2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the
Minister of External Affairs, without notice, if the attention of the Government has been directed to the case of the Norwegian steamer Inger, which recently arrived in Sydney, manned by a Norwegian crew, under charter to the Pacific Island
Company for the express purpose of trading on the Australian coast and to” the Pacific Islands, and sailed on the 3rd- inst., leaving thirteen of her crew stranded ashore, without means of any sort, even their clothing having been taken away in the vessel. Is the Government aware that these thirteen men, who are unable to speak English, are entirely dependent upon charity ? Is it the intention of the Government to apply the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act, No. 17 of 1901, to this case?
– Information has been received in respect to the case referred to by the honorable member. I am not aware that the seamen spoken of are in destitute circumstances, but an inquiry has been directed as to whether that is or is not the fact, and the Norwegian consul has been notified in reference to the matter. Whether the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act will he applied !o the men depends upon tha result of the inquiry.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, whether it is true, as reported in the newspapers, that he intends to amend the conditions of the oversea mail contracts, as settled by the late- Government, by eliminating the requirements respecting the provision for the carriage of perishable produce ? If so, is he aware that a representative of one of the mail steam-ship lines has publicly intimated that that condition has not materially increased the priceof the mail subsidy t2nder?
– I have expressed no opinion whatever as to the intentions of the Government in this matter. In conversation with- a newspaper writer, I merely put forward the departmental view that if any subsidy is required, or any extra expense caused by that provision, there is no business reason why the Post-office should be. responsible for it, but that it should be charged to some other Department.
Motion (by Mr. McLean) proposed -
That the Select Committee on Electoral Act Administration have leave to sit at any time, and to report the minutes of evidence from time to time.
– The ordinary course is for a Committee to report only at the conclusion of its inquiry, in which case its proceedings are private and confidential until that time. The motion permits the publication of the evidence from time to time, and allows the presence of reporters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– No doubt the attention of the Prime Minister has been directed to the statement in the press that the General Officer Commanding has been using a private secret service code to send communications to the Imperial Government as’ to matters affecting Australian Defence without submitting them to the Minister of Defence. The statement which first appeared was that the Minister objected to the course,’ on the ground that he thought that an official of his Department should make known to him all correspondence sent to outside authorities; but in to-day’s newspaper an amended statement appears to the effert that the Minister does not object to the course which is being pursued, so long as the Commonwealth is not asked to pay for the transmission of the cablegrams. Does not the Minister think it Wrong that an official employed by the Government should communicate information in regard to our defences to the Imperial authorities without making the nature of -that information known to the responsible head of his Der partment ?
– The Ministry regret that at this stage any information on the subject has appeared in the public press. The statements which have been published, although they may contain a substratum of truth, are not to be taken as correct. The matter has been under consideration for some time past, and we are now in communication with the General Officer Commanding in regard to it. Until he has had an opportunity to explain his views, and to make any further representation that he may desire, it would be unwise to express any definite opinion here.
– I wish to know from the Attorney-General if in his opinion the decision of the High Court in the Tasmanian stamp case exempts Federal officers from State taxation.
– Will the honorable member give notice of that question? He will understand that it is part of my duty to advise the Government, and as that may often involve a question of policy, I am not at liberty to answer questions of law without having consulted my colleagues.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the right honorable member’s questions, I desire to state as follows: -
The Secretary, Department of External Affairs, to the Collector of Customs, Fremantle,
Dated11th May, 1904.
Minister directs that special officer be instructed to visit vessels likely to contain Austrian and Italian immigrants, and to examine all immigrants separately and carefully, particularly as to whether they are under contract to perform manual labour. If he is satisfied that they are under contract, they are to be treated as prohibited immigrants. If he is not so satisfied, but has reasonable grounds to suspect that false statements have been made to him in this regard, he should permit immigrant to land, and instruct him not to leaveFremantle until advised that he may do so, and while there to report himself every secondday at Customs Office. In meantime all possible inquiries should be made by officer to ascertain whether his suspicion is well-founded. If he comes to the conclusion that such person is really under contract, you should report matter briefly as possible by telegraph, and ask for instructions. Special written report to be furnished by officer after each ship examined, stating what action he has taken.”
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
The matter is being considered.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the right honorable member’s questions, I desire to state -
My attention has been directed to the paragraph alluded to by the right honorable member’s question. I have not read the speech mentioned, but the Ministry disclaim responsibility for statements made in a State Parliament by any members years previous to the formation of the present Government, and which are not immediately connected with its programme. The sentiments indicated are certainly not those of this Government. If it is desired to ascertain the present opinion of the Minister for Defence, the questions should be addressed to him.’
asked the Minis ter of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers -to the right honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Yes, Gadara. 6. (a) Under 1,500 feet elevation - above sea level.
Debate resumed from 24th May (vide page 1461), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the letter from the Secretary of State for the Colonies regarding the use of the title “ honorable “ by the members of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia be printed.
– -In resuming this debate, I do not propose, if I can help it, to be side-tracked into any side issues, as were some honorable members last night. One honorable member, if I remember rightly, proceeded to indict our side because we had dared to infer that the Minister of External Affairs, by accepting office, was not true to his hustings pledges on the fiscal question. That seems to be an extension of the argument which, at first, was used by the Minister as against the party to which I have the honour to belong. The charge he then made has been hurled back at the Minister, and now it is hurled back again against us, for having dared to advance it against the Minister. That sort of tu quoque argument could go on for ever; and I, therefore, do not propose to address myself to it. But I do propose to examine the question whether the party at present in power is deserving of the confidence of the House, because that is the true issue. The party on the Treasury benches have long regarded themselves as “ the white-headed boy “ of politics, and the party that opposes them look on them as the bad boy of politics, who ought not on any account to be allowed to’ grow “ whiteheaded “ in office. With your permission, sir, I shall examine both these contentions. In the first place, the party in power tell us that thev do not want office, and yet we find them seeking office on the pretext of an amendment on which they now say they set no store.
– This is terrible !
– It is terrible ; it is a bad entry into public life for a “ white-headed boy.” I should like to examine the amendment which brought the present Government into power. Sub-section b of clause 4 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill practically excluded all State and Commonwealth servants from the operation of that measure. The present Minister of Tradeand Customs beat the Government on an amendment which practically substituted “ included “ for “ excluded,” so that now the Bill provides that all State and Commonwealth servants are included within its operation. The Labour Party having won their places on the Treasury benches, now propose to speciously differentiate between the clerical and other employes in the public service. I say “ speciously “ because the Prime Minister, in his address on Wednesday last, was careful to say that a blank had been created in the Bill by the passing of the amendment moved by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I did not press that as a reason, but simply made a statement of fact.
– The Prime Minister says that it was simply a statement of fact, but I do not think that is so. No one knows’ better than the Prime Minister that no blank has been created, but that the Bill is more ample now than it was before.
– Does the honorable member say that the leaving out of two or three words makes the Bill more ample ? The honorable member is barking up the wrong tree.
Mr.KELLY.- The word “ included “ has not yet been substituted, but it was proposed to substitute it at some other time. We find this party, who are so jealous of their individual liberty outside questions of their party programme, voting as solidly on behalf of this amendment as they are now solid against carrying it out. So much for their freedom from the caucus. But ‘he Prime Minister knows the state in which the Minister of Trade and Customs left this Bill, and he now proposes something quite different. What was the use of the Labour Party, before the fall of the late Government, going to that Government and saying, “ Do not regard this as a vital issue ; it is really of no moment ?” They knew that the late Prime Minister was a gentleman who always placed his convictions far higher than continuance in office.
– I told the late Prime Minister the same thing six or seven months before.
– The Labour Party knew that the late Prime Minister was such a politician as I have described. Now they take a different view of the question, and are. willing to sink the principle on which they ousted the late Government.
– Let the honorable member try us !
– If the Labour Party believe in this principle, why do they now forsake it? They did not believe in it, whydid they press it? There can be only one of two answers to this proposition. Either they sank their convictions to oust the Government in order to secure office, or they are sinking their convictions in order to stay there. Then the Labour Party say that they do not want office, although we find them going in for a system of lobby intriguing in order to stay where they are. We find them going about buttonholing : “in on this side whom they imagine to be disaffected, and showing these men official labour league letters, promising, on behalf of their confreres outside-
– Has the honorable member been buttonholed?
– No; the Labour Party are very careful about whom they buttonhole, and I may now ask why I have not been approached. But the Labour Party buttonholed the men to whom I have referred, and showed them labour league letters, promising that they would not be opposed at the next election if they agreed to help the Government in the present crisis. The Labour Party say that they stand for the whole people. How can they bind the whole people three years ahead ? The Labour Party say that they do not want office; but if so, why should they prostitute all the principles of clean Government in a shameless effort to stay there? I think I have said enough to show my conviction that there is no evidence to support the Labour Party’s contention that they are “the white-headed boy” of politics. I shouldnow like to examine the other contention. The Federal Labour Party is a growth out of the Labour Parties existent all over Australia before Federation, and still existent. This party is governed and is subject to the will of the same conclaves which held those separate parties iti the hollow of their hand. Now, what the ultimate policy of the Labour Party is can only be disclosed bv the future, because none of us can gauge it at present. We only know that they are apt to be swayed by the programmes laid down by the various sections of the Labour Party throughout Australia.’
– To which parties does the honorable member refer?
– To the different coteries of men who govern the various labour parties throughout Australia. These organizations will eventually mould the sentiments which will guide the Ministry, when it is strong enough to carry on, without considering the views of a far larger Opposition. In view of these circumstances, I do not think that it is sufficient to approach the consideration of the policy of the Government by simply looking at the programme which has been placed before us. In order to arrive at a just conclusion as to the intentions of the Government, it is necessary to examine the policies of the different labour organizations, of whom the members of the Government and their supporters are merely the delegates. That, however, would be a task so enormous that I do not propose to enter upon it this afternoon. Several honorable members of the Labour Party have told us how that party is constituted. For instance, the honorable member for Hindmarsh yesterday took credit for. his party, Inasmuch that within its ranks were to be found squatters, doctors, and lawyers. All honour to the party which contains within its ranks representatives of these classes of the community. Honorable members on this side, however, take no credit to themselves because of the social standing of those who are to be found amongst them. We gauge a man according to his capacity or ability, and do not care whether he is a squatter, or doctor, or anything else.
– Neither do we.
– The honorable member appeared to put forward his statement yesterday as if he intended it to confer a badge of distinction upon his party.
– When we convict the honorable member’s party of a falsehood, he turns ‘round upon us. We have been charged with being exclusive, and” when we show that we are not, the honorable member at once says that we are seeking to confer a distinction upon our party.
– As indicating also, to some extent, the nature of the constitution of the Labour Party, I desire to quote the statement made by Senator Dawson in the course of an interview which he recently granted to a representative of the Sunday Times. Senator Dawson stated -
Any man who subscribes to our platform is a full member of the party, and any one who does not is an outsider, and there never was a period in the labour movement when it was otherwise.
When we consider how many hundreds of thousands of men there are outside the ranks of the Labour Party, that statement should in itself be sufficient to indicate the exclusiveness of the organization. I do not propose to press the matter further than to quote these remarks of the honorable senator. I propose to examine the programme of the Government, of which the first item is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, with a view to showing that it is brought forward in its present form in the interests not of all classes of the community, but of a section. We should not forget that the Labour Party is largely made up of officials of the militant labour unions, which the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is intended to assist. We must not lose sight of this fact, which I desire to press home. The moment the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill comes into operation, a union, if it has certain rules, may come along and register itself in the Commonwealth Court, and amongst the first to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill will be those militant unions which honorable members opposite have such a large share in administering.
– Do not honorable members on the Opposition side of the House accept the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– I am not speaking of the Bill, but of the personal element introduced into it by the Labour Party. I am differentiating between the militant unions and the genuine trades’ unions. If we are to have a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, we must have a workable measure, and we want the first union to come along and register. But we do not want the militant unions to take this course, and afterwards, by making use of other provisions of the Bill, to insure that they shall be the only unions registered, and that all men must subscribe to them - to their political and fighting funds. The Labour Party have left the Bill in such a condition that a union can come along and register, and afterwards, by taking advantage of the clause relating to the preference to be given to unionists, compel all men - practically at the peril of their livelihood - to join the unions, to subscribe to their funds for the support of our friends on the other side of the House ! Such unions would then be in a position to compel men, who have not joined militant unions in the past, because they have preferred to retain their individual political liberty, to join them, and thus enhance the power of the leaders of the unions - our honorable friends opposite. If the members of the Labour Party wish to alter this, a very simple course is open to them. If they wish to escape the charge of unfairness in this regard, they should adopt a provision whereby no union should be allowed to register, if its rules contained any provision whatever relating to political matters or parliamentary elections.
An Honorable Member. - Do the coalition propose to do that?
– I .am speaking for myself. I am not the leader of this party.
– The honorable member ought to be. if he is not.
– No doubt there is a good deal in what the honorable member says. I think I have shown that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill can be construed as an insidious attempt to force the people to grant the unions largely increased power, which, if asked for openly, would be refused with scorn. So much for one reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as constructed by the Government. The next measure to which I desire to refer is the Capital Sites Bill. This measure has been introduced into the Senate, apparently in order to keep passive for the present the representatives of New South Wales in this Chamber; because, if the Government really meant to push it through, they would not introduce it before they were prepared to provide the funds necessary to give effect to its provisions. They tell us that they intend to defray the cost of establishing the Federal Capital by confiscating a portion of the reserves of the banks. They do not propose to appropriate this money until next session, and therefore I ask, why have they introduced a Capital Sites Bill before the money necessary to carry out their plan is to be made available? I think that point is worthy of the consideration of the representatives of New South Wales. To my mind, it affords the best proof that could be adduced that the Government are insincere in this regard. In approaching this question, we find also that the Government, after their assumption of office, have disregarded the conviction of the strongest personality on the Government benches. I refer to the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, who said, on a former occasion, that choice of the Capital Site should be made a part of the Government policy. He told the late Government that the Ministry should choose the site, and make the House abide by its decision. The present Government, however, have ignored that advice. In itself I do not suppose that is a particularly heinous offence, but as members of the Labour Party are always saying that they place such infinite confidence in the judgment of the right honorable and learned member, I think it is rather significant that, in almost their first action after taking office, they should disregard his counsel. The Government have gone very far afield’ - to Canada in fact - to secure precedents for their proposed robbery of the banks. I wish they had crossed the Canadian border to the United States in search of a precedent for their scheme for blackmailing New South Wales of 900 square miles of her territory. Had they done so, they would have discovered that the ‘United States, with a population of 80,000,000, gets along very well with only sixty square miles of Federal territory. In view of that fact it is surely possible for this Commonwealth to carry on successfully with 100 square miles of Federal territory. But my honorable friends opposite disregard precedents which do not accord with some particular plank of their platform. Whom, I ask, will their proposed scheme advantage? Will it benefit New South Wales, which is to be blackmailed of 900 square miles of its best lands? Will it advantage the Commonwealth, which will have to pay in part for the experiment? Certainly not. It will merely benefit those conclaves and their tools in Parliament who desire to conduct experiments in land nationalization at the expense of New South Wales and of the Commonwealth. I hold that if they wish to experiment in land nationalization they should select an area of only average productiveness - a piece of land which would guide us as to the soundness or otherwise of their theories in that connexion. Why should they make the Federal Capital proposal a stalking horse to enable them to secure a large area of the best territory in New South Wales, and to unfairly place before the electors the result of their schemes? Almost any form of land tenure “ would be successful upon an area such as it* is proposed to resume for the Federal Capital site.
– Why does the honorable member say that the Federal territory will comprise the best lands in New South Wales?
– Three sites have been specially selected, partly because of their fertility, and I assume that Parliament will choose the best of these. I should like to examine the Prime Minister’s statement regarding the question of our mail contracts.
He stated that he has had an interview with Mr. Anderson, the manager of the Orient Company, who1 told him - as he had already informed the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - that the increased subsidy demanded by the mail companies is not due to the provision for the employment of white labour upon the ships, which has been inserted in the contract. Doubtless that is so, because, as we all know, the NorddeutscherLloyd, which employs white labour only’ throughout its ships, has a much smaller wage-sheet than have the other companies. The real question is not one of expense, but of the vessels being able to run punctually to time. The Prime Minister admitted, in reply to an interjection, that Mr. Anderson had declared that if the companies observed the other conditions which it is attempted to impose they would insist upon the insertion in the contract of some provision which would enable them to escape penalties for delay. The Prime Minister has said that he regards that as a minor matter. I disagree with him. In my judgment, punctuality should be a first essential. This matter affords another illustration of the fact that “ the white-headed boy “ can be specious when it suits him. I now propose to say a few words concerning the Government policy with regard to torpedo-boat destroyers. In his dissertation upon naval defence, the Prime Minister affirmed that these destroyers would, if desired, act as the eyes of the British Fleet stationed in Australian waters. I do not propose to accept that statement without reserve. If these vessels are intended to act as eyes for the fleet, surely both should be placed under the same control. Of what use are a man’s eyes to him when he is attacked, if his arms are tied, or vice versa. We must have a central control in these matters. Dual control has never proved efficient in any naval or military enterprise. Having regard to that fact, I have come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister’s proposal springs simply from a desire to euphemistically introduce the Australian Navy project - a project as futile as it would be inefficient. Honorable members are aware that Australia will not be subject to invasion until Great Britain has lost command of the seas. When such a contingency arises - and I hope it never will - an enemy could send to our coast four or eight torpedo boat destroyers for every one that we possessed. Our vessels would represent only so much scrap iron, because they would be caught and smashed in detail. I think that the Prime Minister has been unduly impressed by the great speed which these vessels possess. But is he not aware that they attain that speed only in calm water, only under conditions, in fact, which seldom obtain around the coast of Australia. I understand that the tendency now-a-days is to construct a larger and slower type of this vessel than was formerly in vogue, in order to overcome the difficulty to which I have directed attention. I desire to impress upon the House my conviction that an Australian Navy would be ‘ of no service whatever to the people for defence purposes. A navy which would be adequate to defend our coast must be in a position to seek out and blockade the coast of the enemy. That is admitted amongst naval experts to be a cardinal principle in naval warfare. No better example of the soundness of that principle can be cited than that which has been afforded by recent events in the Far East, where the Japanese sought out and blockaded the Russians at their own base, denying to them any opportunity to contest the control of the seas. If we wish to defend our shores we must blockade the coast of our enemy. For Australia to essay a task of that character would involve the equipment and maintenance of an enormous navy_, which would be capable of going, perhaps, to the other end of the world. Such an undertaking it would be manifestly absurd for usto attempt. Consequently the only means open to us of protecting Australia from invasion oversea is to contribute - and to contribute largely - to the Imperial Navy. When I say that is the only means wehave of protecting ourselves, .of course I except the fact that it is necessary to- . maintain a strong citizen force to repel invaders after they have once gained a footing. I repeat that the only way in which’ our coast can be adequately protected isby Australia making a large contributionto the Imperial Navy.
– Does not the honorablemember believe in having a good harbor defence ?
– I certainly do, becausea good harbor defence is a protection against sudden raid, and from any organized blockade. I should like to ask thePrime Minister if he grudges the contribution that we have already made to the Imperial Navy under the terms of the Naval Agreement. If -he does he should’ boldly say so, and not fool the electors of Australia into the belief that his scheme under which we should have a torpedo destroyer or two dotted round the coast of Australia, would render us any the less insecure from foreign invasion. I do not wish to detain the House at any length, but I should like to briefly traverse the Government proposals in regard to the tobacco monopoly and bank confiscation. In the first place the Prime Minister has adduced no evidence to show that the present tobacco monopoly is abusing its powers.He does not tell us that the trust has raised the price of tobacco. As the result of the imposition of the Commonwealth duty there may have been, of course, a natural increase in some places ; but he does not contend that the price of tobacco has been raised by the trust, or that the quality has been reduced. He simply says that the tobacco trust is a paying concern, and that the Government might as well secure the profits obtainable from carrying on such an undertaking. I would also remind honorable members that the Prime Minister does not say that the Government propose to lower the price of tobacco, and make it possible for the people to obtain their smoke at half the present cost. He merely proposes that the Government shall secure the profits to be obtained from such an undertaking. His intention is that the Government should confiscate the operations of a trust, which has not been proved guilty of any wrong doing, and establish in its place a monopoly which would be subject to all the temptations to which a Government concern is always open when it is necessary to raise as much money as possible to meet the exigencies of the Government. Any one who has lived in France for any length of time will realize that the Government tobacco monopoly there has not been to the advantage of the people. The quality of French tobacco is simply execrable; it is unsmokeable. Do not honorable members see the danger which might accrue from having a Treasurer in power who was badly in need of money, but dared not ask Parliament for it, and who would in this extremity press the managers of the Government tobacco monopoly to obtain as much profit as possible from the people. Cannot the Prime Minister see that an insidious means of taxation would thus be adopted under which the people would be unable to learn the true extent of the taxation imposed upon them.
– Would that be any worse than a land tax?.
– The people know the ex tent of their liability under a land tax, but that would not be the case in connexion with a Government tobacco monopoly. They would only learn to what extent they are being taxed by marking the depreciation in the quality of the tobacco.
– The honorable member is assuming that the Government would control the management.
– The Government invariably controls the management of State undertakings. If they did not do so, what difference would there be between a Government and a private monopoly? It appears to me that this is a scheme on the part of “ the white-headed boy ‘ ‘ to raise money for the purposes of government - money which the people, if they knew the true position, would not allow to be raised in that way. The Government assert that they are opposed to the floating of loans for the Commonwealth - that they favour the keeping of our expenditure within the limits of our ordinary revenue, and that they are opposed for the present to new taxation. But they believe in this form of taxation, under which the people would find it impossible to determine the extent of the impost levied upon them. I should like to refer briefly to the Government banking proposals. The contemplated bank confiscation has a very curious aspect. The Prime Minister owes his success very largely to the declaration which he has made again and again that he is opposed to borrowing. That has been one of his strongest cries. He cannot, therefore, borrow ; but under his banking proposals the Government would be able to confiscate perhaps , £5,000,000 of the bank reserves.
– I am putting the figures as low as possible. I think that the proposal is to take 40 per cent., and then twothirds of 40 per cent., which, roughly speaking, would be four-fifteenths.
– We should have the handling of £8,000,000.
– Quite so. The Government propose to spend £5,000,000, but they would have the handling of £8,000,000. That is the crux of the question. In support of their proposals they refer to the requisitions which have been made by the Canadian Government ; but they have omitted to tell the House that the Canadian banks were wholly opposed to the legislation in question.
– That is true.
– In other words, those who were most competent to judge of their own affairs strongly opposed it. For whom are these reserves maintained by the banks ? They are kept, not for the benefit of the shareholders, but for the benefit of the depositors.
– And the Government is a depositor in the different banks.
– The Government as a rule are borrowers rather than depositors. As the Prime Minister said very fairly, the conditions which prevail in Australia are absolutely different from those existing in Canada, where the banks have reserves of only 8.10 per cent, against their liabilities. I have not had time to go to the root of this question - and as a matter of fact all the books dealing with it have been in the hands of members of the Government - but I believe that it was because of the low reserves in Canadian banks that the Canadian Government took action. They introduced this legislation largely for the protection of the depositors, believing that the bank deposits bore too large a proportion to their reserves. But no one can say that the position is the same in Australia. Here the proportion of reserves as against liabilities is 22.19 per cent. These figures both relate to the year 1902, and a glance at them will show that there is a very obvious difference. Legislation of this kind was introduced in Canada for the protection of the depositors, but in Australia it is to be introduced, as honorable members opposite have told us this afternoon, solely in order that the Government may have the handling of this large sum of money. I should like now to briefly summarise some of the reasons which lead me to . look upon honorable members opposite as a party very dangerous to leave in possession of the Treasury benches. If we consider the way in which they came into office, and the means they have adopted to retain possession of the Government benches - if we look at the programme for the present Parliament which they have put before us, as well as the future programme, which’, from May Day and other speeches, we know they contemplate - we must recognise that the contention that they should not, on any account, be allowed to grow “ white-headed “ on the Treasury benches, has been proved up to the hilt. I hold that the Labour Party have, according to their own programme, been selfish. They have not been disinterested in gaining office, nor in the means which they have adopted in order to stay there, and I believe that they have up their sleeve measures even more revolutionary than those which are mentioned in their programme. In my opinion the vitality and enterprise of the people have been made subservient to the ambitions of a clique, and it is the duty of those of us who do not represent that clique to take the first opportunity to oust this Government from power, and to substitute for it-
– A worse one, perhaps.
– I understand that the honorable member intends to join the next Government, so that he may, perhaps, be right in his description of it.
– The present Government have not yet been defeated.
– The honorable member for Hume does not like to see the members of’ his party toeing the line ; but it is the duty of those who are opposed to the principles of the Labour Party to take the first opportunity to oust them from office.
– Why not do so at once?
– I think it will be done without much trouble.
– Then why take so much trouble about it?
– When they are ousted, we shall have, not government by a clique for a clique, but government by the representatives of the whole people for the benefit of all.
– My original in tention was not to make any remarks al this juncture, and I should not have risen to speak on the question before the House had it not been for the animadversions and unwarrantable personal attacks made upon me and my attitude towards the present Government by honorable members sitting on the Ministerial side of the chamber. To make the position clear, it will be necessary for me to review the condition of parties since the last general election. It will be remembered that when this Parlia ment first assembled there were three distinct parties in the House, which differed from the division of parties in the last House, inasmuch as the numerical strength of each was relatively the same, whereas’ the numerical strength of the three parties in the first House differed considerably. It at once became obvious that we had either to consent to allow one of these parties to govern under the direct control and coercion of another, which from the point of view of the members of the direct Opposition was incompatible wilh the best interests of the country, or the protectionist Government must be turned out of office. The members of the direct Opposition were pledged to the support of free-trade principles, but their first duty to their constituents was to get rid of the Government. It was realized throughout the electorates which we represent that the continuance of that Government in power would make for all that was most undesirable in connexion with the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth, because, besides . being in an actual minority, it was under the domination and control of the irresponsible third party, which had shaped its policy last Parliament, and was prepared to shape it this Parliament. Under those circumstances, we had responsibility divorced from control - a condition of affairs which could not be allowed to continue. Consequently, when an opportunity to put an end toit arose, several membersof the Opposition joined with the members of the Labour Party in supporting an amendment moved by a member of that party, and that temporary combination was successful in de- ‘feating the Deakin Government. That was so much towards the redemption of our pledges to our constituents. But a new situation arose. When the then Government were defeated, the leader of the Labour Party was sent -for by the GovernorGeneral, and asked to form a Ministry. While, in my opinion, the action of the GovernorGeneral was perfectly right and constitutional, the honorable gentleman sent for, andi those associated with him, would have stood much higher in the estimation of the people of the Commonwealth if, before absolutely accepting that invitation, they had ascertained whether there was a possibility of obtaining a reasonable working majority to support their policy. Had they done so, they would have .got rid of the suspicion which must now inevitably attach to them of having accepted -office with the slenderest hopes of success in retaining it. I do not say that before the defeat of the late Government they were anxious for “office; personally, I believe they were not; but their conduct will always be tainted with that suspicion in .the public mind. They would have stood in a very much better light with the whole of the country had they shown their disinterestedness in the matter of the emoluments of office, and, if when they found they could not secure a working majority to start with, they had returned His Excellency’s commission, and recommended him to send for some one else, or suggested some other course which they thought prudent.
– They have not discovered that course vet.
– I do npt see how they could possibly have expected to discover it without looking for it. When the Government met the House what did they find? They found twenty-three or twenty-four honorable members on the Government benches, and a phalanx of forty-six arrayed against them.
– It was not a solid “ phalanx.”
– It was not solid at the time, but that was the disposition of parties which met the Government on their first appearance. That fact alone should have convinced them they had made a mistake; but we know what they have been constantly doing since then. By all sorts of artful contrivances they have been attempting to get honorable members on this side to forego their allegiance to their respective leaders, offering bribes of the worst possible description - bribes of non-opposition at the next general election - promises which the Government have not the power to redeem even if accepted. By such means they have tried to get a working majority ; but, up to the present moment at any rate, they have not succeeded. I opposed the late Government because I knew that while they were in office, and so long as they could get the support of the Labour Party, there was no possibility of pulling down any part of the Tariff wall. I had no hesitation in assisting the Labour Party to oust the late Government. But I am perfectly free to admit that the Labour Party had no desire at that time to turn the Government out. The Labour Party, unfortunately for themselves, fell into a trap. When the esteemed leader of the party to which 1 have the honour to belong announced his intention to support the late Government in the crisis, it was thought bv most of the Labour Party that that promise involved not only his individual support, but also the support of the whole of the members of his party Obviously that was the idea in the minds of the present occupants of the Treasury benches ; but when it was too late to make a retreat, the Labour Party discovered that they had made a mistake. They wanted to pose before the country as the great champions of the principle, as they put it, of including State and Commonwealth servants within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. They expressed their determination to press the question to a division, notwithstanding the fact that the Government which they were anxious to keep in power had declared that they would make it a vital question. They never thought that the amendment would be carried - they did not want it to be successful. We had members of the Labour Party hurling accusations of the most violent kind at those members of the Opposition who had the temerity to support their own amendment. That is where the insincerity of the Labour Party was evident, clear and unmistakable. I must . confess that, up to that time, no matter how much I disagreed with the platform and methods of the Labour Party, I had, at any rate, given them credit for sincerity.
– What did the honorable member do?
– I did not do as the honorable member did, and I hope I never shall be found emulating his political career.
– The honorable member would not follow as true a course as myself. ‘
– Surely the honorable member does not understand what he is talking about when he speaks of a “true course.”
– I . do not think that the honorable member does.
– I say that we have evidence of the insincerity of the Labour Party, when they held out threats of what would happen in the future to those members of the Opposition who supported their amendment. The Labour Party wanted to pose as martyrs before the labour world, but were unable to do so ; and when it was too late, they found that they had to go to a division. They could not withdraw the amendment and save the Government, and, therefore, the Government went down. Where do we find this great principle of including the public servants within the Arbitration Bill put before us at the present time ? That principle is eliminated - the principle which they made a vital question, and for which they went to the extreme of wrecking a
Government, is now thrown to the wind. We find no trace of the proposal in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill before us, and this I say is a convincing proof of the insincerity of the Labour Party. It is true that the amendment, on which the late Government was defeated, was not put forward by the leader of the Labour Party, but by one of the rank and file. It must be remembered, however, that the amendment had the sanction of the leader of the party, who voted for it, and therefore became responsible;- a fact which was recognised in the action of His Excellency the Governor-General in sending for him to form a new Ministry. Now, why do I oppose the present Government ? The most serious objection I had to the last Government was a fiscal objection - the fact that it was a protectionist Government - I now find myself confronted by a Government largely dominated by protectionists, which, indeed, has more protectionists than freetraders amongst its supporters, and which, in addition to its protectionist tendencies and proclivities, has the taint of avowed Socialism. All my life I have been one of the strongest and most uncompromising opponents of Socialism. That is not from any personal feeling against those who advocate Socialism ; on the contrary, I am free to admit that those who advocate Socialism are, in my belief, actuated by the most worthy and humane motives. But, in my opinion, Socialism is absolutely wrong, and would lead to greater troubles than those which it seeks to remedy - to conditions which, ultimately, would prove more intolerable than any of which we have yet had experience.
– What doe’s the honorable member mean by “ Socialism “ ?
– It is for supporters of the Government to define the meaning. The great trouble about Socialists, I find, is that they can never be pinned down to any one definition. There are as many definitions of -Socialism - unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be - as there are Socialists, so that what stands for Socialism with one does not stand for Socialism with another. There is the one common ground of agreement amongst them, to attack capital, which, to them, is a great bugbear. Capital must be nationalized. Outside of that agree- ‘ ment, however, their definitions are as’ numerous as are the followers of the principles of Socialism, if there are any principles involved.
– The honorable member is opposing a bogy - a myth.
– Then the honorable member opposite must be supporting a myth. The fact remains that the Government have declared their intention to bring in socialistic measures, -which, as they have given us to understand, comprise the nationalization of various branches of industry, and, ultimately, I suppose, the nationalization of all branches of industry and of capital, property, and everything else. If we are to pay any regard to the resolutions passed at the May Day demonstrations, which have been indorsed by the present Prime Minister as the basis of the proposals of the Labour Party, we must assume that all capitalists are enemies of the country, and are not to be countenanced under any circumstances. Personally, I do not take any exception to capitalists. As a matter of fact, I would rather see them encouraged to engage in all sorts of enterprises, and to expend their capital in developing the natural resources of the country under perfectly free conditions. I should not be in favour of granting special privileges to any particular individuals, but would make all start from the same level. At the same time, there’ should be no interference with the investment of capital in legitimate enterprises. Where our friends, who term themselves Socialists, are wrong, in my view, is in attributing the existing social conditions, which admittedly are not by any means what it is desirable they should be, to the evil influences exerted by capitalists. I think that in that regard they have made an initial mistake, upon which they have proceeded to build up their policy.
– Who said anything of the kind ?
– I am judging by the utterances of honorable members opposite. If those are not to guide us, where else can we look?
– Would the honorable member quote some of the utterances to which he refers ?
– If the honorable member desires me to traverse the whole of the speeches delivered by members of his party, I am perfectly willing to do so; but ‘ I do not think that any such course is necessary. I desire to explain why I am to be found on the Opposition benches. In my speech on the Address-in - Reply, I remarked, in view of the state of parties, that it was obvious that it would be necessary before long to take some steps to divide honorable members into two sections, so that we might have a distinct line of demarcation between honorable members on the Treasury benches and those who were opposed to them. Yet, I was attacked by the Minister of External Affairs and. by the honorable member for Gwydir in a most unfair manner, because it. was alleged that I had sunk my principles. I had not sunk my principles any more than those honorable members have sunk theirs by associating with those who differ from them on the Government benches.
– They are only judging the honorable member by the company he keeps.
– The company I keep may not be congenial in all respects, but I prefer it to that in which I should find myself were I sitting on the Government benches. Although I cannot get all I want from those honorable members with whom I am at present associated, it is morally certain, that I should have no possible chance of getting anything from those who are on the Government benches. That is one of the reasons I. am in opposition at the present time. I find myself in association temporarily with those who are opposed to me on the fiscal question, but I did not seek the alliance. Those who hold views opposite to mine came over to my side of the House, and, therefore, if honorable members opposite have any quarrel, it must be with my fiscal opponents, and not wit-h-me. I still occupy the seat which I have filled since I have been in this Parliament.
– Surely it is not a matterof seats.
– No ; but I am pointing out that I am still in opposition. I have not changed my views. I am not only confronted with a solid phalanx of protectionists, but also with a compact array of Socialists, to whose policy I am opposed. I am in the unfortunate position of holding certain views, which are shared bv an insufficient number of members to enable us to .form a distinct party, and to take pos-‘ session of the ‘Treasury benches. Consequently I have thrown in my lot with the party which, while it comprises members who go no part of the way with me, contains, others who are prepared to go some part of the way, and still others who ga the whole way. Therefore, I am in congenial company to that extent ; whereas I should have no congenial society were I sitting opposite. When the Minister of External Affairs charged me with sacrificing my principles, he forgot that he was in exactly the same position as myself. I never charged him with sacrificing his freetrade principles, nor do I take that attitude now. The honorable and learned member, however, finds himself in alliance with those who hold opposite fiscal views, and I should have far more reason and logic on my side were I to charge him with having deserted his principles, because the alliance into which he has entered is voluntary and permanent, whereas’the situation in which I find myself is the result of political accident, . not of preme.ditated design. It has been practically forced upon me by the exigencies of the political situation, over which I had no control.
– We have all sunk a certain amount of principle, and it would be better for the nation if we could sink more.
– I thought honorable members opposite were all free men.
– So we are; but we have found certain points upon which we can alt agree, and have made those a common’ bond of union. That was a matter of free-will and conscience. That is where our position differs from that of honorable members opposite. A good deal of reference has been made to a supposed coalition. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing in existence yet.
– That is not the honorable member’s fault.
– No; nor have I sought it either ; the fault lies - that is presuming it is a fault - with the Victorian representatives who first talked about a coalition. Honorable members opposite appear to have assumed that a coalition was accomplished, and they also apparently labour under the impression that certain other things, which have no existence in fact, have been brought about. They erred in assuming that we have given certain pledges, and, therefore, a great deal of their argument has been destitute of any real basis. So far as the members of our party are concerned, they have not given any vote with regard to the proposed coalition. Certainly a coalition was proposed, but it was proposed in the full light of day, and its terms have been made known to the whole world. Furthermore, the conditions of the compact did not call upon honorable members to sacrifice any of their principles, but simply to recognise the obvious fact that a fiscal truce - which is a very different thing from a fiscal sacrifice - was forced upon us by the general verdict of the majority of electors, which rendered abortive for this
Parliament the free-trade victory of New South Wales. Might I ask the Minister of External Affairs, who accused me of sacrificing my principles as a free-trader, what he could do if the esteemed leader of the Free-trade Party were to table a free-trade motion to-morrow? Could the free-trade membar for West Sydney support that motion? Is he free to do so? We know perfectly well that in his Ministerial position he could not vote in favour of it. Consequently, if there be any force in the accusation regarding a sacrifice of principle; it tells with crushing force against the Minister of External Affairs, but does not touch me in the slightest degree.
– Did not the . honorable member’s leader say. that he could answer for every one of his party?
– He may have said that he could answer for the fidelity of his party respecting terms agreed to by themselves. But he could not, nor did he, claim any power to pledge his party to any terms which they might disapprove of. They are all free agents.
– As regards the coalition project, the honorable member’s leader was able to pledge his whole partv?
– No. Not without their free consent.
– He could not pledge me.
– The only pledges which they are called upon to fulfil are those which are made to their constituents. It is not for their party to deal with any vote which is cast by them - that is a matter between themselves and their constituents. No attempt is made to interpose any obstacle between them and the electors whom they represent. During the course of his remarks yesterday, the Minister of External Affairs quoted from a letter which I wrote to the Sydney Daily Telegraph some time ago. He made a good deal of spurious political capital out of that communication. In it, I dwelt upon the fact that, unfortunately, we were not able at the present time to touch the Tariff question, a fact which seemed to afford grounds of jubilation to some men who erstwhile were trusted as free-trade champions, notwithstanding that a permanent coalition might mean the retention of existing burdens on the people. They were, apparently, ready to accept a coalition at any price. I was never prepared to accept a coalition at any price, nor have the members of our party been asked to do so. The terms of the coalition proposed, extended only to the life of the present Parliament. The fiscal issue was to be suspended merely for that period. We are not responsible for the present position of affairs. Our efforts to re-open the Tariff have been rendered impotent by the votes of the electors of the Commonwealth. They have made it impossible for us to successfully attack that question during the currency of this Parliament. We are thus compelled - whether we like it or not - to allow that matter to rest, except so far as it may be raised by individual members upon any particular motion in which the Tariff may be involved. When such occasions arise, the private members of the party to which I belong are at perfect liberty to vote as they please. Although the Minister of External Affairs careful lv quoted one of my letters, he studiously abstained from reading subsequent communications, which made my position absolutely clear. It is quite possible that he may not have seen these, but, in order that he may be unable to urge that excuse in the future, I propose to read one or two extract? from them. A couple of days after the publication of my previous letter, in replying to the editorial footnote which was quoted by the Minister, I said, amongst other things -
I admit that a combination of circumstances lias led to a situation in the arena of Federal politics wholly unexpected, and undreamt of during the recent election campaign. I admit that a tripartite parliamentary system is not conducive to sound principles of government, because it enables even a small independent minority to control by coercion the policy of an unstable Ministry. I admit that the maintenance of representative government demands the abolition of the intolerable tripartite system, and that this can only be accomplished by a coalition of some kind between two of the three existing parties against the third.
Whilst I recognised that, I certainly did not view the prospects of such a coalition with unqualified delight. The expression of delight at the promise of a coalition,the basis of which was then unknown, applied chiefly to the report of an interview upon the subject with Sir William McMillan, who, in reply to an inquiry bv a press interviewer, said, “All that can be said is that we are all. delighted.” I saw no reason for joy, but rather for profound regret, that the adverse vote of the Commonwealth had rendered some alliance necessary. That has been the position which I have consistently adopted, and it was the position which I occupied when I spoke on the AddressinReply. But my attitude in this connexion is made still clearer by a further letter from me, in reply to another by Mr. Hammond, lt was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, and reads thus: -
It is true that a minority must not be permitted to occupy the Treasury benches, irrespective of party. It is an outrage upon the Constitution, upon representative government, upon the democratic principle of majority rule, and any honorable means of putting an end’ to minority rule by a temporary alliance, not involving as a basic . condition the surrender of vital principles, will be hailed by the majority of people, I venture to believe, with satisfaction. But there is danger that hysterical clamour may encourage an alliance which will ultimately lead to disaster, or at any rate to a perpetuation of” evils which it will take a generation to remedy. Unfortunately, the grand free-trade victory of this State was rendered abortive by the preponderance of labourites and protectionists returned in the other States - a fact which renders it impossible for the party to successfully attack the Tariff in the present Parliament.
I think that letter renders my position absolutely clear. I do. not see how, by any possible distortion of facts, the attitude which I have taken up can be said to involve any sacrifice of principle. During the course of his speech yesterday, the Minister of External Affairs remarked, “ Times change, and we change with them.” The truth of that observation is exemplified by the change which has taken place in the Ministerial policy as compared with that which the Labour Party vigorously advocated when they had not responsibility linked with control, but exercised control without responsibility. We find that with the exception of a mutilated Conciliation and Arbitration Bill .all those great measures which they deemed so imperatively necessary when they were occupying the cross benches are now relegated to the background. Instead of proposing to pass legislation which they were so eager to force the late Government to enact, they have put forward a perfectly harmless, inoffensive programme, which one is forced to conclude must have been obtained as the result of some one eavesdropping at the door of the leader of the Opposition’s room.
– All our proposals have been on our platform for the last ten years
– If that be so they must have been well concealed. It is a remarkable coincidence that in many respects the programme put forward bv the Government is practically the same as that which the leaders of the other parties in the
House have proposed as the basis of the projected coalition.
– They must have taken their programme from the Labour Party.
– I do not know whether they did so or whether the Labour Party obtained their” programme from our leaders.
– We do not object to honorable members opposite supporting such a programme.
– Just so; but they can support it with greater effect when coming from a Ministry of their own. The Government programme for this session is such a milk and water one, as compared with the strong measures which’ they held to be imperatively necessary when they occupied the cross benches, that no one could take exception to it. If the programme which the Labour Party put forward before they went into office was considered to be necessary at that time, should it not be equally imperative now ? If it were necessary to place certain proposals in the very forefront of their programme then, should it not be even more urgently necessary to do so now that the party are in office? A contemplation of these facts shows how true are the words of the Minister of External Affairs that “ Times change, and we change with them.” The honorable and learned gentleman intended that the remark should apply, not to the present Government, but to honorable members of the Opposition, and I think I have shown, with sufficient clearness, that its truth is more fully exemplified by the attitude of the present Ministry than by the position taken up. by the Opposition. Another exemplification of its truth is also to be found. “ Times change, and we change with them,” should be the motto at the head of every labour manifesto, because the Labour Party’s programmes have, from first to last, shown how great has been the change which their opinions have undergone. The party have changed from a desire, in the first instance, for freedom to a wish to give effect to principles which are the worst form of toryism. By a gradual process of evolution they have lost the grand ideals which they originally professed, and have come down to the level of men of semi-barbarous times. They now seek to bring into operation legislation very similar to that against which their forefathers fought for generations. I do not say that they have designedly made this choice. Their action has been due to ignorance of true economic laws. They have “lost sight of the grand ideals of freedom that lie at the root of a nation’s prosperity and progress. And what is true of the nation is true of the individual. A nation is after all only a collection of individuals. “ Freedom “ should be the watchword of every community claim- ing to have any true regard for democratic principles, for restriction makes for all that is bad in what we know as toryism. In this connexion I shall quote another remark made by the Minister of External Affairs when dealing with the fact that even so great a Tory as the late Sir John Mclntyre had actually advocated something in the direction of Socialism. That Sir John Mclntyre should have done anything of the kind appeared to the honorable and learned gentleman to be little short of marvellous; but there is nothing marvellous about it. Protection and toryism have always been inseparable, and Socialism, which is the twin sister of protection, falls naturally into line as a measure of toryism. All socialistic principles, so far as they have been elucidated, within my knowledge, tend towards what is known iri the old country as Toryism.
– The Social Democrats in Germany belong to the Free-trade Party.
– That may be so, because their principles are more in a line with what is known as the Single Tax, than Socialism as understood here ; but there are Tories in the Free-trade Party as well as in other bodies.
– But the honorable member said that protection and Socialism were synonymous.
– They are in the sense that both are based upon the restriction of individual rights. Restriction is the underlying basis of both principles, and in that respect they certainly have an affinity. Democracy, on the other hand, makes not for restriction, but for increased freedom.
– Would the honorable member burn the statute-book? .
– If one session of Parliament could be devoted to the work of destroying many of the laws which have been passed a distinct gain would accrue to the community.
– The honorable member is an Anarchist.
– That is not so; my training and my natural desire is that no injury should be Bone to any individual.
We should all enjoy equal freedom, and my training and natural inclination in that respect should satisfy honorable members that I would never support any attempt to encroach upon- another man’s equal liberty. Every one is not built the same way, and some honorable members opposite might require the presence of a policeman to induce them to observe the law. I do not think, however, that they would. My objection to them is not a personal one, and, as a matter of fact, between many of the members of the Labour Party and myself there is a friendship of long standing.
– They are not a bad lot.
– Certainly not. I have always given them credit for a desire to observe the most humane principles; but I think that they are not going the right way to give effect to those principles.
– Was not the honorable member at one time a pledged labour candidate ?
– I am coming to that point. I referred a few minutes ago to the remark made by the Minister of External Affairs, that “ Times change, and we change with them.” I demonstrated the fact that it applies with peculiar force to the members of the present Government. I wish now to show that these words apply with even greater force to the whole labour movement, from its. inception to the present time. I have to thank the honorable member opposite for reminding me of this. I was on two occasions made the subject of a violent attack by the honorable member for Gwydir on this point, and on my previous connexion with the Labour Party. Of all men with whom I am personally acquainted, he is the last who should speak of the sacrifice of principle, or . throw stones at another. I would remind him of the advice which he gave me when speaking during the debate on the Address-in-Reply on Mr. Chamberlain’s preferential trade proposals, that “ those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” He did not recognise that the house in which I am living is a stone house, while he lives in the glass house. No man in the political arena of Australia has had a more chequered or varied career’ than he has had. When I made his acquaintance, twelve or thirteen years ago, he was a rabid and uncompromising free-trader. When I next knew him, he did not know whether he was a freetrader or a protectionist, and was inclined to both faiths, sitting on a rail as a “fairtrader.”
– He was sinking the fiscal issue then.
– That was at a time when the fiscal issue was a burning question in New South Wales politics. But as a number of free-traders thought that protection was coming, they hastened to change their coats accordingly, and among the first to do this was the honorable member for Gwydir. I lost sight of him for some years, and I then found him to be a member of the Labour Party, and a strong Socialist, though previously he had been inclined to single-tax principles, which, are the antithesis of Socialism. Then he ran as a protectionist labour candidate for the electorate of Canterbury, in opposition to Messrs. Bavister and Daniehy, the selected candidates of the party. He is scarcely the man who should speak about fidelity to principle, and prate of consistency. The only thing in which he has been consistent is his inconsistency.
– But he is regenerated now.
– Degenerated would more correctly describe his position. He has done nothing but degenerate, politically, ever since I first met him, and that statement is abundantly proved by the fact that he now sits behind this Ministry. After the Canterbury election I lost sight of him again, and then he turned up in the electorate in which I live, and is at present a constituent of mine. He was elected an alderman of the municipality of Marrickville, which is in the Lang electorate, and the electors there had ample opportunities to become acquainted with him and with his opinions. As an alderman he rendered good service to the municipality, and one would think that, having served with distinction in that honorable post, the electors of the State electorate of Marrickville would have been ready to choose him as their representative in the State Parliament. His conflicting variety of political opinions, however, had earned him the popular title of the “political chameleon,” and he secured the magnificent total of only eleven votes.
-How many votes did the honorable member get when he first stood for election to Parliament?
– Nearly 700; and when next I stood, although I withdrew before the poll was held, roughly speaking, about 300 votes were . cast ‘ for me.
The honorable member for Gwydir disappeared from the Marrickville electorate, and when next I heard of him he had bobbed up into the political arena from a back blocks constituency, having succeeded in getting elected to the State Parliament by a constituency to whom his previous political history was unknown. Now he has succeeded in getting into this Parliament. I mention these facts without having anv personal feeling against him, and merely to illustrate the aptness of his remark that “people living in glass houses should not throw stones.” He should not have forgotten that I am acquainted with his political history, and would, therefore, have been wise to refrain from the unjustifiable attack upon me which has made these statements necessary. He referred to my connexion with the Labour Party, of which more anon. I have not yet fully dealt with the point I at present wish to emphasize. I desire to show how the trite saying of the Minister for External Affairs applies to the rise, progress, and possible fall of the Labour Party. I have here the first manifesto issued by that party. when they adopted the fighting platform.
– For what State?
– For the State of New South Wales. I shall trace their history from that time until now. No one knows more about the history of the party in its early days - in the days when it made for freedom - than I do. The first proposal 10 form a Labour Party emanated from under my roof, and I may claim, in a sense, to be the actual father of the party.
– The honorable member looks too young !
– I admit that I arn not very patriarchial in appearance. I did not expect my progeny to turn out the utter and ghastly failure which politically they are, though, personally they do not reflect discredit on their political parentage.
– What is the date of the manifesto from which the honorable member is about to quote?
– 1893. The Labour Party was formed in 1891, but in 1893 its members decided to get rid of the large platform on which they had been previously working, and, at a conference, adopted a fighting platform on which to contest the approaching elections under a new Electoral Act. On this platform land value taxation stood first. Then came the following planks : - “ Mining on private property,” “Abolition of the Upper House..” “ Local government on a democratic basis,” “National banking,” and the “Legislative limitation of the working day to eight hours.”
– They carried land value taxation.
– I cannot recognise that they did. I was ready to accept that platform in its entirety. At that time I was about to contest the Rylstone seat, which, so far as one can calculate in these matters, was an absolute certainty for me, and has ever since been held by a free-trader, and a worthy friend of mine, Mr. J. C. L. Fitzpatrick. I elected, however, to fight for the platform of the Labour Party, because it was more free-trade than was that of the Free-trade Party. Not only did its acceptanca involve no sacrifice of principle on my part, but it enabled me to follow further that line of policy which I have always supported ; and it has been always my plan to attach myself to the party which is going furthest in the direction in which I wish to proceed. The reason given in the manifesto of the Labour Party for making land value taxation the first plank of their platform was this :
Whereas, in the opinion of this Conference, the destruction of land monopoly is the first step in obtaining economic reform, the first plank in the fighting platform should be land value taxation, according to plank 13 of the labour platform.
So important did the members of the conference regard land value taxation, that they removed it from its position as thirteenth plank to the first place, because they considered it necessary to obtain that reform, in order to bring about any improvement in the condition of labour. But thev have not yet got land value taxation, nor have they attempted to get it in its entirety.
– The leader of the Opposition has said that we have got it.
– I shall come to that.
– Does the honorable member think that this has anything to do with the question under discussion?
– It became necessary for me to refer to these matters in reply to the attacks made upon me, because of ‘ my present position and my former connexionwith the Labour Party.
– If the honorable member feels it necessary to go into these details, I hope that he will be as brief as may be.
– Certainly. I shall proceed only to the extent necessary to give a fair exposition of the situation. Turning to the thirteenth plank of the platform, I find the following: -
Prohibition of further alienation of Crown lands, and the recognition in our legislative enactments of the natural and inalienable rights of the whole community to the land - upon which all must live - and from which, by labour, all wealth is produced. By the taxation of that value which accrues to land from the presence and needs of the community, irrespective of improvements effected by human exertion, and the absolute and indefeasible right of property on the part of all Crown tenants in improvements effected on their holdings.
Following upon that, I find that, although the party had not succeeded in securing the adoption of even the first plank of their platform, they gradually dropped the subject, until, in 1898, they sought for only a progressive land tax. In later platforms, all reference to the subject was deleted. At the time I have spoken of, the labour programme was an absolutely free-trade platform. Now, to show that my action was consistent in supporting the Labour Party, a”s I knew it at that time, I will quote further from their platform. The quotation has reference to what was meant bv sinking the fiscal issue, and is printed in prominent type -
They will not sink the question of revenue. They will strive to obtain revenue for State and local purposes by a tax on unimproved land values, and thus bring into use the bulk of the land now held by monopolists for speculative purposes.
It further stated -
Any man turning from the straight path thus laid down can find no place in the ranks or councils of the party. He will be Distinctly Repudiated by all Labour Bodies.
If we follow what was done in connexion with the declaration of the policy of the Labour Party, we find that when this principle came up for discussion in the State Assembly of New South Wales, they voted in favour of exemptions. The first time that the party had the matter under consideration, they indorsed the principle of no exemptions ; but when it came to a matter of practical politics, and a Land Tax Bill was introduced into the Legislature, the Labour Party were the loudest in proclaiming the necessity for exemptions, and absolutely refused to support the measure without such a provision. This was done in face of the fact that the labour platform had declared that any one who departed from the strict lines laid downin the programme would not be admittedto the labour councils; but would practically be declared bogus. I- ask, where is that platform now? and where are the members who stood behind it? I am standing by it still, and therefore I think I -can honestlv claim to be the only’ true supporter here of the Labour Party when it had a policy which was worth fighting for. It has no such policy now. On the question of exemptions, I think it will be pardonable if I quote a short sentence from a speech of the present Prime- Minister.
– Order ! I must confess that I am not able to see at this stage what the question of exemptions, or no exemptions in connexion with the land tax policy, has to do with the matter under debate. If the honorable member cannot directly connect his remarks with the subject, I shall ask him to pass on to other matters.
– Do I understand you to rule that I shall not be in order in attempting to justify my attitude by reference to the speeches of other honorable members ?
– I can quite understand that an honorable member mav require to refer incidentally to events of many years ago, for the purpose of defending himself against imputations which may have been cast upon him; but I should expect such references to be of an incidental character.
– On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I should like to know whether I shall be in a position to address myself to the history of the Labour Party in its bearing upon the adoption of their present attitude. It seems to me that they are now dropping many of the planks which were in the platform on which they were first elected, and that it would be desirable to know the reasons they are able to give for having abandoned a portion of their programme. I trust that you will hold that an honorable member will be justified in showing that, owing . to the fact that the party in power have dropped many of the planks nf their platform, they are not entitled to the confidence of the country.
– I think that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is under a misapprehension as to the real purpose of the debate that is now proceeding. If this were a no-confidence debate, I should feel obliged to permit any such references as those to which he has referred. This, however, is not a no-confidence debate, but a discussion upon certain definite proposals which have been placed before the House by the leader of the Government. I do not remember any reference in those proposals to a land tax, with or without exemptions, and, therefore, it seems to me that a lengthy reference to land taxation, with or without exemptions, is ‘altogether outside the scope of the discussion. Moreover, the honorable member for Lang does not pretend to be addressing himself to the subject under discussion, but has avowed that his object is to clear himself from certain imputations. I have asked him to do so, as briefly as he may, and to, as far as possible, avoid reference to matters beyond the scope of the debate.
– I shall respect your, ruling, Mr. Speaker, but, whilst doing so, I must certainly direct your attention to the fact that I refrained from retaliating whilst these charges were being made against me, because I thought that I should have an ample opportunity of dealing fully with the matter afterwards.
– The honorable member now has an opportunity, if he will proceed.
– But I am subject to certain limitations. It seemed to me necessary to. read certain quotations in order to make clear my position and that of the Ministry, and to show that changes which have occurred in the policy of the Labour Party make it impossible for me to follow the Government. I thought this necessary, more particularly because the Government, through some of its members, has given a direct invitation to members on this side of the House to go over and support it. I desire to show that it is impossible for a man with liberal ideas, and with sympathies entirely in accord ,with the legitimate aims of labour, to follow the Government, owing to their departure from the programme first adopted. I shall, however, proceed no further on those lines. The position is that we have a duty to perform, and that is, to bring back the administration of our affairs to proper lines, and to conditions more in accord with the recognised principles of constitutional government. Therefore, believing that constitutional government can be maintained only by a Ministry which has a clear majority of supporters behind it, we are endeavouring to clear the atmosphere, and to establish a plain line of demarcation between Government supporters and those who are in opposition. Even at the present time, the Ministry know perfectly well that there is arrayed against them a combination, perhaps not absolutely agreed, but a combination of Oppositionists thrown into association with each other because of their disbelief in the principles embodied in the general labour platform. It is for those who do not believe in minority rule, to endeavour to bring about a condition of affairs under which we can establish a Government, whether it be a Labour, a Protectionist, or a Free-trade Ministry, that will be able to control its own business and command a fair majority. It is with this end in view that I have taken my present stand with regard to the proposed coalition. I do not desire a coalition, but circumstances have forced us into some kind of united action for the purpose of relieving the country from the chaotic state of affairs into which it is now being driven. Those who have come together with a view to achieve this object deserve the best thanks of the coun try, even though they may have for the present to sink certain questions which would under ordinary circumstances keep thiem asunder.
– I have not had the advantage of reading the speeches which were delivered yesterday., but I have had an opportunity of reading the reports published in the newspapers. Therefore, I feel justified in taking part in the discussion at this stage, .because I think I can take up the current of the debate without being placed under any special dis; advantage. When listening to the speech of the Minister of External Affairs I could not help being struck with the acrimony which he has thought fit to introduce into the debate. It was the first occasion on which the honorable and learned gentleman had taken part in any debate in this House since he assumed Ministerial office; and it bodes ill for the future if that honorable gentleman intends to follow the course which he adopted on Friday last, and again yesterday, of making personal attacks upon members sitting on the opposite side of the House, simply because their opinions happen to conflict with his own upon such impersonal questions as the constitution of the party to which he belongs. Every honorable member will agree with me that if there has been one characteristic more than another that has distinguished the deliberations of this Chamber from those of the States Parliaments, it is the absolute good-will that has existed since we first met in March, 1901.
– I wish the honorable and learned member would say “ some of the States Parliaments.”
– The honorable member for Franklin comes from an ideal State, where things are better managed than they are in larger countries. But whatever may be the condition of things in Tasmania, or elsewhere, I can say that, after membership of the New South Wales Parliament for twelve or fifteen years, I was very much impressed by the absence of illfeeling and acrimony which characterised the first Commonwealth Parliament. It is true that we gave utterance to some very direct statements concerning one another, and one another’s policy. We did not hesitate to make those statements in the most straightforward way, but I do not recollect a single instance in which one could truthfully say that, as a result, ill-feeling had been engendered between members holding opposite opinions. The fact is that, in espousing certain views, we have invariably credited one another with sincerity. If opposing parties are prepared to do that, there should be a complete end to bitterness, because all sincere politicians are endeavouring to arrive at the same ultimate result, even though they may be travelling by different routes’. I hold that it is to the advantage of the country thatwe should conduct our deliberations amicably, instead of allowing the personal element to create bitterness and to retard the transaction of business. The Minister of External Affairs entered into a number of personal matters which very much astonished those who have for many years associated him, in State as well as in Federal politics, with the right honorable member for East Sydney. Not only did that honorable gentleman speak of the Minister in complimentary terms, but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did likewise. Indeed, I think that the right, honorable member for East Sydney almost overdid his complimentary references to the ability of the Minister of External Affairs. I repeat then that it bodes ill for the future of this House if that honorable gentleman, as a politician possessing some years of experience, intends to set the example of bitter personal attack upon those who disagree with him. I should like to know why the honorable and learned gentleman so bitterly resented the complete investigation of his party’s methods, which was vouchsafed to this House by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Is he ashamed of the constitution of his organization? Is he ashamed of the methods that are adopted by the caucus being driven home to him in the extremely logical way in which they were treated by those honorable members? Is he ashamed of having given a pledge, which, as a member of the Labour Party, he is bound to respect? If not, he ought rather to rejoice that some of the practices and principles which guide the regulation of his party, are being emulated by honorable members upon this side of the chamber. But the Minister seemed to think that to analyze the methods and the organization of his party, or the pledge which he gave to it and to the “labour” supporters throughout Australia, was a sort of indictment against his political and moral character. Indeed, in order to put the tu quogue reply in as offensive a manner as he possibly could, he turned upon me, and charged me with having emulated the methods of the Labour Party by giving a policy pledge. That observation brings me to a somewhat personal matter. The Minister, as we all regret, is somewhat deaf,- and his deafness places him under a very ‘ great disability in this House ; because it very frequently happens that an interjection is not heard by him, or is heard in such a way that he misunderstands it. During the course of this debate one unpleasant episode occurred which was due to- a member of the Labour Party, and for which I hold neither that party nor the Minister of External Affairs responsible. When the right honorable member for East Sydney wished to make an explanation of some matter which was charged against him bv the Minister, a member of the Labour Party objected to granting him the necessary permission to do so.
– In accordance with the rules of Parliament.
– I do not object to those rules.
– Why not wipe them out ?
– They are very good rules, and I have no desire to wipe them Out. But, although those rules are laid down to prevent an abuse of the practice to which they apply, it is a very common custom, when the leader of a party desires to make a personal explanation, for the honorable member who is addressing the Chamber, to allow him to do so at the time when the charge is fresh in the memory of the House. Mr. Speaker very properlyasked the House whether it approved of the right honorable member for East Sydney being allowed to make an explanation. With what result ? With the exception of one honorable member the whole Chamber saw the justice of acceding to the request, but one honorable member exercised the power which he undoubtedly possesses to say, “ I object-.” I refer to this question simply to justify my own course of conduct. The Minister of External Affairs was angered because the organization of his party, and the principle of the caucus and the pledge, had been criticised, and accordingly he turned a very vigorous hi quoque upon me. He challenged me to deny a certain fact. I declined the challenge. Why? Because I knew perfectly well that the same spirit which .ha d animated one honorable member of the Labour Party to prevent the leader of the Opposition from making an explanation, would again be exhibited if I attempted to make my explanation. But the Minister of External Affairs allowed his anger to lead him into an indiscretion. He charged me - and I think I am one of the most independent members of this House-with having emulated the methods of the Labour Party, by giving a political pledge. I now challenge him to produce any- such pledge that I have ever given; and I should like him to know that I issue that challenge. I understand what he meant, and I shall tell the “House what it was, because I am very anxious to preserve the good opinion of honorable members, not only in regard to my politics, but in regard to my consistency. This is a personal matter which is absolutely dragged from me by the circumstances to which I have referred. Upon one occasion, although I am a Protestant, I resolved to send a child of mine to a Roman Catholic Convent. I was liberal enough to recognise that it was possible for one of my own children to receive a good education there. The child went to that convent and died there, and I had sufficient liberalism in my disposition to publish the fact that the death of the child occurred at the convent. What was the result? I lost my seat at the Federal Convention, and during the last election the matter was again brought up against me. Certain Protestant bodies doubted my impartiality with regard to the Catholic creed, and I was asked four direct questions upon paper.
– Is that the state of politics in New South Wales ?
– It was the state of politics at that time.
– It is shameful.
– I do not object. I merely desire to show what a poverty of resource the Minister of External Affairs laboured under when he levelled this charge against me. I was asked whether I favoured public appointments going to men and women irrespective of their creed, to which I answered “Yes;” whether I favoured Sunday observance, to which I replied “ Yes ;” and whether I approved of clerical precedence being given to that Church which had the greatest numerical following.
– What did the honorable and learned member say to that?
– I said “Yes,” certainly. . I was also asked whether I favoured Government inspection of charitable industrial institutions, to which I answered “Yes.” I added, at the foot of the four questions, a note somewhat to this effect: - “These are all questions which every liberal-minded man must answer in the affirmative.” That is the only pledge - political, religious, social, or otherwise - that I have ever given in my life. The House, therefore, will realize the poverty of material at the disposal of the Minister of External Affairs when he charged me with having given a pledge, knowing full well, as he did, tha.t a member of his own party was resolved to prevent any honorable member upon this side of the House from making a personal explanation. Since then scores of people have asked me how I reconcile my action in having given a pledge with the attitude which I have always assumed in regard to the practice of intellectually handcuffing politicians.
– Was it not necessary for the honorable and learned member to give answers to those questions as a prelude to his selection by a certain organization?
– I do not know. Does the Prime Minister repeat the statement of the Minister of External Affairs? I was prepared to answer those questions upon any platform and at any time in my life. The Prime Minister talks about “a prelude to selection.” It shows the narrowgutted way in which he views matters. He has asked me whether answers to the questions were necessary as a prelude to my selection.
– Were they?
– I do not know, neither do I care. The Minister of External Affairs charged me with having signed a pledge. I am thankful to say that I have never signed one. The alleged pledge which I gave would never have been signed under any other circumstances.
– Was not a similar document sent to the other candidates?
– I merely know that it was brought to me by one of my supporters, who stated that many of the electors were under the impression that I favoured Roman Catholicism. I replied - “ I have no actual bias either towards Protestantism or Catholicism. I value men for what they are, and for what they do - not for the creed which they may follow.” The Minister of External Affairs further charged me with having stultified my expressed opinions upon a number of other questions. The honorable gentleman assumed for the purposes of debate that the list of political principles which had been published in the press had been converted into a kind of pledge by every one who contemplated assisting the coalition movement. When my leader spoke to me in regard to the projected coalition, I replied that I would support him in any movement to bring about a coalition, provided that there was no sacrifice of any vital principle. I shall tell the honorable gentleman, who made the charge, what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has already told the public, that it was never intended that every honorable member, who contemplated taking part in the coalition movement, should agree to adhere to >every item of the so-called programme. Does any honorable member, who is in his right mind, imagine that, after I had separated myself from my party, and stood almost alone in regard to “the policy of a White Australia, I should stultify myself and go back upon my principles for the sake of a miserable coalition? The man who imagines that I would, could not have read the conditions associated with that list of legislative proposals, or he would not make such a charge.
– “ Miserable coalition “ is a good name for the proposed combination.
– That may be so from the point of view of the Ministry and their supporters.
– That is the term which the honorable and learned member applied.
– I would apply to the observation made by the honorable member for Yarra a remark once made 6y
Lord Beaconsfield, who said that the most effective satire is a majority. The honorable member may laugh on the other side of his mouth before a very long period has passed.
– We are glad to hear that the courage of .the Opposition has been roused.
– Why do not the’ Opposition adopt a straight-out course, instead of resorting to all this fencing?
– I shall ask the honorable member by-and-by why he does not come at once to his policy. I shall show the House how he has dealt with it now that responsibility is thrown upon his party. That will be a very pleasing part of the duty which I propose to perform this evening.
– We shall be very pleased to listen to the honorable and learned member.
– I hope that it will be understood that although I somewhat vigorously resent personal attacks, such as have, unfortunately, been made by the Minister of External Affairs. I bring no bitterness into this matter, and do not harbour any resentment. To my mind, the Minister of External Affairs has been guilty of a great want of judgment. He has displayed a lack of Ministerial wisdom ; and if his example were followed by other honorable members, this House, instead of being a very pleasant assembly to which to belong, would become unbearable, and one to which a very few men would care to be returned.
– It would become something like the New South Wales Parliament.
– The language used by the Minister was scandalous.
– I say, then, with all solemnity, that I regard the present position as a crisis in Australian history. The press may regard it from a narrow standpoint, and contend that it is merely a question of the “. ins “ and the “ outs !’ ; people may think that, after all, it is merely a question of whether Mr. Watson, Mr. Deakin, or Mr. Reid should be Prime Minister ; but, in my opinion, we have reached the gravest political juncture that has yet occurred, not merely in the history of the Federal Parliament, but in the history of the Parliaments of Australia. We shall have to decide, sooner or later, whether the society of Australia - and I use the word society in its sociological sense - is to be conducted upon the lines followed at the present time by all civilized countries, or whether it is to be handed over to a body of enthusiasts - and I use that word with all respect - who are firmly convinced of the wisdom of nationalizing all industries and of converting society from a self-helping, self-sustaining body, in which the individual has the fullest freedom, to one in which the community as a whole completely dominates the individual. That is the issue. The honorable member foi Southern Melbourne may smile; he may not be able to grasp the gravity of the situation.
– Not in that respect.
– The honorable member lacks, perhaps, that appreciation of the position which would enable him to recognise the far-reaching consequences of this issue. I assert with -all good will that we have reached the parting of the ways. We have to determine whether the Government, with its undoubted belief in all the immoderate aspects of Socialism, is to have not only the legislative but the executive power of this country placed in its hands, or whether the country is to be governed on lines which, as I have already said, are at present followed by every civilized community in the world.
– We are all going in the same direction.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that that makes the position a right one?
– Not necessarily.
– Has the honorable gentleman ever heard of that great Greek orator who once said something which elicited the vociferous applause of his audience, and, turning to a friend observed : “ What was it that I said ; it must have been something very foolish.” Does the honorable member think, that because the rest of the world is, as he says, “ going in the same direction “ it is right for us to do so ? How can that assertion be advanced as an argument?
– The honorable and learned member is advancing the argument that we are going contrary to all other nations.
– I say that no nation has been built up on the principles proposed by the Government. I shall challenge the Prime Minister, by and by, to give the people of Australia a single instance in which a community, started upon a socialistic basis, has ever emerged from obscurity. That, after all, is one of the- tests that the people of Australia will be forced to apply by-and-by in order to determine which of these parties shall be in the ascendant. We have reached a grave juncture in our history, because at no time has the reign of a Habour and Socialistic Ministry been so imminent. I am sure that honorable members opposite are now so accustomed to the application of the term “ Socialists “ to them that they will not consider me offensive in speaking of them in that way.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member will recollect that in the earlier life of this Parliament the word “ Socialist “ was applied with bated breath. A supposition prevailed that some of -the members of the Labour Party insisted on the use of the word . “ Democrat,” as distinguished from the word “Socialist.”
– It has now become a reproach to be an individualist.
– I think it is admitted that the policy of the Government is a Socialistic one, and it will be my duty to analyse that policy, as well as some of -the utterances of the Labour Party, in order that we may know exactly where the party and their policy is likely to lead Australia.
– The honorable and learned member will take the honorable and learned member for Werriwa as his guide.
– I do not accept any honorable member as my guide. The Minister of External Affairs said that the question was “ Under which king ? “ That may be a very heroic and very satisfactory way of putting the issue from his point of view, but I should like to present it in a much more matter-of-fact and, I think, much more comprehensive way. The question is, as I put it, “ Is Australia to be governed by a fifth or a sixth part of its people in the interest of its own class?” I use those words very deliberately.
– In the interests, not of a class, but of Australia.
– No; in the interests of the fifth or sixth part.
– In view of our franchise, is not that impossible?
– It will be impossible so far as legislation is concerned, so long as we have an Opposition as strong as is the present one. But I mean to>point out to-night to the House that the . gravest danger to this community - if Socialism is a danger - lies not in the passing of legislation by the present Government, which would be well checked by a dominating Opposition, but in allowing that Government to exercise the Executive powers of this country during a period of many months of recess.
– That is the point.
– Hear, hear ; that is the point.
– The honorable member knows that it is. I would invite the House to take note of his beaming countenance.
– We do not know what his feelings are.
– We do not know what is in his mind.
– I do not know whether the honorable member quite sees the point of view from which I am dealing with this matter. I am not thinking of what is possibly in the honorable member’s mind - the matter of Ministerial pay.
– Nor am I. I am thinking only of the question of administration.
– Exactly. The House knows very well that the same laws may be administered in totally different ways.
– We have found out that that may be so.
– We have had an instance of that kind, to which I shall make reference later. Another question for our consideration is, whether this country is to be governed by one-third of the members of this House. No exception can be taken to the stating of that proposition. It must be remembered that the members of the party now in office have in the past cried themselves hoarse in support of the principle of Government by majority; and yet with the support -of only one-third of honorable members of this House they occupy the Treasury benches, and claim “ fair piay.”
– We say to the Opposition - “ Put us out if you can.”
– And, “ If you cannot put us out, keep quiet.”
– I take it that these honorable gentlemen are impressed with the morality of Government by majority; and if they have recognised and admitted it, as I shall show they have, from time to time, surely it is their duty not to wait to be put out of office. The proposition appears to be considered by honorable members opposite to be humorous.
– It is, when we come to think that the suggestion is that we should give way to another minority.
– It is a Humorous proposal to a party, the members of which have in the past pledged themselves again and again to support the principle of government by majority. The honorable gentleman at the head of the Government admitted, when speaking in connexion with the May Day celebration deputation, that he had not a m’ajority in the House.
– I said that so far as we knew we had not, but that we hoped that we had a majority.
– The honorable gentleman did not say that “ so far as he knew “ they did not possess a majority, but that they had not a m’ajority.
-i think I did.
– I shall quote what the honorable gentleman said. He said that the Government had not at present a majority in the House.
– I think I said that, so far as I knew, we had not a majority.
– What report has the honorable and learned member in support of his statement?
– I have a newspaper report of the speeches.
– -A report from a Victorian newspaper?
– Yes, and I have also reports of some of the speeches made by the honorable member.
– I disclaim the whole lot of them.
– It seems to meand I did not at the outset intend to make this suggestion - that the idea of there being a moral aspect to this principle is a subject for humour so far as honorable members opposite are concerned.
– The suggestion that we should give way to a minority is.
– If the admission to which I have referred has been made, there can be no question as to the proper course for the Government to follow. The Minister of External Affairs said - “ We are h.ere by no fault or desire of our own ; we have been forced into office.” I should like the people of this country to recognise the absurdity of that statement. The honorable member at the head of this Government was sent for by the Governor-General, not to put him into office, in the constitutional sense, but to invite him to take office. It was a first step which should have led him to a second one - to ascertain whether he could, according to true constitutional principles, count upon a working majority by which to carry on the affairs of this great country.
– What would the honorable and learned member have said if the honorable member for Bland had not taken office? He would have called him- a coward.
– I should have said that, having the conviction in his mind which he has expressed since he took office, that he could not command a majority, or that he had not a majority in this House, he had done what was constitutionally right in declining His Excellency’s offer.
– Will the honorable and learned member quote me correctly? I have a report of the speech here.
– So have I ; but if the honorable gentleman will lend me his report, I will quote from it the passage to which I refer. It is this :
Unfortunately, at present we have not got a majority in the House, upon the general programme of the party, so far as we know.
The words “ so far as we know “ are, I admit, omitted from the report which I have, though that passage will help my argument equally well. The Minister of External Affairs has told us that the Government have been “ forced into office by no fault or desire of their own.” I think, from my reading of constitutional practice and history that it was the duty of the Prime Minister, when he was asked by the Governor-General if’ he could form an administration, to first of all ascertain, and to know definitely, whether he could count upon a working majority in this House.
– We had a majority on the question of applying the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to the public servants.
– As he no doubt knew then, and, as he has admitted that he knows to-day that he had not a majority in this House, on his general programme, it was his positive duty to inform the GovernorGeneral of the fact. He did wrong in taking office.
– What about our position in connexion with the amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– I hope that the honorable gentleman will not try to get away from the point on which I am speaking. My contention is that he has admitted that he could not command a majority on his general programme, and that it- was, therefore, his__duty to decline office. It was contrary to the constitutional principles of all British communities to deliberately undertake to form an Administration when he knew that he had not a majority on his general programme. That, fact being admitted, what folly it is for the Minister of External Affairs to exclaim - “We are here by no fault or desire of our own. We have been forced into office !” I charge the members of the Ministry with the full knowledge that they took office without a working majority ?
– What is the penalty?
– I hope that the honorable gentleman does not .think that gaol or fines are the only forms of penalty which should frighten men. There is a tenderer sense of right and wrong than that which is governed by fear of such results. This is . how the Prime Minister was reported by the newspapers in which I read an account of his speech -
They had not at present a majority in the House on the general programme of the party.
– “ So far as we know.”
– The words “ so far as we know “ do not occur in the report which I read, but they do not affect my argument. So far from their having been, forced into office, it is ludicrous to so describe the position of the Ministry. The temptation to take office - I do not say on monetary grounds - was so irresistible that they stepped over the constitutional principle, which they must have known as well as I do. They took office voluntarily and deliberately, with their eyes open, and in such a way as to render the statements of the Minister of External Affairs absolute nonsense. I can support my arguments on this subject by recognized constitutional authority, and I ask honorable members who may not have had time to look up the Question for this occasion to listen to one or two authorities.
– Who was responsible for a member of the Labour Party being sent for ?
– The honorable member must not expect me’ to answer conundrums. Todd, on Parliamentary Government, vol. I., page 19, says: -
In order that the Ministry may be in a position to devise and recommend to Parliament a policy that shall commend itself to the highest intelligence of the country, it is indispensable that they should have sufficient strength in the popular Assembly to enable them to withstand the pressure of temporary political excitement.
Then in vol. II., page 394, he says: -
Ministers of the Crown are constitutionally responsible, not merely for the preparation and conduct of legislative measures through both Houses of Parliament, and for the control of legislation -
I ask honorable members to consider for a moment how the Labour Party, whose members number only a third of this House, could control the legislation which they put before us, if it were not favorably regarded by those who are opposed to them?
– Does not Todd give instances of breaches of that rule?
– If . the honorable member will quote them, I shall make it my business to sit here and listen to him. I credit Todd with consistency, and I am speaking now of general principles, not of special cases - general principles in the nature of deductions from the whole of the precedents upon which he relies. He contends that the Ministry are constitutionally responsible -
Not merely for the preparation and conduct of legislative measures through both Houses of Parliament, and for the control of legislation undertaken bv private members, but also for the oversight and direction of the entire mass of public business which is submitted to Parliament. Nothing should be left to the will and caprice of a fluctuating majority in the Legislature.
Let me ask what would be the effect of the control of this Ministry if honorable members opposed to them chose to bring in private measures which Ministers considered inimical to the interests of the country.
– That would be impossible.
– I do not see why it should be impossible for any member opposed to the Ministry - and the Ministerial supporters number only onethird of the whole House - to bring in a measure which the Labour Party ‘would consider inimical to the interests of the country. In vol. 2, page 395, he continues -
Immediately upon the formation of a Ministry, it assumes in addition to the ordinary duties of an executive government, other and more important functions - unknown to the theory _of the Constitution - namely, the management, control, and direction of the whole mass of political legislation, by whomsoever originated, in conformitywith its own ideas of political science and civil economy : and so long as a Ministry commands the confidence of the House of Commons - here the House of Representatives - it should have sufficient strength to prevent the adoption by Parliament of any measure which it may judge inexpedient or unwise.
How could this Ministry, with a following of about twenty-three members, control the management or regulation of a proposed new law which they thought inimical to the interests of the country, but which was supported, on this side, by more than twenty-three members ?
– How does the honorable and learned member reconcile the fact that the policy of the two parties is so similar ?
– As Kipling says, “ that is another story.” I hope that the honorable member will allow his mind to take more relevant courses. He is asking me, when I am in the middle of my speech, about something which will be dealt with at a much later stage. Todd says, further -
In order to enable Ministers to carry on the Government in harmony and agreement with Parliament, without their being subjected to the degradation of becoming the mere tools of a democratic Assembly, it is necessary that they should be sustained by an adequate majority in both Houses, and especially in the House of Commons.
If it is a degradation to be at the mere mercy of a democratic Assembly,, is not the present Ministry in that position ?
– We do not know vet.
– A great many members of the Labour Party seem to think that the only matters to which they have to give attention are the few Bills’ which they propose to introduce this session. They lose sight of the fact that we have a very active body of members here, who may embody in private legislation ideas of which the Ministry do not approve. . I should like to know how the Ministry can, with dignity, or even with common self-respect, maintain their position as the governing committee of this House, if measures of which they disapprove are brought in by members sitting in opposition to them.
– What we ask is that we shall be given a proof that we are in the minority
– The best proof is the admission of the honorable member’s leader, that they are in a minority on the main body of their programme. Whilst that side of the House takes the socialistic view of things, most honorable members take what I call the individualistic view. Therefore, if a proposed law were introduced by a private member, the Ministry would be impotent to secure either its modification or rejection, although it might be opposed to their policy. Todd, therefore, speaks very properly of the -
Degradation of becoming the mere tools of a democratic Assembly.
That may be an ugly way of defining tHe position. It means simply that the Ministry become a dependent committee of the House, and must submit to legislation of which they do not approve.
– Does not Bagehot state that that is the proper function of a Ministry - to be a committee of the House, amenable to the decisions of the House?
– The Ministry should not be a dependent committee of the House. It is, of course, a committee of the House - th* is the whole principle underlying our constitutional government - but a committee having the control of the House. The honorable member will recollect, apropos of his remark, an instance which I gave in this Chamber a short time ago. When the late Sir Henry Parkes found that a Committee of the New South Wales Parliament would not agree to the Chairman sitting again to reconsider a certain question, he handed in his commission to the Governor, and resigned, because he had not control of the House. The Ministry should be, not an irresponsible committee, but an independent committee, capable of controlling a majority of honorable members. I have been asked what I should have done under the circumstances. That is one of those vague and broad conundrums which a speaker is not called upon to answer; but if the Prime Minister, when called upon to form an Administration, recognised that he could not command a majority in this House, it was his duty to decline the offer of the Governor-General, and to leave it to honorable members to readjust themselves until majority rule was possible. I wish now to ask an important question. What is the “Labour” policy? I shall justify myself in entertaining a doubt about it. I desire to ask whether that policy is one which is put forward in the interests of the whole country.
– It has been indorsed by honorable members of the Opposition.
– I hope that the honorable member will be patient. What I wanted to know was whether the Labour Ministry were following the policy which they have advocated in Australia for manyyears past? That is what I want to ask the honorable member, who is a very quiet follower of the present Government. Of course, the object of this Government is obviously to get well into the saddle. I can quite sympathize with that aspiration. Their object is to get well into the saddle ; and it must have been noticeable to everybody that the labour programme, which has been before the country for fifteen years - although certainly not in its present form - was a whole and complete policy, and that the measures which it comprehended were arranged in rotation, presumably, in accordance with their, supposed importance. Now, however, Ave have a doable policy - a “first session” policy and a “second session” policy - and it is very easy to see that the whole order and arrangement of the items of the labour programme has been altered in order to keep within this session those measures which are. supposed to be approved by the majority of honorable members on this side of the House, and to shift out of their order, into the next session, those items which are now regarded as constituting the initial steps in a great nationalizing policy. If honorable members who are not acquainted with the original labour programme, will refer to it they will see that the first item was “ the maintenance of a White Australia.” The second was “ compulsory arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes.” The third was “Oldage pensions,” and the fourth “The nationalization of monopolies.” That was the programme which has been recognised by the Labour Party for many years past. I wish honorable members to particularly notice the third and’ fourth items. Honorable members who have read the Address which was published by the Labour Party of Australia in the press a short time ago, will have noticed that the nationalization of the tobacco industry was linked with oldage pensions as the means whereby the money was to be obtained for the purpose of paying the pensions. Now, what is the result? We already have a White Australia, and the next item was compulsory arbitration. According to the original labour programme, old-age pensions and the nationalization of the tobacco industry should be taken next in order. Do they come next now ? No. They have been thrust forward into the next session ; other measures have been put in their place for this session, out of the turn given to them in the original programme. Why is this?
– To what measures does the honorable member refer?
– I am referring to the original programme of the Labour Party, which mentioned’ - first, the maintenance of a White Australia; secondly, compulsory arbitration ; thirdly, old-age pensions; and fourthly, the nationalization of monopolies.
– That is the order in which they appear in the Government programme.
– The Minister is quite wrong, because if that were the order in -which they now appeared in the Government programme, the moment the Arbitration Bill was disposed of we should have a Bill brought down to nationalize the tobacco industry, and also an Old-age Pensions Bill.
– Is it not possible that that arrangement is purely accidental?
– I think it is quite possible, but I shall show that there is a little method in this coincidence. The nationalization of the tobacco industry, which is the prelude to the establishment of old-age pensions, is part of the nationalizing portion of the labour programme - one of thf most definite parts of the Socialistic portion of the programme of the Government. It is not included amongst the work for this session, although it stands next to arbitration in the original programme of the party. I see a strange coincidence in the method in which the unobjectionable measures are brought forward this session, whilst a proposal which would submit to the first test the nationalization programme of the Government is pushed into next session, in order that the Government may enjoy three or four months of office, and then pass quietly into recess for eight or nine months, during which thev would enjoy full unchecked executive power. This is perfectly clear, perfectly methodical, and perfectly understandable from the Ministerial point of view. But it points to this, that since the Labour Party came into office a very distinct change has been made in their policy, as compared with their programme before they were called upon to take charge of the affairs of the country. This is what the Prime Minister said to the May Day celebrations deputation : -
If the Government was given an opportunity it’ would do as much as possible this session, and attend as well to necessary matters outside this programme for the successful working of the Federal machine.
There is no talk there about bringing the next item of the original labour programme, namely, the nationalization of monopolies, into the programme for the current session.
– The Prime Minister does not make a policy speech every day.
– No;’ one is enough for my purpose, because by the speech made by the Prime Minister a few nights ago, we were shown that the third item in the original labour programme was to be held over till the next session, instead of coming immediately after the Arbitration Bill.
– What is wrong about that ?
– I do not expect to convince the honorable member, or, in fact, any other honorable member on the Government side of the House. One cannot put his head through a brick wall. I do not wish to speak disrespectfully of the honorable member’s brain power, but I regard him as being so imbued with party spirit that he is induced to take any outlook which will best suit the party view.
– The honorable and learned member is quite wrong.
– Then my remarks may have some effect upon him. What I ask honorable members on this side of the House to believe, is that the whole programme of the Labour Party has been distorted in order to bring unobjectionable measures within the work of this session, and to postpone the socialistic part of their programme until next session. By adopting this method of procedure, the Government hope to enjoy three months of office as a Ministry, for the introduction of legislation, and nine months in recess, as administrators.
– The honorable and learned member has not shown that the items of the labour programme have been taken out of their order.
– If what I have said has not convinced the Minister, I must wait to show him privately that my view is the correct one. There is no doubt that the Labour Party and the Ministry are on the horns of a dilemma, because it must be clear to every man who regards the situation from- a cool and unbiased stand-point, that if they were to put forward during this session the objectionable part of their programme, which includes the proposal for the nationalization of the tobacco industry - which I predict will be defeated as surely as was the Bonus Bill - the Ministrywould sound the death knell of their own party. The question they will have to consider, however, is what effect their change of programme, and their postponement of what their party regard as one of the most important measures in their programme, will have upon their followers outside. This is the opinion expressed by a newspaper which I am sure every honorable member on the Government side will credit with knowledge and sincerity. I refer to the New South Wales Worker. That word “worker” ought to be sufficient to make what I am about to read palatable to every labour member.
– It makes it very unpalatable to the honorable and learned member.
– No, it does not. I do not think that I’ have shown any very strong class bias in this House.
– Oh !
– The Minister may think so - I cannot help that. This is what the Worker says -
It is for the new Ministry to convince the people of the Commonwealth that it is absolutely sincere, absolutely honest, absolutely courageous, absolutely determined to embody in the Statute-book the more pressing of its principles, even if it should go down in the attempt. To do other would be to lose supporters and to earn public contempt.
I think I am rational in assuming that the labour programme, which has been before us for years, was arranged in the order of the importance of the measures included in it.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad that the Minister assents to that. Therefore, with the White Australia question out of the way, and with compulsory arbitration disposed of, the next question to be submitted for our consideration should be the nationalization of the tobacco industry and old-age pensions. These items ought to be included within the programme for this present session, and I hold that the Labour Party show a lack of courage in not having brought them forward as part of the business to be immediately submitted to us.
– Nonsense !
– These items form part of the policy which has been put forward for years. They have been regarded as the most necessary measures, but now there is a retreat on the part of the Government. They have put these measures into the background of their policy, and have consigned them to the sweet by -and -by of next session instead of including them in the programme for this session, and bearding the lion at the outset. How long do honorable members anticipate that the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will occupy in this House? Surely it can be disposed of within a month-
– It has already occupied; three months.
– That is a very good reason why it should not occupy more than another month. Let us assume that its consideration absorbs that period. The very next item upon the Ministerial programme is the nationalization of the tobacco industry. But we are informed that that matter will not be dealt with until next session. Surely, if the Government remain in office, Parliament will not be pro- rogued when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has been passed into law ! Why is the proposal to nationalize the tobacco-, industry not to be dealt with during the current session ?
– We want to enjoy a little holiday.
– I am not now considering the position of the honorable member, but that of the Government. Why have they not the courage of their convictions ?
– Does the honorable and learned member expect that a programme which is intended to cover the life of a whole Parliament, should be introduced during the first session ?
– Not all of it. I do expect, however, that the item which stands next to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the Ministerial programme willbe brought forward during the present session. In an interview with the Prime Minister, which was published in he *Sydney Morning Herald, of the 16th May, I note that he is credited with saying :
The whole party would endeavour now that they had to bear the responsibility of office, to do their best for all.
Why would they do their best for all “now”? Why not always? What justification is there for the Government effecting a change of front from class legislation to legislation for the whole people, merely because they have taken upon themselves the responsibility of office ? There is no possibility of mistaking the meaning of these words. Everybody who has followed the journalistic literature of these States must have become heartily sick of reading expressions of opinion bv different individuals as to the necessity for looking after the interests of the particular class to which they belong. When I observed that “now that they have undertaken the responsibility of office,” the whole people are to be considered, I naturally asked myself why the fact that the Labour Party are in power should make any difference in its policy. Almost every member of that party has indulged - principally before his constituents - in diatribes regarding the injustice with which his own class is treated. Usually they give the electors to understand that it will be their chief duty to look after the interests of the workers.
– That is not correct, and the honorable and learned member knows it.
– The honorable member has no right to make that statement, because upon all sides we see statements made by the Labour Party - both inside and outside of Parliament - that the time is coming when they will be able to rectify existing abuses, and to do for their own particular class something which they could not previously accomplish. The members of that party never declare that they propose to pass legislation which will benefit everybody. Their cry always is that they intend to ameliorate the conditions of life as applied to their own class. I had become so thoroughly impregnated with that idea that I was pleased to learn from the Prime Minister that “now that the party had to bear the responsibility of office, they would do their best for all.” At this stage I should like to say a few words in reference to another very important aspect of the present situation. A great many honorable members seem to think that so long as there is a large majority upon the Opposition side of the House, the country is perfectly safe in the hands of the Labour Party- I mean “ safe “ from that class of socialistic legislation of which I, in common with many others, do not approve. The Minister of External Affairs said there was a great advantage in having a powerful Opposition to prevent unwise legislation. But I wish to point out - and I do not think sufficient attention has been paid to this phase of the matter - that if the present political crisis passes, and the Ministry continue in office during the current session, it will not be the legislation that is enacted which will be regarded with anxiety, but the exercise of the Executive power of the Commonwealth for a period of, say, nine months. I take it that eight or nine months will elapse between the prorogation and the re-assembling of Parliament. Of course, it may seem a very ordinary “ matter that Ministers should be left in their offices to deal with State papers: But every person who reflects upon it will see that it is infinitely more important that men holding the views which Ministers entertain should be prevented from exercising the Executive power of the country than from introducing their own fancy schemes of legislation. In exercising the Executive power of government, they practically have the Ministerial unchecked interpretation of all. the laws of the country. Let me take,” for the purpose of providing an illustration, the Customs law, which has been administered by two different individuals - the right honorable member for Adelaide, and the honorable member for Hume. Under the administration of the former, we know that the Customs law was interpreted in such a way as to excite the anger and indignation of the whole commercial community in Australia.
– That is not correct.
– What is incorrect ?
– The statement that the administration of the right honorable member for Adelaide excited the anger of the whole community.
– I hold that it is.
– It excited anger only amongst the “ crook “ ones.
– That is just one of those hysterical party utterances which are made without thought. Does the very youthful honorable member opposite, who,bytheway, was not present in the last Parliament, know that it was admitted in this House that, out of 400 prosecutions, there had not been one case of fraud, with the exception of that which was alleged to have occurred in Queensland?
– “ Alleged “ ?
– Such statements may be all very well for platform purposes, but in this Chamber we ought to look at facts with scientific accuracy. The right honorable member for Adelaide admitted here, that out of 400 prosecutions there was only one in which fraud was thought to have been sheeted home to the persons charged with ‘it. Therefore, what honesty is there in the statement that only the “ crooked “ members of the mercantile community complained? I happen to know - and I have as good an opportunity of knowing as has any one in Australia - that from Brisbane to Perth, the entire commercial community was justly indignant at the very autocratic way in which the Customs law was administered by the right honorable member for Adelaide. As evidencing that he was responsible for an unnecessary exercise of Executive power, I have merely to point out that the very same law has since been administered by the honorable member for Hume, with the result that the whole of that anger has now disappeared. Why?
– I could give the honorable and learned member one or two little instances.
– The honorable member for Hume is no political friend of mine, and I am not anxious to sound his praises. I merely wish to use him as an illustration. He saw the justice and the expediency of appointing a committee to investigate cases of suspected fraud, and to select from them, for the purpose of prosecution, only those in which fraud was disclosed. What was the result ? I suppose that there is as much fraud committed now as there was previously. But the mercantile community, whose members were formerly dragged in scores before the Police Courts and prosecuted for simple arithmetical mistakes on the part of their clerks, are now aware that if such errors are made by any of their employes, they will be carefully investigated by the committee, and only in those cases in which fraud is clearly apparent will proceedings be taken against them, whether their firms be long-established or otherwise.
– The committee is really a Court.
– Yes, but the Minister knows that merchants of twenty-five, thirty, and fifty years’ standing will not be dragged before the Police Court because of clerical errors, and compelled to wait there until cases of drunkenness have been disposed of. It is a Court the proceedings of which are not published in the newspapers.
– It is a Court, nevertheless.
– It is not an ordinary Court of Justice, or a Criminal Court. The cases which came before it are analyzed without any reflection on the person suspected before any case is selected for a criminal prosecution. I cite this as an illustration of the different methods which may be adopted by different individuals in administering the same Customs law. If that difference can exist, honorable members will realize at once what interpretations might be placed upon our statutes by a Ministry whose views favour a certain class, if it chose to enforce them.
– I hope that the honorable and learned member is not speaking from experience.
– I have not had that experience as a Minister.
– The honorable and learned member has himself held office in a State Ministry.
– Quite so; and I have had some experience of attempts on the part of other people to secure attention to class interests. It was my pleasing duty, as a Minister, to frustrate those efforts in every possible way. If time would permit, I might refer to cases in which, within the knowledge of the honorable member, I took an active part in the effort to put a stop to such practices in the Department that I controlled. When I entered upon my. duty as Minister of Works in New South Wales, I found that the papers relating to every proposed expenditure bore the name of the representative of the constituency in which the work was to be carried out. I abolished that practice. I refused, as Minister, to look at the names of members interested. The papers were put before me, by my direction, in a condensed form, so that I was able to deal with them without any knowledge of the constituency in which the work was proposed to be carried out. I established an entirely new set of books, known as the “ Ministerial Decision Books,” and I never saw any of the original papers in connexion with these proposals, with the result that, at the end- of one year,I found that I had approved of a larger expenditure in constituencies represented by members of the Opposition, than in those represented by members of my own party. Whatever my political views may be, I have been second to no man in the desire for purity of administration on the part of any Government of which I have been a member, or which I have . attempted to support. But let me return to my main proposition, from which I have momentarily strayed. It is this : that honorable members on this side should concede that, in allowing the Government to remain in office, we are not merely permitting them to remain there, as framers of legislation - because we’ can check all proposed legislation - but are allowing them an opportunity to get well into the saddle,’ and ultimately to embark upon the unchecked exercise of the Executive power of this country during a period extending over s.everal months. ‘ From my personal knowledge of the members of the
Government, I have very little doubt- about their sense of justice. I have very great personal respect- for every one -of them, ‘but I cannot forget that they are the representatives of a party which does not give them that freedom which a man, as a representative of the Crown, or of the people in the Parliament, ought to possess. I do not make this assertion in any spirit of ill-will, or with any desire to stir up animosity but honorable members of the Labour Party know as well as I do - and the matter has been so well threshed out that it has practically become stereotyped - that they do not exercise that freedom of action, or of political thought, that other honorable members are able to do. I therefore regard their possession of the Executive powers of the country for a period of perhaps nine months as one of the gravest of the dangers which go to make up the serious juncture at which we have arrived.
– Does the honorable and learned member seriously suggest that the Government would be influenced in the exercise of their administrative duties by the members of their party?
– I have no desire to suggest anything that might hurt the feelings of any honorable member.
– No, no.
– I shall make my meaning quite clear. I have no wish to hide my opinions, and I say that there is a danger of such a thing. We are here to guard against such dangers, and we must do so. I have shown how two members of the same party - men who originally belonged to the same Government - may administer a law in two different ways, one of which excites the indignation of the whole of the commercial classes of Australia, while the other softens the administration, and yet achieves the same results. If two members of the same Ministry can exercise the Executive powers of the country in such a way as to make that difference, what might not be done, with the best intentions, and with the greatest good-will, by a member of the present Government, who has the Labour Party principles deeply embedded in his mind, as contributing towards the welfare of the whole country ?
– The insinuation is that our actions while Parliament was in recess would be different from what they would be while it was in session. That is not a fair insinuation.
– Now, I maintain that honorable members on this side of the House should seriously consider whether we ought not to sink all microscopic considerations in order to take a big step, and relieve the country of the present Ministry.
– That is right; let the Op- . position take that step.
– The honorable gentleman may rely upon action being taken.
– Hear, hear.
– I do not speak ex cathedra, but, as one possessing some knowledge of what action is likely to be taken, I should be very, sorry to be a member of a party in this House at the present juncture in the history of Australia that was not prepared to take some decisive step. If honorable members on this side of the House regard the present situation as seriously as I do, they will recognise that there is no more important duty resting upon them than that of, at least, dividing the House, and letting the people of Australia see who are for the Socialist Party and who are not. With regard to the question of the Executive, I should like to give the House one quotation from a work that is very well known in this State. It is a book with a European reputation, written by the late Professor Hearn, and known as Hearn on the Government of England. He wrote -
Although in matters of State, Parliament possesses so unlimited a power of criticism, it has not the smallest share of direct authority. Jt may censure and complain of any proceeding in which the prerogative has been improperly exercised -
He is speaking of . the Executive authority-
It may remonstrate against any anticipated act of* the Crown. It may recommend any line of policy. It may express its opinion that any officer or public body should exercise his or its power in a particular manner. But these powers are merely acts of admonition.
I make this quotation merely with a view to emphasize the fact that although Parliament while in session can criticise proposed legislative measures, yet, as soon as it rises, a party which has come into power, and is considered by those opposed . to it to be dangerous to the general welfare of the country, will enter upon an unchecked career extending over a period of months, during which the powers of the Executive will be entirely in its hands. It is then that the real danger begins, for during this period, the Executive will be entirely iri the hands of a body of men who have not the confidence of Parliament. I shall now make some reference to the labour programme. The programme is well known; but I wish to read one or two short pas sages from a speech made by the Prime Minister at the Lord Mayor of Melbourne’s luncheon, inasmuch as they have an important, bearing upon the present position. The honorable gentleman said upon that occasion -
He had merely to say on the present political situation that his party had a set of well-defined principles about which there had been no concealment as far as the elections were concerned -
The honorable gentleman was referring to the whole programme. He went on to say -
He, however, could assure those present that there was no necessity for a Ministry in order . to retain office to go back one iota on the proposals they had so often indicated. That it might not be practicable to realise all these proposals within the course of the next few months he would not deny. But he had no desire to mislead the people. His party was determined to carry its ideas into practical effect, and, therefore, there was no need to say more at present.
Those words are conclusive, in regard to two points. They show, first of all, that we may expect an attempt to carry out the labour programme in its integrity - that there is to be no departure from it. It may be, as the honorable gentleman said, that the whole programme is not going to be carried out within the next three or four months. That is quite in harmony with the action of ‘the Government in proposing to defer until next session the consideration of the two very debatable questions of oldage pensions and a tobacco monopoly. But there is to be no departure from the- Labour Party’s programme. The people may take it, from this courageous statement on the part of the Prime Minister, that there is to be no alteration of their policy. In these circumstances, we are quite justified in regarding their policy as one with which we have to deal - as one which they will seek to carry out, if they remain long in power, and have such an opportunity to make political capital as to enable them to dominate the situation at any future day. The Prime Minister was also present at a meeting in connexion with the May Day celebrations in Melbourne. Every one knows that expression was there given to certain very drastic principles.
– Was the Prime Minister present at the May Dav celebrations?
– The honorable and learned member is in error. He was not present, but representatives of the meeting waited upon him.
– Whether he was present at the celebration or not is a matter of no moment, so far as the point which I have put before the House is concerned. He had, at all events, an opportunity to learn what were the principles advocated at the celebration.
– A deputation waited upon him to present the resolutions passed at a public meeting.
– All that I say is that the Prime Minister had an opportunity to learn their principles, and to comment upon them. I do riot know whether the celebrations were conducted by a league.
– A socialistic league.
– I wish that to be clearly understood. The body which waited on the Prime Minister, and presented him with the May Day programme, was a socialistic league.
– They presented the Prime Minister, not with their programme, but with certain resolutions carried at the meeting.
– And those resolutions embodied their programme. They informed him that they were -
Opposed to militarism in all its forms, and expressed their determination to overthrow wagedom and capitalism, and establish that bon accord in which all instruments of industry will be owned and controlled by the whole people.
I believe that the right honorable member for East Sydney said that these proposals meant social revolution - not a revolution of a bloody character, or anything of that kind, but a revolution in the existing state of society. There can be no question as to that.
– Will the honorable and learned member accept responsibility for everything that a free-trade association may say ?
– The words which I have read were part and parcel of the resolutions presented to the Prime Minister of Australia, whose duty it was at that time, if. he disapproved of them, to say to the deputation - “You have embodied in your resolutions certain principles which I regard as destructive of the present state of society ; and, therefore, in the exercise of my duty, I tell you plainly that I am out of sympathy with you. As Prime Minister of this country, having the conduct of its affairs, I shall not, even for a moment, be suspected of indorsing your views.”
– The same resolutions were presented to the late Prime Minister when he held office.
– That does notaffect the question. What did the Prime Minister say in answer to the deputation? He said, in reply, that -
The Government was in hearty sympathy with the general spirit behind the May Day movement.
-The spirit of peace.
– Does the honorable gentleman say “ Peace “ ?
– The honorable gentleman talks of peace when he refersto a body that is opposed to principles which have been in existence since the coming of Caesar to England, which have been recognised and acted on in Europe since the earliest stages of its civilization. The Minister speaks of peace, when these men proclaim their pledge to overthrow the foundations of that form of society. I contend that, on the contrary, it means war, and war to the knife. It means a social war, and an internal disturbance such as the Minister of Trade and Customs and his colleagues have never witnessed or contemplated. Does the honorable member imagine that a community of British people would submit to society - and I use the word “society” in its broadest sense - being completely subverted according to principles which have never been successfully embodied in the laws of any community in the world? I defy the honorable member to name a community in which the principles which were expressed by that May Day league have ever been successfully carried into practical effect. I shall show that they have been attempted from Aristotle’s day down to the present time. I am well, acquainted with the works of men like Karl Marx, Lassale, Fourier, St. Simon, and of other French and German socialistic writers. I know their writings fairly well. I am also acquainted with the experiments which have been made in the United States to establish communities upon the principles they have advocated. I know, too, all about the Paraguay settlement and its history, and about the experiment at Alice River, in Queensland. I say, confidently, that the honorable member cannot name a community which has been started on, or has adopted these principles, and has not come to grief.
– The Alice River settlement is still flourishing.
– I shall read to the honorable member something about that.
– Did not Brigham Young run his show on these lines?
– No; on individualistic lines.
– I should like to show the spirit which is abroad amongst some of the working classes in regard to what they wish to do, and consider themselves justified in doing in the future. They are only little incidents, but they serve as feathers to indicate the direction of the wind. In the course of a conference, in Sydney, between representatives of the employers and the operatives in the iron trade, the chairman remarked that if the men wished the work of constructing locomotives to be kept in New South Wales, they must assist the employers, and, to show how valuable that assistance might be, he added that they were a factor in the Government now. “We are the Government,” was the reply of the deputation, through its chairman. That is the confident spirit which is getting abroad throughout the country, and which ‘will grow more and more unless something is done by the other parties in the community to check it. Then a very interesting event occurred at Kalgoorlie. We have been led’ to believe hitherto that the working classes of this country are perfectly content, as I think they might well be, with preventing Europeans from coming here whenever they were seen to have been what is called the “ victims “ of contracts requiring them to accept certain rates of wages. The confidence which the success of that measure has engendered is leading to a further demand which throws an interesting light upon the possibilities of the future if such men get control of the affairs of this country. This is what occurred at Kalgoorlie
In connexion with the matter of aliens and the extent to which foreigners, chiefly Italians and Austrians, are displacing British workers, a meeting of Kalgoorlie ratepayers last night indorsed the request by the municipal council that a Royal Commission should be appointed to investigate the matter.
– A meeting of ratepayers.
– Is the honorable member afraid to let me finish my quotation?
– No ; I merely wish to emphasize the fact that the meeting was a meeting of ratepayers, not of unpropertied. men.
– I admit that a great many persons who have a little money are attracted by the doctrines of Socialists. As the honorable member points out, this was a meeting of ratepayers, or persons who own houses or pay rents for the occupation of them; though it does not require much money to be able to rent a house nowadays. The report continues -
It was resolved - “That the laws governing the admission of immigrants into the Commonwealth should be amended, so as to require proof of fitness, and the intention to settle in the State, and that the State Government should without delay consider the question of prohibiting the employment of aliens in the industries of the State.
– Hear, hear ! ‘ Some of these aliens cannot speak English, and the lives of other men working with them are jeopardised.
– That, of course, is a great danger ! It is a strange thing that in the report I have read there is not the slightest reference to the danger of which the honorable member speaks.
– I will produce evidence of it in the official reports of mining inspectors.
– There is no doubt that that is the basis of the whole trouble.
– The report speaks of aliens.
– Yes. It was proposed to exclude, not Kanakas; Japanese, Chinese, and Indians, but Austrians and Italians.
– Who may be able to speak as good English as any other person in Australia can speak.
– No . one can doubt for a moment that the whole purpose of this movement is an economic one* I admit that in the present condition of society the persons who are objected to sometimes compete successfully with our own citizens. Coming here as free men, -they sometimes work for lower wages. But it shows the trend of affairs when a large body of men in a mining district, not. content with the existing legislation, ask to have it amended so as to require proof of an alien’s fitness - I do not know whose opinion is to be taken on the subject - and of his intention to settle in the State. They also ask that the Government shall, without delay, consider the question of prohibiting the employment of aliens in the industries of the State. “ That is an unconditional prohibition. There is no talk of examining these aliens to see if they know English, so that the lives of Englishmen or of Australians working with them may not be jeopardized.
– The resolution which the honorable member has read was passed by a meeting of ratepayers, the representatives of property, indorsing the action of a municipal council.
– This further resolution was passed at another meeting-
A meeting held at Coolgardie last night, under the auspices of the Political Labour Party, resolved - “ That in the opinion of this meeting the influx of aliens is becoming a menace to the best interests of the State, and that some immediate steps should be taken to prevent the continuance of the evil.”
Those extracts are mere feathers, but they show the whole tendency of the opinions of a great part of the community. They show a desire to ultimately construct a sort of legislative wall round the country in order to keep Australia for Australian working men. I do not draw attention to this matter for the edification of the members of the Labour Party, because I am sure that my remarks will have little effect upon them ; I mention it so that the members of the party opposed to the Government may know the type of legislation which is desired by some - legislation which I have no doubt would be enacted if the Labour Party were permitted to dominate the political situation.
– Is there a party opposed to the Government?
– We shall see. We must treat the Ministry as a socialistic one. I shall not labour that point. I wish merely to read a further short passage from a. speech made by the Prime Minister when presented with certain resolutions after a May-day demonstration. This is what he said -
The people who had governed Australia in the past had paid too much attention to the interests of certain classes. Because of that, themasses of the. people had now to stand up for their rights, and undo a lot of what had been previously done.
It is rather interesting, in a country like “Victoria, which has been governed by menlike Sir Graham Berry, Richard Heales, Sir John O’Shanassy, and the late Prime Minister, to be told that the masses of the people now have to stand up for their rights, because those rights were not previously considered. Having lived in Victoria for many years, and having a full knowledge, of its conditions, I do not hesitate to say that, in no other British community hasmore been done to remove the inequalities of the various classes. The pendulum has rather been driven in the other direction, so that there has beae built up a body of law which has created something in the nature of class privileges. Honorable members must remember that it is possible to have a democratic toryism as well as an aristocratic toryism, and the moment State interference goes beyond providing the members of a community with equal opportunities, so far as they can be created by artificial means, it begins to create class privileges. When that happens, we have not liberalism or democracy, but democratic toryism. In no country in the world has the term “ liberalism “ been stretched further than it has been in Victoria. Yet the honorable gentleman at the head of the Government made use of the expression I have just read. The principle which I deduce from the resolution which was “presented to him was a determination to overthrow wagedom and capitalists, and to establish that bon accord in which all instruments of industry will be owned and controlled by the whole people. The Prime Minister continued -
The Ministry and the Labour Party felt that, while they had their aspirations as to what was possible, and while they would steadily work towards their goal of freeing the people from their industrial shackles -
Can any sane man conceive of any more ludicrous utterance than that - “ To take the shackles off the people of Australia.” As applied to Victoria and New South Wales, I say that that is a travesty of our language. It is the lowest form of platform appeal that could possibly be made. Where are th; shackles on the people of Victoria or of New South Wales at the present time ?
– Land monopoly is one of them.
– Is not the honorable member’s own career, for which I give him every credit, a splendid example of the fact that it is possible for a man to rise from the lowest to the highest rung of the ladder ?
– To what “lowest rung” does the honorable and learned member refer?
– I am using the term in the popular sense. The Prime Minister has occupied as humble a position as any man in this country.
– Hear, hear.
– And I respect him for it. He has demonstrated that he is living in a community in which a man can go from the very bottom rung of the ladder to the top within a few years. By his own ability, his own skill, and the freedom of the institutions under whichhe lives, he has been able to rise until he now occupies the first position in the land.
An Honorable Member. - There are many others whose conditions prevent them from rising.
– I do not say that this is all the Prime Minister’s own work. I am quite able to judge between the results of his own efforts and those of his party. I say, however, that we live in a country where the expression “ shackles on the people” is ludicrously inapplicable, because the Prime Minister has illustrated the fact that nothing whatever of an artificial character stands in the way of a man’s progress from the bottom to the top of the ladder.
– Why is the manhood of Victoria being driven out of the State?
– The Prime Minister asks me a conundrum. If I were to tell him ‘my opinion, he might not agree with me. I say that protection has been the cause.
– Land monopoly, I think.
– New South Wales is also losing population.
– The honorable member has been wrongly informed. During the last ten years, whilst Victoria has been losing population, New South Wales has been gaining.
– That is because she has more land available for settlement than has Victoria.
– I could tell the Prime Minister why people are not coming into the Commonwealth to the extent that they should do, and that is because of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– The honorable and learned member stands to. his guns.
– I do, and I am, I hope, quite good tempered over it. I respect honorable members opposite as much as they esteem- me, so far as honesty of purpose is concerned. I wish to make clear the meaning of Socialism, as it is embodied in the programme of the Labour Party.. I shall show how it is explained by a man whose utterances the Labour Government practically indorse and support. I refer to Mr. Tom Mann. According to the Age, Mr. Tom Mann is supported by the Trades Hall of Melbourne.
– Hear, hear; and a fine fellow he is, too.
An Honorable Member. - He is their paid organizer.
– Hear, hear.
– I shall show honorable members later what the paid organizer of the Victorian labour bodies says, and I want every sensible man who has children and something of his own, and some regard for the future of this country, to think of the programme that we have in prospect. In the meantime, I wish to direct attention to two matters, which have been brought prominently under my notice, as illustrations of the danger of adopting the socialistic policy espoused by the Government and the party behind them, and of placing the executive powers of the Commonwealth in the hands of a body of men with strong class prejudices. I admit that they may be quite sincere, but, nevertheless, they hold strong class prejudices which might work incalculable injury to the community as a whole if the executive powers were wielded by them. Only this afternoon a number of questions were asked of the Minister of External Affairs with regard to that very episode at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, to which I have directed attention.’ I read an extract which showed that at a meeting of ratepayers, and at a meeting held under the auspices of the Labour League of Coolgardie, a distinct resolution had been passed in favour of amending the Immigration Restriction Act, in order to keep Italians and Austrians out of this country unless they were prepared to say what the Act does not require them to say.
– We only want a more stringent administration of the Act.
– I do not need the honorable member’s help. I prefer to rely upon the reports of the meetings rather than to “ accept the honorable member’s paraphrasing of them. The reports show that at the meetings referred to resolutions were passed, upon which no other construction can be placed than that an attempt should be made to keep out of the Commonwealth certain Italians and Austrians who were coming into competition with Britishers and Australians.
– That is if they were brought here under contract.
– There is not a word in the reports about contract labour. It is simply represented that the introduction of these men is inimical to the interests of the Australian workmen. I only wish to refer to the facts for the purpose of showing honorable members on this side of the House, who are hesitating, out of regard for certain minor details which are now standing in the way of a coalition, the danger in which this country would stand. if we allowed the present Government to enter upon the exclusive control of the Executive powers for a period of eight or nine months. To-day the Minister of External Affairs was asked a series, of questions with regard to the steps which had been taken by the Government to practically please the persons who took part in the meetings at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. It appears that already an officer has been instructed to exercise greater supervision than ever with regard to the influx of certain aliens. Amongst other things, the Minister of External Affairs was asked -
I presume that there was no officer there before.
– There was a Customs officer there who acted as Immigration officer.
– And I understand that now a special officer has been appointed for the purpose of exercising supervision over immigrants. The Minister was further asked -
The answer to the last question was “yes” ; which means that the interrogation will be addressed to people of all nations. Now, the papers relating to this matter have been laid upon the table, and they reveal the fact that that answer is an official falsehood.
– Order ! Does the honorable and learned member refer to an answer given in this House?
– I do.
– Then I must ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw.
– With pleasure. I shall read the paper, and honorable members can draw their own inferences. Fortunately, there is no embargo in Parliament upon the inferences or conclusions drawn by honorable members. The papers contain the following remarks: -
The Minister directs that a special officer be instructed to visit vessels likely to contain Austrian and Italian immigrants.
That is impartiality ! That is the outcome of the two meetings at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, one a gathering of ratepayers, and the other a meeting under the auspices of the Labour Party, who have agitated in a manner which is not only unreasonable, but unbrotherlv and inhuman, against the people of two European nations, because evidently they are competing with Australian workmen.
– It is the outcome of an Act which has never been previously properly administered.
– This is what the House has . to look for if the Labour Ministry are allowed to continue in office, and ifwe are to have what the Labour Party call “ proper “ administration. What the Avord “ proper “ means is to be a matter of interpretation for the Executive.
– Hear, hear.
– That is my very point. I contend that the laws will be interpreted by a body of men Avho are distinctly biased, though perhaps unconsciously, in faA’our of a particular class. We haA’e here a case inwhich tAvo meetings took place in mining towns in Western Australia, andwe find that the Ministry are so sympathetic that they have at once appointed a special officer to go out and make inquiries with regard to immigrants of two nationalities.
– There Avere more than two meetings; the agitation has extended over a period of tAvelve months.
– The minure ro which I previously referred, reads as folIoavs : -
The Minister directs that a special officer be instructed to visit vessels likely to contain Austrian and Italian immigrants, and examine all immigrants separately and carefully, particularly as to whether they are under contract to perform manual labour.” If he is satisfied that they are under contract they are to be treated as prohibited immigrants.
There is no objection to that.
If he is not so satisfied, but has reasonable ground to suspect that false statements have been made to him in this regard, he should permit the immigrant to land, and instruct him not to leave Fremantle until advised that he may do so.
Here is an illustration of the arbitrary power that is to be placed in. the hands of a special official Avith regard to immigrants of two nationalities Avhich are named. The officer is not only to ask . a question, and abide by the ansAver, but if he has reasonable ground for suspecting that the ansAvers given to him are not true, he can actually detain the immigrants in a community of free men until instructions are received from the Government. That is a beautiful illustration of the unconscious abuse of Executive pOAver. I cite it to emphasize the danger of alloAving the present Government to remain in office after they have passed the milk-and-water policy Avhich they have outlined for the present session. Still another illustration has occurred Avithin the last day or tAvo. In the Melbourne General Post Office there is a gentleman with a record of forty-one years of service. He is universally recognised as one of the ablest officials in Victoria, and, indeed, in the Commonwealth.How has he been treated? The PostmasterGeneral has practically endeaA’oured to coerce him into recognising the unions of postal employes and dealing Avith the organizations to which they belong.
– To comply with the regulations under Avhich he is Avorking.
– There is no regulation in existence Avhich requires a Commomvealth official to recognise any organization save that of the employes in the postoffice themselves,who may come to him and make their representations.
– Does not the honorable and learned member knoAv that the officer in question came into conflict Avith the previous Government ?
– I can assure the honorable and- learned member that it is a fact.
– The circumstances which have now arisen furnish an admirable illustration of the class prejudice
Avhich will probably be exercised if the present Ministry remain in office. Inow propose to deal briefly Avith the socialistic^ policy to Avhich the Government are attached in principle, and to Avhich they will endeaA’our to give effect so soon as they have a sufficient folloAving at their back. From a Sydney neAvspaper, I learn that -
Mr. Tom Mann, who has been carrying out political organizing work for the Trades Hall, says that the Socialist- programme will be well on its way in about ten years. “ I know that it would not be right,” he says, “ to declare that the Labour Party of this State is definitely straight-out Socialist. It is not. It can only be truthfully described as a socialistic body, by which I mean one that is making more and more and relatively rapid strides in favour of Social, ism clean 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 endorse both voluntary and State cooperation, 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 -
I suppose that means physical work.
– It does not say so.
– I did not say that it did.
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 on the stage of development which Socialism reaches. Ultimately, the municipalities will control house accommodation. Well-behaved people will always have food, clothing, and other necessaries, and will be allowed a fair amount of travel.
That is the policy of Socialists, as expounded by Mr. Tom Mann, -who is admittedly the political organizer of the Trades Hall in Victoria.
– That extract represents’ only a travesty upon the man’s utterance.
– I propose to read somewhat similar statements from other documents presently. Mr. Storey, M.L.A., in speaking at the picnic of the Mort’s Dock employes, which was held in February last, delivered himself as follows : - “ Labour members did not go into the House as a third party ; they went there to represent a section of the people, who hitherto had no representation, and to voice, and, if possible, give effect to, certain definite views on public policy.
I now come to the most important document of all. Mr. Bromley, the leader of the Labour Party in the Victorian Parliament, is a man whom I have known for fifteen or sixteen years, and with whom I am upon the most friendly terms, although our politics are as widely separated as are the poles. I wish to assure honorable members’ that there is nothing flippant about Mr. Bromley. He has the most serious and funereal cast of countenance that’ I have ever met. Both his voice and manner bespeak the most extreme earnestness. In an interview with a representative of the Age, which was published a few days ago, Mr. Bromley, upon being questioned as to the attitude of the Labour Party towards Socialism, said -
It all depends upon the definition you give to Socialism. There are so many, people nowadays who condemn everything which the Labour Partyadvocate, as socialistic, that it is hard to find just where liberalism ends and Socialism begins. I suppose we live in one of the most socialistic countries in the world, but you cannot get a large section of Australian’s to believe it. Toput the position of the State Labour Party briefly, I should say that we are collectivists asopposed to individualists. We believe in State co-operation, or State control of such services as can be run by the community for its cwn’ profit and advantage. We have already the rail- ways, the schools, the postal and telegraphic services, in the hands of the State, and these hi- ve proved so successful that the Labour Part’ is anxious to see an extension of the system. Such things as gas and water supply, electric lighting,, tramways, and so on, should certainly be’ nationalized or municipalized, because from this aspect there need be no distinction. Of course, as a party we are strongly in favour of a State bank and a State life and fire insurance office, and the establishment of the Crown as the only landholder. Personally I do not consider myself am extremist in Socialistic principles. I believe firmly in the nationalization of monopolies, for example;, but I would never think of advocating the instant and comprehensive taking over of all industries by the State. It is all a matter of evolution. Perhaps fifty years hence the people will be wiser than we are now, and better able to realize the benefits of State control in everything. But at the present day we must go slowly. I should start with the nationalization of all industries which affect the health and well-being of the community - provided, of course, that such industries had developed into monopolies. But ever* then it would not do for the State to start on the co-operative basis, unless the proposal was a practical one. We should have to proceed on a business footing. But some risks might very well be undertaken, and we might profit by the example of other countries which have tried experiments and succeeded with them. Such examples might easily be extended and improved upon. For instance, one of the first things I would do would be to nationalize the coastal and Inter-State shipping. Ideally, all shipping should be run by the State, but I am afraid we cannot yet hope to take the oversea division in hand.”
No doubt that will be verv comforting to the P. and O. and the Orient Companies. Mr. Bromley, who declares that he is a moderate Socialist, continues -
But the coastal trade is on a different footing, and I think that the States should assume control of it. We have our State railways on shore ; why not our State steamers on the sea? The private shipping companies would have to be bought out, or, if they refused to negotiate, squeezed out of competition-.
I ask honorable members to note that the State is to take up what shipping it can, and is to run it at the expense of the tax- payer, in order to compel recalcitrant shipowners to sell their interests to the Government. Mr. Bromley proceeds -
The coal mines, also, should be purely State owned. In regard to the land question, I believe there are some who consider that all the alienated area in Victoria should be resumed by the Crown without any compensation being awarded to the owners.
That statement, I presume, applies to the extreme Socialists. Let honorable members observe what the moderate Socialists propose -
As a practical politician I must unreservedly condemn that suggestion. I am most decidedly in favour of the State becoming ultimately the landlord. But to me it is obvious that reasonable compensation should be paid to those whose land has been taken away from them. Therefore I recognise that the process of getting back the lands which have been sold outright by the Crown will be a slow one. The way to effect the change would, in my opinion, be to impose a graduated ‘ land tax without any exemptions whatever, beginning with a small impost for the small holder, and increasing progressively as the acreages increased. The proceeds from that tax I would apply to the compulsory repurchase of the large holdings, and the cutting of them up for closer settlement.
The moderate Socialist who is utterly opposed to anything in the form of confiscation, is quite prepared to purchase land at a reasonable price, having first extracted the necessary money from the land owners by means of a progressive land tax. It will be comforting to honorable members to know that he also says -
I do not think, however, that either as individuals or as a party you would find the State Labour Party in favour of the more advanced ideas urged by Socialists on the Continent of Europe. We are not communists, and I do not imagine that the time is ripe for the State to interfere with the family. Perhaps later, when the community is more highly educated, that may come too, but not yet.
Did any man out of Bedlam ever before seriously propose such unqualified nonsense ?
An Honorable Member. - What is the date of that interview?
– It was published three weeks or a month ago. A few months back a small Australian publication came into my hands, entitled, “ What is Socialism?” I should like to read one or two passages from it,” because on general principles its matter corresponds very closely with the proposals of the Labour Party, though it is a little more elaborated. This publication states -
Socialism is a theory of a system of human society based on the common ownership of the means of production and the carrying on of the work of production by all for the benefit of all. In other words, Socialism means that the land, the railways, the shipping, the mines, the factories, and all such things as are necessary for the production of the necessaries and com. forts of life should be public property, just as our public roads, our public parks, and our public libraries are -public property to-day, so that all these things should be used by the whole of the people to produce the goods that the whole of the people require.
By the discoveries of science, the inventions of genius, the application of industry, man has acquired such power over nature that he can now produce wealth of all kinds as plentifully as water. There is no sound reason why poverty and want should exist anywhere on this earth.
It is a beautiful millennial thought - one of those Utopian pictures which writers of’ fiction portray for the amusement of the people. It is a sort of More’s Utopia, Butler’s Erewhon, or Lytton’s Coming Race, in which there is to be no more trouble or anxiety of any kind.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad to hear these marks of approval on the part of honorable members opposite, for they stamp them as men equally as impracticable as is the man who writes this sort of rubbish. The article proceeds -
All that is needed is to establish a more equitable method of distributing the wealth already produced in such . profusion. That is what Socialism proposes to do.. The work of production is organized, socialized ; it is necessary to socialize distribution as well.
What is to be done to supplant the present system by Socialism ; to substitute fraternal cooperation for the cut-throat competition of today ? The first thing is to organize the workers into a class-conscious party ; that is, a party recognising that as a class the workers are enslaved through the possession of the means of production by another class ; recognising, too, that between these two classes there is an antagonism of interest, a perpetual struggle, a constant class war, which must go on until the workers become possessed of political power, and use that power to become masters of the whole material means of production. When that has been achieved, the war of classes will be at an end, because the division of mankind into classes will have disappeared, the emancipation of the working classes will have been accomplished, and Socialism will be here.
I have no doubt that as soon as all this is achieved the day of judgment will come quickly upon us. There is a rule of advocacy in my profession that one good fact in the form of an admission obtained from an opponent is worth many times as much evidence from your own side. Bearing that rule in mind, I propose to quote an extract from the Age newspaper, which is to-day the friend of the Ministry. I shall quote, of course, something which appeared as far back as five days ago, and that is a horse of quite another colour. It is as well that honorable members who come from other States, and who may not have read the article from which I am about to give an extract, should know what the Age newspaper, which is to-day espousing the cause of the Labour Party, thought of them about a week ago. In its issue of the 19th instant it wrote -
The real weakness in the leading of the Labour Party is made- clear by other signs than that of its fanning the flames of class hatred. The adoption at this hour of the day of the discredited ideals of the early European Socialists is a proof that the organized Labour minority in Australia has lacked . the ability to formulate a national policy of its own in reasonable relation to our Australian conditions. For instance, we find nationalization of monopolies as one of the planks in the fighting platform of the Political Labour Council. Everybody knows that the nationalization of monopolies is proposed only as the first step in realizing the pet Socialist project of the nationalization of all the means of production and distribution.
One conspicuous evil has already resulted from the method in which the Labour minority is
Coercing the majority, namely, the stirring up of class strife. As long as it can foment war with other classes, it distracts attention from the fact that it is an undemocratic minority.
This is from the Age newspaper, which has since thirty or forty years espoused the cause of the Trades Hall and the working classes of Victoria.
– It has never been the Trades Hall newspaper.
– I am speaking of a long time before the honorable member showed his face in this State ; I am familiar with the principles that it advocated thirty years ago. On the recent date named it went on to say -
We have seen the position often enough in history, where an aggressive aristocracy diverted national attention from trouble at home by promoting war abroad ; but it is exceedingly instructive to see a Labour minority carrying outthe same unpatriotic policy in another department of political activity.
– It is well written.
– It is a fair sample of good English, but the principles which it condemns are revolutionary. I turn now from newspapers and labour leaders to a level-headed writer who has always been the friend and well-wisher of the working classes. I refer to John Stuart
Mill, from whose well-known’ book, Representative Government, I propose to quote the following passage in the chapter on “ Infirmities and Dangers of Class Legislation” : -
One of the greatest dangers of democracy, as of all other forms of government, lies in the sinister interests of the holders of power; it is the danger of class legislation : of Government intended for (whether really effecting it or not) the immediate benefit of the dominant class to the lasting detriment of the whole. And one of the most important questions demanding consideration in determining the best constitution of a representative Government is how to provide efficacious securities against this evil.
And then, in another chapter on True and False Democracy - Representation of all and of the majority only - he wrote -
The pure idea of democracy, according to its definition, is the government of the whole people by the whole people equally represented. Democracy, as commonly conceived and hitherto practised, is the government of the whole people by a mere majority exclusively represented.
He was assuming that there was a majority, which is not the case in this instance.
The former* is synonymous with the equality of all citizens. The latter, strongly confounded with it, is a government of privilege.
I have always contended that class legislation is simply the building up on democratic lines of the very evils of which it took the British people centuries to rid themselves. If true liberty is represented in diagram by a free swing of the pendulum, I would point out that the Labour Party are not satisfied that the pendulum should be free, but are pushing it up on the one side and creating privileges for their own class, which is nothing more nor less than democratic toryism. What are the prospects ? I am not appealing to honorable members opposite, although I face them, but to the members of my party, who, I think, should, without hesitation, move the Government from office, in the best spirit and with the best feeling, crediting them with all sincerity, but debiting them with principles which, in my opinion, would undermine the existing state of society. I now ask what are the prospects ? We have, as the Age says, not merely the nationalization of the tobacco industry in contemplation, but the nationalization of the industries of the country, with the ultimate view of changing the whole character of the community, and making it ‘a Socialist, and, practically, a communist- one. Some people draw a kind of academic distinction between communism and Socialism. I do not recognise any. It is a matter of degree.
Men may refer to the running of the railways, or the carrying out of postal arrangements by the State as a step in that direction. So it is. But when we have nationalized all the industries of the country, and practically enabled the Government to manage the whole of the affairs of the community, we shall have arrived at a state of communism, which is merely the theory that property is common to the people.
– State co-operation.
– That is another name with which honorable members opposite are deceiving themselves. Can the honorable member tell me of any law which compels a man to belong to any one of the great cooperative schemes which at present exist in Great Britain? What is proposed by the Labour Party is not voluntary Socialism, communism, or co-operation. They wish to force the . people of this country to adopt their views. If they did, it would be like the lion and the lamb lying down, with one inside the other. We have an attempt on the part of the Labour Party to make every man, woman, and child, whether they wish it or not, a member of a great national co-operation.
– There is a very good model to work upon.
– I do not know to which model the honorable member refers. I frequently hear people say that the Author of the Christian religion was a Socialist. My answer is that he was a voluntary Socialist, and that he never advocated the policy of the State coming in and forcing the people to do certain things. The Labour Party require to distinguish between voluntarily entering into any compact of this kind, and the use of compulsion. If there is, for example, a community of “twenty persons, there can be no objection to eighteen of them, if they like, entering into a compact to carry on their social and family affairs, according to some common agreement; but, in that case, the other two members of the community would be free. Their liberty would be preserved ; and not one of the eighteen would be unwillingly included in the co-operative system, or compelled to join it against his native sense of individualism and independence. To advocate a condition of things, which is tobe realized by converting a country like this, or any other civilized community into an enforced compact, is to propose to go back on history, and on the struggle for liberty which has taken place from the earliest times in . English history to the pre- . sent day. I wish honorable members of my own party to recognise what the prospect is. I desire them to see how absolutely insignificant all smaller personal and’ party feelings which may be animating some of -them really are, when compared with the taking of this great and broad step in the interests of the Australian people. We have immediately in front of us a proposal to nationalize the tobacco industry, and to establish a State bank. Mr. Bromley, the leader of the Labour Party in the Victorian State Parliament, would, first proceed to nationalize the shipping industry ; land control, in his opinion, should come next, and then State coal mines.
– What did Mr. Robert Reid advocate?
– I am not answerable for the views he advocated. If he had been a Socialist, I should have condemned him in the same terms. There is an old adage, de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and one does not care to speak of those who havepassed away. I can only say that the late Mr. Robert Reid was never regarded by me, or by any political body in the country, as an authority on political economy.
– He was an able man.
– He was a good business man, who brought his practical knowledge of a big business undertaking to bear on political affairs. But, as compared with John Stuart Mill or Herbert Spencer,’ so far as the understanding of the principles of legislation is concerned, he was but as “ an infant crying in the night.” I hope that no honorable member will quote him to me, because I do not recognise him as an authority.
– He did not belong to our class.
– We’ must look abroad pretty widely to see what is likely to be the effect upon this community of 4,000,000 people of the realization of these hare-brained schemes. Do honorable members think that those who have money invested in this country will regard indifferently a policy of this sort? Do they suppose that money- which they must admit is an indispensable element of all progress - will flow into the country, or that that now here will stay if its owners, have an opportunity to take it away? The members of the Labour Party are much in the position of the man who killed the goose which laid the golden eggs. It is one of the demerits of the present Government, and of the Labour Party, that not one of them has occupied a responsible position in any business concern in this country.
– Who says that?
– I am not speaking of mere positions in a business house, but of positions carrying with them a big weight of responsibility.
– Before I came to Australia I managed a business in the United States where I had 150 men under me. That is more than the honorable and learned member ever controlled.
– - I left my business to come here and fight the honorable and learned member.
– I do not wish to underrate the business experience of the honorable member for Darwin.
– The honorable and learned member thinks that he owns the earth.
– I ask the honorable member for Darwin not to interrupt so much. The honorable and learned member for Parkes is getting on as well as he can.
– I agree with you, Mr. Speaker; but he should not be personal.
– The honorable member is out of order in interrupting.
– I accept the statement of the honorable member for Darwin, that he was at the head of a big business in the United States, but that raises a query as to why he left it.
– Because I had made enough money to be able to leave it.
– Then I am surprised that the honorable member belongs to the Labour Party, unless he thinks that the big division which is to take place will not come in his time.
– We do not advocate a division.
– Personally, I always like to hear the honorable member’s voice ; but it is against the rules to interrupt, and I should be sorry if he were, to again incur the displeasure of Mr. Speaker.
– Did the fact that Sir Henry Parkes never held a big business position disqualify him for office?
– I did not say that a man’’s want of business experience disqualifies him for political life.
– Does it disqualify a man for Ministerial office ?
– No; but it often prevents a full recognition of the economic dangers which threaten commerce and industry.
– We instanced a business man, but the honorable and learned member would not accept him as an economist.
– It requires more than practical knowledge to enable a man to comprehend all the economic undercurrents of commerce and industry; neither is theory enough. A man may read books upon political economy until he is black in the face, without becoming a political economist, and another man may sit in the business office of a big concern for years without becoming one. It is only by the combination of practical business knowledge, gained through coming into touch with big banking, insurance, shipping, or other commercial concerns, with the learning of men like Mill and Spencer, whose accumulated wisdom has come down from the centuries, that one can obtain a proper apprehension of the working of economic laws. I should like now to say one or two words, always in the best of temper, on the subject of the labour caucus. I referred in the early part of my speech to the very acrimonious tone adopted by the Minister for External Affairs when replying to the very trenchant criticisms of the constitution of the labour organizations outside Parliament, made by the right honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. There is, however, no need for acrimony. The facts cannot be got over by the use of heated words, or the display of ill-feeling. The question asked from this side of the chamber is whether, in the face of the rigid organization which exists outside of Parliament, the party in .office have that freedom for movement which entitles them to continue to hold the position which they at present occupy ? This question has, I take it, occurred to every man in the community. Is the Government a body of free men, who can act as they think the interests of Australia require, or are thev bound down bv the constitution of a political labour organization outside Parliament to follow a certain programme, beyond which they cannot go?
– Is not that the position of every Government?
– No. If the honorable member will at a later stage of my speech mention the matter again, I shall reply to his interjection in its proper place. It is very necessary that we should know the true position of the Government. I do not answer the question which I have stated, because some of the suppositions which have been expressed from this side of the chamber in regard to the extent of the control of the organizations I spoke of have met with a very frank denial. But we are justified in asking, are we governed by the Ministry or by an organization outside Parliament which dictates to them what they shall or shall not do under given circumstances ?
– Did the honorable and learned member read my remarks in this morning’s issue of the Melbourne Age? .
– Yes; and they bear me out. I shall quote them. Having given a number of illustrations of the way in which the Government could act under stated circumstances, the honorable gentleman continued -
All these illustrations prove my contention that, while, the programme and conditions of candidature are drawn up by the organizations outside Parliament, the members of the. Labour Partv are free agents as long as their actions do not conflict with their programme.
– With their principles. That is the same thing as their programme.
– The programme is made up. outside Parliament.
– So is the programme of any other political party.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I tell him plainly, although it breaks the continuity of my remarks to answer an irrelevant . observation, that the Free-trade Party is bound to nothing but free-trade.
– And we of the Labour Party are bound to nothing but our programme.
– I challenge any one to say that the members of the Freetrade Party of Australia are bound to anything but free-trade.
– Is there no other question in regard to which they are bound?
– Absolutely no other question.
– What about the programme of their leader?
– I do not bind myself to accept the programme which’ has appeared in the newspapers.
– The . honorable and learned member would probably vote for that programme, rather than put his leader out of office, should he attain it.
– I would vote for a motion of want of confidence, whether moved by the right honorable member for East Sydney, or by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in. order to put the present Government out- of office.
– The honorable and learned member would swallow his convictions and accept the Arbitration Bill merely to put us out of office.
– I said at the beginning of my speech that no honorable member is bound to accept the list of measures which . has appeared in the newspapers.
– Does the honorable and learned member for Ballarat know that that is the position?
– I do know so. There is nothing in the document binding any member to support every one of those measures.
– The only subject upon which honorable members opposite would have us think they are unanimous is as to the necessity for defeating this Government.
– Honorable members are not content with making observations and receiving pertinent replies, but they drift into a running fire of interjections with which I am wholly unable to deal. I cannot answer more than six interruptions at once. The members of the Labour Partv are bound down to a programme which is prepared by a body outside Parliament. To say that they are free is like saying that a man upon whom you have placed leg-irons and handcuffs is free.
– If a man says that he believes in a programme, why should he not bind himself to vote for it ?
– If a man savs that he believes in every measure named in a programme he is bound to vote for it.
– That is our position. We can support as many other measures as we choose to support.
– If a man is handcuffed, and has leg-irons on, he is notwholly prevented from action. He can still bite ; but he cannot take his shackles off Every member of the Labour Party, including Ministers, is bound by a programme framed outside Parliament, and not by them.
– We had the same share in framing if as had every other citizen.
– I should like to show out of the mouth of a member of the Labour Party, how extraordinary are the restrictions placed upon its members.
– Who is he?
– The name is not given.
– Then it is an anonymous statement that the honorable learned member proposes to quote !
– No , it is a report of an interview between the Melbourne correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and a member of the Labour Party, whose name is not made known, published in that journal. If the statements are incorrect, they can be denied. The Sydney Morning Herald is, I think, an impartial newspaper.
– Oh !
– It does not like the honorable member, but it may have good reasons for that. It does not follow that the newspaper in question is not impartial because it condemns the’ actions of the honorable member for Hume. This is the statement that appeared in the issue of May 1 2th last -
One member of the Labour Party, in a chat today, expressed himself to this effect, and admitted that he could not see that there was any way out of the difficulty.
That was in regard to the suggestion that there should be a coalition between the Labour Party and the Protectionist Party.
Mr. Deakin could not join any party under conditions such as that, and the member referred to, admitted it. He was asked whether there would be any possibility of altering the constitution of the party, to make it more liberal, and his reply to that was equally conclusive. “ The constitution can only be altered by the Inter-State conference which drew it up. The Parliamentary party has no power, as such, to alter its constitution. It can only accept things as they are, and make the best of them.” This member regretted deeply that there was no power of liberalizing the basis on which the party built up.
– That -is not quite correct.
– At all events, there is a large element of truth in it. Not only is the programme built up outside Parliament, but the Labour members in Parliament have no power to alter it. So Australia is under the government of a number of men who wear handcuffs and leg shackles.
– We are merely bound to carry into effect principles in which we believe.
– Yes; but honorable members are also pledged to carry them out in a certain rotation, and they have shirked ‘that rotation, because, as they know very well, they have postponed the most emphatically socialistic part of their programme until next session. I say that there is a method in the alteration of the rotation, because the Government realize that, if they brought their proposal for nationalizing the tobacco industry before us this session, it would have no more chance of going through than would a scheme for appropriating one of the stars as Commonwealth territory.
– The proposal was passed through the Senate the other day, without much difficulty.
– The Prime Minister must not count upon this House in the same way that he is able to rely upon the Senate. . I desire to again quote from the
Age newspaper, as to the labour caucus. I admit that these remarks were published five days ago, and that the attitude of that newspaper to-day may not be the same as it was on that occasion; but, at the same time, there is no reason to suppose that the writer, of the leading article from which I intend to read did not know what he was writing about. He says -
The chief mischief which the leaders of the Labour Party are at present working in Australian politics is that of completely misrepresenting labour. We have lately seen the course of Federal legislation abruptly arrested by the Labour Party, not on account of some broad aspiration r,f the workers, but to give political power to the State employes, who are already by far the most comfortable wage and salary earning class in the community. It is well known that throughout the country there is but little sympathy -with the imaginary grievances of the pampered public servant, and yet the organized Labour Party puts the indulgence of these favoured few before every genuine labour interest. At present organized labour is riding rough-shod over unorganized. The modus operandi is very simple. The organized minority strongly and unitedly denounces a protest against any part of its programme as class disloyalty - a charge which the majority is honorably sensitive about. Thus it comes, to pass that the Labour Party in Australia is just now the most arbitrarily conducted organization in the Commonwealth. There is no question about this, because the Political Labour Council and similar bodies compel every candidate who is selected by the council to sign a certain labour creed known as the fighting platform. This policy is most damaging to the preservation of intellectual honesty amongst the leaders of the party, and is so destructive of the spirit of Democracy that the cause of labour as a whole must come to a standstill until the. central democratic doctrine of personal freedom recovers its rightful place at the very head of the party platform.
That bears out exactly the account given by an unnamed member of the Labour Party to the correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald. I also have here an article headed “ The Labour Caucus,” published in the Age of 25th April. It reads as follows: -
The methods - commendable or otherwise - pursued in the formation of the new Government comprise in some respects a decided innovation. To the student of constitutional history and government, apart from all party’ feeling or prejudice, they possess considerable interest. Mr. Watson has apparently- accepted the GovernorGeneral’s commission as an individual unit in his party rather than as a leader who has supreme control over his followers, and can dictate to them his wishes. Instead of “giving his little Senate laws,” his little Senate gives him laws, and holds him to them by virtue of its thorough organization and its caucus. The platform of the Labour Party makes- this an essential. Proceedings at Parliament House on Saturday showed that in sending for Mr. Watson, and intrusting him with the formation of an Administration, his Excellency was in reality granting his commission to the whole party in both Houses, for which Mr. Watson happened to be the spokesman.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– I do not suppose any one on this side would emulate the honorable member for Gwydir in endeavouring to’ prevent the Prime Minister from making such observations. It is open to the Prime Minister to say that statements are untrue,
– I think that the honorable and learned member might accept my assurance.
– Of course ; but I did not know how much of the statement was untrue.
– I say that it is absolutely untrue.
– The article proceeds as follows : -
Every one of the thirty-seven members of the party - even to the driveller in discussion - had a voice as to the lines upon which the new Government was to be selected. Above all others in the House the labour members feel that they “ live in an age which denies the existence of great men, and denies the desirableness of great men.” “ Hustings speeches, Parliamentary motions, and reform bills,” said Carlyle, “ all mean the finding of an able man, and getting him invested with the symbols of ability, so that he mav actually have room to guide according to his faculty of doing it.” The doctrine of the Labour
Party narrows itself down to finding the right caucus. The individual is nothing, the party everything.
– As I have just stated, that is absolutely incorrect.
– I accept the Prime Minister’s statement ; but the opinion I have read is entertained by a writer for one of the Australian newspapers which is most favorably disposed to the Labour Party. I should like honorable members to compare that statement of pupilage, or slavery to- policy, which is involved by the (conditions under which the Labour Party have to “accept a programme which is made outside, and which they have no power to alter, with the state of affairs which obtains in England at present, where there are such men as Mr. John Burns and Mr. Bell. John Burns is one of the most heroic, able, and accomplished iabour members in the whole world. I propose to read an extract from a letter from the London correspondent of the Age, who quotes the words used by John Burns, in regard to the attempt . made to coerce him as to the action he should take in the House of Commons. The correspondent says -
There are Australian Labour representatives whose Parliamentary experience should qualify them to sympathize with vigorous complaints which Mr. R. Bell and Mr. John Burns are making against the jealous and suspicious attitude adopted towards them by trade union wire-pullers, because they presume to claim some degree of personal freedom. As a politician and general supporter of working class interests on the platform, and in the House of Commons, Mr. Bell is a man of proved judgment. But he has committed the grave sin of refusing to sign the “ Constitution “ of the Labour Representation Committee. Apparently it is is too uncompromisingly Socialistic for him, and weighted with restrictions. He was allowed some individual discretion when he first entered Parliament, and he wishes to retain it. So, when next he appears before his constituents at Derby, he will find himself bitterly opposed and discredited by the outraged committee. The resistance to his monstrous claim that he should be allowed to think a little for himself will be carried on with all the righteous fury of a family feud. “ All Labour members,” says Mr. John Burns, whose independence has been similarly criticized, “ have not yet reached the position of being the mere delegates of cliques. Any attempt to adopt that method will signally fail, because practically it will not secure the return of men of high character, and the type of men that would be returned would not be worth having.” Knowing the capacity for mischief of certain individuals in the Labour movement, “ and their desire to ruin everybody and everything they come in contact with,” he has “ always refused to sign any iron-clad conditions that any hide-bound Executive might desire to impose “ upon him. So they’ve got him on the list.
– That is evidently written by a friend of the working classes.
– The correspondent quotes John Burns’ words. I did not inspire the letter, which was not written for this particular purpose. It is dated London, 25th March, and was published in the Age of April 25th. John Burns stands head and shoulders over any labour member xn this countrv and, among 40,000.000 people, is almost universally acknowledged to be a man of great ability - and great moderation.
– The honorable and learned “member has never heard him.
– No ; but I have read his speeches.
– I have heard him.
– I have read John Burns’ speeches.
– The honorable and learned member could not have done, because he is not reported properly.
– What effect have they had upon the honorable and learned member?
– They have caused me to admire the man ; but I do not admire the Minister. I admire John Burns for his independence, and for his resolution not to sign any hide-bound programme, and I do not admire the Minister, because, as a member of a Ministry, he does sign a hide-bound programme, and is bound by a programme made outside this Parliament.
– At all events, that programme was framed by ourselves) we did not sign a programme made by other people.
– We have heard that before.
– And the honorable and learned member will hear it again.
– I now wish to read an extract from John Stuart Mill upon the subject of pledges. I would recommend the Minister of External Affairs to read John Stuart Mill upon Representative Government, and particularly the article upon pledges given by members. He says : -
Whoever feels the amount of interest in the government of his country which befits a freeman, has some convictions on national affairs which are like his life-blood ; which the strength of his belief in their truth, together with the importance he attaches to them, forbid him to make a subject of compromise, or postpone to the judgment of any person.
– Would not party government disappear if that principle were insisted upon?
– I am not prepared to enter into an academic discussion! with the Prime Minister upon that point.
– The honorable and learned member knows that he is the living embodiment of the application of the contrary principle.
– I shall have great pleasure in discussing the matterprivately with the Minister. In conclusion, I desire to say one or two words with regard to Socialism. My contention, as a pretty wide reader, is that the whole theory which underlies Socialism has been condemned by all great thinkers. If honorable members will read Aristotle’s work on politics, published as long ago as 380 years before the Christian era, they will find that the Socialists -are merely attempting to revive doctrines which were exploded centuriesago. and have had to ‘be exploded even during the present century, because men do not take the trouble to read history and profit by it. They are pressing these hare-brained and impracticable schemes, not upon them- selves, but upon other people in established communities. I . have said before in this House, and I say it again, that if we had in this country any considerable number of people who believed in Socialism as a theory upon which a community could be built up, such people would more completely prove ‘ their earnestness by going to some country like Western Australia, and building up a community for themselves in order to demonstrate to the world that we are wrong. They can secure land there, not by the acre, . but by the square mile and the degree. Nothing would please me better than to see a body of them discard their parliamentary allowance of£400 a year, forsake their comfortable homes, and go to Western Australia to demonstrate to the world that they can build up a community.
– That is a cheap gibe.
– It is a very logical gibe, and one which the Prime Minister cannot answer. The doctrine of Socialism has been denounced by the greatest thinkers of all ages, and has been demonstrated to be impracticable. Aristotle says that if our legislators would only study the history of the Colonies they would learn that these doctrines have long since been exploded, and that wherever men come together and endeavour to hold property in common they invariably come to blows over trifles. His words have been proved to be accurate by two experiments within our ‘own time and knowledge. In this connexion I shall presently quote from a letter which was written some two months ago by a recent visitor to Paraguay. Of course, as every one is aware, men like Karl Marx, Fourier, and others, have by eloquently depicting the possibilities of a beautiful socialistic future secured hundreds and thousands of disciples in Europe. These have not stood still. They have tried their experiments. The United States is filled with the ghosts of socialistic and communistic experiments. People have gone out there by hundreds and thousands, and, in some cases, have taken up areas of not less than 100 and 150 acres each. They have been careful to take with them all the results of the best civilized society- They possessed themselves of all the best results of individualist society, taking with them ploughs, harrows, machinery, literature, and other civilizing necessities. Thus equipped, they started to found socialistic communities. Those settlements have all disappeared. The persons who tried these wild experiments believed in the same theories that are entertained by the members of the Labour Party.
– It is all very well for honorable members opposite to say that they do not go to the same extreme. Their theories can lead only to a paralysis of the present state of society. I will undertake’ to say that there are many men in the Labour Party to-day who are blindly following its teachings, and who have not even taken the trouble to make themselves .acquainted with the innumerable socialistic experiments which have failed in America.
– They are all aware of them.
– We all. know what occurred when the Paraguayan enterprise was started. I remember being informed of the whole scheme. Mr. .Lane was filled with fine hopes as to what it was possible to accomplish, if only a number of persons combined upon communistic lines. His disciples left Australia and settled in Paraguay. The head of the movement was suggestively careful to require that every intending settler was possessed of at least £60. A ship was purchased, and the men left Australia full of enthusiasm and hopes with which one sympathized as with a poetic dream. But every person, familiar with the relentless laws of political economy, knew that the scheme must eventually collapse. The fate of that experiment is well recorded in an account which is given by a recent visitor to the settlement. He says -
I had lived for some years in Paraguay, at no great distance from the colony’ of New Australia. I had followed the vicissitudes of the colony with interest, and had been in constant touch with the settlers, but had never had any opportunity vo visit it. I was glad, therefore, to take advantage of a few days’ holiday to make a trip to the settlement. . . . The population of the colony is probably a little over 200 souls. At the time of the “ divide,” some six years ago, when the settlers abandoned socialistic principles, divided what little property they had, and let every one start on his own account, the population had dwindled down to seventy-five ; since then it has again commenced to increase, and is still doing so at a rapid rate, having doubled in five years. The 200 settlers are all Anglo-Saxons, for in this number are not included the natives, of whom there are a large number in the settlement.
Now comes the irony of the situation. The writer adds -
They are good neighbours, and as they are content to work for small wages, they are of material assistance to the settlers.
– That account does not refer to Mr. Lane’s settlement, which is still in existence in another part of Paraguay.
– I am aware “that Mr. Lane quarrelled with his followers and left the original settlement. What a melancholy chapter in socialistic history that experiment provides. Here was a community, which was filled with poetic expectation regarding the possibilities of establishing an ideal community. Yet six years ago it was compelled to abandon its theories, and to effect a division of its property amongst the settlers, who have actually found in the end that it is profitable to employ native labour, because it is cheap ! I hold in my hand another account - of the failure of a somewhat similar socialistic experiment. The article in question states -
It is remarkable how people can still believe in Socialism. Experiment after experiment is tried, and failure after failure is reported. The New Australia movement in Paraguay, which started with such a flourish of trumpets after the shearing strike of 1891, and which struggled along for a few years, came to grief six years ago. The settlers’ then determined to abandon socialistic principles, divide what little property they had, and go on their own ; their number had dwindled down to seventy-five. Since then they have increased, and now number 200 souls, but they are socialistic no longer. The next failure is that of the Alice River settlement, Queensland. This was also formed after the same shearing strike. Over 100 men, all of whom had been on strike, resolved to give Socialism a fair trial. They procured a grant of land near Barcaldine, Queensland, and every one helped them to stare. The Government helped, and the surrounding squatters helped with presents of stock, and offers of work when they wanted it. For a time it flourished, and every man stuck to it. But after that the men gradually got “tired of the equal work, equal play, and equal pay, and made tracks and, in the words of the Capricornian, “ The men gradually drifted to what, in the dialect of the strike, which gave birth to the settlement, was called the old wages slavery. They simply could not stand everything in common. What killed the settlement was not death, nor the hardship of the climate, nor the difficulties of agriculture, hm simply Socialism. The system broke down, mtn could not stand it, and in the end a settlement “which started with over 100 men, dwindled to seven.” Now, these seven have formed themselves into a limited liability company, after the manner of the purest capitalism. The settlement, as a settlement, has not failed all through the drought; it produced excellent crops by reason el its irrigation plant, and largely supplied ‘.Rockhampton with vegetables. However, it has broken down completely as a socialistic settlement.
I again challenge the socialistic party in this House to name any civilized community in which the doctrine of Socialism has been successfully practised. I invite them to point to any socialistic settlement whose numbers have not decreased, little by little, until its members have had to look for work abroad. I have no objection to voluntary Socialism, but I protest against the State handcuffing me by declaring - “ You shall not live according to the standard which has been adopted in European countries, but according to our standard.” I say that the Labour Party are at perfect liberty to create a little community for themselves, but they have no right to force me to enter it. Its members do not ask for voluntary Socialism. They seek to obtain control of existing industries by an indirect method of confiscation, because, if they levy a progressive tax upon land, such as will return a sufficient sum to enable them to repurchase large estates, it practically amounts to confiscation. I cannot’ believe that honorable members upon this side of the House will allow the present prospect to develop into a reality for the next three months, by permitting the Government to carry out a milk-and-water policy, whilst studiously avoiding objectionable socialistic proposals and relegating them to next session. As I have already pointed out, it is a most serious thing to allow the Government to exercise Executive power during the period in which Parliament will be in recess. The examples that I have quoted,’ show that laws’ may be tyrannically administered by one man, whilst they may be administered by another without inflict? ing injury upon the community. Therefore, I hold that we should not intrust Executive power to men who entertain views which are bound to be destructive of the interests of Australia. If we permit them to remain in office, by neglecting to consolidate ourselves into a formidable Opposition phalanx, we shall be guilty of a grave dereliction of duty. I only hope that wise counsels will prevail, and that every honorable member who does not belong to the Socialist party will readily join with the Opposition in putting an end to this reign of a party with an impracticable policy.
– I do not propose to deal seriatim with the various assertions made by the honorable and learned member for Parkes in the lengthy speech which he has just delivered. I must state at the outset, however, that he won my sympathy when he spoke of the death of his little girl in a convent, and of the request made to him to sign a declaration as to the circumstances connected with that incident. I may safely say that he signed that document because of an honest belief that he was attesting the truth. That is a fair way of looking at the matter, and we on this side of the House can say that we have just as honestly and as conscientiously signed what we believe to be a platform calculated to uplift humanity. The tirade of abuse which has been showered upon the Labour Party would, if it were justified by the doctrines we profess, cause us to blush. But that is not the case. What do honorable members opposite propose to do? They propose to enter into a coalition with the view of ousting from office a party whose honesty has never been impugned. This seems to be a strange way of carrying on the political affairs of the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member for Parkes did Mr. Bromley an injustice, unintentionally, no doubt, when by innuendo he suggested a proposal for interference with the family. Let me tell’ him what is really proposed. We hope to secure for the children of the poor as good an education as the honorable and learned member, with his ample means, can give his own children. I should like to see every little girl sent to a convent or some equally good school.
– Do we not desire to see the children of the poor well educated? The only question is how we are to set to work to bring about that desirable end.
– I am speaking under somewhat disadvantageous circumstances. It is difficult to follow the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who has had ample time in which to prepare his speech, and who has at his disposal a splendid library, and everything which wealth and the possession of fairly good brains can give. But I shall endeavour, although I have had only a few minutes in which to prepare my notes, to answer some of the statements made by him. Surely our ambition to educate the children of the poor is justifiable, and should be that of every good man. Can any one imagine . for a moment that the Great Being of 2,000 years ago, with His twelve disciples, had thirteen persons amongst them. I certainly cannot. Men who find themselves ill-provided with the means with which to start life well, often go to another country, and endeavour there to build up a communistic community. But that is very different from the present position of democratic Socialism. We are endeavouring to improve the lot of the people, and will do so. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, judging by what has fallen from his own lips, is a very wide reader, and he asserts that we have not read nearly as largely as he has done.
– I did not say that. I do not wish the honorable member to misinterpret what I said. I remarked that some members of the party had probably not read what Aristotle said on this subject, and I therefore commended it to them.
– I was under the impression that, at another stage in his speecn, the honorable and learned member said that we had not read of much that had happened in the past, and, therefore, could not judge of what would be the result of giving effect to our proposals.
– No; I know that the honorable member is just as wide a reader as I am.
– I am glad that the honorable and learned member did not desire to convey the impression which he made on my mind. He has certainly misinterpreted the Victorian Labour Party’s programme, although I feel satisfied that he would not wilfully do so. The leader of that party, Mr. Bromley, has no such intention as that suggested by the honorable and learned member. All that he desires is that the crowding of families into small rooms shall be done away with. Let me illustrate the point. In a Sunday school in London, a little child was given a card with the direction that she should hang it on the wall of her room ; but the little mite replied, “Please, miss, we have no wall.” Anxious to know what the child meant by this assertion, the teacher went to the room occupied by the little one and her people, and found that each of the four corners in the room ‘ was occupied by a different family. The family of which the little girl was a member, sat in the centre of it, so that her statement was perfectly true. It is such a condition of affairs as this that we desire to remedy. ‘
– It will not be remedied by the aid of a Government tobacco monopoly.
– We shall not have the assistance of the honorable member in remedying it.
– Mr. Bromley said that the time was not ripe for that.
– The honorable and learned member, in the course of his journeyings to South Australia, will learn something, if he has not already done so, of one of the most successful attempts which has been made to save child life.
– Is it a voluntary, or State-aid system?
– It is assisted by the State, and without that aid it could not be carried on. There the death-rate of illegitimate children is about twentyfour per thousand. Honorable members may be interested to learn the death-rate amongst illegitimate children in West Girton. There over 700 out of every 1,000 illegitimate children die in the first year of their lives, while under the beautiful system on which society is conducted in England at the present moment the death-rate amongst illegitimate children is 343 per thousand - the second highest of which we know.
– The Government have not put forward any proposal to improve upon that state of affairs.
– Give us time.
– What ! Would the Labour Party delay in dealing with so important a matter ?
– We shall endeavour to deal effectively with it, but honorable members like the honorable and learned member for Werriwa would not try to do so.
– We think -
– We are trying day by day to effect improvement, and the members of the - South Australian Parliament have shown their earnest desire to profit by the example of the town of West Girton, of which I have spoken. I was the first member of the Victorian State Parliament to mark out a seat in opposition to the GilliesDeakin coalition’ Government - a coalition which still stinks in the nostrils of the people of Victoria. One of its leaders was supported by a great daily paper published in Melbourne, the influence of which was declared by the honorable member for Delatite in the’ State Parliament to be so great that with its support, old man though he was, he would fight in any constituency and win. He spoke the truth. The newspaper supported one member of the coalition. While it fought against the late Mr. Gillies, and sought unjustly to down him, it sheltered Mr. Deakin. It never blamed that honorable and learned member for the faults of the coalition, but invariably threw all the opprobrium attaching to them upon the late Mr. Gillies. But what is the position of the protectionists in this House ? If I may not go back to the Greeks 300 years B.C., in seeking for an illustration, I may perhaps be permitted to refer to the schoolmaster who, when his city was- besieged by a Roman general, used to take the children of the leading families for short walks on the walls. At last this schoolmaster led the children into the lines of the army of Camillus, in the hope of obtaining some reward for his treachery. But Camillus, instead of rewarding him, placed rods in the hands of the children, and told them to beat the master back within the walls of the city. The citizens, struck by the generosity shown by the general, felt that they could not do better than surrender, and trust themselves to his honour. The leader of the Protectionist Party in this House has led that party into the meshes of the right honorable member for East Sydney and his followers. I do not know why he should have done so. His eloquence has roused many an audience to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. On the first occasion that I heard him speak in the Melbourne Town Hall in favour of the suppression of sweating, he made so strong an impression upon his hearers that any one of them would have followed him almost to the death. But when three weeks later I inquired whether’ he was going to bring in a Bill to put down sweating, he replied, “What is the use?” That was my first political cold shower. It was my first experience of men who speak like angels on the public platforms, and yet in Parliament act like cats. What is ‘the projected coalition going to do? The words used by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - I quote from the Age of 24th inst. - were as follows : -
I am going to bring about this severance, gentlemen, if I can. It will be very painful - too painful for me. I shall therefore precipitate the event and leave the penalties to others.
What need is there to do anything of the kind? What necessity was there to leave the two doors open? The honorable and learned member said in my hearing in this House that the Labour Government should have a fair and square trial. Where is the fairness or the squareness of his present proposal? I, for one, certainly fail to find any indication of fairness in it. The protectionists were betrayed into the camp ‘ of the enemy, but the protectionists who were so betrayed will not, I am certain, be false to their promises and pledges. I have had two contests within three and a half months, but if there were a double dissolution to-morrow, I should glory in it, for as one who has perhaps addressed more meetings than has any other honorable member since my return, I know that throughout Victoria the ringing cry would be, “ Sweep away the men who would lead our party, as the schoolmaster led the children of the city of which I have spoken, into the camp of the enemy.” Where is the flag of Protection, which lias flown so boldly in Victoria? It has been thrown in the mud, and trampled on.
– Is the honorable member helping to hold it aloft again?
– I shall do so, with the assistance of the honorable and learned member, if he is ever wise enough to give me his help. But never will words of mine accuse .that man of fine sentiments - the honorable and learned member for Ballarat -of being influenced by the bribe of office. He is not like the schoolmaster to whom I have referred. He will sulk in the corner, like Achilles in the tent, and, if the projected double-headed Ministry ever comes into power, will give it his support. Why should “there be any such intention on the part of honorable members opposite? I was speaking a night or two ago to Mr. Ashworth, a candidate for re-election to the State Parliament, who could not refrain from dragging in King Charles’ head, and referring to the desirableness of fusing the three parties in this House into two. Do honorable members think that that would make the issues clear and distinct?
I do not. There are too many good demorats in this Chamber. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat will not be able to lead half of those who are said to belong to his party. He seems to soar in the clouds. He does not keep his mind on the earth. When Prime Minister, he confessed, at the Lord Mayor of Melbourne’s quarterly luncheon, that, when he consented to represent an important constituency, although he knew that he would continue in politics only a year, he did not take his constituents into his confidence on the subject. Neither did he take them into his confidence in regard to the betrayal of the protectionist cause. The very night that he was uttering foolish words in Melbourne, I was addressing 4,000 of his constituents at Ballarat. I addressed then one of the largest meetings ever held in the town, and my remarks were cheered three times three, because of my success in beating the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. My opponent, when defeated, asked, “ What will they say in England?” The same question was asked again when the Labour Party came into power, and it was said that stocks would fall, and the prices of shares decrease.
– We were told that capital would leave the country.
– I find, by reference to to-night’s Herald, that in only one instance have Australian shares fallen in the London market. The shares of the Bank of Australasia are now selling at £89, whereas a fortnight ago they were as high as £90 ; but all other stock has risen in value. City of Melbourne 4 per cent, bonds are now £100, as against £99 a fortnight ago; Melbourne Harbor Trust 4 per cent, bonds are now£101, as against £100 on 10th inst. ; Melbourne TramwayTrust 4 per cent, debentures are now£105, as against £103 a fortnight ago ; Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works 4 per cent, debentures are now£100, as against £99 on 10th inst., while McCracken’s City Brewery,, Melbourne, 4½ per cent, debentures are£55 10s.. as against£44 10s. a fortnight ago. It is announced in to-day’s newspapers that one of the greatest democrats which America has produced is fighting for the. Presidency in’ the labour interest. He is a man of vast means, and owns nine of the most powerful newspapers in the world. The right honorable member for East Sydney used an expression about feeding the tiger with milk, which recalled to me the lines of a wellknown Limerick, which run like this -
There was a young lady of Riga
Who went for a ride on a tiger;
They returned from their ride
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger.
I do not think that the graceful shape of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat could encompass the bulky rotundity of the right honorable member for East Sydney ; but the latter might be able to engross the slighter and more delicately built frame of the late Prime Minister. If: he has not done so physically, he has done so mentally. The bigger brains of the hero from Sydney have demolished the hero from Ballarat, who, if he had had any. backbone, might have become almost a dictator in Australia. He has, however, betrayed the cause of protection. Notwithstanding that he was many years in power in Victoria, no great measure for the benefit of humanity was passed by him.
– What about the Victorian Factories Act?
– Lord help the honorable member for that interjection.
– Is the honorable member for Melbourne opposed to the Factories Act?
– No ; I helped to oass it, and the honorable member for Laanecoorie also did something in that direction as he got wiser. He did not do much at first ; but he is improving every day, and I believe that he now supports womanhood suffrage. The right honorable member for East. Sydney said on Friday that he could not get the members of his party to act like a lot of performing dogs. Probably some of them are “dry dogs,” or do not believe in work, or in a “Yes-No “ water policy. Honorable gentlemen will remember that, when the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay was under discussion, some of the members of the Opposition supported it, although they were opposed to its principle, merely to get the Ministry of the day out of office. Is it possible that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will take as his allies and friends men who then so plainly and distinctly opposed him ? I wish now to make some remarks to emphasize the need of a White Ocean policy. The P. and
Mr. T. P. O’Connor, M.P. for Liverpool, about the principal port in Great Britain, stated that the mail subsidies paid to the P. and O. Co. by Great Britain, Australia, &c, amounted to ^400,000, and, while the House of Commons had unanimously passed a fair wage resolution, no action was taken against the P. and O. Co., who had not paid such wages, although every other Government contractor, had had to do so. He called attention to the miserable accommodation provided for the Iascar seamen on the P. and O. boats.
Mr. John Dillon, M.P., said that a British sailor should not be subjected to the competition of men who would work for less than half his wages, and live on less than half his food. The Government encouraged the greatest steam-ship company to break the law. It would be considered unjustifiable to import coloured people in thousands to work in British factories. (Hear, heart. A member of the Cabinet (Lord Selborne, son-in-law of the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury), was at the same time a director of the P. and’ O. Co., which was too influential (hear, hear) and could break the law of the country. Lord Selborne ought not to be at the same time a director of the P. and O. Co. and a member of the Government, which was shielding that company while they were breaking the law.
Mr. Havelock Wilson, M.P. (Middlesborough), did not object to lascars being employed, but they should be so in the same terms with regard to wages, accommodation, and food as -British seamen. There were 40,000 lascars in the British mercantile marine, and the number was increasing, while that of the British was diminishing. The wages and maintenance of two lascars did not equal the cost of one British seaman. While 120 cubic feet of space was recommended by the British Royal Commission of Ia9I, for each seaman, lascars were allowed only thirty-six feet (barely the dimensions of a decent-sized coffin). The P. and O. Co. employed 5,000 lascars.
Those were the opinions of liberal members. I shall now quote the opinions of some of the Conservative members of the House -
Sir Howard Vincent (Conservative), a prominent Imperialist, said that formerly lascars were employed only in the engine-room, but now they were employed on deck, the proportion in one case being sixty-one lascars; only twenty-nine or less than half were employed in the engineroom. Australian Governments (notably Queensland) had taken a serious view of the matter, and had refused to give contracts to vessels carrying lascars. He did not wish to say anything as to the employment of those in the engine-room, but their employment on deck had proved in several instances a great danger in times of emergency and shipwreck, and these lascars were exceedingly liable to panic.
Honorable members must have read of cases of that kind. I have read of one in which a ship was lost, and of another in which a ship was only narrowly saved because of loss of presence of mind on the part of iascar seamen.
– I am sorry to say that other men have also lost their presence of mind.
– That is a statement which no one can controvert. According to the report from which I have been reading, Mr. Henry Labouchere, the member for Northampton, said -
The P. and O. Company had broken the law in a criminal manner, employing the men under conditions that fostered disease and shortened life. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Lloyd George (Liberal, Carnarvon, Wales) noticed that while on the American lines and the Castle and Union lines 90 per cent, of the seamen were British, on tramps 30 per cent., on the P. and O. Company’s vessels only 25 per cent, were British.
Honorable members may not realize the seriousness of this, but it means that if British supremacy is to be maintained British seamen must be employed. If any one, be he an officer of a ship, a member of this House, or a citizen of Australia, will say that Britishers are not fit to man British ships, I contend that he lacks, in the highest possible sense, loyalty to the Empire.
– Half the white men employed on British ships are foreigners.
– That is not the fault of the British seamen, but of the infamous laws that permit British ship-owners to do that which the laws of other nations do not allow in connexion with vessels flying their flags. The Norddeutscher-Lloyd is one of the largest, if not the largest, shipping company in the world, and its steamers hold nearly all the records which have been established in connexion with the Atlantic trade. That company does not receive such a large amount of money by way of subsidy as does the P. and O. Company, and yet the German Government would not permit the Norddeutscher-Lloyd to act in the same manner as the P. and O. Company are allowed to do.
– The money paid to the P. and 0. Company is given in return for services rendered.
– Do not the ships of the Norddeutscher-Lloyd render any service for the money which the company receive?
– For one portion of the subsidy they render no service whatever.
– The honorable and learned member will find that every ship that carries the flag of the NorddeutscherLloyd must render any service that is required of it by the Government. If the Government do not always find employment for them that is their own lookout. Mr. Weir, another Conservative member, asked–
If there were any labour - conditions in the contract. If there were not, there ought to be, as when the British flag flew over South Africa he supposed the P. and O. would have at their disposal the labour of the Matabeles, Bechuanas Swazis, and other native tribes, and these men would work for 4d. a day, and with a little training cut out the lascars.
Surely that should appeal to honorable members, and convince them that we require to employ British seamen in our ships. Admiral Field, another Conservative member, also had something to say. Admirals, as a rule, are hardly likely to entertain keen sympathies for labour, although some of them may be Liberals. Admiral Field said -
In these days of keen competition shipowners manned their vessels in the cheapest manner, but as a naval man he condemned the
Government in the strongest way because they did not insist, as foreign Governments insisted, as a condition of companies enjoying State subsidies, that they should employ a certain proportion of national seamen. (Hear, hear.) It was a grievous mistake for the Government to shut their eyes to the fact that our mercantile ‘marine was fast decaying - (hear, hear) - that apprentices were few - (hear, hear) - and that 40,000 or 50,000 foreigners had displaced Britain’s own sailors. (Hear, hear.) Foreigners and lascars would not fight England’s naval battles, and landsmen could not man her fleet, for they were not trained seamen. He would not do anything to weaken his own Government, would not vote against his Government, but he would not vote for them, as he held they had neglected their dutv in neglecting to make the employment of British seamen a condition of mail contracts.
These were the words of an Admiral who wishes to uphold British supremacy on the seas. He justly asks how we can expect foreigners and lascars to fight England’s battles. His words constitute a formidable indictment against the .way in which the affairs of the shipping companies are at present conducted. They might very well have come from the lips of a labour representative. This, however, was not the worst of the scathing criticism which was directed to the system of employing lascars. What does a Minister of the Crown say, even though one of his fellow Ministers was a director of that infamous P. and O. Company? Mr. Ritchie, the Chancellor of the British Exchequer said -
If the law had not been complied with it was not for the want of strong remonstrances. The Government had called attention to the fact that the space supplied to Iascar seamen was not the space provided for British seamen, and that the P. and O. Company were not acting in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act. In this way the P. and O. Company had already been heavily fined.
We did not learn that from the newspapers.
He agreed that such a company should be beyond reproach, and had made his opinions known to them more than once in strong terms, that they ought to give their Iascar sailors the space required by the Merchant Shipping Act. He had gone further, and informed them, although the Board of Trade had been unwilling to prosecute, in the hope that its remonstrances might induce them to comply with the English law, the time might come when he would consider it his duty to order a prosecution if the law were not complied with …. and he hoped that in future they would not have the annual recurrence of these complaints.
– That seems to show that the law was firmly administered.
– The honorable and learned member would not entertain that opinion if he knew all the circumstances.
The remonstrances were directed to the P. andO. Co., and the fines- inflicted on -what was really a side issue. So far as I can understand the laws of India permit of the infamy of herding lascars together in insufficient space, and although the vessels of the P. & 0. Co. fly the British flag, and are, ‘therefore, to some extent, under the control of the Board of Trade, they are always able to plead that they are subject to the Indian regulations, and thus, to a large extent, evade the British law. More than that, one of their directors is a powerful member of the Cabinet, which makes the position worse. No honorable member, who has had experience in medical matters, will pretend that 36 feet of space, or 6 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet, is sufficient for a human being to live in. Such conditions would only be endured by lascars, who are more kicked than petted if they raise objections, and, who, although they are British subjects, occupy a servile position.
– I suppose that the honorable member knows that lascars in the P. & 0. steamers do not sleep in their berths, but upon the deck. .
– I am sorry to say that the honorable and learned member is stating what is not correct.
– The honorable member cannot have travelled by a P. & O. steamer.
– I have travelled by P. & O. steamers, and, as a medical man and officer. I . have visited the quarters occupied by the lascars.
– I have seen the lascars sleeping on deck.
– In all weathers?
– I can understand that while the vessels are in warmer latitudes the lascars may sleep on deck, but I know from my experience that they have also to sleep in the confined space1 that I have indicated.
– A coalition would cure all that.
– The honorable and learned member’s ideas with regard to coalitions are not the same as mine. I had an experience extending over a year and a half of a coalition Government in Victoria, and I can safely say that that State does not want any more coalitions. That State was dragged down and degraded by it, and I hope that we shall not see a coalition Government upon the Treasury benches. Jf we had a system of electing Ministers, does the honorable and learned member think that the right honorable member for East Sydney - of whom I am not speaking in any personal sense, because he has been a kind friend to me, and always a courteous gentleman, and I have always endeavoured to reciprocate his kindly words and acts - would be elected as Prime Minister bv the people of Australia? Does the honorable member think that the honorable member for Swan, who has no follower from his own State in either House, would be elected as Prime Minister of Australia? I do not think so. Much as I admired the honorable member for Swan as a young explorer, I do not suppose for one moment that he would be selected by the people as the head of the Federal Government. Honorable members may gibe as much as they like at the labour platform, but we are loyal to it, and will fight for it to the end. The honorable and learned member for Parkes found fault with us because we took the items of our programme out of what he regarded as their proper rotation. I am certain, that the honorable member would not say that a sinner, was any the worse because he broke the ten’ commandments out of rotation.
– That would depend upon his purpose.
– Are the members of the Labour Party breaking any of the commandments ?
– No; but we are asking honorable members to come to grips with us, and to fight matters out., We are prepared to go down with our colours flying. We know that the people are behind us, and that our intentions are good. We may not succeed at once, but we shall endeavour to carry the planks of our platform, which must be good, because, they have been adopted by honorable members opposite.
– The present Ministry obtained their policy from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech at the opening of this Parliament.
– The resemblance between the policy of the present Ministry and that of the projected coalition is indeed remarkable. In the forefront of the Government programme is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which occupies a similar position in the policy of the coalition party. Then follow the Federal Capital Sites Bill and the Trade Marks Bill. . Both these measures figure in the . programme of ‘ the coalition party, as does also the question of old-age pensions, notwithstanding that some honorable members opposite have sworn a vendetta against any such proposal. The sixth item in the Government programme has reference to financial measures. Strange to say, a similar proposal finds a place in the policy of the coalition party. The Ministry propose that the consideration of the Iron Bonus Bill shall be deferred for the present, and that the Navigation Bill shall not be proceeded with, pending an investigation by a Royal Commission. The parties opposite adopt a similar attitude towards those measures. The Tariff is to be left undisturbed for two years, and the introduction of the Inter-State Commission Bill is to be postponed pending further inquiry. Thus the coalition party have adopted eleven planks out of fourteen which are contained in the Ministerial policy. What is the cause of all the present trouble ? Whv should honorable members not arrive at an agreement to elect Ministers to carry out this policy ? I can honestly sav that there has been no heart-burning or jealousy amongst members of the Labour Party because some Ministers have been chosen from among them. Come what may, we care, little. We intend to fight for the planks of our platform, and if we are dispossessed the Ministry which will adopt those planks can count upon our loyal support.
– During the course of this debate we have heard a great many speeches which resembled the thunder from Sinai. Indeed, I thought that the waters of Niagara Falls had been let loose until I recollected that I was still in Australia. I have never yet read or heard of such a combination of intellectual giants pitching into the humble democrats of the Labour Party. From the utterances of some honorable members one would imagine that we had committed highway robbery. I must confess that I entertain a great respect for the right honorable member for East Sydney. I regard him as a star of the first magnitude. I believe he was intended to be a luminary and a . blessing to the world, but he . has gone astray. He ought always to be at the zenith, and not on the margin of the horizon, as his brilliancy will betray him in matters he may himself strive to hide. I feel sure that whatever he may do the people will climb the highest mountains,, and descend into the darkest caverns, to admire such a political luminary. Therefore, I am sorry that he went astray about two years ago. He was misled by false prophets. At that time the newspapers predicted the absolute annihilation of the Labour Party. But that party is founded upon justice. It comes from “the Creator; from the manger of Bethlehem ; from the twelve apostles. It comes to bestow a benediction upon the universe, and to lift humanity out of the mire. Let no one imagine that because I am politically opposed to the right honorable member for East Sydney that I do not respect him. I look upon him as the Daniel Webster of the Southern Hemisphere. I also entertain the greatest admiration for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, but I have always recognised that if these two great forces are brought together the lesser must go down. The right honorable member for East Sydney is one of the five greatest platform speakers in the world.
– Where are the other four ?
– In America. I entertain . a great opinion of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. He is a brilliant man. I always enjoy listening to his speeches, although I do not agree with them. That, however, merely proves that he does not agree with me. To-night I wish to enter my protest against the waste of time that has been incurred in this debate. The discussion has convinced me that the British system of parliamentary government is not sufficiently modern. The Labour Party have proved that the intellectual domain of the world is open to the many, and not to the few. The present Government have demonstrated that men are not born to fill Ministerial office - that there are hundreds and thousands of men in Australia who are quite capable of stepping on to the Treasury benches. I believe there is no member of the House who is not qualified to satisfactorily discharge the duties of a Minister.- The present session of Parliament opened on 2nd March, but what has been accomplished? I recognise that we must go to America ‘ for a new system of government.
– The American system is not a socialistic one.
-It is one of the most wonderful socialistic systems upon earth. In the course of his address, the honorable and learned member ‘for Parkes emphasized the advantage of a business experience. I claim to have had a thorough business training. So also had my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne, who rose to be an accountant in a bank. Surely that is a business training. In America, too, I have- conducted some big business transactions. It is a great pity that ;in discussing questions of stupendous magnitude, some honorable members are always ready to reflect upon members of the Labour Party on account of their lack of business experience. It has been said during the course of this debate that the members of the labour Party are not free agents. I hold that they are absolutely free. Who is freer than I am ? We merely sign a pledge that, if we are not nominated at the next election we will stand down and assist the selected candidate. Next month two great conventions will be held in the United States for the purpose of choosing candidates for the Presidency. When the delegates attend those Conventions they will sign a pledge agreeing to be bound by the determination arrived at. Is it not ridiculous for my honorable friends -who are absolutely sworn to the freetrade fallacy - to talk of honorable members breaking a pledge Why, in Australia I have found that we require plans and specifications to discover ihe whereabouts of some of these political brethren, simply because they are bound by no pledge. I have no desire to be offensive, because I have the greatest admiration for the Christians opposite. The word “ Christian,” by the way, is one which is very much misunderstood. I claim that every man who acts j U s t 1 v upon this earth is a Christian.
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member acts justly according to his lights.
– That is the position. Candidates for a seat in Parliament as members of the Labour Party sign a pledge that if they are not selected they will support the men who are chosen. I remember on one occasion attending a Convention iri the United States, at which two publicans were present. They did not sign the pledge, and when we nominated two men for Congress - one who was a teetotaller, and’ one who was not - they decided to work for the man who was not a teetotaller, and to fight against the man who was.
– Did the teetotaller sign the pledge ?
– He was not in it. We should have men bound to their principles. Members of* the Labour Party enter this House bound to support principles which must tend to uplift humanity. But how are we going to carry out this work? For some days we have been fighting over the present situation. We have been discussing it, and fooling about, and wasting time to such an extent that we are drawing our. pay under false pretences. I almost feel ashamed to draw my allowance.
– The Government do not propose to increase the present allowance?
– I am ashamed, in the first place, to draw my allowance, because of its small proportions; but I am also ashamed to draw it because I feel that I am not at present earning it. That is due to the action of honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member promised, that we should have an increase of .£200 per annum.
– I cannot do anything’ unless I receive support. If the honorable member will support the proposal, I will give him my assistance, and will vote to throw the Labour Ministry out of office if they decline to increase the present allowance to honorable members.. I wish to make a candid statement in regard to this question. Let us seek to devise a system under which it will be possible for us to deal in a proper way with the business of Parliament. I propose that we run the House on the butty-gang system, or that we have three shifts. We have first of all. the Opposition, then we have the brother who, with his party, occupied the Treasury benches a little while ago, and we have also the Ministerial Labour Party. The life of the present Parliament has still two and a half years to run. Let us, therefore, divide it’ into three shifts of ten months each. There is no difference in our policies, arid, that being so, what are we fighting about? We all admit that every honorable member is an honest man. We recognise that every honorable member is capable, and intellectually fitted to hold a seat in this House, and, that being so, I should not have the slightest objection to the carrying on the work of the’ Parliament by means of three shifts. Let the present Ministry reign Tor ten months, let them be followed in turn by the right honorable member for East Sydney and his. party, and then let the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his followers take the third shift. We should in this way be able to assist each other in giving effect to a policy on which we are all agreed.
– What about mv policy?
– I should be prepared to put the honorable and learned member into office after the others had had a show. If we do not agree to some system’ that will do away with the jumping of the Treasury benches from time to time, we shall arouse the feeling of the people against the Parliament. We shall rouse that mighty tribunal outside this House, which forms, the last Court of Appeal. An appeal may be made from Festu, to Caesar, but we shall appeal from Caesar to the people who make the Caesars. Let us, if it is thought desirable, have an elective Ministry. It would be open for the House to elect a Ministry by secret ballot. We should, at all events, enter upon the work before us in a businesslike way, and not seek to throw out a Ministry because of every little Tom, Dick and Harry foolishness, as we do at the present time. Some honorable members have had much to say of individual freedom. What is individual freedom? When I lived amongst the Yaki Indians in Mexico, the great Sagimore ordered a man to be killed when it did not suit him that he should live. If a young buck disagreed with another, he was taken out and shot. Is that what honorable members opposite want? Let me tell the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and the honorable and learned member for Wannon, that I once heard of an old buck belonging to the Wabunsee Indians, in Western America,- who thought that he could stop one of the locomotives travelling through his country from the East. He was ignorant of the power of steam. He told his fellow -Indians that he would stop that locomotive, but when he went out and butted his head against it, he was knocked into a thousand pieces. The engine went on - and so will the Labour Party. We are going ahead. Every man who runs against the party will be knocked into a thousand pieces, and perhaps buried without either flowers or parson. There never was a party better prepared than we are to bury its enemies. We have a doctor to feel their pulses, a preacher to read the burial service over them, and an undertaker to plant them. We have even a lawyer to draw up their wills. I have the greatest respect for the individual opinions of honorable members opposite, and I need hardly assure them that there is no feeling of bitterness rankling in my bosom. In view of. what some honorable members have said in regard to the banking proposals of the Government, I would remind them that, in 1893, when every Inter-State bank having its headquarters in Australia crossed the Jordan, not one bank in Canada suspended payment. Some honorable members may say that the
Bank of New South Wales, which did not close its doors, has its head-quarters in Australia. That is not the” case. Its headquarters are in London.
– I will give way to the honorable and learned member, and satha”t every other Inter-State bank whose head-quarters were in Australia crossed the Jordan in that year.
– What about the City Bank, the Royal Bank, and one or two others that did not close their doors?
– The Royal and the City Banks are not Inter-State institutions. Every one of the Inter-State banks of the class I have named crossed the Jordan and went down like McGinty’s cart.
– The Bank of Australasia .did not do so.
– That is an English institution. If it had not been for the action of the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria, .who came to their rescue, every one of them would have suspended payment. During the same year hundreds of telegrams appeared from time to time in the American press, telling of banks that had gone to the wall. But how many broke in Canada? I would ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to name one Canadian bank which closed its doors in 1893.
– But how would the confiscation of ,£8,000,000 of the banks’ reserves strengthen their position?
– The opposition which is being shown to our banking proposals reminds me of the arguments that were used against the abolition of slavery in the United States. Slave-masters down South declared that if we destroyed that great fabric which came down from the ages we should destroy the Republic. They considered that slavery was a Heaven-blest institution. But the Government propose a banking system which has been a success in one of the most Conservative countries in the world. Had the honorable member for Wentworth lived, as I have done, in the Arctic regions of Canada, he would know that one of the most Conservative Governments in the world holds office there. Sir John McDonald, who, with the exception of the intervals in which McKenzie held office, was Prime Minister practically from 1867 until his death, was a Conservative Scotchman, and we have Scotchmen on the Treasury benches in this House. I remember speaking to a prominent banker in British Columbia-
– Can the honorable member explain the Canadian system?
– I shall not do so now, although I understand it thoroughly. I do not pretend to be familiar with everything in the world, but I do understand this system, because it is founded upon the Rock of Ages, and I shall discuss it fully when we are’ called upon to deal with legislation on the subject. The bankers in the United States did not agree with the action taken in Canada, and on one occasion a Kansas banker told me that it was a rotten system. That man is to-day humping his bluey on the Rocky Mountains. Under the Canadian system the banks are guaranteed by the Dominion.
– To what extent?
– To the extent of the 40 per cent. which they take from the gold reserves. Have honorable members heard of the Irishman who, when the banks were suspending payment in 1893, went to a Victorian institution, and said, “ Give me my money. If you can pay it, I do not want it. But if you cannot, I will not leave the bank till I get it.” I wish to use that incident as an illustration. There is to-day from £20,000,000 to£22,500,000 worth of gold lying unused in the banks. If any one is using any portion of it, he ought to be criminally prosecuted, for it comprises the gold reserves. We ‘do not want this money whenwe know that Ave can get it, but Ave ahvays require itwhen Ave know thatwe cannot get it. That is the position to-day. These gold reserves are maintained solely in order that they may be forthcoming if it be considered that a bank is in a shaky condition. If Ave knoAv that a bank is backed by the CommonAvealth, Ave shall never Avant to call on the reserves. When the Bank of New Zealandwas about to close its doors, the State Government came to its assistance, and to-day it is a solid institution. It is not a Government bank, for the Premier of New Zealand, who is one of the great men of the Southern Hemisphere, had not the courage to take itover. . But the people knoAv that the Go- vernment are behind it, and they are satisfied. When a bank Avas about to close its doors in one of the Avestern States of America, the Government ‘ guaranteed’ it ‘ to the extent of only $200,000 ; but that Avas sufficient to avert the panic. The fact that the bank had that guarantee behind it restored the confidence of the people. Have Ave lost confidence in the Commomvealth ? If we have, Ave should leave the country. I
Avould say to those Avho have lost confidence in Australia,’ “ Leave the country, and may the Lord speed you.” I, for one, have every faith in Australia. I believe in the country and its people, and I am not afraid that its affairs will not be wisely controlled. If Watson is not. fit to manage them, and if Reid is also unsuitable, let some one else be placed at the helm.
– Order! The honorable member must not refer to honorable members in thatway.
– I beg pardon. I wishnow to refer to the proposal to make the tobacco monopoly a State concern. I should like honorable members from Sydney to leave the train at Wangaratta, and have a chat with the local producers of tobacco. I have heard much about the sacredness of private property. The Government do not propose to rob you. As a matter of fact, Ave shall lose a bit ourselves.
– Will the honorable member address the Chair?
– I will, sir. Let fifty men attempt, against the Avish of the
OAvner. to knock down a private building in Melbourne, and there will be fifty others to preA’ent them doing anything of the kind. The desire of Britishers everywhere is that there shall be universal justice. There is something better in theworld than the mere desire that ‘one little class should be stuck up and beautifully fed and dressed, Avhile others, because of the greed of many, are hungry, miserable . wretches. The Labour Party intend to uplift humanity. Has it been shoAvn that since the tobacco monopoly Avas formed any factory has been closed, or any hands dismissed ? Not a Avord has been said about it. Yet if honorable members turn up the issue of the Age in Avhich the matter is dealt with, they will find all about it there.
– Why does not the honorable member tell us about it himself?
– I am willing to tell the honorable member privately ; I have not the time now. A monopoly of any kind leaves the community in poverty. The monopolist has a licence to study his private greed at the expense of the public Avelfare. The beef trusts and other trusts in America are illustrations of this. The State is. the people. This country Avas here before
Avhite men came to it.
-But there were blackfellows here before that.
– I hope that the honorable member’ for New England will give me his attention. I always listen to his speeches, because I like to hear a man who is sufficiently independent to say what he thinks. A’ State monopoly belongs to the people. The people are the State, and it is the duty of the Government to preserve the rights of the people.
– To preserve the rights of every citizen.
– Yes; and to guarantee the protection of their interests all round. But humanity is higher than merchandise. The trouble with us is that until lately the country has been, governed by the mercenary representatives of Mammon, whose actions belie their pledges, whose declarations are insincere, and whose presence is a profanation of the temple of democracy.
– And yet we have manhood suffrage here!
– Yes ; but the man who owns twenty houses in Melbourne has twenty places in which to vote, or, at any rate, he can choose where he will vote.
– It is not so in New South Wales.
– Coming back to the tobacco monopoly, I would point out that at the present time thousands of pounds leave Australia for Virginia. My countrymen are playing a big hand out here.
– Is the honorable member a Tasmanian ?
– No ; I am an American. But I am sorry that I am not a Tasmanian. . I wish that I had been born there. If that important function ever takes place again, I shall try to arrange for.it to occur in Tasmania. Hundreds df thousands df pounds leave Australia for America. The growers of tobacco throughput the Commonwealth are robbed. But if the industry becomes a- State concern, part of the profit made by the present monopolists will go into the pockets of the growers of tobacco, and the balance will be spent on old-age pensions. Coming now to the proposed coalition, or collision, whichever it may be, to me it will be a very sad occurrence. I heard of my friend- the honorable member for Macquarie wandering down the streets leading a picnic of Sabbath school children.
– It was in my electorate.
– No doubt he was trying to divert attention from his political doings. He is an honorable member for whom I have the greatest respect. We all love Syd. But’ this is the position: I do not desire to say anything offensive, because I think that we should’ be able to debate these questions without becoming personal. Therefore, I ask my honorable friends opposite to banish all resentment, all passion, all personal desire, all hankering after the gilded crumbs of office. Let me advise them to go to the pure, unadulterated fountain of justice, and making a solemn lustration, return divested of all sinister, sordid, and sinful motives. Then let them proceed with consciences clear towards their country and their Creator, to help us to carry on our administration. I look upon’ the Prime Minister as the James A. Garfield of this Commonwealth. In 1881 I had the pleasure of standing in the city of Washington, and seeing that great man installed as President of the United States. When the Chief Justice had administered to him the oath of office, he left his wife and daughter and two sons to go over to put his arms round his old mother, who had carried sacks of grist to the mill to give him a start in life. I heard the kiss he gave her.It was such a smack that one could hear it from the tepid waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic snows of the North. It was one of the kisses of the world which that grand old mother Garfield received on that day. We ought to be proud of such a man. Garfield was a man poor in pocket, but rich in principle. So is Watson.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker ; I mean the Prime Minister. But. I am a democrat, and do not like this formality. I say that this coalition is an unnatural one.
– Because you cannot mix oil and water. There is a great principle at stake. I am a protectionist.
– Then the honorable member believes in monopoly.’
– I believe that this country must have protection, because we are in debt. We owe money, and we have to pay the interest upon it. May be there will be a coalition ; such an unnatural consummation may take place.
– There is a coalition of free-traders and protectionists in the ranks of the Labour Party:
– A coalition is possible. If it takes place it will be as a chastisement of the Australian people for their sins and transgressions. The rod of Providence may be applied to us in that manner. But I say fearlessly and without ill-feeling that if -such a thing takes place it will be the triumph of the inutility and impracticability of ultraism, the triumph of a most extraordinary conjunction of irrepressible extremes. It will be the victory of fossildom, of boodledom, and of irresponsible radicaldom, the fusion in a league of two widely differing parties, at the cost of principle. It will be the victory of perpetual agitation at the expense of tranquility and peace. Such a thing may lead to the most unhappy and, disastrous consequences, and will militate against the future success of the great national principle of protection.
– I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
I acknowledge that the hour is early, but I am not well enough’ to speak to-night, and no other ex-Minister has yet spoken. Of course, if any other honorable member is willing to go on, I shall be content to give way.
– I hope that the debate will be brought to an end within a reasonable time. We are informed that the right honorable member who leads one section of the Opposition, intends to move a motion of censure, which, of course, would be something tangible and definite, but that there is no intention to make the present motion a vehicle for anything of the kind. Therefore the discussion should be closed as soon as possible ; I think at least as soon as to-morrow evening. Is the right honorable member in a position to say if many of those on his side wish to speak?
– I regret to say that I donot know anything about the matter.
– I expect the debate to terminate to-morrow evening, and . I ask honorable members to assist me in closing it. Under the circumstances, I have no, objection to its . adjournment now.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Mr. WATSON laid’ upon the table the following paper : -
Further paper relating to the official recognition of associations of officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Victoria.
House adjourned at 10.25p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 May 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040525_reps_2_19/>.