2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer, without notice, if his attention has been directed to the statements current in the newspapers that the French Government are proposing to establish life assurance as a Government monopoly or as a Government institution? Will he obtain and circulate for the information of honorable members such reports on the subject as may be available?
– My attention was directed to the subject to-day, and I shall be very glad to obtain what information maybe available, and have it placed before honorable members to assist them in coming to an opinion upon the matter.
– I wish to know from the Minister for External Affairs if the evidence taken before the Commission which, I understand, isto shortly inquire into the New Guinea incident will be given upon oath?
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if his attention has been called to a statement in this morning’s Argus which seems to reflect upon his administration of the Department ovct which he has control ? To make my question clear, I may, perhaps be permitted to quote a few sentences of the report to which I refer -
When Mr. Mahon became Postmaster-General in the Labour Ministry he called for a report from Colonel Outtrim. That gentleman contended that in the interest of proper administration it was unwise to accede to the requests of the associations which ‘employed political influence in order to accomplish their ends. ……
-General, insisted upon Colonel Outtrim recognising the departmental associations. He decided in his deputy’s favour in regard to the lift case, but against him on the larger issue. And he continued : - I do not desire to receive from him any further communication in which his fellow-officers are referred to in acrimonious and contemptuous terms.” Colonel Outtrim felt that he did not merit the hard words used by the Postmaster-General, and he wrote a letter’ in reply, in which he cited several instances of attempted political influence, and said that if Mr. Mahon were dissatisfied with his administration he was quite prepared to retire. . . .
A precis of the correspondence was submitted to Parliament last week. Prominence wasgiven in it to Mr. Mahon’s final minute, but the cases upon which Colonel Outtrim based his case were omitted.
Is the charge contained in the last sentence true?
MrMAHON. - In reply to the honorable member, . I desire to say that the documents connected with the case of the Deputy Postmaster-General of “Victoria and his non-recognition of certain Public Service Associations are. rather voluminous, and instructions were given to an officer of the Department to prepare in the usual way an abstract of them, so that the main points . might be easily available to honorable members and others who wish for information on the subject. It is quite true that this abstract does not give the whole of Mr. Outtrim’s letters; but if the honorable member, or any other honorable member, thinks that any material fact has not been disclosed, I shall have the greatest pleasure in placing the whole of the papers before him.
– How can we tell that facts have not been disclosed unless we see all the papers?
– Why do not honorable members take the responsibility of moving for a return?
Mr.MAHON. - If there is any suspicion that there are material facts which have not been stated by the responsible officer who compiled the summary to which I have referred, and who received no instructions whatever from me, I shall have the greatest pleasure in laying the whole of the papers before any honorable member who may wish to see them.
Honorable Members. - Why not lay them on the table ?
– The reason why I have not laid them upon the table is that I was informed by the Secretary -to the Department that there is an objection to laying original documents upon the table, and that it would, therefore, be necessary to have each one of them copied. But as the clerks in the central office now work overtime, I did npt think it advisable to put that extra labour upon the staff. However, if any honorable member suspects that any material fact is not disclosed, the papers will be open to his inspection in the Postmaster-General’s office.
– The Minister recognises the charge of unfairness implied in the newspaper statement P
– No; I do not I think that the Deputy Postmaster-General of Victoria has been treated with extreme consideration. This is by no means the first occasion when he has found himseif censured by the Cabinet of the day. Although one would always like to be able to defend his officers, I cannot conceal the fact that Mr. Outtrim seems to have gone out of his way to look for causes of trouble. More than a year ago he received instructions- in distinct terms from the Secretary to the Department and from the Public Service Commissioner to recognise the Public Service Associations ; but he neglected to comply with those instructions. Had the . matter come before any other honorable member who might have been in my place, he could have given no other decision than that which I gave;
– Is the statement in the Argus that’ the specific cases cited by the Deputy Post- ‘ master-General of Victoria have been omitted from the papers an accurate one? If it is, I have no doubt that the Minister will be willing to supply them, because they cannot be very voluminous, and generally when a report is made there are several typewritten copies of it available. I would move for the production of all the papers, but that I do not think it necessary, since I do not suppose that the Postmaster-General has any desire to withhold information.
– If I may further amplify my remarks, I may say that I shall have the greatest pleasure in having the whole of Colonel Outtrim’s reply, in which these cases are cited, laid upon the table of the House, as an addendum to the papers already produced.
Mr. WATSON laid upon the table the following paper: -
Transfers of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council under -the Audit Act, financial year1903-4 (dated 19th May, 1904).
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the following statement which appeared in the Hobart Mercury of 7th May : -
Finally he (the Prime Minister) has much to say about responsible government, while above and over his responsible administration sits the Labour caucus, representing the trades unions, which hold his resignation, and those of all his Ministerial colleagues, save one, in its hands undated.
I desire to know whether there is any foun- . dation for that statement.
– I may say at once that the statement quoted is only one of many similar fabrications. It is an absolute fabrication, and has no foundation whatever in fact.
– Was it not true of the New South Wales Labour Party?
– No; it, was never true of any Labour Party in any State Parliament.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - ,
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I desire to state as follows: -
Commanding reports that the information is required for identification purposes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member, I desire to state that the General Officer Commanding reports as follows : -
The only application for a commission, made in January last, has been withheld in the interests of the corps concerned.
The Commandant, South Australia, lias bren requested to furnish full particulars.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In connexion with a letter from the Defence Department, of the 7th May, 1904, “ that it is understood that applications for the enrolment of Cadets under the new Naval Agreement should, in the first instance, be made to the State Governor “ -
What are the reasons this function is handed over to a State Imperial official ?
Has the Defence Department of the Commonwealth refused to act in regard to this enrolment?
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I desire to state -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member, I desire to state -
Yes, by the honorable member.
Debate resumed from 20th May. (vide page 1393), 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.
– When the debate was adjourned on Friday I was dealing with the criticisms of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I propose now for a very little while to deal with those portions of their speeches to which I had not time to reply upon that occasion. First of all, I may be permitted to say just one word about the criticisms directed against one part of our programme touched upon by the Prime Minister in his speech on Wednesday last, viz., the proposed nationalization of the tobacco monopoly. Something has been said about that being a socialistic plank, and doubtless it is socialistic. There are, however, in these days too many instances of Socialism for the statement in itself to constitute a sufficient reply and an adequate reason for voting against such a proposal. I wish to direct attention to perhaps one of the most excellent illustrations of the fact that to dub anything socialistic is not to place it outside the pale of rational and practical politics, or sufficient to alienate the support of very many gentlemen who would, perhaps, consider themselves hardly used if they, were termed Socialists. I have here the report of the Select Committee appointed in Victoria, during the session 1895-6. The Committee was appointed to inquire into the nationalization of the tobacco industry of Victoria, and, after some consideration, arrived at a conclusion favorable to the proposal, upon grounds which I am sure will commend themselves to those very excellent gentlemen who are now opposed to the nationalization of the industry, because it is proposed by us. I find, by reference to the Victorian parliamentary papers for the session 189,5-6, vol. 1, page 1094, that the Select Committee decided in favour of the nationalization of the tobacco industry for these reasons : -
Your committee are of opinion that amongst other advantages likely to be derived from the establishment of a State monopoly in the manufacture of tobacco in Victoria are the following : - Increased revenue ; better quality of tobacco to consumers; encouragement to Victorian farmers to grow tobacco; and increased employment to people.
When a Select Committee in those days of comparative Conservative conditions in politics in Victoria . arrived at that decision, what sort of apology is necessary for submitting our proposal to-day? For nine years we have lagged haltingly in spite of the admirable example set by the Select Committee, which was composed of Messrs. Graham and Graves, Sir John Mclntyre - who has unhappily now gone from us, but who was selected by the Conservatives of Victoria to carry their banner as one of the triumvirate who were attempting to hound” Socialism out of existence - Mr. Outtrim, and Mr. Prendergast. I see the name of only one Socialist that I know of, but there may have been others. I do not know Mr. Outtrim, -but so far as I am aware, no one calls him a Socialist. I know Sir John McIntyre by reputation, and I can confidently say that he was not a Socialist.
– Mr. Graham was a strong member of the Kyabram party.
– So he is to-day..
– Then who can blame us for following the standard carried by these excellent gentlemen - one, a leader of the Kyabram movement, or the movement which lately blossomed under that name, and the other a gentleman who was selected as one of the most reliable men in Victoria, to lead the anti- Socialist Party. Surelv our proposal requires no better defence. With regard to the other criticism which was levelled by the right honorable member for East Sydney at industrial legislation, I am reminded by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that a series of questions were put to the leading men of Victoria, including, irrespective of party, some of the most pronounced Conservatives, asking whether they were in favour of federalising industrial legislation, and they replied with almostcomplete . unanimity in the affirmative. We may add to that testimony the opinion of Sir William McMillan, who, at anv rate, possesses the virtue- a virtue which grows rarer every day - of being consistent. All these gentlemen are in favour of doing that which is condemned by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who exhibits a complete lack of knowledge of what transpires in this Chamber, as was evidenced by his attitude during the last Parliament. He came here, after an absence of some considerable time, and suggested that a referendum should be taken on the fiscal question, without consulting his followers, and without ascertaining whether “or not their attitude towards such a proposal was likely to be favorable. He afterwards, with his ever-ready mobility, withdrew that suggestion. Talk about the Japanese being mobile’! In spite of certain physical characteristics which he possesses, and’ which do not lend themselves to that idea, mobility itself might toil pantingly after the right honorable member in vain. His change of front is most amazing, and, at the same time most convenient, although, to whom, I leave his most obedient followers to say. So much for the tobacco’ monopoly, and for industrial legislation. I’ desire now ‘ to say one word regarding the charge which has been made that we do not propose to go sufficiently far in establishing a State tobacco monopoly, because we propose to exempt the retailers. Surely . the word “ monopoly “ is an English one. It possesses another virtue in that it conveys what it actually means. That is not a distinguishing characteristic of politicians to-day. A monopoly, so far as I understand it, is something that is not shared by the many, but which is in the hands of one individual, or is controlled by a few. The combine which’ controls the manufacture of tobacco in this country is indeed a monopoly. But who can urge that there is any semblance of monopoly in the case of the hundreds of thousands of men who retail tobacco throughout the Common-, wealth ?
– Will’ the monopoly cease to exist when the Government takes over the industry ?
– It will cease to exist, So far as the people of the country are concerned. The honorable member must see that as the Government are the trustees for the whole people, the control of the manufacture of tobacco by the Commonwealth would be no more. a. monopoly than is the free public library, or a public park which is open to all. It is true that we are its trustees; but, nevertheless, there is no citizen so poor, no outcast, so abandoned, but that . he may enter freely,, and no one can say him nay.
– But the Minister said that the object of nationalizing the tobacco ‘industry was not to benefit the people but to raise more revenue.
– I said that that statement was made by Sir John Mclntyre, which is a different matter altogether. I refer the honorable member with confidence to the survivors of the Select Committee, to which I have already alluded, from whom he can obtain viva voce all the particulars that he may desire.
– I was asking the Minister’s opinion.
– The honorable, member will find that thoughts and opinions avail him nothing upon the hustings. What the people- want is action. I shall now deal with some of the points which affect the right honorable member for East Sydney, whose absence from the chamber I regret. He stated, during the course of his speech., that the Labour Party were in a minority in two of the great States, and that out of forty-nine members only ten were labour nominees, which showed that we represented a minority. Very well, let us examine the position of the right honorable member’s party, as reflected in this House. It- appears that, in the whole of. the States, he has some twenty-two free-trade adherents. We have, including the honorable member for Grey, twenty-four members. Formerly we numbered twenty-three, and the Protectionist Party held the balance, excluding yourself, Mr. Speaker. There is no doubt, therefore, that on the fiscal question - apart from the Labour Party’s platform - the right honorable gentleman is- in a distinct and undeni able minority - so much so, that he himself stated that he realized when he was defeated, and that that was- an end of the- mat- . ter. But with regard to those other questions, upon which he pretends to differ from the Labour. Party, how does he stand ? The Labour Party has a. solid phalanx, of twentyfour numbers, whilst his party numbers only twenty-two. At the last election, the right honorable member said that there was only one bond of union between himself and his followers, which was a desire to put the Government of the day out of office. That is the sort of bond that commends itself alike to politicians and pirates. It is a readily intelligible- principle, and. is a platform so broad that there is room for all persons to stand upon it. It is a principle which coheres to the last, and which survives the. shattering of all other ties-. The band of men who are led by the right honorable member still stand true to- that, great principle. Although the late Government has been displaced, and another Ministry is- now in office, they are still in favour of turning the Government off the Treasury benches. But upon the principle of continuing the White Australia policy - which may be divided into three sections, namely, its reference to coloured labour on mail steamers, contract labour, and the application of the educational test - the right honorable member for East Sydney, when he appealed to the country was disastrously and overwhelmingly defeated. He appealed to the country upon those three principles, and the electors answered him in no uncertain voice. When I mentioned this fact on Friday last, he wished to make an explanation. I regret that he was not allowed to do so,, but doubtless he can offer his explanation at a later stage. For my own part, I wish to showexactly to what the right honorable gentle.man is committed. The extract which I quoted- the other day was taken from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of 18th August of last year, which I admit was a long time prior to the elections. I now propose to read a few extracts from speeches delivered by him during the months of September, October;, and November of last year. In- the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of 13th October, I find that he is reported to have said -
There is . another thing, to which I.: want tn refer, about which there will also be a difference of opinion. I allude to the Immigration Restriction Act. I cannot sufficiently express my contempt for the lines on which that Bill was drawn.
The right honorable gentleman voted for it, as we all know The extract continues -
The Act says that any person arriving in a ship at any Australian port depends for his admission on a possible ordeal that a Customs officer may come up to him, and if he is a Yorkshireman ask him to write from dictation fifty words in French or German - (laughter) - or if he is a German fifty words from dictation in French or English; or if he is an Italian fifty words in Russian. (Renewed laughter.) There is another feature about that Act which is insulting to the British Empire and to the spirit of Imperial unity. If a man comes here with his family to gamble with his prospects, he may land, perhaps, to find himself in poverty and pauperism, but if he is a prudent man bringing his wife and family to settle’, and has had the advantage of a previous engagement, he is liable to six months’ imprisonment. I am in favour of annulling agreements made in other countries, which have in them the germs of deception regarding industrial conditions here. I would allow the Police Courts the most summary process to annul any agreement tainted with misrepresentation. I say that this Government is losing everything by diverting the current of enterprise to other countries. (Cheers.) I am opposed to the 6oo-clause Navigation Bill, with its multitude of antiquated restrictions.
We have here four distinct points. In this speech the right honorable member introduced the question of the Navigation Bill, to which - and to the principle involved in it - the members of the late Government are committed. If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat chooses to tell me that I am wrong, I shall stand corrected. But, from what the honorable and learned member said the other dav, I take it for granted that the coalition was not, either by legislation or administrative means, to abandon or to alter by one hair’s breadth any one of those measures to which the late Government stands committed. In September last the right honorable member for East Sydney addressed a meeting of the Women’s Suffrage League. Women are a long suffering section of the community, and . the extract I am about to read will show what they had to put up with on that occasion. The right honorable member said -
However, he could make a start -
When the right honorable member makes a start, it is time for timid people to go home - by subscribing emphatically to the three main planks of the platform - modification of the present Tariff . . . removal of the restrictions on desirable immigrants -
He was then heartily in favour of that modification, and by November, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, he had arrived at this pitch -
One of the brightest and best things about this Empire had been fractured by this Government. That was the ocean mail services with the great splendid steamers which kept, the two countries in close touch. The Government refused to sign the contract if any coloured gentlemen were in the stokehole. He believed in a “ white Australia,” but he did not agitate for a white ocean. (Cheers and laughter.) He thought that was carrying the thing a little too far. Mr. Deakin also proposed something never proposed before. While England’s ports were open to our shipping, the Government proposed to pass a law to prevent any steamer flying the grand old Union Jack trading on our coasts.
This statement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 16th November last, so that we are now approaching perilously near to the elections.
– Were those the words actually used by the right honorable member?
– I do not know. I can only say that they are attributed to him by the Sydney Morning Herald, which’ is the right honorable member’s most faithful recorder.
– I believe that the words are correct; but I think that New South Wales almost unanimously returned him, with a large party behind him, as leader of the Opposition.
– But all the members of his party do not believe iri those views.
– I do not care whether or not the right honorable member received unanimous support; but, as a matter of fact, he did not. If the honorable member’s statement is correct, however, I would ask in the words of Hans Breitmann’s party - “ Vhere ish dot barry now?” If they stood behind the right honorable gentleman, then they must still remain rigid to their principles. If he did not, then he alone is recreant, and they are faithful to their pledge. I cast no reflections upon any honorable member who stands to-day in the position which he occupied at the last elections, but I would ask where do those stand to-day who are now unfaithful to the right honorable member’s platform ? I would ask the right honorable member himself where he stands ? On the day following that on which the Prime Minister outlined the Government programme, the Sydney Daily Telegraph asserted that they would have to be satisfied, if the coalition, was formed, to modify by administrative means those features of the Act which they did not like. In other words, they were to soften, by administrative means, the asperities which disgusted the people ; they were to allow men like the six hatters to enter the Commonwealth ; they were to modify the administrative policy of the previous Government - to allow latitude in regard to the employment of coloured labour on ocean-going mail steamers. It seems that in New South Wales they have now sunk so low that they are content to achieve their aims by these administrative by-ways. I would ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, however, whether the coalition which he projected, and to which he was a party, contemplated such modifications either by administrative or legislative means as are here indicated? I am sure that he did not contemplate anything of the kind, and the right honorable member for East Sydney is, therefore, false to-day. to everything that he said at the last elections. I come now to another extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph. I reinforce my case in this way, because- it is necessary perhaps to bring home to the minds of some doubting Thomases that, although even the Sydney Morning Herald might be wrong, the Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald combined have never been known,’ from their earliest days, to be both wrong. On the question of Federation they took up differing attitudes. Both, therefore, could not have been wrong, and to-day they are united. This is what the Daily Telegraph reported in its issue of 17th November last: -
Mr. Reid has specifically announced that he would endeavour, if placed in office, to repeal two enactments specially dear to the Labour Party, and which were only carried by the cordial cooperation of that party with the Government -
That is not true, but we may let it pass -
One of these enactments is the notorious section of the Immigration Restriction Act by which it was sought to keep the six hatters out of the Commonwealth. The other is the equally notorious section of the Postal Act by which the Government seek to prohibit mail steamers from carrying lascar seamen. Furthermore, Mr. Reid has announced that he will fight against the proposals of the Government to hamper British coastal trade in Australian waters by certain provisions in the Navigation Bill, and that he will resist the inordinate interference of the Federal Government with the employes of the State Governments by the provisions of an Arbitration Bill.
It will thus be seen that the right honorable member . for East Sydney reiterated his position. These are the three points to which he stands specifically committed. So far as they are concerned, he is nailed down to them. He stands crucified with these three points impaling him and binding him to the cross of public opinion. He stands pledged to these three principles which he but yesterday, in the terms of the coalition agreement, specifically announced that he was prepared to abandon. So much for inconsistency to principle. Then, again the right honorable member has pledged himself to the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. It is most refreshing in these times to read what the right honorable member pledged himself to on another occasion. Dealing with a speech made by him in Melbourne, the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 13th February, 1903, makes the following statement: -
The promise of old-age pensions Mr. Reid alluded to as a cruel and abominable attempt to deceive the people. Ministers knew that the financial sections of the Constitution made such a scheme at the present time impossible.
Here is yet another extract taken from the Hobart Mercury of 1st May, 1903, which deals with a speech made by the right honorable member in Tasmania -
Sir Wm. Lyne brought in ‘a Bill which no one could understand, and after a long debate the Bill also disappeared, and had npt since been heard of. The same with the Old.Age Pension Bill. A greater fraud was never perpetrated by a Ministry.
But to-day the right honorable member stands committed to this - the greatest fraud ever “perpetrated by a Ministry.” He is to-day pledged to these proposals which he at one time asserted to be impossible and unconstitutional; he is committed to those things which he denounced, and to oppose which he was specifically bound at the last election. The only excuse for my reminding honorable members of this is that it’ appears necessary at this juncture to point out that one of the proposed partners in the projected coalition is a man who, by the most sacred pledges and by repeated statements, pledged himself to do everything to which the projected coalition, according to its programme, is pledged not to do. I shall just quote a few more words on the Arbitration Bill from our distinguished friend Sir William McMillan, who, like a Greek chorus, comes in at most convenient periods, and fittingly plays the master player out.
Even his leader, Mr. Reid, had, after a. speech three-fourths of which was in denunciation of the Bill, announced that he would vote for it.
What a fitting epitaph for the right honorable and learned member’s whole career, that when he makes a speech for a Bill, it is a sufficient reason why he should wind up by” declaring that he will vote against it ! Who does not remember his great speech in the Sydney Town Hall on the Federal Constitution? He denounced its provisions with every ounce of the tremendous invective that he possesses, and then in the last five minutes calmly declared his unalterable determination to vote for it.
– That was because of his fidelity to a personal promise, as the honorable gentleman knows.
– In this position I know nothing ; but I know that on that occasion the right honorable and learned member did make a speech for the Bill, because I heard it, and that afterwards he did everything to defeat the vote at the referendum ; and my honorable friend knows very well that he did so, too. These things do not admit, even in a jocular way, of being refuted. There the right honorable and learned member stands, and if that were the only inconsistency in his career, well and good. Was there any speech that transcended the right honorable and learned member’s objection to the Naval Agreement Bill ? ‘ Yet he finally declared that, in spite of those objections, he would vote for it. Let me quote one opinion of his as to the personnel of the coalition proposed -
Is Sir John Forrest a champion of Australian democracy ?
– He was misinformed.
– Times change, and we change with them.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– “ Hear, hear,” indeed ! When those on the other side can find nothing better in the way of reply than to feebly, dismally, echo the “ hear, hear “ of this side, with the effort in some measure to assume a virtue, though they have it not, to suggest that my remarks affect this side, and not that side, it is indeed pathetic in the extreme. Let us see what the right honorable and learned member ‘ said about a minority - about the late Government. Referring to subservience to a minority, he said -
While that system remains unchanged, it is the duty of the Government not to be the subservient tool of any compact fighting power which is a minority in the House. The Government must hold its position of high responsibility under conditions of self-respect. Now, if this Government had been a Labour Government, no one could have offered any criticism, for it would be a perfectly honorable alliance between Labour men in the Government and Labour men out of it. But my charge against this Ministry is that as a Government it was not a Labour Government.1 Who would call Sir Edmund Barton a champion of Labour? or Senator O’Connor a representative of Labour? or Sir John Forrest a champion of Australian democracy?
Ours is indeed a hard condition. Both Governments meet with the unalterable determination and hostility of the right honor-, able and learned gentleman. The bond of union which bound his followers together was to oust the last Government. The same bond of union as I pointed out a little while ago binds them now.. The Government has changed, but what does that matter? A merchantman sails along and is Overtaken by a pirate. Good ; it is beaten off. By-and-by, under another charter and with another crew, the merchantman sails, still hopefully, to a foreign port. The same pirate meets the ship, and again the same encounter takes place ; let us hope with the same hopeful result. I wish now to say a few words with regard to our position. Whether we represent the people or not, my right honorable and learned friend said that he represented forty out of the forty-nine representatives of the two great States. I ask him how many he represents in the whole of Australia? Obviously . he represents only twentytwo out of seventy-five, or excluding you, sir, seventy-four members. Those were the men who were returned on his ticket alone - counting the free-traders out of the Labour Party more; but taking out those who were for a White Australia, without any of those exceptions that he spoke of, there were not twenty-two. What is his position?, He was returned beaten on everything on which he appealed to the country. On fiscalism he went down. On a. White Australia he went down. ‘
– Down hard, too.
– I thank the honorable member for the word - he did go down hard. But though he said that he knew when he got a licking fiscally, apparently he does not know that he got a licking in any other way. It pays him to know that he got a licking in that way ; it does not pay him to recognise that he got a licking in the other way ; and so he pretends that he is still free to vote as he pleases. Good and easy is the conscience that our right honorable and learned friend has that . permits him to still hold opinions and to sit on them, to still hold opinions and give no vent to them, to still hold opinions contrary to the bulk of those of the projectedGovernment, and pledged to “keep -those opinions under during the regime of that Government. What freedom of opinion is this ? Shall a nonconformist clergyman who believes in immer- sion join the Church of England, and say, “ I still believe in immersion ; but, of course, I shall say nothing on the subject during the time that I occupy this pulpit”? Shall the right honorable and learned member who believes in abolishing the contract clauses of the Immigration Restriction Act sit mute for two years and six months ? Yet that is what he say.s. He still, holds his opinions, but he does not propose to allow them to annoy anybody, not even himself. I am sorry that the honorable member for Lang has gone out of the chamber; they all go out, I am sorry to say. I come now to deal briefly with the question as to pledges. I wanted to remind the honorable member for Lang . that he had given a pledge that, if not chosen, he would stand down,, and to ask honorable members opposite who- object’ to pledges to listen to an extract from a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 7th April. On the subject of candidates and party discipline, the following motion was submitted by Mr. Bene: -
In order to minimize the danger of a division of the Liberal and Reform vote from more than one candidate going to the poll in the cause of reform, it is resolved that no candidate who will not submit to the fair and impartial considera. tion of the claims of candidates by party organizations and executives shall be deemed unworthy of consideration, save as an enemy of the cause, and as one subordinating the public interest to his. personal ambition.
That is very emphatic, and from our standpoint worthy of all commendation. In support of that admirable . resolution Mr. Bene said -
No man’s name should be considered unless he made it abundantly clear that he would withdraw from a contest if he were not selected.
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Cullan, who was his first opponent, submitted their names - Mr. Trevarthen and another submitted theiir names to one league - and Mr. Johnson was selected by a happy method that must commend itself to anybody who might be placed in similar circumstances. It was alleged that he was almost mainly instrumental in selecting himself ; but of course that should not - it would not in my case - tell against that system of selection. So far as Mr. Cullan . is concerned, everybody knows that it was a battle royal, and that arbitration was resorted^ to. The honorable member for Lang patriotically offered to stand down. Mr. Trevarthen, the candidate who was not selected, said it was a “put-up job,” and that he “would not submit to it
– Thev all say that !
– They do, indeed. I cordially admit that I know of no exceptions, either, on this or the other side. All jobs are “ put-up jobs “ when they are not successful to ourselves. I want to say a word or two more to my honorable friend, the- member for Lang, the single-tax gentleman. I want to read his letter, and to show the pathetic adherence to principle that stamps the single-taxer all over. Australia. It is printed in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 5th of this month, and is headed “Our Tariff Barbarities.” It is as follows : -
The Rev. W. G. Taylor’s letter, complaining of the gross barbarism of our Customs regulations under the Commonwealth protective Tariff, will awake a responsive sympathetic echo in the breasts of thousands who read it this morning, and justly so, for such incidents as he indignantly protests, against are but additions to the many others which have done so much to bring the Commonwealth, of. Australia into disrepute, and to damage its fair fame in the eyes of the civilized world. Yet, by a strange irony, I venture to believe that very many of those who share the just, indignation of Mr. Taylor will be found at the same time applauding the sinking of the fiscal issue at the present time, which would effectually prevent such a barbarous system being interfered with. It is admitted that the present Tariff is iniquitous - that it is imposing a crushing burden on the backs of the most necessitous classes of the people. Yet we find men who have been foremost in denouncing its iniquitousness expressing delight at the prospect of its continuance. Truly we have a strange people when what we denounced as evil yesterday we applaud as righteous to-day.
– Is that quotation from one of the honorable gentleman’s West Sydney speeches?
Mr.HUGHES.- When my respected leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney, plainly says that he has got a beating, am I. to take it upon myself to move that this House disagrees with the present Tariff? There is not one in the serried ranks opposite who would vote for the motion. There was but one in the freetrade caucus who had the manliness and the principle to stick to his pledges. There was but one who was in favour of standing by the principles in which he believed. The honorable member was not that one.
– If the Minister, in his position of responsibility, cannot move such a motion successfully, what chance should I have?
– There is one who is primarily responsible in Australia for the free-trade cause, and that is the right I honorable member for East Sydney, who opportunely enough has just taken his seat. He admits that he has “ got a licking “ upon the fiscal question. Is it then for a private soldier to question the commands of his leader? Is it for a mere camp follower in this great fiscal fight to question the dictates of this Alexander, who finds no more worlds to conquer - this Napoleon who has met with a most- opportune political sickness on this” great policy, whose lethargy cannot be thrown off, and whose opportunity, fiscally, has, he has said, gone for two years and a few months? The editor of the Daily Telegraph appends a foot-note to the letter of the honorable member for Lang. He says -
This is an amazingly unfair way of putting the case. Free-traders who favour a ReidDeakin coalition do not express delight at the prospect of the protectionist tariff continuing in existence. Tariff revision in this Parliament is out of the question. The revisionists are in a minority. But Federal politics are not confined 10 the Tariff. Our correspondent knows that the proposed coalition is aimed against minority rule and socialistic legislation and administration.
Yet the programme of this Government! and the programme of honorable members opposite, are identical. 1’here are not two programmes, but one.
– The honorable gentleman does not quote from the letter with which I followed up the one that he has quoted.
– Ah, that crushes them !
– All that I say is that my honorable friend, who has during his career maintained a faithful allegiance to the principles of free-trade in excelsis, is just now reduced to the pitiable plight of making excuses which he himself, judging by his appearance at the present moment, regards as wholly insufficient. I leave him to his conscience and to his electors.
– I am in exactly the same position as is the honorable gentleman with his associates.
– In the House of Representatives the right honorable member for East Sydney, after the’ elections, was in a hopeless minority fiscally. On the other great questions upon which he sought the suffrages of the people, we represent the electors much more faithfully than he does. We have to-day a larger following than he has, and have as much right as he to believe that we have the support of the country. As to the Senate, does the position require any comment whatever? There were nineteen senators to be elected. Of those, a majority was returned in our favour.
– Ten were elected on our platform.
– Ten members of our party were elected, and the minority of nine was elected to support the other two parties. So that in regard to the Senate elections, we had an absolute majority of those returned over the two other parties combined. Yet ours is the party which my right honorable friend says does not command the support of a majority !
– What was the total vote recorded in favour of the honorable gentleman’s party?
– What was the total vote of the honorable member’s party ? Not very large amongst the whole of the people of Australia.
– These interjections are becoming epidemic. Such an accusation might well be made by one who, as an “ anti-Bill” man, had stood out against the principle of equal representation in the Senate. But when, as in the case of my honorable friend, a man was not an “ antiBillite,” but even swallowed equal representation, he must admit that in the Senate the States are permitted to record their opinions as equally and fully as. is the case in this House. Therefore the States, by an overwhelming majority, put the right honorable member, with his policy and his methods, on one side, in favor of our principles and our methods. One-third of the people, as represented in this House, and more than onehalf of the States’ representation over the two ‘ parties combined, affirmed our policy at the last election. But it is proposed by the right honorable gentleman to insult this great and growing body of people who stand behind us, by saying - “ Yes, it is true you have the franchise, and you may exercise it if you please, but if you vote for that party you may never hope to see them enjoy, or permitted to wield, administrative power in the Commonwealth ; we deny you that right, and we deny it because of your opinions - we deny you that right because you chose to vote in a particular direction. You are not permitted to enjoy to the full those rights and privileges that every other party claims, and justly claims, in every part of the Commonwealth.” I say that that is a very great insult to the people who stand behind us. It is penalizing the vast body of the people, a body which is growing with every election. The right honorable member has seen the Labour Party grow from a grain “ no bigger than a mustard seed,” until to-day we stand where he never thought we would stand, and the head and front of our offence is not our vices but our virtues. We stand here where the right honorable gentleman would be only too glad to stand ; that is the beginning, as it is the end, of all. We are here, and the right honorable gentleman is there.
– Why get angry over the matter? I take it easily enough.
– Why should I be angry ? I never felt myself in so good a humour, nor have my circumstances ever been so easy and so comfortable. The right honorable gentleman has reason to be angry, and chiefly at himself - at his stupidity, and at the fact that intrigue, abandonment of principles, and sacrifices of pledges alike have failed him at this time. Even that assumption of good humour which sits on him like a mask and serves him so admirably
– The Minister knows that is not true.
– That assumption of good humour, sitting on him like a mask which he can take off and put on as occasion requires, does not serve.
– That is not fair.
– If this is going to be a duel-
– Will the Minister proceed ?
– An interjection which lasts during the whole course of a speech is unduly prolonged. I say that none of these things can now help the right honorable gentleman. In spite of all, he is where he is ; and the difference, although only some four or five feet as represented by this table, involves a measure of climate and temperature more extreme than that of the day before yesterday, compared with that of to-day ‘ in Victoria. Even the right honorable gentleman’s ruddy countenance becomes bluer as the days pass on. The arctic winds that rustle under his legs and waft around his luxuriant proportions bring home to him that he has made a great mistake, and that not only the people of Australia, but, particularly, members of this Chamber, recognise the position, and intend to act accordingly. The right honorable gentleman said that the Labour Party is a party whose . platform tends towards Socialism. He was not here when I read an extract from the report of a Victorian Select Committee in reference to tobacco monopoly ; but, so far as our platform is concerned, what if it does tend towards Socialism? I ask any man or any woman in the country whether he or she can show that that is not the trend of all governmental action in this country, and governmental action almost the world over. The world moves towards Socialism, not by choice, but by compulsion ; and if I am to express in a few words my attitude on the matter, I can place the position before honorable members. The right honorable gentleman said that we would take away liberty from men - that we would deprive them of individual freedom of action. I say that every time there is restriction put on my freedom and my liberty I detest it ; per se, all restriction is alike undesirable; freedom unrestricted, pure and unadulterated, is the desire of every man. But every man also knows that civilization makes demands which are incompatible with unrestricted freedom. It is, then, only a question of degree - a question ‘ of directing our attention to the concrete fact in front of us. We are not a party of dreamers ; we dream no dreams. The right honorable gentleman says that we halt on the wayside now ; that we do not go far enough. That has never been his accusation in the past. For years the Labour Party stood by him and were regarded as practical men - admirable men. We dealt with each concrete proposal as it came up. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat never had occasion to say that we dealt with anything more than the programme in front of us. The occasion calls forth the remedy ; and there is our programme, showing to the world the direction in which we are going. But we take, as the world takes, and as sensible men know they must take, one step at a time. The position of parties in this Parliament is an absolute guarantee that we shall not take a step of which the House disapproves, or the country does not sanction. Under these circumstances, why say, because our movement tends towards Socialism; that that is sufficient reason for our not being where we are? To say that the Labour Party goes towards Socialism is only to say that it goes where all parties are compelled to go ; and it is now a question, not between- unrestricted freedom and Socialism, but a question whether the plutocratic monopolist, who restricts the freedom of all other men, is not more undesirable than restriction by the State itself, which, by restricting his freedom, extends the freedom of all other men. That is the whole question - whether the few shall be restricted that the many may have greater freedom, or whether the few may be unrestricted in order, that the many may be hampered. I ask the honorable member for Lang, who is a pledged land nationalist - who, if he could, and had the courage of his opinion, would nationalize all land to-morrow -
– Nothing of the kind; I believe in the single-tax principle.
– The honorable member for Lang would impose, and is pledged to impose, by reason of the organization to which he belongs, a land tax of 4d. in the £1 at the very least.
– Nothing of the kind !
– What a falling off! I understand that while the honorable member holds these opinions in regard to land nationalization he does not intend to put them into force.
– Does the Minister intend to out his opinions into force ?
– I do.
– Has the Minister , ever done anything in that direction?
– I must ask honorable members not to interject so constantly ; otherwise it will be impossible for the Minister to proceed.
– One word in regard to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I have done. That honorable and learned member objects to minority rule. But it has been pointed out by the AttorneyGeneral that minority rule has always been in force in the Commonwealth, and has been general in the States. I would remind the honorable and learned - member for Ballarat that he was prepared to go into a coalition, of which he was not to be a component part, but to be as one hovering on its flanks, ready at any moment, if -it halted in its stride, or turned from the path which he had hewn out for it. to fall on it with horse, foot, and artillery, and oust it from its position. I ask, in what essential particular does he. and those gentlemen who were to act with him^ differ from a third party? It would be a different third party, it is true, but a very real third party, nevertheless. We do not deny that formerly the Labour Party held the balance of power. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat proposed to substitute for the Labour Party a party, led.by himsslf , a party numerically smaller, but nevertheless holding complete the balance of power, and if the coalition did not do what he desired, the honorable and learned gentleman would withdraw his phalanx, and, fighting with us, the coalition must go out. How can he urge against us that we represent only a minority, and a third party abomination, when in ‘ the interview with him, reported only in to-day’s Age, he claims, as an additional guarantee, that the coalition would do what he said it would, that he was there, unhampered by office, ready to take the action which he thought necessary. He is reported to have said -
My own freedom from Cabinet ties would have,
I hope, afforded another guarantee to my parti - for what it was worth- against it being taken by surprise or caught at a disadvantage.
There is the position.
– Read the Age leader.
– It is urged against us, by my honorable and learned friend, that there ought to be no third party, that both parties should have a clear run, if there is to be a coalition at all, with members on this side. I think I have sufficiently explained that, and I hope I have given a satisfactory explanation. With my right honorable friend, the member for East Sydney, who has urged many things against us, I have already dealt. All I have to say, in addition, is that the right honorable gentleman does not complain of the Ministerial’ programme. The honorable and learned’member for Ballarat says that we only profess to do somethng in each of two sessions, and we say nothing of a possible third session. He says that the proposed Coalition Government did propose to do something for three years; for the whole of this Parliament. Yet I say there are not two ‘ programmes> but one programme, and how, then, can we put forward less than honorable gentlemen opposite. Our programmes are identical ; the Age notices it, the Daily Telegraph emphasizes it, and the whole of the people of Australia have noted it, and have dwelt upon it with a certain amount of amusement as well as- of satisfaction.
– How can they be the same?
– The programmes being the same, it ought to take the same time to give effect to them. But perhaps the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is aware of the methods of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and knows that that right honorable gentleman can take as long to get one measure through as the leader- of any other Government would take to put half-a-dozen through. ‘ I remember the Tight honorable gentleman’s expression in 1894, in the New South Wales Parliament, “ Turn the fossils out.” There is no man who has been . a member of the Parliament of New South Wales who does not remember the dramatic gesture with which the right honorable gentleman turned to the serried ranks of the Legislative Councillors, who were behind the bar in the Legislative Assembly with the expression, “Turn’ the fossils out.” The fossils are still there. The right honorable gentleman went to the country with a policy of exemptions, and he came back with a majority, with our aid. But he had to endure what’ the fossils insisted upon, and the fossils still reign supreme; and they now fall upon his neck and call him their saviour and their champion.
– I have never had one of the old gentlemen on my neck yet.
– We do not appeal for fair play. We do not appeal for consideration. We demand them because of our programme, because of our principles, because of our record, and because of our action. We demand to be tried upon these . things, and upon no subtlydrawn distinctions intended to bewilder people and disguise the issue now before us. This party comes constitutionally into office ; this party is. here by the will of the House and the will of the people ; and it is for this party, like all other parties, to be tried upon its measures, its actions, and its administration. I believe there is a majority of the members of this House, as I believe there is a majority of the people outside this House, who hold that this Government, like other Governments that have gone before it, ought to have a fair show.
– We have now heard some four speeches on the matter engaging the attention of honorable members. As was proper, two of them dealt very largely with the matter of the Coalition, interchanges of opinion that had taken place, the terms that were proposed, and the results that had followed. The honorable gentlemen who dealt with that subject rightly concluded that both this House and the country ought to know exactly what has taken place in such negotiations.’ As they were the persons most competent to give the fullest information on the subject, I shall not attempt to trench upon their province, or, at this stage, to offer any opinion on the negotiations that have taken place. I shall confine myself chiefly to remarks in reply to the arguments of the Minister for External Affairs. The honorable and learned gentleman has delivered . an able speech, a. caustic speech, and, on the whole, not a. bitter speech. I need hardly say that itwas an audacious speech and an exag: gerated speech, because it was a speech by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. The blemish in it, if I may say so, is that it assumed a selfrighteousness which is not justified by thehistory of his party, either in the immediate past or in this Parliament. What did the honorable and learned gentleman say about the iniquity of free-traders and protectionists combining when they thought a bigger issue was at stake? Di’d he not complain that the action pf honorable members holding diverse opinions on fiscalism in agreeing to come together and to sink the fiscal issue, even for a time, in order to enforce their views on other matters, was dishonest and inexcusable? Yet the present Miniserial Party comprises free-traders and protectionists, and honorable members of it have been assisted in their return by the votes of free-traders and protectionists alike.
– They did not combine for office.
– They sunk the fiscal issue, and combined to sink it when they went for office.
– Let the honorable member try it, and see.
Mr.DUGALD THOMSON.- We have already tried it, and we do see.
– Honorable members have not tried it. They are not game to do so.
– They have sunk the fiscal issue, and have determined that that matter shall be left, not to the near future, but to a future whose nearness we cannot yet estimate. I admit that honorable members opposite may have a justification for their attitude. They may consider that Socialism is a better thing than fiscalism, and having an opportunity to introduce it, they think they should sink the lesser measure in favour of the greater. But why should they reproach others who may think that Socialism is a worse thing than fiscalism, and, who, acting upon the lines of the party now occuping the Treasury benches, decide that, for a time, and not for ever, the fiscal issue should be set aside and the larger issue dealt with?
– What is the larger issue? The honorable gentleman might explain.
– I have already explained it; but if the honorable member chooses to talk while I am speaking, I cannot be expected to repeat myself.
– I have listened very attentively.
– Our attitude is precisely the same as that of the members of his own party. If they do not find fault with their own attitude, they have no right to cast a stigma upon those who sit in opposition. I am not going to support the compliments which have been paid to the Labour Party for the attachment to principle which they claim. In many ways thev have won my admiration. The original Labour Party in New South Wales alwavs possessed my admiration for their consistency. There was no question of opportunism’ with that party. They never troubled as to whether their policy might react upon themselves, to their own injury. When they adopted a principle, and said that it was the best for the country, they were prepared to support it at all risks to themselves. For instance, they adopted the referendum as one of the main planks in their platform. After its adoption, several decisions were given in Switzerland under that mode of obtaining popular opinion which were against the views held by the Labour Party in australia. Did they go back, therefore, on the principle of the referendum? No. They said - “ We have adopted a system which, in our opinion, is a right and proper one, and, although it may give results adverse to our wishes, we stand by it as a plank in our platform.” But what has recently happened in New South Wales? The Parliamentary Labour Party there have been drawing up a fighting platform, and because the decision of the referendum taken upon the question of the reduction of members was adverse to them, thev quietly dropped the principle out of their programme, and, although it has been replaced, it has been replaced, not by them, but by a labour conference outside of Parliament. We have seen the members of the Labour Party in this House abandon their policv time after time.
– Can the honorable member give us one instance of that ?
– I am going to mention a number. I do not make assertions without trying to support them. Whether I succeed or not must be left to the opinion of honorable members. The Labour Party have abandoned their policy time after time. Have they not abandoned the attitude assumed by the right honorable member for Adelaide in connexion with the Arbitration Bill ? Have they not, by that action, abandoned the right honorable member himself? Has he not made his sacrifice in vain? The very men for whom he made it will not support his action.
– Ought not the honorable member to show that the action of the right honorable member was our action?
– The party have given every evidence of that, by their speeches in this House, and by their support outside the Chamber.
– At all events, his action was not suggested by the party.
– I do not . say that it was, but the party supported him in the attitude which he took. If they did not, they differed from their supporters outside of Parliament. What was that attitude? The right honorable member held that in the Arbitration Bill there should be a clause providing that British or foreign steamers trading to Australia, and carrying passengers or cargo along our coasts, should be required to submit to compulsory arbitration, and, in that connexion, he gave a promise to certain representatives of labour, one of whom is now a member of the Parliament, by which he considered himself bound to the introduction of such a provision in the measure.
– Was not that only in the absence of a Navigation Bill ?
– It was independent of the Navigation” Bill. I shall come to the Navigation Bill. I shall not omit any part of my subject. The right honorable member gave a promise and considered himself bound by it. Whether we agree as to the wisdom of that promise, or as to the desirability of inserting such a provision in the Bill, we can at least admit that his action was honorable and selfsacrificing, since, having given the promise, he stood by its consequences, and resigned office rather than break it.
– The right honorable member still sits with us.
– I have nothing to do with that. I arn relating facts. I am not discussing his position In the Chamber, but his action in connexion with the Arbitration Bill, and the abandonment of his position in that connexion by the Labour Party.
– It has not been abandoned at all. The honorable member is quite wrong.
– I am quite right. I could not make this charge if the Labour Party were not in power ; but I can make it now that they are in power.
– The honorable member is quite wrong, and he knows it.
– The honorable and learned gentleman’s statement that I am wrong will not convince hie. I shall support my contention by facts indicated by the Prime Minister. The Labour Party while they were allied to the late Government had not the opportunity to do anything in this matter. They used their influence, .but it failed to affect those in power. Now, however, they have had an opportunity to support the right honorable member for Adelaide. The late Government, to a certain extent, agreed to support him. They promised to promptly introduce a Navigation Bill, practically at the same time as the Arbitration Bill, which should contain the provision which the right honorable member sought to carry into effect. The Labour Party have come into power, and have accepted the Arbitration Bill introduced by the late Government, with certain amendments, but they do not propose to insert the provision to which I refer. The Arbitration Bill, as they propose to amend it, will not apply to foreign and British shipping trading on our coasts. The right honorable member for Adelaide himself said that it does not, and he surely is the best authority on this matter. Trie Navigation Bill, which, according to the late Government, was to be dealt with concurrently with the Arbitration Bill, has now been relegated bv the Labour Party to the waste-paper basket. A Royal Commission is to sit upon it, and no one knows how long it will be before it sees the light of day. That is one instance in which the labour leagues have abandoned a principle, and in that abandonment a friend of their proposals has been deserted. The next instance to which I will allude is the abandonment of State employes. The late Administration was defeated upon an amendment to include all State employes within the scope of the Arbitration Bill - not some, but all; but now that the Labour Party- have come into power, what do they tell us? What has the Prime
Minister told us ? That he intends to apply the provisions of the measure to only a portion of the Commonwealth and States services.
– The honorable member should read the definition of “industry,” contained in the Bill.
– The explanation of the Prime ‘Minister was perfectly clear. He stated the intention of the party. I am not going to interpret the word “ industry “ as defined in the Bill. I take the interpretation of the Prime Minister. Whether we do or do not agree with the views expressed in his speech declaring his policy, he made himself abundantly clear, and was absolutely understood by honorable members to say that he did not propose to bring the clerical servants of the States or the Commonwealth under the operation of the Bill.
– He has changed his views within a month.
– What he now proposes is that those connected with the clerical branches of the” Railways and Post Office shall be brought under the Bill, but that officers who are not directly connected with what is considered an industry shall not be brought under it. Surely consistency cannot be claimed for a Government that has acted in this way so early in its Ministerial career. I wish to point to another abandonment of the public servants. The Labour Party, when out of office, were so strongly in favour of the inclusion of State servants in the Arbitration Bill, and considered it so essential to just treatment, and so important in the interests of industrial peace, that they were prepared to wreck the Ministry to which they were otherwise favorable, rather than abandon their position. But are they prepared to wreck themselves on the same principle? Bv interjection, the Prime Minister was asked, “ Will you resign if you do not carry that provision ? “
– Ask an oyster if he will resign from the rock.
– The Prime Minister replied that he would not say so. He could not agree to do that. That was a matter for consideration.
– We shall have to scrape them off.
– It is not a case of saving others, and not saving yourselves, but a case of saving yourselves.your position, and your emoluments when in the interests of certain public servant’s you declined to save others.
– May .it not be that the Prime Minister would not use his influence to coerce honorable members.
– That influence was used for all it was worth when the Labour Party desired to exert it during the term of office of the late Government.
– Is that true?
– Of course it is. I. am speaking of the circumstance that the alternative was’ that the Ministry was to go out, and the Labour Party were to come into power.-
– But did we bring any pressure to bear?
– I am not saying for one moment that the Labour Party brought individual pressure to bear, but I say that the result that would follow from the non-acceptance by the Ministry of the principle which was advocated by the Labour Party was used for all it was worth. In view of the fact that the Labour Party, when out of office, considered that the proposal to bring all State servants within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was of sufficient importance to justify the wrecking of the Ministry to which they were otherwise favorable, they would, in my opinion, be sacrificing the public servants to their own interests if they held that the matter was not of sufficient importance to justify them in wrecking their own Ministry ratherthan submit to an adverse decision.
– We knew that the late Ministry objected to the inclusion of any public servants.
– Yes, and the objection of the present Ministry is to the inclusion of all public servants.
– Not at all.
– According to the Government proposals, the objection of the Ministry is to the inclusion of all public servants. I shall point to another lapse from principle for the sake of convenience. ‘ Owing to the fact that a few labour members represent Western Australia, it ls proposed to exempt that State from the operation of the provisions in the Navigation Bill which would affect oversea steamers.
– Was that a part of the labour platform, which was intended to bring all honorable members within the fold ?
– I am coming to that. It was agreed by the Labour Party to shade their opinions upon this matter of great principle, and although the proposal would interfere with other States besides Western Australia, and would affect the transit of the perishable products of other States-
– Of one State.
– The proposal would interfere with many States in a variety of ways. No consideration was to be extended to such States, but the members for Western Australia, although as members of the Labour Party they were committed to a principle-
– What principle?
– The principle proposed to be embodied in the Navigation Bill which would affect oversea steamers.
– That was not a principle of the labour platform.
– Not that the employes on oversea steamers should be brought within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ?
– Was it not a part of the labour platform that certain provisions should be inserted in the Navigation Bill, relating to the employment of coloured labour upon oversea steamers ?
– We are opposed only to unfair competition.
– So ,are we.
– I am not objecting to the attitude assumed by the Postmaster-General .
– I am, speaking for the party,
– It was agreed .that the representatives of Western Australia should be allowed a free hand to vote as they chose upon one of the most important principles embodied in the labour platform.
– The honorable member’s statement shows the unwisdom of depending upon press reports. No such stipulation was made. Whatever liberty was extended to the Western Australian representatives, was granted to all members alike.
– Very well. I shall put the matter in another way. In the interests of a certain State - for the mere convenience of the people of that State, principally in connexion with travelling in - mail steamers, even though there are other good boats which compare favorably with some of the mail steamers - the members of the Labour Party were to be allowed a. free hand with regard to what had been put forward as one of the principles of the party.
– Uniform industrial legislation is one of the great principles of the Labour Party.
– What was wrong with that ?
– I am simply asking how the Minister of External Affairs can, in view of the circumstances I have mentioned, claim for the Labour Partv consistency or attachment to principle superior to that exhibited by other parties.
– Does the honorable member want us to come down to his revel?
– The Labour Party have sunk below it. There is a further abandonment of principle involved in the begging appeal for support, and the promise made by the Minister of External Affairs. He said that honorable members who might go over to the side of the Government, although not included in the labour caucus, would be allowed to influence the Government policy.
– That would be only in regard to anv departures from the stated intentions of the Government for the current session.
– It was not stated in that way.
– I am certain that my version is the correct one.
– The Minister of External Affairs said that honorable members who joined the ranks of the supporters of. the Government would be allowed to exercise a voice in determining its policy. That involves a distinct departure from the attitude formerly assumed by the Labour Party. Further than that, and ‘worse than all, the Labour Party, which has set itself up as the strongest advocate of purity of election, purity of representation, and purity of legislation, made an offer, which I venture to say, was more degrading than anything I have ever heard in anv Parliament in which I have sat.
– It was an open bribe.
– It was an absolute bribe, extending to anything up to£1,200, with a view to inducing members to ‘cross the floor of the chamber and record their vote in support of the Government.
– To what is the honorable member referring?
– The Minister for External Affairs in his speech, -with which the Prime Minister appears to be ill-acquainted-
– I should like to know the honorable member’s interpretation of it.
– The Minister of External Affairs stated that if honorable members would cross the floor of the chamber, and support the present Government, they would not be opposed by the Labour Party at the next election.
– So far as we are concerned.
– The statement was made that honorable members who support, the Government will not be opposed by nominees of the Labour Party. Although I have heard of many negotiations which were not conducted in . the House itself-
– Hear, hear.
– Although I have heard of many negotiations, both in this Parliament and. in others - negotiations which did not take place in the legislative chamber itself, I never, previously heard of such a proposal being put forward by any party for the express purpose of influencing votes.
– The honorable member has been deaf for some little time past.
– That remark may possibly apply to the. previous speaker, but I scarcely think that it applies to me. The deafness, and the blindness I claim is all upon the other side. Apparently the eyes can be shut, and the mouth can be opened when there is danger to position, prestige, and power by the verykeenest advocates of purity and of the prohibition of bribery. I am astonished that it should be thought that honorable members who will not leave one side of the House from honest convictions are to be won over to support the Ministry bv a promise which is practically a bribe - a promise that, to some, means perhaps a saving of £50 or £60 in their election expenses, and which may also mean a gain in the form of their parliamentary allowance, amounting to £1,200. I was surprised to hear such a statement made by a member of a Government which is just beginning its Ministerial life, when we would naturally expect that care “would be exercised in any course that might be taken. When such methods are adopted by the Government so early in its career, I say that the Labour Party has departed from the old attribute which I acknowledge it possessed - a strict desire to. maintain the greatest possible purity in the administration of the affairs of government.
– Do I understand that the honorable member would be in favour of stabbing an ally in the back ?
– The Prime. Minister may understand anything except that I am in favour of bandying bribes across the floor of this House with a view to securing the votes of honorable members. The Minister of External Affairs devoted a good deal of his speech to the right honorable member for East Sydney, and I think it was highly complimentary to the latter that he did so. I do not intend to discuss the trivialities to which the Minister referred. He might at least have confined his attack to the larger matters. I wish, however, to allude to one or two of his statements regarding the right honorable member for East Sydney. In the first place, the Minister animadverted on the vote given by the right honorable member upon the proposal to exclude public servants from the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I wonder, what he would have said had the right honorable member reversed his previous vote upon the same proposal? What would he have said if, when the proposal was not regarded as a vital one by the Government, the right honorable member for East Sydney had supported the Ministry, but, when it was regarded as vital, he had turned round and voted in an opposite direction? We should have heard the Minister eloquently denouncing his action as one of the most disgraceful contradictions of which any politician could be capable. Yet he does not give the right honorable member any credit for his recent vote. Does the Minister not recognise that in registering that vote, the right honorable member must have known that he was reducing his own chance of being “ sent for “ by the GovernorGeneral, in the event of the defeat of the Ministry ? But, in spite of that recognition, he still adhered to his previous vote, and did not attempt to wreck the Government bv reversing it. The Minister also declared that the right honorable member for East Sydney should have led his party either with or’ against the Government. But it must be recollected that most of the members of that party had voted previously upon the same proposal. Was the right honorable member to demand from them a reversal of their votes ? Certainly not ! He acted a better part in taking the course which he did, and in refusing to attempt to influence a single vote upon, his own side. The Minister for External Affairs further attacked the leader of the Opposition, by declaring that, though the latter was in favour of reversing the black labour on mail steamers provision in the Post and Telegraph Act, throughout the negotiations which had taken place with a view to the formation of a coalition Government, he had said nothing about it. By interjection, the right honorable member for East Sydney explained that no member upon this side of the House was bound upon that matter, but that honorable members were free to take action if they saw fit. The Minister then went on to charge the right honorable member with being ready to amend that clause. He spoke against laying unholy hands upon the ark of the covenant, as represented by that provision. In the face of his diatribe, will it be believed that the Ministry themselves propose to amend that very clause?
– Only in relation to Australian aborigines.
– In relation to coloured aborigines. What does that mean ? I am not opposed to the amendment - I am merely comparing the attitude of the Government-
– It does not involve a reversal of policy.
– I do not say that it does. I am merely alluding to the attack which the Minister of External Affairs made upon the right honorable member for East Sydney. The Government propose to amend that very clause, so as to> permit of black labour carrying our mails. I admit that it is the aboriginal labour of Australia.- But what will the British Government think if we employ Australian aborigines in carrying mails between various parts of the Commonwealth, whilst we refuse to allow aboriginal coloured labour from other parts of the Empire to be employed on British oceangoing ships under contract to carry our mails ?
– That is a wholly different matter.
– The difference is that it suits the representatives of some parts of Australia that the mails be-‘ tween certain points should be carried by means of black labour, because otherwise the system would be dearer, and the people would not enjoy the conveniences they now possess.
– Can the honorable member give us one instance in which Australian aboriginals are so employed?
– I would refer the -honorable member to the PostmasterGeneral, who could tell him of many cases in Western Australia in which aborigines are so employed. The Minister has already given expression to his opinion on this subject, and I believe that he has also put a question in this House, in relation to it. In the case of our ocean-going mails, we have to deal with British ships, which are, so to speak, British territory, and employ the aborigines of other parts of the British Empire. We are prepared to allow the aborigines of one part of the Empire to perform this work for us within our own territory, but we say that aborigines of other parts are not to be employed on the ocean in British ships engaged in carrying Australian mails.
– Would the honorable member exclude all coloured labour?
– I am merely referring to the inconsistency shown in the attack made on the right honorable member for East Sydney, for daring to propose any alteration.
– I was first abused for having agreed not to do so.
– Quite so. The Ministry propose that black labour shall be employed in the carriage of mails within our own territory. That is a proposal to which I do not object, and my only desire, in referring tq it, is to show the inconsistency of the attack upon the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– Does the honorable member say that the White Australia policy was to be left an open question, so far as the projected coalition was concerned?
– Honorable members on this side of the House are as strongly in favour of a White Australia as is any honorable member opposite.
– The honorable member for Grey should know that I said nothing in the nature of the statement which he suggests. Doubtless he has achieved his object by getting in his interjections. He is seeking to draw a red herring across the trail in order to divert public attention from the very awkward position in which the Ministry stand in relation to this matter. I have put the true position before the House. We have never heard from this Government that evenocean mails are not to be carried byblack labour. We have never heard that it is the intention of the Government that black labour shall not be employed in the carriage of mails to the various ports of Australia. The late Ministry spoke of resorting to the poundage system, so far as oversea mails are concerned, and although their proposals in that regard do not bind the present Government, I would ask whether any improvement would be secured? Under the poundage system our mail’s would still be carried, as under the contract system, by vessels employing black labour. If there is a colour stain in the one case is there not a colour stain in the other ? If it is desirable to exclude coloured seamen from British vessels employed in the carriage of mails under the contract system - and that is said to be the object of the section in the Postal Act which deals with this question - is it not desirable to exclude coloured seamen under the poundage system? Is black poundage any better than black contract? But we have not had an outline of any proposal on the part of the Government to make a change in that direction. The Minister of External Affairs also attacked the right honorable member for East Sydney this afternoon on the ground that while he held certain opinions, he had yet failed to give vent to them. In other words, he asserted that the document which was drawn up as the Basis of the projected coalition did not embody any proposal to give effect to opinions expressed by the right honorable member at the last elections. I should like to know how many instances there are in which the Ministry have not sought to give effect to their opinions. Does not the programme which they have put before us give evidence of a marked moderation of their views as compared with those which we have heard many of them express on the hustings in. various parts of Australia? In the circumstances, .it comes with an ill grace from an honorable member of a Ministry which is repressing many of its own opinions or principles to attack a right honorable member who is not in power for having repressed certain of his political opinions. Then, again, the Minister of External Affairs asserted that the
Labour Party in another place had gained more members than the other -two parries combined.
– As the result of the last election.
– A larger increase ?
– At the last elections they secured ten as against nine members.
– Not an absolute majority.
– A majority so far as the last elections were concerned.
– But not an absolute majority in another place.
– I understand what the Prime Minister means. His contention is that at the last election the Labour Party in the Senate gained returns equal to the aggregate returns secured by the other two parties in that Chamber.
– One more.
– Exactly ; but how many votes do they represent ?
– The honorable member believes in the principle of equal representation.
– The Prime Minister is in error. I did not believe in the proposal that there should be equal representation in the Senate, and I said so during the Federal election campaign ; but inasmuch as we could not secure Federation without the adoption of that principle, we had to accept it.
– The honorable members leader did not try to secure it without the adoption of that principle. That was my objection.
– The Prime Minister was then in the habit of drawing lugubrious pictures of the effect which the working of this principle would have on his party.
– I still object to it.
– Quite so; but in order to secure Federation, we had to concede something to the smaller States. The granting of the principle of equal representation has not had that injurious effect upon the Labour Party which the Prime Minister predicted; but it seems to me that the party should not claim undue credit for the increased representation which thev have secured in another place. The number of votes polled by the successful labour candidates at the- last Senate elections was very much below that obtained by the successful candidates belonging to other parties in that Chamber. An attack has been made on the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for Lang, because, in voting for the amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which, led to the defeat of the late Ministry, they announced that they were in favour of the clause as it stood, but supported the amendment only for the reason that thev wished to oust the ‘Government. The objection comes with an ill grace from a member of the Labour Party. In my opinion, the honorable members in question acted far more honestly than honorable members sometimes act when, for party or other reasons, they vote for a proposal which they do not favour, but refrain from announcing at the same time that, as a matter of fact, they are opposed to it. The fact that the honorable members in question announced that they voted for the amendment only because they wished to oust the Government must redound to their credit. It certainly speaks well for the honesty of ‘ an honorable member when he states that he proposes to vote for a certain proposal only because an object which he has in view could not otherwise be secured. The Labour Party has constantly resorted to the practice without any explanation to which exception is now taken. Does the Prime Minister forget the occasion on which some of the members of his party voted for a proposal in which they did not believe in order to. oust a Ministry in whch they did believe ?
– Every party must sink minor matters. The Opposition, as well as other parties, do so, and are compelled to do so.
– But the Minister for External Affairs has cast reflections on the honorable members in question for adopting a practice which has-been followed by members of all parties. He has cast reflections upon them for doing what they considered necessary, although a labour caucus has been known to change its corporate opinions from day to day through one or two members constituting a majority changing theirs. These are tactics which are not unknown to the public, and the fact that the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for Lang saw fit to announce the object that they had in view in voting as they did show’s honesty, not dishonesty, of purpose. So that was also an attack, which should hardly have come from a member of the Labour Party. I now come to the question of saving the late Ministry. Why did the Labour Party, which regrets, or did regret, the removal of that Ministry from office - I do not know that that regret lives now - not save it ?
– Time is a great healer.
– And something else is more effective still. Why did not the Labour Party save the late Ministry ?
– Because we were pledged to the country.
– Yes ; but the present Ministry is not going to sacrifice its own life over the same pledge.
– We never took the stand that the late Ministry was justified in resigning office.
– The members of the Labour Party said that the late Ministry would have to sacrifice its life.
– Itwas of sufficient importance, after the Ministry took their stand, to say that the late Ministry should die.
– We never said so.
– The honorable gentleman, in his unofficial capacity, sacrificed the life of- the late Ministry. But apparently the principle at stake is not of sufficient importance to demand the sacrifice of the life of the present Ministry. The honorable gentleman has . not announced that he will commit suicide yet, in spite of being questioned on the matter, so that I have been speaking by the book so far.
– There is plenty of time.
– There is plenty of time to face a death-bed. The Minister of External Affairs has asked us to trust the Government, and said that if the House does not agree with its policy it can throw it out. So far as we have goneof course, I shall be pleasantly surprised if the position should alter - we have evidence that the Ministry will” not go out on its measures, but will have to be pitched out.
– I know that the honorable member’s leader did not go out on one of his measures.
– Which one of them?
– When I moved an amendment against the right honorable and learned gentleman’s Local Government Bill, and it was carried, he did not go out of office.
– Because I had a bigger thing on.’
– Quite so.
– If it had been of sufficient importance, I have no doubt that the right honorable and learned member would have gone out.
– But who is to judge of the importance?
– If the Ministry will not go out of office if defeated on the question on which they obtained office, then we may conclude that they will not go out of office when defeated on any of their measures, but will remain on the Treasury benches simply as a committee, bringing forward special measures, and saying to the House : “ If you like you can alter our Bills; if you alter them too much we may abandon them; but we shall not abandon office.”
– That was the usual record in New South Wales in 1894.
– If we are to be governed in that fashion ; if we give the Government’ power to transact the business of the country in that way, we give them power to live for ever. The Ministry must not object to be faced with the question, whether . they represent a majority in the House, on anv matters oh which a majority can combine?
– We do not object.
– In other portions of the House there will be differences of opinion, as there are in the Labour Party. For instance, I was much amused to find that the Ministry is termed the Conservative wing of the Labour Party. There will be differences of opinion, but if there is a policy on which there can be a combination by a majority, that majority, which is only a combination on certain things, and not on everything, must not raise pleas of unfairness, if it meets with the fate that minorities should meet with in Parliament. The Minister of External Affairs put forward the argument that as the two policies - that of the proposed coalition, and that of the Government - are to a certain distance exactly the same, why disturb the Government? But there is something beyond that policy to be considered ; there is something even in the proposals of the Ministry that goes beyond that policy. I take it to be the -duty of honorable members, if they are offered two policies so far alike, to take that which does not go beyond that of which they approve. The departures from similarity are two. They are of much importance in a way - not so much in themselves, but as to what they indicate. One is the taking -over of tobacco manufacture. That may find favour with some persons. We know that tobacco manufacture and importation has been taken up by some Governments. We know also that there is an apparent monopoly in the tobacco trade, and that there are reasonable objections by persons to monopoly. But the Ministry, so far as they have been able to get an opinion, seem to think that there is no power in the Constitution for the Commonwealth to enter into such an industry.
– There is a doubt, any way.
– So far as the honorable gentleman’s information goes, there is a doubt.
– A very grave doubt.
– The Prime Minister has stated that, if the Commonwealth has not that power, he will attempt to have the Constitution altered in order to allow the tobacco industrv to be conducted by the Government. I think that he means ‘ to go further than that. I believe he will strive to have the Constitution altered so as to allow any industry to be conducted by the Government. That is a very different matter. I do not say that there are special circumstances about the tobacco industry, or that the adoption of this policy in other countries has proved the desirability of its adoption here, because, so far as my experience goes in those countries, it is simply a means of taxation, and the Government increase the tax by raising the price of the article and reducing its quality. But whilst there might be reasons for the tobacco monopoly being taken over by the Government, that would appeal to some persons, there would require to be very much stronger reasons for committing us to what the Government would take power to commit the Commonwealth to, and that is the adoption of the socialistic control of all industry by the Government.
– I have a little thing of my own which I should like to sell them.
– The Prime Minister did not indicate how he was going to provide the States with the revenue which would be taken away from them if the Commonwealth Government went in for the manufacture and importation of tobacco.
– We anticipate that we shall get a larger return from tobacco under this proposition than we now get from Ex cise.
– We will suppose that that assumption is correct. Three-fourths of the return from Customs and Excise is the property of the States. There will be no compulsion to return one penny of the profit from the tobacco monopoly to the States.
– Neither is there any such obligation in regard to Excise, after a few years.
– The States have a guarantee for some years, under the Braddon section.
– That will expire.
– Parliament can maintain it in operation.
– If Parliament can make that provision, there is as good a safeguard for the States in regard to our tobacco proposal as there is in regard to Excise.
– The States want some security. They will not take our mere ipse dixit.
– That is all they have in any case. They have only the chance of the Federal Parliament granting them supply after the ten years’ period has expired. ,
– They have at present a bond under the Constitution.
– Which may be altered after ten years.
– Besides that, they have in the States some voice in regard to deciding whether the Braddon section shall continue, or otherwise.
– So they have under anyother circumstances.
– The Prime Minister should have shown us how, in the immediate future, the States are to be dealt with in regard to their legal . right to the revenue which they will lose by a proportion of the profits - if there are any - from the tobacco business, not being due to them under the Braddon section. As to the banking proposals of the Government, I do not propose to deal with them at length, or to detain the House much longer on other matters. I would only say that, of course, the Prime Minister would not claim that his proposals are original.
– Quite so.
– The right honorable member for Balaclava expressed himself as being rather favorable to the idea, although he thought that it required more consideration.
– It is a Canadian proposal.
– In that respect again there may possibly be some reduction of State revenue.
– Of course. But the Commonwealth has to take over some nonproductive services, and that will largely counter-balance any fall in the revenue of the States, such as that caused by our policy in relation to a note issue and matters of that sort.
– There is, however, the important fact, that revenue is affected. If the Government propose to get money from banking institutions and to alter the Constitution, why should it not be altered in the direction of having transferred to Federal control the largest banking deposits made by the bulk of the people? I refer to the Savings Banks, which are now in the hands of the States Governments.
– We have no power to interfere with the States Savings Banks.
– Not unless the Constitution is altered. But I am speaking of the proposed alteration of the Constitution.
– One step at a time.
– We have to face these considerations before taking any step. The Savings Banks have hitherto been usually conducted in connexion with the Post Office. But the tendency seems to be to separate them. Under present circumstances, the States are removing many of the Savings Banks from the post-offices. There is a legitimate opening I should think for Federal action, because it is the people’s money deposited with a Government which is concerned, and not the money of shareholders, taken out of the banks without their consent, by the authority of the Federal Government. I am not raising an objection at the present time to the proposal of the Government, but I think that the whole matter will have to be considered.
– Would not what the honorable member suggests interfere with State loans?
– No, it would not. It would, of course, if the Federal Government were to assume control of deposits which the States Governments now have under their control in the Savings Banks, but I am referring to future deposits. I raise this question as associated with one of the institutions taken over by the Commonwealth, viz., the Post
Office. As to the promised amendment in the Electoral Act, one of the most important reforms, requiring immediate action, is the redistribution of seats.
– We are dealing with that. The Minister is getting particulars.
– The Government will go straight this time, I hope.
– It is not right that the very policy upon which the Federal Parliament was created - equal representation - should be continually departed from. I do not care what the effect is upon different parties. It is a bargain, an understanding. We may approve or . we may disapprove ; but we have agreed, and the principle ought to be observed. The sooner we give effect to that principle, the sooner we have a redistribution, the better for the Commonwealth.
– We hope to have the data ready for this session. The Minister is at work upon it now.
– As to the Capital site, I notice that the Government propose - although they do not intend to make it a sine qua non- that there shall be 900 square miles in the Federal territory. I understand that that condition will delay the settlement very seriously. I cannot think that the Government of New South Wales will feel that it is just to ask them for something which far exceeds the demands of the Constitution. “ Further than that, personally, at any rate, I am against the spirit that is embodied in that demand. I think that we ought not to endeavour to make a separate State out of the Commonwealth territory.
– We do not want to hand over to private individuals the unearned increment.
– I do not think there will be any.
– There is bound to be some.
– It will possibly be like a case of which we have had an illustration in Sydney. In my opinion, the Federal Capital will be of such small dimensions for years that we need not trouble about the unearned increment. The dimensions of Washington were very small for many years, although the population in the United States grew more rapidly than ours is growing at present.
– Ottawa affords a better comparison.
– Ottawa occupies a position on the lakes, which makes it somewhat important as a. trading centre. But we propose to build a. capital at some site that will not be important from a trading point of view. None of the suggested, sites occupies a position upon an important water-way. Some of the sites have no railway communication, and some would not justify the construction of a railway. My opinion is that the unearned increment, which can be expected will not be very great. I have no objection to the Commonwealth getting whatever unearned increment there may be, but the idea of having a small separate State is against my opinions of what is desirable.
– The honorable member surely would not call thirty miles each way a separate State?
– Yes, it is separating the Commonwealth from the rest of Australia. The more we make the Commonwealth a part of Australia, and blend it with the rest of Australia, the better ii will be for our governing institutions. The Government has claimed support on the ground of the moderate programme which it has put forward. But I would remind honorable members, as the right, honorable member for East Sydney did, that behind that programme there is a much larger programme to which the members of the Government have subscribed, their names. Behind that again there is the programme of the labour conferences, which nominated for election- to Parliament the members of the present Ministry. That programme extends to limits that I am sure would not secure the indorsement of the majority of the members of this House. For instance, I think I am correct in saying - I am open to correction if I am wrong - that in one, if not two, of those conferences, one of the proposals agreed to was the abolition of the Imperial veto. That means neither more nor less than separation from Great Britain. How far that policy is going to be pushed, or how soon it is going to be pushed, we cannot say. But beyond the policy of Ministers there is still another policy ; and it is put forward only in its mildest form, so that the public of Australia shall not be alarmed. The Minister of External Affairs said that the Socialists detest the Labour Party. Why . do Socialists detest the Labour Party? It is not because the Labour Party are not Socialists. I do not say that all the Labour Partyare Socialists, but that party generally have announced themselves to this House as Socialists. Why this- marked feeling between out-and-out Socialists and the Labour Party, as Socialists ? It is because the Socialists say that the Labour Party want to proceed step by step towards the same goal, whilst the Socialists declare for an outandout policy, leading at the- earliest possible moment to a full realization of Socialism.
– The millennium on Thursday week !
– There is the difference between the two bodies. The Socialism of the Labour Party is a veiled Socialism, while the Socialists desire to make Socialism an aggressive movement, and to accomplish it at once. If we wish to know what the policy suggested is in its outcome - I do not say immediately, but in its outcome - we must go to one who has expressed his. views, and who is in a position to judge what is the opinion of the Labour Party.. Mr. Tom Mann is an apostle brought to Australia to preach a policy to the labour bodies of Victoria, a policy in which, presumably, those who brought him out believe. Mr. Mann announces that Socialism will be well on its way in ten years in Australia, and he gives- in a few words, which I shall read’, what his view of that Socialism is. First, however, I shall read- a briefer definition, by Mr. Bradlaugh, as follows : -
Socialism denies private property, and affirms that society organized as the State should own all wealth, should direct all labour, and should compel the equal distribution of all produce.
There are some, I know, who differ from a* part, of that, view, and who hold that the distribution shall not be equal, but unequal. If the distribution is to be equal, no matter what the merit, no matter what the capacity, no matter what the exertion, must we not, if we adopt such, a policy, face a deterioration of our people?
– I challenge, the honorable member, to name a single Socialist who advocates such a doctrine.
– There are Socialists who advocate such a doctrine.
– The honorable member is talking about communism, which is a totally different thing.
– There is a Communistic Socialism. I am not using my own words, but quoting the words of a man intimately associated with labour, Mr. Bradlaugh.
– But not with the Labour. Party.
– A May Day deputation put forward exactly what the honorable member for North Sydney is quoting, and the Prime Minister expressed his sympathy with their aspirations.
– I was not aware of that fact, but I accept the statement of the right honorable member for East Sydney. I am now quoting what is the policv of one class of Socialists. I am not saying that this is the policy of all Socialists ; in fact, I have already said that it is not. What I am now dealing with is Communistic Socialism, with which I am glad to know the honorable member for Perth does not agree.
– No Socialist does.
– There are Socialists who do. There is a Communistic Socialism, as well as a State Socialism, as the honorable member for Perth knows ; and communistic Socialists do agree with that policy. As I say, I am pleased to know the honorable member for Perth does not agree, because I think he must admit that such a policy must lead to the deterioration of the people. But, if we are to have unequal distribution of the product of labour, who will make the division ?
– The Government make the division at the present time in nationalized works.
– Will the division not be made by a State Department of some description, and is it not the very objection to our present nationalized works’ that we cannot get a fair distribution - that Governments and members of Parliament interfere?
– Yes, because the works are run by individualists.
– Is it not a fact that, in any case, somebody who has no personal interest in the matter, must interfere to fix each party’s share of the product? It may be said that when I favour certain services being conducted by the State, such as the railway and postal services, I am a Socialist. But it might as well be said that because I eai vegetables I am a vegetarian - which I am not. I quite agree that there are some institutions which it is desirable that the State and people should control, especially . those institutions where we are prepared to make a loss on parts of the services in order to benefit some other department of the State. Our railways, for instance, can benefit our lands, and, to a considerable extent, may be substituted for roads. In the Postal Department it is desirable, in the interests of the whole, to extend nonpaying services ; and that will only be done - I do not say that it can only be done, but that it will - by the State which is interested in the whole, and not merely in the post-office itself.
– The honorable member is evidently a bit of a communist himself.
– The honorable member, as I say, might as well call me a vegetarian because I eat vegetables. I am quite willing to take the best out of everything, but I am not willing to admit that universal State Socialism, which is the goal of the State Socialists, is the best, or will give the best to the community.
– And could not be, under any circumstances?
– If the honorable member had the creating of a people, State Socialism might be the best ; but until he is a creator, it will not, under present conditions at any rate, and with human nature as it is, be the best. We do not need to estimate, because we know what the result of bureaucratic control has been in the past. We know that it has failed in every instance. In our own experience, the communistic form of Socialism absolutely failed, as will be admitted, in the case of the settlement in Paraguay; and the State form of Socialism, as applied universally to the industries of a State, has failed wherever it has been attempted. These proposals in themselves do not frighten me. I am not afraid of facing any such proposals, if I can see that they are in the interests of the people as a whole. But history and every argument that occurs to me, convinces me that such proposals, carried to their ultimate issue, would be in the worst interests of the State, and the worst interests of the people of the State. Fancy such a state of affairs as Mr. Mann outlines ! He is a State Socialist, in favour of the unequal division of the product of labour; and what does he say ? I quote Mr. Mann, because he ought to know what he is talking about-, and he says -
The Socialist programme will be well on its wav in Australia in about ten years. I know that it would not be right to declare that the Labour Partv of this State (Victoria) is definitely straightout Socialist. It is not. It can only truthfully be described as a socialistic body, by which I mean one that is making more and more, andrelatively rapid, strides in favour of Socialism clear and avowed.
The most energetic minority are undoubtedly the avowed Socialists, or collectivists ; the. others are rapidly travelling in that direction ; but that means nothing more than that they indorse both voluntary and State co-operation, and seek to have it universally applied. He says that the party will go in for the nationalization of mines, the control of land and machinery of production. Every person is to be rewarded according to the services which he or she renders- to the community. There will be no need for gaols, except for idlers. A man will be allowed to retain what he gains from actual work. He will be allowed to have his furniture- and his bicycle, and perhaps his motor car, but whether he will be permitted to have his house will be dependent upon the stage of development which socialism reaches.
That is what we are asked to enter upon by the apostle of the trades union bodies, brought out to preach labour doctrines throughout Victoria.
– A man who is now paid to carry on a mission in Victoria.
– A paid agent.
– He has turned prophet now as well as apostle, and this is what he prophesies: -
Ultimately the municipalities will control house accommodation. Well-behaved people will always have food, or clothing, or other necessaries -
Whether the ill-behaved will go without clothing, I do not know - - and will be allowed a fair amount of travel.
An Honorable Member. - What is the honorable gentleman reading from - a newspaper cutting?
– I am reading from a published speech by Mr. Tom Mann, which, so far as I know, has not been contradicted.
– He has not time to contradict it all.
– We soon see a contradiction where one is thought necessary. I am quoting from a report which appeared in .the Sydney Daily Telegraph, as taken from a Melbourne paper.
– Is the honorable member reading a portion of Mr. Tom Mannus remarks ?
– I am not prepared, to think that the report differs from what Mr. Tom Mann actually said, because I have read previous speeches bv him to the same effect. Many State Socialists put forward the same view, and I quote Mr. Mann, not as the best authority on Socialism, but as the best authority as connected with organized labour bodies. I am not one of those who fail to recognise that there are many evils connected with our present social system. I think that the best remedy for them is the adoption of a system which has yielded great good in Great Britain, and that is the system of cooperation. I believe there would be a larger distribution of the proceeds of industry amongst those who need it most as the result of the adoption of such a system. It is free from the marked objections to Socialism.
– Socialism is merely a system of co-operation.
– Yes, but a system conducted by the State.
– No, conducted by the people.
– Then the honorable member can have it any day he likes.
– Socialism is a system of co-operation conducted by the State, but when those brought up to certain industries devote themselves to cooperation; in those industries a two-fold effect is obtained. In the first place, they understand their business, and they have individual interests. They can reduce’ the cost to the consumer in most cases, and while they do that they are always under the spur of exerting themselves, of perfecting their skill, and of studying their calling, and increasing their aptness in turning out work rapidly in that calling. ‘ The spur of personal interest is there, and by that very spur the position, character, and competency of our workers is maintained. Instead of falling into the rear behind other countries, instead of reducing bit by bit - as they would be certain to do under a system of Socialism controlled by the State, the product of the industry and the consequent dividend which can be given to those engaged in the industry, they have this spur of personal interest, thus maintaining a higher standard in the community, and also obtaining in most cases the beneficial effect of a reduction in cost to the consumer. I say that the examples of co-operation in Great Britain have shown that ‘ the system can be carried on with success, whilst the operation of Socialism anywhere in the world - and it was adopted thousands of years ago in some parts of the World - has never been attended with success.
– To what co-operation is the honorable gentleman referring?
– To the cooperation in a business of those brought up to that business for the benefit of the whole.
– Can the honorable gentleman refer to any example of successful industrial co-operation, other than trading?
– Some of the co-operative societies of Great Britain are amongst the most successful institutions in the world.
– They are engaged purely in buying and selling, and not in manufacturing.
– They are engaged in manufacturing, as well as in ordinary trading. Mrs. Sydney Webb has written upon them, and in some instances they have been a gigantic success. There are also a number of smaller co-operative societies throughout Great Britain, some of which, though limited to small mining and other districts, are also successful.
– And private enterprise tried to kill them when they started.
– Private enterprise had a perfect right to compete with them, and the system that will not stand that competition cannot be a good one. The observations I have addressed to the Labour Party are not addressed to individual members of that party. Those gentlemen have, individually, mv highest respect ; but in reply to the very fierce attack upon our motives by the Minister for External Affairs - an attack to which I do not object - I nave felt that 1 should be at least as keen in my criticism. As for any action which will be taken by honorable members, I say that if they believe in what is. announced as the ultimate goal of the Labour Party, their place is on the Government side in this House. If they do not believe in it, and if, so far as immediate legislation is concerned, they can secure a similar policy from honorable members who would constitute a majority in this House, I do not see how they can cross the chamber. At any rate, I hope that no One will be induced to cross the chamber from either one side or the other by any holding out of personal advantage, such as an unopposed election, because although it might not be expressed in direct money terms, that is as much a bribe as is anything that could be offered to a member of this House.
– Hear, hear. “ Codlin is the friend, not Short.”
– For some six months past it has been apparent that we would be taking part in a discussion similar to that now engaging our attention. I am one of those who believe that much good will come out of the present situation. I believe that the time has arrived when there will be a division in this House on distinct lines, and it is on that account I address honorable members for the first time from this side of the chamber. I think that those who have been my associates in this House during the past three years will concede that I leave them with the very best feeling between us. I have upon all occasions made my leanings apart from the particular question which brought us together, the Tariff question, clear to the leader of the party to which I formerly belonged, and to those associated with him. When that question was shelved, it became apparent that there would be a new division of parties, and that we should have to form new associates in this Chamber. When the Prime Minister, speaking at Ballarat, staked the existence of his Government upon a particular clause of the Arbitration Bill, and the general elections which followed soon afterwards gave certain results, it became evident that a crisis was only a matter of a short time. It came probably a few hours sooner than it would otherwise have come, because certain honorable members voted for a proposal to which they had expressed themselves as opposed. That is immaterial to me. It is a matter between them and their constituents. Had not the Deakin Government been defeated then, it would certainly have been defeated a little later, upon the division which was to follow. But for months before that came about the press of this State, the leading newspapers of the other States, and the leading politicians in this House, urged that the position occupied by the then Government was an intolerable one; that the labour members who sat on the corner benches were squeezing more from the Government than they were entitled to get, considering the number of votes which they represented. But is it not a singular fact that both the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have admitted that on no occasion, either here or in the State Parliaments, have the Labour Party in any way tried to take advantage of the situation? It used to be said that if the Labour Party wished to obtain certain measures, they should act in direct opposition .until they were able to occupy the Treasury benches. Now they do so. Their position to-day is unique, and marks an important epoch in the history of constitutional government. We have, on the Treasury benches, a number of honorable gentlemen, who have got there, not because they intrigued or conspired to overthrow the late Ministry in order to obtain office, but because the responsibility of administration has been thrust upon them. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat staked the existence of his Ministry upon the carrying of a particular clause, and was defeated, he recommended that the honorable member for Bland should be sent for to form an Administration, and there was no other course open to the honorable gentleman than to accept the responsibility. But the Labour Party having accepted office, what has happened ? An effort was made, not only in this Chamber, but throughout Australia, to remove them from the Treasury benches, even before they had had a chance to announce their policy. It is well known that there was a proposal to remove them before the granting of an adjournment to give them an opportunity to formulate their policy, but to the honour of those in opposition they would not be a party to it. The present occupants of the Treasury benches, and their followers, have had pronounced upon them the finest eulogy that any party of men could have from men sitting in opposition to them. The leaders of the Opposition have told us of the wonderful assistance which they have received in carrying into law measures which they believed to be in the interests of Australia. The right honorable member for East Sydney could not have carried into effect a policy which it needed a considerable amount of courage to bring before the State Parliament of New South Wales, but for the assistance of the Labour Party there, while the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has admitted that he has received most valuable and loyal aid from the party in this House. I know that none of the measures put upon the statute-book of South Australia during the past ten years, for whose beneficent operation the ex-Premiers responsible are always ready to claim credit from the people, would have been possible without the assistance of the Labour Party. I do not refer merely to so-called labour legislation. The credit foncier system now in vogue in South Australia, which has been of great benefit to the primary producers there, is one of those measures. Another is a measure introduced by a Liberal Government, having for its object the giving of assistance for the exportation of wine. The late much respected leader of the Labour Party in South Australia, Mr. J. A. Macpherson, moved an amendment which made the provisions of that measure apply to other produce, .and while they have failed, so far as they relate to the export of wine, they have, with regard to other produce, been a great success, notwithstanding the bad seasons of the last few years. I appeal to the honorable member for Gippsland to say whether he can point to any legislation in the direction of liberalizing the land laws for the benefit of agriculturists or pastoralists ‘ which has not been supported by the Labour Party. I can speak with some degree of knowledge with regard to my own State, and I claim that during the last ten years liberal legislation, which has benefited thousands of the primary producers, has been rendered possible only by the assistance of the Labour Party. It is admitted by the leaders of the Opposition, that the Labour Party have in the past given valuable assistance in placing upon the statute-books legislation which has operated for the benefit of the general community, and I ask what magic influence is likely to bring about such a change in the party that their occupancy of the Treasury benches will become a menace to Australia. Will they act with less honesty in office, than out of office ; will their administration be lax as compared with that of other Ministries, or are thev objected to on account of their youth? If the last mentioned ground be taken, let me point out that it is in the interest of good government that some young blood should be infused into the administration of our Departments. Ministers who have sat on the Treasury benches for years naturally get into a certain groove, from which it is almost impossible to shift them, and we may expect young Ministers to strike out for themselves upon new lines, and to galvanize into vitality some of the heads of Departments who are now hidebound by official traditions and influenced by rules which should have been discarded long ago. What is the charge against the Ministry? T have listened carefully to the speeches of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the right honorable member for East Sydney, and the honorable member for North Sydney. The labour pledge was objected to, the labour caucus was condemned, and the socialistic bogy was raised. Now. what is the caucus? The members of the party meet in caucus to decide important points bearing upon their platform, which has already been placed before the country in black and white. Is there anything very dreadful in. that ? . Has not a similar course been adopted by every political party? It is true that there is another kind of caucus, of which we have had recent experience. We have heard of a number of men meeting, not on a common platform, but as representatives returned upon diametrically opposite principles, and deciding to disregard the pledges which they had given to their constituents - pledges which, above all things, should be sacred to honorable members Which- of these caucuses is to be regarded as the more honorable? As a matter of fact, nothing can be done by the labour caucus to vary the platform of the party, but they may arrive at a determination upon some matter which is under consideration by the House, and which may affect the life of the Government. The other caucus to which I have referred was assembled with the object of ejecting from office a number of men - who, they admit, have done much ‘to assist in passing beneficial legislation - before they have had an opportunity of showing what they could do. Objection has been taken to the fact that, in connexion with’ the Labour Party, a pledge has to be given that if a candidate, is not selected he will stand down. There isi however, nothing new in that. The right honorable member for East Sydney endeavoured to persuade honorable members that he had some terrible disclosure to make with regard to the platform of the Labour Party. He selected not the fighting platform of the party, but what has been termed the general platform. After endeavouring to make it appear that something dreadful was about to be brought under the notice of honorable members, his disclosure turned out to be of the most innocent character. He told honorable members that it had been agreed by the Labour Party, that even though it necessitated an amendment of the Constitution, they would endeavour to secure, what ?- - not anarchy, nothing like that ; but uniform industrial legislation. I ask any man of common sense whether, in view of the fact that the Inter-State barriers have been removed, and that widely differing industrial legislation is in operation in the various States, it is not abundantly evident that, in the interests- of both employers and employes, uniform industrial legislation is necessary. What was the experience of
Victoria? I remember, that, when the. jam industry was brought under the. operation of the Shops and Factories Act, the sweating employers of Victoria transferred their operations, to- Tasmania, where there were no Wages Boards to control them. We had a. somewhat similar experience in South Australia. We- extended very liberal protection to the tobacco industry, and some of the Victorian manufacturers^ rather than submit to restrictions- in their own State1, which were intended to insure fair conditions of employment to their hands, went to South Australia, where they could employ girls free from any control as to wages or hours of labour. It is only fair to the employer, who is prepared to pay a reasonable wage to his employes, that we should enact uniform industrial legislation. Did not Sir William McMillan admit in this Chamber that, as the Customs barriers which formerly existed between the States had been abolished, InterState free-trade, in the absence of some such legislation, would to a great extent be robbed of the advantages which it would otherwise confer ? Reference has ako been made to the proposal to establish a State tobacco monopoly. I do not intend to discuss that matter just now, because time will not permit me to do so. I desire, however, to deal generally with the policy proposed by the Government, which seems to be regarded by some as a menace to Australia. I think I am right in claiming that the policy which has been put forward by the Ministry, approaches more closely to that which New Zealand has followed for some years past than any policy previously submitted in Australia. Have honorable members forgotten the period when Sir Julius- Vogel held Ministerial office in New Zealand, and when people were leaving that country in thousands by reason of. the “safe” legislation which was .being -enacted? We have since witnessed the result of ten or twelve years of administration by the Ballance and Seddon Governments ; and. what is the position there to-day? Are -not the people flocking from these States to New Zealand, where there is- an abundance of work ? Of course, it will be said that New Zealand possesses advantages over these States in the matter of its climate, its land,, and its general possibilities. I admit that it does. But did it not possess the same sunshine, the same rain, and the same- land fourteen or fifteen years ago that it does now ? I find that between. 1890 and 1903 the population of New Zealand increased by 177,000. In 1890 its publi and private wealth totalled £150,000,000, but in 1893 it represented £244,000,000. Similarly, whereas in 1900, the production of New Zealand was valued at £22,000,000; in 1903 it had advanced to £32,000,000, an increase of , £10,000,000. Again, whilst in 1900 the land values of that country represented£46,000,000, in 1903 they totalled £65,000,000 - an increase of £19,000,000. The exports from New Zealand in 1900 were valued at £9,000,000, but in 1903 they represented £13,000,000, an increase of £4,000,000 in three years. These are the results of a class of legislation which some people regard as a menace to Australia. At this point, I desire to say a few words in reference to the attitude of the ex- Prime Minister. I cannot for the life of me comprehend the position which he takes up. If I understand what language means, I heard him say, upon the occasion when the Prime Minister asked the House to grant him an adjournment for three weeks, that he was deputed on behalf of his party to wish the Government well in the task which they had undertaken, that the three weeks’ adjournment would be readily granted, and that at the end of that period they would be judged by the measures which they proposed to submit. Has that promise been kept? Certainly not. Instead, we hear that he took part in secret conferences which were held one day in a certain suburb, and another day in a different suburb, because the press were on the alert to discover where they took place. These negotiations for the formation of a coalition Ministry were conducted, despite the sacred promise which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat made upon the floor of this House that the Government would receive honorable treatment, and would be judged by their measures more than by anything else. Then the Government have been condemned because their proposals are not so drastic as some honorable members would desire. But I would point out that the Ministerial policy contains, at any rate, a fair proportion of the programme upon which members of the Labour Party were elected. I do not know of any other Government from whom a policv has been demanded for a generation ahead. It has always been sufficient for a Government to submit a policy, the carrying out of which would cover the life of the existing Parliament. Very often Ministries did not even do that. I have no desire to occupy the time of the House at undue length, because I feel that we ought to proceed with business as early as possible. If those in opposition intend to submit a no-confidence motion they should take immediate action. Several months have elapsed since the opening of the present session, and yet practically nothing has been accomplished. -In the first Parliament we gained a reputation - very justly so, I think - for the legislative work which we performed, and surely it should be our desire to maintain it. We are supposed to be statesmen, but are we acting as such? Australia possesses great resources. We have in this Commonwealth vast wealth, we possess a great inheritance, and yet we are witnessing an unseemly scramble for the “ loaves and fishes,” an indecent attempt on the part of some honorable members to gain possession of the Treasury benches.
– I ‘do not think that is very complimentary.
– It may not be complimentary, but it is true.
– I do not think it is. Mr. POYNTON. - Honorable members are showing an indecent haste to get on to the Treasury benches, and, at the same time, are trying to convince the public that they are prompted by patriotism.
– That is ridiculous.
– The right honorable gentleman has spent nearly a lifetime on Treasury benches, and he has done really good work in his time; but he has had a great deal of luck. Other persons have entered upon great undertakings, but they have not come out so successfully as he has done. I have nothing to say against his past. He has had a very good innings. But there is no man who would growl more deeply, or find fault more quickly, than he would if he were ejected from the Treasury benches without having been given a chance to show what he could do. Does he wish to put out the members of this Ministry because they have had no experience in office? Is that the plea which is raised? I wish to know when some of the bright members of this House will be considered to have been sufficiently long here to be intrusted with the great and important duties that attach to the office of Minister of the Crown. Of course, I know that if eight gentlemen are trained on these benches, and show that they are equal to the occasion, there will be eight more applicants for Treasury billets. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to try to throw dust in the eyes of the people, to say that the country is in danger, and that those honorable gentlemen should be turned off the Treasury benches at any cost. Sacrifice, if needs be, they say, your pledges to your constituents; sacrifice anything so long as vou turn them off those benches. I do not intend ro help them to do anything ofthe kind. I have crossed the floor because I see nothing to fear in the platform of the Labour Party. In fact, I was returned practically on every line in their platform, and so were other honorable members sitting on the left of the Chair. We have, I repeat, a great inheritance. We hear a lot of talk about why do we not develop what are called the tropical parts of Australia; we hear it said that our legislation is such that it hampers their development. But do honorable members believe that, in the non-tropical parts, we have reached that stage that we have got beyond the point of development ? There is material to our hand, I submit, for carrying “ out a great public works policy that would redound to the credit of any Government. Along the banks of the Murray, from its mouth to its source we have the material for settling a large industrious and thriving population.
– Is not that a State matter?
– The States desire this. Parliament to undertake the work, and it could be carried out without impairing the navigation of the river in any way. I venture to submit that in no other country would such immense wealth, in the shape of water, be allowed to flow into the sea day after day. We wish to consider a proposal to undertake a work of that character. Its execution would redoundmuch more to the credit of the House than does this challenging of the present occupants of the Treasury benches.
– There is nobody shaping at that work yet.
– I wish to refer to one more matter, and I am forced to make this reference because of the following paragraph which appeared in the Argus today : -
The Tarcoola telegraph line bids fair to remain a lasting evidence of Federal postal extravagance. Authority for the construction of the line was obtained while Senator Drake was Postmaster-General. Gold had been discovered at Tarcoola. A canvas town sprang up there in a week. Reports of fabulous discoveries of gold were received daily. It was claimed that a permanent field, which would support a very large population, had been established. As an additional inducement for the erection of telegraph facilities, it was claimed that Tarcoola would become one of the main centres of settlement along the proposed transcontinental railway route. Fourteen thousand pounds was hastily voted for the work. The greater portion of this amount was expended. But instead of a thriving business, the central postal authorities state there is only a small receiving-office at (he mushroom township to-day, which a small boy could manage.
In the first place, I fail to understand what the expenditure of that money has to do with the Argus. It was the State of South Australia which wanted the work carried out, and it is responsible for the whole expenditure. In order to show how unfair the paragraph is, I propose to mention what has been done over a small part of that gold-field. During the last six months one mine crushed 2,770 tons, yielding 3,147 oz. 8 dwt. of gold. The half-yearly balancesheet shows that £10,000 was received. Honorable members will have some idea of the difficulties which that company have had to contend with when I say that in the half year they spent over £4,000 on cartage. They experienced great difficulty in the matter of water, and even now they cannot keep a 20-head battery going for the want of water. One mine in this little mushroom place that the Argus spoke of has paid away on wages and material - excluding cartage - about £8,295inthelastsix months. The mine shafts are developed from 150 feet down to 300 feet. Out of the gross quantity of . stuff which has been taken out, notwithstanding all the difficulties which had to be contended with, 10,417 tons have been crushed, yielding 18,511 oz. of gold. I venture to say that if this gold-field were situated in Victoria, or anywhere near that State, we should not find the Argus saying anything about such a promising industry. I may add that the Curdnatta mine, situated at Tarcoola, crushed 99 tons, yielding 174 oz. of gold. The Wilgena Enterprise mine, situated thirty miles east of Tarcoola, crushed 345 tons for 350 oz. of gold. From the Glenloth goldfield, situated about fifty-five miles to the south-east of Tarcoola, small parcels have been carried by camels to the Government battery at Tarcoola. Of the different parcels treated 12 tons returned 1 oz. 1 dwt. per ton; 4 tons returned 2 oz. per ton; 10 tons returned 1 oz. 9 dwt. per ton; 8 tons returned 1 oz. 7 dwt. per ton ; 2 tons returned 1 oz. 4 dwt. per ton; and 3 tons returned 1 oz. 15 dwt. per ton.
These are returns from a field some forty miles beyond Tarcoola. I mention them, not merely because of the criticism of the Argus, but because of the fact that the Government has not yet decided upon the route of the proposed Transcontinental Railway. A few miles further on there is another field which promises well. I have some specimens obtained there at a depth of 150 feet which would astonish honorable members. I know that the right honorable member for Swan considers that the line ought to follow, a route nearer the coast.
– I have not said anything of the kind. I mentioned that a big saving would be effected.
– The right honorable member at all events indicated in one of his speeches that that was his opinion. I have traversed a great part of the country, and am able to say that the lands which would be tapped by the railway, if the route I favour were followed, are far better than any that are to be found on the coast line. The facilities of construction which it offers are superior to those of any other route. The country is much firmer than that nearer the coast, where a series of sand ridges extend for many miles. The existence of these hills has frequently been referred to by Victorian critics.
– Where are these sand ridges?
– There is a belt of country, some few miles wide, running nearer the coast, in which these sand hills are to be found.
– I know that they exist, for I have been over them. They are to the west of the Gawler ranges.
– That is not so. I have been over the country.
– The critics talk of nothing but spinifex and sand being met with. That may be true of a strip of country about ten miles wide, but I have it on the authority of Mr. Laurence Wells, surveyor, who, on behalf of the State Government, has been exploring the country, and obtaining information for the Lands Department, that the land consists of rolling downs well-grassed, and carrying first class edible bushes. In my opinion, that is the route which the line, if it is built, must traverse. I have already mentioned Tarcoola, and other fields, which would- act as feeders to the line, if the route I have mentioned were followed, and I would also point out that the construction of the railway along this route would serve Mount Gunson, where one of the largest deposits of copper to be found in South Australia exists ; and my statement in regard to it will be supported by one of the members of the Ministry. The ore met with there is. of low grade; running from 5 per cent, to 8 per cent., and owing to the difficulties encountered in carrying the ore a distance of eighty miles to the sea-board, or in taking machinery up to the field, it is impossible to work it. With railway facilities, however, it would undoubtedly give employment to thousands of men. i thank honorable members for the attention they have given me, and while I would not be so presumptuous as to say that I think the debate should now come to a close-
– The honorable member nevertheless thinks that it should.
– The honorable member is quite right. I think that the debate should be brought to a close as early as possible. If there is to be a direct motion of want of confidence tabled, let us have it submitted, and have done with it. If we deal with it at once, we shall clear the atmosphere, and shall be able to do much more work that will tend to the good of the country than we shall be likely to accomplish if we continue to wrangle over the present situation.
– I rise to address myself to this question with a desire to abstain from giving utterance to expressions calculated to give offence to any honorable member. The debate has so far been conducted on lines which, with one or two exceptions, reflect credit upon the House ; but I think that the honorable member who has just resumed his seat might well have refrained from charging honorable members of the Opposition with improper motives in following the course they have adopted. Such an assertion does not help his case, nor is the debate likely to be shortened by the imputation that the one and only object . which honorable members on this side of the House have in view is that of securing a seat on the Treasury benches and participating in the emoluments of office, It seems to me also that the Minister of External Affairs might well -have avoided, to a large extent, the attack which he made upon the right honorable member for East Sydney. Whatever opinion he may entertain in regard to the right honorable gentleman, many years will elapse before he occupies the’ position which the right honorable member for East Sydney enjoys in the estimation of the people of New South Wales. Rightly or wrongly, the people of New South Wales hold him in high esteem because of what he has done for them in the past. I may say at once that, in connexion with his public career, there have been occasions on which I have differed from him. I disagreed with him in respect of his attitude on the Commonwealth Bill which led to the . creation of this Parliament. But, unlike others who also shared mv views, I did not side with him in the action which he took. I gave clear expression to my opinions, and had to pay the penalty of fighting against the Commonwealth Bill. The Minister of External Affairs referred to the assistance which the Labour Party gave the right honorable member for East Sydney, and I know that in New South Wales they helped him to carry out, the policy which he put before the people. It was a policy of the most drastic kind, and in giving effect to it, he required all the assistance that could be secured. But that was not the policy of the Labour Party at the outset. It was the policy of the right honorable member for East Sydney at the beginning, and men like myself can take credit for having advocated and fought for it’ year after year in New South Wales, until it took practical shape in politics, and was ultimately successful. I have asserted in my own electorate and elsewhere, when certain men have been referred to as the leaders of the movement, that I was one of these leaders who devoted their time and what little ability they had to the work of instilling into the minds of the people of New South Wales that which was best for them. In support of the legislation which the Labour Party favour, reference has been made to the position of New Zealand. I am satisfied, however, that no one can rightly assert that the Conciliatibn and Arbitration Act in operation in that colony has brought about the prosperity which at present prevails, there. It is impossible for any one, who rightly reads the history of New Zealand during the last few years, to say that its prosperity is due to any such agency. The wages paid there have been very high ; but we all know that increasing prosperity has always led naturally to an increase of wages.
– They have arbitration and protection in New Zealand. .
– The Conciliation and Arbitration Act has had nothing to do with the prosperity of New Zealand. I do not say that there is any objection to that legislation, so far as New Zealand is concerned; my sole contention is that not one case can be cited in support of the assertion that it has brought about the prosperity which New Zealand enjoys. Compulsory arbitration may be good or bad, but the position of New Zealand cannot be used as an illustration in support of the passing of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act for Australia. New Zealand has for some time past been on a rising tide of prosperity ; and if wages have increased, the fact remains that they would have done so had there been no Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Honorable members may accept my opinion for what it is worth - and it is worth as much as is that of any other honorable member - that the wages of the workingmen of New Zealand would possibly have been higher, had there been no such Act in operation.
– They might have been higher, had there been a free-trade, instead of a protective policy in force.
– There is no doubt about that. But the honorable member is always trying to side-track me on to the subject of free-trade and protection. I am prepared to debate that with him at any other time. I think that I have said in answer to an interjection from the same honorable member, that protection had nothing to do with the prosperity of New Zealand, which has arisen from its export trade, from its increased production of gold during the last few years, and from the enhanced value of its agricultural products. If the honorable member believes that the advance has resulted from the increase of imports, he makes a mistake; because, just as the imports have risen, so have the exports in proportion. There has been an increase in the imports of New Zealand just as there has been an increase of exports. That is clear proof that the prosperity of the country has not been caused by the decrease of imports, but that the exports have been paid for by the imports. But I do not wish to be side-tracked in that direction.
– I wanted to know the honorable member’s opinion of the causes of prosperity in New Zealand.
– What I want to make clear is that, if we read the history of New Zealand, for the last five years correctly, it cannot be shown that the Arbitration Act has improved the position of that country.
– Except in securing industrial peace.
– If the honorable member can make it clear to those around him that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is merely for the purpose of securing industrial peace, I venture to say that a great many will soon drop the subject. Industrial peace of that kind has been secured in several places by a reduction in the wages of the men.
– The honorable member must allow me to state what I know to be a fact. Honorable members have all heard of the Teralba case, which resulted in a decision that did not give the men the wages that they required, but a reduced amount. There was no industrial peace there. The mien at first refused to work, though some time afterwards they went back to their employment.
– The honorable member knows that the leaders of the men never advocated such a course.
– Exactly; I am not ! saying what the leaders of the men advocated. I say that if a body of men have their wages reduced by the Arbitration Court, they will go out in spite of their leaders. When there is a rising tide in the affairs of a country, wages may be raised by an Arbitration Act. But they will be raised without an Arbitration Act under such circumstances.
– By strikes?
– No; wages will naturally go up under such circumstances, whether there are strikes or not; though probably by means of unions wages may be raised earlier than without them. Wages may be prevented from falling bv means of unions. I give credit wherever I think it is due. We should always speak of things as we find them. I admit that bv means of unions wages can be prevented from falling as soon as they would otherwise fall.
– When our land boom was at its height, sweating was more rampant in Victoria than it is to-day.
– It may be so. In the remarks which I intend to make tonight, I. propose to deal somewhat with my personal history ; because I want to make it clear to those who are the representatives of labour that my sympathies are entirely with labour, and with the masses of the community. I want to show that I am not speaking from a capitalist’s standpoint.
– Did the honorable member ever know a politician who said that his sympathies were not with labour?
– I want to make it clear, from my connexion with’ them, that my sympathies are with them.
-“ By their fruits ye shall know them.”
– Undoubtedly. There is nobody who has a greater desire to help the masses than I have. I will yield to no one in that direction. But my opinion is that the course which is proposed to be taken by the Government, by means of their Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, will not improve the position of the masses very much. I hold that there are ways in which the object can be accomplished much better than the means offered by this restrictive legislation.
– Does the honorable member think that the coalition programme is a better one?
– I am not going to say that. As far as I am concerned, I believe that the ultimate trend of labour legislation is in a direction to which I am opposed. Consequently, I shall be found opposing honorable members opposite from that point of view. Of course I know that there are honorable members on my own side of the House with whom I cannot cooperate entirely. I am against the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to a very large extent, and a number of honorable members on my own side of the House are in favour of it. I made it clear, when I spoke previously, that I . was absolutely against the Bill, and that I should do all I could to wreck it, as well as to wreck the Ministry which had introduced it. I also stated that if the Labour Party introduced a similar Bill, I should do my best to destroy it. I will further say that if the party on this side of the House introduced such a Bill-
– If the coalition introduced it?
– I should take the same attitude with regard to their Bill as I shall take with regard to the Bill introduced bv the Labour Party. “ I do not believe that the measure will be of any advantage to the community. Nearly all my life I have been a workman. I have been employed for wages. I have lived amongst the masses. I have not been a capitalist. I do not hold the opinion that a man degrades himself by working for another. I contend that a man who works for another for wages occupies just as high a> position as the man who employs him. I do not look down upon those who take wages for the services which they render. If there is any obligation at all, from my point of view,i it is not on the side of the man who gives his week’s work before he receives his pay. It is on the side of thecapitalist, who, as a rule, has received the full value of the labour and exertion of the man whom he employs, before he pays that man the wages that are. due to him. There cannot be any obligation on the part of the worker. He stands, at least, on an equal footing with the man who employs him, and as men they are equal.
– The workman is merely getting the money value of his work.
– That is all. Therefore nobody can look upon me as thinking that a man, who is employed by another, occupies an undignified position. I hold that the dignity of labour is equal to the dignity of capital at any time. I have mixed with men, and have worked side by side with them ; and when I first entered Parliament I laid down my trowel to take up the position. When I was defeated, after a three years’ term, I took up my trowel again and went to work, asking for no Government billet, or any other assistance. I refused to accept any favour of the kind ; and when friends of mine sought to move in that direction, I said - “ No ; I have earned my living in the past, and can earn it again.” During the twelve months I was out of Parliament I worked at my own trade, and, when reelected, once more laid down my trowel. After another three years I was defeated, and took up exactly the same attitude as before. I was defeated, in the first instance, because the Labour Party, who were against me, made a triangular duel of the contest. The Labour Party opposed me because I refused to allow any body or set of men to control my actions. When I was asked whether I would sit or vote with the Labour Party I said - “ No, I will promise no such thing; I am a free man; I have always been a free man, and intend to remain so, and I shall not allow any body or set of men to control my actions.”
– I suppose the honorable member got union wages when he was at work ?
– I have never been a unionist, but, under all circumstances, I was paid the highest wages. If I got out of employment I went elsewhere, and, never belonging to any union, but fighting my own battle, I always received the highest wages.
– The honorable member makes a mistake; the unions did fight his battle.
– The unions did not fight my battle. In my early days, where I was employed, there were no unions in my particular branch of trade. I do not want to go too much into personal matters ; but, if I did so, I could tell honorable members of a strike in which I was the only man who ceased work, and the only one’ who ultimately got top wages. All the other men, after they had agreed to strike, stayed at work at the lower rate, but I, who had “ gone out “ alone, received the higher wages. Probably I am too independent; that may be one of my faults, but no other charge can be laid against me. I make these statements in order to show that I am a true labour man. In my own district, miners and others have been my most loyal supporters ; and, instead of telling them that this kind of legislation would be of no help to them, I declined to throw dust in their eyes and make fools of them. I did not wish to speak so warmly as I usually do ; but I feel earnestly about these matters, and what I have said describes my attitude. I was an employer for some years.
An Honorable Member. - And ashamed of it.
– I am not ashamed of being an employer, because every man can rise to that position if he be given a fair opportunity. If a man be given a fair opportunity to employ himself and to use his powers aright, it is in him to become an employer, and to reach a position, in some degree at any rate, of comfort for himself.
– Did the honorable member, as an employer, always give the highest- wages?
– The honorable member has anticipated me. At Armidale, whence I come, the truth of the statements I am making are well known to working men. When I was an employer, the day’s work consisted of ten hours, and when the agitation for eight hours began in i88r, I conducted my work on the latter principle for months, although I had taken contracts on a ten-hour basis, and other contractors were working their men the longer time. That fact will, at any rate, show my sympathy with labour; and here I may say that i always paid the highest wages, though I did not pay all my employes the same amount. I paid every man according to his ability. I never paid one regular wage, or one grade of wages ; but I gave the very highest, each man, as I say, according to his ability ; and the men who were employed by me would very much like me to start again as an employer. That is all I have to say on that point. I want to make it perfectly clear that if my views are not the views of the Labour Party, it is not because I am not in sympathy with those who toil. My views are not those of the Government, simply because I believe a mistake is being made in the .kind of legislation proposed. I do not think that we can help humanity by any legislation. This is more a moral question, although it is to some extent an economic one, and must be dealt with on economic lines. We cannot run counter to economic truth ; but to a large extent the redemption of the working classes and of the masses must .come from moral force. I care not what legislation we pass in the direction ofhelping men. Unless they are- capable of elevating themselves, no law will ever help any human being.
– But, suppose they are not capable of helping themselves in all cases.
– I say they are capable of helping themselves.
– Must we not consider their environment ?
– There must to someextent be an allowance made for environment.
– And heredity ?
– I do not go so far as that ; I do not believe there is much in heredity. Each individual can improve his condition, and improve it immensely, if he will only develop the moral qualities he should develop. The more we go in the direction of assisting humanity by State employment and similar methods, the more we weaken those very moral qualities which men ought “to possess. After, the recent meeting of the House, I was the other day talking with “a few men in Sydney, one of whom spoke of the- progress that would be made under the Labour Party. I asked him what he “meant by” progress,” and, of course, he replied. “ The rule of the people.” I then asked him, “ What is the rule of the people going to do for you, seeing that if the people pass wrong laws they will not help ‘you.’“Even if they pass right laws, I equally do not’ see how you will be helped?” I pointed out that if legislation were to raise a man’s wages from £2 to £10 per week, and that man still spent his money wastefully, no good would result. I will not repeat all I said to this man, but I asked him where would be the good if men still spent their increased wages wastefully.
– Thev do not . all do that.
– A great many do, I am afraid. I admit that present conditions are .wrong and hard ; but let us be truthful, and look at the facts as they exist. We know there are large numbers of persons who would be better off, and whose position would be improved, but for their weak moral qualities - people who, if they would join in co-operation, could soon raise themselves to the position of capitalists. I want the thought to rest with the Labour Party that nothing can help men if men do not help themselves - that we cannot byany legislation lift men to a higher state of prosperity. We may, of course, help a man by. giving him food, providing his clothing, and so forth, by- legislative interference; but I say, at once, that by so doing we take all the- best out of the man. My life has not been one of ease and comfort. Perhaps it is not quite correct to say that it has not been a life of co.nfort ; but it has not been a life of ‘affluence My life has been one of struggle, and I have passed through as much difficulty as most men. In the city, where I lived for thirty-six years, I have stood with my back against the wall, fighting the whole of the influence of the place. I have been down into the lowest depths into which a man can get. I do not mean depths of poverty or misery ; but I have been almost without friends and friendly assistance. An old gentleman who has had knowledge of me during the whole time I have been in that city, said to me the other day, “Would you like to go through your life again ?” I thought for a moment or two, and then I said, “I should like to go through it again. “ My friend said, “What, after all you have passed through?” and I said, “Yes, I should.” There is some glory in looking back upon the past, knowing that I have had to fight through these things, and have come to occupy the position I hold to-day in the! opinion of men in the district who fought against me. I say, at once, in view of the lowly position I occupied, that it is a glory to one to have succeeded’ as I have done.
– Does Mr. Sawers think in that way ?
– It does not matter to me what Mr. Sawers thinks. I am speaking of my personal conviction that trials and stress are not the worst things for a man. Difficulty and the knowledge of what it is to suffer, are not the worst things for any men. On the contrary, they develop courage, and power, and strength. I realize to-day that so far as my individuality is concerned, I am a better man, because of the fighting I have had to do in the past, and the difficulties through which I have had to come. They have given me more courage, more strength, and power than I should have had without them. Honorable members, will find that the heroic men, and the strong men, as a rule, arise from the ranks, and have to fight their way upward; they are not to be found amongst men who have been accustomed to affluence and comfort. Personally, I look upon these things as a blessing, rather than a curse.
– Does the honorable member say that poverty is a blessing?
Mr.LONSDALE.- Yes, I do.
– Then the honorable member can have the poverty, and let me have the other thing.
– I have had to struggle through to reach my present position, but I am not a rich man to-day, and I never will be one. It is not in my nature to be one. I am putting my view before honorable members in order to show my opinion of these socialistic proposals. I do not think they will be for the good, either of the nation or of individuals. Instead of building up a strong people they will do exactly the reverse. We have heard of Great Britain’s position as a colonizing nation. We have been told that the British people are the only people who can colonize successfully. Is that because the British Government stands behind her colonists? Is it because Great Britain sends out officials to take care of her colonists? We know that the reverse is the case, and that Great Britain has become a great colonizing power because of the inherent strength of her people, and of their individual strength, and because they have been able to fight the battle with difficulty, and have been strong to overcome it. If we go to any German or French. Colony we shall find as many officials as colonists.
– More, if the honorable member pleases ; but I say as many, and so far as those nations are concerned, it has not been possible for them to make the success of colonization that the British people have done. Certainly nc one can say that Great Britain has stood behind her colonists in the past, and helped them bylaw. She has, to a very large extent, allowed them to work our their own destiny, and to fight their own battles, and it is in doing so that they have developed the strength and power which has made them the people thev are to-day. I say that if we inaugurate . system that is to coddle a man, we shall take all the grit out of him, and we shall never be a strong nation. I see by tha Ministerial programme that it is said we want a citizen soldiery and an Australian Navy. If we are to have a citizen soldiery we must develop strength in the individual, and we must not coddle him. The honorable member for Grey referred to the assistance which the Labour Party has given to various political leaders. They may have given such assistance in this House; it is not for me to say that they did not, because I was not here during the first Parliament. That they gave assistance in certain directions to political leaders in New South Wales I know, and I have referred to that ; butI am able to say that during the last Parliament in that State they have given no help to the people. I am able to say that their support of the State Government in reckless expenditure has brought disaster to that State, where they are now passing through one of the most severe winters they have ever experienced. The giving of support for concessions is an evil thing, and it should not be permitted to occur in this Parliament. I think that honorable members in this Housi may be divided into two parties, but it must not be supposed that I am prepared to support anything that a coalition party may bring forward. So far as the caucus has been concerned, we have been absolutely free. Those who are acquainted with the inner working of meetings of the Opposition or Ministerial parties are aware that there may be differences of opinion, and that no man is bound by the opinions of any other man. He must decide for himself, according to his conscience and judgment, as to the course he shall take. Those who know me will admit that it will give some trouble to bind me to take a course which my conscience and judgment does not approve.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite do not think the honorable member of much value on that account.
– They do think that I am of value on that account. The statement has been made that certain honorable members would not be opposed at election time if they supported the Labour Party. That is a kind of thing which ought not to be either said or done. I might ask what honorable members .opposite would do for me. but I have defied them in the past, as I have defied all sections of the community. I have no hesitation in saying that I have refused to be the nominee of capitalists, just as I have refused to be the nominee of the Labour Party. I stand fighting the battle for the community as a whole. I do not say that I have been wrongfully approached, but capitalistic authorities have given me to understand that if I refrained from agitation in favour of certain principles, they would give me their support, and I have declined their support upon those terms.
– That is not an uncommon experience.
– I do not claim that it is, but I desire to point out that, personally, I do not believe in any sectional legislation. Honorable members opposite say that they are in favour of legislation for the general benefit of the community. That may be so. The Labour Party in New South Wales have supported a Ministry which’ has spent a great deal of money in providing employment for the people. It has taken upon itself the position of a private employer. During the last few years the revenue of New South Wales has been £2,000,000 a year more than was being received when the right honorable member for East Sydney controlled the destinies of that State.
– And the New South Wales Ministry has spent the money.
– The question is not whether the Ministry has spent it, but how it has been spent. Not only has the present Administration spent the £2,000,000 of excess revenue to which I refer, but it has also spent large sums of borrowed money to give employment. The more employment that has been given, however, the more men there have been to find employment for. The ‘ expenditure of the Government merely developed in the people of the State a desire to lean upon the Government for support, instead of trying to obtain employment for themselves, and the doctrine has been preached bv the leader of the Labour Party there, that it is the duty of a Government to find employment for its people.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say “Hear, hear,” because his interjection illustrates the ground of my objection to the policy of the Labour Party in this Parliament. ‘ Their one object is to put the State in the place of the private employer. I honestly think that they believe that that is the best policy for the country. The difference between us is one of opinion. I think, however, that if they carefully consider the matter, they will ultimately come to the conclusion that the State cannot carry, on productive enterprises as well as a private employer could do. It may be said that working men will .be better off in State employment than in private employment, but I very much question that. What has been the result of public expenditure in New South Wales. Pressure was continually being brought to bear upon the Ministry “ to give more employment, until finally all the revenue and all the money that could be borrowed was spent, and there was a stoppage of Government works, with a consequent dismissal of the men formerly employed upon them. Not only have large numbers of public servants been dismissed, but the stoppage of Government expenditure has decreased the income of business people, so that private individuals engaged in industrial enterprises have had to dismiss many of their employe’s. Therefore, the people of the State are now facing the worst winter they have yet had. This unhappy condition of things has arisen chiefly from the reckless manner in which money has been spent by the State in finding employment. If the £2,000,000 to which I refer had been left in the hands of private individuals, they would have invested it in productive enterprises, and would have given more employment than has been given by the Government, while as they would have been careful not to exceed their financial strength, the dismissals which are now taking place would not have occurred. The Prime Minis- ter has told us that the nationalization of the tobacco industry will save money to the people, and will give work to all ; and he promises not to allow political influence to be used in connexion with it. What does he mean by political influence ? I suppose he would not allow a member like myself to have a cheap smoke, or to seek to obtain better conditions for the men employed in the industry. Personally, I do not smoke, so that I shall obtain no’ advantage. But there is an influence which I call political, and which will always be used in connexion with State employment. In New South Wales it at length came Vo pass that the trades unions were permitted to name the men who should be employed by the Government. Will any one tell me that that was not political influence? No State member intervened, but the unions picked out the men, and they were employed, and non-unionists could not get a job. Nonunionists are as much citizens of the States as are unionists; and there are as’ many good men among the non-unionists as there are among the unionists. Therefore, the nonunionists have as much, right to obtain employment from the State as have the unionists. Yet political influence was used to prevent non-unionists from obtaining State employment. We have seen an example of the use of political influence in connexion with the Postal administration here in Melbourne. I am not a capitalist, but a true working man. If I Jost my seat in Parliament, I should have to take up my trowel and earn my living with it; and I am prepared to do so rather than ask the State to feed me or give me work. No union should be able to interfere with the individual public servants of a Department, but every man in a Department should have justice. Every public servant should have the right to appeal to his Minister. If a man has been treated unjustly, and a superior officer prevents him from appealing to the Minister, that superior officer should be dealt with.
– How could he be dealt with ?
– If a Minister controlled his Department as he should, he could make it clear that such conduct would be punished.
– How is the individual public servant to reach the Minister? The honorable member knows perfectly well that he cannot.
– I know that he can. I have used political influence, if honorable members like to call it so. When men have told me they could not get to the head of their Department, I have said to them : “ I do not know whether you are right or wrong, but I shall give you a chance to make yourself clear to the officer who has to decide the matter.” I never used any undue influence, but I did my best to insure justice. Political influence of the kind to which I have referred should be excluded from the public Departments, and no honorable member of this or any other House should be allowed to bring pressure to bear upon Ministers. The most an honorable member should be permitted to do is to introduce to the Minister any man who has a grievance, and leave him to state his own case.
– Would not the honorable member allow associations representing the employes to make representations to the Minister ?
– No, I should not. I should not, however, object to follow the plan adopted in the railway service of New South Wales. There an Appeal Board, upon which the employes as well as ‘the Commissioners are represented, has been created. Before this board the men have a right to appear for the purpose of obtaining redress. The public works which have been carried out by day labour in New South Wales have imposed upon the general taxpayer far greater burdens than would have been the case had the work been let to contractors.
– Quite the reverse has been proved.
– The reverse has not been proved, because the reports of the Boards of Inquiry which investigated the conditions under which certain public works have been carried out by day labour show that they cost more than if they had been constructed by private enterprise.
– The engineer at the head of the Public Works Department has stated that the work was more cheaply carried out.
– No doubt certain railway works have been constructed at less cost than under the old contracts carried out in years gone by. The circumstances were, however, altogether different, and no fair comparison could be made. It has been proved conclusively that the cost of stone-cutting and masonry work performed in Sydney by day labour, has been far greater than similar work alongside carried out by private contractors.
– Where has that been proved ?
– In connexion with the erection of the new wing of the PrinceAlfred Hospital.
– What about the telephone tunnels ?
– I am not aware that the cost of that work has ever been fully investigated. In connexion with the Fitzroy Dock, and the Prince Alfred Hospital, the results worked out as I have indicated. I do not think that in these cases any allowance was made for the cost of the clerical work entailed. I spoke to Sir John See, the Premier of New South Wales, on this point, and he urged that the Government would have had to maintain an Accounts Department in any case. My retort was, “ Yes, of course ; but the staff of your Accounts Department has been very considerably increased, as the result of the day-work system.” It stands to reason, that if, instead of writing out one voucher for, say, £1,000, for a contractor, that amount has to be divided among, say, 333 men, each earning about £3 per week, much extra work will be involved in keeping the accounts.
– Who initiated the daywork system in New South Wales?
– I believe that it was inaugurated by the Hon. J. H. Young, who was a member of the Reid Ministry. I have no desire to be unfair. If a system be wrong and wasteful, no special merit will attach to it because it was introduced by a certain Minister. I do not pretend to say that everything done by the Reid Ministry was right. I contend that it was not possible to carry out public works by day labour as cheaply as by private contract. It may be argued that the profits of the employer may be saved by directly employing day labour, but I venture to say that, in most cases, the extra cost of the day labour would represent a very handsome profit for any contractor.
– Why did not the honorable member expose the evil of which he is complaining ?
– It has been exposed.
– There was never a McSharry case in connexion with the day labour system.
– No, but there has been something as bad. The McSharry case arose out of the construction of railways in years long gone by. His Honour Mr. Justice Barton could tell honorable members more about that than any other man.
– He did verv well out of it.
– Yes, he did. If private contractors had the same command of capital’ as has the State, they could carry out public works at far less cost than if day labour were employed under direct State control. The effect of State employment is to destroy the self-reliance of the people. I do not propose1 to say very much with regard to the proposal to nationalize the tobacco industry. It is rather amusing to find the Labour Party putting forth their whole strength in order to encourage a business of that kind. I should be disposed to discourage it in every way I could, but evidently the Ministry intend to bolster it up in order to derive from it as much money as they can. Thev do not tell the working man that they will be able to provide him with cheaper tobacco. They tell him that he will have to pay as much as ever for- his tobacco, but that thev will give some of his money back to him in the shape of old-age pensons. I have read Mr. Chamberlain’s promise of old-age pensions to the people of England. He said that if they would allow him to impose a duty on their bread . he would provide for them oldage pensions. One of . the cartoons published represented two men as investigating his scheme. They found it difficult to understand how it was going to work out, but, after a while, one of them said to his mate - “ I can see it; he is going to starve us to death first, and then give us the oldage pensions.” There is a good deal in that view of the case. The Ministry propose to take all they can out of the working men for their tobacco, and then to give them old-age pensions. If they had directed their energies to the improvement of the conditions under which the dairying industry is carried out they might have accomplished some good. We are told by medical men that a good milk supply is one of the elements necessary to the building up of a sturdy community,, and that the lives of more infants are sacrificed owing to the impurity of the milk supply than by any other means. .
– That is one of the glorious results of private enterprise.
– Exactly, and that is why I say that the Government should do their best to increase the longevity of the people, and to reduce the death rate by insuring a thoroughly pure milk supply. If the Government wish to nationalize some industry, I would suggest that thev should start with dairying. I fancy, however, that they will not touch that industry, because the undertaking is too big for them.
They would prefer to establish’ a . State monopoly in tobacco, hoping to obtain a little kudos by providing the necessary funds for . the payment of old-age pensions. If, as has been said, the tobacco industry in Australia is in the hands of trusts, I presume that those trusts control the supply of the leaf. If that be so, I should like to know how the Government propose to obtain the leaf that would be required for the carrying on of the industry?
– We can produce the tobacco leaf here.
– We produced tobacco leaf in Australia long before I was born, but I am assured that it was of inferior quality. It may be possible for us to produce it in large quantities; but, before doing so, we should, know whether it ia of good) bad, or indifferent quality.
– Why, the best tobacco leaf grown is produced in the New England district.
– I am aware that in the’ neighbourhood of. the Moonbies and Nimingah Flat, tobacco is grown; but I have yet to learn that it is as good as the imported leaf. Personally, I do not believe that any tobacco is good.
– The companies ery eagerly buy up the Queensland leaf.
– That is because of the difference bteween the Excise and the Customs duties, which goes into their pockets. As the result of protection, certain individuals are privileged to rob the community. I am a Liberal, not a Conservative. I like to go to the root of any matter - to ascertain the. cause of the trouble. I desire to see less interference with human liberty. I do not believe that we can assist the community by unduly interfering with individual freedom. I am in favour of allowing men free opportunities to use the powers with which they have been endowed. If that be done, they will work out their own salvation.
– The honorable member is an anarchist.
– I am not. I believe in giving equal rights to all men, and special privileges to none.
– The honorable member is worse, than Fleming.
– I believe in giving equal rights to the working man, the capitalist, and to those who stand between them. Mv history proves that I am sincere. My opinions may be wrong, I may not take the right course, but those who know me best, know that my actions are influenced bv an intense desire to assist the people. I need never have been out of Parliament, had I played the game which some men play. But whenever the people’s interests and my own were opposed to each other, I refused to sacrifice the former, and as a result was defeated time after time. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will not confer equal rights on all men. It will create an aristocracy of labour, and if an individual does not join that aristocracy, he must starve.
– It is not nonsense. We have had experience of the working of a somewhat similar measure in New South Wales.
– We have had that experience in Western Australia as well
– How long, has the Western Australian Act been operative? In. New South Wales the statute operates in favour of unionists only.
– Does not any award apply to non-unionists as well as to unionists?
– Yes ; but a nonunionist cannot obtain employment.
– That is not so.
– It is. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which was introduced by the late Government, proposes to give a preference to unionists. In addressing myself to this point the other evening, I related an instance in which an employer had been fined for performing a benevolent act, by employing a non-unionist. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, or some other member of the Labour Party, thereupon interjected, “ It served him right.”
– It was not I.
– It was then that the honorable and learned member for Wannon observed - “ He is a humanitarian.” The interjection, which was made by some member of the Labour Party, shows that that body favours the punishment of a man who employs a non-unionist.
– He would not be punished if he did not break the law.
– That is my point. Under the Arbitration Act which is operating in New South Wales, a preference is given to unionists, which the law has no right to give. It involves an interference with individual liberty. It does not confer equal lights upon all men.
– Had it not been for the efforts of unionists we should never have obtained a compulsory’ Arbitration Act.
– That would have been a very good thing, too.
– Anarchy again !
– There is no anarchy in that statement. I quite recognise that it is difficult to prevent sweating, because, if we increase the wages of some men and women others would be sweated, because they would not secure any employment.
– What about equal rights?
– I cannot reply to all these interjections. I do not hear them properly. No artificial means can raise wages above a certain level, because they are regulated by the prosperity, or otherwise, of the country. All these attempts to interfere with a man’s liberty destroy the spirit of emulation. We may, of course, coddle men. When I was speaking before the adjournment for dinner, an honorable member interjected - ‘.’ Do you like poverty?” and I replied in the affirmative. As a matter of fact, I should prefer to be in a position of poverty than to lean on a Government to secure that which I need. I hope that, when I cannot earn what I require, I shall pass from this life into a better or a worse world.
– We all hope that it will be a better one.
– That is the view I have always taken of this matter. The Labour Party claim to be Radicals and Liberals, but from my point of view they are the reverse.
– We are Socialists.
– Viewing the party generally that appears to be so. I did not intend at the outset to speak at such length as I have done, and I have only to say, in conclusion,, that if we believe that the State should find employment for every one - and the Government programme does not indicate that intention on the part of the Ministry in only one direction - we should vote for them. I am not going to quarrel with any honorable member because he entertains certain opinions, but if the Government lean in the direction of extending the principle of the State employment of labour to all industries - and we see the initiation of such a scheme in their platform - we should oppose them. We have to look, not at what is the intention of the Ministry at the outset, but at what is their evident purpose. We have all read the statement of Tom Mann, that he and his party would allow a man to own a motorcar, and possibly his furniture, but that they are not sure that a man should be allowed to possess his own house. We must look at what is the intention of the men associated with this party outside as’ well as inside Parliament; and although I do not know why the honorable member for Wentworth should be allowed to have a motor-car while I do not possess one-
– The honorable member’s turn will come.
– It seems to me that we should get to the root of the matter by passing an Act declaring that all who possess motor-cars shall allow those who do not possess one to use them free of charge. I do not see why some men should have such conveniences while others have not ; but Mr. Mann, and those who think with him, take a different view, and it seems to me that when men talk as he has done, they give utterance to what is nothing more than sheer foolishness. I shall certainly vote against any tendency in the direction indicated by him in the remarks to which I have referred.
– I do not wish to unduly prolong this extraordinary debate on the unique spectacle presented by both the followers of the late Government and the Opposition, but many statements have been made that call for some reply. We have the honorable and learned member for Ballarat telling us that he resigned because of the position of parties, as if we had been faced for the first time with the existence of three parties, all of them in a minority, in this House. I venture to say that that was precisely the position of the last Parliament, and that no section of this House could have held office save for the support of a second party. That, indeed, has been the position of the Parliaments in most of the States of the Commonwealth, and it is one with which we are likely to be faced for some time to come.
– Not in the Victorian Parliament.
– It will be the position unless the Labour Party in this and some of the States Parliaments continue to make the rapid advances which have lately marked their progress. I would ask the honorable and learned member, for Ballarat why is it wrong for a Labour Government to be dependent on the support of another party, and yet right for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, or the right honorable member for East
Sydney - whb occupied that position for quite a number of years in the State Parliament of New South Wales - to hold office in such circumstances? The right honorable member for Adelaide occupied a similar position in South Australia, and yet nothing went wrong ; but, as soon as the Labour Party come into power, we have a thousand and one reasons advanced in support of the contention that their position is unconstitutional. If it is unconstitutional to hold office in such circumstances, it has always been so, and it is surprising that the unconstitutionality of the position was never discovered before. No reason has been advanced for the contention.
– If the Labour Party form an alliance that will make I the position of the Government constitutional.
– I venture to think that when a vote is taken it will be found that the Ministry have a majority, unless some honorable members go back on the pledges they have given during the last few days. Has it not been demonstrated that all sections of the House are in accord with the Government programme?
– I contend that it has, and that being the case, the _ Government must have a majority behind it. _ The intention of honorable members opposite is, we are told, to establish majority rule. But we have always had, and always will have, majority rule in Australia. We cannot place any measure on the statute-book unless it be agreed to by the majority, and that being so, it must be seen that we have had, from first to last, majority rule in the Parliaments of Australia. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat tells us also that his Ministry resigned Because the amendment made in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, on the motion of a member of the Labour Party, meant an interference with States rights. I wish only to point out that it is impossible for this House to usurp any of the rights of the States, and that, therefore, there can be nothing in the contention put forward by the honorable and learned member. We cannot usurp any right that is not given to us by the Constitution. The States themselves will take care that we do not, and they have the protection of the High Court, to which they may appeal whenever they desire to do so. When the honorable and learned member was giving some of his reasons for seeking to bring about a coalition, he made certain statements in regard to the Labour Party, which I heard with astonishment. I know that he has always spoken well of the party, and I think he will admit that they are deserving of commendation for the support ‘ they extended to him. The honorable and learned member asserts, however, that the Labour Party have invariably opposed with the greatest fierceness those candidates whose views most nearly approximated to their platform. That, at all events, cannot be said of the Labour Party in South Australia.
– It can be said of South Sydney.
- Mr. Speaker was never opposed by the Labour Party in South Australia, nor was the right honorable member for Adelaide. On the contrary, we have always worked to secure their return.
– Would it be of any avail to oppose them?
– We may oppose the honorable and learned member for Ballarat next.
– There is no objection.
– The point is not whether it would be of any use to oppose the honorable members I have mentioned. Our position is that as soon as we discover an opponent of our principles, we fight against him. We have, further, been told that in the attempt to bring about the coalition, there was no sinking of principles. I fail to see how free-traders and protectionists, Radicals, Liberals, and Conservatives, can unite unless they are going to sink some principle.
– Such a combination is seen in the Government which the honorable member supports.
– The members of the Labour Party may sink their identity; but it cannot be said that any member of the party- in this or in any other Parliament has ever attempted to make an alliance on the lines attempted during the last few days by certain honorable members.
– Are there no free-traders and protectionists in the Labour Party?
– Undoubtedly there are; but we consider that the fiscal issue is only of secondary importance. We were invited, of course, by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to join his party organization; but where is it now, and what are the principles which it holds? Our principles, as has been stated by the right honorable member for East Sydney, are in black and white. Honorable members who support the Labour Party know precisely what they are expected to approve, and how far they are asked to go. But when we are invited to form a coalition with some other party, we have to take them on trust, and it appears to me that there has been a good deal of distrust shown in regard to the two parties which have been trying to make an alliance during the past few days - an alliance which, as has been rightly pointed out by the honorable member for Grey, was attempted to be formed in spite of the statement of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that nothing would be done until the policy of the Ministry had been outlined. It has been said that the Labour Party is a narrow and exclusive body. I have never known of a bar against any elector in the Commonwealth joining the Labour Party ; there is none. I have been a member of the Labour Party of South Australia from its inception. At the time it was established I was an employer of labour, not connected with a union, and yet I was eligible to hold the highest position in it.
– We always insist on respectability.
– It depends on how that term is to be denned; but one thing on which we always did insist was that there should be loyalty to our principles,, and I am glad to say that that loyalty has always been exhibited. But there has been nu bar against the admission of any citizen <o the Labour Party in South Australia, and I believe I am right in saying in any other State. One pledge which we were asked to give was that we would support the principles which we should have a hand in framing and promulgating. I do not think there is any bar in that. It has also been said that we are tied down. In dealing with this point, I think that I could not do better than draw the attention of thi-; House to the report of an interview with the honorable member for Gippsland, which appears in the Age to-day. I have the greatest respect for the honorable member> and I am unwilling to believe that he. would wilfully misrepresent the party of which I am a member. In justice to himself, as well as to the Labour Party, he ought to have asked one of us to state the lines on which our party is constituted. But, instead of doing so,’ he says to the Age interviewer : -
My objection to the Labour Party is that its members are not free agents. They are bound by organizations outside Parliament. These organizations are drawn exclusively from one section of the community, and they cannot be expected to frame a programme in the interests of the whole people.
In the first place, I desire to say that the members of the Labour Party are drawn from every section of the community. It includes squatters, farmers, shopkeepers, all kinds of employers of labour, and when our principles are better known, we shall have a good many more of the employing classes in our ranks than we have now. The honorable member will see that he was under an entire misapprehension in saving that the members’ of the Labour “Party are drawn from only one section of the community. The measures on the statutebooks of the States will show that the Labour Party have always legislated for the whole community, more particularly for the producers. In South Australia, the Labour Party have gained very little industrially, but they have done a great deal for the producers. They have given the producers legislation more liberal than obtains in any other State. They have given them a State Export ^Department and a State Bank. They have passed legislation that has been the means of settling 10,000 persons on small blocks of land. I think that, in the face of these facts, it cannot be said that we have legislated for only one section of the community. No doubt the honorable member for Gippsland thoroughly believed that what he was saying to the Age interview.er was quite correct, but it is regrettable that he did not consult some members of our party before he made these statements. In the interview he goes on to say -
The ultimate end of the Party - the nationalization of all industry, capital, and land, and the equal distribution of profits among the whole people - is in my opinion utterly impossible of attainment, and most undesirable, too.
I wonder where he discovered that it was any part of the policy of the Labour Party that we should nationalize all industries and divide the profits equally among the people. In the first place, under a co-operative Commonwealth, there can be no profits, and consequently there is no intention of dividing them equally that I have heard of. On the contrary, we should do just precisely what we are doing with our socialistic institutions at the present time. I have never heard a suggestion by any member of the Labour Party or any Socialist that we should pay a Deputy Postmaster-General precisely the same salary as a postman, or a Commissioner of Railways the same salary as a porter. To say that we should is absurd and ridiculous. We intend to give every member of the community with brains and ability an opportunity of rising which he does not possess under the system of private enterprise. The honorable member for Gippsland goes still further when he says -
The Labour Party’s methods of stifling the voice of the minority in the caucus and making that minority vote in the House against its convictions in order to secure a victory, is destructive of the principle of majority rule.
I desire to tell the House that the only questions on which labour members are bound to act together are those which appear on their platform. On these questions they are pledged to their electors just as every other honorable member is pledged to his electors on some question or other. Are not other members of the House, equally with the members of our party, bound to respect their pledges? But outside those pledges we are entirely free. In our caucus we come to no conclusion in regard to any question outside our platform ; we take no vote. We come here not bound to vote in a certain way, but as free as the honorable member for Gippsland is himself in regard to any question on which we are not pledged to our constituents. I feel that I am in duty bound to call the attention of the House to misrepresentations which I will admit are not wilful, and T trust that before other honorable members attempt to criticise the Labour Party in the press they will make themselves a little more sure of their information than he has done. I do not mind being fairly criticised to the fullest extent by an opponent whom I will always respect, so long as I think he is conscientiously advocating what he believes in. In the same issue of - the Age I find a statement by another honorable member, who does not come out in the open like the honorable member for Gippsland and give us a chance to reply to his remarks. It reads as follows : -
Long before he listened to the overtures Mr. Reid made to him through Mr. Sydney Smith, Mr. Deakin had privately and publicly let the Labour Party know that he must very soon be compelled to favorably consider a coalition of some kind, in’order to prevent a split amongst the liberal protectionists. Instead of letting Mr. Deakin know that they had, before giving a definite response to the invitation, to consult their organizations - a long process, as all Australia had to be covered- in order to pave the way to a Liberal-Labour coalition, the Labour leaders gave no sign.
– That is only a dummy that they keep in the Age office.
– If it is only a-, dummy I think that honorable membersought to protest against any newspaper publishing statements like these as emanating; from a member of the House.
– The fact that it emanates, from the Age office is its refutation.
– Neither the PrimeMinister nor the Labour Party had. any need to consult any organization in. regard to a Liberal-Labour coalition. If it: had been thought that it would be in thebest interests of the country to have a LiberalLabour coalition we were quite at liberty to form one. I listened with some surpriseto a few statements by the honorable member for New England. He practically said that if wages were reduced through the operation of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act the men would not accept the decision. What has been our experience of the Arbitration Act placed upon the statute-book in South Australia at the instance of the right honorable member for Adelaide? That Act contains no compulsory sections; yet we have had a number of disputes settled by the President of the Conciliation Court established under it. Not so very long ago the tobacco trade submitted a dispute to the President of the Court, and it was ruled that there ought to be a reduction of wages. The men bowed to the decision, and have been acting under it for years. There was no compulsion whatever upon the unionists to accept the decision ; it was simply permissive. If the men are willing to accept a decision which lowers wages under a voluntary Con dilation Act, is it not more likely that they will accept a decision under a compulsory Act, even though they may not be satisled with it? I believe that, even if they are not satisfied, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they will loyally abide by the result. We make laws for the protection of life and property. In spiteof those laws, offences are committed every day. But how much more often would they be committed if ‘ there were no laws on the subject ? I am quite satisfied that, whatever the defects of an arbitration law may be, it will be a great blessing to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, just as- it has proved to be to the workers: of New Zealand. The honorable member for New England told us. that the object of the Bill is merely to give an advantage to an aristocracy of labour. I think he ought to have stated to the House exactly what parts of the Bill he referred to. No one is excluded who chooses to take advantage of the measure, and its provisions are designed to confer benefits on the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for North Sydney made the remark that it was proposed to abandon some of the public servants. I am quite satisfied that the Labour Party will never abandon any principle which they have advocated. They have not done so in this case. The Prime Minister stated clearly last session that he was not satisfied that the whole of the public servants could be included under the Arbitration Bill. I myself, in speaking on the question, stated that I had a doubt, on account of the word “industrial” being used in the Constitution, whether every public servant could be included. I was quite prepared to include the whole of them, but I had a doubt. Our legal authorities were entirely at variance, and I expressed the opinion that we should have the point settled by the High Court. ‘ ’ 4
– Why does not the Government carry out that course ?
– It will be quite time enough for the honorable and learned member to ask that question when an amendment which I find has been placed on our files is dealt with. He will find that every member of the Labour Party who has pledged himself to the inclusion of the State servants will vote for it. We were indebted to the right honorable member for East Sydney for an opinion in regard to this very provision. He told us that the whole of the public servants are included under the Arbitration Bill as brought down by the Government. If that be so it settles the whole matter. It is quite in order for
Any private member to do precisely what the honorable member for Kennedy and the Minister for Customs did - to stand up in his place and move an amendment, if he is so minded. The members of our party are free agents. They are not bound by the caucus in regard to such details. We are quite at liberty to move in regard to such matters, just as any other honorable member can do. The honorable member for North Sydney told us that the Labour Party only sunk the fiscal issue when they sought office. I do not think that that statement can be supported. The fiscal issue was sunk in the only way it could be - by a conf erence of representatives of the whole of the Labour Party throughout the Commonwealth. That was held at. a time when there was no prospect of office whatever.
I think the honorable member for North Sydney did the Labour Party an injustice when he said that they sought office at any time.
– I never said they did.
– They have not sought office on this occasion, though they are not going to shirk responsibility when it is practically thrust upon them. I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat should have seen fit to resign on such a question. There was not a member of the Labour Party - certainly not a member of the present Ministry - who thought that it was one which should have been made vital to the existence of the Government.
– He got tired of labour domination.
– If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat got tired of labour domination, I pity him if he gets into the camp of the honorable member for Lang. He will have a far worse domination there. The honorable member for North Sydney further stated that a bribe was offered by the Labour Party to those who support it. What was the bribe offered to bring the two parties opposite together? Were they going to be at each others throats when the next election takes place? Does the honorable member believe that if those two parties entered into a coalition, he would be opposed by an ex-Ministerialist? Let me tell the honorable member that the position is simply this : that whatever the members of the- Ministry or the Labour Party in this House may propose, we have organizations that will dispose. It has been clearly stated that, when the time comes to seek the suffrages of the electors once more, it will be made clear that no bribe whatever has been offered. Quite a number of honorable members came over to this side of the House before they knew what the Labour Party intended to propose. They took us on trust. They knew perfectly well that we were not likely to give a bribe. And none has been given. I was astonished that the honorable member for North Sydney should have put the matter in that form. Then he went on to say, as has been said over and over again since I came into this House, that Socialism means equal distribution.
– No, excuse me, I never said that.
– The honorable member read an opinion.
– Of Mr. Bradlaugh ; and I said that that was Communistic Socialism.
– Why should the honorable member raise the question of Communistic Socialism at this particular juncture, when no member of the Labour Party advocates it?
– The honorable member misunderstands me. He did not hear me afterwards say that State Socialists desire unequal distribution, and that I understood the Labour Party were State Socialists.
– Yes, I heard that remark; but we ought to be very careful in dealing with statements of that kind, because newspapers have a habit of reporting, probably, only one part of a speech, and it is necessary to make it clearly understood that we do not advocate Communistic Socialism. The honorable member for North Sydney also said that because he supported nationalized railways or post-offices, he might be called a Socialist. I say that certainly the honorable member may be called a Socialist, if he is not prepared to hand over those services to private enterprise.
– I do not admit that I am a Socialist.
– Then the honorable member does not deny that he is a Socialist.
– I do deny it.
– While the honorable member supports these nationalized services it is fair to put him down as a State Socialist, to the extent, at any rate, of not interfering with existing nationalized works. The honorable member for New England has told us that public works undertaken by Governments did not pay - that they cannot be carried out as cheaply as by private enterprise. I tell the honorable member that in South Australia a great many public works have been carried out departmentally, and the Engineer-in-Chief gave evidence before a Royal Commission only’ the other day, stating that he had never superintended any work that was not done more cheaply than it could have been done by private enterprise. We are also told by him that many of these works were tendered for, and that in every instance the Departments did the work more cheaply; and. further, that there has been no exception to this rule. Of course, I can understand that there have been failures in some directions. But it must be remembered that our socialistic works have been conducted by individualists who have no sympathy with the principle, and who were not concerned in making the works a success, but concerned rather in making them a failure. I contend that, if some of our nationalized- works were undertaken by Socialists, a better balancesheet would be shown at the end of the following year. I shall conclude my few remarks by stating that so far as I have been able to gather from’ all sections of the House during this debate, the present Ministry have a right to demand a fair trial. Members of every section of the House have admitted that they are entirely in sympathy with the programme; and, that being so, the Government ought to have extended to them the same fair play that the Labour Party have extended in the past, and, I trust, will extend in the future, to any Ministry which maj’ be in office.
– Like other honorable members. who have spoken on this side of the House, I feel that the present position of parties is unprecedented in the history of Australian politics. Any observer who comes within this legislative chamber must be struck with the fact that, while on one side of you, Mr. Speaker, there is a small number of members, there is, on the other side, a great majority apparently opposed to the present Government. The sooner that state of affairs is put an end to - the sooner we have a division which will settle up matters once and for all, and separate the “ sheep “ from the “ goats “ - the better I shall be pleased. I shall welcome any motion likely to divide the House on proper lines.
– Let us have a dissolution.
– I am quite prepared for a dissolution at the present time. No time would suit me so well as the present; no time suited me so badly as the middle of harvest time, last December. It is a matter of indifference to me who leads the attack in the present state of affairs. If a motion is submitted by any recognised leader to secure a division on the sound basic principle of whether or not there shall be majority rule, I shall be quite content to follow him.
– What about the majority of the electors at the ballot-box?
– If the honorable member will allow me, I shall deal with these matters in my own way. In the last Parliament this House was divided on the fiscal question ; but in this Parliament
It is highly desirable that a uniform system of old-age pensions throughout Australia should be adopted as soon as possible, and that steps should be taken to accomplish this in co-operation with the States.
What does that mean? It means that the Federal Government should approach the States Governments, and say to them, “ Will you consent to our taking over the old-age pension scheme, and deducting from the three-fourths of the Customs revenue, to which you are entitled, under the Constitution, the sum necessary to pay the pensions?” There is no contradiction whatever between the present . attitude of the leader of the Opposition and his attitude last session. On the contrary, . the part of the programme, which I have read, shows that his sentiments on the previous proposal were absolutely just and fair j and the fact that such a proposal is now put forward is practically a victory for the principle which he advocated then. That any responsible Minister should charge the leader of the Opposition with inconsistency, and political dishonesty, on so slender a basis, is most marvellous. I opposed Federal old-age pensions. because I saw, as every honorable member must see, that we could not raise the necessary sum, in addition to our present taxation. But the scheme proposed for the coalition seems to be one whereby all the difficulty which previously existed might be overcome. If the consent of the States were obtained, there would be no difficulty in submitting such a scheme. But where is the Labour Party’s scheme for old-age pensions? It was a prominent plank at the last general election, and when the present Prime Minister spoke from the Opposition cross benches. It has been dropped. He has run away from that scheme, and the party have run away from it.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member for Bland, at the time I speak of, promised direct taxation to initiate an oldage pension scheme.
– Would the honorable and learned member vote for it?
– Now we find that there is no old-age pensions scheme in this two sessions programme. There is no mention of it, and no mention of direct taxation, to bring in the money for the oldage pensions, which were so good a cry during the general election. Now that honorable members opposite occupy soft and comfortable seats, they prefer to leave these contentious measures to a more convenient season.
– Has the honorable and learned member read our programme?
– I have read, the programme, and I listened with much pleasure to the speech delivered by the present Prime Minister. I. distinctly recollect, and Hansard will bear me out, that the honorable gentleman said that, as soon as the Government could possibly give time to it, they would submit a scheme for old-age pensions, the revenue necessary for the purpose to be raised by direct taxation.
– Next session.
– This is the party that accuses those opposed to them of shirking their principles. It seems to me that, in connexion with the measures to which I have referred, they have themselves shirked their principles as completely _ as has any Government known to Australian history.
– The honorable and learned member is a marvel.
– Of course - he is a Victorian.
– Will the honorable member permit me. In addition to the shirking of these measures, they now have a bunch of carrots held up in front of one or two of the shaky members. We are now to have a complete change in the attitude of the Labour Party in regard to the conduct of elections. A basie principle of that party is to be sunk, at any rate, until the present crisis is over; I do not know for how much longer.
– There is- no crisis.
– It would appear that now-a-days we are to have a reversal of the old parable of the pharisee and the publican. Be’fore it was the pharisee who thanked God that he was not as other men were, and to-day we have the Labour Party thanking God that they are not as other men are.
– With good reason, too.
– They are not unjust, extortioners, and pledge-breakers, as are those who are opposed to them.
– It is correct to say that thev would be tax-gatherers.
– In this connexion we witness a distinct breaking of pledges, and an abandonment of the fundamental principle which differentiates the Labour
Party from all other parties in political history, in order that they may be enabled to tide over the present crisis. We were told by the Minister for External Affairs - and I understand that the honorable and learned gentleman’s statement has to-day been backed up by the Prime Minister - that those who support them in this present trying time will not have opposition at the next elections from the Labour Party. Nay more, not only will they not have opposition, but they are to receive the enthusiastic support, without fee or reward, of the whole of the labour leagues scattered throughout the various electorates. That important principle upon which they have conducted their business for the past fifteen years is to be thrown over at once. Such a thing was not proposed at the last Federal election,, nor was it suggested during the debate on the Address-in-Reply. It was not suggested during the debate on what was practically a no-confidence motion, which ousted the Deakin Administration, but it is suggested now, so that honorable gentlemen opposite may not be removed from the Treasury bench.
– The honorable and learned member did not suggest the proposed coalition either.
– I ask honorable members to compare this attitude with the attitude adopted by the party in Victoria, and throughout the States of Australia in the past. The party has been beseeched by genuine and sincere Radicals to abandon the practice by which they have levelled the most bitter attacks at those who have been most nearly associated with’ them in political thought. They have always refused requests of this kind which have been made to them. Let us take the present Victorian elections, and the case of one gentleman, who, unfortunately, is somewhat down in public opinion at the present time.
– Mr. Bent?
- Mr. Bent’s party will wipe out the honorable member’s party effectively on the 1st June.
– The honorable and learned member should not prophesy, unless he knows.
– There is one gentleman who has long been associated with’ radical politics in Victoria. I refer to Sir Alexander Peacock, who brought in a very far-reaching Factories Act, for which he received the thanks of the whole of the Labour Party. They actually presented him with his own portrait in oils, so that his work on behalf of the Labour Party and the oppressed workers should never be forgotten. They went to that extreme length of adulation in order to thank him for the work he had done for them. But to-day there is no gentleman who receives more bitter and adverse comment from the same party than does Sir Alexander Peacock ; not because he has changed his opinions, but simply because of their definite plan, one by one, to cut the throats of those who will not pledge themselves to the party platform. I am reminded by the Minister for Trade and Customs-
– The honorable member does not want to be unfair.
– No ; I am reminded that according to the Ministerial programme, an Old-age Pensions Bill will be introduced next session after the Navigation Bill.
– The honorable and learned member denied that it was mentioned. A young member should be put right sometimes.
– I desire to correct myself. I see that we are to have Federal direct taxation proposed by the present Government. To-day, in Victorian State politics, Mr. Donald Mackinnon, another earnest Radical, is also the subject of their most bitter opposition. In connexion with other seats where extreme Liberals are fighting, the opposition to them, in nearly every instance, is due to the Labour Party, who, rather than witness the return of men who can be trusted, prefer to accept the chance of losing the seats to some third party. I am glad to see present the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. At the last Federal elections that honorable member was opposed by the party with the utmost bitterness. So was the honorable and learned member for Corio and the honorable member for Bourke. Those who read the Tocsin, the official organ of the Labour Party in Victoria, must have noticed that the most virulent abuse and the worst epithets were levelled at the three honorable members to whom I have referred. Candidates who fought the party straight out, and threw down the gage of battle to them and all their works, as I did, never got the same blackguarding as those sincere and earnest Radicals. The most vicious remarks were made about them from labour platforms, and the most vicious and contemptible attacks appearing in the labour press were levelled at the heads of those gentlemen.
– Does the honorable and learned member not think that he should allow them to complain ?
– I propose to make my own points in my own way. Those honorable members were denounced in the vilest language. Now the scene is changed, not in a day, but practically in the twinkling of an eye, and those honorable members are to be taken to the party’s bosom, and guaranteed the gratuitous support of labour leagues. The Tocsin is to turn round, and instead of denouncing the honorable member for Melbourne Ports as little better than a criminal, it is to be prepared to paint him as a saint, and all labour organizations will do the same thing if he assists to maintain the present Administration on the Treasury bench. As the Minister for External Affairs has said, it is proposed that these honorable members shall receive better treatment than the party mete out to its own members. In proof of that, we have only to notice the treatment meted out to a gentleman who formerly was a member of the party in another place. I refer to ex-Senator Barrett. Before enterng the chamber, I refreshed my memory by turning up the correspondence which took place between Senator Barrett and Mr. Stephen Barker, the Secretary of the Political Labour Council in Victoria. I trust I shall be permitted to make some quotations, which will be found interesting, as showing how men will sometimes eat their principles. Mr. Stephen Barker, in a letter addressed to Senator Barrett, on the 14th April, 1903, asked the following questions: -
Pledge. - I hereby pledge myself to support every plank of this platform, and, if selected, to contest any public election, and if not selected, to retire, and support the candidate selected.
Mr. Barrett, in reply, asked
Am I to understand that retiring members are to be treated in expressly the same way as outsiders?
He stated that that had not been the practice in Victoria. He also pointed out that it was not being made the practice in regard to the members of the House of Representatives.
– Yes ; it was. I had to submit myself.
- Mr. Barker, in his reply of the 29th April, 1903, sent a copy of the platform of the party ; and on being further questioned by Mr. Barrett, replied that-
The Political Labour Council will conduct the plebiscite in accordance with the constitution of the Council.
But this system is now proposed to be abandoned for the time being. Mr. Barrett wrote on 7 th May, 1903 -
I am willing to sign and accept the whole of the Federal platform, and pledge myself to work for the principles it contains. But now, in addition to this, all are asked to pledge themselves, without regard to their records, and, if not chosen by you, to retire from the contest, and support men whom you may prefer, for reasons of your, own.
He knew that there were three or four others after his billet, poor man ! -
Your Council scarcely needs to be reminded that, until quite recently, for a period of twenty years, I had official connexion with the Trades Hall Council, devoting myself day and night to their interests. They have received the best working years of my life, and have recognised it by selecting me as their candidate for our national Parliament. What has occurred since, that I should be excluded from my post without a charge being made against me?
That is the treatment which was meted out to Mr. Barrett. Although no charge might be brought against any members of the Labour Party, and, notwithstanding that their record might be clean and honorable, they were compelled to submit themselves to a plebiscite, and, if not chosen, to pledge themselves not to contest an election. But the new friends of the Labour Party, men like the honorable members for Melbourne Ports, Bourke, and Corio, are to be treated in quite a different way. They are not to be compelled to submit themselves to the Political Labour Council for selection. The abuse which has been levelled against them is to be withdrawn. They are to be the “white-haired boys” of the Labour Party. The method of selection which has been in use by the party for fifteen years is to be abrogated in their case. In order to retain office, the Labour Party are prepared to abandon the system which makes the fundamental difference between them and other political parties. During the short time that I have been in politics, I have listened to four no-confidence debates; but I have never before known offers and bribes such as that to which I now refer to be held out to honorable members. I have never heard of members being asked to choose between having their throats cut and partaking of the fatted calf. The present position is degrad-ing to Australian politics. A direct and open bribe has been offered to honorable members. I was interested to read an observation made by another very genuine democrat who was bitterly opposed by the members of the Labour Party in his own State - I refer to the Premier of Western Australia. He has said, with what seems to be great accuracy, that the platform of the party is 25 per cent, practical politics and 75 per cent, bird-lime. Is not the proposition to which I am referring bird-lime, to catch the two or three members who may be swayed by such promises? It seems to me that it is. And it may catch some foolish birds. But what is usually done with birds which are caught with bird-lime? They are knocked on the head, and destroyed at the earliest opportunity. That is what will happen to those unwary birds who may be caught with this bird-lime. It will be found, on some trifling pretext, that they . have offended against the laws of the Labour Party, that, at the river’s bank, they have pronounced “shibboleth,” “ sibboleth.” Will the men who, for years, have been working in these labour primaries, as they have been called by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and who have denounced the members whose names I have mentioned, suddenly turn round and gracefully swallow the proposal of the Ministry? It is not human nature to expect that they will. On the contrary, they will soon find a reason for showing that those who are being taken to the bosom of the party are neither true labour men nor true Radicals, and for some such reason these converts will be knocked on the head before the next election. I trust that those who may be trapped with this bird-lime will take means to cleanse themselves from the sticky stuff in time. We were told by the last speaker that the programme of the Government is the same as that of the proposed coalition.
– Does the honorable and learned member agree with the whole of the platform of the coalition?
– I do not.
– Yet the honorable and learned member will support it !
– I shall support those measures in which I believe, and vote against those in which I do not believe. That is the difference between my position and that of the honorable member. The last speaker, in the endeavour to confute the honorable member for North Sydney, stated that there would be no abandonment of the public servants by the Government. Such a statement proves that he cannot have read the proposals put forward by the Prime Minister, and to. enlighten him I will read the first amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, of which the Prime Minister has given notice -
Clause 4, page 3, line 1 : -
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.”
Therefore, the great bulk of the public servants have been thrown over by the Government. The members of the Labour Party voted for an amendment moved by the present Minister for Trade and Customs to apply the Bill to all States servants ; but now that the party have come into power they are refraining from carrying that proposal into effect. They have not the courage to put the provision into the Bill, and leave it to the High Court to decide as to its constitutionality. They propose to make the Bill apply only to public servants engaged in State undertakings which are distinctly industrial.
– The Prime Minister has himself said so.
– And the honorable member was quite correct in his statement that the Labour Party have abandoned most of the public servants.
– We never made it a vital question.
– Why did a member of the Labour Party move the amendment, and why did his colleagues support it if they knew that they could not give effect to it? Was that honest politics? Surely not.
– The amendment was moved by a private member.
– And it was supported bv the whole of the Labour Party. They knew that the carrying of it would bring about the defeat of the then Government. Now that they have in their turn come into power they have not tried to give effect to it. They have put forward what is, for them, a fairly mild programme. The Prime Minister says - “ One step at a time.” The non-contentious measures are to be put first. The pill has been sugar-coated, but after this session the sugar will have been sucked off, and the nasty part will be tasted. We cannot ignore- the fact that the Labour Party is pledged definitely and deliberately to a policy of State Socialism. When the May Day resolutions were presented to the Prime Minister, he stated that he was com- pletely in accord with the proposals therein contained for the nationalization of land, capital, and every form of production and exchange. This -is another case of “one step at a time.” We are to have the wholesale tobacconists supplanted by the State shortly, and a little later on the retailers will also find themselves displaced. It is only a question of time for the Labour Party to consider every industry a monopoly, in which they will seek, first of all, to supplant the wholesaler, with the assistance of the retailer. Then, when the latter has been fairly caught by the bird-lime, he will be knocked on the head at the first favorable opportunity. The next matter to which I wish to refer is the financial policy of the present Administration. It seems to me that, in this matter, the Labour Party have reached the height of presumption. We are told that they are against all further borrowing. No more admirable precept ]can be preached than that there should be no further borrowing. I can say, in all sincerity, that, in my own small way. I have done all I could to impress upon the members of the Australian Natives Association the desirability of checking public borrowing, and of placing- our finances upon a sound basis. But for the Labour Party to talk about putting a stop to borrowing seems to be very much like a burglar denouncing burglary. That party have been among the strongest advocates of borrowing. They have done more than any other party in “Australia to bring about the reckless expenditure of borrowed money. I am in a position to give chapter and verse for this statement. In New South Wales the Labour Party have had control of the Government for the past five years. The members of that Government have not dared to draw breath without the consent of the Labour Party, and here are the particulars of the loan expenditure of that State during the period to which I refer. In 1899 the loan expenditure amounted to £2,02.5,000 ; in 1899-1900, to £2,400,000; in 1900-01, t0 £2,788,000 ; in 1901-2 to £4,938,000; and in 1902-3, to £4,700,000. ‘ Thus, in five years, £17,000,000 was borrowed and spent at the direct behest of the Labour Party in New South Wales.
– That is not true.
– The Labour Party did not say one word against the expenditure. Protest after protest was made by the Opposition in that State, and upon every occasion the Labour Party voted in favour of the Government which spent this huge sum. In connexion with every profligate act, which was exposed during the last two sessions of the New South Wales Parliament, the Labour Party voted to retain in power, “and to whitewash, the Government which was responsible for this large expenditure. Therefore, for the Labour Party to talk about putting a stop to public borrowing is almost as bad as for a burglar to denounce burglary. They are taking up an attitude similar to that of a drunkard, who, after having drunk every drop of liquor in the town, expresses his willingness to sign the pledge. Now that the money-lenders will not give us another sixpence, and we cannot borrow any more, they propose to take credit to themselves for the resolution not to borrow any further. That seems a very extraordinary attitude to assume. In Victoria, very much the same conditions would have obtained if the Labour Party had been able to exercise sufficient power. When I was a member of the Legislature in that State, a deputation which waited upon the Premier, Sir Alexander Peacock, asked him to borrow money in order to provide work for the unemployed. They wished the money to be spent anyhow, so long as work was provided. They pointed to the fact that the New South Wales Government were spending borrowed money - throwing it about in the most reckless fashion - and asked Sir Alexander Peacock to do the same. Perhaps their bitter opposition to that honorable gentleman is due to the fact that he had more sense than to comply with their request.
– Did the honorable member say that he was a member of the deputation?
– I did not. I would not accompany a labour deputation for something. We next have banking legislation proposed by the Government. We find that a couple of the leading, or misleading, articles of the Sydney Bulletin have been half digested, and that the proposals therein contained have been put forward as the financial policy of the Government. We are told that there is to be no borrowing in the future; but, as the honorable member for Wentworth pointed out, when the Prime Minister was speaking, the Government propose a forced loan. They contemplate taking 40 per cent, of the gold reserves from the banks, and substituting their I.O.U.’s. What is the difference between that and burglary, except that the burglar does not leave his name and address with the bank? The Government propose to take £8,000,000 of coin out of the bank reserves, and to leave their I.O.U.’s in its place. Upon what principle of expediency or justice can such a proposal be defended? The Government consider that our conditions are analogous to those of Canada, but the slightest reflection should serve to show that they are entirely different. We have not a New York close at hand upon which we can rely to replenish our gold reserves in time of stress. We have to cross the ocean to make good any deficiency it>. that direction. I would ask why the banks are singled out for special treatment in this regard? Why should 40 per cent, of the reserves be taken from the banks only? Is this another case of “ one thing at a time “ ? Are we to expect a proposal during the next Parliament to appropriate 40 per cent, of the reserves of other companies, and will such a scheme be ultimately extended to embrace a proportion of the reserves held by all private individuals? Those persons whose reserves were appropriated would have a very keen interest in the Government of the country. Is the policy of the Government to be regarded as one step in the direction of the confiscation of all property bv taxation or otherwise? The proposal to which I refer is not confiscation by taxation, but direct confiscation. The effect of adopting the suggestion of the Labour Party would be to further impoverish the States! At present Victoria derives a revenue of from £24,000 to £25,000 pdr annum from the tax on bank- notes, and the States would, therefore, be impoverished to the extent to which they now rely for revenue upon that class of taxation. One good point in connexion with the Australian democracy up to the present has been its freedom from currency quackery. In the United States that element abounds, because every third or fourth politician is a currency quack. Such persons think that if they could secure command of a printingpress they could make the country rich in no time. The same impression appears to be gaining ground in Australia. The progress of America has been retarded to an enormous extent owing to the time which has been wasted over the discussion of the currency question. Honorable members who read the American periodicals, as I have done, must have noticed tint some of the wildest schemes ever urged for the conversion of the currency are advocated by the political organizations of that country. Once we start meddling with our currency, which is now founded upon sound British money lines, Heaven knows where we shall end. We shall not be far distant from the time when the Labour Party will think that all we need to keep the country going is a printing-press, by means of which we can turn out notes at so much per ton. As one of those who are opposed to the present Government, I hope that we shall come to a division soon - the sooner the better, from my point of view.
– On what question?
– On the question whether this Government and its principles and methods of conducting business are such as to merit the confidence of the House. When that time comes I shall have no hesitation in casting my vote in opposition to the Government. At this stage I should like to address one or two words to those doubting Radicals who may be caught by the political bird-lime that is being employed by the Ministry, only to be knocked on the head at a later period. I warn them that if they are deceived into swallowing the baits held out for their acceptance a very radical change must take place in Australian politics. Hitherto we have had in the Commonwealth Legislature a party, which was known as the Liberal Party, with a strong Radical wing, which was composed of labour members and members imbued with very similar ideas. If these Radicals take the bait that is now being offered to them that position will be completely reversed. The tail and the dog will change places, and they will become the appendages of the Labour Ministry. Instead of the labour members being one of the advanced wines of that party, the position will be entirely reversed. The Radical members will be’ treated as Conservatives, and unless thev join the Labour Party, sooner or later their political death-warrants will be signed. Therefore, the more speedily this question is determined the better. Whatever may be said of the platform and the principles of the proposed coalition, it seems to me that one great merit may be claimed for it. Everything connected with the negotiations has been fair, square, and above board. The principles on which that coalition ought to be formed have been clearly defined, and the platform which it advocates has been plainly set out. Indeed, I know of no attempt to form a coalition Government in Australia against which so little can be urged. If any effort be made to resolve the members of this House into two genuine parties, I shall welcome it. I shall do my best to end the system under which, at present, minority rule obtains, and under which, if the Labour Party are successful, socialistic measures affecting production and exchange will be brought within an appreciable distance.
– Having listened to the characteristic and caustic address of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, I cannot express surprise at his method of dealing with the proposals of the Government. When, however, he declares that the Labour Party are using political bird-lime with a view to catching the votes of honorable members of the Opposition, I am impelled to ask whether it is not a condition of the proposed coalition that the fiscal question shall not be raised at any by-election which may take place during the life of the present Parliament.
– Have not the Labour Party imposed a similar condition?
– I shall answer that question presently. Has it not been publicly stated in the press that if the followers of the late Government will only support the right honorable member for East Sydney in his endeavour to effect a coalition of parties, they shall have immunity from opposition, so far as the fiscal question is concerned, at any by-election which may occur? Consequently, I should like to know from the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who declares that the Radical members of the Opposition who may be induced to support the Labour Party will be “knocked on the head “ at a later stage, what, will be the position of those who entertain a different fiscal belief from himself, when once they have allowed the right honorable member for East Sydney to swallow them in the ‘ manner that is now being attempted? What will be their position after the next general election? They will then be told that the fiscal question is again to be raised. When I hear honorable members speaking in the strain adopted by the honorable and learned member for Wannon I am at a loss to know whether they are impartial critics. On the whole, I think that this debate has been well conducted, notwithstanding that it gave rise to one little episode of which the press, and particularly the press of New South Wales, has made a great deal. I refer to my objection to allow the right honorable member for East Sydney to interrupt the speech of the Minister of External Affairs by making a personal explanation. Although the position which I took up was not popular in the House, I was perfectly within my constitutional rights, and I acted solely from a desire to conserve the strength of the Minister for External Affairs, who was suffering physically during the delivery of his speech. When I heard a gentleman of the standing of the right honorable member for East Sydney refer to the Minister as “ Quilp,” or “ an imitation of Quilp,” and ask - “Does not he remind one of Quilp “ ? - a character which of all others depicted by any writer is the most repulsive, both from a physical and moral stand-point - I felt justified in persisting in my objection because I realized that his sole object was to break the continuity of the Minister’s remarks. We have heard a good deal this evening from the honorable member for New England, and the honorable and learned member for Wannon concerning what the Labour Party has done in New South Wales. Of course the honorable and learned member for Wannon is an authority upon what has been accomplished in that State. He has consulted Coghlan, and has looked at one column in that publication which sets out the total loan money that has been expended upon public works in New South Wales during the past four years. Had he been a fair critic he would have further investigated those figures, and have discovered that a large proportion of the money was expended, not only in carrying out public works, but in resuming property which had become a plague spot.
– What sum was devoted to that purpose?
– The total sum expended during the last four years by the Government of New South Wales on works of every description - excluding money. devoted to the redemption of loans, and borrowed for the purposes to which I have referred - is £9,252,000. My honorable friend indicated, however, that they had spent over £17,000,000. When honorable members propose to quote figures, they should take care to master them, and to see that, in putting them before the House, they do not do an injustice to those whom many are seeking to malign.
– Hear, hear.
– Doubtless the honorable member for Wentworth will display much versatility in dealing with these figures. The honorable member for New England also indulged in a tirade of abuse against the New South Wales administration, and the effect which the Labour Party has had upon it. But it is a fact, that no one can controvert, that the statistics relating to the Savings Banks accounts of receipts, and to every avenue of production, show that, during the decade in which the Labour Party has been in existence in that State, there has been an improvement pro rata with the growth of the population that has not been witnessed in any other decade. Before leaving Sydney, I secured Mr. Coghlan’s statistics relating to the matter, but I have mislaid them. I am able to say, however, from a perusal of them, that they demonstrate that, without exception, all sections of the industrial community affected by the policy of the present State Government have shown much progress. More money has been saved in carrying out public works, and more money has been expended on legitimate undertakings than was ever the case before. The honorable member for Wannon must remember that the question is not how much money has been spent, but has it been well spent ? The extension of the railways system of New South Wales, opening up Crown lands and presenting possibilities to the holders of those lands, which never before existed, may not for the time being pay, but is indirectly the salvation of the country. It has been a source of encouragement to the people already on the land, and will help those yet to be settled.
– Was the expenditure, at the Fitzroy Dock a good thing?
– That is one of the political diseases which really relate to those who are opposed to this form of government. If the honorable member were familiar with the history of the Fitzroy Dock for the last ten years, he would know who laid the foundations for a proceeding that has cast a stigma upon the name of New South Wales. The Government of the day in that State discovered the cancer, and had the courage to draw it out by the roots, and to place the board beyond political patronage. But, because the Government have removed this cancer from the sphere of political administration, those who were responsible for the trouble now turn round and blame them. The state of affairs which existed was not a healthy one, but it was the creation of others. The present State Government have really followed the lines, of their predecessors. Mr. E. W. O’sullivan has followed the lines laid down by Mr. G. H. Reid and by Mr. J. H. Young, who introduced the day labour system in the mother State, and I give them credit for their action. Members of the Reid State Government - Mr. Reid and Mr. J. H. Young, Minister for Works - laid the foundation of the day labour system in New South Wales ; and yet these are the men who are castigating the .present Minister for Works in New South Wales for building upon those foundations. It appears to me that no apology is necessary for the mistakes made by men who desire to wilfully misrepresent others in whom they do not believe. I come now to the right honorable member, whose name is the centre of this debate, and who is the pivot on which the operations that at present occupy so much attention in the political world of the Commonwealth turn. I refer to the right honorable member for East Sydney. He is undoubtedly the man upon whom the eyes of Australia are fixed, and many are watching him critically to see his next move. We know that he has already the reputation of being one of the most changeable men who has ever stood in the political arena of the Commonwealth. I well remember his first election to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. For twelve years he occupied a seat in that Chamber as a private, but an influential, member, and although there were opportunities for private members to do good work, the only measure which he placed on the statute-book of the State during that period was a Bill to regulate the width of streets and lanes. This is an illustration of his constructive ability, and of the energy and the progressive ideas which he displayed as a private member of the State Legislature. Honorable members opposite talk about our betraying men. They talk about our inducing men to join our ranks, with the intention of giving them a political knockdown. But well do I remember how the right honorable member for East Sydney scaled the barriers in the way of his advancement to the position of leader of his party in the New South Wales Parliament. Well do I remember how he dealt with his old political chieftain, the late Sir Henry Parkes, when he found him failing in health, and, because of age, practically failing in intellect. Nor do I forget the action of those who went with him - men who had formerly supported Sir Henry Parkes, but left him to act in conjunction with the right honorable member, who was prepared to take away from a feeble and failing old man the opportunity to make the crowning effort in the cause for which he had fought so honorably as compared with the right honorable member himself. Then we find him coming into the arena as a practical politician. What did he do during his five years of office in the State Parliament that he should take so much to himself? We hear him cackle, cackle, cackle of what he did in fighting for the principle of a life-time ; we hear him stating again and again that he passed a land and income tax. At that period in the history of New South Wales, a land and income tax would have been passed by any onewho had been in power. Public opinion had grown so strongly in favour of the imposition of the tax that he could not have done otherwise than impose it. The feeling was prevalent that the time had arrived when a land and income tax should be brought into operation. Several previous Governments, including an Administration of which the right honorable member was a member, had previously endeavoured to do so, and it was merely because he came into office at a time when public feeling was ripe for action, that he passed the tax.
– With the aid of the Labour Party.
– Undoubtedly; and he could not have remained in office unless he had proceeded with that measure. What was the product of this wonderful man’s existence as Premier of New South Wales? Did he give us a law on early closing, as he’ might have done? Did he give us a system of old-age pensions, as he might have done? Did he show his earnestness about those measures when he had the greatest majority that had ever stood behind a statesman in that country? When he had every opportunity to pass any useful legislation which might have suggested itself to him as being necessary for the welfare of the people, did he make use of his majority and endeavour to give to the people that needed legislation? No. He simply played with the Labour Party, once he thought that he had laid down the foundation on which he could at least base his argument in the future that he had obtained the enactment of a land and income tax. Had he followed the example of John Ballance or Richard Seddon in New Zealand, as he had every opportunity to do with his big majority, and passed a progressive land tax such as they passed, with the same provision with regard to the right of resumption at the owner’s valuation, less a compensation for dispossession, we should not to-day be calling out for some means of placing people on the land in New South Wales. On the contrary, those rich agricultural and pastoral lands which are now locked up throughout the length and breadth of the State would have been regained to the Crown at a normal value, and hundreds and hundreds of settlers’ sons would have been thriving on their own holdings. When this great reformer, who is always working for the interests of the people - who, as he says, is a greater labour man than any other man in this Chamber or outside’ it - whose heart, like that of the noblest son of Australia, is almost bleeding in sympathy with the aspirations of the labour people - when this man had the example of New Zealand legislation before his eyes, and could perceive its beneficial effects, was it any credit to him to take a mere paltrystep towards reform, and thereby block any chance of bringing about a legitimate reform afterwards? Was it any credit to him to take that step when he might have taken a larger step, and .given undoubted relief to the people of New South Wales, not only at that time, but even to-day, and in the future? I do like to hear these men telling us that they want to run the Commonwealth because the Labour Party are inexperienced, and therefore unable to conduct its affairs. Do I not remember that the right honorable member for East Sydney has time and again proved to the public that he will only go as fast as he is driven, and he will have to be driven very hard in order to get him to go at all. During his Premiership, in New South Wales, he produced a land and income tax, and’ that was all. Why did his legislative career come to a close then? He would not proceed with progressive -legislation, and consequently he. had to go out. After that event, what did we find? We found him on the Federal platform opposing the Braddon “blot” tooth and nail. All his speeches were a diatribe of criticism of that famous Braddon “blot,” of the taxation which it would impose on the people. All these objections were put forward in his most lucid and able way. He fought the first referendum as a bitter opponent of that provision. Although he told the people that he was an opponent of the Braddon “blot,” that it was something which should be cast to the four winds of heaven, yet he voted for it. In the Legislative Assembly, in order to prevent the majority from ruling at the referendum, he prescribed a minimum number of votes by which the Constitution should be carried. The man who now believes in majority rule was the man . who engineered the first referendum which had ever been taken in Australia. He placed an embargo on majority rule. He said - “ Whilst I believe that you will get a majority in favour of the Constitution, yet I shall see that you do not get the Constitution because I shall get my servile followers to fix the number at such a standard that it will not be reached by the electors when the poll is taken.” Hence it was that the Commonwealth Bill was not carried at the first referendum. There was an absolute violation of majority rule. For what purpose? Australia’s noblest son, as he was called, was running in the lead, and the right honorable member for East Sydney wished to hold him back until he could scale that position. When a man has intrigued to kill majority rule on_a proposal that affected a nation, well might the men whom he is asking to join him to-day, whom he is conjuring his brain to discover a way to make part and parcel of his party, look into his history, and say - “ No ; we are not prepared to trust one who has failed so often, who has swallowed his principles so frequently.” At the second referendum on the Commonwealth Bill what did we find ? The whirligig of politics had brought the right honorable member into power, and he at once arranged a Conference with the Premiers of the other Colonies. He immediately began to intrigue again. He had a chance of being, the first Federal Prime Minister, and, therefore, he would allow the majority to rule at this referendum. He did not prescribe any stipulated number to prevent the majority from ruling. But he went further than that. The moment the responsibility of his actions was cast on him what did he do? He at once abandoned his objection to the notorious Braddon “ blot “ - that terrible burden which he had said was -to be inflicted on the people - that curse in the Constitution - and he did so because he knew that otherwise he could not possibly hold his position.
As a Privy Councillor, he had undoubtedly entered into some bond to see that that provision was included in the Constitution for a purpose appertaining to preferential trade, which will in the future have to be considered. We find him abandoning his objection to that provision. And what do we find him putting as a bait to the electors? It was the right honorable member who first raised the Federal Capital question. The right honorable member for Adelaide has told the House that the question of allocating the Federal Capital, as arranged by the right honorable member for East Sydney at the Conference of Premiers was nothing more nor less than a bribe, conceded by the Victorians, to induce him to take part in the Federal campaign. When we find a man who is prepared to turn round in this manner, how is it likely that people will trust him ? How can the protectionists in this House trust themselves in the company of one who says that, only until the next elections will he agree to cry a truce, and that after the next election’s they will have to go to their masters as men who have practically compromised themselves? This is a wonderful position for a statesman of the right honorable member’s calibre and pretensions to occupy. But, although he has much to say on these matters, we are fully satisfied that he does not convince many people now-a’-days of his ‘sincerity. He told us during his speech last week, that those men who fight behind and support the Government for three years, are entitled to the support of that Government when they go up for election. What a wonderful contradiction we have here ! In the next breath he says to those whom he wishes to coalesce with him, “ Although you are entitled to my assistance for supporting me in this Parliament, yet, owing to your having different fiscal opinions from mine, I cannot convey to you that tribute which is your due as my supporters, because, in the fiscal fight, you must take your own side, and look after your own interests.” To those who sit behind the Labour Party we say, “ If you agree wilh our programme, and can see eye to eye with us, come over and help us to pass that programme into law, and we will not turn our back upon you at the next elections. We are prepared to give every support to you, and you shall have the support of the party to which we belong.”
– The honorable member and his party have not the power to pledge that support. It rests with the labour leagues, and not with the Government.
– I know that the honorable member for Lang understands these things. He has been a labour leaguer himself. He signed the pledge of the Labour Party, and stood for election under its banner not many years ago. He tries to infer that what I have stated is not likely to be carried into effect. But I tell him here and now that that promise has already been secured by our party from those who control the movement elsewhere. We are prepared to say that- our recommendations will be accepted, because they are given with the noblest of purposes, by the conference of delegates of our movement, when they come to decide upon the future policy of the party.
– How can the honorable member possibly tell what the conference will decide?
– I fancy that I know’ quite as much about that subject as the honorable member for Lang does. But, while we promise so much, the leader of the Opposition, and his party, on the other hand, only promise that those who support them will secure immunity from opposition during any by-election that may take place before next January. After that, to the slaughter - to the execution ! That is practically the situation. We are in the position to say that we, as men, will not turn our back on those who help us - not to hold office, for we claim that it was through no seeking on our part that we got into office. It was through no seeking on the part of Ministers. Office was thrust upon us by a combination of honorable members opposite, who have been disappointed in the turn that events have taken, and who never dreamt that our party would take the responsibility of assuming office. But, as they have taken it, oh ! how disgusted are the men who thought that they should have been sent for, and should have been able to engineer the party on the Opposition side of the House so as to dish the Labour Party a second time. We have taken the Treasury bench. We put our platform forward. It is in black and white. There is no mistaking it. We ask all liberalminded men to support it. I am not referring to such as the honorable and learned member for Wannon. He has proclaimed himself a deadly enemy of the Labour Party. We are not asking such as he to come to our support. We are asking the men whom we know are conscientious supporters of the planks of the labour platform which the Prime Minister has put forward in his political programme. They are in harmony with our ideas, and can honestly come over and support them. But what about the honorable members who support the agreement which has been read by the honorable and learned member for Wannon ? What of those honorable members who differ from four or five of the propositions of that programme, and who have categorically condemned them in public, but who, nevertheless, are prepared to marshal themselves in a coalition formed upon the basis of a programme with which half of the honorable members opposite cannot possibly agree? What hypocrisy on the part of those honorable members ! And what of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who himself has practically disavowed his belief in some of the propositions included in the platform of the proposed coalition? I find that during the debate the honorable member for North Sydney also exceeded himself in his denunciation and misrepresentation of the objects of the Labour Party. I did think that from that honorable member we should hear a true, fair, and honorable exposition of the case. I gave that honorable member credit which I could not give to his leader.
– The honorable member would not give the latter a fair hearing.
– I only interfered when the leader of the Opposition failed to allow others to speak so as to be consecutively heard by the House, and I was perfectly justified -in what I did.
– The honorable member is the only man who thinks so.
– At any rate, I am satisfied to take the responsibility for my action. The honorable member for North Sydney, in regard to the fiscal question, asked, “ What are these men complaining about when they talk about our sinking the fiscal question?” But the positions are quite different. Those on the Opposition side were returned as fiscalists, whereas we were returned as labour men. Those of the Opposition were under the banner of free-trade, and they knew that the great question in New South Wales was free-trade first, freetrade second, and free-trade all the time. That was the be-all and end-all of their political creed at the time. And yet those who nailed their colours to the mast, and who, during the campaign, used words of condemnation towards members of the Protectionist Party such as the labour members have never used towards their opponents, now attack the present Government. Those are the men who, as I say, passed along the word of condemnation from platform to platform right throughout New South Wales, in regard to the very men with whom they now seek to coalesce. The honorable member for North Sydney now says, “ There is no difference; you sunk the fiscal question, and we are now simply doing the same.” But we never made the fiscal question a vital issue. No labour representative ever made that a vital question ; and if the Freetrade Party gave their support to a labour man because he was a free-trader, it was because they knew they could not beat him. It was very often a question of “sour grapes” when the Free-trade Party gave their support to a -labour man, and having given that support, they made a virtue of necessity. If the Free-trade Party sought to tie to their wheel labour candidates who were labelled members of the Free-Trade Party - if protectionists gave support to protectionist labour candidates - that is no business of ours; the support was unsought by the Labour Party. The bulk of the labour candidates sought support on the labour platform, and not on fiscalism ; and for the honorable member for North Sydney to indicate that labour members ran on the same lines as members of the Opposition is, as I interjected, to drag the Labour Party down to a very low level. But no one on the Opposition side can drag the Labour Party down to the level at which the members of the Opposition have been during the last fortnight. The honorable member for North Sydney goes further, and accuses the Labour Party of having dropped the referendum - with having favoured the referendum at first, and advocated it as a plank in our platform in connexion with the settlement of the question of the acceptance of the Commonwealth Constitution, but with having repudiated it when the question of the reduction of the number of members was raised in the Legislature of New South Wales. I deny such a charge in toto. I took particular notice of what the honorable member was saying ; and it is because I consider he was unfair, that I take this opportunity of denying that the Labour Party in New South Wales repudiated the referendum, when it was proposed in connexion with the reduction of members. We supported the referendum, and supported the Government which proposed it, even on the question of the reduction of members, even when we knew that if a reduction were decided upon, our party would suffer very materially. When men make statements and charges of that kind, and resort to such subterfuges, how weak a case they must have. I expected that the honorable member for North Sydney would, at any rate, give a fair statement of the case; but when he follows the example of his chief, and misrepresents and prevaricates, so far as political facts are concerned, I begin to lose hope of every member on that side. The honorable member for North Sydney also said that we had been abandoned by the right honorable member for Adelaide. In that the honorable member was trying to work on the feelingS of the House, although he saw the seat which that right honorable member took when the House met. It must have been gall and wormwood to the Opposition to find the policy of the Government indorsed by.’the right honorable gentleman - to realize that he could see eye to eye with the Labour Party. The seat which the right honorable member took indicated that he was prepared to trust the Labour Party to carry out the programme in reference to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and the Navigation Bill - it was an indication that he preferred the Labour Party to any party on the Opposition side of the House. In this the right honorable member paid a tribute and compliment to the Labour Party. It was,, indeed, a credential to the Labour Party when the right honorable and learned member, who has suffered so much in defence of the principles which He tried to place on the statute-book, indicated by the seat he took that he gave his.practical support to a Ministry who have assumed a responsibility which for many years they were told they were not prepared to bear. That is practically a denial to the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, who dared to say that the Labour Party had been abandoned by the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, or that that right honorable member had abandoned his party. Neither is a fact, and I resent such misrepresentation. The Labour Party are prepared, as our platform shows, to practically adopt the proposals of the right honorable member for Adelaide. As to the
States servants and the Arbitration Bill, members of the Opposition know full well that the Labour Party did not make their inclusion a vital question. The Government of the day preferred to make that a vital question ; but that was no fault of ours. The Labour Party were prepared to stand or fall on the inclusion of the railway men ; but we neither proposed to include States servants nor to include railway servants. All we did was to create a blank in the Bill, and on that the late Government were defeated. Are we to be tied down by the will of the leader of the Opposition? Are the Opposition to dictate to us as to what our proposals shall be? Are the Opposition to formulate, not only our intentions, but our professions, and so forth? We are here to stand by what we have indicated and what we are prepared to indorse. We are not prepared to indorse that part of the Arbitration Bill which was made a vital question, not by us, but by the Government of the day.
– Who moved the amendment ?
– It was made a vital question by the leader of the Opposition, and the conservatives who followed him; and those whom he bade to go the other way went that way, to serve the purpose which they understood better. The honorable member for North Sydney made a statement which was very unfair and very unmanly. He alleged that the Labour Party had practically offered bribes to men on the other side to come over to the Government side - bribes, as he stated, bordering on £1,200 a year. It was not a direct statement, but half a lie, and we know that -
A lie th.it is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.
When a man says something by inference, which he is not prepared to say directly, he shows the white feather, and does not act up to the standard of a scrupulous man. We have offered no bribe at all. If any bribes are being offered, it is by honorable members opposite that they are being offered. If any arrangements are being come to with respect to office, it is on the other side that they are taking place. Does not the report of an interview with the honorable member for Gippsland, which has appeared in the newspapers, indicate that there has been some communication of this kin/3 between honorable members on the other side, who have been negotiating, and those to be negotiated with? If it does not, I cannot read clearly, nor can I interpret what I read. Then the honorable member used the strangest apology for an argument that I have ever heard made use of by a prominent man in a legislative assembly. Speaking of the policy of a White Australia, the honorable member referred to the fact that the Prime Minister has admitted that he is prepared to amend the Post and Telegraph Act so as to enable the aborigines of Australia to be employed in connexion with the carriage of mails in the Commonwealth. . The honorable member has referred to that as an example of inconsistency, but every one in this community must recognise the great distinction there is between doing justice to the aborigines of Australia, to those who owned this land before we came here, whom we dispossessed, and whom every year we are driving further into the back-blocks of the various States, and the course of action we take with respect to coloured aliens. It is our duty to see that the remnant of the men who formerly held this continent are properly treated, and we should do all we can to make their lot easier and happier than it would be if they were not treated with humanitarian feeling. There- can be no parallel drawn between assistance to the aborigines of Australia and assistance to natives of India, lascars, and men from other parts of the British Empire, to whom as Australians we owe no obligation at all. We have no relationship with those people, other than that which arises from the fact that we are common subjects of the Empire. But we are under obligation to the aborigines of Australia, and I am proud that the Prime Minister has recognised our obligation, and proposes to amend the provision in our law which deprives them of doing that which will help them at least to earn something towards their livelihood, instead of drawing their support entirely from the States, and which will enable them to be more useful to the community in which they live. Personally, I am not afraid of the consequences of this discussion, whichever way it ends. I would rather go down on this side fighting with the flag of Democracy, labour, and progression aloft, than I would follow the other side with a certain tenure of political life for the rest of my days., I would rather be behind this party that puts forward a platform in which its members believe, and which they intend to carry into law, for one year, and do what good I could in the time, than I would sit behind a party submitting a programme in the whole of which half of its members do not believe, and be dragged first to one side and then to the other, to suit the whims and fancies of the varied leaders and intriguers within its ranks. If we are sent into opposition to-morrow, we shall go there with clean hands. The Labour Party, when it leaves these benches, will leave them clean. It can be said, to the credit of the party, that since we have assumed responsibility there has not been one newspaper, or one public man, who has dared to cast reproach on ‘the personnel of the Ministry, or of the party. That is a tribute to the party. The right honorable member for East Sydney has himself paid the party the highest tribute. The right honorable gentleman has given us credentials which should carry us throughout Australia. We could not ask for more’ than he has given us. He says - “ There is another merit that they have, and that is that they have never exposed themselves to attacks on the ground of personal aggrandizement.” I wish I could say that for the right honorable gentleman. I wish I could say that he. has never exposed himself to attack on account of his anxiety to secure the emoluments of office. I wish I could say that for many men, who in the public life of all the States of this Commonwealth have from time to time sacrificed principle to secure office. I am proud to say that, on the admission of the right honorable member for East Sydney, the Labour Party have up to the present time never truckled to obtain the flesh-pots of office since they ‘have held a position of power in this Legislature. The right honorable gentleman says, further, that members of the party have been uniformly honorable and straightforward. We did not need that testimonial. We have won it for ourselves. It is no compliment that the right honorable member should speak in that way of labour men, because throughout the States, during the existence of the Labour Party, we have won and maintained that record, and never since the party came into existence has there been any stigma cast, by press or politicians, on the honesty, straightforwardness, or integrity of the party. I ask honorable members opposite, before they come to a decision on the. matters before us> to look to the character of the party on this side, and to give us the opportunity which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat promised would be given us, when the
Prime Minister submitted his policy to this House. I wish honorable members to keep the promise of the late Prime Minister, that no obstacle would be placed in the way of the present Government to propound *a policy, and to carry it into effect so far as practicable, having regard to the honorable and learned gentleman’s power to give that undertaking. The members of the Labour Party have submitted a programme which they are prepared to carry out, but honorable members opposite are not satisfied with what we have given them for this session and the next. They desire that we should submit our programme for this Parliament, next Parliament, the subsequent Parliament, and the Parliament after that. That is what they ask from the Labour Party. Never so far in the history of Australia has any other party been asked to exhibit a programme except for the current session; but when the Labour Party takes office these honorable gentlemen, who know what political procedure is, ask for something more. Why? Is it not because they can find no fault with what we have put’ before them, and they desire that we should submit something which they can lay hold of, something irrational, or something which will shock the public mind? They are not satisfied, because none of our proposals have that tendency. I say that, whether here or in Opposition, we shall be the same Labour Party, fighting all the time for the principles which we have advocated for years. They are not of mushroom growth, they are not the development of the moment, or of hysteria, nor are they the outcome of a selfish desire to secure the fleshpots of office at any sacrifice. We stand by our principles, and we are prepared to fight for them on this or on the other side of the House. Our opponents will have to give heed to the voice of the representatives of the people. They will have to pass that legislation which the people demand. If they do not, when the time comes for the people to again express their opinion, they must go. After the last general election, I fear nothing from an appeal to the people. The education of the masses is proceeding. The electors are awaking. They are beginning to understand stand their political rights; and to learn that they have equal political privileges and powers. They are commencing to appreciate the value of their powers, and, as each year rolls by, the adherents to the cause of progress will increase, while those who stand in the path will, as each election takes place, be swept aside to make way for the march of Democracy and the liberation of the human race.
– After the many fighting speeches which we have had, I hope I may be allowed to put in a few words in a quiet way in regard to the policy enunciated by the ‘ Government. I need not begin by paying any compliment to the Labour Party, because those of the party with whom I was associated in the last Parliament know pretty well my feelings towards them, and I know their feelings in regard to me. But before proceeding to criticise their policy, I should like to say a word or two in reply to the speech of the Minister for External Affairs. Speaking last Friday on the White Australia question, he was hardly fair to the honorable member for Kooyong and myself in what he said to the effect that we are utterly impenetrable to argument on the subject. That is an instance of the Labour Party’s methods. They expect you to swallow their whole programme, and if you disagree with them on one point, you are taken as being entirely opposed to them. I have expressed myself upon the racial question, both in this House and elsewhere, as strongly as any honorable member has done. Neither the prohibition of Iascar crews nor the exclusion of the six hatters has anything to do with the White Australia question. The prohibition of Iascar crews is not a ‘racial question, affecting the policy of a White Australia, but the policy of a White Ocean, while the exclusion of the six hatters has, of course, nothing to do with the White Australia policy. I spoke very strongly when the . annexation of New Guinea as a territory of the Commonwealth was proposed, and I did so because I thought it was a great mistake, in view of our adoption of the White Australia policy. At the last elections, also, I put before my constituents an aspect of the question arising out of the condition of affairs’ in the Far East. I pointed out to them that, seeing that the balance of power there was likely to be very much disturbed, a reconsideration of the White Australia policy might be found necessary in the event of . our occupation of the Northern Territory being non-effective. I suggested that, if we found that we could not effectively occupy the Northern Territory with white labour, we might have to consider whether indentured coloured labour could not be employed, for the benefit of white workmen as well as . of the white population generally. The indentured labour to which I referred would not be’ kanakas, but British subjects who were natives of India. If it became simply a question of obtaining labour at a lower rate, white workmen might be allowed to participate in the profits by the adoption of some such scheme as has been tried in America, making them shareholders in the enterprise. I put forward- that suggestion as one to which it might be necessary to give effect hereafter, in the event of certain developments in the Far East, but said it might first be well to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the subject. It was reported from Canada the other day that the Government of the Dominion have refused to ratify an Act of British Columbia on this subject, because it does npt wish to hamper the Imperial authorities in regard to the Far Eastern question. Surely Canada, of all countries in the world, might feel secure from outside attack, seeing that she has not only Great Britain behind her, but is also protected by the Monroe doctrine, and the United States would have to come to her assistance if she were invaded. But, notwithstanding her position, she has shown that this is a subject which, from an Empire point of view, may require consideration. I put these matters before my constituents at election time, to obtain their views on the subject, and it was, therefore, somewhat ungenerous of the Minister for External Affairs to say that we are utterly impenetrable to argument in regard to it. So far as the exclusion of the six hatters was concerned, I was extremely disappointed with the administration in that case. The speeches of the present Prime Minister, and AttorneyGeneral, and of other honorable members, when the Immigration Restriction Bill was under consideration, quite allayed my suspicions in regard ‘ to the provision under which action was taken. I thought that the Government of the day could be trusted to administer it more liberally than it has been administered. We are now talking about immigration, in order that Australia may be developed, and yet I could not bring a ploughman from the old country, because of the interpretation which has been given to this provision.
– The honorable member could bring any one out, so long as he did not enter into a contract with him.
– The contract would not be of so much importance to me as to the man on the other side of. the world, whom I 3 d was asking to come out. He would expect me to bind myself to fulfil my promise to employ him. ‘ *
– Are there not ploughmen already in Australia?
– Yes, though fewer than the honorable member may think. But that is not the point. It is suggested that we should adopt some scheme of immigration, but before any scheme can be successful, the provisions to which I refer must be modified.
– The same law is in force in Canada and in the United States.
– There is no law in force in the United States which prevents citizensof that country from entering America.
– That is begging the question.
– In 1885 an Act of Congress was passed, prohibiting men under agreement from entering the United States.
– In America there is no such Act as we have in force, debarring white subjects .of the nation from entering the country.
– We do not debar them from coming here ; we merely say that they must come here as free men, and ready to live according to our conditions.
– The argument put for ward in support of the provision, and it is one with which I concur, is that it would be undesirable to have labour coming hereunder contract at the time of a strike. That was really the strong argument put forward, but it seems to me to be outrageous that our fellow British subjects should be shut out if honest contracts are entered into when men are required. The honorable and learned member for Indi, when discussing this point sOme time ago, urged that we should adopt a provision similar to that contained in the United States Act, providing that any contract shall be null and void if it is found to be at variance with the legislation of the United States.
– That is not in the United States Act. It was the honorable and learned member for Angas who suggested such a provision, but I pointed out that experience in America showed that persons were landed and contracts were made in America which had the effect of defeating the law.
– I had not intended to touch that point, and I need not detain the ‘House by any further reference to it. I wish now to make a few remarks with reference to the Government policy* The family likeness between the Government proposal and the programme put forward by the leaders on this side of the House, has been sufficiently referred to. I do not think very much need be made of the similarity between the two sets of proposals. The Governor-General’s Speech furnished us with a policy in the first place, and, naturally, all parties selected those items which were most likely to commend themselves to the majority. The most notable proposals of the Government relate to the measures which are to be introduced next session. So far as the proposed banking legislation is concerned, I understand that the Prime Minister does not claim that his scheme, if carried out, will have the effect of improving our banking system, which is built up on a gold basis, than which no better can be found. Dr. Breckenridge points out that all systems of paper money have been brought forward as the result of Government needs. The Prime Minister referred in very complimentary terms to Dr. Breckenridge’s work, and I have been endeavouring to obtain a copy for my own perusal. I found, however, that every available copy had been mopped up by the Prime Minister and his friends, and, therefore, I have not been able to obtain one.
– That monopoly was quite unintentional.
– I quite realize that. I have here some extracts from the Bankers’ Magazine relating to Dr. Breckenridge’s opinion on this banking question.
– In respect to which sections of the Canadian system?
-On ‘the general question. I understand that Dr. Breckenridge is rather more of a historian than an expert critic.
– He is admitted to be an expert.
– I did not know that he was. It is pointed out that the system which the Government now propose to adopt was not introduced in Canada in order to improve the banking system, but to meet the needs of the Government at that time, and I would put it to the Prime Minister, are we as a community so pressed for money that we should be justified in running the risk of damaging our system of financing ? At present we have limited information on the subject, and I think it would be well to afford every facility for discussion.
– That is why I mentioned the matter at an early stage.
– What I wish to point out is that, prior to the introduction in Canada of the system now proposed to be adopted here, the Canadian banking . system was an excellent one.
– The people of Canada did not think so before 1870.
– The banking crisis in Canada occurred in 1866 and 1867, after the introduction in i860 of the first Canadian Act.
– The present Canadian Act was introduced in 1870.
– There was an Act before that.
– Not wholly on the same principle.
– Whether that be so or not, according to the Bankers’ Magazine, I find that-
In 1859 the Provincial Parliament of Canada had the subject of banking brought before it by several petitioners, and on the motion of the Minister of Finance, the Honorable (afterwards Sir) A. T. Gait, a Select Committee in banking and currency was “ struck.” Dr. Breckenridge says, “ The Minister himself acknowledged that as a rule the banks had been well and wisely managed. During the panic in the United States, Canadian notes were received there with the same readiness as specie in payment of notes, which the local banks were called on to redeem. And yet the Minister was not satisfied. . He had used the Committee to conceal the purpose which he revealed in i860. This was the establishment of a bank of issue, or Treasury Department, for which he introduced resolutions on the 27th March. He wished, he said, to put the currency on a perfectly sure and safe footing by separating it from the banking interest, and by removing it from the possible suspicion of being affected by political exigencies. But his solicitude was insincere, his monetary theories false. His ultimate object was assistance to the Provincial finances ; his proposed means, the emission of legal ‘tender, though convertible, Government notes as the whole currency. The resolutions found slight approval, as the order for their consideration in Committee was discharged on the 18th May. They are interesting how, only as the forerunner of the Provincial Note Act of 1866, the provisions of which were largely due to the monetary fallacies and the financial exigencies of the same Minister.”
I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister especially to this - “ The Government, in which the same gentleman acted as Minister of Finance, was obliged in 1866, to raise some $5,000,000 to discharge the floating debt. The credit of the Province had suffered in the Eng.lish market on account of the renewal from time to time of the balances in arrears. The Minister averred that the Canadian banks were unwilling to extend to the Government a loan amounting to 15 per cent, of their capital. The Bank of Montreal was already a creditor for $2,250,000, and was pressing for payment. The
Government would not trust to the chance of meeting the engagements of the country by large loans at high rates of interest. The Government, said Mr. Gait, should resume a portion of the rights which they had deputed to others, and meet the liabilities of the country with the currency which belonged to it. In short, he acknowledged the primary cause of all paper currencies emitted by Government - Government needs.”
– It was not Sir A. T. Gait’s scheme that was adopted, but that of Sir Francis Higgs, which was introduced some years afterwards.
– The point I wish to make is that it was not introduced in order to improve the Canadian banking system, but to assist the Government.
– The system has not injured the Canadian banking system, as a system.
– Opinions differ on that score. I have here a statement by another authority, Mr. Walker-
– He is an interested party, as he is the general manager of one of the largest banks in Canada.
– He is the general manager of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and an acknowledged authority. I know that the Prime Minister is credited by the. Argus with saying that no objection has been raised to this system.
– I said that in Canada, amongst persons other than bankers, no objection had been raised.
– Why should the bankers object if the system benefits the banks?
– The Banker’s Magazine, in referring to this matter, says -
There is a general consensus of opinion held in Canada regarding the Dominions legal tender notes, and the stipulation in the Bank Act of 46 per cent, of cash reserves being held in the notes, that the effect has not been good, or such as to justify repeating the experiment elsewhere. Mr. B. E. Walker (general manager of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and an acknowledged authority), in his History on Banking in Canada,, page 9, which has already been quoted from, terms the Dominion notes “ as the one serious blot in our currency system.”
– I was not speaking of the currency at all. Mr. Walker ‘ is discussing an entirely different matter, and one affecting the general currency.
– I scarcely think the Prime Minister will contend that any banking system which has gold as its basis can be improved by the issue of paper money.
– All the banks use paper money.
– But they have gold at the back of it. I understand that the Government contemplate spending only twothirds of the gold reserve which they propose to take from the banks. One-third of it will still be held as a reserve. That shows that the Prime Minister recognises that it is necessary to hold some gold.
– Hear, hear. We wish to make assurance doubly sure.
– That gold would be necessary to meet the fluctuating liabilities of the banks. If the liabilities of one of those institutions totalled £1,000,000 less this year than last year, it would naturally like to redeem some of its notes. But if a crisis occurred, and the banks had’ to fall back on their gold reserves, howwould the Prime Minister make available to those institutions the proportion of their reserves which he proposes to spend?
– In the first instance, the banks would exhaust their gold, and in the second place they would have the whole credit of the Commonwealth at their back, just as in 1893 they required the credit of the States Governments to pull them through.
– When the Government come to deal with the two-thirds of the gold reserve which they propose to spend, they will really be establishing a paper currency.
– The banks were very glad to get a Government paper currency in 1893.
– I admit that there are exceptional cases, and I agree that those Governments which assisted the banks in 1893, did the proper thing. Had the Government of Victoria acted in the same way as did the Government of New South1 Wales, some of the banks in this State which’ failed would have pulled through. I venture to say that the mere fact of the New South Wales Government declaring its bank notes a legal tender assisted the financial institutions here. But these are exceptional cases. Three times the Imperial Government has come to the assistance of the Bank of England.
– This will be an exceptional case too.
– It will not be an exceptional case if we introduce a paper currency, which may become, to some extent, per*‘manent.
– Is the honorable member aware that the Bank of England has £16,000,000 worth of notes in circulation, behind which there is no gold at all?
– There must be some gold behind it.
– There is absolutely none.
– I can understand that in London a great many transactions take place in connexion with money at short call, which may afford security against such in issue. I understand from the latest infornation which I can gather on the subject, that in Canada the bank notes are issued on a reserve of something like 5 per cent. I was astonished to find the very small reserve which is held behind something like 56,000,000 dollars of note issue. But so far as I can gather, the tendency of the Canadian legislation is to issue more notes - to go further in that direction than we do here. In Canada the notes in circulation on the 1 st January last aggregated £11,500,000, as against a total circulation and deposits of coin of £88,000,000. Here the note issue represents £3,224,000, ‘ as against coin in circulation and on deposit aggregating £94,000,000.
– The people must require those notes, otherwise the banks would not issue them.
– It is more probable that the gold is being driven out of the country. According to the latest’ returns, there is a very large amount of coin held, not only in Great Britain, but in New York. The book from which I have just quoted deals with this very matter. Macleod on Banking shows how an inferior currency drives a good currency out of the market. That is known as the Gresham law.
– But there has been no depreciation in the value of Canadian notes.
– That may be so; but the fact that the Canadian banks - which have not a larger amount of gold in circulation and on deposit than we have - hold £11,500,000 in notes as against our £3.224,000, shows that the system adopted there has had the effect of driving coin out of the country.
– A national security will not depreciate a currency according to the Gresham law.
– I have a work here upon the Gresham law from which I should like to read an extract for the information of honorable members.
– Had not the honorable member better wait until the Bill is introduced ?
– My desire is to obtain as much information as possible at the present juncture.
– There are about 200 books relating to the question of currency in the Parliamentary Library.
– Macleod, in The Elements of Economics, writes of the Gresham law -
It is from this principle that a Paper Currency is invariably found to expel a metallic currency of the same denomination from circulation. And to show the generality of the principle, it was found in America that when a depreciated Paper Currency had driven all the Coin out of circulation, and a still more depreciated Paper Currency was issued, the more depreciated paper drove out the less depreciated paper from circulation.
That is the history of the world.
– It is not, so far as I am aware, the history of Canada.
– They have there a wellregulated system.
– But the amount of notes, apart from Government notes, which they have in circulation is very large.
– That is so.
– Paper currency is discredited everywhere.
– Not in Canada, where it is conducted on a proper basis.
– The banking systemsof America and Canada have been very poor. Two years after the American war I received $6.75 for every sovereign I possessed ; and I know for a fact that during the war, a sovereign was worth $9 in the United States.
– That was in the States?
– That is a different position.
– If anything in the natura of a war scare occurred, and we were offering paper money, the idea that the paper money was not as good as gold - and, of course, it would not be - would cause prices to be depreciated, and values would be disturbed. I have brought these matters forward only because of my belief that they are worthy of being threshed out ; I am not dealing with them in any spirit adverse to the full consideration of the Government proposal. As far as I am able to see, the difficulty remains. I go right back to the question of what it is worth as a reserve. I put aside the matter of circulation in our own immediate neighbourhood, and I trust that the Government will pause before entering upon legislation of this kind.
– We do not propose to do anything before next session.
– Quite so; one step at a time. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer, and ‘ it has been revived by references which have been made to machine politics. The Prime Minister will remember that last year he supported an amendment which I moved in the direction of dividing the States into divisions, for elections to the Senate.
– But the’ honorable member voted aganst plumping.
– That is so, and to the credit of the Prime Minister, be it said, that although I was successful in my opposition to plumping, he supported me most loyally in the proposal to which I have referred. During the last elections I had an opportunity to see how the present system works, and on several occasions defended the position taken up by the Labour Party in running four candidates for the four seats in the Senate which were vacant in this State. When I heard men speaking of the selfishness of the Labour Party in putting forward four candidates, I at once explained that it was. necessary for them to do so, in order to preserve their own voting . power. The honorable member for Yarra gave me a hint in the House in regard to the matter, and I pointed out during the elections that, had they not adopted this method - ‘had they run only one or two candidates. for the four vacancies - they would have given the. whole of their voting strength to some other candidate, plus that candidate’s personal strength.
– The honorable member and. those who voted with him against plumping forced us into that position.
– Quite so. The Prime Minister agreed with me last year that it would be well to divide each of the States into three divisions for the purposes of the Senate elections, recognising that we should thus have a fair, clear issue in each division.
– Have we the power to so divide them?
– We have; and, as I have already mentioned, I moved an amendment to give effect to such a proposal. I trust that the Prime Minister will not lose sight of the matter, for I think the change would be a great improvement on the existing system. At this late hour I shall not further occupy the attention of the House. I have only to say, in fairness to my honorable friends opposite, that I feel much as do other honorable members on this side of the House in regard to the present- position of parties. I do not want to advance reasons which have already been given for the position that I take up. I believe that the Labour Party, although occupying the Treasury benches, are in a minority, not only in this House, but in the country, and therefore, whilst I have the greatest respect for them personally, when we come to a division oh the matter of the principle, my vote will be cast against them.
Debate (on motion. by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to anticipate anything that may’ be said in the debate which has just been adjourned ; but, in discussing proposals which are not likely to-be brought before us for. two or three sessions to come, it appears to me . that honorable members axe simply wasting public time. We are traversing ground which will have to be gone over again, and, in my opinion it is time that we set to work to deal with public business.
– This is the first occasion on which I have heard a member of Parliament assert that we have’ no right to discuss that which, the Prime Minister has set before us. The Prime Minister having made a statement as to the Government programme for the next two sessions, we have a perfect right, and, in fact, are bound to discuss them.
– I would certainly . emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. There appears to be a deliberate -attempt to waste time, and I trust that the Prime Minister will, impress on the House the desirableness of bringing the debate on the Government proposals to a. close to-morrow night. It seems to me that the present state of affairs in this House is not iri keeping with its dignty. The leader of the Opposition has threatened to move a want of confidence motion. Why has he not the courage to carry out that threat, instead of allowing the straggling debate on the Government proposals to. continue ?. Tha position that has been taken “up by the leader of the Opposition is bringing’ Federal politics into contempt. I hope that we shall make some effort to’ conclude the debate to-morrow night, even if ye have to resort to an allnight sitting.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I am surprised to hear my honorable friend asserting that the time of the House is being wasted. All the speeches that have been made in the debate upon the Government proposals have not come from this side of the House. We have had to-day speeches from the honorable member for Grey, the honorable member for Gwydir, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, all of them of considerable length, but no one has taken, exception to them. We have had about an equal number of speakers from both sides of the House, and I fail to see, therefore, that there is any room for complaint. I have heard my honorable friend, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, speak at length on more than ons question, and I hope that we shall not hear any further complaint from him.
. -I had hoped that the debate on the motion relating to the Governmentproposals would have concluded to-night. It seems to me that while we should not attempt to limit the opportunity of honorable members generally to discuss proposals which the Government have put forward, there does not appear any probability of anything definite arising from the motion on which the discussion has taken place. As we have already had an indication from the right honorable gentleman who leads one section of the Opposition, that he intends in any case to take action to test the feeling of the House in regard to the Government’s position; I had hope, and still hope, that the debate generally as to the position of -the Government will hinge on that motion rather than on the one now before the House.
– The Prime Minister’ invited discussion by making a long speech on the policy of the Government.
– If I had not made a long speech, probably my honorable friends of the Opposition would say that I had not been sufficiently explicit. I am not complaining of the genera] debate, except that, if we are to have a motion to test the feeling of the House, it would be wiser to have the debate on that motion.
– The Prime Minister’s own supporters have done a large part of the speaking.
– I admit that some members on the Government side have spoken ; but I think it would, be wise, on the whole, if honorable members restrained themselves in view of the motion which is coming on. I trust that, so far as the present motion is concerned, we shall find ourselves able to dispose of it at to-morrow’s sitting.’
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 May 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040524_reps_2_19/>.