to eight honestly, and vo 1 say to the Labour Party, “ I am heart and soul with you about these eight, but here is a ninth which is not of much importance, will you allow me fo waive that? Will you allow me to exercise my own judgment in regard to it ?” Their answer is, “ Sir, you cannot belong to our party until you solemnly pledge yourself in writing to support every one of bur planks.” I appeal to all of political experience in Australia if there has ever yet been a Government in power on this continent which has drawn up a platform of seven planks, and compelled its supporters to subscribe to every one of . them. I have never had a following of that sort.
– The right honorable member has had supporters who have voted for proposals in which they did not believe; who have in minor matters voted against their belief, at all events.
– That was a matter for their own consciences. I did not go to any publicspirited useful man who wished to join our party and say to him, “You can vote for us as often as you like “ - I suppose every one would say that - “ but before you become a part of this machine, before you have an atom of force or energy in working out this policy, you must subscribe to every shred of our platform.” That is the radical difference between a free party and a bond party, between a spirit of Democracy and a spirit of exclusivehess. Honorable members opposite use the term “ labour “ as if they had invented it and obtained a patent for it; they use the term “ Democracy “ as though they enjoy protected rights in connexion with it for fifteen years to come. I say to them, as I say to all outside this House, that that is establishing the odious principle of aristocracy in another and more dangerous form. The aristocracy can always be trusted to work together. In the days of their power they had no written platforms, but they worked together just as our friends do. In the darker davs, when real freedom and liberty were unknown, compacts were’ unnecessary, because a dense aristocratic class stood between the people and power. But we have now come to, I hope, a brighter stale of affairs. We have at last obtained a Constitution the theory of which is that every man and every woman under it is equal. But no elector and no n’.;:nher of electors has . the right to assume the name of Democrat. In the term “ Democracy “ there is a soul which represents the grandest principle, that of the equality of mankind. It breathes a noble spirit,’ although public men of one party or another may use it in one sense or another to meet the exigencies of political life. My charge against the members of the Labour Party - and upon it I am prepared to go anywhere in Australia to fight, not them, but their’ platform - is that,, although they claim to represent labour, I represent it in a broader and a higher sense than they do. I regard the term “ labour “ as equivalent in extension to the term “ Democracy.” I look across the serried ranks of humanity upon this continent, from the city to the bush, from the man at his desk to the man in the railway cutting, and I say to all - “ If you are working honestly, not sponging on the community, or cheating or defrauding your fellow-men, the flag of labour flies over you, as the flag of Democracy flies over all.” To talk of Conservatives under our Constitution is the trick of an enemy; it is not fair fighting. The word “ Conservative,” thank God, has been wiped out of our political vocabulary.
– Not quite.
– There may be some survivals. There are always vestiges of a former order of things. But I am as loyally proud- of the destruction of that former svstem as are my honorable friends opposite. As they know, when I was in power, they had not a stronger helper in making the men of landed’ estates and the men of wealth bear their fair share of the burdens of the people. It was not a mere profession with me. I incurred the undying animosity of the well-to-do classes by the faithful performance of my duty, and I had the loyal assistance of my honorable friends in that great task.
– The right honorable member cannot call it “undying animosity,” because it is dead now.
– It is dead only because those who felt it think me now not so bad as the “other fellow.” No one who represents a privileged or wealthy class imposes upon me by any profession of anxiety abou, my political welfare. I know that there are noble men in those classes as in the humblest class, but, I say deliberately, in the presence of all, that they have never exercised a patriotic influence on the political fortunes of Australia. There have been noble men amongst them who have stood out from their fellows as men have stood out from their fellows among the class to which my honorable friends belong. But the genius of the well-to-do class is that which has destroyed their just influence. I think that men of high culture and great possessions have a legitimate influence if they can obtain the confidence of the people by the unselfishness of their conduct. But men who go into politics, or hold political meetings, only because they think their pockets are imperilled, have my perfect contempt. Do not let any one who may happen to be of that class think that I stand here for him. It may be a wrong idea of my -career, but, to my mind, it would be a deformed one if I finished it by becoming an advocate for any class. The instinct which led me to stand against them leads me, in the true spirit of democracy, to stand year by year against the proposals of other classes. Whilst men were combining to evade then public duties, to cast the burden of taxation almost wholly upon the poorest classes, I fought - and ‘what is a rare experience in Australia - I conquered them, thanks greatly to the assistance of my honorable friends opposite. I do not forget that assistance. My honorable friends stood by me from first to last, but it was an honest alliance.
– If it had not been for the members of the Labour Party, the Freetrade Party in New South Wales could not have brought’ about that reform.
– That mav be so, but, personally, I was all the time fighting for the establishment of my own principles. I am now called upon to take a stand against this
Government and the Labour Party, because the situation has absolutely changed.
– There can be no doubt about that.
– May I suggest to my honorable and learned friend that in many of the changes in his situation I have beer* behind him, and have helped him.
– Have I not been behind the right honorable member?
– Yes; and since the honorable and learned gentleman is now in front of me, I hope he will still respect me.
– I will not forget what the right honorable member has done for me, and I hope that he will not forget what I have done for him.
– Anything that I may have done for my honorable and learned friend is trivial. His own abilities, his own intellect, and his own force of character have done everything for him.
– This is mutual admiration. .
– I hope my honorable friend will occasionally have a little feeling of humanity.
– There is no humanity about it.
– I honestly say what I mean. Surely I can say what I think. Personal matters are quite different. I am talking now in a public sense. The time has come now, when the platform representing the policy of the national Government is before us, to strongly oppose them; and when my honorable and learned friend says that the situation has changed, may T remind him that while there has been a lightning change in his case, there has been none in mine- I am still here, where I have worked for three or four years.
– Long may the honorable gentleman remain there.
– I think my honorable friends will find that, whatever our battles may be, they will always know from me when I mean mischief against them. There will be no shooting in the dark against my honorable friends. They have the right to expect straightforward treatment, and not to have men skulking .behind them with the intention to trip them up at a convenient time by-and-bye. They do not want that kind of support. If the political situation clears itself owing to the Labour Party securing a majority, they will be absolutely entitled by every constitutional right to sit where they are. It is time, however, that every public man made his position clear before
Australia, and I am doing that so -far as I am concerned, to-day. Now I come to the labour platform. The Prime Minister informs me that one of these paragraphs, whilst it forms a part of the policy of the Political Labour League of Victoria, has not been generally adopted.
– It was adopted tentatively at the Labour Conference in. Sydney, but was not finally adopted by the New South Wales League, and is not a plank in the Federal Labour Platform. . Personally 1 approve of certain developments, of it,
– In the case of this programme, as in that announced by the new Administration, the sting is in the tail. The last paragraph represents exactly the point which I shall fight to the very death. This principle has been adopted by every State but New South Wales, and it was tentatively adopted by a Conference representing the labour bodies of all the States.
-It was tentatively adopted at the Conference prior to its non-adoption by New South Wales.
– The New South Wales League did not finally adopt it, but at the same time did not finally declare against it. They did not adopt the proposition in its present shape, but the Prime Minister says that personally he approves of it, so that we have a plain announcement of the adherence to the plank of the leader, of the Labour Party of/ Australia. The paragraph reads as follows : - “ Uniform industrial legislation ; . amendment of Constitution to provide for same.” Now, that is a form of absolute Socialism that I will fight to the death. That is plain English. I shall explain what I mean. Why not seek uniform legislation by means of an amendment of the Constitution for the benefit of all classes? Why uniform industrial legislation., which means unifying all the Australian States under a. common law ? Why should this design to unify Australia be confined to a class issue? What do our friends mean by industrial legislation ? They mean legislation affecting the class of which they are the champions. Industrial legislation, to them, does, not mean legislation in the interests of employers, or necessarily of the masses of the people of .Australia. They are simply proceeding on their own class lines so as to break down the principle of the Constitution, to destroy States rights and States liberties, and to become masters of Australia. Well, they announce their intentions fairly and honestly, and I stand against them.
An Honorable Member. - It would not include clerks.
– That points to the pernicious influence which runs through the whole grain of this pledged organization. They are always viewing the interests, not of the publicI do not mean that they desire to injure the interests of the public - but they are always viewing as their special care the interests, not of a class “even, but of part of a class. Who will say that the great mass of the Workers of Australia are behind these labour leagues?
– Is it not true that this Parliament has. already affirmed the principle contained in that plank of the Labour platform ?
– If it has, my honorable friend will no doubt be delighted, but I have never consciously affirmed it.
– We have affirmed it by resolution.
– But I am not bound by a resolution of this House, and therefore the honorable member’s remark is perfectly idle so far as I am concerned. I am not a pledged member of this House. I am not sitting in a caucus. If I were sitting in the Labour caucus, and my honorable friend told me that the caucus had arrived at a decision, I should have’ to sit down humbly and consent to be bound hand and foot, and record my vote accordingly. But I am a free member of this House, and all the Parliaments in the world may pass a thousand laws, and I can still stand up and denounce them. I wish to point out the real object of the Labour Party. I do not say that it is wrong. That is a matter for the people to decide. I think it is, but that does not prove it to be wrong. It may be all right, but what I say is– and I am dealing only with national considerations - if we are to become a united people, do let us try to amend our Constitution in the light of the interests of the whole community and not for the benefit of a particular class.
– Hear, hear.
– I am thoroughly prepared to. consider any project for unifying Australia, but it must not proceed from a class, and it must not have any design of a class character. What is the design of this Labour proposal? It is, through the .Parliament of the Commonwealth, to acquire tyrannical power over every one who does not belong to the labour organization. That is plain English. The power exercised by the labour bodies is tyrannical even over themselves. There is no greater tyranny in the world over conscience and judgment than that exhibited at every meeting of the Labour Party. That is, so far as the planks of the labour platform are concerned. I understand that great liberty of action is allowed in regard to other matters. It is only fair that this should be understood, because it has been represented that every member of the Labour Party is bound by the decision of the caucus in regard to all matters. I understand, however, that every member of that party is just as free as I am with regard to all matters outside of the labour platform. It is only fair that that should become known. Let me, however, make a further remark with regard to that matter. Whilst that is the form of the compact, what is the effect of this pledged union ? Because it is a union a parliamentary union consolidated by a written pledge, and if a member broke away from it he would incur the disgrace of a political blackleg. We know that the unwritten bond is the strongest among honorable men. Take the ease of a striker who believes that a strike is wrong. He is made of better stuff than to desert his mates in the hour of trial. Hundreds and thousands of working men have risked the bread required to feed their wives and children in an industrial struggle from which they wished to refrain ; but they were loyal men and honorable comrades, and, just as soldiers who might not believe in the justice of a war would still fight on, they have stood together as honest men. They do not play the part of traitors. We see, in fact, that there is something more than this. A condition is set up which exposes a man to universal hatred amongst his class if he vindicates his personal opinion against the decision of the majority.
– That is only as regards the pledge in respect to that platform.
– I admit that, but I am going beyond it.
– We stop there.
– I am aware of that; but taking the liberty of expressing an- opinion - for it is now a matter not of platform, but of opinion - I must say that my view of the Labour Party’s pledge and platform and association, is that, in a sense, they place it in a situation altogether different from that in which other, parties find themselves if one of their number breaks away.
– Breaks away in regard to one of the planks of the platform.
– In regard to anything.
– The right honorable member is under a misapprehension as to the Labour Party’s pledge. I voted in support of the right honorable member on one occasion.
– I hope that I am not misunderstood. I quite admit that a member of the Labour Party is at liberty to break away from his brother members on any question that is not included in the platform, and to attend the next meeting of the caucus. But what I wish to say is that any corporate union - whether it be a union of labour or a union of lawyers, and especially if it be a union for political purposes - must offer a temptation to sink individual conscience and individual judgment rather than that a member of it should incur the disgrace of separating from his fellows.
– The same remark will apply to the right honorable member’s own party.
– In a different sense, the position is the same.
– Is the right honorable member aware that we do not take votes in caucus on questions outside our platform?
– I have never been there.
– There is plenty of time.
– I have another remark to make, and I think it is a practical one that will commend itself to the experience of honorable members. I will assume everything to be as my honorable friend opposite has put it. I will assume that in regard to any matter which is not included in their platform, the members of the Labour Party have absolute freedom, and that they do not even go to a vote upon it in caucus. But we know the strong individuality of my honorable friends opposite. They are fighters, every one of them, and I desire the House to contemplate the marvellous influence of this trades union as shown by the fact that with all these reckless, hot-headed democrats who, save in a few respects, are not tied down - and with these exceptions do not even go to a vote in caucus - not one of its members ever breaks out in the House. In the ‘ party opposite we have a military force that can fire as many volleys as it likes, but never fires a shot.
– It shows a singleness of purpose that other parties do not display.
– Quite so. That singleness of purpose is a tacit agreement on the part of the Labour Party to fight out all their differences -in secret caucus, and to stand before this House and the people of Australia as if they were an united party.
– Just as the right honorable member’s party is now doing.
– If we are doing so I hope that we shall’ be exposed to public censure.
– Not at all.
– So far as my own party is concerned, I know that I have not yet got them like a lot of performing dogs.
– They are said to be coming to . heel fairly well.
– I venture to assert that my honorable friend the Prime Minister has not more weight with his party than I have with mine, and that he probably possesses no greater experience in managing men; but I congratulate him on having tamed a particularly wild number of specimens.
– We see to what extent the right honorable member has succeeded.
– If the attitude of the Labour Party represents an absolute uniformity of belief we ought to begin to turn out humanity by machinery.
– The right honorable member may accept my assurance that matters outside the platform are not submitted to a vote in the caucus.
– I do accept that assurance.
– But the right honorable member appeared to imply some doubt as to it.
– I merely congratulate the honorable gentleman upon the excellence of his trained- performers. The attitude to which I have referred is described as singleness of purpose. I congratulate my honorable friend. Imagine my endeavouring to tame the honorable and learned member for Werriwa !
– He would not break away.
– He is still breaking away.
– But he is always with the party.
– I have been dealing with a matter which is in the general platform of the Labour Party, and has not yet been universally adopted ; but I propose now to come to the seven planks of the fighting platform with which every one will admit we have now some concern. ‘ I did not care much what the Labour Party’s platform was, and, as a matter of fact, was not accurately acquainted with it until the present Ministry came into office.
– It seems that the right honorable member and his friends ascertained the programme fairly quickly when they had to draw up a programme for themselves.
– Perhaps so; but after all I was really not so frightened as the honorable gentleman would suggest.
– The right honorable member obtained a good grip of the programme.
– At all events we got on very well. I come now to an item in the fighting platform of the Labour Party which is certainly within the range of practical politics. The Ministry come before us with this item in their platform, “Nationalization of monopolies.” ‘ “ Nationalization “ is a fairly long- word, and I hope that everyone understands it. If ever there was a plank which would unite our party with the Protectionist Party it is this.
– Unite them to form monopolies ?
– Certainly not. The honorable gentleman must not put words into my mouth.
– I merely asked the question.
– And I shall answer it. This is a euphemistic way of declaring a principle which is deserving of serious consideration, but which ought to be more plainly stated. This item in the programme does not mean a greater advancement in political freedom ; it doesnot mean a greater development of the principle of equality ; it does not mean non-interference with liberty. As expressed in the programme, it means the trampling down of every form of human individual liberty in the Commonwealth. I know that my honorable friends opposite have never dreamt of such a thing ; but really the tobacco monopoly is the most attractive form of appealing to the lower appetites of the greater number of the electors of Australia.
– Does the right honorable member really believe that is so?
– This platform begins by promising a cheap smoke to the hundreds and thousands of people in Australia who use tobacco.
– Oh no !
– Does it mean dear tobacco ?
– No. It means that the profits realized from the sale of tobacco at the same rates as previously existed will be conserved to the State.
– Now we- know where we are. There is to be no relief to the taxridden consumers of tobacco and cigars. All the profits are to go into the coffers of the Treasury. This, then, is the national policy ; but do not let my honorable friends opposite go into the back country and say that their proposal means tobacco .for nothing.
– We give nothing for nothing.
– This “ nationalization of monopolies “ is another term for the destruction of individual liberty in industry. What does the use of the word “nationalization” in this item of the platform mean? It means that the moment the dominant labour power can say that an industry is a monopoly they will be able to absolutely take it out of the hands of every individual, whether employer or worker, in the Commonwealth, and to constitute it a State or a national industry. Why stop at monopolies? If it is a good thing to nationalize one industry is it not a good thing to nationalize every industry?
– Certainly not.
– My honorable friend is now “Yes-No.”
– - Following the right honorable member’s bad example.
– Now that my honorable friend the Minister for Home Affairs has come to see ‘ that great matters have to .be considered from both sides, he is developing a capacity for looking upon both sides, which is faithfully represented by the words T have used. Extremists always look upon a man who can see something on the other side as a man of that character. My honorable friend’s mental horizon has been widely enlarged by the responsibilities of office.
– It is not a recent development. The honorable gentleman held office for nearly as long as the right honorable member.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon. Living a thousand miles away from the scene of his i about s, I was not aware that my honorable friend was so distinguished a Minister. I may remark that what I have heard has not at all diminished the regard which I entertain for the honorable gentleman. In the fighting platform, and in the general platform,’ there is put before us the opportunity to extend the hand of the law over the whole sphere of liberty in industry. I stand against that policy. There are some aspects ©f Socialism which are as true, in my humble judgment, as are the truths of Christianity.’ I have never used the term “Socialism” as necessarily a term of offensiveness. The man who takes :np that term, and denounces it as repre senting everything that is bad, has not thought deeply of what is really meant by it. Are not our systems of railways and telegraphs an aspect of Socialism ? And yet they are, I think, the wisest development of Governmental’ power that could be suggested. I say. that, because, in mv opinion, the railways are intimately associated with the powers of Government and the position of the country districts in a thousand ways, quite apart from the mere carrying industry. But what I say is that my policy will always be that of leaving to the individual the utmost liberty, political and industrial - to the point . at which it is not demanded as a sacrifice to some great public interest. For instance, take the Arbitration Bill, and although, to my view, it is absolutely alien to the true principles upon which a civil compact should be based, we must view the danger which threatened to overwhelm the community with .discord and strife as something for which” it is worth while to make a sacrifice.
– That is precisely our view with respect to” monopolies.
– I am glad that my honorable friend expresses that view, but he has already expressed the opinion that we should have uniform industrial legislation in a form which involves an amendment of the Constitution of Australia. Tha’. is one of the planks of his policy. I desire to thank my honorable friends opposite for the perfectly fair way in which they have allowed me to express these opinions. At the opening of a great political fight, I desire to speak with the utmost frankness, so that, whatever reproaches may be cast upon me, my honorable friends will know precisely what my attitude is. From my point of view, therefore, the situation is a very serious one. I admit that it would not be a serious one if it were a mere question of majority rule. Because majority rule has no virtue in it at all, except as associated with the existence of common principles of action. If there is an honorable member in this House who believes in the policy of the Labour Party - not the first glimpse of it as shown in the Ministerial programme, but in the whole policy of the party - I say that, wherever he sits, he ought to support it, whether he is in the party or out of” it. But I could not, perhaps, mention a stronger illustration of the cast-iron nature of the compact which divides our honorable friends of the Labour Party from other public men than the position of the learned Attorney-General, than whom, I suppose, there is no greater democrat in Australia. I am told that doctors are not excluded ; I know that lawyers are admitted, or are allowed to remain, and what is there that prevents the AttorneyGeneral, a true democrat, and a member of a Labour Ministry from becoming a member of the labour caucus?
– Nothing at all, so far as I can ‘ see.
– That is a very fortunate position when the Prime Minister holds the key of the door, and has the absolute power of saying that nothing prevents him from letting any man in. My honorable friend has got the key of the. door to the labour caucus, and he is, no doubt, perfectly right in saying that nothing prevents his own colleague, the learned Attorney-General, or the honorable member for Hume, Sir William Lyne, entering that door if they will sign the pledge. Since there is no obstacle on the part of the Prime Minister and his friends of the labour caucus, there must be some obstacle in the mind . of the Attorney-General.
– May we not have an alliance similar to that which the honorable gentleman has now with other honorable members?
– Certainly. But I desire to point my observations as to the inconvenience of this cast-iron organization of the party opposite by a statement of the fact that even a dear friend and a colleague in the Ministry cannot enter the’ caucus.
– Oh, yes he can.
– He cannot, and as a rnatter of fact he has not done so.
– Give him time.
– That is it. The Ministry have been all along saying to us, “ Give us time. ‘ Just let us get strong enough to deal with you.” If there are honorable members who are prepared to do that, all right. Now I mention another name, thai of one of the supposed democrats of Australia. I allude to Sir William Lyne. My honorable friends opposite look surprised. Here is another situation. After I had, by our alliance, been able to do something, my honorable friends of the Labour Party came to the conclusion that since I had got all I wanted, I was not as useful to them as I had been before. They seemed to think they could do more with some one else. I have never accused them of being too virtuous over that , £350, because I have admitted that most men ri their position would be entitled to exercise their judgment for the benefit of the principles in which they believe. I admit that the Labour Party in ejecting me from office were acting perfectly honorably and consistently with their principles. At the time there were elements of difference between us. I was not prepared to go so far as my honorable friends wished me to go, notably on the question of the Compulsory Arbitration Bill. I thought at the time that it was better that the existing Act, which had just been passed, should be given a chance, and I said that if it proved ineffective I should be quite prepared to go further. On that occasion I had the idea that I should be given time, but my honorable friends did not appear to think it worth while to give me time.
– We gave the right honorable member five years.
– We introduced an earlyclosing measure which settled the right honorable gentleman.
– There were some features connected with that matter of which I might make use by way of reflecting upon certain inconveniences to be found even in the labour caucus, but those inconveniences exist in connexion with other parties, and it would not be fair to make a special use of them. I have never done so, and I have let that go. I am one of’ the strongest political opponents of the honorable member for Hume, as every one knows. We have always been very strong in our differences, particularly on the fiscal question. But it is only fair to say about him that no Minister in Australia ever carried a larger number of measures which the Labour Party had at heart in the same space of time than he did.
– Hear, hear.
– Of course, my honorable friend must not forget that our preliminary fighting had cleared the way a greatdeal for what followed. But, after making all fair allowance, it is only fair to thehonorable member for Hume to say that the action of the Labour Party in turningout the Reid Government was thoroughly, justified by the legislation which they got.
– He floated in onthe flood-tide.
– Still I do not wish to seethe honorable gentleman stranded now.
– We appreciate the right honorable gentleman’s concern for the honorable member.
– Surely he is an eligible public man for admission to the Labour Party ? I do not know what would become of the party if he were admitted. This is a matter which it has to consider, because it has some of the attributes of a crockery shop after all. Have you not some method by which that old and venerable politician who has done so much for you-
– The right honorable and learned gentleman must address the Chair.
– I hope, sir, that you will excuse me for turning my back’ on you ?
– It is not a question of the right honorable and learned member turning his back on the Chair, but a question of the rules of procedure preventing addresses from being delivered in the second person. Nothing can be more provocative of personality and disorder than that. I ask the right honorable and learned member not to address the Prime Minister in the second person.
– I am much obliged to you, sir, for the explanation, because I thought it was my physical attitude that you objected to. I quite admit - and my own experience is exactly the same as yours - that the use of the second person does lead to disorder. It was used quite inadvertently on my part. Now, with reference to his brilliant services to the cause of the Labour Party and labour legislation, I ask, what is there to prevent the honorable member for Hume from joining the Labour Party? He has an objection himself, I believe - probably a conscientious one, and not a party one. One of my strongest points of argument in connexion with the peculiar constitution of the Labour Party is the fact that men who have done it the greatest service cannot belong to it. I do not say it is the fault, of the Labour Party, or the fault of the men. That, I admit, is a matter not for me exactly, but I am only pointing an argument. The able Attorney-General and the honorable member for Hume are, I believe, in absolute sympathy with the Labour Party in all their policy. I may be wrong, but I believe it is this very pledge which I have been speaking of which prevents these two honorable gentlemen from joining the La~bour Party. There is something - I do not say that it is the fault of one man or the fault of another. I do not say it is because one man will not let another join, or that another man will not join. I am not on that point at all ; but I do submit that there we have a state of things which shows that, even although they hold practically the same principles, some mysterious barrier prevents men from being admitted or from joining. It is one or other, I do not know which. The existence of this party shows a radical difference of principle. I wish to point to an observation of the Prime Minister which points another observation that I made. I used the term “ exclusiveness “ as one which characterizes the attitude and the constitution of the Labour Party. I wish to point what I said by another charge - that not only is their body an exclusive organization which separates and divides the ranks of labour, but it is one which is assuming an aristocratic complexion. All exclusiveness has some form of aristocratic feeling behind it, and there can be an aristocratic feeling in one extreme as there can be in another. I am not using the expression now in any West-End signification. I shall illustrate what I mean. My honorable friends opposite believe in the principle of compulsory arbitration. They believe that every class, every ‘ man who forms himself . into the- necessary union, should have the benefit of that principle. I ask the members of the Labour Party who represent a democratic principle what possible excuse have they for taking a man who, pencil in hand, is checking off the goods on a railway platform and putting him aside- as not within the sphere of this beneficent legislation ?
– We do not propose to put him aside.
– The proposal is to include all the persons engaged in the railway services of the States, and any others engaged in industrial enterprises carried on by the State authorities.
– -My honorable friend has this singularly good fortune, that all his answers are of great service to me.
– I am straightforward.
– Surely I need not repeat my opinion of my honorable friend. He does not mind how it goes so long as he gives me a fair straightforward answer. I want to take that picture which is presented. A clerk on a railway platform and a clerk in a railway office are to be included in the proposed legislation; but a clerk in some other office-the Treasury or the Postoffice - is not.
– The Post-office is an industrial enterprise. I suppose?
– Ah ! we are getting on further.
– Does not the right honorable and learned member think it is?
– I do, and I think that every man who works is engaged in an industrial enterprise.
– The right honorable and learned member would not exclude any, then ?
– My honorable friends will be able to talk presently, and I have no doubt that this difficulty will be met in some way or other, but at the present time I am dealing with the statement made by the Prime Minister that the railway servants were to be included in the Bill before the House, but that the public servants were not. What a singular departure for a democratic Government ! What a singular proof of the force of association that these honorable gentlemen can think of the term “industry” only in reference to one class of workers !
– We think of it in reference to the Constitution.
– Then my honorable friend thinks that whilst the railway service is an entity which practically is provided for by the Constitution, the Public Service is not an entity which is provided for by the Constitution ?
– The right honorable and learned member has not read our amendment which has been lying on the table for some time.
– I am dealing with only the statement of my honorable friend.
– The amendment has been circulated.
– It is of no consequence.
– I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs will not say that, because it is of consequence that these matters should be adjusted. This impatient arrogance does not sit well on my honorable friend.
– It does not matter.
– I think it does matter. This is quite a new phase for my honorable friend. I have known Ministers who have sat for many months in office without a tithe of the unhappy way of expressing themselves which my honorable friend has already developed. The amendment which has been handed to me reads as follows : -
After State insert “ including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways, or to employment in industries carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth, or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.” “ Employment in industries carried on by the Commonwealth or under the Commonwealth” or under a State ! I do submit to my honorable friends that they entirely mis- . conceive the position of an industrious man, who is engaged in an industry, in the sense to having a right to this boon, if they draw the line between one class of public servants and another.
– We will consider that in Committee.
– We are getting on. “We will consider it in Committee.” “All this can be easily adjusted, but give us time !”
– Anything to meet the right honorable member !
– Well, now, I want to say of that declaration, concerning what must be regarded as the crucial point which brought about the accession of the Government to office, that it points my remark that when they talk of industry, and work, and labour, they think of a class and not of the whole community of workers - not of the whole community of industries. As a matter of fact, my honorable friends will admit that they do not represent, I suppose, a quarter of the workers of the Commonwealth. I think that they will admit that as an actual fact the labour element which they represent in their unions is absolutely a small minority of the whole workers of Australia.
– How many free-traders are there in the free-trade associations?
– I do not know; but we do not draw a line between a man who writes and a man who makes trousers. “ A citizen defence force “-that is another plank in the labour platform. What a glorious sound that has ! How it appeals to the masses of the people ! We have suddenly had from the Prime Minister one of the most striking disclosures of military capacity which I ever heard. We heard a great deal from him, when he was a critic of the military estimates, on the subject of a citizen defence force. But in his Ministerial statement he forgot the citizen, and involved himself in anxieties about the latest form of efficient warfare - submarines.
– I do not think I mentioned them ; I spoke of destroyers.
– I understood that destroyers were generally submarines. I had a vague idea - or a bit of ignorance - to the effect that one of the triumphs of modern invention in the matter of defence was the discovery of a boat which can be sunk below the level of the ocean, or can be navigated under the ocean and can blow up a battle-ship from below.
– The right honorable member is thinking of his own progress lately. He can sink, and can navigate beneath the surface, but he cannot blow up.
– When I hear these suggestions of violent evolution, I make one piteous appeal, based upon the manifest fact-
– I am only trying to help the right honorable member along.
– The honorable member has always been trying to do that. He has always been distinguished throughout his public life by an absolute oblivion to his own personal interests, and by his enthusiastic affection for me ; though he has had sudden lapses and vicissitudes in that respect - only one or two. Now, Mr. Speaker, my honorable friends find that all these platforms, when they come to real action, are mere catch cries. We know that with the modern form of attack - the form which wa have 10 fear, of attack from invasion - the idea of a citizen defence force protecting us from invasion is the rankest absurdity under the sun. A man must in these days, if he is to defend a country from invasion, especially by sea, be absolutely a naval expert. And it is impossible for a man to follow the calling of a clerk or a labourer and to acquire the necessary -scientific proficiency to enable him to work these modern destructive anc! protective engines. I have only mentioned that in order to show the sort of language which is used, and which, after a man becomes a practical statesman, he has to forget. I want to put another strong point. I notice with regret a certain phase of activity in this crisis, which I think is regrettable, arid which will suggest to the public outside that, instead of keeping our views steadily upon the public interest, we are considering our position with reference to the retention of our seats in Parliament. I have heard some references to what would happen to a member of this House if he supported the Labour Government, when he went up for election next time. These methods are perfectly legitimate when you have come to the general election, and when the fight is on and the doors of Parliament are shut. But to talk before the shutters of Parliament are up. about the attitude which will be taken at an election by one person towards another, is beneath the dignity of men responsible for the course of public affairs.
– Would the right honorable gentleman go into alliance with a man who would shoot him directly afterwards ?
– I will tell the Prime Minister what my own view is. I do not take much credit for it personally, but I think that my honorable friend will’ admit that in New South Wales there has never in our case been any mention of a personal compact of this sort until an election came on.
– Ours was not an alliance in New South Wales.
– Not in a formal way. But there are men who do not propose to join this party.
– That remains to be seen.
– When men supporting a Government come forward as private citizens they are entitled to expect support from men whom they have supported. I am not questioning that. But I am questioning the negotiations going on at the be- ‘ ginning of a Parliament as to how men will’ stand before the electors if they give the Government their support. I do not think that is a dignified position for a man to take up. I come now to one of the strongest objections to the existence of this party in office. A man who goes up for Parliament and asks to be elected by the people has to sign one pledge, but ii contains two stipulations. I hope I am correct, and I trust that, honorable members opposite will correct ms if I am wrong. It is only fair that this should be published under authority, as it will be in our Mansard. The Prime Minister has handed to me a copy of the Federal pledge.
– That is not universally agreed to.
– There is one part which, I understand, has not been universally agreed to. I shall read, only that part that has been universally, agreed to. It is as follows : -
I hereby pledge myself riot to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost-
It is this first part of that pledge to which I shall refer, and not so much to that which follows - - and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, arid on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a. majority of the Parliamentary Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
I had better, perhaps, ‘read the other part -
I further pledge myself not to . retire from the contest without the consent of the Executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales.
I think the latter part is perfectly fall, because, if a man agrees to become a candidate under a league, he has no right, for some private reason, to throw the organization into perhaps entire confusion. I have no objection to the last clause, but I want to refer to the first part of the pledge, which reads -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political organization. . . .
– I think there is the same pledge in a party in New South Wales today.
– Which party?
– The Reform Party.
– The Reform Party are taking that pledge now in New South Wales.
– And also in Victoria.
– The honorable member for Newcastle interjects to the effect that there is a somewhat similar pledge in connexion with a party in New South Wales.
-In the remains of the right honorable gentleman’s party in New South Wales.
– Very much “ the remains.”
– It will be admitted that for that circumstance I am not responsible.
– I know that.
– The information given by the honorable member for Newcastle is not quite correct.
– The pledge is nearly the same.
– I think we had better leave that matter, because it does not bear on what we are discussing. The pledge, as I have said, reads -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the- recognised political organization. …
Let us consider what that means. This is a compact signed, not for one election, but is a compact signed for life.
– I say that so long as a man belongs to the Political Labour League he is bound by the pledge.
– It may be altered at any time.
– Anything may be altered at any time, but there is no proposal to alter the ; pledge.
– -The pledge is for the currency of the Parliament.
– Then the fool of a pledge does not say so. Is not the selection of the candidate absolutely out of the hands of the Ministry and the Labour Party, and in the hands of an organization outside?
– Representing the electors.
– Of course; that is the only point I want to make. Other parties have some say in such matters - the leaders of parties in Parliament, and. the men who fight the battle of politics.
– Have they ?
– They ought to have.
– I only know who selected me the last time in New South Wales on the right honorable gentleman’s “ ticket.”
– I remember the honorable and learned member “ ringing me up “ about the matter, and I was only too anxious to see his name under our motto.
– I know that.
– I have never for one moment questioned the immense service which the honorable and learned member has been to our cause as a free-trader ; and I was only too glad to have his name on our list. When I found that the honorable and learned member was free to vote as he liked 011 the fiscal question, and on a vote of censure, I felt that on the one question which was then our basic principle, he was all right. But I leave all those quibbles, and come to the great principle before us. There is not a man sitting in the Government to-day, or in the Labour Party who, when he goes for re-election, may not be effaced from public life by a majority of a small organization.
– If he “ goes straight “ he need have no fear.
– The Prime Minister says that it does not matter so long as honorable members “ go straight.”
– I say they then need have no fear of being effaced.
– I suppose that even a faithful beast of burden, who is under the terror of the lash on a long journey,’ feels there is no need to fear the whip if it “goes straight.” My point is that there is a whip in the hands of a driver, and if the entity in front does not go straight, according to the driver’s view of what is straight, he is exterminated.
– Do not the electors of the right honorable gentleman hold some “whip “ over him ?
– They can reject the right honorable member if he does not “go straight.”
– The 27,000 or 37,000 of my electors are, in one sense, an organization, because they are on a roll. They are members of my union, and if I agree that those 37,000 electors shall have the right to reject me, there can be no objection, because that is what every Member of Parliament has to face. He has to go to the electors who have the right to dismiss or return him ; but the difference between a man being free to go to his electors, whether or not he has incurred the displeasure of another body-
– To which he is free to go.
– Of course ; and they are free to kick him out, because they hold the key of the fortress. They are a united force which, in a labour electorate, works with the precision of a military band.
– That applies to every organization.
– No, it does not. How can the honorable member say such a thing? Just consider, if any member of either of the two parties were asked to pledge himseit to some protectionist or free-trade league to that extent-
– That can be done.
– It can be done in order to. avoid a contest in a particular case, and in that there is no harm; the difference in principle is that in such a case a man is bound only for the moment in order to prevent a split in a vote on a policy in which he believes.
– That is all we do.
– The bond, which ceases the moment the vote is decided, is made in the interests of a cause, and not in the interests of particular men.
– Hear, hear! So we say.
– But it is too grave a sacrifice to a cause that a man in the public life of his country, who has done his dutv to the people to the best of his lights for three years, should not be able to go to the electors and offer himself as a candidate, if this secret - practically secret - small body of men say to him - “ Sir, we have been displeased with you.”
– Senator Barrett was rejected without anv excuse whatever.
– There is all the difference in the world between the two positions. In the Labour Party, a man, who has done his. dutv, goes not before the . people, but to a little chamber somewhere in the electorate, where he is told whether or not his masters are pleased with him, and if they are not, they say - “ We are going to select another man.”
– Hear, hear !
– And if another man be selected, and the rejected of the league becomes a candidate, we know what the lat ters position is in a labour electorate. Such a man is regarded as a traitor and a blackleg, who is splitting up the labour cause by disregarding the authority of the organization.
– Hear, hear.
– That, in my opinion, is certainly one of the strongest objections to the labour organization. I can understand why some gentlemen cannot join this party under such conditions. I wish to conclude with a remark or two with reference to the position of the great States of New South Wales and Victoria. As we know, those two States, on the first principle of democracy, which is equality, hold the key of the situation in the Commonwealth Parliament. Their representatives in this House number forty-nine out of a total of seventy-five, and under our system of Government, the result of , a general election in New South Wales and Victoria must be admitted to be a reflex of the public will of Australia. If the votes cast for members in the House of Representatives be questioned, the mass vote cast for representatives in the Senate cannot be questioned. No one can say that the constituencies which elect the Senate are not democratic. Every man and woman in those constituencies is on the same footing.’ I, therefore, ask honorable members to pay attention to the voice of the electors of Australia, as it was heard in connexion with, the voting for the Senate. Three parties appeared before the electors of New South Wales and Victoria, but of the twelve senators chosen to represent the manhood and the womanhood of those States, only one belongs to the Labour Party, notwithstanding its constitution and platform and its immense organization. Let honorable members digest that fact. They talk of a majority.
– What about the position of affairs in this House?
– I shall come to that. I wish to deal with the Senate first, because the voting for that House is by States.
– But it is not necessarily a true reflex of the will of the people.
– Here is a new idea of democracy ! We are getting on well now !
– Many issues other than political were before the electors last time.
– Those against whom the popular verdict has gone always hold that there has been no true expression of the people’s opinions. So long as the voting is for one’s own party, it is a true reflex of public opinion that is obtained, but when the people vote against one’s party they are fools ! I wish to point out the significance in the present situation of the fact that the electors of New South Wales and Victoria by eleven to one refused to sanction the present state of things. It was not that they had not an opportunity to do so. The strongest proof of the feeling against the labour caucus system was the triumphant elevation to the top of the poll by the great democracy of Victoria of a Labour candidate who was a free man. The caucus and the labour organizations tested the feeling of the people of Victoria. They said, “We represent you. We make at last, after years of injustice, a fair, straight appeal to the unfettered conscience of a free democracy, and we ask you to come behind us.” But by eleven to one the electors of New South Wales and Victoria declared that the- would have none of them. Senator Trenwith had not only to fight the men of his own class. Is it not a wonderful thing that that able man, one of the ablest democrats and labour representatives who has ever spoken in Australia, could not find the caucus wide enough for him? He appealed against its domination, appealed under every disadvantage.
– The right honorable member said a day or two ago that he appealed against the domination of the Melbourne Age.
– That was another handicap. The labour organization, with its caucus methods, set up men to test the feeling of Victoria on the question of labour free or labour bound, and the people of Victoria declared against labour bound, and returned Senator Trenwith, in spite of the opposition of the Labour Party, and of the mercilessly cruel persecution of the press. I do not know a more disgraceful fact in the history of journalism than that persecution. I am informed - because I was not here at the time - that Senator Trenwith held a meeting in Melbourne, attended by about 10,000 persons.
– By 13,000.
– That meeting was held within a mile of the newspaper offices of Melbourne ; but I am told that not a line in either of the two morning newspapers of the city announced the fact. I cannot believe the statement to be true, so far as it affects one of those newspapers, but I am unfortunately able to believe it of the other. But whatever paper- Age or Argus, or any other - suppresses the fact that a meeting of 10,000 or 13,000 electors has been held, commits an act, until then, unparalleled in the history of Australian journalism.
– Even some of their own writers protested against it.
– The labour candidates were not much better treated.
– I mention this case as a notorious one. What occurred in regard to smaller meetings might have been accidental; but for a great assemblage in the heart of the city to pass unnoticed, was an instance of trying to “ down “ a man, which must be repugnant to all men of common fairness. This man, notwithstanding the difficulties against which’ he contended, triumphed over both the press and the labour organizations.
– No, he did not.
– All I can say is that the labour organizations put up men to keep him out.
– They were put up before he was nominated.
– I shall not enter upon an inner analysis; the broad fact is that when the poll was taken the electors were asked to reject Senator Trenwith, by both the labour organizations and the press of Victoria, which often has an unwholesome influence in “the public life of this country.
– What about’ the press of New South Wales ?
– I think that it has a grand influence upon the public opinion of that State. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs will admit that such a thing as I have mentioned would not occur in a political contest in Sydney.
– The Sydney newspapers are bad enough, but I have not known them go so far as to omit all mention of a large political meeting.
– I do not recollect such a thing happening in Sydney. Of course, I do not know that it happened here.
– I have good authority for what I stated. The electors of Victoria were invited to choose between Trenwith and labour free, and Findley and others and labour bound, and, in spite of the opposition of the press, a generous communityplaced Senator Trenwith in a ‘ triumphant position at the head of the poll. Coming now to deal with the House of Representatives, I would point out that the Victorian and New South Wales electoral divisions returned forty-nine representatives to this House The Labour Party-, notwithstanding their magnificent organization, and the multitude of candidates ready to submit themselves’ in their interests in every constituency
– Not forgetting that we have no newspapers to support us.
– There is the Worker.
– That is not a daily newspaper.
– If they have no newspapers, they have canvassers everywhere; any number of men who will give their services, and sacrifice their time, without reward.
– If the right honorable member could give us the support of the Sydney Daily Telegraph he could have the rest.
– Out of the forty-nine representatives of New South Wales and Victoria in this House, only ten were returned to support the existing state of things. Thirty-nine out of. forty-nine of the electoral divisions of New South Wales and Victoria are therefore opposed to the present situation.
– The influence of the Labour Party increased in each State, but that of the party of the right, honorable member, has npt increased.
– By how much did the Labour Party increase its representation in Victoria ?
– By fifty per cent.
– That statement reminds me of the position of the boy who had a penny, while his companion had only one halfpenny, and who asserted his right to the three halfpence, because he held fifty per cent, of the whole capital. The solemn vote of the people of Australia, so far as the large populations of New South Wales and Victoria are concerned, was against the present state of things. I admit that in Queensland the Labour Party were practically triumphant. I believe that that was due to the miserable class feeling which prevailed on the other side. When people raise a class feeling in the exclusive and offensive form in which it was raised in some - of the States, they deserve to be defeated.
– What about the sectarian question?
– -The honorable member ought to know. I wish to indicate in a few words my radical objection to the present state of affairs. In the first place, I consider that the existence of the present state of things is absolutely contrary to the will of the electors of Australia, as expressed at the last general election. I venture to say that if any one of at least thirty-five of the thirty-nine non-labour members who were returned by the States of New South Wales and ‘Victoria had ever whispered that he was going into Parliament to support the Labour Party in office, he would not have been returned.
An Honorable Member. -i thought you said forty-nine members.
– I am speaking of honorable members apart from the Labour Party.
– Does the right honorable gentleman assert that as a fact ?
– It is a matter of opinion.
– There are many exceptions.
– I am simply expressing my opinion. The other statement I made with regard to the number of votes recorded was one of fact. So far as I am concerned, I do not propose to allow this state of things to continue. We all have our responsibilities. I do not intend to take any hurried course, because I wish that all possible time may be allowed for members in all parts of the House to think matters over quietly for themselves. Therefore, I am not going to make any sudden movement. I should infinitely prefer, if I may be allowed to say so, that my honorable friend the late Prime Minister should take the active part in this matter. But if he does not I must. I am in the position of a man who is ready to stand back, who is willing that the late Prime Minister should stand at this table and move a motion in order to terminate this crisis. If he will not do it, I will. I leave honorable members without a word to the freedom of their own judgments, and I put myself in a fair and straight position of antagonism to the Government before the people of Australia. If the Labour Party are supported by a majority I shall take that as a final verdict. I shall be no party to afterwards undermining the position of the Government.
– Like the right honorable member did with the last Government.
– The honorable member may think that - perhaps it was justified.
– I know the right honorable member of old.
– All I can say is that, having expressed my views fully, if the majority of members of this House when called upon, at a reasonable time, to consider the situation - and it must be soon, because it would be only fair to the Government to have the matter decided promptly-
– By motion.
– Yes, in some definite shape. I shall not be a party to any attempt to humiliate any one occupying office. I am not going to fight the Government in that way. If, on the test being applied, the majority of honorable members vote with the Labour Party and the Government, I shall absolutely refuse to challenge their position during the rest of this session. That is a fair statement. I am not going to have the House torn asunder bv petty intrigues, or to have members going about making bargains in order to kill the Labour Party at a suitable time. I am not going to fight in that way. The fight must come on at once - within a reasonable period - and if the Labour Party win, I shall take no part in any secret undermining influences that may be used against the Government. That, I think, is a very fair statement of my position to this House and to the country. To put the pith of my antagonism to the present state of affairs, I do profoundly feel that, in view of the organization and pledges by which the Labour Party are bound, the voice we hear from honorable gentlemen is not the voice of the Ministry, and that the acts we see are really not the acts of the Ministry, but that behind the Ministry, and behind the representatives of the people, sits a conclave, which holds their political fortunes in the hollow of its hand. There sits behind them a power that is of a kind foreign to the free discharge of our parliamentary duties.
– What about the Free-trade League in New South Wales?
– The country is always doing well when the honorable member is growling. If the Free-trade League in Sydney endeavoured to fetter me as some honorable members are fettered in regard to their action in this Parliament - if I had to go back to them as honorable members opposite go to their organizations, and to practically ask them for a pledge of support, all i can say is that that is a position I should ‘never consent to occupy.
– We have the same freedom as the right honorable gentleman-
– Whether that is so or not, I think I have given a sufficient number of reasons for my attitude. I now desire to refer to a matter of importance, which was the subject of an interjection at an earlier stage in my speech. Reference was then made to some action which had been taken in this Parliament in the direction of securing an amendment of the Constitution, on lines embodied in a resolution which, I find, was arrived at in this House on the 28th June, 1901. The motion was put and carried, as amended in some unimportant respects, without a division, but as honorable members are aware that fact does not prove that when the matter was dealt with every honorable member was present.
– If the right honorable member was not present, whose fault was that ?
– The fault of having too many clients.
– Then I wish the right honorable member had a few more at the present time.
– I am giving them a rest. As a division was not taken, we are unable to ascertain how honorable members voted. The motion was carried on the terms which were suggested by interjection across the table at an earlier stage of my speech, and as it is a very short one, I think I may as well read it. It set forth -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to accept (if the States Parliaments see fit to grant it, under section 51, sub-section 37, of the Constitution Act) full power to make laws for Australia, as to wages and hours and conditions of labour.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that a motion to this effect was carried in the first House of Representatives. Let us look now at the result of that motion. Honorable members will see that it was framed in a way that recognised’ that it would be necessary to have the consent of the States to the taking over of this power. I understand that the Government of the day communicated with the Governments of the several States to ascertain whether they were in favour of the grant of power, and that the Governments of New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania refused to agree to it. We must remember, of course, that this was a refusal, not on the part of the people, but only so far as the Governments themselves were concerned. So far as I can learn the Government of Victoria made no reply to the communication from the Commonwealth, and the Government of Western Australia expressed dissent, but intimated that they would agree to the proposal if all the other States would do so. It would thus appear that the resolution was not favorably regarded by the States Governments. I come now to another matter of far greater importance; I refer to what is the true policy of the Labour Party. I am sure that honorable members of that party would be the last men in the world to seek to hide any part of their policy. They have never done so, and I do not imagine that even the glamour of office would persuade them to resort to such tactics. It is only right, therefore, that in discussing the policy of the Labour Party, we should deal with it as a whole, and in its more important aspects. An event occurred in this State during the present month which was brought under the notice of the Prime Minister, and set before him the aspirations of the Socialists, or, at all events, of those gentlemen who, all over the world, meet on the i st May in celebration of the cause to which they are committed. I believe that the ist of May is selected by the extreme Socialists as the day for such a demonstration ; and we are familiar with the general policy of the citizens who celebrate that day. In connexion with the last May Day demonstration in Melbourne, we had the advantage of securing the distinct platform of the Socialists as understood by the gentlemen who put it forward at the meetin p- in question. . I am not committing the trades unions in Victoria to it collectively ; I do not know whether they were a party to it ; I simply mention that the officers of this May Day Demonstration Committee waited on the Prime Minister and put before him in black and white a definition of their policy. I am about to put before the House what is the real meaning of this policy which is so vaguely expressed in the Labour platform.
– To what newspaper report of the deputation to the Prime Minister does the right honorable member propose to refer?
– The report is practically the same in both the Argus and the Age. I propose to quote the Argus report.
– It is a very good one.
– My honorable friend recognises that the Argus report is a fair one. The resolution contains a statement familiar to us, as being within the line* of the regular platform of the Labour Party; but, a subsequent statement, it seems to me, marks a policy which is not generally known as the ultimate goal of the Labour Party in the Commonwealth Parliament. Of course, the resolution speaks only for the mass meeting at which it was passed. It does not speak for the labour unions.
– But the same resolution has been carried year after year.
– That shows that it is not a mere emergency placard, but rather a settled policy which is annually set forth. On the last occasion on which it was carried a deputation had the happiness of presenting it to the Prime Minister. The proclamation which was submitted to him contained the following statement : -
That this mass meeting of workers send frater, nal greetings to their fellows assembled on this day ; assert with them their desire for peace -
We all want peace when we can get our own way - and are opposed to militarism in all its forms - “Especially the recent development of submarine torpedo boats.” No, I am making a mistake. A reference to submarine boats is not to be found in the resolution. It sets forth their opposition - to militarism in all its forms; their determination -
We come now, not to rhetoric, but to business - to overthrow wagedom and capitalism.
I did not know that wagedom was a badge of serfdom. If it is, the working classes are still in the lowest depths of degradation. “ The serfdom of wagedom !” Even Ministers must occupy that position, because the highest officers of State receive certain remuneration for their services.
– Perhaps they divide it.
– I should ca’ll that “serfdom.” The resolution sets forth their determination - to overthrow wagedom and capitalism, and establish, by their united efforts, that international co-operative Commonwealth in which all the instruments of industry -
Even the pen as well as the pick - will be owned and controlled by the whole people.
– A very good idea.
– We desire only to know where we are, in order that we may be able to inform the people how many benefits are awaiting them.
– Does the right honorable member know where he is?
– Am I not making my position pretty plain to-day? Any honorable member who says that I have not made my position plain, is, I am afraid, a gentleman whom I’ cannot satisfy. I do not take terms of abuse and insult to be a declaration of straightforward policy.
– The right honorable gentleman might curtail his remarks a little.
– And ‘for a very good reason. My honorable and learned friend is perfectly fair. I promise him that I shall not occupy more than another ten minutes. I suggest that if the time available to him to-day should afterwards appear to be unreasonably curtailed he should be allowed an opportunity to finish what he has to say on our .next day of meeting.
– We adjourned at halfpast 9 o’clock last night for the convenience of the right honorable gentleman.
– The honorable and learned gentleman must allow me to say that that is not so.
– All right.
– Oh, but it is not all right. I must explain that the House did not adjourn the debate at my request. I was absolutely ignorant of the request for the adjournment of the debate, as at the time it was made I was in another part of the building.
– The honorable member for Macquarie asked for an adjournment of the debate on the right honorable gentleman’s behalf.
– My idea was that there was no prospect of the debate terminating early, and that I should have an opportunity to move its adjournment at a reasonable time. I had no idea that the debate would be adjourned so early.
– No one else rose to speak.
– I was in another part of the building, and the request for the adjournment of the debate was made without my knowledge. I am sure honorable members will not think that I had the assurance to ask the House to adjourn at that hour to suit my convenience. The honorable member for Macquarie, no doubt, acted as a friend would in the absence of his leader, but what was done was done without my knowledge. I desire to put the statement of policy to which I have referred in the light of what is said by public men in connexion with it. > By itself, it is nothing, and the Government are not responsible for 3 a it. But I desire to read what the Prime Minister said on that occasion. Several public men indorsed the policy, and then Mr. Watson is reported to have said this -
I have to thank you for the kindly expressions conveyed to my colleagues and myself upon our recent assumption of office, and to say that, as far as the general spirit behind the May Day movement is concerned, we are heartily in sympathy with it -
Now we come to the “give-us-time” policy -
And the Ministry feel - and, I am sure, the Labour Party generally in Australia admits - that, while we have our aspirations as to what is possible- that is this session’s programme - while we are still working towards a goal of something like complete freedom of the people from industrial shackles, still we have always to recollect that no step can be permanent until it is founded upon the affections of the people.
Is that not a practical indorsement of this policy by a practical statesman? It might be put in this way - “ We sympathize with your aspirations and your objects, but it is a matter of development and education, and we cannot “do what is suggested until we have educated the people sufficiently to adopt it.” So far as I am concerned, I say that if this principle were carried to the extent indicated, the people would be educated into a system of dismal universal serfdom ; that instead of being the slaves of a land-owner, or a noble, they would become the working slaves of a tyrannical democracy.
– The slaves of themselves.
– That is rather a good idea, and it only suggests the utter absurdity of the whole project. A man -is to be master and man at the same time ! I should like to see “ a great national co-operative Commonwealth” conducted on those beautiful lines. That is the goal, the ambition of this party ; that is the thing they are asking us to. help them to do. I refuse to join them. I raise a fair issue. I say that their policy, in its ultimate issues, is one which is utterly repugnant to my views of what is for the public benefit. I have only another word to add. I bring the Prime Minister himself into the witness box as to the present state of affairs. In the debate on the Address-in-Reply at the opening of this session the honorable gentleman used this sentence - I hope honorable members will allow me to proceed.
– The interruption is from the right honorable member’s own supporters.
– The Prime Minister said -
So far as the Labour Party is concerned, we regard it as useless to think of taking a share of the responsibility of government unless we have in this Chamber a majority of members who are prepared to abide by the programme which we have put before the country.
That is the programme at that time, not the Ministerial programme for this session. It will be remembered that there was a labour programme before us already, their fighting and general platform.
– The fighting platform.
– What is the use of dividing principles. The honorable gentleman takes the policy of the party, and puts some things under the head of “ the fighting platform,” and others under the head of “ the general platform.” But, as a matter of fact, is it not clear that the principles in either case are a part of the organization? Other measures may be postponed to another session. But the Prime Minister made an absolutely fair statement in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, and I propose to act upon it. If this House contains a majority of honorable members who approve of the policy - not the sessional policy submitted to us now, but the declared policy of the Labour Party - it is right that the public should know it, and that honorable members who believe in that policy should attest their devotion to it by a straightforward honest vote. If, on the other hand, they are absolutely opposed to this policy - though agreeing, as all public men do, upon a multitude of other subjects of liberal legislation, they should say so at once. There is a fair challenge. If a majority of honorable members are prepared to support the present Government in that policy, they will find, as I have said before, that, after having performed my duty as a member .of this House, and as the “ leader of a party, the Ministry will have no more generous, fair, and straight opponent than I shall be in this Parliament. ,
– Honorable members will agree with me that the task which has fallen to my lot is a difficult one. The late Prime Minister and leader of one section of the present Opposition, last evening directed his remarks, in his usual admirable fashion, to one particular phase of the present situation. The honorable and learned gentleman was not unnecessarily diffuse. He apologized ‘ for introducing some personal references’ to himself. Such an apology, I feel sure, was unnecessary. His personal references were, I will not say looked for, and. expected, but, at any rate> were such as removed them from the ordinary sphere of personalities, and they directly bore upon the present situation. The honorable and learned gentleman gave certain reasons why he objected to the retention of office by the present Ministry, and to-day he is followed by the right honorable and learned member who leads another section of the House, and who has advanced at very considerable length his reasons for so doing. In the main, those reasons are not identical with those of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. In very many particulars the right honorable and learned gentleman has struck out a line of his own ; he has introduced much matter that is more or less irrelevant. But that is quite excusable under the circumstances, and one need riot animadvert on his action. It is difficult, indeed, to find in the remarks of these two honorable and learned members any particular point on which they agree, so far as to permit of one reply. Necessarily, therefore, my task is the more difficult, as I must perforce deal with each in turn. First then I wish to make a few comments on the remarks of the late Prime Minister. He saw fit last evening to point out that the Labour Party differ in essentials from any other party. I have to remind the honorable and learned gentleman that he has but lately found out, or indicated, this great defect in our organization and in our party. As other men, perhaps, as the years roll on, he finds out very many 1 things on occasions like the present which heretofore had escaped his notice ; and we are now told that there are defects inherent and almost irreparable in our organization, and in the nature of our part” which belong to no other section or party in this Parliament. I must remind the honorable and learned gentleman, however, that he was willing to coalesce with this party with all its defects, with all those shortcomings which he has thought fit to denounce. He was prepared, and he preferred, if we are to believe his statements - and I do believe most emphatically what he does say - to join with us hand in hand. His great objection, I understand, is that there ought to be but two parties in this Parliament. The objection of the honorable member for East Sydney, it is to be noted, is of an entirely different nature; and the late Prime Minister was willing to coalesce with either of two parties to effect his purpose. That is a direct and intelligible position. But I may be permitted to remind him that it is hardly consistent with such a position for him to denounce the organization of that party, and the alleged inherent defects in its methods, when he was willing, and perhaps anxious, to coalesce wilh it.
– Never unless those defects were first removed. I called attention to them in the State Parliament many years ago as clearly as I did here last night. .
– Then all I have to say is that the defects to which the honorable and learned gentleman alluded must have been “ defects “ that affected the organization of the party outside. Probably the reference was to methods that were mainly directed towards securing . for each of the component parts of that party an understanding which would insure to the several members of those parties a clear run at the next election.
– A clear and equal chance.
– That, however, is an entirely distinct position from that taken up bv the honorable member for East Sydney, who objects to us for other reasons. It so happens that he is the person to whom we turn at this critical juncture in our historyj and ask him to step into the box as a witness for our cause to prove that we have done this thing which the honorable member for Ballarat doubts whether we could or would do. The right honorable and learned gentleman knows that in New South Wales, in 1 895, we went out with him practically to all intents and purposes a united party.
– Never ‘a united party. I was never at one of the meetings of the Labour Party, and the honorable gentleman was never at one of the meetings of my party.
– There was an alliance between two distinct parties-
– An alliance such as we were speaking of was practically agreed on in New South Wales, between the right honorable and learned gentleman at the head of the Opposition ‘and the party to which I have the honour to belong.
– Was it observed in all cases?
– We had an alliance on two or three fundamental principles, we appealed to the constituencies on those principles, we agreed that neither party should oppose the candidates of the other, and we loyally abided by that decision.
– We came back a united party. The honorable member for Hume can bear out my statement that after the general election of 1895 hewas absolutely in a minority without our assistance. The party which he was either leading orto which he was attached as a prominent member, did gain a signal victory. That is to say, it increased its numbers. But generally the alliance or the campaign - call it what you may - was successful ; and during the whole term of his Government the honorable member for East Sydney never was absolutely in. a majority in a Parliament, not even in the Parliament of 1894-5, if we exclude the honorable member for Parkes, that lamented statesman who really did more towards founding this Federation than any other man - I mean Sir Henrv Parkes - Sir William McMillan, and Mr. B. R. Wise. The votes of those four gentlemen were absolutely necessary to give to theReid Party in that Parliament a majority independent of the Labour Party.
– They were all returned as pledged supporters of that party. Why make that distinction ?
– I was not in it.
– The other men were returned pledged to support our party.
– I do not say that they were not.
– The honorable gentleman ought to say it, though, because it makes all the difference.
– I know, and everybody else knows, that the way in which thoss four members supported the Government did not meet with the approval of its head, who preferred the broad sword or the bludgeon of the honorable member for Hume to the iron hand in the velvet glove.
– That is quite true - it was a bludgeon.
– The right ‘ honorable and learned gentleman was very thankful indeed for the allegiance of our party, which was returned to support him, and did support him without reservation.
– Hear, hear.
– We were not men who were on this side one day and on the other the next day. We gave to him an unswerving support, and even now he has to admit it.
– I do admit it freely.
– The right honorable and learned gentleman admits it, so far as I know without reservation, and withoul pressure of any kind. The criticism directed by the honorable members for Ballarat and East Sydney against our party is to an extent mutually destructive. At any rate, the experience of the latter does in effect afford to the former an explanation, which, when I have added a few words, will prove conclusively that we were, and are, in a position to enter into any campaign.
– The Labour Party broke their pledges, and opposed three of our men then. They might do the same thing now.
– When was that? I say that when the circumstances of the case are taken into consideration - when all those things are remembered’ against us that the right honorable member has urged - it is found that in the whole of New South Wales there was only one man who did not adhere to the understanding between parties. And the circumstances of that one case were so peculiar that they could not be expected to be under our control. It could not be expected, in the history of any party, that it could have absolute control of every individual electorate. But, taking it “bye’ and large.” we fulfilled on every occasion the spirit and letter of our bond.
– I never had any ground of complaint against the honorable and learned gentleman’s party.
– That has not been the experience in Victoria.
– That may be so. Yet I am persuaded - and I know that there are honorable members who sit on this side of the House who have excellent reason for believing - that it is no longer the case even in the State of Victoria.
– Take the present State elections.
– I shall leave it to the individual judgment and individual taste of the honorable members who know the facts that .the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has urged against us - to those men who know absolutely that that position is no longer the case in Victoria - either to make the real state of the case public or not as they please. But I am here to say now - without entering into any details whatever as to whether that statement is any longer true in Victoria - that so far as the’ Federal Parliament is concerned, at all events, those who elect to sit behind us, whether we are in a Government or in Opposition, are in no worse position than’ any member of our own party. Indeed, they are in a better position. For whereas we may have to submit ourselves to a ballot of our own leagues, these gentlemen have no occasion to do so._ And they have the assurance, positive and unfettered, so far as we are concerned, and so far as the organizations with which we are connected are concerned, both in relation to the party inside and the party outside Parliament, that everything is to be done that any party in this Commonwealth or in the world can do.
– Now they ought to go straight !
– I intend now to deal with the criticisms of my right honorable friend the member for East Sydney. He has covered us with eulogy. He has testified to our ability, our singleness of purpose, our patriotism, and he has asked the House and the country to look at our record. He says, from the wealth of his own experience, that during the five years that he knew us in New South Wales, we never incommoded him, and never endeavoured to put undue pressure upon him, except in one instance. I do not know what that instance was. But he says we have treated him absolutely as we ought to have treated a parliamentary leader.
– I think that that one instance was with regard to the tea duties.
– It is not tea time now, so why allude to that ? The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was able to add to that assurance from his experience of our party in this Parliament. He said that we had exerted no unworthy pressure. While we had the right to exercise that public pressure in the House which our position in the country and the position pf affairs might warrant - although we have exercised in New South Wales and in this Parliament considerable influence and power - still it is admitted that ye never used it improperly. And we shall never do so. Now, we come, with this eulogy heavy on- our brows - wearing ihe laurel that has been placed upon our head by the two honorable gentlemen to whom I have referred - to deal with this projected coalition. We come to consider the arguments used against our party holding office. Perhaps it would be well’ before we do so, to consider the circumstances under which we find ourselves occupying . the Ministerial benches. Our party, at the last election, sought the suffrages of the people upon a distinct programme. That programme has been, dealt with at considerable length this morning. Very many of its planks have been touched upon, and much light has been thrown upon them, of a. disinterested character, no doubt, by a disinterested critic. ‘ The people were appealed to upon a distinct programme, and we were returned. The position which we hold iri. both Houses to-day is the direct result of that. Amongst other things, we were returned to include States railway servants under the Compulsory Arbitration Bill.
– All the public servants.
– The Commonwealth and States servants. The party was returned upon that pledge. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat at that time stated in a speech at Ballarat that he intended to oppose such an inclusion, for the reasons which he advanced - very comprehensive reasons indeed, and very admirable the)’ were, although unconvincing to us - during the last Parliament. He said that he would continue to oppose’ the inclusion of the States civil servants. Further, he said one thing which, so far as I know, we heard for the first time in the history of politics in this country. Although I see around, me many ex- Premiers, I do not know of one who has hailed the innovation of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat with that enthusiasm which so distinct and so great a novelty seemed to deserve. The ex-Prime Minister proposed to risk the fate of his Government upon that issue. My right honorable friend the member for Swan was for many years a very great - and, indeed, the controlling - influence in Western Australia. He never did that. My right honorable friend the member for East Sydney never did that in New South Wales.* I think I am also right in saying that my honorable friend the member for Hume never did that. And I say that, judging by majorities, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat who did this thing committed the deadly sin of acting without precedent. However, he determined upon taking that course, and it has been admitted both by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and by the right honorable member for East Sydney, that we in this party did nothing to precipitate the crisis. Rather must it be admitted by every fairminded man that we did everything to prevent it.
– The honorable and learned member’s party fought on that issue.
– I do not object to interjections when they come from, a free man. But when they come from a gentleman who has yielded up his conscience and his opinions I do object. I like to hear a lion roar when it is a lion right through ; but when it is something else with a lion’s skin over it, which roars only when one pulls its. tail or blows the bellows for iti it is after all but’ an ass. Not that I mean to use the word ass in an offensive sense.
– I must ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, a& well as other honorable members, not to interject to such an extent. It must be obvious that the Minister for External Affairs is unable to proceed as he desires when he is interrupted so continually.
– I was referring to the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as compared with the action of other honorable members who have been at the head of Governments. What I wanted to make clear was this - that the circumstances under which we came into office were such that we could not be accused of deliberately precipitating the crisis.. On the other hand, I can say for myself, and, I believe, for every one of my colleagues in the Ministry and outside, that if we by any means could have avoided taking office we should willingly and gladly have clone so. We were placed here, first and foremost, avowedly, according to the late Prime Minister, because he was determined to put an end to tripartite regime in the House of Representatives, and, secondly, because of the action of the right honorable member for East Sydney. We shall see which of those two reasons bear the better comparison - we shall see which will better bear the light of inspection. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has stated his view of the subject. He saw that at the end there would, at the worst, be two parties, and he, therefore, did nothing to avoid the crisis. But what was the action of the right honorable member for East Sydnev? His action was. unhappily, but too much on a par with all his other conduct of late, either to make it singular, or to call for much comment. But the right honorable gentleman, when adjured by the Sydnev Dress to act the part of a leader, and take with him his party and save the Government, absolutely declined to do so. That party now follows him, apparently, willingly; at any rate, it follows meekly and humbly enough, with one or two refreshing exceptions ; but the right honorable gentleman either did not desire to bring his party with him and save the Government, or he thought that his party would not follow him.
– I thought, perhaps, that my party ought to vote in accordance with their pledges to their constituents.
– These tender scruples - this tender regard for the principles of his followers - this late-found consideration for his friends - are like the scruples of a maiden, overcome, perhaps, for the moment, but they come a trifle too late. When the right honorable member was adjured by the Sydney press to stand fast and act the part of a leader, what did he do? He said nothing.
– I did not obey the press.
– The right honorable gentleman adopted that last resource of eloquent men - he said nothing. He waited and did what was necessary through the agency of his agile and admirable lieutenants ; and when in the ordinary course of affairs the Government would have been successful, they were defeated by the open apostacy of certain members of his party - by the votes of men who declared that they, voted for one purpose and one purpose only- Of those honorable men who voted for or against the Government because of their convictions, I have nothing to say. But that men should put out a Government by voting against their cherished convictions and pledges to the people, is a position, unhappily, not unparalleled, but one which no right-thinking politician, to say nothing of a great statesman, ought to encourage or approve. Yet I have the best of reasons for believing that it was at the direct instigation of the right honorable member for East Sydney that this thing, which stinks in the nostrils of the people, was done.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish at once to state, in parliamentary language, that the statement of the honorable and learned member is absolutely without foundation.
– The honorable and learned member for East Sydney is not in order in interrupting a speech in order to contradict a statement therein made. If any honorable member desires to make an explanation, the proper time is when the honorable member in possession of the Chair resumes his seat.
– Every man here knows that the statement is absolutely without foundation.
– I trust I may be permitted to say that which I have to say, and which I have reasonable ground for supposing to be true. If the right honorable gentleman did not say most publicly that his party, and those members of his party, who voted the other way, would get no “black looks” from him - that, in effect, he would crack no party whip - I humbly apologize. But if the right honorable member did say so, what need is there for me to say more. Are politicians suckling children ?
– Will the honorable and learned member let me state what I did say ?
– The honorable member may say whatever he wishes to say.
– I was speaking in reply to those very press attacks, to which the honorable and learned member has referred.
– If the right honorable member can say that he did what he could to save the Government, it is another matter.
– Good Gracious !
– What did the right honorable member do to prevent the position which he now affects to regard as intolerable? I. say that it stands at the door of the right honorable gentleman that we are here to-day as a- Government.
– What did the party of the Minister for External Affairs do to prevent the position?
– What did our party do? Ours is a party pledged to vote for principles irrespective of the results to ourselves; and no man can charge us that we have ever hesitated to do so; at any rate, the right honorable member for East Sydney is the last one who could make such a * charge. Our party, times out of number, voted for him, and we did so on one” occasion when it meant a dissolution, because our principles forced us to that way, though expediency lay in another direction.
– And voted against the principles of the party. I had protectionists voting for free-trade all the time.
– If this discussion is to be a trial of physical strength, I candidly admit that I can do no more. There will be ample opportunity - the “ swollen ranks of Tuscany “ are opposite, and although they cheer now, they may answer me by-and-by if they are able or. desirous to do so. For ths present, let me say that the Labour Party were, according to the statement of the right honorable gentleman, returned on that principle, and we should have been recreant had we not voted in its favour. We are here, therefore, through no fault or desire of our own.
– Indeed ! Were the present Government forced to take up the task by any one in the world?
– We are called here constitutionally, and although the right honorable member for East Sydney dug the pit for us, in order that he might emerge triumphant, he himself fell into it, as, before now, men have dug traps and fallen in. If the right honorable member was desirous of keeping the Labour Party out of power, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat some months ago held out in an honorable way the olive branch for an alliance.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat never once addressed me on the subject.
– He did, most emphatically. According to the opinions of the Sydney press there was room and opportunity for coalition, but the right honorable member for East Sydney never said a word in favour of such a course, so long as the road was open to him to reign supreme. But when that road was no longer open - when there had been dug for us the pit into which he himself has fallen - he. saw for the first time the beauties of a coalition. It was then, after having told us that we had been humiliated - that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had directly intended to humiliate us - that the right honorable member for East Sydney saw the necessity of a coalition, and entered into negotiations. As to his right to do so I have nothing to say ; it is for the electors of the Commonwealth to decide whether he had a right to enter into a coalition, and to do all he has done. At the proper time, doubtless, they will not be slow in giving him his answer. But it is proper to remind the country and the House how we came to be in power to-day - what has caused us to be here. We have been placed here not through any will of our own, or through any move of ours, but because-
– That is a novel constitutional doctrine. Did any one force the Labour Party into office?
– We were forced into office by the intriguing of the right honorable gentleman, by an intrigue set on foot with the deliberate purpose of placing him where we now are ; an intrigue which failed, and whicli was a premonitory sign of a second intrigue, which, for the time being, has failed too.
– Poor fellow ! Is it so very precious ?
– I must go over to the other side ; I cannot hear on this side.
– Unless the privilege which has hitherto been accorded to honorable members, of making such interjections as will not interrupt the member addressing the Chair, be fittingly used, it will be necessary for me to stop interjections of every kind. I hope that that will not be necessary, and, therefore, I appeal to honorable members to make only such interjections as appear to them to be absolutely called’ for, and will not interrupt the speaker.
– The Minister for External Affairs was interrupting the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney all the morning.
– I admit that he was allowed to interject on several occasions, but at no time did he do so in such a way as to interrupt the right honorable and learned member. Many of the interjections recently made, however> have been of such a character as to interrupt the Minister for External Affairs.
– I do not complain of interjections as such, but I am entitled to protest against a tor,rent of interjections such as makes it necessary for me to unduly raise my voice in order to be heard. We have attained our present position constitutionally and regularly, and under the circumstances I have explained, and the Prime Minister has put before the House and the country the programme which we ask Parliament to approve. He has explained that programme, and it is for the country to criticise it, and for Parliament to reject or adopt it. But we are now being subjected to opposition such as has never before been directed against any Government in Australia. We are being judged, not upon our programme, or upon our past record for faithful and honorable service and adherence to principle, but in quite another fashion. . We are not being judged upon our programme and our record, because the former commends itself to all sorts and conditions of men here, and to the majority of men outside, while the latter entitles us to consideration, and to that fair play which we have extended to every Government, and should be extended to us in return. We are, however, to be driven fr.om office, because we are a Government recruited :from the ranks of the Labour Party. But I believe that there is a sufficient number of men in this House imbued with the spirit of fair play, to see .that we are dealt with as other Governments have been, upon our programme and the record which stands be hind us. If it be asserted that we are incompetent to administer the great Departments of State intrusted to our charge, let us hear at once that it is so. If it be urged that we are corrupt, let us hear it ; and let the country have the details of our corruption. If it be known that we are, in any sense of the word, unfit, let us be told so. If we are incapable of carrying our legislation through this House, let us be informed of the fact, and let us be instructed as to where we fall short. But, in regard to all these points, we have the double assurance of the two members who have spoken from the opposite side, that we lack nothing ; that in point of ability, of honesty, of character, and of record, we are at least equal to the occasion. What then do we need ? According to the right honorable member for East Sydney, the organization and circumstances of our party, the peculiarity of our methods, impose an embargo upon, and create an insuperable objection to our being intrusted with the government of public affairs. I propose, as’ briefly as I may, to deal with that contention. I am sure that the House will, in any case, permit me to do so, since the gravest charges have been made against our party arid our methods, and it is only right that we should set ourselves straight in the eyes of honorable members and of the country. The right honorable member has stated that our programme was made, not by the Ministry, and not even by the .party, but by people outside. Possibly that may be true. So far as our programme is contained in the document from which he quoted, it is the result of conferences which the citizens of Australia were invited to attend, and from which no man who chose to enter our organization was excluded, though, perhaps, the representatives of the party here did more than any others to secure its acceptance. But that programme is our programme by and large, and differs iri no essential circumstances from the manifestos of conventions of protectionists or freetraders, which, from time to time, draw up bases upon which their organizations are to I work. The American political institutions - not that I for a moment think it desirable to emulate their methods - are similarly based upon what my right honorable friend has alluded to as an incurable; ineradicable, and undesirable defect. The American political system embraces the popular convention, and from it a policy drifts through various assemblies, until at last the party machine effects its purpose, and it is echoed in the Congress of the United States. So much for the general programme of our party.. But the programme which the Ministry ask the country to support, and Parliament to adopt during the current and ensuing sessions, is one for which we, with the approval of our followers, are alone responsible. No one outside Parliament can add or take from it a single word, and we seek for it the support of only those members who believe in our principles We have no coalition ; there has been no attempt to bind together men of hostile and diverse opinions; there has been no attempt to gather into one net men who, in their political views, as in everything else, are as wide as the poles asunder. But we are making an earnest and singlehearted effort to bring into one fold all who believe in one set of principles. No Ministry ever had a more honorable task intrusted to it, and no Ministry ever had to apologize for attempting to perform such a task before. We seek the support of only those men who believe in what we put forward. We do not ask for the countenance of those who do not believe in us. Every man who sits behind us, whether on this side-
– Or who skulks on this side.
– Every man who sits behind us, whether on this side or on that, must believe in our programme. If the fortune of war decree that Ave shall be put out of office and go into opposition, it will affect us little. During the twelve or thirteen years of our experience in this country we have never set our faces towards the Treasury benches; and, as I have already said, we have done nothing to precipitate the present state of affairs. We have never done anything to lead any one to believe that we desired office. I appeal to my right honorable and learned friend to say whether during the time he held office as Premier of New South Wales any member of our party ever asked him for a portfolio, or even hinted that such an appointment would be desirable.
– I never heard of such a proposition ; no one but a madman would ever dream of it.
– Did the right honorable and learned gentlemen ever gather such, an impression from anything done or said by any member of our party ?
– I appeal also to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to say whether he ever saw the slightest indication that any member of our party was seeking office with him. * I think that he will attest to the contrary. Therefore, it is nothing to us if the House decides that we shall go into opposition. We say to those honorable members whose support we seek, that if thev desire to sit behind us they will have the same voice as every other man who sits here- now, in moulding the policy of the Government. There will be no difference between those who are in and those who are out of the pledged fold. Every honorable member who gives us his support will have the same vote as those who are regarded as pledged members of the Labour Party. That is the answer I give, to the right honorable gentleman, and it should be sufficient. It will be useless for him to say that the pledged party which stands behind us now, with the one or two other honorable members who have come over, has it within its power to control the decisions of other honorable members who may support us. All honorable members who elect to follow us, either here or on the other side of the House - if we ever cross over - will have absolutely the same voice, and the same vote, in regulating the policy of the Government. So much for that. Thus, our programme differs in no essential particular from that of any other Government. It is subject only to modification in detail bv the whole of the members of the Ministerial party, irrespective of whether such members are what are called pledged men or unpledged men. Whether they are attached or unattached is quite immaterial to the great principle. So much for that, too. Now, let us consider the Government programme. How admirable it is, and with what degree of foresight this party framed it, is to be judged from the fact that another party, meeting under conditions wholly dissimilar, and composed of men as widely separated as the poles, not only from us, but from each other, framed one that is identical. To those honorable members who believe in Spiritualism, and I understand that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is among the number, the similarity of the two programmes affords- further proof that there are certain influences, of which we are not fully conscious. Even to those honorable members who do not share the spiritual convictions of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat such a coincidence may well give cause for reflection. Here we have two parties who have framed the same programme. It is true we framed ours first, but that has nothing to do with the question.
– The programme of the Government comprises much that was in the Governor-General’s Speech.
– At any rate, we framed our programme first- The right honorable gentleman stated that that aided him not at all, and that he framed his programme without any assistance from us. Our programme, then, commends itself to the whole of the people. Here was a coalition bent on securing support from every section of the House, bent on bringing to its aid every man in this country and every constituency, and it could find no better programme than that which the Government have adopted. How eloquent a tribute is that to the skill with which we framed our programme, and to the principles which we have embodied therein. These principles were not adopted by us, as by some men, but yesterday, but Ave have advocated them since Ave entered political life. They were not found but yesterday, but Ave stood upon them at the last election. We shall see in a moment upon Avhat principles some members of the coalition stood, and Ave can judge as to the position in which they will stand when Ave ask the people of the country this great question : “ Since the Avhole House agrees to one platform, to whom will you intrust thework of carrying it out - to those men Avho have always believed in these principles, Avho have adA’ocated them, and who stood upon them at the last election, and who came constitutionally into office, not by virtue of intrigue, or by the most complete abandonment of principle ; or will you put your trust in those men who at the last election utterly denounced these principles, Avho Avould have none of them, whose
Avildest denunciations Avere insufficient to express the fullvolume of their decrial?” Which of these two parties will the people of Australia select on this occasion ? Well, Ave shall see. I Avould suggest to the right honorable member that there is a short and easy way of at once determining which cf us has the better cause ; which of us has the public at our backs. Let us go to the country upon this one question : “ Under which King?”
– Hear, hear. I am ready.
– Since all parties are now agreed on a programme, under which Government shall we stand? Under those men who have abandoned principle, whose lips are yet curved with the vows they uttered at the last election, and from the denunciations of the programme which today they hold up for the approval of the people of Australia ? Under which King ? Under those men who have betrayed their hustings pledges whilst the froth of their eloquence is still drying on their lips, or under those who have at least the merit of being true to the pledges they gave at the last, and at many prior elections? Even with all the enormous influence that the right honorable member for East Sydney can wield in the State to which I belong, I yet venture to doubt whether the press of that State can see its way to any longer hold up such a load. When the right honorable and learned gentleman speaks of the policy of this coalition, it is intolerable that he should come to this House and ask us to support him in putting forward a programme, nearly every plank of which he openly denounced a few months ago. I propose now to deal with the right honorable gentleman and his public professions at the last general elections, and shall commence by reading an extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 18th August, 1903, dealing with the attitude taken up by him in reference to the policy of a White Australia. We have all read the proposals of the coalition, and I shall say this much for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat East-
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– Ballarat - east and west, north and south.
– Quite so; but in these days of confusion we turn our faces to the east and west, and no man knows which is the east and which is the west. But I will say this for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that, so far as I am able to judge, there is nothing in the programme put forward by him in connexion with the projected coalition that he has not always favoured.
– Every item was contained in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the present Parliament.
– Whatever, then, may be said of others, so far as this matter is concerned, nothing can be said against the honorable and learned member. He stands to-day where he has always stood, or, at all events, in the position which he occupied at the last elections. I wish to show the country where the other partner in this projected coalition stood at that time. The extract to which I have referred is part of a report of a speech made by him at a public meeting. He is an adept in addressing public meetings. He is, perhaps, the best platform speaker in Australia.
– In the world.
– I do not say that, but search the world over, and the man who is able to excel my right honorable friend as a platform speaker must be a very good one indeed.
– I am ready to die now.
– The right honorable member anoints our heads with the oil of fair words before he cuts our throats. It is surely permitted to me to follow such an illustrious example, and to say that which is no compliment, but the honest truth. The right honorable gentleman knows that in my opinion his powers of oratory and ability are without question, and that I have always thought so. But I am dealing now with his principles, and that, unhappily, is a different matter. The extract is as follows : -
I want now to say a word or two about the White Australia policy. While I am thoroughly in favour of that policy, I think that we have got into a position in reference to mail contracts which puts Australia into a ludicrously false position. The Government, by their treatment of the subject of coloured labour on mail contracts, has brought the policy of a White Australia into utter contempt.
– I say that now.
– The right honorable gentleman continued -
I would not wish my greatest enemy any. thing worse than to be in the stokehole of a mail steamer in the Red Sea. … I will take that clause out of the Act if I have the power -
I claim for one moment the attention of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Am I to understand that it was the intention of the coalition to stand fast by the White Australia principle, or for coloured labour on mail steamers? Yes or no?
– No proposal for an alteration was included in the programme.
– Then listen to this.
– Let me add one word to the statement made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– I must be allowed to proceed with my remarks. I accept the statement of the honorable and learned member, for Ballarat that there was to be no alteration in the policy.
– That is not quite correct. The honorable and learned gentleman will surely allow me to say a word or two in explanation.
– Order. The Standing Orders fix a time for making any explanation.
– My honorable and learned friend has fairly given way, so that I maymake a short statement.
– Quite so. -
– It is not a question for the determination of any honorable member. The Standing Orders fix the time for making explanations, and under these Standing Qrders the right honorable and learned member may make an explanation when the honorable and learned member has resumed his seat.
– I shill be on my way to Svdney bv that time.
– So- far as I am concerned it is merely a question of time. The right honorable gentleman to-day occupied three hours in addressing the House, and I had only about an hour and a half in which to put my views before honorable members. If the right honorable member has anything which he desires to explain, I shall, however, be quite prepared to listen to him now.
– I will explain the matter in one or two words.
– The Minister for External Affairs has no power to set aside the rules of the House. The House itself has power to suspend its Standing Orders, and if it is its pleasure that the right honor, able member for East Sydney be permitted to make an explanation I shall offer no objection.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– The consent of the House must be unanimous, and as there is an objection, I cannot allow the explanation to be made.
– I wish to say that I entirely repudiate any effort to prevent the right honorable member from making an explanation. I would ask the honorable member for Gwydir to withdraw his objec tion, because it gives the right honorable member an opportunity to complain. Tf he will not do so, I cannot help it.
– I may as well retire from the Chamber.
– At the meeting to which I have referred the right honorable member went on to say -
I will take that clause out of the Act if I have the power to do it - (cheers) - and I will alter that White Australia Act which allows a respectable working man from England to be kept as if he were a prisoner on reaching the shores of Australia. (Prolonged cheering.)
– The right honorable member was referring to one of the vital principles of the Act.
– The contract section.
– The honorable member’s own party is now breaking it.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– The report continues -
The Fiscal Flag.
I want to tell you frankly that, although all sorts of temptations have been addressed to me to sink the fiscal question, and although I believe I would be an infinitely stronger man, so far as the whole of Australia is concerned, if I would only sink this question, I cannot do it. My whole public career would be a fraud if I endeavoured to get political power by sacrificing the great principle of my political existence. I cannot give Australia as small a Tariff as I gave you in New South Wales, because it must be a Tariff realizing a large sum in the interests of the States ; but what I can say is, that if the people of Australia must bear these financial burdens, I will do all I can to see that, in bearing these burdens, the Tariff shall be so adjusted that their hard-earned money, which is to come out of their pockets under an Act of Parliament, shall go honestly into the public Treasury.
That was Mr. Reid at the last elections. Here, then, is a distinct statement of fact. We find that he was against that White Australia policy which has given us what is known as the case of the six hatters, the Petriana case, and the Max Stelling inci dent. He is against the exclusion of coloured labour from mail steamers, and yet he comes down now prepared to swallow all this, and much more, and asks the people of the country to intrust him with the administration of these measures.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman give the House the date of that extract?
– He has promised to do so. We are looking it up.
– It is very important that we should have the date. The speech in question was made before the elections took place.
– Would that make any difference in the right honorable gentleman’s opinion of the policy of . a White Australia ?
– I have quoted this newspaper report of the right honorable member’s speech, because I considered it desirable to do so. It would be unnecessary to quote it in New South Wales, for there every man knows on what side the right honorable member has taken his stand. The right honorable member denounced the Max Stelling incident, the Petriana incident, the incident of the six hatters, and coloured labour upon the mail steamers, and there sits alongside of him now an honorable and learned member who denounced the whole thing, root and branch.
– And will do so again.
– This refreshing candour ! The honorable and learned member does so still, and yet the coalition, with its all-capacious arm, embraces him, and takes him to its bosom, and says .to the people of Australia, “ Here, come with us upon this programme, and help us to give a White Australia.” The coalition includes Mr. Bruce Smith, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Grampians, and other honorable gentlemen, who stand with them in that noble phalanx into which the darts of a White Australia have never been able to enter. These are the men into whose hands the conduct of White Australian legislation is now to be intrusted. What an abandonment of principle ! What a complete abnegation of anything like principle ! What a complete repudiation of pledges given at the last general election ? There are some honorable members who, in joining the coalition, do not need to do any such thing. There are many honorable members who have sat upon the opposite side - I speak of the late Opposition pure and simple - who were as earnest in their advocacy of White Australian legislation as we were ourselves. In fact, there was in this. House but a handful of honorable members opposed to that legislation. lt went through with the approval, I believe of seven out of ten - aye, of nine out of ten of the members of this House. Therefore it has the imprint not merely of the Labour Party, but of the late Government, and of the late Opposition, under the right honor able member for East Sydney. But when we see that the very men who alone opposed it are included in this coalition, and that they are now prepared, not merely to go the length of fighting in favour of a White Australia, but of standing up for those very measures which they have denounced- unsparingly from the time they were passed until now, I ask this House and this country what credence and what faith is to be placed in a coalition, of this kind?
– Every one of them has not done so.
– Hear, hear ; the honorable member is still faithful.
– Yes, I am glad to say that there is one man who has not yet bowed the knee to Baal. But, though that may be true, there are half-a-dozen who have done so.
– I cannot help that.
– Well and good. I would rather a hundred times that a man should stand up here and denounce the White Australia policy until his breath should fail him, than that he should dishonorably abandon his pledges and principles for the mere purpose of securing any petty advantage, or ousting any political party, no matter how detested.
– We shall show that the honorable and learned member has done that himself.
– It is idle to remind the honorable and learned member for Parkes of his repudiation of pledges. If I chose, and had sufficient time, I could mention a hundred things, any one of which would shrivel up an other man, but which, perhaps would hardly affect the honorable and learned gentleman. I point out to this House and the country that the coalition opposite embraces men who have been bitterly opposed to the legislation to which ‘I have referred, but who yet are prepared to abandon their principles and sink everything that they may put us out of office. I ask the people who believe in our principles whether they can have any faith at all that a Government including such honorable members would carry out their pledges? What assurance have we that the men who to-day have broken their pledges, but five months old, will not to-morrow break them again? The breaking of pledges, like lying, becomes more easy every day.
– How does the honorable and learned member know ?
– To break a pledge a first time, no doubt, tears a man asunder and puts him to confusion; but if he continues to break his pledges it becomes to him as nothing, after all. The right honorable member for East Sydney, unfortunately, has gone from this chamber, owing to the action of the honorable member for Gwydir, which I bitterly regret.
– The honorable member will drive supporters of the party away if he keeps up that sort of game.
– I entirely repudiate his- action, because I believe that fair play is the essence of evervthing. I have listened to some unsparing denunciations of myself with as much calmness as a man of my disposition can, and I ask no more from other men than I am prepared to give them. Since both parties have the same programme, and both are asking the country to support them on the same principles, I ask the House and the country to decide under which they shall elect to stand. I have no doubt that there are men in this House so strongly in favour of the White Australia policy, that, come what may, they will not give their support to the right honorable member for East Sydney. Who may follow us or who may move us is another matter, but that they will follow the right honorable gentleman I utterly refuse to believe. There is growing in Australia a keener criticism of the actions of public men than the attitude of some honorable gentlemen in this Chamber would lead people to suppose. No man can now break his pledges with impunity. It is idle for men to think that they can shelter themselves beneath the wing of some great leader, or, under the protecting influence of some greater newspaper. Every man is now asked by the free and independent electors - “ Did you say this, or did you do that?” and no excuse will save him, no subterfuge will aid him> by no possibility can he escape the inevitable doom of repudiation of pledges. We have been charged that our programme is a socialistic programme - not the programme which we have put before Parliament, but the programme which has been prepared by the various conferences, and which is printed in the brochure which has been handed round this morning. All I can say is that it is a difficult thing to define what Socialism means in this country. We are advancing so rapidly towards Socialism, or towards some “ ism “ pr other, that some of us find ourselves unable to keep up with the trend of public opinion. Though I am here called a Socialist, I am denounced with the most unsparing invective by the socialistic party in New South Wales.
– They call the honorable and learned member an aristocrat over there now.
– They put the honorable and learned member in the same category with myself very often.
– Never !
– A certain paper does.
– Has the honorable and learned member for West Sydney fallen so low?
– Here is the programme we are content to be judged upon. ‘ It is a programme, I was going to say, like that of my honorable friend the member for New England, or of the honorable member for Lang ; it is a programme which extends into the illimitable beyond. It may be ten years, it may be twenty years, it may be any time before we shall see the full fruits of this programme. But one assurance which the House has that we should not go beyond the bounds that it likes or desires, is that it has us absolutely at its mercy. There are, I believe, in the Chamber a sufficient number of men to prevent legislation from going any further than the Government purpose either this session or next session. What better assurance can honorable members have, and what better assurance do persons outside the walls of this chamber need than this: that the people’s representatives decide how far any Government shall go ? They did it before, they will do it again. And outside there is at least a final tribunal to which all parties and all Governments must appeal. It is for the’ people to decide how far they will embark in any socialistic or other kind of experiment. Without their approval no Government can do anything; without their approval no Government, with any degree of common-sense, would think of attempting to go a step forward. Under these circumstances, therefore, the House and the country have the best of guarantees that we shall not go outside the programme laid down by the Prime Minister yesterday. The right honorable and learned gentleman, not content with saying that we were going too far, said that we were not going far enough. Hard, indeed, is our lot when we cannot please him with a promise to go a long distance; nor With a promise to halt half-way. He says, that ours is a milk-and-water policy.
Oh, that such a charge should come from such a man ! If ours is a milk-and-water policy, what is his? In this House we have heard of what boiled milk did, and can do; and milk and water we know. But what kind of policy is that of the right, honorable and learned gentleman who was in favour of milk, and is now in favour of kerosene oil ; who was in favour of this thing, and is now in favour of its opposite; who believed in the antidote, and now swallows the poison without the antidote ; who is prepared to do anything in the way of swallowing what he said at the last election, so long only as he can get in or push us out, which is much the same thing. So far, from our putting forward a milk-and-water policy, may I point out that our platform as it now stands includes the maintenance of a White Australia, the enactment of compulsory arbitration, the institution of old-age pensions, the nationalization of monopolies, the creation of a citizens’ defence force, and the restriction of public borrowing. We propose to nationalize one monopoly. The creation of a citizens’ defence force has always been our aim. Never mind what are the sins of other parties in other places, we stand here, and no man can accuse us of being other than in favour of the restriction of public borrowing. Next session we propose to deal with old-age pensions, navigation, and nationalization of monopolies. So that, in effect, we propose to ask the House to deal with the majority of the planks of this fighting platform in this and the ensuing session. Is that a milkandwater policy? Is that a bartering or a surrender of principles? Certainly, if it be such a surrender, the right honorable member for East Sydney is not the one who ought to make the charge. But it is not a surrender of principles; it is a standing fast by principles, and because of that, because of our record, because of the circumstances under which we came into office, and because of that spirit of fair play which animates all public assemblies; and on which no. man in any Parliament that I have known has relied in vain, we believe that we shall obtain a majority here to support us while we do that which is right. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat told us that we are only a minority of the House. I would remind him that on at least two or three of the principles I have mentioned, we have a majority at our back. On the inclusion of public servants in the
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, we have demonstrated that we have a majority. On the nationalization of monopolies, why only yesterday the Senate, by a majority of seventeen votes to eight, agreed to the nationalization of the tobacco industry.. But for the absence of two members of the Labour Party, the Senate would have decided in its favour by an absolute majority. Therefore, we have a majority in another place on that question. The leader of the Opposition said a great deal about industrial legislation. He said that we proposed to restrict individual effort, to introduce- an era of unification, to do somehing that we ought not to do. On this subject, I propose to quote the words of Sir William McMillan, the acting-leader of the Opposition in the last Parliament, when the honorable and learned member for East Sydney was absent. Let me say of that gentleman, that although he has opposed us on many occasions, no man can ever accuse him of going back on his principles. He has stood up for one set of principles since he entered public life, and so far as I know he stands up for them still. Speaking here on the 28th June, 1901, he said -
I hold generally that everything that affects the rights and liberties - especially the industrial life of the community - ought to be in the hands of the national Parliament. I have seen, since that Convention, certain attempts at legislation in some of the local Parliaments. I am not. going to say whether that legislation is sound or not, but it certainly is of such a far-reaching character with regard to the liberties of, the people in their industrial life - and, after all, Australia is an industrial community - that I do not think those great subjects should be settled except by a national Parliament.
Sir William McMillan made that speech, and apparently there was not one man in the House who dissented from it sufficiently to call for a division ; the motion was carried on the voices. Are we to be accused then of seeking to introduce some new and dangerous principle- into the arena of legislation, when we only propose to do that which has commanded the unanimous support of this Chamber, and the approval of that honorable gentleman? So much for our programme. Now for a word or two on our methods. A great deal has been said about our pledge, the methods of selection, and so on. I do not deny that these, when first introduced into this country, were somewhat new. But I deny entirely that -they are singular now. I would point out that at the last election in> New South Wales the majority of bodies, adopted our principles, that a great nurn- ber of them insisted on written pledges. I ask the honorable member for Parkes does he, or does he not, believe in a written pledge ?
– I do not approve of written pledges.
– If the honorable and learned member does not believe in written pledges, why did he give one? And further, why did he add to it that which no other man in New .South Wales did ? Why did he do it after a denunciation of the principle which made his subsequent acceptance of it absolutely dishonorable ?
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman say what he means?
– I shall not say any more than this - that the honorable and learned member, in the State of New South Wales, after declaring that he would not be bound, and that he thought that no man should be asked to give such a pledge, and that he refused to do it, subsequently gave a pledge to the organization in New South Wales, and did something which, so f;*r as I knew, no other man who gave a similar pledge did. Unless the honorable and learned member gave several pledges he knows what I mean.
– I deny what the honorable gentleman says.
– Deny how much of it ? Does the honorable and learned member deny that he gave such a pledge ? He can deny it categorically, he can deny it generally, he can deny it how he pleases, but he knows full well that if it is necessary I will in detail prove anything that I have said.
– The honorable gentleman may if he chooses.
– Not only so, but nearly every organization in New South Wales, and throughout Australia, has, more or less, fallen into this method. In New South Wales today, at the various selections of reform candidates, every man is asked to give a pledge. Most of the candidates, if- not all, are asked to give written pledges. They are not merely asked to give pledges, but they are pledged to stand down if they are not selected. Does any honorable member deny that ?
– They are copying the methods of the Labour Party, because they have seen how successful they are in the hands of honorable members opposite.
– I see. What greater tribute could there be to our methods than that tardily they have copied them?
– And when all parties have copied them, honorable members opposite will be “ done.”
– As a matter of fact, our methods were, and are, admirably adapted to third party politics. But we are for the first time confronted with a new situation. We are no hide-bound Conservatives ! It is a matter for historians and soldiers to speculate what would have happened if the legions of Caesar had met the phalanx of Alexander. Every one knows that when they met the phalanx of later Greece, they broke them up ; but what would have happened if they had met the phalanx of Philip or of Alexander no man can tell. What would have happened if the thin red line and the British squares that met the forces of Napoleon at Waterloo had been met by troops who fought upon the methods of to-day, I do not know. But I know that the methods of to-day are suitable for the warfare of to-day ; and so far as we know it has been demonstrated that our methods, for third party warfare, are not to be excelled. We have done very much. We are now a Government. We shall never become less than an Opposition at the worst - or at the best. Therefore, it may be necessary to adopt other methods. I have said that there Is another way by which men who are now in this Parliament, but who are not in the party to which I belong, may sit behind and support this Government on absolutely equal terms, without bothering their head’s about any pledge of one kind or another. We ask from them what a coalition and what every party would ask from them, faithful and loyal service. I ask any honorable member opposite - if he were to break away from the Free-trade Party, or from any party, whether he would not expect that that party would oppose him at the next election? Undoubtedly. I put it to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, i whether if one of his party deliberately, while he was leading the Protectionists, broke away from the party, and went to the other side of the House, leaving his supporters in an extremity, he would not, or his organization would not, do all thev were able to do to put that man out at a subsequent election? We do not do more than that. We are entitled to do that, and we have done it. Fortunately, for many reasons, we have hardly ever had occasion to do it but I say, subject to that qualification, that any man has as much assurance with us as he has when sitting with any other party now in existence. I want to say a word or two more about our methods - about what has been termed machine politics. I ask the New South Wales members to recollect that their machine, so far as the Senate is concerned, is absolutely of the most rigid character. No man, unless he acts with the machine, can possibly hope to win at a Senate election in that State. Three men were selected at the last election. By whom were they selected? By a junta - by a body of men - not by the right honorable member for East Sydney. The right honorable member might say that he thought that so and so ought to be selected, but it was by the free-trade organization that the candidates were selected. These act .with the machine, and the machine pulls them through. If honorable members want undeniable proof of that statement, let them turn to the results of the last election. I ask any honorable member for New South Wales to prove that I am not speaking the absolute truth. One of the candidates proposed for the Senate was Lt. -Col. Neild, a man as widely known as Australia itself - a gentleman who has occupied a dual capacity as senator and colonel, and who has lately caused a certain amount of disturbance in the Military Department, and has almost paralyzed the Major-General himself. This gentleman was unable to secure very many more votes than a man who was practically unknown, and another man who, whatever his qualifications on the floor of the Senate, however admirable his gifts as an exponent of free-trade and finance - upon which he is to be taken as a very great authority - is certainly not as widely known as the gentleman to whom I have referred. Yet Lt.-Col. Neild was unable, I say, to poll very many more votes than these two men.
– Both the other candidates were as well known as he was.
– People had to vote for the three selected candidates to avoid giving votes away to the protectionists. There was no option for the people of New South Wales. There was an ironbound rigid system. Every candidate was bound to the ticket. Talk of American politics ! No man, unless he could get into the machine in New South Wales, had the slightest hope. Though one rose from the dead, or came down from on high, he must be in the machine or he. could do nothing. I will read the figures showing the result of that Senate election. They were - Neild, 189,892 Pulsford, 188,101 ; Gray, 185,716. Four thousand votes separated a senator 1 whose gifts of oratory in New South Wales have on many occasions made us stand amazed, and whose character has impressed itself upon the Departments, civil and military, from a man who was comparatively unknown. In other words, Lt.-Col. Neild was unable to beat Senator Pulsford by more than 1,700 votes, and Senator Gray by more than 4,000. The machine is on top in New South Wales. The “ right honorable member for East Sydney says that ours is a rigid machine. A rigid machine ! I would . that we had half so perfect an organization as the right honorable member has !
– Let the honorable gentleman, give us the output of his party’s machine.
– I say nothing in com-, plaint about the machine. I am no.t complaining of the Sydney press.
– The honorable gentleman was in both machines.
– The Sydney press has always treated me well, but of that I say nothing. I am ready to take advantage of any machinery, and make no pretence otherwise. No one can say that on either my free-trade or my labour principles I have ever gone back on my hustings pledges. I am amazed and grieved that I have not had an opportunity of giving effect to those pledges, which I made to my constituents on the last occasion, by saying one word or casting one vote for the great principle of free-trade, which my late respected leader apparently had not the courage to test here.
– The honorable and learned member now has a chance to give effect to his free-trade principles.
– Against his own party and leader?
– When I see on the Opposition side amongst the “ ranks of Tuscany,” as I have called them, free-traders like the honorable member for New England, with whom it is a religion to regard free-trade as the most sacred thing on earth - who believes that the beginning and end of all things is a tax on the unimproved value of land and free-trade - and along with him the honorable member for Lang, standing behind a coalition which has agreed to sink free-trade, I know that in the realms of the blest, when I have there to answer for my sins, I shall be able to urge one excuse - “The single taxers swallowed their principles, and how shall one, who falls far short of them, be held inexcusable ? “ The honorable member for Lang only last week wrote a letter to the Sydney press, in which he denounced the sinking of the free-trade question; but I have since, with agonised earnestness, looked in vain at the columns of the daily press in the hope of finding the name of “ Johnson “ arrayed amongst those who have cast off the yoke of coalition.
– The honorable and learned member never saw my name attached to any socialistic programme.
– I regret very much that I am unable to finish my remarks in the time available. I feel sure, however, that honorable members will agree that I should have a further opportunity, and I, therefore, ask permission to resume my speech on Tuesday.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable and learned member have leave to continue his address on Tuesday?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
– I desire to give an explanation of some remarks of mine which seem to have given umbrage to the Minister for External Affairs. I still think that I was right, when at an earlier stage to-day, I took up the attitude I did believing that the effectiveness of the speech of the Minister for External Affairs was being unnecessarily interfered with by interjections. I like to see fair play extended to every man who has an important task to perform, and it is remarkable that when I exercised a constitutional right, certain honorable members should object, especially in view of the fact that I did so from the best of motives, namely, to insure a fair hearing for the speaker, and an opportunity . to honorable members to listen consecutively to his remarks. Personally I do not think I transgressed in any material way. I would point out also that, although to some honorable members interjections may afford food for discussion, they are to other honorable members very irritating and confusing.
– Is the honorable member for Gwydir in order in debating again a matter which is not now before the House? On the motion for adjournment an honorable member may deal with any fresh matter he pleases, but I submit that the honorable member for Gwydir is going beyond a personal explanation.
– The honorable member of Gwydir is acting within his right in making a personal explanation, and he will not be permitted to go beyond it
– That is what I am endeavouring to do. I simply say in conclusion that I am surprised that a gentleman so long in Parliament-
– Is that a personal explanation ?
– It is an explanation of why I took the stand I did to-day. It seems to me that there is no occasion for. such umbrage at my action, when I was perfectly within my constitutional right, and acted in the best interests of orderly debate.
– I only want to say, as to a matter with which, perhaps, I had not an opportunity-
– I would point out that a personal explanation is not open for debate. If the Minister for External Affairs desires to make a personal explanation he is at liberty to do so.
– I do not know whether I made it perfectly clear to the House that I objected to interjections only when, in view of my bad throat, they caused meto speak in ‘ a louder tone than I should adopt. I need hardly say that so far as the honorable and learned member against whom my remarks were directed is concerned, it was through no action of minethat he was prevented from replying.
– I purposely abstained from accepting the challenge of the Minister for External Affairs, because I saw at once that I should be embarking upon a very one-sided controversy, having regard to the way in which the leader of the Opposition had been . treated. While the Minister could have availed himself of his position as having the floor of the House, I should have been prevented from giving a full and complete answer to his challenge. I therefore abstained, at great sacrifice of personal pride, but I shall meet the Minister when I address the House on the question.
– I also have a personal explanation to make. In reply to the question of the Minister for External Affairs as to any possible alteration of the clause of the Immigration Restriction Act to which he alluded, I answered, with absolute accuracy, that no proposal for any alteration had’ been included in the programme agreed on. I. have nothing to withdraw ; but the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney is perhaps prevented by his absence from adding that, of course, this in no way limited him in his freedom of action. The programme was the programme of the Government, and that was all that the members of that Government, if it were ever formed, and all that those who accepted the programme, if they supported that Government, were called on to accept. The right honorable and learned member for East Sydney could follow his own course as a private member.
– As a member of the Government ?
– Not as a member of the Government, unless he was able to persuade the whole of his colleagues, but as any member of a Government may in his private capacity. In the next place, an allusion was made by the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney to the -fact that he was unaware that prior to the opening of negotiations between himself and myself, and even during them the door was open for negotiations between the members of the Labour Party and myself. I accept the statement of the right honorable member without hesitation and without qualification. He says correctly that it was not until the second or third day of our meeting to draft a programme that I specifically alluded to this option. I did not understand then that he was surprised at my allusion. But it is necessary now to say something not in correction of anything he has said, .but to prevent the possibility of the implication that I was not justified in assuming that he was perfectly well aware of the fact that the door, as I expressed it yesterday, was open on both sides. I have, therefore, referred to the Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, and go back, no further than the meeting of the caucus of the- party to which I belong, on the day when the present Administration made its first appearance in this House. Months before that I had spoken against the three-party system, and of the necessity for two of the parties! to join, and had been censured by the newspaper from which I am about to quote for making it so plain that we were open to offers from either of the other parties. I find that in the Daily Telegraph of the 2nd May inst. I am reported as replying to some criticisms of the right honorable member for East Sydney in these words -
His further statement that the stability of the Government should be the sole consideration is answered by the foregoing calculation or strength, and by the recollection that it is open to Mr. Watson, just as it is to himself, to seek alliance with either of the other two parties in Parliament, and by this means to secure the standing and authority which are wanting in the present Administration.
On the same page appears this- statement from its Melbourne correspondent -
Mr. Deakin is said to have offered to stand down if a coalition, can.be established which will be a union of men having political sympathies in common. Mr. Deakin will not, however, declare the kind of coalition that he desires. It is announced on his behalf that he does not: intend to make any overtures, but that he will consider, any that may be made to him, and will then be guided by the decision of his party.
Then on 3rd May the Melbourne correspondent telegraphs -
Efforts continue to be made by the different sections of the protectionist opposition to promote a coalition. The members who are anxious to join with the Labour Party still talk confidently of being able to frustrate any move that will bring Mr. Reid and Mr. Deakin together. The published interview with Mr. Batchelor, the Minister for Home Affairs, is quoted as evidence that a considerable section of the caucus is ready to welcome overtures.
On 4th May the. same newspaper had a leading article, in which it pointed out that -
Mr. Deakin talks loudly and often about the. necessity of. some two out of the existing three parties coalescing, so as to restore the regime of constitutional government; but, while carefully keeping the way open for an advance in either direction, he stands stock still and waits upon events.
I shall not detain the House further, but I refer honorable members to issues of 5th May, 9th May, roth May, and’ nth May, and the days immediately preceding our meeting last week. Continual reference is there made by the Melbourne correspondent to the fact that overtures of an informal nature were proceeding from members of the Labour Party to friends in our party. Therefore, I think I was quite justified in assuming that the right honorable member must be aware of .the fact that these negotiations . were in process. Although it either escaped his notice. at the .time, or has escaped his memory since, I felt justified, under the circumstances, in not calling attention at the beginning of our negotiations to facts which I thought were known throughout Australia.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to refer to an accusation levelled against me by the Minister for External Affairs. He made the statement that I have repudiated my single tax and free-trade principles. I have sacrificed nothing. ‘ Later on I shall fully justify my position, but I think it unwise to let the statement of the Minister pass without notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 May 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040520_reps_2_19/>.